Sketch of the Life of Frank Davis Ashton
Contributor: Simini Created: 9 months ago Updated: 9 months ago
Sketch of the Life of Frank Davis Ashton
Dictated to and written by his wife
Norma Lewis Ashton in 1978
The summer I was born my parents were living in a large tent. They were building a new home, the one they lived in the rest of their lives. My mother wanted so much to get the house finished before I arrived. They didn’t make it. I was born in my grandmother Ashton’s front room on the 8th of July, 1909. I weighed twelve pounds and eleven ounces.
The earliest thing I can remember is my mother taking me to my first day of school. We walked down the lane and she stopped to talk to Mrs. Jake Young.
I can remember the day Clarence and Bert Goodman were up in the dike swimming. I had on my swim suit but I couldn’t swim. Dad came after me because he wanted to take me to town. I was up on the shallow end. He told me to come across in a certain place. I stepped in a hole and went under. Dad had to jump in with his good suit on and pull me out.
When I was just a small boy my dad was harvesting the potatoes on Sunday. U was hanging around and decided to ride on the wagon wheel in spread eagle fashion. When dad started to go with the wagon my foot got caught between the wheel and the bolster as the wheel turned. It broke my ankle. Dad didn’t know I was doing it until I let out a bellow. He had to back the wagon to get my foot out. He started to carry me. I hollered to him to put me down so I could walk but I couldn’t. He didn’t work on Sunday for a long time after that.
When I was about seven or eight years old I had Scarlet Fever. I almost died from it.
I will never forget the day LaMar, Leah and I had our tonsils removed. Dr. Hughes did it on Uncle Bert’s kitchen table. When I heard Leah and LaMar hollering I tried to break the screen door and get away but Uncle Bert caught me.
When I was about eight to twelve years old, my main job was to herd the cows. Elmer Slack and I would take our lunch and drive our cows up on the foothills where Oak Hills is now. We would stay all day and drive them home at night. Elmer would go bare foot and his feet were so tough he could walk all over the thistles.
I used to take the cows up to the Thomas pasture where Marcrest is now. We had an old cow named Brownie. She would let me ride her all the way to the pasture and back. We had a really big celebration on the 24th of July at the old church on Canyon Road. I rode old Brownie in the parade. One day we tried to make old Brownie go down the cellar steps. We would get one on each side of her and hold our hands over her eyes so she couldn’t see. She would go anywhere but as soon as she got to the cellar steps she would stop and we couldn’t make her go down. One day mother and dad went away and told us not to pick any watermelons because they were not ripe yet. We tried them anyway. We plugged quite a few and could not find a ripe one. When we saw our parents coming we decided to feed the plugged melons to old Brownie. I was stuffing them down her throat trying to get rid of them. I couldn’t feel any teeth in her mouth. I guess I got my hand too far in for all of a sudden she bit my finger almost off. I still carry the scar.
Once in a while we would go to Strawberry to fish. We went in the wagon with Uncle Chuck, Uncle Autte, and Uncle Bert and their families. We pitched our tent by the river. We didn’t have a boat but there were lots of fish.
One fall I went with my dad to get a load of lumber out to Strawberry. On the way back when we were going down Daniels Canyon I got cold. Dad told me to get out and walk to get warm. A survey crew was working along the road and had placed a lot of stakes. As I walked along, I pulled all the stakes and put them in the wagon. After a while I crawled up on the wagon and said, “Look at all this good kindling I got.” Dad grabbed his coat and threw over them and said, “Good grief, there they are right down there hammering the stakes in the ground.”
One day my friend, Jim Phillips, let me ride his horse to Primary. When we got there I was riding it around the churchyard and it suddenly occurred to me to see if the horse would climb the church steps. It walked up them all right but it wouldn’t back down them. I had to make the horse climb clear to the top of the steps so I could turn it around. When the horse stepped onto the wooden floor in the doorway, the floor sank down to the ground. It cost me ten dollars and I got plenty of tongue lashing.
One winter Clarence made a sleigh. He called it the Yumpy. We had a lot of fun on the hills with it. We used to sleigh ride a lot down on the hill by Uncle Chucks. It had a north face and it stayed frozen and slick for a long time in the winter. Uncle Chuck had a bob-sled. We used to have sleigh riding parties and go to someone’s house for hot chocolate to get warm. Sometimes it was very cold and we would put a cover over the wagon-box to make it warmer. Then we would fill it up with straw and heat large rocks to keep us warm. We used to skate on the canal. Sometimes it would stay frozen over for a long time and we could ice skate in either direction for a long ways. My friend, Jim Phillips, had a cutter(one seated sleigh) that he pulled with his horse. When I was a teenager, I went sleighing with him real often. We used to go sliding around the country by tying barrel staves to our feet and then hang onto a rope which was attached to our horses saddle. We used to pull a string of sleds behind a horse to sleigh ride.
One cold winter day, Jess and I went to the orchard up by Beesleys to get some honey from a beehive. The bees were not supposed to come out in the cold but they did. We grabbed our hats off to fight them away. After we got away from them, I put my hat on and it had a mess of bees in it. They stung me and my face swelled up and my eyes swelled shut.
One day dad had just butchered a pig. That night he told me to go out and set a trap so it would catch any dogs that tried to get to the meat. While I was setting the trap, Leah got a sheet and draped it around her and came down the path toward me. Just as I went to set the trap down, I saw her coming with her arms flapping the sheet in the night. I threw the trap at her and tore for the house. It’s a good thing I wasn’t a good shot.
When I was just learning to drive my dad’s Model T Ford, I was taking Lenora for a ride. Max Phillips was coming down the hill by Uncle Chucks with a load of apples as I passed by. I hollered, “Throw me an apple.” He threw one to me and it went into the back seat. I forgot I was driving a Ford and crawled in the back to get my apple. The Ford went up the guy wire on the light pole and tipped over. It didn’t hurt us. Dad and Chuck and the whole neighborhood had to come and help get it right side up again. I didn’t drive again for quite a while.
The year I started to go to Lincoln High School, I started walking Norma home from church and I took her to a few dances. We always went with Clarence and Leah. Norma’s mother wouldn’t let her go with me alone.
The next spring, about the end of March, Verlbrereton and I decided to run away, find some work, and see the world. We had one dollar and sixty cents between us. We hitch hiked to Ogden. It started to rain and we found a haystack to sleep in. We burrowed into the hay and got out of the rain for the night. In the morning we discovered we were in a stack of foxtail. During the night the foxtail had worked its way through our clothes, everywhere. We caught a ride to Logan and bought a roll and some pop. We were just about ready to go back home we were so miserable and hungry. We decided we wanted to get over the border so we could say we had been in Idaho. A man, Mister Shuldberg, came along in a Model T Ford and gave us a ride. He was a stake president and owned a very large ranch. He offered to give us a job. We took it. He took us to his home and gave us something to eat. He told us he thought we were never going to stop eating. He sent us to get a load of beet pulp. On the way back we decided to see if the horses were good pullers. We drove through a mud hole and got stuck. We had to unload the beet pulp and we piled it in the rocks. The team wouldn’t pull the wagon out when it was empty. A man came along with a little pinto team and pulled it out for us. Then we had to load the beet pulp again, rocks and all. When Mister Shuldberg saw the beet pulp he said he guessed the cows could sort out the rocks. Verl had to go to another part of his ranch and I stayed where I was. We lived in a tent. One day the mosquitos were so thick I couldn’t stand it. I went into the tent and got a flour sack and cut holes for my eyes and pulled it over my head. When I went out to my horses they were so frightened they ran away. After they ran down I went and got them. I came home in July. Mister Shuldberg had a daughter named, Elva, whom I got acquainted with a little bit.
When I got home, dad had a contract to haul gravel for the state road. He let me go. I had to haul from the rock crusher up by Stan Robert’s home. Jim Long was working on the crusher. One day when I was loading my wagon Florence and Harold Colvin decided to play a joke on Jim. Florence dressed Harold all fancy in women’s clothes. Then he went up to the rock crusher and stood and waved up at Jimmy. He got so excited he got tearing down to see her, only to find it was Harold. I really had a good laugh.
In 1927, the Pleasant View Chapel was started. I dumped the first wheel-barrow full of cement to begin construction. My dad and I hauled lots of gravel for the building from our gravel bed. We loaded it all with a hand shovel. When we unloaded it we just loosened the chain around the wagonbox and the planks came apart and the gravel hit the ground. We hauled lots of gravel for people to build cement foundations for home building, loading it all by hand shovel.
I used to ride to High School with Leah. She taught school at Sharon Elementary. She had a Model T Ford. It had a leaking radiator and we put horse manure in it to seal the leak. One morning it was very cold and the radiator was boiling by the time we reached Lincoln High School. We pulled up to the service station and I got out to take the radiator cap off. The boiling water came out and covered the hood and windshield with manure.
About March of my second year in school, I had been sluffing a little. One day I had my history lesson in good shape, a special report. Two of my friends decided to go to town. I decided they were not going without me. The next day Principle Karl Banks called me to his office. He told me to sit down. I sat there for a long time and he went about his business. After quite a while my dad walked in. The principle told him what had been going on. My dad said, “Well, if you don’t want to go to school to learn, you might as well come home and help me.” I said, “All right.” I walked away from school and I never went back again. I had enough credit to graduate from Seminary.
In April, I left with the Yentz Horn family to go to Wyoming to work for Jimmy Mickelson. The Horns were our neighbors and used to live in the Hinkins house by the old packing shed where we lived years later. In Wyoming I learned to ride broncos and punch cows. During haying time, I was the horse wrangler. I had to get up very early in the morning and bring all the horses into the corral. There were about seventy five horses. All the hay hands had to catch their own horses. There was a loud bell that rang to signal meal times. After the noon meal, everyone caught fresh horses. It was five miles to the post office. One day Yentz and I rode a couple of young horses which were being broken to get the mail. On the way, mine threw me and I had to walk home. The horse followed the other horse home and Yentz made me get on and ride it again. During hay time we never worked on Sunday. They had a rodeo instead.
While I was in Wyoming, I caught the mumps. I had to go into Big Piney to the hotel and stay there so the doctor could take care of me. I was very ill. It was while I was in bead at that hotel that I discovered that I was deaf in one ear. I was listening to the noise of a saw. When I turned over and put my ear in the pillow, I could not hear the saw at all. I do not know whether the mumps caused it or not. I returned home from Wyoming before Thanksgiving.
I can’t remember the year the lower stadium was built, but dad and I worked on it with the team after I returned from Wyoming.
After I was discovered I was deaf in one ear, the doctor thought it might be helped through surgery on my nose. Doctor Oaks operated and took some bone out of my nose. I did not know before the operation that I was a bleeder. I had a hemorrhage and had to be hospitalized and have my head packed. I was unconscious and delirious for several days. I finally made it home again. My doctor went on vacation and left me in charge of another. He came out to our home to remove the packs at the proper time. A day or two later I began to get a very bad headache. It got worse and worse. I started to run a temperature. The pain became so intense I was screaming. The doctor came again. When he examined me, he discovered he had left one pack in my head and it had started an infection. Eventually, I recovered but the surgery did not help restore the hearing in my deaf ear.
In the spring of 1928, I went to work for Norma’s dad. I soon bought me a used Model T Ford. One day, Harold and Elton Mecham came up South Fork to see me. We decided to go to town. Elton had a Ford, also. I was supposed to take a court a cream down to Norma’s mother. Harold rode with me so he could hold the bottle of cream. Just as we turned the corner by the power plant coming down the canyon, my lights went out. Harold said, “Hurry and catch up with Elton and we can follow him down to home.” I stepped on the gas trying to get close to Elton. Just as I got to the bottom of the hill, Elton disappeared over the top and everything went black. The next thing I knew I was sailing through the air over the bar-pit and landing in a squawberry bush. Harold was still holding the quart of cream in his hands. Dad had to come up with the team and pull me out.
I worked for Norma’s dad for four summers from May until October. In the winter I had a day or two on the ditch once in a while. I helped dad haul gravel and once in a while we would get a basement to dig.
Norma and I were making wedding plans in the winter of 1932. I went to the desert early that spring to help bring in the sheep. I was moving camp for James Long and Bob Lloyd. A very bad storm came up. It was really cold and miserable. We were so miserable that Bob Lloyd said, “When I tell my grandkids about this, if they don’t bawl I’ll beat the heck out of them.”
The sheep had to be moved everyday so there would be something for them to eat and because they had to move in to the shearing corral at Jericho on a schedule. I had to move the camp in the slick, thick desert mud. I slid off the road and got stuck. I was just a little way past Fish Springs. I tried to get the truck out and burned out the clutch. Bob, Jim, and the sheep had gone on ahead of me. They were without food, bedding, or shelter. I decided to walk five miles to a ranch and try to borrow a horse so I could catch up with them. I was able to get a horse. When I got back to my camp, there was another sheep outfit close by. The boss came along and said they would stop across the flat for the night and I could catch him there and they would take me into Salt Lake. I made some biscuits, put some canned goods in a pack, and took off to find Bob and Jim and tell them what had happened. I left the food and a couple of quilts with them and returned the horse to the ranch. I started across the flat at daylight to catch the outfit that had promised me a ride into Salt Lake. I walked until noon and I did not catch them nor see any signs of them. I decided I would have to go back to camp. On the way back, my side started to hurt. It was very hard walking in the slick, sticky desert mud. I reached camp about dark. In the morning I knew I had to get help. I walked the five miles back to the ranch where I had borrowed the horse. I told them I thought I had appendicitis. They thought I was only making an excuse to get into Salt Lake City. They said they were going in day after tomorrow. I went back the five miles to camp and got into bed and stayed there two days and three nights without moving. When the people came I was not able to move. They had to dress me and carry me to their car. My side hurt very badly as the car hit the hills and hollows of the rough road. Once we got stuck and I had to get out and help push the car out of the mud. As I was straining to push the car, I felt the pain go and I was relieved. I assumed that was when my appendix ruptured. When we reached Salt Lake City, they put me on the Interurban(the electric car that ran from Salt Lake to Provo). When I reached Provo, after dark, I got off the car and walked across the street to Smith’s Pool Hall. I was bent over and could not straighten up. Norma’s father was in the pool hall. He looked at me and said, “What are you doing here?” I told him the story. He took me home. He insisted on calling Doctor Hasler. The next morning they took me to the Aird Hospital. Norma came to see me for a few minutes before surgery. Doctor Brown just made an incision and put a tube in my side to drain the infection. He told the nurse to put Turpentine packs on my side. She left them on too long and blistered a large area of my side. I credit the packs for saving my life, even if they did burn me. They seemed to gather the infection and it drained out the tube. I stayed in the hospital for three weeks. When I went home, I had to stay in bed for three more weeks. When I got up I had to walk with a cane. When I went to the desert that spring, I weighed one hundred and eighty pounds. The first time I weighed after I was ill, I weighed ninety pounds. In June the new Pleasant View Chapel was dedicated. Norma came over to visit with me after the dedication. During the afternoon Doctor Hasler came by to dress my side. When he took the dressing off there were two stones about the size of an olive pit that had sluffed out through the drain tube. At that time, a ruptured appendix was almost always fatal. My dad said, “It’s a miracle that you survived and you had better find out why.” A few months ago we were talking about my experience at family home evening. Clarence said, “Just look at his family and you know why he lived.” It took me many months to get well and back to normal.
A year later I went to work in the spring for Bill Ercanbrack. Norma’s father had lost his outfit. There wasn’t any other place to work. I hadn’t worked for a long time. I wanted to get married so I went back to herding sheep.
I saved all my money through the summer and on December 21, 1933, Norma and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple.