THE STORY OF MY LIFE
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 9 months ago Updated: 9 months ago
One December 23, 1918, I was born in Provo, Utah, while my mother was quarantined in Provo, and my father was quarantined in Eureka. Our home was in Eureka. It was during the great flu epidemic, and because of the quarantine, my father was not able to see me until I was six weeks old. After being born on Joseph Smith’s birthday, I was blessed on the Church’s birthday, April 6, 1919. I was given the name of Louisa Gene Hiatt, after both of my grandmothers, Louisa Jane Taylor, and Luisa Maria Hall. I have always considered it an honor to have their name.
When I was three years old, my moved from Eureka to Payson. My father had been working in the mine, but had to leave because of his health. We moved to a small farm, into a home which my father had built.
I have many happy memories of my life on the farm. My father was the spiritual leader in our home. We always had family prayer, and my father had each of us take our turn leading the family in a verse of scripture before the prayer, our turns lasting for a week. He bought us each a little book to write the scriptures in. We also had family home evening many times. I can never remember a time when we didn’t have the Deseret News in our home. I am sure my parents recognized it as the voice of the Church.
I can remember at least one Christmas when we had a Christmas tree with lighted candles on it. I know it took a lot of care to have a tree with real burning candles, and they could be lighted for only a little while.
While we lived on the farm, we finally got electricity. We thought it was grand, even though each room was lighted by a single bulb hanging on a long cord in the middle of the room.
We had fun climbing the trees that were in our back yard. I remember climbing often to one of the lower limbs and hanging by my knees. Even as a little girl, I had so much fun climbing trees that I have never kept my own children from doing it.
One day, some of our cousins, that I didn’t know very well, came to visit us. It was raining a little, and we climbed on top of one of our big chicken coops and lay there with our mouths open, catching the rain drops in our mouths.
At the time, we didn’t have too much of an energy crisis. When I was in first grade my mother used to take me to school on a horse. I rode in front of her on the saddle, and it was a tight fit. Later, we got a Model T Ford. Mother learned to drive the Model T, and incidentally, it was the only car she would ever drive. One day, as we were coming home from school in the car, I fell out, into the ditch, but luckily, was not hurt.
Before we got the Model T, we rode in a buggy. I can’t remember too much about horse and buggy traveling, but one incident stands out in my mind. At the time, we were coming home in the buggy from a celebration in Payson Park. It seems like it was the 24th of July. We had left the park and were starting up the hill, when several big boys came running along behind us. The jumped up onto the back of the buggy yelling, “Give us a ride.” As they got hold of the back of the seat, the seat came loose, and we all fell out on the road. The big boys went running down the road. My two brothers were hurt, but I was not. Clyde had a broken collar bone, and Marion a broken arm. Martin was quite young and was probably in the front seat with my parents.
At this farm home we got our water from a pump in the back yard. About thirteen years ago (about 1962) our family, also Dawn-Nita and her family, stopped at this home one day as we were passing, and let us look around the house and yard. The pump was still there, as well as the chicken coops that my father built, the cow shed, and some of the trees that we climbed. The house looked quite a bit the same, but a large room added on at the back.
I need to tell here about the short life of my baby brother Farrar Harris Hiatt. He was born on April 20, 1923, and died January 11, 1924, of pneumonia. I was only five years old when he died. I can remember quite clearly the night that he died. I was sitting quietly coloring with crayons, but I sensed the worry and sorrow of my mother. At the time, my father had gone to town for medicine. It seems like Mother was walking back and forth a lot, looking at him in his crib. She has told me how later, as she looked at his little body, she said aloud, “It is worth having lived to have been your mother.” He was always a happy, good baby, and she felt that he was a special spirit. She said, in a letter, “When the Heavenly Father called our baby, Farrar, it was dear Chasty who prepared his beautiful little body for its final resting place.” Later, Mother had a severe case of pneumonia, also, and Aunt Chasty took care of her.
Dawn-Nita was born at home. I was eight and a half years old, and I remember how surprised I was when I found out we had a baby. I didn’t know where the baby had come from, and I wondered why my mother was in bed.
Some of my favorite memories are of going to Aunt Chasty’s about a quarter of a mile south on the highway. Aunt Chasty is the wife of Mother’s older brother, Albert . Aunt Chasty was always good to us. Our families were always close, even though their children were older than we were. Sometimes she let us play her Victrola. I used to wonder where the little voice came from. There were two songs that I especially liked. One that I liked was as follows:
You’se my own black baby; wi’d a turned up nose,
And a little bunch of wool upon your head.
You’ve got dimples in your elbows
And wrinkles in your toes,
And your mouth is like a water melon red.
Oh, I don’t know what I’d do,
If it wasn’t just for you;
You’se my little blue-eyed Joan of Arc.
You’se a little bit o’ honey,
What the bees ain’t found.
You’se my own black baby;
I have only slight memories of my Grandmother Harris, but I have been told many things about her. I remember a little about her visiting us at the farm. She was a wonderful, kind and righteous lady. She also had a fine sense of humor. Once, when she was visiting us, my dad was trying to persuade her to look around the farm with him, but she wasn’t planning on doing it. Finally, he said to her, “Wouldn’t you like to see a jassack, behind a stayhack, eating a **** of shodder?” Her immediate retort was, “Well if that’s what you’re going to do, I’ll go and watch you.” Even if she got the best of him, I knew my dad loved it.
When I was in the third grade, we moved to another small farm in Payson. About this time, my father was beginning to work as a contractor, building guard-rail and some bridges. For about the next eight or ten years, he was away much of the time, working on his road jobs. We always looked forward to the time when he would come home, for just a short time, every few weeks. I always thought my dad was pretty special. I know Mother had something of a hard time with him gone so much, and especially with all of us still quite young.
At this second farm home, we got our water from a well. It seems like it was quite deep. It had two buckets, one on each end of the long rope, which ran through a pulley. As you pull the rope and bring up a full bucket of water, an empty bucket goes down. We did not have running water in the house.
We had our first bathroom when I was eleven years old. Until that time, we used the good old way of taking a bath, on Saturday night, in the round wash tub in front of the kitchen stove. The coal-burning kitchen stove had what was called a reservoir, for heating water. It was a rectangular-shaped water tank, built right onto the stove next to the fire box; and whenever there was a fire in the stove, water would be heating. Water to be used for cooking, washing clothes, and of course, Saturday night baths.
The kitchen stove was a wonderful source of warmth and comfort.
Bedrooms were cold, and so were beds. It was no fun getting into a cold bed at night, but after a while, our warm bodies would warm up the bed, and we would be warm all night. The trick was, not to move to the right or the left too much, or you would get into a cold area. Sometimes flat irons from the stove would be wrapped in a thick cloth and placed in the bed to warm up where our feet would be.
Flat irons were the irons that we used for ironing clothes. They were heated on top of the stove, then an adjustable handle would fit into the top. While you wee ironing with one of the irons, it would be cooling off, and others would be heating on the stove. Things are different now (1975). Even with convenient automatic electric irons, after our permanent-press clothes are washed in an automatic washer, and dried in an automatic dryer, they need very little ironing.
In the wintertime, when we got out of bed, we would run to the “front” room and crowd around the heater to get dressed. The front room and the kitchen were the only rooms that were heated.
I remember our first radio that we acquired when I was about ten years old. It was quite large, and it had a bell-shaped speaker. It seemed to me that it was quite hard to understand what was being said on the radio.
When I remember my life as a child on the farm, I think how good it was to have so much space and freedom for play. One night after we were in bed, my brothers and I got up and went out without my parents' knowledge, and ran up and down the dirt road in the moonlight. I still remember how good the thick, fine dust felt between our bare toes. I wonder what the beds looked like the next day!
In about October of 1929, we came to Provo to live. I went to school at the old Parker School, a large three-story building which was located at 1st east and 2nd north. The building was quite old then, and was torn down in about 1938. Several homes were built on the corner where the school once stood, and many people do not realize that a school building was ever there.
The first day at the Parker School was rather exciting for me, as our room was on the third floor, and no one had explained to me the method of getting outside for recess. I didn't know what was happening to me when the children all lined up, and we slid down the big spiral fire escape to the ground. For the first time, it was a rather frightening experience.
When I was in the sixth grade, I won the school spelling championship in a contest that was sponsored annually by the Salt Lake Tribune. My teachers in the sixth grade were Fred C. Strate and Margaret Swenson. I learned a lot in the sixth grade. Almost twenty years later, Fred Strate was my principal when I taught second grade at the Joaquin School.
I went to junior high school at the Dixon Junior High, starting in 1931. It was a beautiful new building. The students had moved into it in the previous year—about the middle of the year. There were four sections each of seventh and eighth grades and about the same number in the ninth grade, although on a more varied schedule. In the seventh and eighth grades, we stayed with the same class all day, although we moved to different rooms for different subjects and teachers. I liked school and always got good grades.
I was in the eighth grade when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president, and the eighteenth amendment was repealed. Feelings were high. One day, prior to the election, Miss Anna Smoot, our English teacher, led us into a discussion about Prohibition. The discussion got pretty heated, and I was one who had a lot to say for the cause of Prohibition, because I had heard much about it at home. Finally, the class chose Monroe Paxman and myself to debate the Prohibition issue, with John Evans and Winston Dahlqist taking the negative side. We worked hard to prepare for the debate, and even now it stands out as a highlight in my live.
My parents were very strong in their feelings about Prohibition. They always wanted to follow the prophet of the Lord, and President Grant had made it plain that the saints should vote for Prohibition. President Grant was very disappointed, when the amendment was repealed, and I have heard it said that he told the saints in conference not to sing, "We Thank Thee Oh God, for a Prophet.” He said that the saints had lost many blessings by voting for Repeal.
Whenever General Conference was being held, my parents always had the radio on listening to it. I can’t remember whether we ever went to it, but we always listened.
High School and College Years
In high school I enjoyed English very much, and I always got goods grades in it. My English teacher in the tenth grade was Thomas E. Dyches. I liked him as a teacher, and I will always remember his reading of "The Merchant of Venich,” and dramatizing the parts, with tears streaming down his cheeks, at times. Some of the students thought this was rather funny, but to me it was a choice experience.
Other classes that I particularly enjoyed included geometry, cooking, sewing and French. I especially liked geometry. It was challenging, but I liked it.
I graduated from seminary the same year that I graduated from high school—1937. In my junior year, I took New Testament from Milton R. Hunter. I was happy when he was made a General Authority of the Church, as he was very humble, and he really knew and loved the gospel. Once, about 15 years ago, he visited Oak Hills Second Ward, and after his talk, I went to him and reminded him that I had been one of his students. He didn't remember me, but he was happy that I told him.
When I was a senior in high school, I missed three weeks of school, when I got the mumps, first on one side, and a week later, on the other side.
During the year after I graduated from high school, I did not go to school at all. In about January, 1938, Mother got diphtheria, and we were all quarantined. Mother was very ill, but her life was spared. For part of the time, a trained nurse came every day to take care of her. Later, the nurse showed me how to give bed baths and perform other nursing chores, and I helped to take care of mother for several months.. My father also helped to take care of her, and most of the time he was very kind. However, it wa sometimes hard for him, because at the same time that Mother was ill, he was also out of work. I remember kneeling and praying often that her life would be spared. Because of the worry and uncertainty, it was a difficult year for all of us. I have always helped with the house-work, but at this time, I really had to take over with cooking, baking, washing, ironing and cleaning for the family. I was glad to do the work, but it was not a happy year.
I had always wanted to go to college, and I knew that if I did, I would have to pay most of my own expenses. My parents really wanted me to go, but they couldn't help me very much. I remember when they sold our old cow; they gave me $5.00 of the money. Even though they weren't able to help me much financially, they always supported and encouraged me in my desire to go to college.
I started at BYU in the fall of 1938. The first year I earned my expenses by working under a government program, the NYA, or National Youth Administration. My closest friend was Dorothy Clayton. We worked together in the costume house sponsored by Provo City. It was in a large room in the basement of one of the old Provo High School buildings. Our job was to keep the costumes mended and pressed and to rent them out. One day some boys from BYU came there to rent costumes. One of them said, “I would certainly hate to be a seamstress for a living." There is nothing wrong with being a seamstress, but we didn't like the way they said it. Dorothy answered, “I would, too, and I’m glad I'm not." These same boys were surprised to see us at school one day, because they undoubtedly did not think that we knew enough to be college students.
Starting with my second year, I worked in the library for two years. The library was the Heber J. Grant Library then. The large reading room was the full length of the building. I worked in the reserve room of the library, which operated much as the reserve library does today, except on a smaller scale. I enjoyed the work very much.
Some of the classes were on the "upper campus" and some on the "lower campus.” I will always remember the sound of the Y bell, which hung in the tower of the education building and always rang for class changes. I will always remember the worn steps and the chemistry lab smell of the education building. It was already an old building and well-loved.
We had assemblies in College Hall—devotionals on Mondays and Wednesdays and student assemblies on Fridays. Often we were privileged to hear the General Authorities at devotionals, the same as today. I remember the day that President Grant came to speak, the College Hall was packed, with many standing.
I wanted to be a teacher, and during my sophomore year, I decided to go into elementary education. I had the privilege of working under some excellent teachers. May Hammond in the first grade, Georgia Maeser in the fifth grade, and Lillian Booth in the second grade. Student teaching was mostly done in the Brigham Young University Training School on the lower campus, with usually one assignment in the public schools.
When I received my diploma at the end of my junior year, I was in the last class to receive three-year normal diplomas. After that year, 1941, no teachers were graduated without a bachelor's degree. When we graduated, the three-year normal graduates wore gray caps and gowns. We were the first class to graduate in the new Joseph Smith building. The building was not completely finished at the time.
It was five years before I received my bachelor’s degree. In the meantime, I taught school for four years and spent another year at Brigham Young University.
In the summer of 1941, I was quite surprised and excited one day, to see Brother Bryant R. Clark come walking to our house on west Center St. One of his hands was missing, and he wore a black glove over an artificial hand. He was superintendent of schools in Juarez Stake, in Mexico. He wanted me to teach in Colonia Juarez. This was quite a decision to make, but I did decide to go.
Another girl, Viola Leavitt, from Delta, Utah went with me to teach in Juarez Stake Academy. We went to El Paso, Texas, together on the bus, where we were met by Brother Clark. The next day we went to Colonia Juarez. The slow-moving train, with wooden seats, like park benches, took us into Mexico to Casas Grandes. It seems like it took us most of the day. At Casas Grandes we were met by car, and went through Colonia Dublan, and over the roughest roads I had ever seen, to Colonia Juarez. (Later, I saw some roads that were rougher). In Casas Grandes, somebody bought us some tacos, and we ate them on the way. That was before tacos became a popular hamburger-stand item, and it was our first experience with Mexican food. We lived with Sister Sarah Spilsbury Skousen and her daughter Rita, who also taught at Juarez Academy.
I taught the first and second grades, as well as one class a day with the third and forth grades. All the children learned Spanish starting with the first grade.
These colonies had been settled by the saints, who went there in order to escape persecution, because of polygamy. In several cases there were members of polygamous families still living there. Sister Skousen, with whom we lived, had been a plural wife, and the husband had been dead for only a few years.
While I was in Mexico, I had the privilege of meeting many of the fine people whose families had originally settled the Mormon colonies in Mexico, the Calls, the Skousens, the Youngs, the Romneys, the Farnsworths, the Browns, the Turleys, the Hatches, the Lunts and others.
Many times I had the feeling that I was in a pioneer town in Utah. All of the activities and social life were centered around the school and Church. People there were very busy and active in the Church. Sometimes while I was there I felt a little bit like I was on a mission, and Viola Leavitt, with whom I shared a room, seemed like my companion.
When I first went to teach there, a skunk had been trapped or killed underneath the school house. The smell clung to the building, and especially my room, for a long time. During the warm weather, we had windows wide open every day. For a long time after that year whenever I smelled a skunk, it reminded me of my year in Mexico.
Each room in the elementary school was heated by a wood-Burning stove. It never got very cold.
The electricity in Colonia Juarez came on only in the evening, and it went off at midnight. If you were unlucky enough to be out later than midnight, you would find yourself getting ready for bed in the dark. Those who were fortunate enough to have washing machines had to use them at night.
One day an airplane flew over the town. The children in my class got quite excited and wanted to go outside and see it. I did not let them go, but I found out later that planes were seldom seen there, and 1 probably should have let them go out.
It was during this year that World War II began. I well remember that if it had not been for Brother Ernest Young’s battery radio, we would not have known about the bombing of Pearl Harbor until that evening, as there was no electricity in the morning.
The war did not affect us much in the colonies, but because of it, I did not return to teach another year. I was afraid of being in another country with a war going on. Many things about my year in Mexico stand out in my mind as choice experiences, and I have always wanted to go back for a visit.
The next three years were spent in Uintah County, the first year in the small rural town of Lapoint. I loved the children, and loved my teaching, but the town was pretty rough. I lived with the family of Harvey and Fontella Taylor.
At first, my teaching assignment was not at Lapoint, but in the small town of Avalon, on, or near the Ouray Indian Reservation. I taught in Avalon for two weeks, where I had four grades in one room, including about 4 Indian Children. I lived in Verna, and traveled out there every day. After about two weeks, I decided to move out to Avalon, so I got some friends to take me out on Sunday afternoon. I lived, (for one day) with a family in a small home, with no electricity, and shared a bed with their little girl. On Monday, my supervisor, Beatrice Stringham, come out to the school and told me they were transferring me to Lapoint, as they needed a first grade teacher there.
The school at Lapoint was not a beautiful building, but I loved my sunny west room, and I raised beautiful plants including petunias in pots, which bloomed an bloomed.
A short time before Christmas, one of my first-graders, Alice Jenkins, came down with measles in school. After a week or two, I found myself attending school with no pupils, as they all caught the measles.
The year at Lapoint was the loneliest year I have ever spent. My leisure time was spent in reading and writing letters, mostly. Because of the war, there were no young people—not even girls, past high school age. All of the boys were in military service, and, as in most small towns, the girls went to the cities to work.
It was hard to get transportation to get into Vernal, but one day, I rode on the milk truck into town. It took four hours to get there, as the driver had to go around his route picking up cans of milk and cream. Whenever I could, I would spend the weekend wit Stella Oaks and her family in Vernal.
The next two years of teaching were spent at Maeser School. Maeser is a nice farming community a few miles north and west of Vernal.
I had a challenging experience at Maeser with a little boy by the name of Clerel Britt. The problem was solved by the use of love, understanding, and kindness. The family was very poor, and the little boy had never played much with other children, so when he came to school he was very shy. The first day he would only come and stand inside the door. He would not sit down at a table, or even come any farther inside the room. As the days went by, the only way I could get him to participate in a reading group, or to sit down at a table with the rest of the children was to move the table and the reading group next to the door where he was. Each morning before school started, I would move the table a tiny bit farther from the door. It took about two months to get the table and chairs back to their normal position, with him participating. He was finally able to get over some of his shyness, and would even talk to me sometimes.
During the second year at Maeser, I was shocked by the sudden passing of my father, on September 13, 1944. He was at Dugway, Tooele, County, Utah, where he had been working, at the time of his death. I remember that as he had left for Dugway, only a week or two before, and also before I went out to Maeser, he had said, "Have a good year," to me, and it had a kind of a final sound to it. I wondered about it at the time, but I didn't realize that it was the last time I would see him in this life. I went home for his funeral, and I stayed for about a week. His death affected me deeply.
As teachers during the war, we had many responsibilities besides teaching. Selling war savings stamps to the children, and helping the children to fill Junior Red Cross boxes for the soldiers overseas were part of our responsibilities. In addition, we helped the children make games, such as checker boards, for boys in hospitals. We also registered people for rationing.
The next year, I went back home, lived with Mother, and went to BYU. During part of the year I worked part-time at Provo Book Bindery.
After graduation, I signed a contract with the Nebo School and taught in the Mapleton School for two years—two years that in several ways were my favorite years of teaching.
In June of 1947, I went to Manti Temple and received my endowments. On June 29, I was set apart as a stake missionary, and it seemed to me that this was the beginning of a new life for me. I worked very hard as a stake missionary, and I was rewarded by a strengthening of my testimony. In addition, I received inspiration and help in the solving of my own personal problems.
Beginning in about January the thought occurred to me frequently that I should volunteer my services as a full-time missionary. Deciding and preparing to go on a mission is one of the deeply spiritual experiences of my life. On the one hand, I did not want to go on a mission, but on the other hand, I had the feeling that I was being directed by the Spirit of the Lord to do so.
I have always been very happy that I did follow the whisperings of the Spirit and prepare myself for a mission. I was able to pay most of my own expenses, with members of my family paying a small part.
I had to take a half-day off school to go to Salt Lake and be interviewed by a General Authority. No one at school, except the teacher that I rode with, Lester Searle, knew that I was planning on going on a mission. Mr. Searle had promised not to tell anyone, and it was kind of fun and secretive to leave school that day.
I was interviewed for my mission by Elder Oscar A. Kirkham in about April, and set apart on June 29, 1948 by Elder Thomas E. McKay. It was a year, to the day, after I was set apart as a stake missionary.
My mission was a wonderful experience. My testimony was greatly strengthened, and in many ways, I feel that the privilege of being a missionary prepared me for future privileges and responsibilities.
I was called to the Central Atlantic States Mission, which at that time included North Carolina, Virginia and a small part of West Virginia. I had always wanted to go to North Carolina. My father had grown up in Mr. Airy, N.C., and my own grandfather still lived there. I had seen Grandfather only once, and most of my first cousins who lived there, I had never seen. I found out later, that Mt. Airy, N.C. had been nicknamed "Hiattville," because there were so many Hiatts there.
Within the first few days after I arrived in the mission field, I was permitted by President Price to go to Mt. Airy to visit with relatives. I stayed with the family of David L. Hiatt, a distant cousin, whom I already knew, for one or two days, and I stayed overnight with Grandfather Hiatt. I had heard my dad tell how they were such early risers, but I found out how true it was when Grandfather came in at 6:00 A.M, and asked, "Are you sick?" because I was still in bed. I had a good visit with him while I was there, even though he was quite deaf. He was very happy to be able to see me, and I wish that I could have spent more time with him. At the beginning of my mission was the last time that I saw him until just prior to his death.
In November, 1948, David L. Hiatt (who was a counselor to President Price, and also my third cousin) notified me that Grandfather had had a stroke and was near death, and he asked President Price for permission for me to go to him. My companion, Imogene Lindsay, went with me. He died on the 28th of November 1948.
I have thought since that I did not have a great sense of loss at Grandfather’s passing. I had never had the opportunity of becoming really close to him. I did feel a loss in not having known him better.
There are a few special things which I remember about him. He really loved his clear, cold spring by the hill just a little way from the house. The water was good, and I remember the beautiful laurel growing by the spring.
Grandfather was a member of the Church, but he had not advanced in the priesthood. He was an honest and upright man.
During the time that I was given to visit relatives at the beginning of my mission, I went to Mt. Airy down to Colfax to see Aunt Charity, Uncle Sanders, and the cousins that I had never seen. My first introduction to this family as we drove up and stopped was seeing "Weensie" (nickname for Ramona) sitting on the rural mail box. She hopped down and ran in and told her mother that we were there. She was about 13. Aunt Charity had beautiful white hair; and I loved her as soon as I saw her because she reminded me so much of my dad. It was hard to communicate with her, as she was very deaf, and had been deaf since she was about six years old, due to an illness. Because of the long deafness, her voice was rather harsh and hard to understand, but she was very sweet and affectionate. Uncle Sanders smoked a lot, and it seemed to me that he was quite irritable. What a change come over him when he joined the Church. In later years they moved to Utah and he was a kind, thoughtful man, as well as being active in the Church.
I worked hard on my mission. I had eight companions, and all but two of them were new missionaries. I got the feeling that President Price wanted me to help them get a good start on their missions. One of my companions got really homesick, and she told me later that if it hadn't been for the way we worked, she would have gone home.
The letters that I wrote while I was on my mission are full of my experiences and my testimony which grew by leaps and bounds. I want to tell here of one special experience. One day my companion and I were tracting, in Lynchburg, V. We had been on a main street, but decided to go on a dirt road; that went down a hill and back up in a horse shoe shape. The houses were small. We got to the last house, without anyone listening to us, and were getting discouraged. We were about to quit and home, but decided to go to the last house, knocked, and a man come to the door. We told them who we were, and he said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!” then added, "I've been wanting to learn more about that Church." We were really surprised and happy. That kind of contacts were rare. It turned out that, six months before, some elders had left them a copy of "The Voice of Warning,” and he had read it and wanted to know more. We left them a Book of Mormon, and we taught them for the next six weeks, until my companion and I were both transferred. It was a joy to teach them, as they read a lot, and prayed about it, and were eager to learn. It seemed like they recognized the truth from the very first day. Just before we were transferred, the elders went with us to meet them, and our supervising elder said, “I’ll bet you have to pray for a week before you go there." The day that I arrived home at the end of my mission, there was a letter waiting for me from the Morris Family, saying that they had joined the Church, and Brother Morris had been made a deacon. I was was happy that I cried.
About 20 years later, after I had a family of my own, the Morrises came to Provo for a visit, and several months later, they came again-this time to go through the Salt Lake Temple and have their family sealed to them. We went with them, and it was a happy day. Brother Morris has been a stake missionary, and at least two children have been on missions.
My mission was one of the most outstanding experiences of my entire life. Many times I felt the Spirit of the Lord directing me and actually giving me the words to say. I gained a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to fill a mission.
Mother went back to North Carolina on the bus at the end of my mission and spent time gathering genealogical data and visiting with relatives.
When I returned from my mission, I wanted very much to be married and have a family. One night I was visiting with some friends, Olga Allred Nicol, who had married quite late, mentioned about one of the General Authorities giving advice to older girls who were not married, and who wanted to be married. He had advised them to fast and pray for the help they needed. This was one of the times that I have felt that the answer to my prayers has come through another person, and for the next two years I did fast and pray often.
I know that it was fasting and prayer that led to my meeting Harold, as the events that preceded it did not come about by chance.
In the fall after I returned from my mission, I began teaching the second grade at the Joaquin School in Provo. One day, in about November of my second year at Joaquin, the first-grade teacher, Floy Turner and I were standing on the corner waiting for a bus to go downtown. As we waited we talked, and she told me that she would like for me to meet her nephew. She said that he had two little children, and that his wife had died of cancer the year before. She told me later that she had noticed how kind I had been to Joe Clark in my second grade class whose mother had died, and she thought I would be a good mother.
After that day, she brought up the subject a number of times. She really wanted me to meet him, but she couldn’t think how to make it happen. At first, I didn't want to meet him. I think I was afraid, because I did not want to marry a man who already had a family, and especially a wife sealed to him. For several months before I met him, I had a feeling he was the one I was going to marry, and part of me was fighting against the idea. I know that the Spirit of the Lord was trying to prepare me, but I was trying not to listen.
At any rate, one day I said to her, "Why don't you just tell him about me, and tell him to call me up.” Soon after that, she did call him, and about a month later, (the last week of February, 1952) he called me. He said he was the genealogical chairman in his ward, and that he always went to the temple every week. So he asked me to go to the temple with him the following week. I was really impressed by the sound of his voice, as well as by the type of date he planned.
I will tell here of an incident that took place a short time before I met him. Sometimes, some of my cousins, Bill Hiatt, and some others from North Carolina, who were going to school and living close by, would come to visit and eat the cookies I baked. One Sunday night, I was playing the piano, and we were all singing hymns. Somebody chose the song, "Unanswered Yet.” I had never really listened to the words of the song before, but as we came to the line, "Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say ungranted; Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done,” I knew immediately that the Spirit of the Lord was telling me something. And I knew that my part that was “not yet wholly done” was accepting the idea of marrying a wonderful man who already had a wife seated to him. I decided that if that was what the Lord wanted me to do, I had better prepare myself to do it.
All of this happened before I even met him, and I truly know that my husband and I were brought together as a result of much fasting and prayer.
After that first night of going to the temple together, we went to the temple every week until we were married on June 10th. We had only a few other dates, but they were really special.
The morning after Harold put the engagement ring on my finger, I went into his Aunt Floy’s classroom before school to tell her what had happened and show her the ring, I said to her, "You must have been inspired," (to get us together). She said, “I think I was. I felt like I had to do it."
A United Family
After Harold and I were married, we began to hold family home evenings. This was one of the things that drew us together as a family. [Oldest daughter_living] was six, and [oldest son_living] was four, and they needed a mother. From the first, we were all one family.
Harold and I continued to go to the temple often, and through the years of our marriage, have gone many times.
With just the four of us, we had a close feeling. [Oldest daughter_living] was happy when she found out we were going to have a baby in the family.
I am happy that I was able to be awake and aware of what was happening when each of the babies was born. Except with [2nd son_living], I had very little anesthetic. Each baby was most welcome, and brought much joy into our home. When I first took [2nd son_living] into my arms, I said to myself, "I’m a mother!" and after waiting as long as I had, that meant a lot. When they had their little testimony meeting in Junior Sunday School on fast Sunday the following Sunday, [Oldest daughter_living] stood up and said, "I*m thankful that I have a new baby brother, and that he has lots of black hair, and not just a plain old bald head."
The night before [3rd son living] was born, I remember very well. We were sitting around the supper table, and there was an especially good spiritual feeling in our midst. I looked around, and I had the feeling that some one was missing from the family. I believe that his spirit was there among us, but we couldn’t see it. This is why I had the feeling that someone was missing—because I couldn’t see him but felt his presence.
When [4th son_living] was born, and I found that I had another son, I said, "Another son to hold the priesthood and go on a mission!”
When [2nd daughter] was born, at 3:00 A.M., I lay awake the rest of the night thinking how happy I was to have a little girl.
When [3rd daughter_living] came, and we had another little girl, to say the least, I was delighted. She was always a happy baby.
One day when [4th son_living] was about 2 ½ years old, he wandered into the neighbors' garage, and got a sliver of fiberglass insulation in his eye. As soon as we found out about it, we took him to the doctor, where we were told that he had a long scratch on his eye. The doctor, Dr. Western Oaks, seemed quite concerned about it. He treated the eye, bandaged it, and told us to come back the next morning. That night we gathered our family around, and Harold administered to G., after we had told them, to each have “a prayer in your hearts,” that G.'s eye would be all right, and he wouldn't be blind. We could feel the Lord's spirit in our midst, and we all had faith that he would be healed. The next morning, when we took him back to the doctor, the doctor removed the bandage and told us that the eye was all healed. We considered it to be a miracle.
When G. was about four, he had stomach flu, and couldn't stop vomiting. Every little while he had to run to the bathroom to do it. Harold administered to him, and then he said to G., "Now you can get in bed and go to sleep.” G. did get in bed and slept all night, and in the morning he was completely well. We all recognized it as a miracle.
One afternoon when J. was about six months old, she began to get very cross and irritable, and when I checked, I found that she had a high fever, and her face was flushed. Harold was at work, and I wondered what to do. Then the thought came to me, “When Harold comes home, he can administer to her, and she’ll be all right,” and I really believed it. In a very short time, I checked again, and found that the fever was gone, and she was acting normal and happy, I was amazed, and soon the words came into my mind, “They faith had made thee whole,” and I realized that she had been healed by the faith I had shown, and without the administration.
Some Hard Years and Some of the Lessons We Learned
In the summer of 1963, a serious explosion took place at the American Cyanamid Co. powder plant where Harold worked as a chemist and supervisor for many years. After about two months, the company decided to close down the plant, because of the damage to the buildings; and for the first time in 17 years, Harold found himself without a job. We didn't realize it then, but we had several hard years ahead of us. One of the things we learned, (and we'll have to keep working at it, even now) is to keep on doing the right thing, even under the most difficult circumstances.
After losing his job at the powder plant, Harold stayed home for about 2 ½ months working on our house, building a stairway, laying floors in our upstairs, finishing floors, After that, he worked as a carpenter’s helper for about six weeks, then began working at selling World Book for two years and four months. When he gave up selling World Book, he was able to begin working for Trojan Powder Co., the company which had bought the powder plant. He worked as a dryer operator for 1 ½ years. The pay was not too good, and we were barely getting by and not paying any debts. After that he worked at selling insurance for four months.
During these years of changing employment, we did have some difficult times, especially during the time that he was selling World Book. He wanted very much to make a success of selling, as he felt that World Book would be good for any family. We prayed a lot about the work, that Harold would succeed in it. We also desired to know of the Lord whether it would be good for him to stay in this field.
Always when we prayed, we had a strong feeling that it was right. I realize now that the answer to our prayers was, “This will be good experience for you," and not, "This is your life's work."
It would take many encyclopedia sales to make a good living for a family, and while he was learning to sell, we lived, at first, on our stored food supply, and after that, we gradually went into debt.
While Harold was working at selling, I was trying to prepare good meals on a very skimpy grocery budget; making do with clothing for the family, making some clothes, and making major repairs on others. There were times when we got by on very little.
We always paid our tithing. Whenever we got a small check, we paid the tithing right then. One day, when I took some tithing money to the ward clerk, who was our neighbor across the street, Brother Andersen, I said, “This is our insurance payment.” I knew that if we paid our tithing, we would be blessed. And we were blessed. Many times I was surprised to find that there were more potatoes in the sack than I had thought there were, and sometimes it seemed liked there was quite a bit of hamburger in a pound. We never did go hungry, although once, I remember, we didn't have any meat for a month.
For many years, Harold and I had had a project with the children of making cookies for the missionaries at Christmas. We always sent them to each of the missionaries from our ward and a few others. During these years that we were getting by on such a small amount of money, we still sent cookies to the missionaries, and we found that afterward, our small amount of Christmas money stretched over things for the children’s' Christmas. Truly, "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven,” in many ways.
Missions Cordell Andersen and Lamanite Students
I think our entire family would agree that the years 1969-to the present have been the happiest years of our family life.
As soon as we sent out our first missionary, [1st son] our financial situation began to improve, the love in our home increased, and many other things went better.
In the spring of 1968, Harold began working at Geneva, but was laid off in August. After being off for five months, he was called back to work at Geneva a short time before [1st son] left on his mission.
Our finances improved to the point that we were able to help other missionaries, and when [1st son] came home, we supported two local missionaries in Singapore for a year each. (This is a special family secret, known to hardly anyone, but important in my life story).
After the second local missionary came home, it was 2 ½ months until A. left, then 8 months until D. left. It was really wonderful to have two missionaries out at a time. Harold earned more money than he ever had, and we had money left over. The spirit in our home was the best it has ever been—hardly ever a cross word of any kind. And during those 15 months, we had almost no sickness. Now D. will be home in about two months, and G. will leave in about four or five months.
During these same years, we have been able to donate several thousand dollars, a little at a time, to Cordell Andersen, as he does his marvelous work with the Indians of Guatemala. (Also a family secret, but part of my story).
We have had Lamanite students, on the Indian Placement program, in our home for six years, and this year is the seventh.
During these years, we have been greatly blessed financially and spiritually. We have paid all of our debts, including the debt on our home, until now we don't owe anyone except the Lord, and we can never repay Him.
I know that the Gospel is true, and that the Lord blesses those who serve Him.