Autobiography of Junius Crossland Banks
I will now give a sketch of my own life up until marriage. From there on out until Edna’s death, the history will be a joint affair. I find it quite impossible to give the history of one without including the other; we were so closely knit together after our marriage.
Early on a cold winter morning at five o’clock on Friday, December 1, 1882, so rumor has it, I made my debut into this world, the third son and the seventh child in the family of Franklin Cyrus and Eliza Luff Crossland Banks. In those days, such events were supervised by a midwife in the home, such things as delivery rooms, maternity wards, hospitals, MDs, being unknown quantities.
The house where I was born was built of rock gathered from the foothills of Mt. Timpanogos, a mile or so southeast of Pleasant Grove near which my father had bought a tract of land from the Federal Government and whereon he established a home. My step-grandfather, William H. Adams, who had learned rock masonry in England, laid the walls. The partitions were of large, handmade sun-dried adobes. As originally built, the house consisted of four rooms, two below and two above, a fifth room being added later and used as a kitchen and general living room. Heating was by wood burning stoves. To warm a rock house in winter with a small wood burning cook-stove was a real problem, and it is doubtful if the family was ever comfortable during the cold winters. I can remember distinctly when I became older, of seeing the condensed vapor actually run down the walls, especially on wash days or when water was being heated for hog killing.
The bedrooms, of course, were unheated, blankets out of the questions, straw ticks the rule. I now sometimes wonder how we survived those cold winter nights.
A real problem arose when the time came to select my name. Mother had always wanted a boy named after her father. When my oldest brother was born, my mother desired to give him that cherished name, but meddlesome relatives and friends advised her that in all probability my father would marry another woman (this was in the days of polygamy) and that if she had a son, she would name him Franklin after my father so that if my mother wanted that name for one of hers she’s better grab it while she could. Mother compromised, so my oldest brother was named Franklin Junius, for her husband and for her father. The boy was called Frank, short from Franklin, and not Junius. Mother was not satisfied with this; she still wanted a boy called after her father, so when I came along, I was named Junius Crossland, the full name of my maternal grandfather. And that is how it came about that two brothers have the same name.
I have heard my mother say that I was a “good” baby, often sitting for hours without attention until she felt almost ashamed of herself for neglecting to take me up. According to modern psychology, being a “good” baby is to one’s discredit. It is claimed that the more active, demanding child is one to go places in later life, the passive child becoming the passive adult. This may be true, as I can see in my own life where I have submitted to injustices where I should probably have asserted my rights.
When I was very young, perhaps between one and two years of age, calamity struck our home in the form of the dread disease, diphtheria. Six of the seven of us were stricken down. John, next older than I, stoutly declared that he wouldn’t have the disease, and, strangely enough, he was the only one spared. My sister Edna suffered most severely. The soft palate and her throat were so badly eaten away that whatever she attempted to swallow came back through her nose. Yet through it all, we were more fortunate than many other families. It was not uncommon for one to four children to be taken by this disease in a single family. Shots for diphtheria were unknown in those days. There was, however, on preventative measure practiced at that time. I well remember after I was old enough to go to school that if diphtheria broke out in the community during school months, a member of the school board would come to the building with a one pound bag of green coffee. This he would empty on top of the heating stove, make up a hot fire, and burn the coffee, allowing the smoke to fill the room and our lungs and saturate our clothing. We were thus immunized against diphtheria. It was just that simple.
In my younger life, an accident befell me. We had a trap door near the center of the floor of one of our rooms as an access to a root cellar. The door had been lifted and I was in the act of levering myself into the pit. It was a difficult task and as with most children, when the job is hard, I had my tongue out. Just as my chin came to the level of the floor, the trap door fell, catching my head between it and the floor. My mouth was closed violently and my teeth cut my tongue about half off. I was rushed to a neighbor woman, Sophia Culmer, who was a midwife and general practitioner. She gave first aid and last aid, too, I guess, as that was the only medical care I got. No stitching in those days! The wound must heal as best it could. I still carry a considerable notch in my tongue.
In October of 1885, my father went on a mission to the Southern States, leaving mother to look after the seven children with another soon to come. To me, a mission was synonymous with a “machine.” The machine I was most familiar with was a mowing machine. One day, when I saw a man coming down the street riding one of those contraptions, I came running into the house announcing, “Here comes Daddy riding on his machine.” During my father’s absence, I slept with mother. Many a night she spent hours crying. I tried to console her by saying, “don’t cry Mama, tomorrow we’ll hitch up old Fan on the buggy and go get Daddy off his machine.”
It was during Father’s absence that four members of the family were party to a most serious accident, the details of which being related in mother’s history. While mother and Edna were severely injured, Frank and I escape with little harm. Mother was not fully restored to her mental health for some years after Father’s return. Other than that, matters greatly improved after Father came home. We had plenty to eat and enough clothing so that we could get along. In the summer, we children were required to go bare footed, and when we wore shoes, we were required to change feet with them from time to time to equalize the wear. In those days, there was not so much difference between right and left as in modern shoes.
I was fortunate in being reared on a farm and to have had a father and a mother who believed in the gospel of work. We were given responsibilities about the home as soon as we were old enough to assume them. We had our regular daily chores. One of my early duties was to provide kindling for the morning fire and fill the wood box with firewood. Later on the wood was partly replaced by coal. Churning, dish washing and drying came on in turn. We were early taught to milk cows, clean stables, bed cattle and horses, feed and water livestock, including pigs and chickens. We were inducted into the various farm tasks according to our age and strength. Weeding, cultivating, planting, haying, harvesting of grain, picking fruit from berries, which were ripe in May to apple harvest in October, were tasks that kept us busy. Probably we felt a little hard done by at the time, as we looked around and saw other boys who had more leisure, yet as I contemplate it now, I am thankful for the training we received.
During my younger years, fruit drying was an important industry in our community. Peaches, apples, and apricots were the principal fruits dried. A little ground cherry drying was engaged in, but on a very minor scale. My brother John and I dried apricots to buy an express wagon. I don’t think our fruit brought quite enough money to buy the wagon, but father put the rest to it. We though that was the best wagon ever made.
Father had a row of seedling peaches almost entirely around a ten acre field. We dried the peaches from these trees. With a long pole every morning after the peaches were ready, father would knock down what he though was enough for the day. John and I think picked them up, loaded them into a dump cart powered by old Kate. We hauled them to the grape arbor, where they were cut by the girls and spread out to dry. I was sometimes required to cut peaches, but especially to help spread them.
Sister Edna was the mainstay in taking care of the fruit from berries to apples. She always took the lead and urged the rest of us on. I remember upon one occasion, at about the time of year when the seedling peaches afore mentioned should be getting ready, she made a circuit of the field and brought a handful of peaches she had gathered to father and said, “these peaches are ready to do, see?” and she bit the peaches in two one by one to show that the stones would come out. I could have crowned her on the spot and felt good about it!
There was work to be done almost the whole year through. In the winter, corn must be husked. It was quite a test of stamina for a small boy to shovel snow a foot deep from around a corn shock crowned by a deep layer of snow, chop the stalks loose from the frozen ground with a grubbing hoe, tip the shock over, shattering the snow down all through the stalk, then kneel down and husk the corn with bare hands. We would want to go to the house every little while to wam our hands, but father taught us how to warm them by rubbing them briskly up and down a pants leg.
A while I am on the subject of work and responsibility, I would like to add another example. For many years, mother’s health was very poor, and especially so after the marriage of my two older sisters, Nettie and Edna. Several times we despaired of her life. Ellen and Violet, however, were in their later teens and capable of taking over the household duties. John and I were assigned the job, week about, during the winter months of making the kitchen fire each morning. Ellen and Violet likewise took turns week about preparing breakfast. To me it seemed quite a task getting up by lamp light on a January morning, dressing in a cold room, going downstairs into the kitchen whose windows were ice-coated, whittling kindling with a dull pocket knife or with a butcher knife, and starting a slow fire in a cook stove. No paper was available in those days for fire making. Quite often, the water in the teakettle and in the water bucket would be frozen. The boys’ bedroom was right above mother’s and I can hear father’s voice today as clearly as I heard it then, as he called: “Junie”, on a winter morning. I was not happy with this assignment, but later I came to realize it was invaluable training for me.
National and state holidays were occasions anxiously awaited and long remembered by us children. Tops, of course, for us youngsters, was Christmas. In the fall of the year, Father generally hauled his produce, apples, dried fruit, potatoes, etc., to the Salt Lake market, and while in the city, did the Christmas shopping. While our presents were never numerous nor very expensive, we generally fared as well or better than our friends. Our presents, candy, nuts, and what not, were always put out on the kitchen table on Christmas Eve. For some years, especially after I was older, the Ward became a large family. The young men went to the canyon and cut three large trees, which were set up in the chapel and decorated. All parents then brought the gifts that had been bought for their children and a committee put them on the tree. On Christmas morning, all assembled at the church, and as the committee cut down the presents, Santa Claus passed them out. Following the distribution of presents, Santa gave each child a bag of goodies. This custom had much to recommend it. It created a spirit of cooperation and unity in the Ward, but on the other side, some youngsters became envious when they compared their gifts with those of others.
The Fourth and Twenty-fourth of July, and even Brigham Young’s birthday, June 1, were all occasions of much interest to us children. The parade, band music, races with prizes, and above all, the refreshment stand, were most intriguing. I was given a little money to spend, perhaps fifteen cents, and to get the greatest value out of my money, I would stand in front of the counter and assess the various items there displayed: popcorn bars with fan included, popcorn balls with a chance nickel hidden in their interior, slabs of taffy, also with the chance nickel, soda water of various flavors in tubs of floating chunks of ice, firecrackers, homemade ice cream. I could not sample each, as my money would not stretch hat far. I remember on one occasion, after long and thoughtful deliberation, I decided to risk a nickel on a bottle of strawberry soda water. After I had drunk about half of it in small sips, of course, so as to get the greatest amount of enjoyment out of my purchase, a friend suggested that if I shook the bottle, the quality of the drink would be greatly enhanced. I immediately fell in with this suggestion and there went my precious strawberry soda water on the ground. You may be certain that my friend’s name was promptly stricken from my list.
I always kept one nickel to spend last of all just before going to my farm home for a half bunch of firecrackers. These were lighted piece meal, one or two a day until they were all gone.
During the summer months, John and I and the neighbor boys used to go swimming, as well called it, in the irrigation canal. It was not really swimming, as none of us could swim, and then, too, the water was barely a foot deep. It was more like mud crawling. We engaged in this sport from May to September, except for the neighbor boys whose parents had strictly forbidden them to go swimming in August, because those were dog days. I do not know just what was supposed to happen to one who took to the water in dog days. Nothing ever happened to us, but our friends very dutifully remained on shore.
While speaking of the superstition with regard to dog days, I am reminded of others that were prevalent when I was a youngster. Many parents required their children to wear asafetida bags about their nedcks, especially in the winter. This evil-smelling gum was supposed to ward off all kinds of disease. Many children were forbidden to eat the first snow, the theory being that all during the months from the last snow fall, disease germs were escaping into the air and the first snow storm brought them all down to the earth, hence the danger of eating the first snow. Fortunately for us, our parents were not followers of these superstitions. They were strong, however, for the sulfur and molasses remedy. In some strange way, our blood used to get thick in the winter and in the spring it had to be thinned for the summer. I never did find out what thickened our blood in the winter nor if thick blood did us no harm in the winter, why it would not serve us equally well in the summer. Nevertheless, ever spring we had to take several tablespoonfuls of sulfur and molasses to thin our blood. Strangely enough, father’s and mother’s blood didn’t thicken in the winter and they never took any sulfur and molasses.
In spite of keeping out of water on dog days, leaving the first snow untouched, wearing asafetida bags, swallowing doses of sulfur and molasses, etc., diseases in those years were rampant. The death rate among infants and young children was high. Little was known about sanitation, flies were accepted as an unavoidable evil. Practically all lived on farms where flies were bred in huge numbers, and although our homes were screened, when small children were going in and out, flies found ready access to kitchen and living quarters. Outdoor toilets were not fly-proof. As a result, fly-borne intestinal diseases such as cholera morbus and dysentery were the common lot of all during the summer months. It was rare that a person escaped. These diseases were especially hard on the young, but it was not known at the time that flies were the carriers.
Along with others, I had my share of children’s diseases: measles, chicken pox, mumps, but not whooping cough. I remember when the neighbor’s children all had whooping cough and I was denied the privilege of playing with them, a great hardship, I thought. I begged my mother to let me go to their home. Finally, she yielded, saying, “If you want to get the whooping cough, then go.” Well, I went. The other children would stop in the play when a coughing spasm came on. I would wait for them and then resume our play, but I never took the disease. I think I must have been naturally immune to this disease, as I have been in close contact with it several times since, with negative results.
I now must turn to my school activities. I attended school first of all, in a building situated on what is now Highway 91, about a mile and a half south of the Pleasant Grave business district. This building, which has been converted into a residence, still stands at the time of this writing (1957). It was just on large room built of rock, but during the first year I went there, a frame room was added. With its completion, three or four classes were transferred to the new room, with Edith Davis as teacher. Here, we learned to read, if what we learned could be so dignified, from a large chart, hence we were called the “chart class.” It consisted of about two dozen large heavy sheets, each about 24 by 30 inches in size, mounted on a tripod, much as class room maps are today. Each page had a picture and a beautiful story beneath it. I will describe one of them. The picture was of the back yard of a house. The back door and porch of the house were visible. A fence and a tree were in the yard. A rat was running across the yard with a dog and a boy in hot pursuit. A cat was dozing on the fence. A little girl of two or three years was climbing up the porch steps with her rag doll. And this is the beautiful story associated with it:
A rat! A rat! I see a rat.
Nat ran and the dog ran.
Lillie ran to the house.
The cat is on the fence
We spent a year going over and over those pages. Very interesting, exciting, inspirational, and educational. I read twenty-four pages on a chart in a year, while my granddaughter read well over fifty books in her first year. I went to school a full day, she a half-day.
Until I had completed the third or fourth grade, slates and slate pencils were the common writing implements. Notebooks and lead pencils were scares. Father always cut our lead and slate pencils in two in order to save. If we had a double slate, we were in the upper class. We sometimes kept a little bottle of soapsuds and a rag in our desk to clean our slates. Now and then, we took them across the street to a stream of water for a thorough clean up.
In the fourth to sixth grades, final examinations were held at the close of school. All tests were written in ink on legal map paper. After checking, each pupil’s work was assembled and tied with a bow of ribbon and put on display so parents could inspect it following the program on the last day of school.
There were only four of us to complete the sixth grade, three girls and myself. We were referred to as graduates, as we had finished all the work offered in that school. This made us very proud. Our seventh and eight grade work was done at the Pleasant Grove Central school, about two miles from my home. I walked to this school most of the time regardless of the weather. I don’t think I was tardy once.
It was the custom for the County Superintendent to give the final examination to the prospective eight grade graduates. I took the test in American Fork, where all eighth grade students in the north end of Utah County assembled. The test required two days. Following the checking of the papers, pupils were notified if they had passed. After taking the test, I waited anxiously for the returns, but none came –day after day – no word. Others had been notified and were making preparations to go to Payson for the graduation exercises. I gave up hope and became resigned to spending another year in the eight grade, when to my great joy, the daughter of the Superintendent rode up to our house on horseback announcing that my papers had been misplaced, but now had been located and that I had passed. I let our an Indian war whoop and I think my old hat went fifty feet into the air.
Leaving my schoolwork for a time, I should like to say a little about my religious training. I am thankful that I was read in a house where faith in God and the principles of righteousness were put above worldly gain. We children were early taught to pray and to be regular in our attendance at all church gatherings according to our age. In our house, we had a large volume called the “Child’s Bible.” It contained a selection of the most interesting stories and events from the Old Testament. Father would read them to us during the long winter evenings. Generally, an illustrative picture went along with each story. I have always been gratified for these experiences, for through them I gained a fair knowledge of the Old Testament and a lift to my faith in God.
I passed through the orders of the Aaronic Priesthood, but no record has been kept of my various ordinations, for which I am very sorry. In those days, too little attention was given to such statistics. As a matter of fact, the Ward had not preserved a record of my baptism or confirmation. Luckily, I was able to get this information from the parents of a boy who was baptized at the same time. I could remember who baptized me and that I was confirmed by the three members of the bishopric, but just which one was mouth, I do not know.
There was not a great deal of order or system in taking care of ordinations in the Priesthood at that time. Now and again, the Bishopric would call a meeting of all the boys in the Ward of Aaronic Priesthood age and they would be advanced in a rather wholesale fashion.
Monthly meetings were held in the Tithing office during the winter months for the Deacons, but I cannot recall of ever having a Teacher’s or Priest’s quorum meeting. Brother Mark Dawns was the supervisors of the Deacons, I suppose under the direction of a member of the Bishopric. Our two major assignments as Deacons were to assist in the gathering of fast offerings and to do janitorial work in turn at the church. The janitorial work consisted of sweeping, dusting, cleaning lamp chimneys, filling the lamps with oil, and, if in winter, to see that the building was properly heated. We had to go very early on Sunday morning in the winter to make the fires and light all the lamps. It made me very happy and proud to have the responsibility for the comfort of the ward members whenever my turn came.
Fast offerings in those days were in kind: flour, eggs, bacon, butter, etc. I don’t think much attention was given to collecting fast offering in the summer time, at least I was never called upon to help during warm weather.
While our parents were kind to us children, they at the same time were strict and demanded obedience. They were no adverse to administering a little corporal punishment if they felt we needed it, as we did from time to time. I remember one morning father had called me repeatedly, but I failed to get up. Finally, his patience became exhausted. He came upstairs, pulled off the bed covers, gave me a few smart stripes with the hickory, then went down the stairs without saying a word, but I was not too dumb to know what it was all about.
Perhaps this history would not be complete if I said nothing about our food. Since we lived on a farm, we had an abundance of meat, eggs, milk, flour, corn meal, potatoes, carrots, etc. Father always raised a good garden and all through the garden season we had an abundance of green vegetables. We also had various kinds of fruit, both the small and large varieties. Mother always preserved and canned so we never ran out of fruit. Father would raise and butcher four large hogs each winter, enough meat for the year. A little beef or mutton was bought from time to time to break the monotony. Except for the sugar used in canning, molasses, during younger years, was our main sweet. It was always on the table. Each year father raised an acre of cane, which was taken to the molasses mill for processing. As his portion, he usually got a small barrel of molasses. We had molasses cakes, molasses candy, and molasses sandwiches in our school lunch. Sometimes when the older girls had to furnish a cake for a party, mother would allow them to make it with sugar. I remember once, when Ellen went out to the barrel to fill a pitcher with molasses, she carelessly left the tap running and we had a whole back yard full of molasses.
At the completion of the eighth grade, father offered to each of us four boys five acres of land, or as he called it: “an education,” which was the equivalent of a four year high school course. Frank took the land. I came next in line as John had discontinued school in the sixth grade. I chose the “education.” I though I would like to take an engineering course at the University of Utah. It was then a six-year course above the eight grade. Father was not too happy with this choice because it was two years beyond what he had offered. He asked me if I would be satisfied to take the same course that Jim Walker had taken. This was a four-year normal course. I yielded to his wishes, completing the course at the University of Utah in 1904.
I obtained a school in Mercur teaching fourth and fifth grades. The principal resigned at the close of school in the spring of 1905, and I received the appointment in his place, but during the summer a school board election was held. It was fought on religious lines. The non-Mormons won, and so I lost my job.
It was getting close to the commencement of the new school year before I was notified of my release. I was fortunate, however, in obtaining a principalship in the Mapleton, Utah County, School. I remained in Mapleton one year and could have continued, but I half-decided to complete a mechanical drafting course for which I had enrolled with the International Correspondence School. As the next school year approach, however, I accepted a school in Lehi, teaching the eighth grade.
Although pay for teaching for most of the forty years I taught was very low, I have not regretted one year that I spent in the classroom. I found it a most enjoyable, challenging, inspirational, and rewarding experience. My associates were men and women of high ideals, unselfish, clean in thought and deed. I have always been thankful that father changed my career. As I look back over my teaching experience and receive so many words of appreciation from my former students, I really feel that perhaps I was a round peg in a round hole. I still enjoy teaching. I love to teach the gospel in Sunday School and M.I.A. and preaching it in Sacrament Meetings. It all gives me great satisfaction.
I now must turn to the social side of my life. This is a drab story, I fear. I have always felt an impulse to slip into the background instead of learning to enjoy contacts with people, and I am still plagued with that same tendency. I would rather walk around a block than to meet people. I know this failing has been a great drawback to my progress in life and should have been corrected many years ago. I never really learned to enjoy the social dance as I found myself face to face with a girl and didn’t know what to say. Until I was 22 years of age, I never had a girl friend.
Upon returning home for vacation following my teaching year at Mercur, I met Gretna Cooper, also a teacher. She had boarded with a family neighbor to my folks. I became very much infatuated with her, but our lives and ideals were a far apart as the poles. She was a Presbyterian, a faddist, and a devotee of Bernarr McFadden, the editor of Physical Culture Magazine. I tried to find common interests between us, as she was a very attractive and intelligent girl, but my plans ended in disaster.
Once more, I tumbled for a girl, this time, Ruby Davis. Unknown to me in the beginning of my little love affair with her, she was engaged to John Stoker, at that time on a mission in Japan. So once again, I met disaster.
By this time, I was 24 years of age, and high time that I must be doing something about matrimony. I now began to realize that my last two plunges had been ill advised. If I had used common sense, I might have known that I was only running into disappointment. Profiting by these sad experiences, I began to survey the matrimonial field with a more cautious and judicious eye. I had come to realize with Shakespeare that all is not gold that glitters and that probably the real gold might be hidden beneath a plain exterior. And this, may I say, I found to be verily true.
Among my teacher associates at the Lehi Central School was Edna Hackett, just an ordinary girl, not the glamour type, not one to fall in love with a first sight, but a girl whose personality would grow on one; not the fickle, light minded sort, but one whose genuineness and sincerity of purpose wee dominant, not the clinging vine type, but one with strength of character and independence; one with a deep sense of duty and responsibility. Here was a girl I felt to be worthy of my most serious consideration. I felt that I could learn to love a person with such outstanding qualities. And so it turned out. Our married life of nearly fifty years has fully vindicated my early appraisal of her.
My first advance was made when I walked with Edna and Edith Devey to their apartment, two rooms in the home of Nettie McAffe. This was in the early spring of 1907. Soon after, we went to a ward picnic and dance. Ruby Davis was there and in comparison, Edna seemed rather plain, but I still felt that Edna’s inner virtues topped Ruby’s. My social contacts with her at school and at her apartment became more frequent as I learned to admire more and more her levely personality.
Karl Hopkins asked me to teach a class in Physics during the following year, and to do so, I would need to attend summer school at the University of Utah. I most readily accepted the assignment, especially when I learned that Edna would be in Salt Lake City also. And so our courtship continued on a most pleasant basis. With the resumption of school, we were again closely associated. I predetermined that I would propose on Thanksgiving Day, but I couldn’t wait, so on the Friday evening preceding this holiday, Edna gave me “her promise true.” Until then, that was the happiest moment of my life. A few days after, I went ot Salt Lake City and purchased a diamond ring, a very plain and inexpensive one, ‘tis true, but the best I could afford at the time. I reserved Christmas Day for its presentation. As the close of school approached, we set our wedding date for June 17, but for various reasons, it was stepped up to June 3.
And so it was, that on June 3, 1908, I took Edna Myrtle Hackett, the eldest child in the family of Christopher C. Hackett, to wife for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple with President John R. Winder performing the ceremony. Thus was begun a lifetime of happiness. To be sure, we had our differences, rough spots had to be smoothed out, adjustments had to be made; but fortunately, every early in our married life, we were able to harmonize our natures, to like with the other liked, to have similar ideals, and to integrate our lives into a most happy union.
So I bring to a close my own personal history. I now will give as true a picture of our married life as I can.
Following our marriage, a lovely reception, dinner, and dance were given us by Edna’s parents. In those days, it was the custom to serve a hot dinner to all the especially invited guests and a dance to the general public. It was a lovely affair and Edna and I greatly appreciated it. Some fo the presents received at that time and at a shower given Edna by the Lehi teachers are still in use at this writing (1956).
Before marriage, we had arranged for an upstairs apartment in the large Austin home on the east side of Lehi, but for some reason, I do not recall now, we were disappointed. We then were promised a home near what is now known as the rodeo grounds. The house belonged to Sam Taylor. He didn’t like the renters that were in it, and attempted to move them out, but they wouldn’t move, so we were disappointed once more. We searched the town over, but no houses were available except the John Worlton home, but this could not be occupied until the Worlton family moved out in early September. There seemed to be nothing we could do but move in with my father and mother for three months. I think they were not too happy about it, and neither were we, but it was the best we could do. Edna helped mother with the housework and the fruit while I assisted father with the farm work, so I think this helped to ease their feelings. During the summer, I built two porches on the Lindon church and finished a room and built a porch for Joe Marsh. This gave a little boost to our finances.
Come September, we were so anxious to be by ourselves, that we moved into one room at the Worlton home, but in a few days, we were in possession of the whole house, four rooms and a pantry. I really felt that I owned the world. I had a job that I liked, teaching in high school, a devoted wife, and a house all by ourselves. What more could one ask? What added to our happiness was the anticipation of a third member to our family who came to us on July 30, 1909. I remember to this day how we prayed that a choice spirit might be sent us. Later years bore abundant testimony that our prayers were literally answered. Merril Ralph, as he was named, proved to be one of the Lord’s choicest sons. As I look back over his brief life, for he was not permitted to stay with us long, I sometime wonder if I am really privileged to be his father.
An off of better pay at the Pleasant Grove high school enticed us to establish a new home in that community. We obtained a lot with two houses on it, the rear one of which we occupied, subletting the other to Mrs. Annie Banks, a widow with two children.
At the high school, I taught Algebra, Plane and Solid Geometry, Physical Geography, Physics, and Mechanical Drawing. Among my pupils were some who have come to prominence: Karl Banks, A. P. Warnick, Lloyd B. Adamson, and J. Wallace West. During my spare time, I continued with my correspondence course in mechanical drafting, a course I completed in the summer of 1910 with a straight A grade and received my diploma of graduation.
The correspondence school obtained a position for me at the Murray Iron Works at Burlington, Iowa. I liked mechanical drafting very much and felt that there was a greater future for me in that field than in teaching, so I resigned my position at the Pleasant Grove high school and left for Burlington on September 14, 1910, leaving Edna and our year-old baby temporarily behind. Arriving at Burlington on September 17, I was intrigued to find it right on the bank of the Mississippi River, with no buildings between the railroad tracks and the water. I sat on a bench in a park adjacent to the river to decide what to do. I thought it best to obtain a hotel room until a boarding place could be procured. I acted upon this thought, but by evening, I was located in a boarding and rooming house operated by Mrs. Griffiths, a widow.
As the following day was Sunday, I had to wait until Monday morning to report at the drafting office of the Murray Iron Works. I found the chief engineer under whom I would have to work was a former British naval officer who had brought with him a code of strict military discipline which he practiced upon those under his charge. I think there was not a man under him who did not both fear and hate him. I had always worked under the most pleasant and relaxing circumstances. Here, however, I was always under a nervous tension as were all the others, no knowing from one moment to the next what to expect. However, I was not aware of these unpleasant conditions until I had sent for Edna.
Some ten days after arrival in Burlington, I rented a house with three rooms in tandem at 810 Maple Street. While awaiting Edna’s arrival, I scrubbed the floors and woodwork. After she came, we still continued to live at Griffith’s until we could furnish the house. We bought bed, stove, table, chairs, etc., at a second-hand shop. After a vist to the grocery store, we were a going concern.
As there were no Latter-day Saint churches in Burlington, we went to tohers each Sunday: Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, etc. These visits helped us greatly to appreciate our own church better than ever before.
Early in January, 1911, working conditions at the Murray Iron Works became so unbearable that I decided to quit. But if I did, what then? If I returned to teaching in high school, I would have to have a Bachelor’s degree. I did not care for teaching in the elementary grades, so to college I must go. I had practically no funds, but I did have on most important and valuable asset, and that was a wife who was willing to work and to sacrifice. What more was needed? We could see nothing but hard work and self-denial for however long it would take me to do a four year college course. To add to our responsibilities, another child was in the offing. I had loaned my brother John a little money to help him through college. He was no prepared to pay me back in small monthly sums. This would help. So, renting two rooms at about 471 North University Avenue in Provo, I enrolled at mid-year of 1911 at the Brigham Young University.
Taking as heavy a course as I felt I could carry, I plunged into my studies with all the energy I possessed. Edna stood at my side and helped in every way she could, never allowing household tasks to take my time.
On May 2, 1911, our next child came, a beautiful girl that we named Helen. A midwife, Mrs. Cluff, and I were the only attendants at her birth, but all went well. We now had two lovely children and were very happy and proud of them.
With the coming of vacation, I was glad of the opportunity of earning a little money for the coming school year. I spent some weeks painting two barns and the interior of the school building at Alpine. Just before commencement of school in the fall of 1911, we moved into the Ashworth home at about 165 West 5th North in Provo. Here, we had three rooms, a back porch, and a cellar. It was here that Edna showed her real worth. No person could exhibit greater self-sacrifice, devotion, loyalty, self-denial, and industry than she showed during this and the succeeding year. With the tasks that fell to her lot, she came gloriously through. What a jewel I had married!
Aside from taking care of a husband and two small children, she cooked for nine student boarders, did their laundry and mending. No hot water in the house, no gas, to electric washers, automatic or otherwise. Things were done in those days the hard way. Her earnings were supplemented by a twenty-dollar check I received each month as laboratory assistant in the Geology Department. During the basketball season, I received one dollar each night of a home game for helping sell tickets. In these ways, we managed to meet our obligations.
Come summer, I decided it would pay me to take a twelve-week summer school and so hasten the completion of my college course. During the interval between summer school and the regular term, I picked fruit for my brother-in-law, W. J. Cordner and Orson Prestwick, getting a little cash and fruit for my pay. I traveled to Orem and back to Provo each day on a bicycle, bring home fruit for Edna to can on my back. No paved roads then!
With the arrival of the fall term of 1912, I once more plunged into my schoolwork. I thought I could see a possibility of completing my college course by spring, and with that aim in view, I took all the work I thought I could carry, going to one class so early on winter mornings that the stars were still shining. Come graduation time, I had everything in the bag except a required course in English composition. I was graduated with the class of 1913, but my diploma was withheld until this required work was done. I completed the course in a few weeks and received my degree, Bachelor of Arts, in two years and a half with no grade under an “A”. For this accomplishment, I take no credit. It was Edna who stood in the gap and took the brunt of the hard work and sacrifice.
Now comes a chapter in the history of our married life, which I would rather leave unwritten, for it was now that tragedy struck our little family. Following my graduation, Aunt Delia Booth offered us the opportunity of living at her home, rent and board free, for the summer, for what work we were able to do about the place. We felt that this would be to our advantage instead of moving to Lehi where I had received a contract to teach school the following term. We had just go nicely located when the children were exposed to whooping cough. The doctor told us to move at once or to remain and be quarantined perhaps until after school began in the fall. Thinking it best to move, I made a hurried trip to Lehi in search of a house. I was fortunate in finding one promptly and then returned to Provo to fetch the family only to find the two children ill with what today we would probably call intestinal flu, although we never did find out the exact nature of the disease. However, we felt that we must not remain because of the possibility of quarantine.
Arriving at Pleasant Grove, we decided to stay at Mother’s as the children were too ill to go farther. Anyway, our furniture had not been moved and we were unprepared to set up housekeeping. The doctor we engaged gave us no help, the children growing progressively worse the while, Helen finally developing pneumonia.
As is so often the case, a person will rally and seem on the improve a few hours before death. This was so in Helen’s case. She seemed so much improved on Saturday morning, July 5, that I hired Uncle Joe Adams to go to Provo with me for the furniture. On our way back, we were met by Karl with father’s buggy and little blue mare all lathering with sweat. Karl announced that Helen had taken a turn for the worse and that I was to hasten home with him. As a matter of fact, Helen had already passed away, but Karl felt it best not to break the news to me just then.
Helen was now gone. There was no more we could do for her except to plan a hasty funeral and burial. Hasty, because relatives could attend best if the services could be held on Sunday. There would be clothing to prepare, a grave to dig, relatives to notify, services to arrange, etc., all within twenty-four hours. At the same time, Merril, who was most critically ill, needed our attention. We had no time to sit and grieve over Helen’s passing. There were too many other urgent calls.
Father had a lot in the Pleasant Grove cemetery where the grave was dug by Karl and Ernest Ash, while Father and I procured the bricks and the cement slabs. The burial clothing was prepared by the Relief Society of the Pleasant Grove First Ward. The Olpin Mortuary provided the casket and services. The funeral was held on the lawn at father’s, Sunday afternoon, July 6, 1913.
As Helen lay in her little casket prior to the funeral, I remember putting out my finger and touching her cheek. I was shocked to find it rigid and cold, whereas before it had always been so soft and warm. I then realized how cruel death can be.
[Grandfather includes this poem, Grandmother wrote as a memorial to Helen]:
To My Rose Bud
My tiny bud whose loveliness is sealed
Within those closely folded petals there.
Although your dainty fragrance scents the air,
Your charm and beauty have not been revealed.
My full blown rose of perfect form and hue
With all your future loveliness complete
Nipped in the bud, lies withered at my feet,
And all is gone except the dream of you.
Following the funeral, our full attention was then devoted to Merril. The next morning following Helen’s funeral, we became almost resigned to Merril’s passing, he was so low. I’ll never forget the scene as we stood or knelt around his bed, father, mother, Edna, and I. Father knelt at the head of the bed, speechless with the tears running down his cheeks. I think Merril had been his favorite grandchild. But this very hour seemed to be the turning point. The crisis had been reached. We discharged the doctor we had and engaged Dr. J. F. Noyes. He almost reversed the treatment of the other doctor and Merril began steadily to improve. By the following Thursday, July 10, we were in Lehi in the very house I occupy today.
Before I close this chapter, I must make some comments on Helen’s personality. We had her such a brief time, a little over two years, yet long enough to know that she also, with Merril, was a choice spirit. She was precocious beyond her years. From the beginning she spoke in sentences. She was very independent and helpful. She always wanted to go with me to cut the kindling, even in cold winter weather, standing patiently in the snow while I finished my task. I am thankful beyond expression that if we live faithful to the end, we will yet have the opportunity of rearing her body to maturity. Her spirit is already mature according to our understanding of the gospel.
In our new location, we busied ourselves cleaning and setting the house in order and then turned our attention to the lot, which was overgrown with giant weeds. Merril in the meantime completely overcame his recent illness, but came down with the whooping cough to which he had been exposed in Provo. His case was not a severe one, however, and he got along all right.
I was glad to get some carpenter work during the summer for Mrs. William Chamberlain at Provo, boarding at Aunt Delia’s while I did it. With the commencement of school, I became a full-fledged high school teacher. My first assignment was in the mathematics, science, and woodwork department. My salary was $1050 per year, a small sum but large in comparison with what we had been living on.
The house we rented had two large brick rooms and two frame lean-to rooms at the back. The walls of the lean-to rooms consisted of boards stood endwise, two thick. There were no ceilings. As we proposed to use one of these rooms as a kitchen, we lined it with adobes with mud mortar from the lot. A beaverboard ceiling was added, all this while we were renters.
We liked the location of the house where we lived and the soil in the lot was a mellow loam, so we decided to see if the place was for sale. Heber Allred, who had charge of it, informed us that it was and for the sum of $100. We borrowed the money from father and made the purchase. We now experienced a decided change in attitude toward the place. We felt that whatever improvement we now made on it was adding to the value of our own property. During the winter and the following summer, I built two cabinets in the kitchen, soon added a laundry room to the north, put a ceiling on the lean-to bedroom and partitioned off a portion for a clothes closet. We were now fairly comfortably situated. In all of these endeavors, Edna worked at my side. There was no task that came her way that was not cheerfully accepted and well accomplished.
My schoolwork was very satisfying, as I was given the courses I felt qualified to instruct and above all, my associates and administrators were most co-operative and congenial, a far cry from my working conditions in Burlington. Our family increased as the years passed, Wallace arriving on the 27th of August, 1914; Earl, September 11, 1916; and Margaret, March 26, 1921, making us now four living children. We planned on another between Earl and Margaret, but it miscarried. Edna had quite a serious time. The doctor we had did not take care of her as he should. A portion of the afterbirth did not come and remained until it putrefied. She was a very sick woman.
A happening took place in the summer of 1918 which we have often laughed about, but at the time it was really serious and could easily have resulted in tragedy. Our family, consisting at that time of Edna and I and the three boys, Merril nine years old, Wallace four, and Earl two, had just spent a pleasant day at Saltair [an amusement park on a pier in the Great Salt Lake]. As we left the resort to take the train to Salt Lake, it was already in the yard ready to pull out. The cars were open with running boards the full length of each car. Merril ran far ahead of us and climbed on to one of the cars. Just at that moment, the train began to pull out. I sensed that it would not do for him to be alone on the train so I dashed forward with Earl in my arms. I succeeded in reaching the car where Merril was and leaped onto the running board. Wallace who saw me run for the train broke loose from his mother and came running after me. He neared me just as I got aboard the train. I was still standing on the running board, holing to a post with one arm and Earl in the other, when I chanced to see Wallace. Fearing that we would attempt to bard the now quite rapidly moving train, I put out my foot to push him away. He took this as a signal to grab on, which he did. And there I was, standing on one leg, with a four-year-old boy clinging precariously to the other, one arm around a post and a two year old in the other arm. The car was full of people, but no one offered to help me. Luckily, I was able to swing Wallace around to the running board and he scrambled to safety. Edna was left alone at the beach until the next train.
In early May of 1919, our son Wallace, who was five years of age at that time, came down with a very severe illness which the doctor pronounced influenza, the type that had caused so many deaths during the previous year or so, and that the home would have to be placed under quarantine. Since I was teaching school, I would have to be quarantined out if I continued my work. So it was decided that I would sleep in the barn and take care of the cows and other outside things while Edna would tend to the children and nurse Wallace. Edna prepared my meals and sent them to me on a tray. Matters did not go along at all well with Wallace. He had a very high temperature and finally developed pneumonia, first in one lung and then in both.
The doctor became very much concerned about him and then it was that I decided, quarantine or no quarantine, I was going into the house. As soon as I came in, I could easily see the cause of the doctor’s alarm. Wallace was a very sick boy. I at once got the oil and administered to him. I had to do it alone, as we were under quarantine and I couldn’t ask any of the Elders in to assist me. Edna and I then went into the kitchen and knelt down in earnest prayer and supplication to the Lord. The burden of our prayer was to know what to do. As soon as we arose to our feet, it came to me like a flash as clearly as if someone had spoken to me, “send for Dr. Clark.” He was an American Fork physician. I picked up the telephone and luckily he was immediately available and within a few minutes he was at our home. After examination of the patient and consultation with our family doctor, it was decided to inject a serum under the skin of the back. The serum was soon obtained and injected.
As Dr. Clark left, he gave us details of what reactions to expect. None of them happened. Wallace slept soundly all night with the exception of one little cough. In a day or two, he was well. What happened to the pus that filled his lungs we never knew. He coughed up none. We have always looked upon this as a miraculous healing and a most direct answer to prayer.
During these years, I taught under three different principals: W. Karl Hopkins, Heber Bennion, and Elmer Miller, all of whom seeming to appreciate my work. In 1920, Elmer Miller resigned his principalship at the high school to accept a professorship at the Brigham Young University. He suggested to S. I. Goodwin, who was the Lehi representative on the Alpine School Board, that I be appointed in his stead. His recommendation was accepted, and I received the appointment. This made me very happy especially as I would receive a very substantial increase in salary.
We felt now that we could afford an automobile, and so we bought a used Chevrolet from Vernon Anderson for $500 and built a garage for it.
Conditions at the high school were not too favorable that year. The school had outgrown the old Central building, a new one was in the planning, but had not been begun. The School Board bought the Tabernacle and remodeled it for school purposes. The mechanic and domestic art classes were held there, with the remainder of the school at the Central building. It can easily be seen the many difficulties and problems would arise from such a divided condition with the students walking four blocks between classes. I was inexperienced in administrative work, and that didn’t help matters. Then to make things worse, Fre Worlton became school board member from Lehi on January 1, 1921. From then until the end of the school year, I received nothing bout opposition and antagonism from him. He brought unfounded charges against me through the superintendent. I could have gone to the board and exposed his duplicity, but what was the use? He was elected for five years, and even tough the board has sustained me, I would need to be under his jurisdiction. There was nothing left for me to do but to resign, and so was brought to a close the most unhappy of all my school experience.
For quite some time, we had been talking about remodeling our house to make it more commodious for our growing family. The two lean-to rooms, both of which where now being used as bedrooms, were far from adequate and not at all comfortable in the winter. Ice actually collected on the bedding where it was breathed upon. If we remodeled it would have to be on borrowed money. Mother signified her willingness to lend us a thousand dollars. Father by now had passed on. Accordingly, in January of 1923, I drew up plans under Edna’s supervision and all preparations were made for the big plunge come vacation time. However, in the spring, I arranged with the City to tear down the old jail on Main street for the material. Accordingly, Merril and I worked after school and on Saturdays wrecking this structure. We obtained quite a quantity of lumber, stone, and pioneer adobes. I also went to Fort Douglas and bough a truck load of dimension lumber.
The stage was now all set for our building program. Merril was a husky lad of fourteen, willing and capable of work. We made sleeping quarters of the upper floor of the barn. We then removed the laundry room intact so we could sill continue to use it. Next, we wreck the two lean-to rooms. Foundation forms were next set up and concrete poured. Joists and sub floor followed. The walls were framed of two by sixes with the spaces between filled with pioneer adobes. Merril did the heroic job of tending mason for this work. I was the mason. The walls finished, we laid the ceiling joists. We were ready then to tear the roof of the two brick rooms.
It took us a day to remove the roof and we were just rejoicing in our accomplishment, when the sky in the southwest began to darken. Great thunderheads arose, and before anything could be done to save the situation, a terrific deluge of rain descended upon our roofless house. We tried as best we could to protect our household goods from damage as the water came down through the ceiling. The next day, the clouds threatened again, so I scouted around and hunted up enough canvas to cover the house, but no rain fell.
Now we must get the new roof on as soon as possible, so hiring Father Hackett and Francis Gurney, we went at it hammer and tongs. We drove the last nail and climbed down off the roof when another torrential downpour came. This time we could sit by and laugh at it.
It was during these roofing operations that Edna almost lost her life, mostly because of my ignorance. She suffered another miscarriage. After fetus came, she passed huge clots of blood and I was too dumb to know that her very life was ebbing rapidly away. It was not until bells began to ring in her head and she declared that she was going, that it finally downed on me that I should send for help. Luckily, help came promptly and her life was saved, but she was many weeks regaining her normal health. During the early stages of her sickness, she was cared for at her mother’s home.
I kept the children with me, Margaret being only two years old. Mother came over and helped me as much as she could, but she was too old to do much. Most of the time, I had to do for the children as well as try to work on the house. I remember having Margaret sitting on the scaffold while I nailed on lath.
I was several years before the house was completely finished both inside and out, as we had to do it as we could get the means. Merril helped us finish the south room upstairs with money he has saved. He did more than his share in all our building activities. Further to show the kind of stuff Merril was made of, by the time he had finished three years of high school, he had enough credit, all “A” grade, that he felt it would not pay him to spend another year in the local school. He decided to go to college. To earn some money to meet his college expenses, he obtained employment at Lund, Utah, on the railroad section. He then was approaching his sixteenth birthday. The other members of the section gang, mostly Mexicans, predicted that he would no last long. It was hard, hot work on a railroad section in the summer on the desert of southern Utah, but he stuck, returning home just in time to enter the Brigham Young University.
Matters moved along well enough for us. I had had some increases in my salary, so that we were never in want, although wewould have like to have paid off our obligation on our house sooner than we did. Upon the completion of his second year in college, Merril received a call to the German mission. He was in love with Caroline Scorup, and I know that he felt that a mission just at that time would be a blow to his plans, yet he hesitated not a single moment, and preparations were soon under way for his departure.
Just at this time, Edna suffered another miscarriage, her third. This time, however, we took matters in hand early and so avoided the sad experiences of the past. She was soon safely recovered. In a family way, we had been most unfortunate. Out of eight tries, we had only four living children toshow for it, and were soon to have only three.
As time neared for Merril’s departure, we found ourselves rather short on finances. Fortunately, I obtained some unexpected work, which netted us the means so sorely needed. It was a real providence of the Lord. As is customary, of course, the ward paid Merril’s ticket to his mission headquarters. He left Salt Lake City on July 5, 1928. We were glad to have him serve as a missionary, yet the separation gave us sorrow.
Arriving in the mission field, Merril entered into his work with all the energy his possessed. He had a new language to learn and other obstacles to surmount. All of these he soon mastered. His letters brought us great joy and pride. We little knw how soon his brilliant success would come to a sad end. He and his companion had hung up an enviable record in the mission and to maintain that record they spent long hours tracting in the most inclement winter weather in almost constant cold rain and sleet. After a day of tracting, they would return to their lodgings with clothing wet from the storm. The only means of heat in their room was a tall stove the elders called a “monument” that burned with a smoky flame, throwing out but little heat. Over this heater, the boys hovered at nights in an effort to warm their benumbed joints and dry their clothing.
The outcome of all of this was that Merril contracted intestinal influenza, and so was compelled to relinquish his missionary labors after only seven months of service. He was cared for in the early stages by Frau Bannerman, a convert o the church. She proved to be a most wonderful and self-sacrificing nurse. Merril became so seriously ill that Frau Bannerman said she was almost afraid to leave his bedside either night to day for fear he might pass during her absence.
Finally, matters got so grave that Merril was transferred to a Dresden hospital by Pres. Hyrum Valentine of the German mission. Complications had by this time set in, involving other vital organs. A dropsical condition developed necessitating repeated tappings of his chest cavity.
Letters from Merril and from mission headquarters alerted us to his illness, but we were spared the knowledge of the seriousness of his case. For some months, he lay in the hospital, sometimes with his life hanging as by a thread, but through the efforts of the doctors and the faith and prayers of the elders and saints, Merril finally recovered sufficiently to be sent home. So one day in early August, 1929, he walked in on his mother as she sat at her sewing. One can scarcely imagine her surprise and joy. I, at the time, was helping Father Hackett to come up to dinner when I came. As I walked into the house, I too, was surprised and overjoyed. Yet in our joy and Merril’s return, there was a note of sadness. Physically, he was a mere shadow of the strong, husky lad that had left us a little over thirteen months before. He was so thin and angular, that his clothes hung from his shoulders like those of a scarecrow. But he was home and we were thankful.
Thinking that perhaps Merril could be helped, we had him entered through the church at the L.D.S. Hospital at Salt Lake City. After a few days, he was discharged with the word that there was nothing that could be done to help him. This, as may be supposed, was very discouraging.
One of the most difficult tasks, and one that called for great self-denial and sacrifice was that of telling Caroline Scorup, whom he dearly loved, that she was free to make another choice. He felt that he could not expect her to remain true to him in his condition. It was a great blow to both of them.
Under the drive of this indomitable courage, Merril resumed duties as clerk of the local unit of the National Guard, a position he held before going to Germany. He was also determined to finish his college course, two years of which he had already completed. He took an examination in German and passed, receiving twenty-four hours credit. Dr. Garrit de Yong said that Merril spoke perfect German, although he had had only seven months active missionary work. He continued his studies either by correspondence or actual residence until the early part of 1931. Then one day he said, “Mother, I just can’t go any longer.” By then he was suffering from a severe dropsical condition and a sarcoma of the lungs. Apostle James E. Talmage, who administered to him, gave no hope for his recovery. He grew progressively worse until about 6 AM of March 5th with his mother and me in attendance his noble spirit departed. His Bachelor’s degree was awarded posthumously.
During Merril’s illness, we managed to add a dormer window to the north room of our house and to finish another upstairs bedroom. We now had three bedrooms, ample for the five of us who remained.
Matters now at home settled down to a more or less regular routine; school, church, and family claiming most of our attention. Wallace was now sixteen; Earl, fourteen; and Margaret, ten. The following spring (1932), Wallace finished high school and entered the Brigham Young University at the beginning of the fall term. Although he attended the “Y” for the next two years, he was not at all enthusiastic about college work. It was here that he met Ruth Smith, also a student at the “Y”. Wallace dated her on various occasion. While endeavoring to hitch-hike a ride home from Provo one night, Wallace and Bill Racker were beset by four ruffians who fleeced Wallace of his money, but Bill was able to ditch his wallet. Later in the evening, Wallace and Bill helped the Provo police in apprehending the bold hold-ups. Wallace recovered a portion of his money.
On June 2, 1934, Wallace received a call to the Canadian mission. He was a very happy boy to receive this call, partly because it had in it the opportunity of travel and adventure. As I bade him goodbye at the station in Salt Lake City on July 11, I shed a tear or two. I will never forget the surprised expression that came over Wallace’s face. He couldn’t understand why I should be sad when he was so happy to go.
We were not too flush with money during the time Wallace was away. Our old car gave out and had to be replaced. Our payments and the monthly check to the mission field kept us financially humble. I found out later that there were times when Wallace lacked what he needed. His clothing got pretty shabby at times. I got a little extra work in the summers at carpentry and that helped.
His mission completed on August 23, 1936, we decided to take a little vacation and drive back and get him. So, loading the family in the car, we struck out. Earl was old enough to take his turn at the wheel. We made about 500 miles per day, spending nights successively at Cheyenne, Omaha, Chicago, and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Here we were to meet Wallace at the home of a family of Saints. He was not there when we arrived, so we left to find a tourist cabin with word that we would soon return. Wallace came during our brief absence. Knowing that we were in the city, he set out of find us. We returned while he was gone, but he soon came back and we had a very happy reunion.
The next day, we proceeded to Hamilton, Ontario, where a conference of Saints and Elders was to be held. We participated in their social activities in the afternoon and in the conference sessions the next day, which was Sunday. Sunday evening, we drove to Toronto, where Wallace had his lodgings. By Monday afternoon, Wallace had completed all his business relative to his release and we were headed out of Canada. We arrived at Niagara at midnight. Edna and Margaret took a room at a tourist home and we men folks slept out at the roadside just out of town. The next morning, we viewed the falls, crated Wallace’s trunk to be shipped home, and then set out for Palmyra, New York.
We arrived in Palmyra in a rainstorm. Fortunately, we were given sleeping quarters in the Joseph Smith Sr. home, Edna and I occupying the bedroom alleged to be the one used by the Prophet when visited by the Angel Moroni. The next morning, we visited the Sacred Grove where stands a huge sugar maple tree under which it is claimed the Prophet saw the Father and the Son. One feels that he is truly treading on sacred ground. We also found inspiration in our visit to the Hill Cumorah. These visits completed, we headed westward. We would have liked to have gone on to New York City, but we were short of both means and time, and so must make it home as quickly as possible. We now had three drivers so no one needed to be over tired.
We took time out while in Ohio to visit the Kirtland temple. A guide graciously showed us through, explaining the various features. Unfortunately, this edifice no longer belongs to our church. At Springfield, IL, we visited the Lincoln Memorial and at Hannibal, MO, the monument to the memory of Mark Twain. Safely arriving at home, we once more took up our usual duties.
Come September, both Wallace and Earl entered college at Provo. They established bachelor’s quarters in connection with some other boys in an upstairs apartment of a Jones family. Earl settled down to serious study, but Wallace had made contact with Ruth and she apparently was no more seriously inclined to study than he, so lovemaking took over their house. In late November, we were apprised of the fact that a wedding was in the offing. All our efforts to urge education before marriage fell on deaf ears. There was scarcely a time in all our married life when we were shorter of funds than just then. We would gladly have had the wedding postponed for a few months, but all our suggestions were of no use. Especially, were we concerned when Wallace announced the intention of going to Portland immediately after the wedding. We suggested living in Salt Lake or some place near so that we could help with canned fruit and other supplies, but all to no avail. It was not until later that we learned the reason for all this hurry and going so far away.
So on December 23, 1936, Wallace married Ruth Irene Smith in the Salt Lake Temple. Ruth’s mother gave a very elaborate reception in the Provo First Ward Chapel. I think I have never seen a lovelier lot of gifts at any wedding reception. Most of the guests were friends of Mrs. Smith who had served in public office for many hears and had hosts of friends. A day or two after the reception, they were on their way to Portland. Mrs. Smith and we had given them what we could afford to help get them to their destination. I told Wallace as he was leaving that if he needed help at any time, he knew where to send. He laughed and said I needn’t worry; they’d be able to take care of themselves. He little knew how soon they would be in want. From then on until their return in early March, 1938, we and Mrs. Smith sent them help from time to time.
In the early summer of 1937 an event occurred in our lives that made us very happy. For years we had been under heavy expense with missions, college tuitions, insurance premiums, sickness, death and burial expenses, cars, house building, etc. At this long remembered time, the summer of 1937, we got out of debt. We had a life insurance policy fall due and Edna got some means from her father’s estate. We were not only able to pay off all our obligations, but to pay cash for a new car, to carpet our living and bedrooms and o other things we had longed to do. What an occasion for a real celebration! It was so satisfying to know that we could look the whole world in the face for we owed not any man. And from that time until this, we have never been in debt.
This life seems to be made up of a mixture of joy and sorrow. While we were rejoicing over our freedom from debt, my health began to fail. In the latter part of May, 1937, I noted that I tired easily. Any strenuous exercise caused me to pant for breath. This condition grew steadily worse until the first week in January 1938, when I consulted a doctor. He pronounced it pernicious anemia. That was a great blow, because I knew there is no cure for this disease. It could be successfully treated, but that treatment would have to continue throughout life. I seemed to respond to the treatment until some time in Late February or early March, when I became so weak I could scarcely walk without help. Fortunately, this weakness lasted only about three days, and I was able to return to my school teaching. I had a cot in my schoolroom and made use of it between classes and during the noon period. Margaret would read my class text papers to me and I would tell her how to grade them.
Under the doctor’s care, my blood count rose slowly until by late May, I was able to walk home from school. By this time, Wallace and Ruth with their baby Ellen had returned from Portland and were living in an apartment we provided for them in our house. I was no able to do a tap of work, so the whole responsibility for the garden and all other tasks fell to Edna. She not only did her housework as usual, but nursed me and did the outside work as well with never a word of complaint. What a wonderful wife I had.
In early April 1938, I was beset by another malady. Feeling sure that I had pernicious anemia, and knowing in such cases that the stomach is shy of hydrochloric acid, the doctor prescribed ten drops of this acid at each meal. Later developments indicated that there was no acid shortage in the stomach, but just the reverse. I was actually suffering from hyperacidity. The additional acid taken by mouth caused a severe case of hives, which lasted fifteen months. Almost like clockwork, I would be a mess of giant hives practically all over my body. My back would be a mass of them; my fingers would swell until I could scarcely bend them. The itching was intense. Fortunately, quite by accident, be it said, I got rid of the hives. I was troubled with constipation and to relieve this condition, I took milk of magnesia regularly every day. I soon noticed that the hives were easing up a little. In three months time, they were gone. It was not until then that I realized what had been happening. The acid had been causing the hives and the magnesium had neutralized it.
My anemic condition continued to improve until I was practically back to normal, but since the doctor declared I had pernicious anemia, I was afraid to discontinue the semi-weekly treatment, being assured by him that I would soon return to my former weak condition. After taking this treatment for a number of years, my family persuaded me to have a physical examination at the Bingham Canyon clinic. I did so and was told that I did not have and never had had pernicious anemia. My blood was found to be in good condition. So I discontinued the treatments, and have been all right since. I was given a blessing by Apostle Joseph F. Merrill and promised that I would get well. Perhaps this explains it all. During all of these years, Edna stood loyally at my side sustaining me by her courage, fortitude, and hard work. Will it ever by possible for me to show sufficient appreciation for her love and devotion and self-sacrifice?
This episode completed, I would like to turn back to 1937. After completing three years college work at the Brigham Young University, Earl received a call to the New England Mission, leaving for that labor on December 2, 1937. Wallace was in Portland, and Margaret attending local high school. It was this same year of 1937 that Edna’s sister Maude, who had been operated upon once for cancer, now because of it, became so bad that she could no longer care for herself. We brought her to our home where Edna nursed her until her death.
During Margaret’s senior year at high school, she met Myron Burgess of Alpine. Myron was an orphan boy, his parents having died during the flue epidemic of 1918. He was reared by relatives, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. Margaret’s acquaintance with Myron soon ripened into love and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on the 20th of September 1939. Upon Earl’s return from his mission in December 1939, he once more enrolled at the “Y”, completing his course in June 1941. In July of that same year, he entered the California Institute of Technology, and took a course to prepare him for weather bureau service. This course completed in 1942, he took employment in the Weather Bureau at Washington, DC. He married Winifred Dean, a girl he had met at the “Y” on September 25, 1942.
With all our children married, we were alone once more, happy when our children were happy, sad when they were sad. For about five years, our lives sailed along on quite an even keel. We were happy in each other’s company and had sufficient income for our needs and were able to do a little saving for about the first time in our married life.
I come now to another chapter in this history that I would gladly omit and would do so but for the sake of completeness. Edna and I were returning from a visit with Earl and his family, who now lived in Albuquerque, NM. As we were entering Linden, Utah County, just a few miles from home, another car made a left turn directly in front of us. The collision was unavoidable. Edna suffered fractures of wrist, ankle, and ribs. She also received a deep gash above the eye and numerous bruises and abrasions. Those injuries laid her up for several months. My injuries were minor. All this was in August 1946.
I had been planning for quite some time for my retirement. I had decided that if my finances would permit, I would like to retire when I had taught school for forty years. This would be when I approach my sixty-fifth birthday. According to the teachers retirement formula, I would receive about seventy-five dollars per month. That with house rent, insurance annuity, and what I might be able to earn, I thought, would be sufficient for our keep. So in 1947, I discontinued teaching. It turned out that my retirement check was one hundred dollars. This was a big help. Edna and I were both happy. Now we would have time to do many of the things we had longed to do.
Here again, however, happiness and sorrow were intermingled, for shortly after my last day of teaching, I happened to cut off the index finger of my left hand. Again I was partially incapacitated and Edna had to take over many of my responsibilities. This she did still in her uncomplaining way. I was somewhat handicapped by the loss of my finger, especially since the middle finger had been damaged so that it was far from normal, yet I could perform most tasks fairly well. The handling of small objects gave me the most trouble.
In a little over two years, August 1949, calamity really hit us hard. We were on the way to Albuquerque, Margaret and family with the exception of Laura Jo who was and infant, Edna, and I. About ten miles south of Moab, one of the children who was in the front seat with Edna and me wanted to get over into the back seat. I turned my attention to her and lost control of the car. It rolled about three times over, coming to rest on its side at the edge of the highway. Edna, Merril, and Yvonne were thrown out. Aside from being rather shaken up and bumped, Margaret, Myron, and I were unhurt. I picked up Yvonne from the pavement, unconscious. I thought she was dead, but she soon opened her eyes and seemed all right. Merril got a skinned up face, but no other injuries. Allan had a broken arm. When it came to Edna, she had enough injuries for us all.
The car door on Edna’s side was bent double and in one of the rollings, she had been dumped no too gently onto the highway. We rushed to her as soon as we could. She was lying on her back with her clothing scarcely displaced. Of course we did not know the extent of her injuries but we could tell that they were no slight. Blood was oozing through her clothing from the region of her upper thigh. Passing motorists were asked to dispatch an ambulance from Moab. I remained with Edna while the other members of the family were taken to Moab. A doctor chanced to come along and he with others of his party remained until the ambulance arrived. Merril’s abrasions were treated; Allan’s arm was set and splinted. Edna received mostly just first aid as her injuries were beyond what the facilities at the Moab hospital could handle. By telephone, we arranged for her entrance at the St. Mark’s Hospital at Salt Lake City under the care of Dr. Paul Pemberton, a bone specialist.
Our problems now were mostly how to get her to Salt Lake. I called Ralph Wing, Lehi mortician, and he agreed to come and get Edna in his hearse. So on the evening of the second day after the accident, we were on the way to St. Mark’s Hospital. How we ever got her there alive, I’ll never know. I’m sure it was the Providence of the Lord. We arrived at about midnight, and she was taken to her prearranged room.
The following afternoon, as Margaret and I stood at her bedside, we observed the hospital personnel getting pretty excited. Edna’s fingers were turning black. The attending nurse could not find any pulse. An emergency oxygen tank was rushed to her room. A few breaths of the gas restored the natural color to her hands. The doctor told me afterwards that for the first twenty-four hours, they didn’t expect her to live. But we knew that there were powers beyond everything being done at the hospital that were at work in her behalf. For one thing, all the Salt Lake relatives held a fast and prayer circle for her.
Aside from frightful bruises, X-ray showed that she had suffered a compound fracture of the right femur. This bone was broken entirely across in two places and the intermediate section split lengthwise into four pieces. The left leg was broken through the knee joint. This leg was put in a cast. The right leg was elevated and put in traction. In this condition and position she remained for two months. During much of this time, she was also plagued by hives and a cough that would wreck a well person. At the end of the two months, she was put in a cast from her chest to her heels, to remain for another two months. It was removed just before Christmas. Upon removal of the cast, we observed that the right leg was shorter than the left. The doctor tried to glass over our alarm stating that she was holding the right hip above the left, but we knew better and were quite worried about it. During these months, while in the cast, Edna was at Margaret’s. I think I would be ungrateful if I did not enter here a word of appreciation for the loving care and devotion extended to Edna by both Margaret and Myron during these weeks. She was practically helpless, as can easily be imagined encased in cast of that type. It required the best effort of two people even to turn her over. They both got up early each morning so Myron could help with her before he went to work.
The picture is not all one sided, however. Handicapped as she was, Edna tended Laura Jo, and crocheted many pieces for Margaret to give as Christmas gifts. She also composed and gave me a Christmas gift in the form of the following poem:
To Junius Christmas 1949
My heart is full of love for you
That’s all I have to give.
I know my love will never wane
As long as I shall live.
But through the long eternities,
My love will deeper grow,
As it has done here year by year.
We brought Edna home about the third of February 1950. The doctor loaned her a walker to help her learn to walk again, but every time she attempted to get on her feet, she was in most intense pain. We felt that if she didn’t persevere, she would never learn to walk. Finally, early in July, we had an X-ray only to discover that one fracture had not healed. She had been trying for five months to walk on a broken leg. This meant only one thing, an operation, and the insertion of a metal rod. Following the operation, her convalescence proceeded rather slowly. It was late November before she was allowed to put her weight on the right leg.
Her problem now was to walk on a right leg shorter than the other and a left leg with a knee that was always bent. By dint of indomitable courage and will power, she mastered the act of walking in a rather ungainly fashion. But she could not be on her feet long without pain. Until her death, she used a wheelchair much of the time indoors and a crutch outdoors.
Edna’s crippled condition was a source of great sorrow to her because she could not do many of the things she wanted to do and especially, because she was dependent upon others to an extent. She was, however, never idle a moment. She could still use her hands and they were kept busy from morning until night, mostly serving others, sewing, crocheting, canning, writing. She will never have to answer for wasted time.
So matters moved on about as usual. We were happy in each other’s company. We could go and come as we pleased. We had sufficient income for our needs, and so our minds were free from financial worries. We loved our home and each other. We had a lovely family of children and grandchildren who seemed to appreciate us. Above all, we had a standing in the church and an assurance of something for us in the hereafter if we were faithful. What else mattered?
Our happiness, however, was to be marred once again. In the latter part of February 1954, Edna attempted to guide a party of genealogical workers from our ward through the library in Salt Lake City. In going down a stair, she fell from the bottom step and broke her right arm in eight places. This was for her the last straw. With her other accidents, she could use her hands, but now she was completely incapacitated. It was a great blow to her. She received good medical attention, and in a few weeks she could use her hand, although from then on she had to be careful. I had to come to her aid with some of her tasks.
This accident mostly overcome, we seemed to be all set for a number of years of happiness together. Both of us were in reasonably good health. We often used to banter each other as to which one would go first. I felt that in Edna’s crippled condition, it would be a calamity if she were left alone, but of course we have no choice in those matters.
Due to an injury to my hand, Edna had to do all the picking of the garden produce in the summer of 1995, peas, berries, beans, cucumbers, etc. She would lay down her crutch, pick a few feet, take up the crutch for a step or two, and so on. What determination it took! I tried to persuade her to let the things go, but if there was one berry, one bean, one cucumber, that would go to waste, it worried her. Many of these things she gathered and canned and gave to people who were much better able to do their own than se.
In August of that same summer, 1955, Edna’s health began to fail. She was first of all troubled with gas in the intestine. At times, it gave her great distress. Between spells, however, she seemed well. Two different doctors claimed it to be caused by a “bug” she had picked up and that the prescription given her would clear it up. When that didn’t happen, she was X-rayed from top to bottom and the doctor came up with “colitis”, which of course, it wasn’t. In the meantime, she developed painful inflamed swellings of the veins in her leg. I took her to Dr. Paul Richards, mostly to find out about her flatulence and some stomach trouble that seemed to be developing. As soon as he saw the veins in her leg, he declared it to be phlebitis and ordered her to bed for two weeks or more. We went back to him each week for a check up and further tests until about the 20th of November, Edna was so bad that she was ordered to the L.D.S. Hospital.
The hospital’s numerous tests were made and X-rays taken with Edna growing worse almost by the hour. It was finally decided that the trouble was in the region of the stomach and liver, but just the nature of the trouble, the doctors were not prepared to say. We consented to an exploratory operation, only to find her full of cancer with but a short life expectancy. Soon after Edna entered the hospital, her mind began to fail. Dr. Richards said there seemed to be something interfering with the blood supply to the brain. The cancer, of course, could be blamed for that. A few hours after the operation, Edna suffered a stroke affecting her entire right side, and fortunately, she became totally unconscious. She lived only three and a half days following the operation. As Margaret, Myron, and I stood about her bed, I impressed a final kiss on her brow and so, her great soul passed into eternity this cold winter morning, December 5, 1955 at 1:00 o’clock AM.
The many people who called at the house and at the mortuary, well over four hundred, bore testimony to the esteem with which Edna was regarded. At the services, the chapel was practically full, and a long procession followed the hearse to the Pleasant Grove cemetery. The floral offerings were many. In addition, I was presented with over seventy dollars in money.
Odd as it may seem, I do not grieve for Edna. She lived such a perfect life, I know she has been received into a state of happiness where she will be free from her crippled body with its aches and pains. She can move about freely. She can associate with our two children who have gone before. It would be sinful for me to wish her back with her body in the condition is was. I thank my Heavenly Father that she was taken before she suffered longer and that she could go first. I am far better prepared, at present any rate, to live alone that she would have been.
The latter part of this history might give one the impression that our lives were most unhappy. It is true that we have had some unpleasant experiences, but our blessing, we felt, far outnumbered our misfortunes. When we think of our rich heritage, our being born under the covenant, thus making us heirs to the Celestial Kingdom, our marriage in the Temple for time and all eternity, our lovely children and grandchildren: what else matters? This life is but brief in duration. If we can keep our covenants, repent of our sins, and remain true to the end, all will be well.
When Edna and I were married in the Temple, if we were worthy, we at that time received the seal of the Holy Spirit of Promise, which means that if we do no violate the covenants we have made with the Lord, we shall receive the blessings promised us in that beautiful marriage ceremony. I know that Edna lived true to those covenants. As to myself, I am not so sure. It is my daily prayer that the Lord will forgive me of my past trespasses and help me to avoid sin in the future that I may be worthy to claim Edna in the next life as my wife. There is nothing greater that I could pray for. If I am able to have her as my wife hereafter, we will be entitled to exaltation, above which there is no greater blessing. Edna has done her part and done it well. It is now up to me. If I fail, she will be given to someone more worthy. I hope and pray that I may not fail.
Little has been said in this sketch of our married life about religion and our church activities. I may say, and I think not boastfully, that these things always came first in our home. Whenever the church called, other considerations were set aside. Moneymaking was never foremost in our minds. Our church obligations were always met first, then whatever was left, we felt, was ours. We tried to keep the Sabbath Day holy and teach our children to do the same. We had family prayer regularly and practiced secret prayer ourselves and taught our children to do likewise. We tried to make our religion a way of life, something to be lived every day. By living the gospel and its principles, we hoped to impress our children with the wisdom of following our example. In all of this I give Edna a full measure of credit. She has had a most wonderfully stabilizing influence on my life. I know I am the better for her association.
I appreciate my children. They have been most loyal to me and I hope I can live to merit their love and respect. I love them all, and my grandchildren included. Life would be empty without them.
Following Edna’s passing, Earl and Winifred asked me to go with them to Albuquerque for a time, but I considered it best to remain at home and conquer my loneliness right at first. I have never thought of Edna as being in the grave. To me, she is the same living, active, person that I have known her to be in the past. I think of her as teaching, helping, learning, and enjoying every moment of her existence. Why should I mourn for her? I am just anxiously awaiting the time when I may join her.
I have already enumerated Edna’s positions in the church, as many as I could remember. I probably have not given them all. I here enter a catalogue of the few offices in the church that have come my way. I have already stated that I held the various offices in the Aaronic Priesthood. I likewise was honored with three offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood, those of Elder, Seventy, and High Priest. While a Seventy, I was one of the seven presidents of the 68th Quorum. I have taught religion class, Sunday School, M.I.A., and Teacher Training classes. I have acted on Sunday School Stake Boards in Utah, Alpine, and Lehi Stakes. I was Superintendent of the Alpine Stake Y.M.M.I.A. I was a Lehi Stake High Councilman, and in that capacity served on the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee, chairman of the Aaronic Priesthood Committee, and chairman of the stake Genealogical Committee. I have also served on the ward Genealogical Committee. I was director of teacher training in both the Alpine and Lehi Stakes. I have served as Scout Commissioner and Scout Counselor. I was president of the Lehi Stake Mission. I have taught priesthood groups and served many years as a ward teacher. Coming as a climax to these services in the Church, I was awarded, undeservedly, I felt, and honorary Master M. Men certificate and pin, which I prize very highly. At my age, I have been practically laid on the shelf. It is true that I hold five positions, but they are of minor importance.
I am now living alone. I think I have made a fair adjustment to this change. My children and grandchildren are very kind and helpful to me. But for them, I would be quite unhappy. I love my house and take satisfaction in caring for it. If the time ever comes that I am dependent entirely upon others, I hope that I may be taken, but of course, I have no choice in this matter. (The writing of the above account was concluded on July 19, 1956. If other events seem to warrant it, they will be added later.)
Since concluding the above I was set apart as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple, 22 September 1956 by Raymond Clayton, councilor in the Temple Presidency, and assigned to work Thursday and Friday evenings. I feel very unworthy of this high calling.
As a fitting climax to this history, the following will express the feelings Edna and I hold for each other:
To One I Love
I thank my Maker for you, sweeheart, mine,
You’ve made my life a paradise, atune
With all the nobler, richer things of life,
Since that eventful day in early June.
As you arrive at three score years and one,
My heart beats high with honor and with pride
To claim you mine. My love for you is deeper now,
Than on the day when I became your bride.
You’ve stood by me through joys and tears, alike,
Bringing the sunshine to my darkest days;
You’ve changed despair and gloom to happiness,
Your love has lessened keenest pain always.
You walked with me and tightly held my hand,
Into the uncertain shadowland of birth,
And smiled first on those wee ones we brought here
To help us make a full rich life on earth.
May God yet grant us years to realize
Sweet happiness and peace together here,
For life’s experience can still bring to us
A love that deepens with each passing year.
I hope this small token will help to express the great and enduring love and respect I have for you. Were I to have all the money in the world, I could not even then buy you a present which would even in small part express my feelings for you. You are the light of my life and my soul happiness is to be with you always.