A brief (part 2) autobiography of Elmer LaMarr Cardon
Contributor: comstock Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
This delightful autobiography (Part 2) was contributed to a Cardon Family Book compiled by LaMarr & Leona Cardon for a Cardon Reunion in 1986. It adds additional stories not included in the previous (Part 1) autobiography contributed to the Webb family book in 1985. I love this addition, which shows so well my father’s personality and humor.
ELMER LAMARR CARDON (PART 2)
Born: 11 July 1928 at Kirtland, New Mexico
Blessed: 2 September 1928 by Henry Thomas Stolworthy
Baptized: 1 August 1936 by my father, J.W. Cardon, Sr.
Confirmed: 2 August 1936 by J.W. Cardon, Sr.
Ordained: Deacon 8 September 1940 by Ervin H. Goodman
Teacher 15 August 1943 by J.W. Cardon, Sr.
Priest: 29 July 1947 by J.W. Cardon, Sr.
Elder: 13 July 1947 by Egbert D. Brown
Seventy: 16 February 1969 by Bernard P Brockbank
High Priest: 25 January 1981 by Russel H. Allen
Married: 19 July 1947 to Leona Webb by Willard C. Stolworthy at Farmington, New Mexico
Endowed and Sealed: 22 July 1947 to Leona Webb by Joseph B. Daines in the Logan Temple
Patriarchal Blessing: August 1946 by Elmer F. Taylor at Farmington, New Mexico (no written record was given so a second blessing was granted) 12 July 1946 by F. Lorin Bunker at North Las Vegas, Nevada
Commenced School: 1934 at Kirtland, New Mexico
Graduated: 1946 from Farmington High School, Farmington, New Mexico
College: BS in Education in 1958 at Western New Mexico University at Silver City, New Mexico
Masters Degree in Education in 1965 at Northern Arizona University at Flagstaff, Arizona
Graduate Studies at University of Arizona, University of Nevada and Eastern Kentucky University
Color of Hair: Brown to grey - Color of Eyes: Blue
Father: Junius Welborn Cardon born 21 January 1891 at Colonia Juarez, Mexico
Mother: Mae Whiting born 7 October 1893 at Colonia Diaz, Mexico
Brothers and Sisters: Junius Welburn Jr., Robert Mansel, Irene (Christensen), Carmen (Tanner), Margaret Ethelyn (Russon), Herman Elwood, Alice LaVerne (Johnson) and Charles Dee
This is my second life!
A few months ago I hurriedly wrote my first life history for the publication of Leona’s Webb Family Album and Life Histories. If I had it all to live over again ... Well, here’s my chance. My posterity may get a little glimpse into my split personality.
I was the first New Mexican, seventh child, born at Kirtland just shortly after the relocation of the Mae and June Cardon gang from Vernon, Arizona. I was born at home delivered by Michael D. Moran, the family doctor who much later delivered four of five of my own children. I was born in the "Ramlet House” which still stands but has been added-on-to considerably from what I vaguely remember as four small rooms. It is owned by Ross (now deceased) and Nita Winn Leona’s Uncle and a brother-in-law to Aunt Mabel Cardon Winn.
My first remembrances were of happy times there. I only saw a very small part of this wondrous world of ours through a child's eyes and senses but the color, form, sounds, smells and touch of things around me - both the pleasant and the unpleasant - fascinated me. Big, scraggly cottonwood trees that snowed cotton every spring from funny little grape-like clusters, irrigation ditches and swampy bogs that sustained all kinds creepy, wiggly and flying things living in, feeding on all sorts of plant life. I remember the excitement of the transformation of the dirt lane that ran in front of our home into a graveled highway by horse-drawn shiny green wagons with orange iron -rimmed wheels that hauled the gravel. Very few cars and trucks travelled the road in those days. The Navaho Indians were constantly passing in covered wagons but I had barely missed the horse and buggy days of the white man.
The rest of the family were feeling the bad effects of a terrible depression but I was oblivious to it all. I never felt deprived or hungry maybe because I didn't know any difference but I suspect that others sacrificed for the baby of the family. I felt very secure in the love of my family even as the Ramlet place was taken away by mortgage foreclosure along with everything else, as I remember it, except one milk cow a few chickens and personal effects. I must have been shielded from the trauma of it all or just too dumb to realize what had happened.
I have always enjoyed being around Elwood, only about 1 1/2 years older than I. He was always into fun things to do and has such a great sense of humor. I know that most of the time I was a drag to him but I appreciate him putting up with me for the most part. Our playmates had been limited to our cousins: Ervin, Clyde and Tom Goodman or Jay and Glenn Bloomfield. There was a Behrman(?) family who lived not too far away. I have forgotten their names. We had very few "boughten" toys. I vaguely remember one tricycle and a red toy wagon that did double-duty in a big part of our play and also in the chores assigned at an early age to us. We hauled in firewood, coal, water, garden stuff, etc. One Christmas we received a set of figures that stood about 3 inches high that represented George Armstrong Custer and a few of his Company in their last stand against Indians - lots of Indians-on foot and on horseback. They were molded of what tasted like yucky hide-and-hoof animal glue and sawdust (long before the day of plastics) and were enameled with bright colors. I really thought they were great. We had a few pewter cars and bright colored marbles. But the homemade "tractor-crawlers” made of empty thread spools, soap bits, a rubber band and matchsticks were a lot of fun. A big button and a strong string was a favorite whirly hummer. Paper pinwheels. Rubber guns made of sticks clothespins or a string for the repeater model that fired tightly stretched rubber bands cut from inner-tubes. One very carefully selected tree limb was my own, personal horse named Silver. He would do anything - I mean ANYTHING - I wanted him to do. He could run like the wind, trot, rear up on his tail, roll overt play dead, swim through puddles - just any-thing. With all these things we really didn't need plastics or electronics. Radios were new and exciting in our day. We listened to Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy, Amos-N-Andy with all the special sound effects, whistles and squeaks, so we didn't need the hard rock of today.
When we moved near the center of metropolitan Kirtland our circle of playmates was really increased. I remember best, my favorite, Reed Stolworthy. But there were good times with lots of others. Nearest my age were Darrell and Kennard Tanner, Phil and Cal Foutz and Zane Foutz of another family.
I experienced some real hard lessons in disobedience at an early age. I had been entrusted at age five to drive the milk cow to pasture in a neighbor's field a little over a mile away and then bring her home in the evening for milking. I was pretty proud to be big enough to help this way. But one particular evening I was distracted from my chore by the Foutz kids who were having a great playtime and I felt a little imposed upon having to work when they had time to play. I didn't join in but stood by watching, feeling sorry for myself, when I finally realized old Bossy had sauntered on down the lane and out of sight and it was beginning to get dark! I high-tailed it for home hoping Bossy had more sense than I did and had gone on home where she belonged! But I could find no sign of her. I was in deep trouble. It was very late that night when a frustrated father, so tired from a long day of hard work, a long, dark search had to retrieve Bossy and make reparations to a neighbor for her mischief in his feed barn. I received a well-deserved, character-building threshing with a real stiff willow switch. The greater hurt was to have added to the grief of a kind and gentle father.
Dad seemed to enjoy having me around when he worked and I loved going with him. I guess I was not too much of a pest, interfering with his work. I remember several jobs out of town that he let me go and batch with him. Lots of corn flakes and Pet canned milk (I had a great dislike for canned milk but wouldn't jeopardize my chance to camp with him by complaining). We were heavy into Van Camps Pork and beans in those days, too. Our dessert and special treat was comb honey, which I dearly loved. One of those jobs was at Hogback at the home of, as I remember, Don Martin, a quite important Navaho Indian leader. As Dad worked I would often gather up the wood scraps and waste materials but most of the time play around close entertaining myself but the Martins had a daughter just about my age always dressed in traditional velveteen blouse and multiple squaw skirts, high topped shoes and heavy cotton stockings with her long, coarse black hair done up in a bob in the back. We were both so shy that we just about out-shied each other but I had taken a small pewter car, painted bright red, with one of its little rubber tires missing - it was my plaything to entertain myself. She joined in when I started carving fancy roadways in a nice soft bank of earth. We enjoyed taking turns driving that car over all those wild roads. When Dad and I left, in a burst of generosity, I gave her the car to keep. Some time later, I had a chance to go back to the Martins and she presented me with a small wool rug about 1 1/2 by 2 feet with all the traditional Navaho colors and design. I understood that this was the first product of her mother’s training in wool processing and weaving. I regret that I let that rug kick around for years until it disappeared and didn't keep it for a keepsake.
The Navaho people were so interesting and a little bit scary to me as I grew up. They were so different, stubbornly resisting giving up their old traditions. Several times I remember seeing the south bank of the San Juan River — the Navaho Reservation — transform from desolation to a beehive of activity with a hundred campfires, Indians and horses and hear strange sing—song chants go on and on into the wee hours of morning. It had not been too far into the past that they had danced some war dances but they were kinda sadly a subdued people when I came along. But it still sent a little chill up my spine. I was taken a few times to see them performing their ceremonial "sings" for someone that was seriously ill, a squaw dance and, once, a snake dance with the braves prancing around with rattle—snakes in their teeth and witch doctors in weird masks. Those were exciting times and great material to develop childhood nightmares.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the arrival of a baby sister was an exciting occasion. LaVerne was just like my own live Shirley Temple doll. Her natural talent showed up very young as she would do a little song and dance routine on the kitchen table. She was just a toddler when she sampled an unattended open lye can on one of the backyard washdays! There was panic and screaming and great concern for quite a while but our mother's quick action with the vinegar bottle (I thought for a moment that she was going to drown poor Laverne who was gagging and frothing at the mouth) proved to be the very best treatment leaving no ill affects.
I remember Wig and Bob singing beautiful duets accompanied by that magical guitar. And all of the older ones singing so beautifully Red Sails In The Sunset, La Paloma, Juanita, Home On The Range and so many other beautiful ballads and love songs that recall those special, inspirational moments. I recall all the magic of staging that the folks did in their plays and programs. Special to me were the times of story reading and story—telling. Mama's readings and her story of Mufloo and many others have slipped from my memory but were those special, priceless moments of my childhood.
I can well imagine how I must have embarrassed the older ones, then teenagers and young adults and me at my grubbiest but I never remember anything but kindness from them. I didn't know until I was an adult that Carmen, my own dear Carmen, had kicked the living daylights out of me! Of course, I shouldn't have been crawling around under her bed in the first place then I wouldn't have been mistaken for the family dog who was absolutely forbidden to be in the house. I guess the real reason I didn't hold it against her all these years was the fact that I never knew what hit me. Of course, nowadays, I'm on my very best behavior around Carmen.
I remember a time that I was sent to Uncle Elmer's to stay for a few days and how wonderful it was to be around these special folks. And then, being brought back home to a very solemn occasion. Irene was lying pale and almost lifeless — just an odd quivering of the bed was all I could detect. This must have been arranged as a very likely last farewell to our oldest sister. I was so young I hardly understood the seriousness of it all but have relived the experience many times in my life and the miracle of faith was firmly established in every fiber of my being along with the lesson of " Oh Lord, Thy will, not mine, be done." I remember the heartsick feeling when Elwood's leg was crushed and then the comfort and reassurance that prayer and faith in the power of the Holy Priesthood brought to my soul. I heard my father's moans and sighs of pain often going on throughout the night as his health failed. The endless hours of my mother's efforts to comfort him and ease the pain. My hours and hours of prayers and crying in my pillow, not able to bear the thoughts of losing him and even asking the Lord to take me first because I knew I couldn't bear the sorrow. Although his faith and administration had brought healing to many others he was to receive only temporary periods of some relief and otherwise endure to the end. I don't pretend to understand the ways of the Lord but I never doubt a loving and compassionate Father in heaven even though his answer to my prayers may sometimes, in His great wisdom, been, no, this is not to be." Prayer and faith and my testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ were nurtured and confirmed to my soul through my wonderful family and have been my strength as I struggle along with my many weaknesses.
My first four years in school were fantastic! With a great start from a wonderful mother image, Pearl Decker, and then falling head—over—heels for an absolutely beautiful and most talented second grade teacher, Louise Brimhall Cunnigham, I was spoiled for any other teacher but had a great attitude toward school in general. I liked to keep my grades high and was devastated if I ever got a "C.” For a couple of years we lived in Fruitland, still going to the Kirtland school, but I picked up a whole new set of playmates that were lots of fun. Lloyd and Bruce (Swede) Foutz, Lynn Hatch, Monte Clawson and Floyd Finch were lots of fun. We swam and explored the San Juan, played on the precarious suspension foot bridge spanning over the river, explored the bluffs and the Indian coal mines on the reservation side, camp-fire cook-outs end sleeping-out as often as permitted.
Then we moved to "Gentile" Farmington. A very small minority of Mormon kids in the schools experienced quite a lot of discrimination, which really bothered me. I had a fifth grade teacher who delighted in dwelling on origins of the human race and especially the origins of this continent and its aborigines and I was ridiculed when I tried to enlighten them with the truth from the Book of Mormon. I started drawing into a shell and became very cautious about opening my mouth. I still tried to get good grades but really lacked enthusiasm for it and started developing some lazy habits and only the pressure of tests and deadlines could stir me to action and cramming. I found a satisfying outlet in music and took advantage of the schools big E-flat Tuba to get into the school band and orchestra. I liked sports and managed to stay first string in basketball, softball and the limited track and field activities throughout the ninth grade.
In high school I took a new interest in class work and tried desperately to bring my grades up consistently but my bad study habits could not be entirely kicked and I kept coming close but not consistent enough to make one of my major goals, the National Honor Society. I made a real effort to come out of my shell but never could overcome the fear of speaking in front of a group or being challenged for my beliefs. I had several leadership opportunities come my way but shied away much to my own dismay and great loss.
I was slow developing physically and seemed to be one of the smallest boys in my class until my sophomore year when I started to grow up. Elwood was doing great in high school football and I really appreciated his encouragement in going out for the team. I will always remember the drubbing we second string scrubs took from the varsity but in spite of it I started to catch the spirit of the game and really liked clomping around in those big heavy shoes and monstrous pads, even crawling out from under the big dog-piles and discovering after careful inventory that I was still in one piece. Of course, I spent most of game time on the bench, usually getting to go in only when the game was either in-the-bag or a total disaster. That year Aztec High had a one-man team in a guy named Brown who out weighed any two of us on the Farmington team. As I remember, all was lost in the first half. I couldn't believe it when the coach put me on the kick-off line-up for the second half! In spite of my prayers at that time, I saw it all shaping up before my very eyes: who else but Brown received the kick-off and it was a short kick right in front of me! I overcame my very first instinct to turn and run interference for Brown but instead had a sudden urge to die for the cause and actually charged him. But my courage failed me at the last moment and I closed my eyes and made a great lunge to throw a block into him rather than having my arms ripped off in a tackle - and waited - and waited for devastation to come as it may. I suddenly realized that I was doing a fantastic tumbling act - all by myself- on the ground and sneaked a peek to see Brown racing on down to the goal line. He had high-jumped over me - the coward! But the coach must have known that my chicken heart was in the right place because he gave me a letter that year, to my great surprise and delight.
Things were really starting to go for me. I was doing better in schoolwork and play, active in all the music things I could crowd in taking the challenge of harder math and science courses, serving on Student Council. I felt I was a cinch to go Varsity basketball and had already established myself on the church M-Man team. Then a strange malady hit me. The very first signs came upon me at the movies one night. I was with friends in the balcony of the Allen Theater. I remember a bad feeling and dizziness, none of the movie and my friends shaking me telling me to wake up. It was time to go home. I must have fainted away at the beginning of the show. I managed to get to my feet but as I started down the stairs everything went black, then only fuzzy consciousness of being half-carried to the car and then home. I lay in a delirium of semi-consciousness for several days with alternating chills and drenching sweats, unable to keep anything on my stomach. Mom nursed me and Dad rubbed my aching body with rubbing alcohol and stinky Iodex. I was down to 90 pounds in just a couple of weeks and so weak I couldn't hold my head up.
My bed was set up in the living room where I convalesced for a month getting hooked on radio soap operas: Ma Perkins, Portia Faces Life, etc. I couldn't get enough strength back to face my life. I was treated for some strange rheumatic condition but a couple of years later, at Rose's insistence, I let Dr. Peacock check me and he diagnosed osteomyelitis of the bone. I was going through the first acute stages of the disease. Mom found me a ride with LaVar Cluff hauling grain to the warm southlands and shipped me out of the cold winter weather to the warmth of Tucson to stay with Ethelyn. I sure appreciated her hospitality and the opportunity to get better acquainted with her and her new baby doll, Karma Lynne. Ron was also with us for a while and enjoyed him very much. I was a pretty good baby sitter, even if I do say so myself, and really enjoyed the older nieces and nephews: Carole, Jan, Ken, Steve, Marvin, Kent, Bobby, Lloyd Ray, Trent, Leonard, Pam, Butch, Doug and Diane and at one time or another I had had the opportunity to cuddle them and enjoy them - even change their diapers!
The warmth and dryness of Tucson felt so good to me and I felt my strength returning. Stan let me ride his horses and I became a bona fide COWBOY! (More boney than fide - sure - but I was a cowboy). A Mr. Barber ran a herd of cattle on a range nearby that was fenced on three sides. I was hired at a dollar a day to ride the open end, gather up the strays that were headed in that direction and drive them back deep into the range. I loved it.
I had missed three months of school but with special permission and help I was permitted to enter the second semester late, make up my work end move on with my class. I felt very sorry for myself since sports were forbidden through my junior year. But by this time I was convinced that Mrs. Cunningham would never leave her husband for me and I happily discovered there were other women in the world. One Sunday a now family showed up at church my fickle heart skipped a beat on first sight of beautiful brown-haired gal with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. When I found out that the Webb family were old friends from Old Mexico and would be invited to Sunday dinner, I was beside myself with anticipation only to find that little Leona had declined the invitation. She declared years later that she had felt the same vibes that I had but was embarrassed to be thrown at me -but I don't know - ? Anyway I took it very personally and for months I watched her always in the middle of all the school and church activities, flitting from one boy to another, leaving a trail of broken hearts but seeming to maneuver out of my reach. True she was older than I and in the class ahead, had everything going for her - cheerleader, outstanding in drama, music but I just couldn't understand how she could pass up an easy catch like me. But one Pioneer Day —24th of July — we were in the same group, dates for others, driving together to Kirtland for the dance. Things had gotten off to a very bad start with my date trying, but not succeeding to ditch me and sneak off with a dashing sailor boy that had just hit town. Us guys got real tired of waiting on the girls so, out of spite, Tom Goodman, Leona's date, drove 5 mph all the way to the dance. Well, we were all in quite a state, the dance was nearly over. I was determined not to enjoy myself at all and was not dancing. Then, at a whim, I asked Leona to dance with me for the first time. At the moment that she came into my arms we both felt some kind of magic happened. From that moment on there has never been a doubt that somewhere in heaven this match was made. We have often wondered about our difference in ages getting messed up in an orderly heaven but as we've gotten older and wiser and understand each other's characters we've figured it out. Me in my cautious, hesitant way of putting off jumping into any—thing until I'm absolutely forced to and Leona in her impatience to get the show on the road — well, we just about messed up everything. I wonder how they juggle the books up there?
Meanwhile, back on earth, I was real frustrated as I became a big senior just hitting my stride, into sports again and everything else and my Girl off to college at Logan. Maybe that's what saved me cause I hit the books and did quite well academically. I enjoyed a great year of football having gained weight and filled out I had my chance to bully some smaller guys around. I had missed too much basketball but barely missed first string in a run—off with J. B. Collyer. At least I got to play a lot on the second string with the smaller freshmen and sophomores. Then the team honored me with an election to accompany the team back to Albuquerque for the State Tourny as team manager. We were beat out in the second round by Albuquerque High which had an exceptionally tall team topped by one 6 ft. 9 in. center, a giant in our day. Then we and most of the crowd started rooting for a quick—as—lightning team with only one 6 footer and only 9 boys on the squad from little Mormon town, Virden. And they came so close to upsetting the big city boys it was a real thriller.
As track and field season began I had developed a very tender, swollen left leg, a big swollen ulcer on my left rib cage that Dr. Moran lanced and drained for me periodically. This was the secondary chronic stage of the osteo. I was determined to ignore it and wanted so badly to be a part of the track team. I disregarded Dad's concern but made a concession to enter just one event: pole-vault; when I found that my leg wouldn't perform well in the running events. I tied for first with Billy Wood at 10 feet (with aluminum and bamboo - before the days of the flippin fibergass poles) - that was in our own team practice and competition. In the district meet I just couldn't get it on and had to settle for a tie for third place while Billy went on to win it under both of our best jumps. Well, I had to do battle for my letter in track but I won.
Graduation was thrilling time for me. Principal Jackson had called me at home one day. I was not feeling too well-and asked if I could make it to school - even though I was late - to take the Statewide Academic Achievement Tests that were being administered that day only. I had to run the 4 miles to school and Mr. Jackson sat on through his lunch period with me to let me catch up. I always did things the hard way! I had no idea that I could have done well but at graduation I was thrilled to be named to the top 5% with scholarships offered by the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands at Portales. You could have knocked me over with a toothpick when my name was called for the Danforth Foundation "I Dare You" Honor Roll award! I didn't know what it meant; probably for doing everything the hard way, but it sure made me feel good. Then my bubble broke and great was the splatter of it. The bone specialist in Albuquerque, Dr. Robert Forbuss, looked at some x-rays and explained that the decay was dangerously near the knee joint and if treatment was delayed or I should break the half-eaten away bone, I would lose my leg. I told him of my great desire to take advantage of my scholarship but he said there was little hope for that unless, with a little luck, he could clean a section of the bone each of three or four operations, put the leg in a cast to protect it from breaking, put me in a wheelchair and hope that the cleaned section would have a chance to build up new healthy bone tissue. If I thought that I could tackle college under these conditions, I could try.
I went back home very discouraged with medications to try to reduce the terrible swelling and await the appointed day for surgery. I was feeling terribly sorry for myself but in preparation. I was given blessings by my father and by President Elmer F. Taylor, then Patriarch. Gradually through fasting and prayer and the faith of my family, I felt the reassurance and strength to face things with a positive attitude. Although it was a year before we would marry, Leona was at my bedside through it all. When all that didn't drive her away I realized what a prize I had. Dr Forbuss was amazed when he began cutting away diseased bone to find almost the equivalent of the original healthy bone underneath! I had seen the x-rays myself just a few weeks earlier with only a thin line of firm bone left. So the doctor proceeded to open up both sides of the leg, scraped and cleaned all the way around. I only wore a compression bandage and crutches to favor the leg a little. I recognize the hand of the Lord in this and so many other things in my behalf that defy logical explanation.
As I realized the financial burden that all this had placed on my folks, it was easy to give up the college plans. Even the old family milk cow was sold to sled through. I got a desk job with the gas company while my leg was healing and tried to help out as much as I could. Leona was working as a telephone operator and helping her folks. After a year we decided that two could live as cheaply as one and cut out a whole lot of wear and tear involved in courtship, so we decided to marry. I had absolutely nothing to offer her, no car, no hopes of our own roof over our heads, no savings and I was faced with the same prospects as Father Adam - I was going to have to give up a rib to get my mate. So I have no doubts that she married me for love. I scraped up a down payment on the rings. We worked together to sand down the old family car and repaint it. We were married civilly in the Bishop's office so we wouldn't have to take chaperones on our honeymoon and, leaving the folks on foot, headed for the Logan Temple.
Leona has the uncanny knack of sitting bolt upright and when she is either reading or travelling can go sound asleep. When she gets all stretched out and comfortable her eyes pop open and she is wide a-wake. They got her eyelid counterbalances switched at the doll factory. So when we travel, I am all-alone, as I was on our honeymoon. But we did have some great stops at Logan, at Salt Lake just in time for the big Centennial Parade, Salt Air while it was still in its prime. We walked the beautiful temple grounds along the way and although the Manti Temple was officially closed, we bumped into the Temple President and he took us on a personal tour and a close-up of the fabulous spiral staircases. We visited Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest and arrived home broke but just as happy as if we had good sense. I had to go give up that rib and have others scraped but that cleared up the osteo for me. I sure enjoyed working with Dad, Wig and Bob in learning the construction business. Elwood worked at Big Jo drawing plans so we got reacquainted with him and Cheryl as little Charlee was toddling around. That gave us an idea so we started our own. After living with both our folks for a while we jumped around in rentals. Brother Webb agreed to let me fix up the old family home that was pretty rundown. I planned to divide it into two apartments, one for Margie and Joe Haines. I would build -in bathrooms for the first time. Hoped for help from Joe didn't happen but in a little while we did move in with our new pride and joy, Kristine and Dennis on his way. A little later, my brother-in-law, Glenn was leaving to work and go to college and offered us the small, unfinished house that he and Brother Webb had built-just making payments to him on time. What a blessing it was to me! I didn't ever finish all my plans for it but I finished the bathroom installation and did some improving in the kitchen but that one little bedroom just seemed to keep shrinking. Of course after Dennis, Jeanine and Renee came along - but I had a high-rise plan. I built double bunks with a trundle under. The last addition was a baby bed with much needed chest of drawers built-in. Speak of convenience - we could stay in bed and care for any of the kids!
I was enjoying our little family so much. We had 2 1/2 acres in fruit trees and garden, raised chickens and calves from my milk cow. I had bought an old worn out 35 Plymouth patched it up and it stood us in pretty good stead for quite a while. I even attempted a general over-haul without knowing anything about it and it ran again for a long time. We had lots of fun with our kids. We became the Jr. Sunday School together with Leona in the nursery for years and since I was there they made me the first male Coordinator. The pay in building was low and very slow coming up. We just barely made it but I was sure learning a lot and enjoyed the work so much. I might have been contented but I guess I still had the desire to try my best shot at an engineering degree. Leona's brothers had successfully worked full time and college at the same time in Silver City due to the availability of mining shift work there. I couldn't get it out of my system and Leona encouraged me to give it a try. I found a buyer for the place that agreed to make small monthly payments with a final pay-off in four years, packed up our few goods and headed for school.
By the time I got us settled in in-expensive campus housing the copper price had slumped and all mining except Kennecott shut down operations. I stubbornly crowded all my classes into early morning hours and went job hunting. Lembke, Clough & King had built a new school at Kirtland the year before when Wig had us building an add-on to the Elementary there. Their supt. was Stan Borthwick who had gotten acquainted with Wig and when he recognized who I was, out of respect for Wig, he put me on and let me name my hours. I came on the job at noon and worked on into the evening with leftover and prep jobs for the next day. Then he let me contract all the specialty work for the entire school. Leona had to attend summer classes to keep our apartment giving me the whole summer very long hours to keep up with the schedule. By fall the school was completed and I was hired to take care of all the punch list items and care for the year of warranty. During the construction, I had attracted the attention of several people: The union that didn't like me at all, the building inspector who listened to my grand plans for an education and commented " one thing for sure that it will do for you is reduce your earning power!"(and he was right) and one school board member learned of my goals and had a very hard-to-come-by job waiting for me in the Santa Rita open-pit mine where he was a Kennecott boss.
With the patience and support of Leona and the kids (Wayne had been added) I made it through Western-but not an engineering school. After I had taken all the pre-engineering I could get I could see very little chance of going any further so I finally decided to give teaching a try. Somehow I had managed a real good grade average in the first couple of years and even though they began to slip in the last year when pressures were so great, I was happily surprised to be receive several honors, one being named to Who's Who in Colleges and Universities - 19581 It was a relatively small school and we weren't there long before most were betting (with the biggest family on campus) that I would never make it through. I think it was, again, recognition for doing things the hard way!
The one course that I missed along the way was how to get rich quick for although I have hardly missed a day of work in my life and we have managed mainly because my partner and the kids were never demanding but there has never been anything left over. Maybe the Lord in his wisdom knows I couldn't handle it. Anyway, I've really enjoyed the opportunities that I have had and many interesting experiences.
I learned about myself: that I could conquer my fear of making a presentation before a group if I knew my subject well and I could speak from experience and then it really helped if I could fool myself into thinking they are a bunch of dummies that wouldn't know it if I was wrong. But I've repented of that attitude having been faced a few times with some real brains. Although teaching was a real challenge, I enjoyed a lot of satisfaction from it with a total of twenty years.
I regret that I did not spend a lot of time with my great kids but we did have a few special times that I enjoyed so much. I was guilty of trying to crowd everything into those few times; like our tenting trip from ocean to ocean clear across the US the summer of '67. It was a lot of togetherness. Nobody enjoyed it more than I. Then those proud times when the kids were recognized for their good works and behavior by others. They are all very special.
I wished many times that I could have had that opportunity to travel the world before them wedding bells started breaking up that old gang of mine. My work permitted me to be right with them a big part of the time. Wayne and Renee travelled with us to Europe. We got special permission to visit with Dennis for a day in Berlin on his mission. We had two weeks in Geneva and saw a few surrounding sights when I was freed from my briefing responsibilities. We spent two months in Paris; all of us together, trying to learn the Indonesian language and the kids saw how thickheaded their old Dad was when it came down to learning new things. Motivation should have put me at the head of the class but they learned much quicker than I. We hopped to Singapore for some shopping, to Jakarta for briefing then on in rickety planes on a tedious trip to New Guinea and my duty station at Jayapura. I was sent there to help establish a vocational school and training program for the local people financed by the Dutch reparations for their years of colonizing the area.
The young men I worked with were just extra special, second generation Christians from cannibalistic origins. They appreciated so much the opportunity given them and tried so hard to please that it was a teacher's heaven. I trained five more advanced young men as instructors in woodworking, building framing, bricklaying and plastering. Then we enrolled students for a two-year course. The available woods were strange and a challenge to me. We were very poorly supplied with tools and equipment by the International Labour Office with most tools being obsolete cast-offs from Europe. But we improvised, started a few new innovations. Generally, I was very happy with my group. The real challenge was trying to get along with some of my European co-workers that were so steeped in their own superiority.
Renee returned home after a while to get on with schooling. Dennis joined us from Germany for a few months then we traveled to Australia and New Zealand on R&R then Leona and I returned to Jayapura while the boys did a quirky tour of the South Pacific before going on home to school. Then there were the lonesome months and the worrying so just before three years were up we called it quits. I had to go back to Geneva for debriefing and we scheduled stops at Athens, Jerusalem, Rome, Bangkok on the way. It was all very interesting, very tiring and very revealing how good old USA, with all its faults, is the best. Oh, I see I left out our home leave across the Pacific at the end of the second year with stops in Hawaii, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
We're settled down now in Las Vegas with no more great yens for travel unless I can get someone else to pay for it again. I have twenty-three years going for thirty with the school district. I am Coordinator of Construction and Architectural Services for the rehab and modernization of existing facilities. I enjoy the work very much and have a fine staff to work with. I have one last ambition to build our retirement home a stick and a stone at a time and its not going fast.
Leona and I really enjoy grand parenting and have 18 of the little critters, every one precious. But we have learned our limits and are glad to send them back to their parents after we've spoiled them -something we didn't permit ourselves to do with our own.
I am very grateful to my Heavenly. Father for I have been blessed abundantly. I appreciate the heritage handed me and to my posterity by noble parents and the finest in-laws. I want my posterity and anyone who is interested to know of my firm belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know with every fiber of my being that is one and only way back to the presence of a loving Heavenly Father, our Savior, the great and noble prophets and our own worthy loved ones. I hope that I will be found worthy to stand together with my loved ones and share the great blessings of eternal life. The Gospel is our guide and our vehicle. I hope that in times of great decisions we will cling to it and escape the enticing snares that would rob us.