Autobiography by Vernon Carniehan Jamison
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VERNON CARNIEHAN JAMISON
I am the third son of William Henry and Mary Arzella (Jamison) Jamison. I made my advent into mortality on the anniversary of the French Bastille Day, July 14, 1907. My parents then lived on the old eighty acre farm three miles south of Preston, Idaho which was then in the Second Ward. It is still in School District No. 1 of Preston. It was then in Oneida Stake (before the division that placed it in what is now Franklin Stake). I was duly christened with the stupendous title I flaunt by Brother J. C. Jensen on fast Sunday August 4, 1907.
I can't recall anything of the birth of my brother Arnel Edward, eighteen months later -- it would be remarkable if I could. Nor can I remember when he passed away when he was eighteen months old, January 10, 1910, following pneumonia complications. I do carry a picture indelibly imprinted in my memory of the baptism of my cousin Rue Larson (Harding). By rough reckoning, I couldn't have been more than two years old, but I have embarrassed her by describing how she shrieked when she had waded to midstream in the old canal with Uncle Williard. It appears that part of her wearing apparel was threatening to float downstream. She was not venting any particular spiritual enthusiasm, though the snow fed stream could have easily inspired such an outcry -- except her words described her peril.
Further in regards to my questionable memory, I once had a heated argument with one of my cousins. We continued to push back the curtain of memory until finally in hope of winning I stated that I could remember the day I was born. Huh! You can't remember much. I can remember when my Ma and Pa were married." So we often recall the phenomenal memory of one, Vernal Corbridge.
My mother says I was a spoiled child. When Arnel died, I was "taken back" as the baby. That is, I was called upon to take the place of the lost one in her affections. This all ended, however, when my sister was born, January 9, 1911. With the birth of a girl after four boys, my parents were overjoyed. She was never spoiled. She wasn't that kind. As a baby, Mother says she was just a model to pattern the best after. In fact, she wondered if the baby shouldn't sleep less and cry more. I was once told to rock her cradle when she was stirring as if about to awake. In a tantrum from being disturbed in my play I gave the cradle a vicious heave. It overturned. Mother screamed and gathered the precious bundle from the floor. Arzella didn't cry and Mother feared she was
unconscious. She was -- peacefully asleep, oblivious to the deep concern for her safety.
I remember vaguely the serious illness of my brother Hazen. How we anxiously watched down the old clay lane toward the main road to Preston for the Doctor to come in his buggy. When he finally recovered from the long sickness, he had been abed so long he had to learn to walk again.
It seemed to me that everyone was unnecessarily sorrowful when Father left for his mission. Going on trips even to Lewiston or Fairview had always been occasions for joviality. That was in the summer of 1911. Arzella was just six months old. Mother held her and wept for hours after Father left to catch his train in Preston.
Mother and my eldest brother Reed took over the care of the stock. We had twelve milk cows, a large herd of hogs, and some chickens. Father's brother-in-law rented the farm. He, Uncle Willard, took very good care of it -- for Father has often admitted that we prospered much better upon the share we took for rent than upon the whole proceeds when Father was home.
Father was a carpenter. He had spent much of his time building homes for the people in the valley. His handiwork still stands in many of the older edifices in Lewiston and Fairview. So his heart was not in farming. The old eighty was neglected in many ways while it was under his care. Mother often laughed how Uncle Willard threw his hat in the air and shouted when he discovered a solid post in a fence he was repairing.
The Lewis family, our closest neighbors, was especially kind to us during this time. Uncle Ezra (we were taught to call him that although we were no kin) would come over to our house with his shears about once every two weeks and barber the three of us boys. Mother and Aunt Sarah met frequently at our place or their home across the lane. We would embarrass Mother by asking for bread and butter even though we had just finished a meal. They had two boys that were somewhat older than Reed.
But the whole flock of girls ranged from his age to Iris, who was then the baby. I played "house" and "school" with Ida, who was about one year my junior. We had a spot picked out in the old greasewood pasture where we were going to build our house when we grew up and "got married".
Mother and Aunt Sarah were quite strict about keeping us kids at home, except when play was especially arranged for, when our "chores" were done. Although I don't think I ever suffered serious bodily injury, some of the disciplinary episodes for infraction of the rules against "running away" will always be clear in my memory -- a maple willow has a way of impressing a child.
Then came the night we sat listening for the whistle of the train that was to bring Father home. How thrilled everyone seemed when we heard it clearly signalling the Whitney station across the valley. When he finally came home from the Preston station in a buggy, everyone talked at once as he entered the house.
Aunt Maggie, Mother's brother Edward's wife was childless. Father had promised to bring her a little girl from an orphanage in West Virginia. They were at the house to meet Father when he came. Aunt Maggie was speechless when he exhibited a pair of little twin girls two years old he had brought back with him.
Father had worn a black bushy mustache, which I think made him look very manly and handsome. The neighbors "joshed" him about it so much, he shaved it off, never to grow another. This was but a few days after he had returned to leave his work as a minister and take up the work of a farmer and carpenter again.
As the sugar beet industry was beginning to boom, many Japanese were renting large tracts of land and growing beets. In the late summer of 1915, Father rented the farm to one of the orientals. We bought the old Jimmy Bosworth home on South Main Street in Preston and moved into town after selling some of the stock. The oriental went back on his word before a formal contract could be drawn up. A few days later the farm was sold to Vernon Talbot. Father began to devote himself solely to his trade, carpentry.
I believe I could walk within a few feet of the spot where I was baptized by Father. We boys went swimming frequently in the old irrigation canal about a quarter of a mile south of the old Corbridge home. The water was deeper there than elsewhere for miles. It was an excellent place for the ceremony -- "For there was much water there". It was my birthday, and I recall how Father emphasized that I was starting with a new, clean sheet. I felt conscious indeed of all acts hoping to keep them out of the category of sins.
The arrival of a new baby in a family is generally a big moment in the lives of little folks. I remember how I was awakened and hustled to the neighbors one morning. Hours later I was allowed to watch as Sister Morgan cared for the tiny squalling thing that was named Ada at the first fast Sunday in August. I am not positive, but it must have been the same day I was confirmed. This event took place before we moved to town.
Life in the "city" was quite different than out on R.F.D. During the school months we walked the few blocks to the old "Central" or the Jefferson buildings of District No. 1. There were no more rides on cold winter mornings in the buggy with "Old Kit", or rides bareback when Kit shied frequently at the least pretext to leave Hazen and I in a snow drift or a mud puddle. Of course, Hazen could have stayed mounted if I hadn't dragged him off -- according to Hazen.
In the summers we thinned and weeded beets for farmers in Whitney and Fairview. We used to flag the old Interurban Electric and ride to Whitney where we worked for the Egberts, Gilberts, Becksteads, or any others who were desperately enough in need of help to hire us.
One morning the conductor was so enamored of a sweet young passenger he failed to signal the Motorman for our stop. By the time we found him in the car ahead and brought him back to solid earth, the train was almost to Fairview. He put us off there and as we walked back to Whitney we viciously plotted to sue the Railroad for damages.
Everyone old enough to remember knows of the unnatural conditions that accompanied World War I. To me then it was not only a period of bitter propaganda inspired hatred for the "Huns" but a time of phenomenally high wages. As a boy of eleven, I can recall making more than five dollars a day. But with this high earning power was the ballooned cost of living.
Then, as the war ended, came the fearful Influenza epidemic of 1918. We were kept out of school that year. During the beet harvesting season, we went to stay with Mother's brother, Uncle Louis, in Lewiston, and helped him harvest his crop. He was glad to have us, I suppose, since labor was scarce during the remaining days of the war before the Armistice. After the crop was off, Mother returned home to Preston with all the younger members of the tribe, while Father and Reed stayed to help haul beets from the pile in the dump yard and load on the cars over the old high line dump. They made good money as long as they were well, which was until the job was nearly completed. Then someone in Uncle's family presented the household with the contaminating presence of the "Flu". Reed had it with the rest of them, but Father who never had a cold in his life until he was over sixty, nursed them through it. Perhaps the Flu was not so virile that winter. Perhaps the medical profession had learned to cope with it. Anyway there were far fewer casualties than in the Horror Winter of 1918. So even though Arzella brought it home to the rest of us that second winter, we probably were rewarded for our caution. Even then Mother barely escaped with her life. Hazen's blood became so thin and so lacking in its colloidal coagulant that he very nearly bled to death. Through it all, Father was our bulwark of strength. When we began to recover, it was fortunate that he was as good chef as nurse. It was the only time in my life I had ever been confined to bed with illness of more than the ephemeral existence of a bad cold. I learned to hate that bed so--when I was allowed to get up, I resolved to never return. After sitting in a blanket by the fireside for a few minutes, I suddenly became weak and dizzy. I was as glad to return to the security of the mattress as a sea-weary skipper is to enter the haven of a port.
I was more fortunate than the rest of the children who remained out of school to avoid the Flu. Overcrowded conditions in the classroom made a promotion necessary in 1920, and I was elected "it". The other half grade I had lost was regained the next winter when similar conditions caused the same sort of an adjustment. Two girls, the Chapman sisters, and I were transplanted from Miss Spayd's to Miss Collin's pedagogical influence. Jealous ones whispered loudly that I was so favored because Miss Spayd boarded with us. And that was doubtless a primary factor. But my zeal was so stimulated to demonstrate my capacity to meet the emergency that somehow when the grades were averaged at the end of the year, Carol Carpenter and I managed to hurdle above the required 90 and were exempt from the final examinations and enjoyed a fine time loafing down by the old slough back of the building while our classmates gnawed at pencil tips, trying to bring forth valuable information. It not only had a demoralizing effect on an already swollen ego--I felt like one ostracized, and secretly envied those not so lucky as I.
The old Second Ward in Preston was too large. The Stake Presidency elected to effect a split. With the approval of most members concerned, birth was given to the new Sixth. I don't recall when I was ordained to the office of Deacon, but I was set apart as the first Deacon's Quorum President in the new ward. My chum, Viggo Nelson, was my first counselor. We were an odd combination. I was looked upon by the older folks as a model boy - Vig was the spitting likeness of Tom Sawyer. The combination worked. We had excellent attendance at quorum
meetings, fast offerings were diligently gathered from the scattered homes, and seldom did those who were appointed to pass the sacrament in meetings fail. We met in the basement of the Carnegie Library, for it was several years after the creation of the new ward before the poor people in it felt they could bear the expense of building a new chapel. Sometime in the summer of 1922, I was ordained to the office of Teacher.
I started high school that fall after Hazen and I had worked through the beet harvesting season to earn the needed money. That was the first year of the existence of the Preston High School. It had previously been the Oneida Academy, a Church institution. Reed had attended the earlier institution for most of one year. He and some of his cronies had inspired the ill will of the Principal, Brother Joseph A. Geddes, and he had quit school, never to return. Making up work was always difficult after entering school so late in the season as we always did. The first grades to go home were nearly always poor. Mr. Daines, the history instructor gave me a D for United States History in the first quarter. I was both embarrassed and elated when he saw fit to give me the one and only A for his classes at mid-year. When Vig brought the news to me, it was hard to see which emotion, envy or disgust, was dominant in him.
I was premature in taking on the seriousness of life's responsibilities. I was not yet fourteen when I fell desperately in love. It was the real thing. I sent her a Valentine which she graciously accepted. We went to parties and dances together and I enjoyed more than a month of dreamy bliss as I courted Florence Beckstead. But such a romance was sure to crash on the rocks. She was more than a year my senior and more mature young men soon began to notice the charming qualities that had ensnared my puppy heart. I was embittered and solemnly swore off women for all time.
In my junior year in high school I aspired to be a great runner. All the boys had the "bug". Vernal Smith of Fairview had won the State Cross Country Meet the year before. The Hart boys were drilling hard to break his record. So every evening after school, in gym suit and sweat shirt we would trot down onto the highway and toward Whitney. We would leave in groups and return in long drawn out strings.
Finally came the day of the "dog race". Reed Hart was an easy favorite to win, even though he had been abed part of the training period with rheumatism in his legs. Traditionally the race course was from the center of town south to the railway and back again, then west to the end of the city pavement and back and then north several blocks and then the finish back at the "bank corner" again. Reed took the lead at the starting signal, setting a pace that was faster than most of us had trained for. The day was chilly. A cold April rain was falling. We were gulping in the cold air to meet the demands made upon our straining muscles. My lungs were burning and a dull ache was developing in my abdomen. I was no longer running with the easy swinging stride Reed had so carefully taught me. As he swung along in the lead like an antelope, I pounded along with the mob like a freight train, flat footed
and ungainly. We were beginning to string out by the time we passed the starting point the second time and by the time Reed finished, he was more than one block ahead of his nearest competitor. I managed to drag in sixth, ahead of the main mob. In the conference meet, Reed won an easy first again from ten starters from each of several high schools. The pace was more furious than ever. I just managed to keep with the main mob to finish an ignominious thirtieth. At the State Meet, Reed broke the record of the previous year.
I ran the mile and the half-mile for my class that spring in the Class Track Meet. I placed fourth in each. If you look in the Preston High School Year Book for 1925, you will find my picture. It was taken just after the finish of the mile. Br. Barlow, who took it, said "Jamison, you look like a question mark." I was then over six feet tall and weighed only one hundred and thirty-eight. As I looked at that picture later, I
wondered what held up the skeleton my hide was wrapped around.
My athletic prowess ended the next year, when a new requirement for the physical examination of all boys taking part in competitive sports was made. The doctors who looked us over found that I had a leak in a valve to my heart. So it was curtains for another Paavo Nurmi.
We were having an especially hard time financially. Reed was on his mission. During the earlier part of the mission period, his expenses were light. That was when he was in Manassa, Colorado. But during that last two years of his work in the Mexican Mission, he was in Mesa, Arizona, and then El Paso, Texas. After sending him our savings and earnings, we finally had to borrow to meet the required forty or fifty dollars per month.
One day in December, 1923 Hazen was badly hurt while "roughhousing" with members of his Gym class. He was running across the Gym floor and tripped accidently. When he tried to get up from the floor he found his left leg useless. The doctor examined him and decided the muscles were torn loose from his hip. He was sent home in one of the boy's cars with orders to Mother to put hot packs on it. She did for more than a week. Since his leg flopped uselessly over sidewise, she straightened it up carefully and propped it there. After wringing cloths out of hot water continuously for days with no apparent improvement in his condition except that the hot cloths kept the swelling down, she called the doctor. An X-ray showed his thigh bone was broken near the hip joint. Apparently it had begun to heal together as Mother had adjusted it, for the leg was two inches shorter when he was able to walk eight weeks later even though the doctor tried to set it.
Reed was on his mission during this time. When he was asked to be ready for a call, he chummed with the towns "wilder gang". In fact, I think he was a leader. I really don't think they were as bad as many of the townspeople made believe. They smoked cigarettes, which was foolish, and sang songs under the street lamps at nights in melodious four part harmony. Some songs like "Sweet Adeline" would have sounded good in anyone's parlor -- these boys were artists. But some of the tunes they warbled were a little shocking to delicate ears. During the cold winters when the sledding was good - that was before cars were so numerous -- they would hitch Reed's fine team to Father's sled and go whirling. Now whirling was considered a dangerous sport and there was a law against it. But the town police had extreme difficulty enforcing it. With a whoop, the boys would race down Main Street to the bank corner and swing around at the intersection of Main and Center. Around and around the boys would whirl with the team pivoting in the center, the runners sweeping up icy snow from the roadway and throwing it in ridges outside the whirling circle. Then suddenly the Night Watchman would come storming down the street and with a warning cry they would dash off down the street to repeat the fun on another corner.
The day Reed's call came, he met Father and I as he came from the Post Office with it. He said glumly that he was called to Mexico. I also remember how as he was leaving later, Father warned him to be careful of Mexican girls. He was only nineteen, but somehow everyone considered him very much of a man, at least in stature. And thoughts of the seriousness of his calling made him quite sober and grown-up.
But how he changed during those three years in the Mexican Mission. He returned with the ability to speak and understand a fascinatingly strange tongue. Most of his old gang were married off, but he made new friends though he was no longer a leader among the younger set, to his deep chagrin. But we were very proud of him indeed.
He had a thrilling inspiring testimony of the Gospel and the divinity of the Book of Mormon. He had numerous pictures of Egyptian-like pyramids and paved roads, and temples all built by the ancestors of the Aztecs of Mexico.
Father thought he saw an opportunity to make some money and get out of debt. Bert Morton offered to pay us cash for logs cut and hauled to his saw mill in Strawberry canyon. We, Father, Reed, Hazen, and I spent most of one summer in the canyon with our horses and wagons cutting the trees the ranger had marked and hauling the logs from Emigration Canyon near the Bear Lake-Cache Valley divide down to the Strawberry Mill. Mother even came up to spend a few weeks. She enjoyed the coolness and beauty of the canyon forests. At the Mill site there was a slab house, and shed for the sawmill. Father added a barn for our horses and hay we hauled for them. When it was time to leave to harvest our beets we had several thousand feet of lumber in logs ready to be rolled to the saw.
We had spent a wonderful summer. The experiences I had will always enrich our memory. But for the work, we were never able to collect a dime. Father was able to persuade Bert to turn him a few feet of lumber on the bill, but far short of the rich sum we felt we had earned. I think there were lawyers who would have liked to try to collect it - but Father trusted his fellows faithfully. If they failed him, he was sorrowful, not angry.
Then Reed fell in love with Maggie Whitehead. She was the daughter of Peter G. Whitehead, then the Bishop of the Franklin Ward. She was working for the Foss Brothers in their Drug Store in Preston. They were married about May 1925. Talbots had been unable to pay for the farm and had turned it back to us. Reed and Maggie moved into the old farmhouse where the first of Mother's babies were born. Reed took a Civil Service examination and was given a part time job at the Post Office which he held in addition to running the farm.
Early in the spring of 1926, we traded our farm and home in Preston for a ranch near Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. We moved just at the close of the school year, missing graduation exercises from high school for Hazen's and my class. We hadn't been on the ranch long when we began to realize we had made a foolish mistake. It fell far short of being worth what we had contracted to pay. Although good crops of beets had been grown on the soil, the dry years with water shortage brought the white fly into the fields while we stayed there. An unusually long winter the first year on an overstocked ranch caused us to run out of hay. We had to haul hay from as far as McCammon, paying more than twenty dollars per ton. When the warmer spring days came, many of the weakened heifers and dry cows would lie down in the sun and stay until they became partially paralyzed and could not get up. We lost several before the grass was good enough to keep them alive.
Bishop Whitehead persuaded Reed and Maggie to give it up after one year. He took his herd of cows and moved back to Franklin to work for "Peter G." on his ranch. One year later the rest of us followed. We had only a handful of the stock Hazen and I had driven north two years before. We moved to Franklin onto the Bishop's ranch at his invitation.
While we were in Lava, Arzella, then attending the Lava High School, fell in love with Ellis Potter, the son of Charles Potter, one of the old settlers of the town and the first Mormon Bishop of the ward there. He was a lover of horses and always had at least one good team. In the days when he was Bishop, so his neighbors told us, he used to announce when the next horse race would be just after sacrament meeting was closed. Ellis had a fine spirited horse and a Ford coupe. You seldom saw him far from either. By comparison with the general run of the fellows in the town, Ellis was considered a decent chap. But Mother and Father had hoped that their girls would chose better. They knew that he used tobacco and drank some with his pals. He loved Arzella dearly, I suppose he would have given his life for her, but he refused to relinquish his bad habits to please her. He pretended to quit smoking once or twice, but all the boys smiled knowingly when some mentioned his quitting. When we moved to Franklin, Ellis followed in a few weeks. He had kept the Word of Wisdom long enough to get a Temple Recommend. They were married in the Logan Temple. They ran the Potter Farm for about one year, then moved to California where they live now. They have bought a home there and have four children. I believe they are happy.
We worked for Bishop Whitehead for the first year and rented his ranch the second. Father was so broken and discouraged I think it was fortunate for him that his High Priest's quorum chose him as their representative they wished to keep on a six month's mission. He returned to West Virginia where he had been on his first mission. Among his old friends he had a chance to regain something of his old spirit and vigor. He returned home almost rejuvenated -- at least in soul. We had a fine crop the year we rented the ranch. We paid one thousand dollars cash and had several hundred to spare besides some hay in the barn.
We enjoyed our association with the people of Franklin. Hazen and I were ordained Elders. We took part in M.I.A. work. I especially enjoyed the Sunday School Class I attended under the instructorship of Cecil Woodward. I had not dared to dream that destiny had chosen him for my Father-in-law.
We moved to Fairview the next year where we rented the farm of Alonzo ("Lon") Harding, the husband of Rue Larson, Father's niece. After one year, we bought a farm there from Charles Smith. The first crop was excellent. We sold nearly fifteen hundred dollars worth of sugar beets. This was just a little more than enough to meet the mortgage which was due on the property.
The Fifteenth of June was really the turning point in my life. I resolved that day to muster enough courage to ask Ruth Woodward to allow me to see her home from the Idaho Day Celebration Dance. I first met her when she was only twelve years old and I was eighteen. I was working on Bishop Whitehead's thresher. We were thrashing at her Father's place. As we pitchers threw the wheat bundles from the windrow and shocks onto the racks to be hauled to the machine, she and her little brother Boyd came out into the field, hand in hand, and walked around watching us. After an hour or so, they went back to the machine. Half in fun, Cecil Woodward had sent his children out to check up on the workmen. They returned with the information that only the Jamisons were cleaning up properly under the shocks. His family had learned to abhor waste -- they noticed the quality of frugality first in anyone.
Of course I knew Ruth when we lived in Franklin after the Lava fiasco. But then I was twenty-one and yearned for the companionship of the younger set of her sister Blanche's age. I was extremely conscious of my poverty and the humble circumstances surrounding our financial failure. I did not dare dream of love or marriage then. Ruth was then sixteen, she was just learning to dance and just changing from the boyishness she had acquired in the fields and barns on their farm to lovely young womanhood. I always asked her to dance with me, though I then felt that was just doing a child a favor.
Then one night, in Fairview, two years later, as Father and I were fixing up the old Dance Hall for a party one night, the Franklin Orchestra members came in early to get ready to play for the Fairview Party. Ruth was with them. Seeing her was an electrifying pleasant shock. I had never noticed how blue her eyes were before. Her hair now hung in waves. As a child she had hated its natural kinky tendency and had plastered it down straight. I dared but one glance as I left the hall as quickly as possible, for I was embarrassed at the contrast she made with me in my old torn "chore clothes".
Then came the night of the Celebration -- Hazen and I had a car of our own now, and with it a certain measure of confidence and self-respect. I dared to presume to do the thing I had dreamed of for months -- ask her to let me take her home. So began our romance and a new life for me. As I saw her to her home, and took her to movies and dances time after time that summer, she told me of her determination to go on to college. In love with her as I was, it meant only one thing, I must go too. I couldn't bear to see the gap widen between us further, and let someone else take her from me. I had long dreamed of going back to school, but the bug-a-boo of finances had always held me back. Now I had to go -- and I did.
That fall I turned my equity in the farm, my cows and my share in the team we owned to Father and Mother and registered at the Utah State Agricultural College. I managed to take as many courses for which Ruth registered as I could. She decided upon a Normal training course, so did I. At the beginning of winter quarter she determined to take Chemistry, so did I. She learned to hate it, I didn't -- it became evident that I had found my place in society. I decided to major in it. For a minor, I took physics.
Ostensibly to get an Idaho teaching certificate, but I think mainly to give their daughter a chance to chose more wisely, Mother and Father Woodward persuaded Ruth to go to the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho at Pocatello the next year. We didn't get to see each other so often that winter. I hitch-hiked to Pocatello every time there was a sufficiently long vacation to warrant it. Then one time, Ruth and Elma Whitehead, who was staying with her, got so homesick, they actually hitch-hiked home. I suppose their parents still think they came home with friends -- which they did, for the fellow who picked them up on the road was a very kind man who knew them quite well.
An evening during Thanksgiving Holidays, when Ruth was home, she promised to be my wife someday. I gave her the watch to wear that Father had given me on my twenty-first birthday. It had been a token of my abstinence from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor. It now became a token of her promise.
After graduating from the two year Normal course, Ruth taught school at the Fifth Ward (Egypt) School. While I finished my Junior and Senior years, she dispensed learning to the tots of the farmers in the vicinity east of Preston.
I graduated from the U.S.A.C with Phi Kappa Phi honors June 1, 1936. But more important, Ruth and I were married, May 27 (the week of Final Examinations) in the Logan Temple. We rented a house in the Tenth Ward in Logan. I had a job at the Experimental Station analyzing soils for Dr. D.S. Jennings. The next winter I began work on a problem involving soil base exchange work with the hope of getting my Master's degree. I had a Teaching Fellowship in the Chemistry Department. I was Dr. Sherwin Maeser's Laboratory Assistant. During that winter I learned to admire the grandson of Dr. Karl G. Maeser so much that I later named my son for him.
We enjoyed living in the Tenth Ward and learned to love many of the good Swiss-German folks there. The Elders Quorum was reorganized a few months after we were there and I was set apart as the President. Ruth and I were Sunday School teachers, she of some of the little tots while I tried to teach the teen age boys.
In Lava and elsewhere I had played parts in M.I.A. plays, but my part in the Elders play, "Dok Yak", as the kindly old "Doc" I hold as the most pleasant experience of my dramatic career. On the night of the first performance, I actually found, by accident, that I could imitate the squeaky voice of senility one may expect in an ancient old country doctor.
Upon the advice of Dr. Maeser, I decided to try for some of the graduate fellowships available throughout the country. I made nine applications. Two bore fruit. I had barely accepted the first with Cornell University when I received an offer from Dr. Bradfield to be his research assistant at Ohio State University. I obtained a release from my position at Cornell and accepted the Ohio offer. Then Dr. Bradfield accepted the position of Head of the Agronomy Dept. at Cornell. He asked me to go to Cornell as his Assistant. So it finally became Cornell and Dr. Bradfield both.
Teaching at Cornell was the brother of Brother Ray Maughan, Dr. Harrison Maughan. When we were in Lava, Ray was Superintendent of the Sunday School there. Dr. Maughan had lived there for several years before he went to Cornell to get his Doctorate in Human Physiology. We had a regular L.D.S. Church branch organized there among the students who came from the west. Orson Cannon and his family, Ross and Ellen (Kemp) Watson, Lowell and Davora Neilson, Matt, Lorin, and Sterling Richards with their families, besides many others from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, and California were among the Mormon group. It was an exceptional group. They were freed of the fog of dogma and superstition that clouds the minds of many good saints, but on the other hand many were inclined to lack in true religious devotion. There was a tendency toward extreme liberality in thinking and action on the part of a few. I once told them that I found it more difficult to stand by my ideals when in the presence of some Cornell Mormons than in the presence of strangers. An outsider would be inclined to admire one for sticking by an ideal such as one embodied in the Word of Wisdom, but there were those in our group who felt that the Word of Wisdom was old fashioned and poorly adapted to our cultural environment at an eastern college. Orson Cannon played true to his breeding. He was just as devout as the humblest, yet the Cannons were popular with everyone in the group and had scores of friends among the students and faculty.
I learned to know the Cannons well, for that first few months in Ithaca I lived in a room in the same house and boarded with them. The Doctor had refused to let Ruth go with me in her condition. We were expecting our first born and those first months of her pregnancy were somewhat of a trial to her. When I left her, she tried bravely not to cry but tears came anyway. Curiously enough, just after that, the nausea left her. Her health was excellent until the day of Sherwin's birth. I never volunteered the information, except that Ruth had stayed home because her health was poor, but when I announced the expected arrival a few weeks before the event, they were not at all surprised.
In these modern times, waiting outside the hospital for news of vital importance to a prospective father is customary -- but this privilege I was denied. I waited anxiously for a telegram for days. On March Nineteenth, a blizzard blew out of the northeast in Cache Valley, blasting Preston and vicinity. Fortunately, the Doctor had been called to Ruth's bedside in Franklin before the telephone wires went down and communication was disrupted. No telegram could be sent to me to announce our boy's advent into mortality that night. Blanche sent a Special Delivery letter to me from Brigham City the next day. So when the news arrived, Sherwin was about three days old. To relieve the nervous strain, Milton Anderson had persuaded me to go to a Deanna Durbin show with him. By taking into consideration the difference in times, it seems that we were enjoying her beautiful singing when the stork swept in with the storm.
In May, Jack Loosly, one of the Utah group and now a professor at Cornell, bought a new car delivered at Detroit. We arranged to have Ruth and Sherwin come as far as the great Michigan city and for me to meet her there and drive his car home to Ithaca. I arrived in Detroit at the Plymouth factory on the prearranged date to find that proper arrangements had not been made for me to receive delivery. The whole day was spent in trying to contact Jack's salesman at Cedar City. At just a few minutes before Ruth's train was due, we received the OK from him by telegram. A company taxi driver rushed me to the station to meet the train. We arrived just as the arrivals from her train were coming into the station from the tracks. Then I spotted Ruth coming up the incline from the gate carrying a bundle wrapped in a pink and blue blanket.
Back at the factory the car was ready and waiting. They told us that Sherwin as a six-week old infant was the youngest person to inspect the factory to that date.
Sherwin had not been well on the trip. He had a severe cold. We had planned to go home leisurely, seeing much of Canada and northern New York. But we hurried along, fearing for his safety. We stopped only a few moments at Niagara and then went on. It was the most beautiful time of the year in New York, but on the way from Buffalo to Ithaca, it rained almost continuously, so that between worry over Sherwin and being tired herself, I don't think Ruth enjoyed the trip as much as she did riding through the same region later. Eventually we arrived home, Ithaca on Linden Avenue on a Sunday evening. Monday, the doctor told us that perhaps Sherwin had Whooping Cough. She gave him inoculations and he did not suffer severely. It was only months later that Doctor Sparr told us that she was certain that he had the disease -- she pretended that she wasn't certain at the time of his illness.
Through the Cannons we came to know the folks who lived on the Church properties near Palmyra, New York. The Ellis family on the Joseph Smith farm, the Singlys on the Hyrum Smith farm and the Andersons on the Hill Cumorah farm were all from Bountiful as was Orson Cannon. We saw the Cumorah Pageant each year we were at Ithaca and spent Thanksgiving Day three years in succession with these fine hospitable people. One of the finest pictures we have of Sherwin was taken at the base of the Cumorah Monument on a cool windy day in the spring of 1940.
We took two fascinating vacations while in New York. In the summer of 1939 we drove through Syracuse and Lake Oneida to Ontario where we went bathing on the gently sloping rock lake floor in water that was neither too cold for comfort nor warm enough to induce drowsiness. We then drove east through Watertown into the Adirondacks, staying overnight near a large natural limestone cavern. The next day we drove into the Adirondacks, past Tupper lake with its lovely pine covered mound-like islets, on down to Lake Champlain where we went bathing and boat riding. We drove back into the mountains and stayed that night at Minerva with the Jones, family friends of ours. They were Baptists, and their devoutness and simplicity in their home life were very pleasing to see.
We went to the New York World's Fair in the Fall of 1940. Orson Cannon was working on his Fellowship work with Long Island farmers during the summer months. We stayed with them for a few days at Homestead while we took in the Fair. We went down to the Battery one afternoon and took a boat to Coney Island. With the Cannons, that afternoon we took in the sights, even playing suckers for some of the ***** Tonk bait thrown to us in the blare of cheap concessions. We took a subway train back to town and Times Square. The next day Ruth and I left the Fair for a time to ride the subway into town to take in the tour of Radio City and WJZ Broadcasting Station.
The next day I spent with Orson riding over some of the vegetable region where he worked daily. And the following day we started out for New England. We stayed all night in a little town in the Connecticut Valley. The following day we drove up into Maine across the corner of New Hampshire. We had a lobster dinner out on the rocky ocean shore near a lighthouse just a few miles south of Portland. The following day we drove to Portland and then turned west again toward the White Mountains of New Hampshire. That afternoon we descended the White river to Sharon in the White Mountains. We left the road there to drive up into the hills where we visited the Prophet's birthplace. That night we stopped again at Minerva with the Jones family. The next day we arrived home and went out to Jacksonville to get Sherwin who had been staying with the Nielsons and playing with Michael. He didn't seem to recognize us at first and when he did he began to cry. He refused to make up for several minutes. It seems that he was more peeved at us for taking the car away than for leaving him.
During the summers, I worked in the laboratory but whenever I was needed, I was expected to go to different parts of the state with Extension workers to help them with the harvesting of experimental plots. In this way, I got a reconnaissance perspective of the state, its people, and its soils and crops.
When I first went to Cornell, it was with the understanding that I would elect for a thesis subject some problem connected with the chemistry of bases exchange in soils. However in the work I did in setting up some Richard's tension apparatus and some in performing some simple preliminary studies on soil materials, I became so interested that I proposed to Dr. Bradfield that I test the methods of pore size distribution measurements in the practical study of soil structure in field soils.
Most of the work was done on the problem during the summer and fall of 1940. When the thesis was finally presented to the Graduate Committee it was titled, "A study of the structure of the Dunkirk silty clay loam and some organic soils by means of pF moisture relations".
Before it was completed, I received an offer from Utah State Agricultural College to come to Logan as temporary instructor of soils while Professor Pittman was in Iran on his Sabbatical leave. They could not pay enough to induce me to leave before my work was finished so the proposition fell through. The situation was different with a position that was open in California. It took me about three months longer to complete my work that the time set for the filling of the position.
Curiously enough, the accidental death of my friend Doctor B. D. Wilson, had more to do with my fate than I realized at the time. To fill the position vacated in the Agronomy Department by his passing, Dr. Michael Peech of Florida was induced to leave the Citrus Experiment Station and become Associate Professor of Soil Technology. He recommended me to the Head of the Station for the vacated position there. Upon appointment, I met Dr. Camp, the Horticulturist in Charge of the Florida Experiment Station, in New York City. I spent the day with him in that raw February weather going about the city fruit markets with Florida fruit samples. That evening as I left to take my train back to Ithaca, he assured me that as far as he was concerned the job was mine. On the tenth of March I received my appointment officially for the fifteenth or as soon after as I could make it. I wired back that I could come by the first of April.
Those last few weeks in Ithaca were a mad scramble. I finished up the last of my laboratory work. Statistically analyzed the data which was first plotted on more than one hundred moisture-tension curves..The mean statistical averages of each of the treatment groups were made and plotted. My thesis outline was drawn up and approved by Doctor Bradfield and finally my thesis written. The date was set for my examination on a Friday and I was to leave for Florida so as to arrive on a Monday, the last of March.
We had planned on Mother being with us when I finished up. We sent her money for her fare and instructed her to let us know when she would arrive in Buffalo. We planned to meet her and take her to the Joseph Smith Farm and Hill Cumorah on the way home to Ithaca. When the day arrived for us to meet her, one of the worst blizzards of a decade broke upon the north east. We met her in Buffalo -- and there was Father, too. We finally arrived home safely, although enroute we were stalled in a snow-drift near Manchester on our way to Cumorah and tipping the car over on its side in the snow when we unexpectedly plowed into a snowdrift near Geneva.
I am sure that my parents enjoyed their visit with us in our little apartment, though I did not have much time to spend with them.
Since four people and a boy could not ride comfortably in our little Plymouth Coupe, I decided to leave by bus ahead of the others. Mother wanted to see her birthplace in West Virginia where Father had fulfilled two missions. I took the regular bus route and arrived in Lake Alfred on the appointed time and assumed my duties as Soil Chemist at the Citrus
Experiment Station. Ruth saw to the binding of my thesis, the sale of our furniture, the turning of the apartment and the care of the apartment house over to the next tenants, and other numerous loose odds and ends. She followed with the Plymouth in its overstuffed state, for it held everything we valued above sale that I couldn't pack in my two trunks. They stopped with friends and relatives in and around Bluefield. I suppose that Mother was more than thrilled to be entertained by her millionaire Litz cousins, the wife and children of the coal tycoon, Al Litz. They arrived in Lake Alfred about 10 days after leaving Ithaca. We rented an apartment in the Hotel for a few weeks and finally a home north of town.
We enjoyed the citrus fruit then, for it was at its best. Sherwin and his two grandparents got along famously. Father made him a wooden rocking horse, which he called Dobbin, and for Ruth, he made some small pieces of furniture. We took trips to the east and west coasts. Mother was pleased to be able to say she had seen both the Atlantic and Pacific --
though you would have to Shanghai her to get her out upon either.
We went to Church in Tampa, where we learned of the Lake Hamilton Branch. We attended there two Sundays and then decided that since the roads were better we would go to Lakeland where a Sunday School was being conducted under the auspices of the missionaries.
Father and Mother left for home shortly after the first of May. Mother pretended to be worried about Rulon and her garden, but I really think she was homesick. They went through Texas to California where they visited with some of mothers nieces and nephews in Los Angeles, with my sister Arzella at Seaside. My brother Vivian got a short leave from the U. S. Army Air Training Camp at Moffett Field where he was serving as a volunteer. He spent some time with the folks in Seaside.
Mother and Father are at home now working as hard as ever -- they seem to have forgotten the easy going tempo of life in Florida already. Have forgotten that when you rush madly through life -- you fail to live fully and completely.
We are happy here. Sometimes I know Ruth would like to spend several weeks back home with the folks. But then, we have much to thank the Lord for. We have bought a lovely home here on the northwest shore of Lake Rochelle. I enjoy both my work with the Station and with our local Church members. I have been acting as Sunday School Superintendent at Lakeland and tomorrow they will set me apart as Assistant District Genealogical Supervisor at the Union Meeting in Lake Hamilton.
Since I came to Lake Alfred I have submitted two papers to the Journal of the American Society of Agronomy containing the essentials of my thesis work and I have just recently sent a paper on Copper retention in Florida sands to Soil Science. Every day brings something breathlessly new and interesting. The Lord created an intricate and fascinating world indeed!
We have been busy gathering together what is already known about the pedigrees and histories of our peoples. Besides we have spent many Saturday afternoons copying data from tombstones in this vicinity. The other night Sherwin said, "Daddy, draw me a tombstone." I did.
(The above material was from a manuscript typed by Vernon Jamison after his move to Florida and prior to Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. The following was handwritten about 2 1/2 years later).
This is now December 21, 1943. A lot of water has passed under our bridge since I last wrote more than two years ago. Most important, Bonnie Fay, our Valentine girl, came February 14, 1942. We do love her. She has the looks of the Jamisons and the disposition of the Woodwards -- like her mother. We really haven't spoiled her -- much. She is just learning to say a few words -- the one she mastered first was not "mommie" or even "daddy" -- but "NO!" She is fastidious -- likes pretty dresses and never runs by a rumpled rug without stopping to straighten it.
We continued to go to Lakeland to Sunday School for some time. A Branch was organized there with me as President. I was also called and set apart as Genealogical Supervisor for the Central Florida District -- I am still acting in that capacity today.
With "Pearl Harbor" and War, the Japanese captured the worlds natural rubber supply. Tires became scarce as did gasoline, due to U-boat sinkings by the Nazis in the Second World War. The distance to Lakeland was 16 miles. Others -- the Keens from Springhead were driving that far, too. The Lakeland Branch was dissolved, but a new one at Winter Haven, with me as President, and later another at Springhead with Nathan Keene
presiding, was organized. At first we met in our home, but soon were able to rent the American Legion Hall here in Winter Haven. Our branch is tiny -- less than sixty members, but we are living and going. At present we are the only "fully organized" branch in the District.
Since the War started, Rulon, my youngest brother, has been drafted. He is at camp in Casper, Wyoming. He was an electric welder in the shipyards in California when he received his call. Mother and Father are there now. Father has worked at carpentry in the army camps near Seaside and Mother as companion to various elderly retired ladies. They see Arzella and her family often, though they seem to tell us so little in the too brief letters we receive. They have their home in Fairview paid for and are saving money for the day when they get old (Father is in his seventies).
Vivian has married -- he snared a school teacher, too. She was a furlough bride. They fell in love when he went home on one furlough and then they married when he came on the next. They were married, as we were, in the Logan Temple.
Though she is about five years his senior, they are a fine couple (they say) and very much in love. Vivian has been called overseas to England now and she has returned to her home in Malad, Idaho to teach school. Vivian is a Staff Sergeant connected with a service squadron in the Air Corps. They have taken advantage of his training as a carpenter to use him in the shops, especially in woodwork. We hear from him
occasionally by V-mail -- he seems homesick to get back to his wife and dear ones at home.
We took a vacation for a month one year ago during the summer and went home, via rail, to Idaho to see our folks. Rulon and the folks had not yet gone to California. Ruth's youngest brother Paul had left for his mission in Canada -- Quebec and vicinity. We surely had a fine time.
We were disappointed in that the temples were closed then and we weren't able to do much genealogical work during the time we were out there. We did learn from Aunt Eva about a cousin in North Carolina who has found out all about mother's ancestry -- her Father's line -- back to about 1750 when her (our) ancestor John Jamison and his Father came here from Ireland. He fought in the American Revolution. Since this dear lady has proven her right to become a "Daughter of the American Revolution", she has lost interest in "going back further." But her help is greatly appreciated. She has answered a letter I wrote and has given me the data she has.
During our brief stay in Idaho, I finished digging out the spring on the Woodward farm. From a muddy wet spot in the field on the old Bonneville Lake terrace it is now changed to a fine flow of water. I had to dig a well down 8 feet into the claystone layers below the wet spot which marked a fissure in the rock formation. A drainage channel had to be dug down with the well to allow the water to flow out at a lower level. Since then Boyd has piped the sweet, cold mountain water into his new house (so they have told us in letters).
Saturday will be Christmas -- a Christmas that is odd in many ways. Due to the war effort -- the allocation of metals and "vital materials" to the making of guns, tanks, and planes to win the war -- there is a great scarcity of the things that once were plentiful. "Priorities" and "rationing" are second nature with us now. Boys can no longer buy air rifles, but must go without or play with flimsy wooden tommy guns. Shoes have soles made of artificial fibers or plastics -- almost all pre-war stocks are sold. Tires recapped -- again and again -- with reclaimed rubber are common. I suppose few people are ever hungry, though there is a scarcity of meats and dairy products. Everyone has money -- too much money -- prices are going up in spite of the frenzied efforts of the despised government agencies to keep them stabilized under "ceilings".
In keeping with the Lord's counsel, as voiced by our Prophet, President Grant, the Church Security Program has been organized here in the Mission and in our District. We grew a fine garden last spring and canned much of it. Ruth spent many days last season with the Relief Society sisters canning our and their surplus produce. Our shelves are almost filled with home canned goods. We hope to increase it this next season. We may need it badly some day soon.
The war has turned favorably for the Americans, British, Russians, and their allies. The tide was stemmed for the Russians as the Nazis were stopped in the winter of 1941-42 before Moscow and the stark fear of world conquest by Hitler and the German warlords was definitely lifted as the Nazi war machine was defeated at Stalingrad in the summer of 1942. The Russians have swept most of their homeland free again. The battle line stretches now from Kherson to just west of Kiev and from thence north to Gomel and Leningrad which are both in Russian hands. The Reds have begun their winter offensive which threatens to sweep on into the Baltic states and East Prussia. The Americans are preparing to invade the continent which is still largely dominated by the Nazis. The Yanks and Britons and Free French are in control in North Africa. They have forced the Italian Bagdolio government to surrender together with the Italian fleet. The Allies, including some anti-fascist Italians are embattled in daily bloody frays in the mountains and valleys leading to Rome.
The Japanese were stopped in their sweeping conquest of the Pacific just short of full control of New Guinea and a dire threat to Australia. They have been thrown out of the Aleutians and the Australian-American army, navy, and air forces have slowly and painfully retaken the Solomon and Gilbert islands, the lower part of New Guinea, and now have invaded new Britain, threatening the Japanese base at Rabaul.
Yes, the time has turned toward victory and freedom -- we hope -- though it will be many long months -- maybe years before peace is restored to the earth.