MEMORIES OF ORIN GRANGER WILLIAMS By his brother, Frederick Salem Williams
Contributor: SharonLavashHawkins Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
MEMORIES OF ORIN GRANGER WILLIAMS
By his brother,
Frederick Salem Williams
Fred S. Williams wrote this history of the life of his brother, Orin, in three long letters to Orin's daughter, Pamela Williams Pratt. In a note which accompanied the last letter, Fred wrote:
“I think this finishes up the history of your father as I remember it. I'm sure there are a thousand memories that will come to mind later, but I can't worry about them now. I hope that it will give you some knowledge of his life. It has been a pleasure to go back into the past and relive some of our experiences. Orin and I were very close when we were together, and the distance didn't make our relationship any less good.”
Saturday, 8 October 1983
I, Fred S. Williams, will go back in my memory and tell of my association with my older brother. According to our genealogical records he was born 4 October 1900 in Colonia Dublán, Chihuahua, Mexico, to our parents, Frederick Granger Williams and Nancy Abigail Clement. He was their fifth child and second son. He was named Orin for his mother's brother, and Granger for his father; grandfather, Ezra Granger Williams; and his great-grandfather, Dr. Frederick Granger Williams.
The first information I have about him is contained in a letter written by his mother from Dublán, Mexico, to his father, who was working in the United States at the time. It is dated October 28, 1901. It contains this paragraph:
“Orin never creeps any more and looks so sweet toddling all over; into everything and especially the stove and water. (He is the) greatest fellow to eat coals and will pull plaster off the wall and eat--has a perfect mania for dirt.”
Being eight years younger, my first memories of him were when we were living in a tent house along the ditch bank beside an irrigation stream, near Binghampton, Arizona. He would have been around twelve years old, and I, four. I can remember him breaking off branches of the large mulberry tree that shaded us to be used to disperse the flies from the table. He also pushed me in the swing that swung over the irrigation ditch.
I knew later that he was doing a man's work at this time. He quit school after six years in order to work with our father and brothers on the farm and ranch. As I grew older, I saw and helped him bring in the horses, milk and tend the cows, feed the hogs and chickens, water the animals and irrigate the garden. He also helped our older brother, Orlando, saddle up a favorite horse, “Old Dick,” and watched as Orlando rode into the flooded river and fastened the hooked end of a logging chain around a floating log and then pulled it to dry land.
I remember him as always being pleasant, cheerful and a willing worker. He enjoyed working with animals, and was our mother's right-hand man. They were very close.
At times he was absent from our tent house while working on the ranch.
When I was about seven or eight years old, our family had moved to the ranch near Sonoita, Arizona. I have some very sharp and vivid memories of Orin at that time. I can't recall the sequence of these experiences, but they are clear in my mind.
Our family, together with the Jake Bingham family, held religious services in our rock house on Sundays. The house contained a kitchen and one bedroom. Only if it was raining were the services held indoors. There was a fine open space in front of the house that served us well as a chapel. We sat on our homemade wooden benches, taken from around the table. We ate around the kitchen table and swept the earthen floor to keep it clean. Orin and I had to keep the wood chopped and the bin full for the iron kitchen stove.
After both families had eaten lunch (we called it dinner), the Bingham children, Orin, Naoma and I would all mount horses and take to the low hills close by. We looked for wild grapes and black walnuts. When it was time to return home, there was always a horse race. I had to be careful while riding “Old Dick,” since he would not concede a race to any horse, and if one started running, if I weren’t careful, he would jump out from under me. I was riding bareback. He would run his heart out and usually won the races, even at 19 years of age.
At the ranch, Orin plowed, planted, chopped weeds, hauled wood from the hills, looked after the horses and cattle, milked cows, helped Mother make cheese, and was always busy with the thousand and one things that have to be done on a farm and ranch. I would lead the horse that pulled a barrel of water from the well. He would pull the barrel to one side and ask me to slack off so it would sit on the well curb. Then, he would pour or take the water out with buckets and fill a larger barrel that was placed on a wooden sled. When this was full, I would hitch the horse to the sled (a small platform built on two runners) and pull it between the planted rows of our garden. As I controlled the horse, Orin would ladle out the water to each plant. This was our only means of irrigating our kitchen garden.
I remember him cutting and hauling wild hay. This was stacked near the corrals. He and Father built the skeleton of poles for a chicken coop and then it was covered with hay to make it warm for the chickens during the winter months.
We had to feed horses and cattle during the winter months, as there was little for the animals to graze on. However, they were turned out each day, and had to be brought back into the corrals at night. We also had to milk the cows morning and night. The excess milk above what our family drank was used to make cheese. Father had made the presses and Mother made the mixture. We had to tighten the presses each day to squeeze out the whey. When the round cheeses were ready they were stored, wrapped in gunnysacks. We had all the cheese we wanted all during the year. It was delicious melted in the hot oven over homemade bread.
Father brought home a hundred pound sack of garbanzos, the first I had ever seen. He thought it would be a great addition to our food. We planted many rows of them on the dry farm, along with the beans that we raised for food. In due time, they came up so beautifully green that the countless jackrabbits and cottontails stopped eating the tender bean vines and concentrated on the garbanzos. Orin would go out night after night and shoot the rabbits, but countless others took their place. We had a very meager crop of garbanzos.
One of our neighbors, the Thompsons, purchased an automobile, or what passed as one. It had four wheels, an engine, a windshield and a frame. He had placed a wooden box over the gas tank for a seat. He came to visit us, and it was the first car I rode on. (Yes, on. There wasn't anything to get into.)
I asked Orin if the engine would require more gasoline if it had to carry more passengers. I am still not satisfied with his answer: “Does a horse have to eat more hay just because it pulls more weight?”
We received a telegram that Mother's father, Darius Salem Clement, had died in Mesa and that Mother should come immediately before he was buried. It was several miles to the Southern Pacific Railroad where a train could be flagged down, and knowing its schedule, there was not time to go by a horse-pulled vehicle. We thought about the neighbor with the “car.” He agreed to take Mother, but it was imperative to hurry in order to catch the train.
I remember Mother's hurried preparations and then her climbing on the box, clutching it with one hand and her hat with the other as they took off in a cloud of dust. Her suitcase had been securely lashed to the frame of the car. They bounced along as far as we could see and were lost from sight, the dust slowly settling to earth again. They arrived at the flag station just in time for Mother to catch the train. She changed trains at Tucson for Mesa and arrived in time for the funeral of her father.
I recall telling Orin an off-color story I had heard somewhere. He told me that I shouldn't listen to or ever repeat such stories.
The ranch house was perhaps two hundred yards from the road. We had frequent rains, and a low area just where our lane opened to the highway always retained a lot of water. It hadn't been planned, but this mud hole became a source of income for our family. Many times a car going along the road would get stuck in the mud. The driver or someone would slowly walk to the ranch house and ask if a team could pull them out. We always obliged, and earned fifty cents each time. Even during the night this would happen. I usually went with Orin to harness up a team of horses and accompany him to pull the victim out of the mud. I thought it was a lark, but soon tired of the novelty, and begged to stay in the warm bed.
Orin and I slept under a shed, open on three sides. Our mattress was made of hay. Mother's homemade quilts kept us warm, but when the wind blew in the rain, we got wet and cold.
For some reason, Orin and I were alone at the ranch when it snowed heavily. When we got up, the ground was white and beautiful. I believe it was the first time I had seen so much snow. Orin suggested we make a sleigh to be pulled by horses and have a sleigh ride. I was all for it and asked him how it was to be built. He told me that our parents had described such a vehicle, so we set to work. By the time something similar to a sleigh had been nearly completed, the snow had melted, so it was never put to the test.
Father had teams of heavy draft horses, and one light team of matched greys, “Bell and Bess.” We had heavy wagons and one light wagon. The light team was used on this wagon.
Orin was sent on some errand to deliver something to a family living several miles from the ranch. I went with him and we used the light team.
I remember going to the door with Orin. We were invited in, but there was really no place to sit down. The room was filled up with furniture, stacked almost to the ceiling. I suppose they never got around to building a home large enough for the furniture. While we were in the house, it began to rain very hard. Great peals of thunder sounded and lightning flashed. Orin ran out to quiet the team, but saw them running away. Frightened by the thunder and lightning, they had broken the ropes that had tied them to a post and were running towards home. Orin took after them as hard as he could run. As the lightning lit up the sky, I could see him straining to catch the frightened team. Then they were lost from sight. Almost an hour later, Orin reappeared with the team. He had finally caught up, pulled himself into the wagon and had stopped it.
He was frightened as to what Father would say if the horses had been injured or the light wagon had been broken. I think it was this fright that gave him the strength and stamina to catch them. Father was a hard taskmaster. The care of his horses came first. He would have blamed Orin for not taking the necessary measures to assure their remaining tied. I don't believe he ran that hard or that long ever again.
I believe it was in 1917 when I first became aware of conversations between my parents concerning the advisability of my mother taking her children and going to Utah with her brothers and mother. Times were so difficult that Father couldn't provide for two families. The talks went on for several months before a final decision was made. Mother wanted to take Orin and go with Beth, Lucy and I. All of the older children had already left the ranch and were in Utah. Father wanted Orin to stay and help with the ranch, to harvest the crops and then go. Orin was undecided. He had a young heifer that was his pride and joy, and Father used this to help him make up his mind by saying, “You don't want to leave (I don't remember its name), do you? You will never see her again.” We were seated at the breakfast table at the time. I remember looking at Orin to try and get his reaction. Tears were running down his cheeks. He had been placed in a difficult situation between parents. He decided to stay and help our father.
We four left for Utah. Orin worked with our father to harvest the wild hay and freight it to Tucson. It was on one of those trips that he, just a young lad of seventeen, witnessed the tragic death of our father.
While living in Gunnison, we received word of the accidental death of our father. I asked Orin to write a first-hand account of the accident. He was with Father at the time. His account is as follows:
“I was the last person, I believe, to see my father alive. I had the privilege of spending more time with him in the last weeks of his life than any other person.
“In mid-1917, a decision was reached that the whole family would move to the state of Utah. My mother (Nancy A. C. Williams) and younger brother (Frederick S. Williams) and sisters (Elizabeth and Lucy Williams) moved by train to Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah, in mid-summer. My older brother, Orlando C. Williams, was in the garage business in that city, and my older sister, Henrietta Williams, was staying with him and his wife.
“Father and I continued to harvest the crops, and to bale a great deal of wild gramma grass that grew profusely in our meadows. We also sold most of our cattle and some of our horses. Father then rented the ranch to the Thompson family, [later he refers to giving a blessing to Sister Thompkinson, so I wonder if he meant Thompkinson and not Thompson} and we moved back to the hamlet of Binghampton, now a part of Tucson, Arizona. It was our purpose to dispose of the family holdings there and then complete the move to Utah.
“As we still had most of the horses with us at Binghampton and some milk cows, the hay at the ranch was important to us for feed, as well as for sale. Between the hay we sold in the Tucson area and our own needs, we were kept busy hauling hay as well as other items from the ranch. We also had some livestock still at the ranch which required frequent attention.
“My father and I made many trips together to and from the ranch, some forty-seven miles away. As sales had depleted our work stock to seven good wagon animals, two riding horses and some young stock, we usually took two wagons: one with four horses and one with two. Father was a great horseman, driving or riding. Throughout my memory, he had always been the unquestioned wagon boss and drove the lead wagon. In earlier days, he participated in many wagon safaris with other pioneers, in moving to and establishing colonies in Utah, Arizona and Mexico. Later, he had organized and participated in many freighting ventures. In most, if not all, of these safaris, he was the wagon boss and drove the lead wagon. In all wagon travels within my memory, stronger, younger men always deferred to him and he drove the lead wagon. He always knew where to go, where water and good feed might be, how far and fast to push the horses, and where the best camp grounds might be found. It was natural for me to drive the second wagon and usually the single team.
“I recall one trip in which we had but one wagon, the lighter one. It was late in 1917; war fever was high. Many stories were being repeated about how the German agents were poisoning the Americans. One of the latest stories was of a man dressed as a woman at a children's party, giving poisoned candy to the children. On this trip we camped for the night in Larigo Canyon, some eight miles short of the ranch. This was a favorite summer camping ground, under and around a giant black jack oak tree, with a spread of ninety feet. It was in high country with abundant grass. That very year, the Empire Land and Cattle Company had built a dam in a small side canyon where it entered Larigo Canyon, adjoining the camp grounds. Ample water was impounded there to serve the needs of our horses as well as that of their cattle.
“We had hardly stopped when a light automobile came up from the other way. The car stopped and the driver asked if he were on the right road to Tucson. Father informed him that he was. Then the stranger, in a somewhat doubtful mood, wanted to know about the road conditions ahead. Father assured him that he was on the right road and that within a very few miles he would be on a well-graded and maintained highway, which also was a dugway off the mountain and had many sharp turns, but all of which were an easy drive for a car in operating condition.
“The stranger still hesitated, so Father invited him to join us at the campground to wait until morning and good light to make the drive off the mountain and into Tucson. With the stranger was a teenage son, some years younger than I. By their dress and manner, they were not local people. Remembering the stories, I was full of suspicion and guessed that my father was also. Notwithstanding our thoughts, we were as hospitable as we knew how to be. Father began to visit with the stranger, and I proceeded to unhook and unharness the horses. Then I led them to water. The boy joined me as I led the horses from the water. He seemed interested in my feeding and preparing them for the night. With the horses cared for, I noted that Father was deep in a gospel conversation with the stranger, and so took down the grub box, gathered wood and prepared a good meal for the four of us. The boy helped me, gingerly at first and then, with his feet wet, did whatever he could in assisting me.
“While I was watering the horses, Father had started a fire around the middle of a great log lying parallel to the wagon tongue. This let me know that the night was to be an occasion. Father was conservative of wood and usually wanted his fire to go out about the time supper was over.
“While I cooked supper on the side of the fire away from the wagon, Father and the stranger made themselves comfortable on the bedroll near the end of the wagon tongue. With supper ready, I had difficulty finding a breaking place in their conversation large enough in which to lead them to food. Some pleasantries were exchanged at supper gathering, but soon after the blessing of the meal, food took second place to the Plan of Salvation.
“After thanks said for a hearty meal, Father and the stranger repaired to their place of comfort and the Gospel. The boy assisted me with the dishes; then, after putting the dishes and food away, we made small talk while I made Father's and my bed. Next, we made the father's and boy's bed. By this time, he was sleepy and went to bed. I laid on the bed and listened for a while and then retired myself. Occasionally, I would awaken and the conversation would still be going on. The man seemed eager to hear all that Father was so eager to tell him.
“Sometime after two o'clock in the morning, they retired. At the first flush of day, I was up and tended the horses, and then cooked breakfast. Before breakfast was over, I knew that I would have no help with the usual camp ritual and preparations for starting. So engrossed were my father and the stranger, that although Father liked to start early on the road and we might have left at six, it was well after eight o'clock before we said goodbye and went our separate ways. In parting, the stranger insisted that we take a can of fruit, we having prepared and served both meals. This can we accepted and put into the grub box, where it stayed until the last trip my father and I had together. I have often wondered if the Gospel message of that night ever bore fruit, and what became of the man and boy.
“Of the last years of World War I, it can be said that it was a time of great change. Many families were uprooted not only from their old homes where roots were deep, but also from their old ways of life. Of the Old West, it can be said that it died in those years and a New West was born. The New West was lustier and materially healthier than the Old, but it lacked dignity and respect, its consideration of others and their inner wants and feelings.
“This was a time of turmoil. One of Father's families was in Utah and all of the family committed to go, yet Father's branch president, who was also his son-in-law, kept urging him to stay, and at times had told him it was his duty to do so.
“On that last trip to the ranch in mid-January, 1918, we spent an extra day at the ranch. Sister Thompkinson was ill and Father administered to her. We killed beef and left some of it with them. I have often remembered part of a conversation between Sister Thompkinson and my father. She was discussing death and expressed a desire to live a long time even if she had to suffer part of the time. My father told of his father's suffering for years, bedridden before his death, and he expressed a desire to go quickly when he went, and not be left a burden upon someone else.
“We left the ranch the morning of January 18, 1918, with the largest loads of hay we had hauled to date, Father with the larger wagon and four horses in the lead, and I with the smaller wagon and two horses behind. We camped that night a little north of Vail Station and near the old Southern Pacific tracks which have since been removed.
“Throughout this trip, Father talked more freely than usual although he had confided in me more and more through the last weeks. At supper, he repeated the remark he had made at the ranch, that he wanted, when he died, to go quickly. During supper, I asked him some questions about the purchase and loss of an empire in the grant that was bought and mostly lost, from which the colony of Dublan was created. He told me the story, a small part of which I already knew. It is too long to tell here, but it is a gripping story in which valor and honor and heroic effort are teamed with stupidity and slothfulness in good, but easygoing, men; and aft countered by cunning and ambition of the son of a great man, and his misguided but hardworking servant; and their winning from Father's group an empire they could not hold for themselves, but lost, in turn, mostly to Don Luis Terrazas.
“At supper, Father took out the can of fruit the stranger had given us some months before. He looked at me and asked, 'Do you think it has been poisoned?' I answered that they did not seem like that kind of people, but did not have a sure answer. He stated that he had thought about it, but had decided it was all right. We ate the choice fruit and enjoyed it and wondered what had become of the givers.
“He told me of many pioneering experiences that night, among them, getting lost in a snowstorm in the Buckskin Mountains (Kaibab Plateau) when he was coming to the Little Colorado Camps in the 1880's; of his crossing the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry, and of a party that night in the moonlight aboard the ferry boat in which the younger couples danced to the music of a violin. The music most in his memory was the strains of 'Maggie' in three-quarter time. He told me of the break-up of the Lake Camp at Obed, I believe. At least, the Lake Camp was across the river from Joseph City. Although the usual reason given for its break-up seems to be the malaria, Father ascribed it to selfishness and quarreling. In his mind, the wife of President Lake liked to lord it over the other women, and although things were had in common, she, at least, believed that the others fared better than they.
“Although the camp broke up and many of its members went back to Utah, Father always felt a degree of guilt that he did not join one of the other camps and finish out his 'call' before returning. The fact that he was very soon called to another settlement mission, which he fulfilled, did not seem to remove entirely this sense of guilt. It was upon this sense of guilt that his son-in-law, the then-branch president, was playing; and Father wondered if he were right to leave. I am convinced that he had weighed the facts well and was quite sure that more than the influence of the Priesthood was involved in the effort to keep him there.
“I have often considered the discussions of that night and wondered if Father had a premonition of what was coming, or if my questions which opened old dreams and wounds, too, coupled with the challenges he faced, caused him to discourse more freely on his innermost thoughts.
“In the late afternoon of January 19, 1918, we arrived in the eastern part of what we then called Binghampton. As we reached the home of Charles Sidney (farmer) Brown, Father pulled his teams off the road and I followed. We went in and found the farmer in his back yard chopping wood, I believe. Father began a lengthy discussion with him. As it seemed to be a continuation of an earlier one, I did not listen to most of it. I knew that he was discussing his personal problems with Brother Brown, whose opinion he respected. I left a time or two to see that the teams were all right. I don't know how long they talked, perhaps two hours.
“When we left Brother Brown's, it was getting dusky, just the beginning of evening. We had gone perhaps a quarter of a mile when the lead chain tightened as the teams were pulling out of a small dip, and the lead hook broke. The almost involuntary surging forward of the lead team seemed to pull Father forward with the lines, overbalancing him. His foot or feet caught in the baling wire where his feet had worn a hole in the bale, tripping him forward. In the fall, he seemed to hit a turned-out strap iron facing along the tongue, which opened a bad cut in his neck. It is also possible that one or more of the horses kicked him.
“I saw him half rise, then topple forward. The leaders broke away and the wheelers started off the road. I stopped my team and ran around and stopped the other teams. By this time, the wagon wheel had run over the side of Father's head and across his body. He was trying to talk to me, but could not get up. I lifted his shoulders and head. He tried to speak to me, but could only gurgle. Blood was already filling his throat.
“I was opposite Jake Bingham's place and I hollered for help. Finally, his oldest daughter came out and then a Mexican. One of them ran to Glen Bingham's and he came with his car. We put Father into the seat and went on home, only a mile away. He was dead by the time we arrived. The doctor came almost immediately afterward. I have often thought that his neck might have been broken in the fall, and that I should not have moved him. But then, I remember his efforts to rise. Also, with the blood rushing into his throat, I am sure that if I had let him lie there, he would have drowned from the blood.
“Of the next few days, I remember mostly the numbness and sense of loss. At his funeral, the look of a conqueror was on his face as he lay in his coffin in the robes of the Priesthood. Within a year or two, I had coined an expression which I have largely forgotten now, but which goes something like this:
'The true measure of a man's greatness is the measure of his influence upon the lives of others, whether it be the great effect upon the few, or the lesser effect on the many.'
“I love and honor my father, and I know that among his greatest virtues, and perhaps contributing to his material losses, was the fact that he was a man without guile.”
(Orin Granger Williams, June 1965, Phoenix, Arizona.)
The Man of the Family
Shortly after Father's death, Orin joined us in Gunnison, Utah, where Orlando was working as an electrician on the construction of the sugar factory. Orin got some part-time work there and sought work wherever he could find it. He and I thinned beets for ten cents a row. We crawled along, straddling the row on our hands and knees. The rows seemed endless from our vantage point. We didn't make much money, but it helped with the family expenses.
Orlando had rented an old two-story home with plenty of room for all of his family and Mother's. In the barn was an old carriage with a top on it. It had been an excellent vehicle in its day. Stake conference was being held in Manti and we didn't have transportation to get there, so we borrowed a horse and went in the carriage, the only horse-drawn vehicle on the road. We left early and returned very late after the conference. Orin drove most of the way with a little assistance from me.
Most of that period of my life I looked like a red-headed, shaggy dog, with my hair doing what it wanted to do. From time to time, Mother would pressure Orin into cutting it, and if they could catch me, this unpleasant activity took place in the shade of a tree. It was equally unpleasant for Orin as for me. A pot or kettle was placed over my head and Orin would try to cut off the hair up to its rim. He worked slowly and I couldn't sit still with the cut hair going down my neck and back. Eventually, he would give up and I, with a sigh of relief, would go around with a weird haircut.
Orin was a special son to our mother. He was kind, considerate, and very thoughtful of her. She leaned on him a great deal. Very few times in my life have I seen him angry. I had a hot temper, but he was always a peacemaker and kept his cool.
In Gunnison we raised a pig, and in the fall, Orin and Orlando butchered it as they had seen their father do earlier. Mother rendered the fat into lard; hams and bacon were smoked and put away for later. Mother supervised and knew exactly what to do. She even made headcheese. That tasted better than it sounds.
It was in Gunnison where Etta, living with Orlando and Martha, met Alma Janson. Our entire family went with them to the Manti Temple for their wedding. Mother accompanied them in the temple and the rest of us waited outside. [Note from Pam, Orin’s youngest daughter: It seems from the dates on Family Search that Orin was endowed the same day as his just-older sister, Henrietta, who was sealed that same day, 19 June 1918, in the Manti Temple in Sanpete County, Utah.]
The sugar factory was completed. Orlando went into the garage business with a cousin and after a few months decided to move to Holbrook, Arizona, to be close to Martha's folks, who lived in Pinedale.
Mother, Orin, Beth, Lucy and I moved to Manti, where Mother could work in the temple. Naoma found a job in Salt Lake City as a secretary. We moved from house to house in Manti until a small place was found just under the brow of the temple hill. In the meantime, Orin worked at whatever he could find to do. We younger children attended school and helped out as we could.
Orin spent one cold winter on a ranch working as a cowboy. It was at considerable distance from Manti, but I don't remember where it was. Exposed to the cold winter elements, it is a wonder he didn't freeze to death, as he had to ride long distances in the snow and blizzards to look after the cattle.
Work was scarce and Orin found a job in construction in Helper, Utah. He spent part of the winter there. He arranged for me to spend a few days with him and it was cold. We slept in a cold room and cooked over a fire made in an open-ended barrel on the construction job. He worked as a carpenter's helper; I suppose it was the first time that he had done carpenter work.
His job lasted through the spring of 1921. Mother's brother, Jesse, invited us to come and live in Duchesne where he could help us, as we lived from hand to mouth. I went by train to Price where I met Orin. We traveled by bus to Duchesne and spent a few days with our uncle and his family.
A small two-room log cabin was cleaned out and made ready for our family. Owned by Uncle Easton, the cabin was situated on a few acres of land at the south edge of Duchesne near the confluence of the Strawberry and Duchesne Rivers. The cabin was just a short distance from the road leading to and from Helper and from the bridge over the river.
Mother, Beth and Lucy were getting ready to come and a date was set to meet them at Helper. They would bring with them our furniture and belongings, so arrangements had to be made to transport them. We didn't have money for a truck, so Uncle Easton gave us permission to use a team of his horses and a wagon. The problem was that the horses were at Talmadge on his dry farm. That posed no obstacle since it was only about 18 miles away. So, Orin and I walked the distance, caught the horses and rode them back to Duchesne.
The next day we hitched them to the wagon, packed it with hay, assembled a bedroll and food and set out for Helper, some 45 miles away.
I felt sorry for one of the horses. It had an open sore on its shoulder directly under the collar. We kept an ointment on it always, but it was sore. The horse always had to be coaxed to start pulling, but once the collar tightened over the sore, it became the better of the two animals.
It took us two days to make the trip, camping out one night in the pines. The road had to pass over the summit of more than 9,000 feet. We met the train that brought Mother and the girls, loaded up and spent two more days returning to Duchesne, where we established ourselves in the log cabin.
Naoma came from Salt Lake and got a job in one of the offices of the county, since Duchesne was the county seat. Orin worked at odd jobs wherever he could find work and was frequently absent from home. He helped Uncle Jesse and his boys lath the interior of the cabin and then plaster it. This made it a much more pleasant place to live, as it was more attractive than the bare log walls.
Orin's quick thinking and reaction saved a possible catastrophe. It was Christmas time and Santa Claus visited us, in the person of Mother. While distributing gifts, she got too close to the Christmas tree and one of its lighted candles ignited her cotton beard. Orin jumped and pulled the flaming beard from her face before it had time to burn her and quickly put out the flame before any damage was done.
After some eighteen months' residence in Duchesne, it was decided to go to Salt Lake City. Etta and Alma were living there and it was thought that Orin could get better work. Naoma was always able to get work as she was an expert secretary.
Uncle Jesse had acquired a second-hand truck and his son drove us to Helper with our furniture and worldly possessions. I insisted on taking my dog, Spot, but about halfway to Helper we had to stop and let the radiator cool off. The dog ran off after something and never came back in time to continue on with us. I was heartbroken.
I believe it was the year 1922 when we moved to Salt Lake. We lived in several rented houses whose locations I can't remember. I was about 13 years old at the time.
Times were difficult, and jobs were hard to find. Orin worked as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and sold a few. Naoma soon found employment and was our main source of support for many years. I sold Deseret News newspapers on the corner of 4th South and Main Street, bringing home a few cents daily. I also sold The Salt Lake Tribune on Sundays, establishing a route in the suburbs, delivering the paper to homes. Alma worked as a policeman for the Salt Lake Police Department. He was always on the night shift.
All during the years, I have never known Orin not to attend church unless ill or absent because of his work. He always had a strong testimony of the Gospel.
About the middle of June of 1923, Alma, Etta, Orin, and two Janson children and I left Salt Lake City for Holbrook, Arizona. Alma purchased new Cupples tires for his 1919 Dodge and we set out with people driving two Model T Fords. The new tires were very inferior and we had flats every day. The trip took several days as we traveled through Needles, California, where we spent a very hot afternoon on the courthouse lawn under the sprinklers before traveling through Hell Canyon at night to escape the heat. We made a stop at the Grand Canyon, the first time any of us had seen that great 'example of erosion.' We enjoyed the cool air under the pine trees.
At Holbrook, a small house was rented and Orin and I slept on the back porch; fine in the summer but very cold during the winter since the screened walls didn't keep out much of the cold wind. At first, both Orin and Alma worked for a local stage company, driving a passenger car with the mail and any passengers who wanted to go to surrounding towns.
Orin's route led to Fort Apache and I accompanied him on one of the trips. I quote from the first volume of 'The History Of My Life':
“We drove the car, loaded with mail and one passenger, through Snowflake, Taylor, Lakeside, Cooley and on into the largest, unbroken, white pine forest in the United States, to Fort Apache. This was a romantic place for me. It had been famous for years as an outpost against the Apache Indians, the last tribe in the United States to sign a peace treaty. The fort didn't look like the Fort Apache I've seen since in movies, located on desert sand. The real one was situated in strikingly beautiful country, completely covered over with pine and other trees. The day we had to lay over at the fort, Orin and I went turkey hunting down one of the nearby beautiful canyons, through which ran a mountain stream. The trees and undergrowth were so thick we could hardly see the sun. Wild ferns and flowers grew in profusion everywhere; we didn't get a turkey, but we had a glorious day.
“Our host at the fort was Sergeant Henry, a retired soldier who had served for many years at Fort Apache and had liked it so much that he'd stayed on after his retirement. We slept on army cots, though there were no soldiers stationed there at the time -- just Sergeant Henry, living with his memories, a caretaker looking after the ghosts of yesteryear.
“Monday morning as we were coasting down a long hill on our return to Cooley, we came into a large field that had been cultivated by the Apache Indians, and saw our first flock of wild turkeys. We hurriedly stopped, and Orin, with one blast of his .22 caliber rifle, shot a large tom through the head. We put it into the bottom of the car under the mail sacks, as it was unlawful to hunt on the Indian Reservation....”
After a few months the employer for whom Orin and Alma worked lost his mail contract. Since there wasn't any work, they, along with Etta and the children, went to Los Angeles. They found work as carpenters in San Pedro, California, living in a tent to save money.
I can't remember just when it was that they returned to Holbrook with enough money saved, they thought, to build two homes. They bought two lots and made plans to build. In the meantime, they started contracting as “Williams and Janson, General Contractors.” They built a few houses, and as I remember, received the contract to lay the cement walk that led to the courthouse from the street corner. I worked with them, mixing cement by hand in a box, wheeling it to the forms and then hand finishing the work. They gave me $20 for my part of the labor.
They also received a contract to build a cement dip in the highway north of Winslow, Arizona. It was a long dip through a dry river bed, but a raging river when it rained.
Alma's old Model T Ford was remade into a truck. It was my job to haul water from Winslow to the job site with which to hand mix the cement. A large tank had been placed in the back of the truck and I made trip after trip every day to keep ahead of the some ten workers who worked on the job. We camped at night at the job site.
Alma acquired the Model T when he was called to Utah at the death of his father. He bought the car to return home in. Prior to that time, his 1919 Dodge was used for passenger service and as a truck. When Orin and Alma began building the Janson home first, it was used to haul rock for foundation stones. Then good sand was found in a wash several miles from Holbrook that would serve to mix with the cement for mortar. We placed a canvas over the back seat and the floor of the Dodge, and then I made trip after trip, loading and bringing the sand.
It wasn't long until Alma and Orin discovered that they didn't have enough money to build the houses. Alma's house had the outer wall and partitions all in place, but there wasn't enough money to put the roof on. Orin's house hadn't been started. Building materials were very expensive and the contracting business was very slow. So, it was decided that Orin, Alma and family would go to Phoenix. Mother, Beth and Lucy would move to Salt Lake where Naoma had previously gone to marry John Seaich. I moved in with Orlando and Martha.
Orin and Alma began a successful contracting business in Phoenix, building residences and small commercial buildings. Orin did most of the figuring, which was checked by Alma. Alma often said that Orin could read a blue print better than anyone he had ever known.
The Construction Business
In August 1925, 1 went to Phoenix to live with them and to work in construction. Orin was living with Alma and Etta and I moved in with them. It was summertime and we all slept on the lawn at night, since the houses were too hot to sleep in. About this time Orin bought a new 1925 Dodge Sedan, the first car he ever purchased. He was very generous with me and loaned it to me for dates when he wasn't involved in one. Sometimes we dated and went together.
Williams and Janson entered a basketball team in the YMCA Commercial League and Orin was the captain that played on the team. They didn't win the championship but held their own pretty well.
I was pleased to find that he was a counselor in the Y.M.M.I.A. and well thought of in the Phoenix Ward. I was proud to see him sitting on the stand every Tuesday night. He introduced me to many people, one of which, Melvin Smith, was the brother of Corraine.
During the summer of 1926, Williams and Janson built the Franklin School on Van Buren Street near the Fair Grounds. It was their largest contract up to that time. A few years later the school burned down and was rebuilt by others. I worked as a carpenter and ran the cement mixer after school, on Saturdays and full time during summer vacations. On the school job, Orin gave employment to June [Junius] Driggs as a helper.
Orin participated in all church activities and was always available when things needed to be done. His car took the young people when we presented a musical for the Douglas, Arizona, Branch. He directed an excursion to the caves located near our old ranch near Sonoita. He remembered its location from his early youth and found it during the night, as we all arrived after dark.
Orin was the principal support of Mother and we younger children. I helped out with what I earned, but most of the responsibility fell on his shoulders. Mother and the two younger girls soon came from Utah and a home was rented for us. We lived a few miles from Alma and Etta, on Clarendon, a block from the street car tracks.
When the Phoenix Ward Chapel was enlarged and extended to the sidewalk, the building permit was taken out by Orin for Williams and Janson, General Contractors, and he was responsible for the work. Almost all ward members worked on it. I did a lot of the wood lathing and, of course, mixed the concrete for the footings and foundation. The enlargement increased the seating capacity for the chapel and gave us more class rooms. The building stood for many years at the corner of 7th Street and Monroe.
When I received a mission call in December of 1926, I quit high school and worked full time in construction to make preparations for the mission, but the bulk of the expenses were borne by Orin. During the mission he was my main source of support, helped from time to time by contributions from other members of the family. I was, and still am, grateful for what he did.
During the 27 months of my 24-month mission (I was asked to stay over, due to the shortage of missionaries. Before and during this extra period, my junior companion and I were the only Spanish-speaking missionaries on the South American continent), Mother's letters kept me up to date on conditions at home. For the first two years the construction company did very well. They acquired a commercial property in the heart of Phoenix and started a battery sales and repair business, built several houses which they sold, and when I came home still had two for sale. About the third month of 1927, things started getting more difficult. They didn't have construction work and the battery business failed. Times became rough and they couldn't sell the houses, but had kept up payments for the materials used in their construction. By June 1927, Orin couldn't send me more expense money. I couldn't stay any longer, so came home. Orlando had told me that if I could get to New York on what the church gave me for travel expenses, he would wire me enough money to get home on. In response to my telegram, he wired a hundred dollars that was enough for the train fare to Holbrook, and for a new suit, which I desperately needed.
When I reached Holbrook in August, Orin, Mother, and Beth and Lucy were there to meet me. We visited for a few days. Orin made a down payment on a used 1925 Studebaker Sedan, the starter of which had been broken off, so we had to crank it every time it was started. Fortunately, it started immediately.
We then left Orlando and his family and drove to Phoenix, staying temporarily with Alma and Etta on Indian School Road. We moved into a new home that Orin had built on East Adams and about 38th or 39th Street. [Pam here: The 1930 Phoenix Arizona City Directory states that Orin was head of the household, living at 2924 E Adams Street in Phoenix.] When we moved in there were no lights, as only the electrical conduits had been placed in the walls and we didn't have the money to wire it.
Orin and I got jobs the Saturday after we arrived in Phoenix working on a lumber yard then under construction. It was good to begin working again at union wages of $1.00 an hour.
My memory is hazy as to the sequence of things, but the stock market fiasco of October 1929, made life difficult. However, a contract was received to build an isolation hospital out at Ajo, a place where patients with communicable diseases could be cared for. It was just a small building, but we were happy to get the work.
The three of us, Alma, Orin and I, drove in the Studebaker to Ajo, slept on the desert and ate breakfast at a boarding house. When we got the materials on the job, we made a small windbreak to protect the fire and I was nominated as the cook. We ate, worked and slept on the job. A half hour before lunch time I would take off and cook while Orin and Alma continued working during half of the hour break to make up for my absence.
After working half-day on Saturdays we then drove to Phoenix for a bath and attendance at church. After the church service Sunday evening we drove back to Ajo.
Just before Thanksgiving we left Ajo at dusk. It was cold. Orin was up front with me and Alma slept on the rear seat. We reached a certain rolling hill area with dips. Upon coming out of one of them, when the headlights finally adjusted to the bottom of another dip I was horrified to see several cattle standing in the middle of the road. Traveling at 50 miles an hour it was impossible to stop. I honked the horn and gratefully the cattle separated, running to different sides of the road. I guided the car the best I could to miss them, but the horn of one steer hit the windshield on my side, shattering the glass and sending it throughout the car. Fortunately, none of us were cut, although all were covered with small pieces of glass. All that remained of the windshield was a six inch piece on the driver's side.
We cleaned out the glass as best we could in the dark. Alma and Orin got in the bottom of the car in front of the back seat and covered themselves with quilts to keep out the cold. I bundled up as best I could and drove home, reaching there after 11 o'clock, more frozen than alive. We were grateful to be alive.
The Mormon community helped each other as best they could during the depression. George Nelson (I later had his son as a missionary in Argentina) got a job supervising the construction of more that 30 houses for the Copper Company at Jerome, Arizona. He wrote for us to go there. We just had enough money for gas and a few groceries when we arrived, so we camped on the hillside in the construction area. It was the first time I ever ate corn flakes with water. Milk was too expensive.
We slept cold on the hillside for several weeks until the snow fell. We then moved into a boarding house run by Chinese. I had a single bed and Alma and Orin shared a double one. We made arrangements to eat at the Chinese restaurant and our lunches were prepared in a brown bag for noon. That surely beat sleeping and cooking in the snow.
Orin and I made payments on the car, but we got behind, due to lack of work, so the car was impounded in Jerome. We wanted to go to Phoenix for the Christmas Holiday, and finally saved enough to make up the payments. We started out in a snow storm and got only a few miles when we decided the snow was getting too deep for us to continue. Two other men were with us in the car, so the 5 of us were able to turn the car around in the snow and start back to Jerome. We met two men in a Model A Ford truck who said they were going, come bell or high water. They had been drinking. The next day they were found frozen to death, the truck stalled in the deep snow. We were thankful that we had turned around when we did. We could have gone down the next hill but wouldn't have been able to get back up it. We had no chains.
That job was finished up and we returned to Phoenix, doing whatever we could find to do. Things were very rough. For about a month we had to scratch with the chickens for what we ate.
We were grateful when Hoggan and Farmer, a contracting firm (Hoggan was a member of the church) received a contract to build forty some houses for the same Copper Company at the smelter town of Clarkdale. Alma had found some work in Phoenix, so he didn't go with Orin and I to Clarkdale, where we arrived after dark. We found the construction site and bedded down. We were employed the next morning and worked there until the project was completed.
We lodged in a boarding house and ate our meals there. It was a good time for both of us; we were working and comfortably housed. About every other week we would drive to Phoenix after working a half day on Saturday, clean up and go to church on Sunday. After the evening service we took off for Clarkdale where we would arrive about 5 o'clock in the morning and then go to work. The following Sunday we would go to the small branch, the meetings held in a local club around the pool tables. It was across the street from the boarding house, so we could go early and sweep up the cigar and cigarette butts, clean out the spittoons, gather up the beer bottles and make ready for our Sunday services. We sometimes visited with the branch president, who lived on a ranch 20 miles away, some far distant members.
On one of our trips to Phoenix in May, I proposed to Corraine and from then on my interests were more focused on her than on my brother. Orin attended our wedding in the Arizona Temple on June 3rd, 1930, and the next day accompanied us on our honeymoon to Holbrook, Arizona. Two days later he and Clement, Orlando's son, went with us to Clarkdale, where Orin remained, while Clement continued with us to Phoenix. Two days later, Corraine and I went to Clarkdale where we resided until the job was finished, about the last of July. Alma, Orin and I found work on the new Prescott High School Building. A week later Corraine and I went to Phoenix and for six years were more or less separated from Orin, since he and Alma moved to Tucson (Binghampton).
Orin and Virginia
From September 1930, until July 1936, Corraine and I lived in Phoenix during nine months of the year and three summer months in Yarnell, 35 miles south of Prescott. I served as Spanish Interpreter to the Federal Court, Phoenix and Prescott Division. And from 1932 to 1936, [served] as the secretary to the Hon. F. C. Jacobs, U. S. District judge, as well as an interpreter.
Orin was living in Tucson where Alma and Etta had also gone. They lived in Binghampton, which is now incorporated into Tucson.
During these 6 years money was not plentiful, there wasn't enough to buy gasoline for frequent trips between Tucson and Phoenix, so only on the major holidays did we see each other. Orin, Mother and the girls (Beth and Lucy), came and had Thanksgiving dinner with us in 1930. Two or three times we went to Tucson for the Christmas Holidays. Mother's letters were our best means of communication. I do remember some activities Orin was involved in. He served a local mission and was always active in the church. Alma drove a school bus and did odd jobs on the side, so the Williams and Janson partnership broke up. There wasn't any contracting work to be done anyway. Orin worked for the WPA, supervising the construction of the cement work incidental to the installation of culverts on the highway. He also supervised the construction of a concrete over-pass on the highway out of Tucson leading to Phoenix.
At one time he was a candidate for the Arizona Legislature. With no money for campaign expenses, he did quite well, finishing 4th among 6 candidates, if I remember correctly.
On July 31, 1936, Judge Jacobs retired on full pay for life and I was retired with no pay. Orin asked me to go to Tucson and work with him in the contracting business which had begun to pick up. This I gladly did; soon secured a house in Binghampton, and brought Corraine and my two daughters from Phoenix.
We just had a two bedroom house, but Orin lived with us. He finally got tired of sleeping on the couch and we built a wooden floor and framework for a tent. Orin slept there, but always ate his meals with us. He had previously purchased a piano (the one you all grew up with), so that graced our living room.
We lived and worked together for the next two years. He did the estimating and supervising the construction, and I worked on the jobs as a carpenter and supervisor in his absence.
As a contractor, Orin had one fault. He could get jobs and loved to get them started, but once they were underway he liked to look for new work, and frequently failed to have the necessary materials on the job when they were needed by the workmen. Hence, many people who gave him contracts became disenchanted because of the delay in finishing up the work. We lost a lot of work that way.
In Tucson we built many residences and a few commercial buildings. Orin made a few trips to Los Angeles and made some valuable contacts with material suppliers. He felt sure that the Tucson companies were charging more than was necessary, so for one large job, he ordered all of the building materials, lumber, cement, plaster, nails, and everything else, from the coast. The day the giant 24- wheel truck arrived with the load, the driver was prohibited from unloading it. The local lumber yards had heard about its arrival and got a policeman to stop the unloading. Orin had to go to city hall and show them that there was no ordinance against such a transaction, and the truck was unloaded and returned to Los Angeles. The lumber yards lowered their prices from then on.
We built several small auto courts, one-bedroom cabins, and had a lot of work at first. We built one adobe house, the adobes being mixed with old crankcase oil instead of water. It was a very substantial house. A modern ranch house was built between Dos Cabezas and the Chiricahua National Monument. A very interesting construction job was a swimming pool for a Pittsburgh millionaire near Sasabe, just north of the Mexican border. He had built a beautiful home and wanted a swimming pool 70 feet long and 30 feet wide, with a building over the pool. We had to blast it out of the solid rock, cement it with white cement and build a brick building to enclose it. The ladders leading to the diving board were made in Los Angeles from brass. I camped for several months on that job.
Orin lived up to the name of the company: “Williams Engineering and Construction Company.” He would tackle any kind of job. We remodeled some small grocery stores and took food in payment of work. He engineered a penstock to carry water under the river at Binghampton. We even made the cement pipe for the conduit.
We finally ran out of work and I went to Los Angeles to work for a few months. I received a telegram from Orin asking that I return as soon as possible since he had two contracts, one in Tucson and one in El Paso where Orlando was mission president. Orin had the contract to build a chapel for the Spanish-American Branch, the first chapel built for them in that city.
Orin helped me get it started in September of 1937. We hired Mexican adobe makers to make the adobes for the outside walls. This they did on the premises. It was a lovely little chapel with seating for some two hundred people, and modern in every detail. Orin would commute between Tucson and El Paso, keeping the jobs going in Arizona.
The chapel was finished up about the 15th of July, 1938, and dedicated two days later by Elder Melvin J. Ballard on the 17th. Corraine and I took Elder Ballard to the train after the service Sunday evening, and left the next morning for Salt Lake so I could be set apart as president of the Argentine Mission, having received a call some six weeks before.
I received a few letters from Orin while in Argentina, but the most important message I received from him was a cablegram. The text was somewhat like this: “I HAVE FOUND THE RIGHT ONE. VIRGINIA DAVIES AND I WILL BE MARRIED IN TEMPLE ON OCTOBER 10, 1938. LOVE ORIN.” We didn't meet your mother until we returned to the states in 1942.
My brother, Orin, played a very special part in the erection and dedication of the monument to the Mormon Battalion in the park in Tucson, but I won't go into particulars here, since I am writing up the full account in a separate memoir, and will get a copy to you when finished.
From 1938 to 1951 my contacts with Orin were sporadic with just an occasional letter and a short visit. We were in the Argentine Mission from 1938 to 1942. I was home just a few weeks before going to Washington, and then spent a year in Venezuela and two in Uruguay with the Institute of Inter-American Affairs under Nelson Rockefeller. We returned to Los Angeles in January 1946, but visited Phoenix a few times that year. In 1947 we were called to open a mission in Uruguay, and later, Paraguay, and remained there until September 1951, when we came to Phoenix.
Now our contacts were very frequent. We lived on North 19th Avenue, two houses north of Bethany Home Road. Orin was building a home on [north of] Maryland Avenue [6519 N. Bonnie Brae Road/10th Street] to the north. Before the plumbing was completely installed, you children came to our house many times for your baths.
I was working with Orlando. I took the examinations for a broker's license and to be a general insurance agent. We worked under the name of South Western Real Estate Company. Our contacts with your father were several times a week.
The three of us combined and built a modern building, a combination for offices and stores on the west side of Central Avenue just south of the Arizona Canal and Camelback Road. Things looked good for the future.
I think it was in 1952 that the Department of Indian Affairs opened up some land owned by the Pima Indians for leasing on a percentage of the profits basis. The first I knew about this was when Orin brought two members of the Sunnyslope Ward to our home. They convinced me that I should go into the venture of raising cotton on that land. We formed a partnership known as the WSF Farms (Williams, Paul Senetra and James Oliver Fowler).
We submitted a bid and received bank and appliance dealers credit for the equipment we required. The cotton gins furnished us with the seed. Fowler had grown cotton before and was very helpful, but he couldn't spend full time on the project, so an experienced farmer was hired to supervise. We built a wooden house as a headquarters, purchased tractors, planters, trucks (pickups and a 4-ton Dodge)-- all on credit.
Several hundred acres were planted to cotton and it came up beautifully. We also planted some corn and milo-maize. (Incidentally, the seed company that had furnished us this seed, unknown to us, entered some of the latter at the state fair. I still have the blue ribbon that it earned.)
Our beautiful green fields caused us a lot of trouble. The Indians would cut the wires of the fence and let their horses graze in our fields. We would run them out the next morning, but the next night the fences would be cut again. The Indian officials would do nothing about this problem.
Our cotton was the talk of the area. Each week the gin's specialist would examine the progress of the crop and his reports were very encouraging. Finally the cotton matured and we bought two mechanical cotton pickers to harvest the cotton. We also had to develop a transportation system to deliver it to the gins. Things were going great. We were harvesting and carrying to the gin load after load of cotton which gradually paid our debts. Then disaster struck. It rained nine consecutive days and beat our cotton from the plants to the ground. Unfortunately, our contract with the Indians prohibited us from picking up any cotton from the ground. The Indians were given the right of gleaning. We were out of business from morning to night and could only tear down our house and move, since our lease was up at the end of the cotton season.
Experts had estimated our profits at over $200,000 after paying for all equipment and loans. All of this was beaten into the soil by that unaccustomed rainfall. In paying off creditors it cost Orin and I our homes [Pam remembers the stressful move from 10th Street to 1616 East Martin Drive/Orangewood Avenue in the midst of her 1st grade year at Rose Lane, which was 1959-1960. She thinks we moved in February 1960.] and the business venture on North Central Avenue. I had to move to California where I had a job offer in order to live. We found out we couldn't rely on the weather. It rains on both the “good and the bad.” So much for our farming endeavor.
In November of 1954, I was called as the first director of the Los Angeles Temple Bureau of Information and president of the Los Angeles Temple Mission. I had to go to Salt Lake to be set apart. Word came that Mother was very ill in that city, so we agreed with Orin to go to Salt Lake together. I drove to Phoenix and left my car there. Orin and Virginia, Corraine and I left in their car and drove directly to Salt Lake. The last few hours we experienced a heavy snow fall and gale winds. We arrived in Salt Lake about 3:00 a.m., Christmas morning, 1954. I awoke Naoma and found that Mother had died a few hours earlier, shortly after the beginning of the Christmas Day.
While making the funeral arrangements we recalled that Mother had two wishes for her funeral. First, that she be buried in Salt Lake City, and that, second, J. Reuben Clark speak at the service.
The first request was easy. The second was problematical--until I called President Clark and explained her dying wishes. He graciously consented to speak, asking only where and when. I asked if I should pick him up and take him to the service, but he declined and said that he would be there, but wanted me to come a few minutes early to refresh his memory of Mother.
President Clark had handled the claims of the Mormon people in the colonies in Mexico against the Mexican government. Mother had spoken to him several times about our claim and he vaguely remembered her.
He quizzed me about the particulars of her life and then gave a beautiful talk at the service. Knowing of his busy life and responsibilities, we were so very happy that he would consent to honor the wishes of a widow who was known to him so casually.
Orin and Virginia returned to Phoenix and we, with a car furnished by the Church, went to Los Angeles, after having been set apart by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, at the request of President David O. McKay. We later went to Phoenix to bring back our own automobile.
During 1955, Orin and I spoke on the phone from time to time, and when we went twice or three times to Phoenix to visit.
The fore part of December I took my family to Lima, Peru, as the remuneration at the bureau was insufficient to live on and educate my children. After 25 days on a cargo ship (our living conditions were first class), we arrived in Lima, 1 January 1956.
During our stay in Peru of four years we occasionally exchanged letters. I wrote more than he did, but each one was busy with personal goals and problems.
Returning to California early in 1960, we visited whenever I went to Phoenix. Only once did he come to California, and that visit was only long enough to eat supper and then continue driving to Phoenix. He had picked up a car in Bakersfield, I believe. [Pam remembers it as Lodi, but she was young.]
I wrote to Orin and requested he write the circumstances of our father's death. He consented when I called and reminded him of the letter. I'm not sure he welcomed my calls and letters during the next few years, because in each one I asked that he write about that tragedy. He always said that he would, and that he was thinking about it. I think it was six years after the original request that I received the document. I am so very happy that he wrote it. He was the only witness. I had even requested that he tape it and I would write it up. Fortunately, we now have that information.
Whenever we went to Phoenix we always visited. Sometimes, it was only by phone, depending upon the circumstances and the time available to each party.
Then came the telephone call from my son-in-law, Keith J. Morris, informing me of Orin and Virginia's tragic death. I felt honored to be asked to speak at the funeral, which I did with a heavy heart.
In conclusion, I want to express my feelings and thoughts about my older brother, Orin. He was the salt of the earth, a solid, hardworking man who loved his family, his church and his country. He loved to read and remembered almost everything he had read. He, at times, was a dreamer, and for long periods of time would be lost in his thoughts, sometimes forgetting appointments and other urgent matters. He had a wonderful knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and tried to live its principles. Friends have told me that in the gospel discussions in the classes where there was a difference of opinion concerning certain principles, they would appeal to “Brother Williams” and accepted his thoughts as the final word. He had a brilliant mind. He was the brains of his mother's family. Had he enjoyed a good education, he could have accomplished anything he desired. I never remember his saying a derogatory word against anyone. He accepted his role as provider (together with his beloved Virginia) for a large family willingly and gratefully. His family was his first priority. He and Virginia encouraged the children to get a good education and to develop their musical talents. They kept them close to the Church. They devoted their lives to their children and gave their lives for one of them. What more could be asked of either of them?