Memories of Mom (Mary Morgan Donaldson) and Dad (Walter Robert Donaldson)
Contributor: crex Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Donaldson Family Reunion (6/97)
Life with Mom (Mary Morgan Donaldson) and Dad (Walter Robert Donaldson) in Standardville
Written by Bill Donaldson (son)
In our family there were two sisters and five brothers who grew to maturity but it seemed we were more like two separate families. Mary and Walt, the oldest, were born in Ogden. Bob and Maxine were born in Winter Quarters, a little town near Schofield. And Don, Jim and I were born in Standardville, another small coal mining town five miles from Helper up Spring Canyon.
In between Maxine and Don, there was a brother, Scott, and a sister, Doris, both born in Winter Quarters. Doris died just two days after birth. Mom explained that she went to sleep with Doris at her side cradled in her arm. When mom awoke, Doris was not breathing. Like all mothers who have lost small children, mom wondered what she would have looked like and looked forward to seeing her on the other side of the veil. Another even worse tragedy struck when Scott was twelve years old. He, along with some other boys living in Standard (we never called it Standardville) went to cut Christmas trees for their families up on the slopes of Greek Canyon, a short distance from town. Apparently a boulder struck Scott in the temple. He died that same evening in the Standard hospital just two weeks before Christmas day in 1938. Mom and dad often spoke of Scott at Christmas time for the rest of their lives. They learned to live with his death but didn’t seem to ever “get over it.” That reunion in the Spirit World with Scott and Doris, now many years past, must have truly been a joyous one.
The earliest recollection of my childhood is a vague memory of being in the Salt Lake Temple when I was sealed, along with all the siblings except Jim, who was born in the covenant, to our parents on May 4, 1936. I was just three. Mom and dad were also sealed together for the eternities on that day. Mom had a special understanding of the importance and sacredness of temple work and I feel certain she saw that day as the most important day in the history of our family.
December 7, 1941, the news came over the radio that “the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.” Everyone spoke in hushed tones and listened for bits of news. Mom and dad were very worried because Bus (Walter) was on a troop ship somewhere on the ocean bound for the Philippine Islands. That event changed everything for our family. It divided our family into two separate families. Soon Bob would also be in military service in England. All of the eligible young men in town would eventually leave to serve in the armed forces. Mom and dad were proud of the little cloth banner in the window with two stars on it. They waited constantly during the war years for letters from Bus and Bud (Robert) to reaffirm that they were all right.
With the young men gone to war, there was a need for workers everywhere and Mary and Maxine both moved to an apartment in Salt Lake and found jobs. None of the older four – Mary, Walt, Bob or Maxine – ever came back home to Standard to live. Mom and dad looked forward to any of them coming back for a visit. There were many conversations, much of it centered around the Gospel, well into the morning when they did. Don, Jim, and I were the family at home.
Dad was known to be a hard worker by everyone who knew him. All the years I can remember he worked “outside” which meant that he did not have to work deep inside the mine tunnel where the coal was dug. The mine entrance was about a half mile from our home. He ran the hoist, which I know now, was a very responsible job. He would control the cables which lowered the trips of cars loaded with coal down the steep slope to the tipple where the coal was sorted to size and the rocks thrown out by the men working as “bony pickers” before the coal was loaded into rail cars and shipped out. While the trip of about ten loaded cars was lowered down the track to the tipple, the cable would at the same time on a tandem track pull a trip of empty cars back up the hill to again be loaded inside the mine with coal. Dad also ran a motor to switch the cars around on the tracks at the entrance to the mine. His was a very physical job that kept him hustling constantly from the mine entrance up to the hoist room. He was in great physical condition. Pictures show him to be trim in those days, probably 155 pounds. During the War, he would sometimes come home for lunch. After eating he would lay on the floor in front of the radio, listen to the war news and take a nap for a few minutes before walking back up to the mine. Usually he took his lunch in a lunch pail. He would always leave something – a half sandwich, etc. – for the first one who opened the lunch pail when he came home.
Although he didn’t read many books, during all his life dad read the newspaper every day and listened to the radio. He was always up on current events around the world as well as at home and liked to talk about them. Professional boxing, prize fighting, was a major sport at that time and dad never missed listening to a radio broadcast fight. Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis were his favorites.
During the winter months the mine normally worked around the clock because of the high demand for coal. During the summer months the mine was often idle while stockpiles of coal were used up. It was also the time when union contracts were negotiated – the time of year that favored the company owners over the miners. When the mine was idle, a large group of men would congregate every morning outside the company store to just sit around and talk. But, I don’t remember dad spending much time with them.
Although he was inactive in the Church earlier in his life, dad was known as “the bishop” during most of my growing up years. Actually he was the branch president of the Standardville Branch that also served the members of the Church in two other coal camps further up the canyon, Latuda and Rains. The meeting house was also the union hall and the town cultural hall for Christmas parties and other events. There was one large room with a slightly elevated stage at one end where opening exercises and sacrament meetings were held. In addition, there were four small classrooms. I accompanied him on several occasions when he picked up orders at the Bishop’s storehouse in Price and we delivered them to needy families. Dad also often worked on the stake sugar beet farm south of Price. There was still a horse in use at the farm and since dad had driven horses in the mines as a younger man he knew how to handle and work the farm horse. He was also perhaps the only man around who could shoe horses, which he often did. I believe he learned this skill at his brother John’s blacksmith shop in Ogden.
Dad loved to tell stories of his youth in Schofield and Winter Quarters when there were no cars and men road horses and carried guns. He was outgoing and found it easy to talk with people including strangers. He seemed to always be positive and upbeat even when things weren’t going well. One of his best traits was that he was never judgmental of others and never spoke ill of others.
During the same period of time, mom served as the Relief Society president. It seemed that there were always quilting frames in the front room with three or four sisters quilting and talking. Mom was a self-taught pianist and had the gift of being able to play by ear. She could, of course, also read music and played hymns for the branch services and had a lot of popular sheet music which she played for her own enjoyment. She also had a beautiful alto voice and loved to sing.
Mom had an unwavering faith in the restored gospel and often bore her testimony. She never missed a church meeting nor failed to fulfill her church responsibilities. Genealogy and temple work were constantly part of her life. She was genuinely concerned for the salvation of each of her children and also for her ancestors not wanting even one to be lost. Every Memorial Day we traveled to the Provo and Spanish Fork cemeteries with a huge number of peonies. Mom knew from memory where every family grave was located and everyone received her special attention.
Mom was the one who made clear what was expected of us in terms of living the commandments. When I was only about six years old I was out with the other kids one evening and some of the older ones were smoking. They got some of us to try it and I smoked part of a cigarette. When I went into the house, mom was rocking Jimmy, who was just a baby, in the dining room. I stood beside her and she immediately picked up on the smell of tobacco smoke. She forthwith took me upstairs to the bathroom and washed out my mouth with soap. I still remember that taste and never again smoked.
Mom always wore a dress and apron when at home. Before she went out – anywhere – she would always dress up and looked her best. Every Saturday afternoon she along with Don and I would go to the meeting house to get it ready for Sunday meetings. We would move all of the wooden benches back out of the way, sweep the floor which created clouds of dust, and then line up the benches with precision. Early Sunday morning Don and I would dust all of the benches.
Mom and dad’s lives were filled with work and church and taking care of the family. They took only one vacation that I remember when we went to Kingman, Arizona to visit Bus (Walter) and Connie. They went to only one movie that I recall, “The Fighting Sullivan’s.” Their greatest entertainment was to drive to Helper, park on the main street, and watch the people.
They visited Salt Lake often and talked of buying a house and moving there. Mom was particularly anxious to move closer to her roots in Provo but wanted to live in Salt Lake. Things just didn’t work out until Bob bought a new house in 1949 near Highland Drive and 3300 South and invited the family to move there with him. This opened up a whole new life of opportunities and challenges for all of us and proved to be a great blessing. Within a few years the Standardville mine was permanently shut down and the town was dismantled.
Mary Morgan Donaldson
Contributor: crex Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
MARY MORGAN DONALDSON
By Gwendolyn Donaldson (granddaughter)
Re-typed by Jennifer Wood (granddaughter) with Gwendolyn’s permission
I chose to do this history of Mary Morgan Donaldson because she is my grandmother. I am the daughter of her eldest son, Walter Morgan Donaldson, and was twelve years old when she passed away at the age of sixty-nine. We lived in Price, Utah, all the time I was growing up, and she lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the days of my youth, going to Salt Lake was a big trip, and we didn’t make it there very often. Also, coming from a larger family with a smaller car, we had to take turns going to the “big city.” For these reasons I never got to know my grandmother very well. After completing this paper for a college class, I feel I have come to know her better. I only wish that she had been here for me to have talked with and gotten to know her better. She kept no written record of herself, so I have relied heavily upon her children, other relatives, and a few friends for sources of information. I strived very sincerely for accuracy, and it was enjoyable talked with these family members and friends. Many of the characteristics that my grandmother possessed have been passed on to her children.
Mary Morgan Donaldson came from a family of Welshmen. Her father was Isaac Morgan, born on March 6, 1854, in Blainan, Brecon, Wales. He moved to the United States from South Wales to work in the coalmines. Eventually he was given the job of haulage boss at the coalmine in Winter Quarters, Carbon County, Utah. Since he could not read or write, he developed a unique system of marking that enabled him to keep track of what went into the mines and what came out of them. Music played a very important part of his life. He used to sit in his living room listening to music on the victrola or organ. He loved animals, especially dogs and horses. He used to sit under the apple tree or near the back door whittling a stick or petting his little dog, singing songs in his native Welsh tongue. Isaac was a hard worker and very independent. Although he never joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whenever the home teachers or others from the church came to his home, he treated them like kings.
Mary’s mother Jane (Jennie) Jones Morgan, was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, South Wales, on September 11, 1869. She married Isaac Morgan on February 27, 1891, in Winter Quarters, Carbon County, Utah. Jennie was a very happy person who always brought warmth and sunshine into people’s lives. She had a beautiful alto voice and sang in many choirs including the Almy Choir in Wyoming. She was a quiet person who bore her problems and heartaches without complaint. She loved to go shopping and would dress up and go to town as often as she could. Jennie was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and went to the temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, as often as she could.
Mary’s oldest brother, Thomas, worked in the mine with his father until he was called to serve in the military during World War I. While stationed on the front lines in France, he was shot in the right shoulder sustaining a very serious wound, was gassed, and got shell shocked. He never seemed to be the same after this, and Mary always had a soft spot in her heart for him because of it. Another brother, John, also worked in the mine and served in Siberia during World War I. He returned home uninjured. Neither Tom nor John married and spent their days helping in the apple orchard and around the home. The two younger brothers, Isaac and David, married and had families. Her only sister, Annie, was older than her. She married, and they would stay in touch with each other as often as they could. They seemed to have a close companionship while they were growing up.
Mary Morgan Donaldson was the second daughter and fourth child to be born to the Morgan household in Winter Quarters, Carbon County, Utah, on December 5, 1897. They were a very typical Welsh family. Each seemed to have a talent and love for music. They had an organ in their home, and Mary learned to play it by ear. There was always a plate of toasted cheese served with every meal be it breakfast, lunch, or supper. The cheese was baked either by itself or in the oven on a slice of bread. It was said that the Morgan’s were very particular about traditions, and rights and wrongs, and obeying all the rules of society, including some from the old country. These rules and values in life they believed in very strongly, but did not believe in running the lives of other people. They had strong feelings about honesty, moral values and truly believed and lived the golden rule.
Being the private person she was, Mary did not talk to others much about her youth and childhood. The exact details are not really known, but it seems that when she was first starting to walk, she was run over by a wagon and had to be carried around on a pillow until her back healed. Mary was a small framed, attractive little girl with golden blonde, naturally curly hair and green eyes, flecked with a little almond brown. She was lively and high spirited; and, as she continued to grow, she was considered one of the prettiest girls in town. Mary went to church with her mother and sister and remained active throughout her lifetime. She was baptized in the reservoir, where they stored water above Winter Quarters, August 26, 1906. Being the modest person that she was, Mary said that she and the other girls were kind of scared when they were baptized because there were a lot of unmarried men in the mining camps at that time. Some of the Greek men from the old country used to be kind of curious and would hang around and watch the baptisms.
Mary loved to learn, and school was important to her. She attended school in Winter Quarters where she graduated from the 8th grade. In the area they were living, 8th grade was the highest that a person could go. She received a double promotion from the 4th to the 5th grade. While she was young, Mary learned to crochet and made beautiful items. She played basketball on one of the town teams and was considered a pretty fast runner for a girl at that time. A cousin and childhood friend, told this of Mary’s early years:
“My Dad always made a place for us kids to have a playhouse. He made Mary things like he did us. Mother and Dad always loved to take us to the mountains. Mary went with us, so did Annie. Mother would make ice cream in a bucket at home, then we would find a snow bank in the pines some place, and then take turns pushing the ice cream up and around and around in the snow. To have it just think – what a deal! I guess Mary and Annie had most of the deal. We would run all over looking for wild flowers, even to put in the playhouse. We could leave our dolls out there, except when it stormed. No one every bothered them. Mary went fishing with us to Fish Creek too. Uncle Ike (Mary’s father) went with my dad. They had one big open space for us kids to fish. Now I think it was to keep an eye on us kids, and believe me, when they told us to stay there, we did! They made lines out of willows and put the hook on, always a worm, and, if we got a fish, we put it in a flour sack and hold on to it to get the hook. Then we would hit it with a rock. I think of how the fish would jump around, us trying to hit it and screaming our heads off. Mary was always very pretty and sang a lot.”
Mary was about fourteen years old when the family moved to the farm in Provo, Utah. While there, she would try to keep up on the latest popular songs and bought the new sheets of music. She and her girlfriends would spend the summer picking strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and later in the season, apples. They also spent quite a bit of time at Utah Lake which was not far from home. They would ride their bicycles for transportation and spend their time swimming and sometimes boating. There was not much employment at that time for girls. Mary worked for the Provo Laundry and occasionally would help some neighbor lady with her children. When the mines were working, her father and brothers would go over and stay in Winter Quarters for periods of time, and then come home and work on the family farm where they had a grand apple orchard and grew many vegetables. As she got older and her sister Annie married, Mary would go to Winter Quarters and cook and keep house for her father and brothers. She also worked for the company doctor (Dr. McDermid). Later she became employed at the confectionary in Schofield, Utah.
Mary first met her husband, Walter Robert Donaldson, when she was nine years old and living in Winter Quarters. She became acquainted with him again during the time when she was helping her father and brothers at the age of sixteen. She was living in Provo, Utah, at the time but came often to clean and cook for the men. Their first date was when Walter drove Mary and her mother back to Provo after one of their visits. I’m sure that this was an added incentive for Mary to come to Winter Quarters often. Walter then moved to Ogden, Utah, and lived with his older sister and family, after securing a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad Machine Shop. Mary was nineteen and Walter was twenty-two years old when they married on January 10, 1918, at the courthouse in Ogden, Utah. They resided with his parents in Ogden for a while. Walt’s father loved to listen to Mary play the piano, and he always requested she play “The Missouri Waltz.” They moved from that home to a little apartment of their own. While in Ogden, two little ones were born to them, a daughter, Mary and then a son, Walter Morgan.
After living for four years in Ogden, Mary and Walt moved their little family back to Winter Quarters where he took a job in the coalmines working with Mary’s father and brothers. Shortly after their arrival, another son, Robert Isaac, was born. Then in 1924, another daughter, Maxine, was sent to them. In 1926, a third son named Scott, came to live in the Donaldson home.
Life in the mining camps was not easy especially for women raising a family. While in Winter Quarters, life was very compact. Water had to be hauled into the home in a bucket where it was placed on a stand where you could drink from it, and another bucket was set up on a stand for washing your hands and face. Baths were taken in a big washtub around the heating stove. There was a coal stove used to warm the living room and another placed in the kitchen to cook on and keep that part of the house warm. The advantage of living in the mining camps during the winter was that there was always plenty of coal to keep the stoves going to warm the home. Mary took time for her children and would sing to them often. She would take the little ones and rock them while singing a lullaby. With the older children, she would teach them songs about the birds and animals, the seasons of the year, and special holidays like Christmas. Many of these songs would tell a story and most were happy, but a few were sad. Her children would request her to sing to them often, and she would.
For the women, one of the busiest days of the week was washday. It would take all day, and it was traditional in the mining camps to have beans on this day. Mary was no different, so when she got up in the morning to get the stove going to heat the water for the wash, she would put a boiler on top of the stove to get the water boiling hot. In would go the soap and then the clothes, and a cut off broom handle was used to turn the clothes in the boiling water. The broom handle would usually be bleached white from this. Washday must have been an awful chore for Mary when one considers the fact that she had to wash her husband’s heavy winter underwear and dirty mine clothes. She used a scrubbing board and a big wooden tub.
In the fall of the year, the car would be placed on some blocks, and the water drained out, ready to be stored for winter. Walt would always drive the car whenever the family went anywhere. One of her children commented, “I could never decide if my mother was too nervous to drive, or if my dad was a poor teacher. She never learned to drive and could not have driven the car out of the home if her life depended on it.”
While living in Winter Quarters, Mary used to get disturbed at Walt because of his hair cutting business. He would always do this for his friends without charge, but that did not bother her. What bothered her was the fact that instead of him going over to their homes to cut their hair, he would have them come to her home and leave a mess, and then she would have to clean it up. She was a very good housekeeper and kept all the places where they lived very clean and tidy, no matter how tough the circumstances may have been. Mary would always wear an apron that had big pockets over her dress. She kept her children neat and clean and sewed the girls’ dresses and made the boys’ shirts.
There were no hospitals in which to have your babies in this small mining camp town. The doctor would come in his horse and buggy to the home and deliver the baby. A midwife would come and help care for the new baby. The mother rested in bed for ten days. Mary appreciated the help that was given to her and her little family.
Another daughter, Doris, was born to this growing family in 1928. But the happiness that this little one brought to their home was short lived. In these days when babies were real small, they slept with their mothers as there were no cribs. On this particular morning, Mary awoke to find that her little Doris, curled up in her arm, had died during the night. She died of what would be known today as Crib Death, at two days of age. Knowing the love that Mary had for each child, this must have been a very hard experience for her.
In that same year, Winter Quarters mine had closed its operation, and so it was moving time again. Families had to move often, going where the man could find work to support his family. Mary and Walt were no exception, and they moved to Castle Gate, Helper, and Consumers, living in anything from a tent to a new apartment with inside plumbing. Mary was able to make these places, no matter how simple they may have been, into a home of love and warmth for her family. It was in one of these small places of abode that the family experienced a very trying summer in the year of 1928. All the children came down with the mumps and chicken pox. When these communicable diseases came into a home, the doctor would come and put what they call a quarantine sign on their front door. It was a sign telling people that they were quarantined, and they were not allowed to leave the home or anyone to enter. If one person in a family had the disease, then all the children in the house were not allowed to go outside or associate with the other children, but had to stay in. A family could be quarantined for months. At this same time, Mary’s husband was painfully injured in a mining accident. He was laid up with this back injury, all the summer months.
Mary had a quick temper but forgave quickly. Walt Jr. tells this incident:
“I decided to go with some friends around Christmas time to get Christmas trees. We went up a particular canyon pulling a flexible flyer sled, the snow being up to our armpits in some places. We got way up the canyon, and farther than we had expected. It became dark, and we were cold and scared, and tried to turn around to come back. When we didn’t return, my mother and the community became alarmed, and they brought some of the men out of the mine to search for us. As we sat on our sleds, cold and frightened, we saw the lights of the miners coming up the canyon, but did not answer them when we heard them calling our names. We just sat there until finally they did find us. Well, in the meantime, my mother was crying, and the neighbor ladies had come to try and console her. She thought she had lost her boy and was upset that perhaps the wild animals had gotten to me. She had been ironing to help keep her mind off of the situation at hand. My uncle John Morgan carried me into the home, and I thought I was going to get some special attention. After mother realized that I was indeed safe, she grabbed a wooden clothes hanger sitting on the edge of the ironing board and whacked me across the should blades several times for doing such a stupid thing, and scaring everybody to death, and making miners come from work to find me. On another occasion, when I got smart and sassy with her, she slapped me hard across the back with a wet dishrag.”
In June of 1930, the family moved to a small town located ten miles from Price, Carbon County, Utah, and five miles from Helper, Utah, called Standardville. Mary liked this little mining town because there were more activities that her children could go to, and also there was a movie house that the children could attend. It was here that the last of her children were born: Don in 1931; Billy Ray in 1933; and James Russell in 1938.
Mary was a person of great faith and religious conviction. She had taken her little ones to church faithfully as conditions permitted. Each child was taught at his or her bedside how to pray. For eighteen years she had worked on her husband to become active in church affairs. Finally with the support of Mary and some friends, Walt began to go to church with the family. On May 4, 1936, one of Mary’s greatest desires and dreams came true as the family traveled to the temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, to be sealed together. I’m sure that this was one of the happiest days of her life. Mary had the faith of a rock. Her daughter, Maxine, said that if the general authorities ever asked mother to jump off the church building, she would ask them what time and then have her family dressed and cleaned up and there on time, even her husband.
Mary served as president of the Relief Society in the little branch in Standardville, Utah. There was a piano here that she would play. She also taught Sunday School and held various other positions throughout her lifetime. Every Saturday she would go and clean the Amusement Hall where church was held. It had a wooden floor with a spittoon in the corner. Dances and other activities were held here, and it was not uncommon to find empty whiskey flasks on Sunday morning after a dance. For this reason, she would send her children over Sunday morning and have them dust and clean everything before church started.
Standardville brought many happy memories for the family but it also brought its sad and tragic ones. On December 10, 1938, her twelve year old son, Scott, went with some friends up Maple Creek Canyon to get a community Christmas tree to be placed in the Amusement Hall. During the course of the morning, a rock was kicked loose by one of the other boys. It came down the hill, and hit Scott behind the ear. He was taken to the town hospital but never regained consciousness. He died that same night. Mary and her family felt the tragedy and loneliness that death brings once again. Although I am sure that she felt heartache and had some sad days dealing with these deaths of her children, Mary never felt bitter towards the Lord. She always told others that it was the will of the Lord that they were taken. She related this experience to a family member:
“After Scott died, Mary was very upset, and stated on several occasions that my brother Scott had returned to her in the middle of the night. Whenever he appeared to her, he was dressed in the same clothes he had on the day he was killed – a sweater and bib overalls. He looked very sad, and this bothered my mother for a long time. She finally talked to an old gentlemen who had been in the church for a long time about what this could mean, and he told her that Scott wanted his work done. She never said exactly what work it was but I assume it was his temple endowment. Whatever it may have been, the work was done. He appeared to her one final time after that only this time he was dressed in the white suit he was buried in and extremely happy.”
Mary had high standards for her children, and they were taught honesty and kindness to all. She was a very compassionate person. Her son, Don, recalls she made some biscuits and jam and told him to take it to some of the neighbors who were having a rough time. She said not to take and give it to them but put it on the doorstep because they might be embarrassed if they knew. Another son, Bob, recalls her nursing a neighbor’s adopted baby because there were no bottles then, and she had just given birth to one of her own. She would always bake, and had cookies or cakes or other goodies of all kinds, to give to others. Whenever we would go to her home, she would fix us a grand meal that was mighty tasty. She had a real knack for cooking.
The day after Christmas in 1940, Mary’s oldest son, Walt Jr., joined the Utah National Guard. He never attended a National Guard meeting and left home March 3, 1941 where they were federalized into the 40th Infantry. He later transferred to the Army Air Force. So, in March 1941, Mary’s oldest son left home for the Army. This proved to be the beginning of her children leaving home. Her daughter, Mary, and son, Bob, went to work at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah. Then in December of 1941, on the 7th day, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and Mary listened on the radio, as did most Americans, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the United State’s entrance into the World War II. Bob enlisted in the Air Force and served in England, so she had two sons serving their country at this time. Mary was very concerned and fretful about the safety of her boys. In 1942, Maxine left to work in a clinic at the Army base in Kearns, Utah. Mary did the best she could to keep in touch with all of her children as they left home. She would pray fervently for their safety, and that they would uphold the principles that she had taught them.
Mary had never enjoyed life in the coal camps. She knew that the educational opportunities were not good there; and that in order for her sons to escape working in the coalmines, they needed a good education. So in 1949 they left Standardville and moved to a new home that Bob had purchased in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was here that Don, Bill and Jim all attended the University of Utah after their graduation from high school. About this time, Mary, once again had a son, Don, serve his country – this time in Korea. With her family raised, she worked with her husband at a janitorial job in the evenings. Mary was always happy that they were able to send Bill on a mission to Argentina.
Mary enjoyed living in Salt Lake City where they were active in the church. People commented on what a good spirit they felt whenever they would come to visit their home. With all the children married and raising families of their own, Mary could not do some of the things that gave her pleasure. She was able to do a lot of genealogy work for her family and kept a correspondence with some of her relatives in Wales. She felt a great urgency to do this work and would go to the temple often. She also loved her garden, and her peonies and other flowers were beautiful. Walt used to say about his wife, “Mary is like a little ant; moving little piles of dirt from one side of the yard to another, planting and replanting. She had some very beautiful flowers. Mary loved to plant flowers and shrubbery and care for them.”
Mary had many characteristics and personality traits that she will always be remembered for. She was not a talker but a more reserved doer. She did not want to be in the limelight and preferred to be in the background. She was a very capable person but always felt that someone else could do it better than her. Mary always wore a dress and nylons even when she was working and was an energetic person. She could talk and crochet at the same time and never dropping a stitch. Mary was an affectionate and emotional person and would cry easily when touched, but it was never public, always in the privacy of her own home. She seemed to be perceptive of people and did not particularly care for those who were not genuine. She kept her home in order and was very organized. Not only did this show in the work she did, but it was also very evident in one of her household chores – the laundry. A neighbor friend, Alda Alger, commented that every time she goes to hang her clothes on washday, she is reminded of Mary Donaldson. She said that when Mary hung her clothes out, it was a work of art. Everything would be in order – certain size clothes went in one area, another size went someplace else and so forth. All the towels would be in one area, and the dishtowels and wash cloths were in another. The hems would all be even. She said that she used to be ashamed to hang her clothes out in the yard next to hers. One of Mary’s daughters-in-law tells of the time that she offered to help her do her laundry. The clothes were in the washer, and she asked Mary if she could set up the rinse tubs for her. Mary told her that it was not time yet because she always washed her clothes twice before she rinsed them. She would empty all the dirty water from the washer and then fill it with more soap and clean water and rewash the same batch of clothes again. Mary’s children used to tell of how, when she finally got an electric dryer in Salt Lake, she would take the clothes from the washer and haul them all the way up the steps (from the basement), and hang them outside. Then, when they were dry, she would take them all the way back down the stairs and put them in the dryer to “fluff them up.”
Mary eventually got her own piano. Her oldest daughter, Mary, tells how her mother would be vacuuming the front room when all of a sudden they would hear the piano playing. Upon peeking into the front room, they would see the vacuum standing in the middle of the floor with the motor going full blast, and their mother totally absorbed in her piano playing.
Mary had always enjoyed good healthy and had been a very industrious and active person. In 1964, she developed chest pains that would come and go. Later, she would have bouts with severe headaches and became forgetful. After many tests and visits to doctors, it was discovered that she had a brain tumor. The doctor decided to perform surgery to remove this tumor in January of 1967. Mary was never able to return to the home that she loved so dearly. She became blind and paralyzed and had to be taken to a convalescent home. She developed pneumonia and died on March 25, 1967. Her funeral was held in the Larkin Mortuary, and she was buried in the Provo City Cemetery.
As I conclude this history, I have felt very close to my grandmother. I have also felt her close to me during the time that I compiled these memories of those who knew and loved her. I have prayed for guidance in seeking what she would want others to remember for her. I am sure she would be embarrassed about all the good remarks that others have made to me about her. It has been a pleasure getting to know her better.