Aaron Wayne Johnson & Anna Tracey Whitney Johnson - Memories of their Children
Contributor: Chynna67 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Written by Clair Johnson – July 1984:
I have been asked to say something about some things I might remember about my parents that perhaps some of you didn’t know. And having so many young people here I see I didn’t prepare very well because I should have prepared things that they would remember.
I always enjoy thinking about my childhood days. I think I had one of the richest childhoods that any person could have had. Those days must have been pleasant and carefree, and some of the events more than others seem to flash before my mind. I remember as far back as Winter Quarters and Scofield when we lived up there. And I thought maybe I’d tell some things all of you didn’t remember. Most of the events merge together in my mind.
I remember our Sunday walks up in Scofield. Aunt Jessie was in a baby carriage with Mama pushing it and Pop was throwing rocks at wild chickens, and it seemed like little minor incidents predominate my memories of them.
We moved to Price and Papa taught both art and music there. Now this is important because you have an art and music heritage that comes down from our grandparents. I went to school as far as the fourth grade in Price when I was a little fellow. But I skipped the third grade. Not that I was too smart, but the teacher threatened to quit if she had to have me in her class! Well, the folks built two nice homes there in Price. My father built both of them. He was a good carpenter. Jessie would remember these homes as well as I do.
Pop was able to get large numbers of young people interested in playing band and orchestra instruments, and I think my first contacts with bands came when I used to follow his band down the street.
I remember best selling magazines down at the train depot in Price when I was a little kid, and I bought for myself a nice desk and a trunk. And I still have those items that I bought many years ago selling magazines. I used to go rabbit hunting with Pop. I remember getting so tired and worn out when I was a little fellow that I just couldn’t move any farther. I used to gather beer bottles and sell them at the saloon in Price. Papa made a fine big bobsled that held a whole family, and we used to go bobsledding down the wood hill.
I remember going to Grandma Whitney’s in Mapleton, playing with the Whitney boys. We used to really have some good times. The town marshall came up and told Grandma that he had heard that I had been exposed to measles back in Price, and they thought they’d better get me out of town. At least that was the reason he gave at the time.
Well, while living in Price and teaching school there, Papa made all the door and window frames in our backyard for the new home that they were going to build in Springville. These frames were freighted to Springville all ready for installation in what seemed to me the most beautiful setting I’d ever seen for any home!
The old home was down on Fourth North and Main, with the beautiful springs and willow trees. I’ll explain to you that the folks had bought the entire corner at Fourth North. And this meant a big garden and an orchard. In order to keep the money coming in Papa had to take summer jobs such as working as a carpenter on the Scofield dam, ranching, and so forth. Now I remember Jessie and I had to work in the summer in order to pay the market bill. Often we had to wash radishes, bunch them, and pick carrots and other vegetables out of our garden. I remember harnessing “Old Queen,” our dependable horse, to the cultivator to clean out the weeds. Our watering turn always came in the middle of the night, and I can remember my mother holding the old kerosene lantern and following me around in the middle of the night helping me change the water in the ditches. I remember Mama’s flower garden there, and I can remember there were peony bushes on the southeast corner of the front porch.
During the wintertime we made skis taking a 1 x 4 x 8 slab of wood and bending the ends in a ladder and steaming them in my mother’s old copper boiler – making skis. We had more fun than they do today. Evenings we spent around the fireplace reading and eating apples. This was before movies were even invented or before radio. I always enjoyed going fishing and hunting with Grandpa. I remember when we used to go duck hunting on the streams west of town, lying in the snow and watching the mallards come in on the moonlight. He always taught me to aim at two ducks, never at one duck—always two ducks. When they crossed, that was the time to shoot. Well, Papa had to furnish his family with meat when he was a boy, and he had to learn to shoot and shoot economically. Honey sage hens at the ranch, the old Wassom place--we had to shoot them to keep them out of our strawberry patch.
Papa always enjoyed the deer hunting up Smith-Morehouse when all the boys got together. In the summer of 1937, I think it was, we built a boat and hauled it up to Strawberry for the opening and caught so many rainbow trout that we didn’t come back to shore again until dark.
Papa was a strong man, strong in mind and body. He had great determination and endurance. One morning at home, Mama awakened me and told me to come downstairs to see the deer that Papa had brought home. He had just arrived at daybreak, and he unloaded the big buck. He told us later that he shot that buck just at sundown on the Strawberry Ridge. And I wish some of you would measure this sometime when you are up there, measure it in your car and see how far this would be! He shot the buck just under the Strawberry Ridge, just at sundown. He dredged it out, and headed for home just as the sunlight was leaving the Strawberry peaks, going over the divide and down Hobble Creek Canyon in the dark. How he ever loaded that buck onto that stubborn horse and found his way through those mountains and home is beyond any imagination that I have. But I just wish someone would check the mileage over that route that he went in the dark.
Another trip involving great determination and endurance was a trip in the wintertime up on Billy Speachs’ cabin with the cattle. I suppose he took the train to Diamond Fork, then went on up on his homemade skis up Diamond Fork and over Billy’s Mountain. Then he fed the cattle, went on over the mountain down the Thistle side on his skis to catch the train back home. Now these were trips of great endurance.
Well, their lives were filled with great challenges and accomplishments. Their incessant drive and energy were something that will become inherent in all of us. All of the children were always busy, always working. I am proud to be their son. I am grateful for the example that they’ve set. It has been a great guide throughout all of my life. I am proud of all of you.
Written by Don LaRell Johnson:
I think the thing I ought to do is fill in some of the things Uncle Clair mentioned that I had a few more details or a little different point of view perhaps than he would have. He gave such a good description of life around home, but I’ll go right back as early as I can.
I was born in Price when we were still down in Carbon County, and I don’t remember much about that. But I know that our family moved to Springville when I was about a year old. We lived in a rented house about a year while the home was being built. I couldn’t help but feel like Clair did, that our parents certainly selected a beautiful place for that home. It was a little bit less than a square city block in size—with the beautiful mountain on the east and the fields on the west that we all grew up in. There were fishing excursions and hikes and hunting later . It was just a perfect place to raise a family.
However, we can’t overlook the fact that they bit off a big chunk of work, not only for themselves, but for the kids too. They saw to it that there was a garden planted, and the kids were supposed to take care of it, of course, and the pigs and chickens, cows and horses all need special care. Those cows had to be taken to the city pasture in the morning and met at night when they came home. But I’ll tell you, if you missed a night and the cows got beyond and we had to look for them for a while, we were in trouble. So we were disciplined quite strictly at home, and we were kept busy. I think that some activities were invented so that we would have plenty to do. I remember very well after Grandpa had worked up on that high line canal, he was able to get a lot of material and hauled it home. Well, I was supposed to pull so many nails out of that material every day. “Now you pull so many cans full of those nails every day!” were the instructions. Things like that were invented for us to do!
Our parents never wasted any time, and they made it a point that the kids didn’t waste time either. I’m quite certain when they bought the property in Mapleton it was to be sure that a couple of kids, Gene and I, had plenty of work to do. We helped plant the fruit trees and berry plants, the corn and hay. All that was planted had to be weeded, pruned, and irrigated, and soon the harvesting began. This was all done with hand power and horse power. We were kept busy.
We ought to talk about the ranches on Billy’s Mountain for a minute or two. Grandpa owned three ranches on that mountain. The first one on the east side I never saw and never heard him talk about. The second ranch was purchased by Grandpa and Uncle Willis from Tom Wassom. This was a partnership venture and was the best ranch of the three. They sold out after two or three years. I barely remember this place.
The last ranch was obtained through the Homestead Act and contained 320 acres. Only a small part could be cultivated. The rest was steep and covered with brush. All the land had to be fenced with barbed wire. A home had to be built on the land and occupied for about four months of each year. This was required by the government. The fencing, the building of the home and the clearing of the land were momentous tasks. I don’t know how Grandpa accomplished what he did. Gene and I weren’t old enough to help much, but we did what we could. Grandpa also had to build a road into his property. This was about one mile long.
Wheat was raised mostly, and I remember the thresher that had to be pulled to the ranch with its steam engine. And the meal preparation—that was customary to “feed the threshers.” This was done by Grandma with aid of a wood burning stove to cook and to heat the water.
I remember Grandma going up there with us a few times. She went up when she could, but she was raising children, some of them babies. But I can remember her going out in the harvest time and gleaning. Now you have heard of gleaners in the Bible, but we had gleaners in our day. They got every stalk of grain round the edges where the binders couldn’t reach and put it out in the field where it could be picked up when they hauled the grain in. She had Burton and Nelda. They were both up there with us as children. Still she was out there gleaning on those hot side hills. Well, the ranch had many fond memories for me. And, by the way, it isn’t “Billies” Mountain, it’s “Billy’s,” named after our great uncle Billy Johnson. So when you read it in the newspapers it’s “Billy’s Mountain” on account of our uncle who owned one of the early ranches on the mountain.
I am very proud of our heritage. We were taught many things, good things. We had good music. We had a good phonograph and the best music that could be purchased on records. And we listened to it nearly every evening. We had good pictures hanging on the walls, good art, and a library full of good literature. Now if you don’t think that has a good influence on your children, I think you ought to think again, because it does! I didn’t read a lot of those books, but that awesome bookcase the full length of one of the rooms full of literature had an effect on me. So did the pictures and the music. My father tried to get me to learn to play the violin, and I did play it in the high school orchestra for a couple of years or so, but I guess it didn’t appeal to me. I’d rather play the brass instruments, and I gave up one for the other.
I only heard Grandpa play his violin once. I don’t know why he did not continue his music. He got the violin out one evening at home in the kitchen and started to play a tune or two, and we were so anxious to get our hands on that violin, we were pulling on his arms and pant legs. He finally just gave up, and as far as I know he didn’t ever play it again. He was a good violinist, too! He used to play the piano when nobody was around. If Grandma, or anyone, came home while he was playing he would stop. But occasionally we’d go up there to see him in the new home, and he’d be sitting there playing the piano all by himself. But not if anybody was around. I don’t understand it.
We didn’t like to see our parents leave this earth, but I’m kind of glad they left it when they did. I don’t know how they would accept the entertainment we get over the TV and the movies today or some of the music we have today. They were high idealists, and they just taught us the best of the good all the time and set a good example to us. So we can all be happy about the heritage we have. And if we can just live to the ideals they set for us and live as they wanted us to live I am sure we would all be real good people. And I am sure you are. We were very fortunate to have such ideal people for our parents. They met in school. He was the principal of the school, and she was a teacher in Mapleton. They built a home just east of the school, and the home is still there on the corner and is a kind of monument to us.
I was asked to talk about some of the funny things that Grandpa said or did. He was known for his wit and humor. We didn’t hear much of this at home. I suppose he was always too busy or occupied with the serious side of life when he was with the family. I suppose the wit and humor was extended to others. Some amusing things, however—all dogs were called “Snyder” and all the cats “Philo.” He would take people’s names and change them around a little to make them sound funny or ridiculous.
I went to the ranch with him while quite young. We slept in the same bed. I wasn’t easy to sleep with, and the coyotes added to the problem. They howled all night and about scared me to death. And as I tossed and turned, I kept him awake. He solved the problem by putting a crooked stick about five feet long down the middle of the bed. He then could sleep, but I dared not. It’s a good trick to remember.
Whenever we’d go hunting or fishing, Grandma would always say, “Now, don’t you need an extra pair of gloves? Don’t you want to take some extra socks? What about a toboggan or something like that? Don’t you need these? Wouldn’t you like these?” And, of course, we were tough, and we said, “No, we don’t need them. We’ll get along with what we’ve got.” And you know, often we’d get up there to camp and there was that pair of socks or that pair of mittens! We always needed them too, by the way.
One other thing. I used to like to hunt with Grandpa just like Clair did. He could always outwalk any of his kids, even after we grew up. I was always nervous going out with him. I was afraid he’d get lost all the time, and if I got a little way away from him I’d begin to whistle, whistle, whistle. Larry, you know all about this. Larry and I hunt together. And while we’re out I do the same thing with Larry when he gets away from me. I think they’re lost, of course. But I’d hunt with Grandpa for half a day, and you know I’d find him right about where I left him, sitting there under a pine tree, and he wouldn’t answer me. Of course, I’d always scare the deer away, and he knew it. But it was a good experience to go hunting with him. He knew how to hunt. He was a good hunter, and he rarely missed his game.
So we have lots of fond memories of our parents, and we’re grateful for the association we have had with such people as they.
Written by Bertha Wilborg Bearnson Johnson (Wayne Eugene Johnson’s wife)
I’m sure that if we would say, “Think of Grammy,” everyone would have a different picture, something special that you were privileged to experience with her or visit with her or just to enjoy being with her. And wouldn’t it be nice if they could all flash before us on the panorama and we could see all these different sides of Grammy. I have many, many pleasant memories, and it was a great privilege for me to know and to be with Grammy. Just last night it was, I got another picture of Grammy as I saw those four beautiful bridesmaids standing in the wedding line wearing those beautiful dresses she had made. I couldn’t help but be just thrilled with her handiwork and how the dresses have lasted for 56 years and are still beautiful to behold, and I am sure that her influence on all of us will last much longer than that.
I remember hearing Merrill talking to someone the other day saying what a great joy it was to go to Grammy’s house. And when you came in the door she made you feel like you were the most special person in the world, and that she was so glad to see you. She always made you feel welcome, and that’s the way it always was with Grammy. She always made you feel like you had just really made her day when you came to see her.
Gene was always thoughtful about his mother, about going to visit her and sit and talk with her, and it was a great joy to me. One of the nicest things we liked to do was to take Grammy for a ride. And how we liked to ride through Mapleton. She liked to do that. She would reminisce about her girlhood and tell, “It was here I used to meet Lula,” or one of her friends, where she used to go to different places, always walking through those streets of Mapleton. I could see them as young girls, giggling or laughing and having fun. There’s one thing about Grammy I thought that she certainly should leave to somebody in the family, and that was her laugh. She had the most delightful laugh. And I think we do have one who has that laugh. It was given to her. That is Ann. And if you don’t believe it, we could have her laugh for you. She does laugh a lot like Grammy did. I remember how we used to like to ride in the canyons and how Grammy thrilled to the colors in the fall, but she always liked the mountains when the brilliant hues had faded and the colors were more subdued, and oh, how she loved that. Those colors were so beautiful to her.
In her home, I remember one time, she was kind and always thinking of somebody. One time I was there and a man came to see her. I didn’t know who he was, and I don’t know if she had met him before. But he was coming through Springville, and he wanted to stop and say “thank you” to the lady who had been so kind to his mother. Now I didn’t know who the mother was, but someone who just knew of Grammy and wanted to come and thank her.
And I know when we would go there, I don’t think we ever left there empty handed. She would always say, “Now I have some rolls, wouldn’t you like to take them home for your supper?” Or, “Here’s a pot I saw. It’s just perfect for baking beans, and I’d like you to have it.” Or, “There’s a cake left over. Will you take this home to the children.” Or, “I have this embroidered scarf. Wouldn’t you like this for your dresser?” Always something she was giving to us. I don’t know, we always admired the things she did. She was an inspiration to all of us.
One time quite a while ago I was asked to give a tribute in one of the clubs to Grammy, and I just picked up the tail end of what I had left, and there was one little poem that I wrote down, and I thought it reminded me so much of Grammy about the little kindly things she did for others. She was always giving, always doing for others.
It was just the little homely things,
The unobtrusive friendly things
The “Won’t you let me help you” things
That made our family light.
It was just the jolly joking things
The “Laugh with me, it’s funny” things
But never mind the trouble things,
That made our world seem bright.
What all the countless famous things
The wondrous record breaking things
Those never can be equal things
That all the papers cite.
They just can’t match the little things
The little human things,
The “Just because I like you” things
The “Oh, it’s simply nothing” things
That make us happy quite.
So thanks for all the little things
The every day encountered things
The smile in face or troubled things
Thank God to put it right.
The done and then forgotten things,
The “Can’t you see I love you” things
The hearty “I am with you” things
That make life worth the fight.
And she was a wonderful mother. We loved her because she showed us the joy and the beauty and just commonplace things – the dew on a rose, the flash of a bluebird’s wings – she noticed all those beauties. The fading light on the eastern hills, the sunset glow, the willow pattern cups, a braided rug, a treasured cut glass vase, crackling chestnuts in the bright log fire. She looked for beauty in everyone and everywhere, and seeing it found her own soul released in the creation of her hands. Her busy hands were always working on some lovely thing – ceramics, china painting, a rug, a handbraided rug, an oil painting or a quilt for a loved grandchild.
And how she loved her grandchildren. And how she would be proud of the posterity she has and how thrilled she would be to see that wedding last night. I am sure she is really pleased and happy with the group that is here today. We loved her very much, and she will always be a blessed memory to us.