SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF NORMA LEWIS ASHTON Written by Norma Lewis Ashton
Contributor: crex Created: 9 months ago Updated: 9 months ago
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF NORMA LEWIS ASHTON
Written by Norma Lewis Ashton
As I look back to my youth, there is very little in my life that I could call noteworthy. However, as my life has not been full of exciting adventure and great accomplishments, neither have I experienced deep sorrow, tragedy nor complete failure. I have, with the help of my husband, raised to adulthood three fine sons and a lovely daughter. One infant son died at birth. In addition to my husband, my children and grandchildren are the most important and precious to me. I am so grateful they all live so close to me.
I have always lived in Provo and my membership in the Latter Day Saints Church has always been in the Pleasant View Ward.
I was born on March 21, 1912, on the first day of spring. Mother said it was a beautiful spring day. They lived in two rooms in the back of the old Herman place. It was the Oliver Hansen place when BYU bought it and tore it down to build the stadium. I have the Cougar Stadium to mark my birth place.
I was the oldest child, so of course I learned very early to babysit and help my mother. I used to sit across the end of the big, wicker baby buggy and rock back and forth to keep the baby from crying. That buggy was big enough for mother to put three of us in it and wheel us up the road to grandmother Foote’s. I learned to iron by ironing diapers. My mother ironed everything, including underwear and stockings. I washed dishes when I was so small that I had to stand on a chair. Mother and dad always taught me that I should take care of the younger ones because I was the oldest.
I went the Page School for eight years. Some of my friends were Edith Slack and Julia Herman. When I was in the first grade I followed some of the other kids into the hall at recess to get a drink and it was against the rules. I had to sit on the front row in Principle Petersons room. I was so scared I cried. I was a good student in school because I always tried to do what I was supposed to do. I always prepared my lessons and I enjoyed reading and studying.
I remember once when I got Principle Cluff angry at me. Mother had made me a handkerchief dress out of men’s red handkerchiefs. All the girls thought it was so neat and wanted to wear it. I kept going out to the toilet and traded dresses with my friends to give them all a turn to wear my pretty red dress. The principle went to see my mother and told her I was demoralizing the school with that dress. June Andrews had one just like it.
My aunt Valera was my teacher in the fifth grade. She would let me help her after school because she said she couldn’t let me do any of the fun things in class, like answering questions, or passing out paper, etc., because the other children would think she was playing favorites with me because she was my aunt. I had lots of fun with her.
Every Christmas I would get some books. I read all of the books in the school library the year I was in eighth grade. There were seventy-five.
My grandparents, Foote and my uncles, Earl and Eldred and my aunt Velera lived in the old house which now stands on the Stout property across the road from Albertsons on the Canyon Road. (No longer Albertsons, now BYU Museum of People and Cultures). I can remember riding in the horse and buggy with my uncle Earl to go to Mountain School (Edgemont) to get aunt Velera who taught school there. We spent a lot of time at grandmother Foote’s. Dad was gone with the sheep and mother took us to visit her folks very often. Aunt Velera was always giving me school junk, old clothes and stuff to take home. I was a hoarder and I loved it but mother was a little irritated at her sister.
When Uncle Earl got married, he and Aunt Merle lived in two rooms of grandma’s house. Aunt Merle was an artist and she used to let me play with her water colors. I liked to go to grandma’s just to do that.
My grandmother was a great one to entertain. She was a good cook and was always inviting someone to dinner, especially relatives. There was always lots of fun and laughter at grandmothers when I was very young.
My grandparents went to the picture shows a lot and they often took me. They always went to Hansen’s Ice Cream Parlor after the show. My favorite ice cream was a pineapple nut sundae.
My parents believed in discipline. My mother usually did it because dad was gone most of the time. I remember one day when we were going to Bingham Canyon to see Aunt Velera who had recently married. I hurried out and got into the car first and sat next to the window. When mother and dad came out, they made me move over and let some of the smaller children sit next to the window. It made me angry and I said, “Oh, hell, I always have to sit in the middle.” Dad walked over and picked up a pretty good size stick and gave me a few whacks for swearing. I can only remember one other time when he took a switch to me. Mr. Herman had come to plant the garden. I can’t remember what I did but I can still remember my dad walking over to the ditch bank north of the old home breaking off a switch and giving me a few right smart whacks.
When I was about twelve years old I thought I was pretty neat. There was a boy at school who was giving me a little attention. I took up with his sister so I could have an excuse to see him. One Sunday, I had my plans all made to go to my friends house for a really groovy afternoon. My mother could see what I was doing and because in her judgement, she decided it was not a good friendship I was developing, she forbid me to ever go to my friends home again. She was well acquainted with the family and the standards they lived by. Mother made me go to Goshen with the family and I cried all the way. I thought my mother was the meanest mother in the whole world, but I broke off completely with my friends. As the years went by, I soon realized how right my mother had been. It was only a few weeks later that my girl friend was expelled from school for stealing money. My mother had disciplined me for my own good and with great wisdom and love.
I was at grandmother Foote’s on the day the First World War ended. I was walking up the path to the house. All of a sudden the whistle at the woolen mills began to blow. Everyone rushed out to listen. Finally, the word got around by word of mouth, that the ‘war to end all wars’ was over. There were only a few men from our area in it and I was too young to know them.
The only thing I remember about the war was the influenza epidemic in the fall of 1918. My mother was very ill. Eldon was a baby and he was very ill, also. Grandpa, grandma and aunt Velera did not take the flu. They came to our home and stayed several weeks to care for mother and the family. Mother was in a bed in the boys bedroom. In the same room was a bed for my dad and me. The other children were in mother’s bedroom. Grandma kept a bed for Eldon in the kitchen where she could keep him very warm. I was not very ill and neither was dad, at least not bad like my mother. I remember Doctor Wallick mixing up kerosene and lard to give dad for his cough. People were desperate. They tried every concoction they could think of for medicine. The only thing they had then was Quinine for a fever. Mother developed pneumonia and was very critical for several days. The doctor was able to get a nurse to come for several days. Doctors and nurses were working around the clock and were available for only the serious cases. I can remember watching the nurse bring hot onion packs to put on mother. Grandma fried dozens of onions. While they were still very hot the nurse would put them in a cloth and lay them over mothers chest and back. After several days, mother passed the crisis and started to mend.
Many more people died with the flu than were involved in the war. Nursing mothers were especially vulnerable. Schools and all public meetings were closed. I remember going up to Benny Walton’s to get cider with dad. Mother made us put on a gauze mask so we wouldn’t get any germs. That winter was a time of much sorrow for many people.
My father was a wool grower by occupation. The very earliest thing I can remember was my dad coming home after dark and wrapping me in a blanket and taking me out for a little ride on his horse. I know I was very young because when Max got old enough he would go, also. That night I went alone. It was a ritual dad always performed when he came home on his horse.
Our family always moved to the South Fork of Provo Canyon for the summer. Before dad bought his first Model T Ford, the family would board the Heber Creeper at Provo and ride to Vivian Park. Dad would meet us there with his wagon and team and take us to the ranch for the summer. I do not remember riding the Heber Creeper but I do remember riding in the wagon from the ranch down to Vivian Park to meet the train and pick up the supplies (food, salt, horse shoes, rope, etc.) which came from the wholesale house in Provo. In later years, I used to love to go to the wholesale house with Max and dad. It was a very long building located down by the old depot in southwest Provo. Max and I would run and play hide and seek up and down the long rows of produce. Dad would talk and jawsh with the men there while we had a ball.
Dad bought a Model T Ford from Telluride Motor Co. (Anderson Garage) about 1915. I was only three or four years old and I can’t remember when the car was new. I can remember riding in it from Provo to South Fork many times. The road across the dugway, the same one that is there now, was so very narrow, then. We children would remain completely quiet with fright and apprehension while the old Ford traveled from one end to the other. Of course the road wasn’t good like it is now and that early Model Ford did not have the power to pull up all the little grades in the South Fork. It would just stop and everyone would pile out except the driver. We would all push with all our might to get it over the top. That old Ford made a lot of noise and whoever was at the ranch could hear it coming from way down the canyon.
We always had to stop at Carter’s Trough (that place in Provo Canyon where they have a fruit stand and trailer park just below Vivian Park) for water to cool off the engine before the trip up the South Fork.
We never failed to stop at Conrad’s for a cool drink from their spring to chat a while with Mrs. Conrad and cool off the Ford for its final assent to the ranch. We children would always get out and run around the grassy slopes or lay flat and very quiet on our bellies to watch the fish swim from one pond into the other one. An auto trip from Provo to South Fork was very exciting in 1920.
We always had doagy lambs to feed at the ranch, sometimes ten or fifteen. Dad or the hired man would milk the cow and then we would fill a large bottle like a pop bottle and put a nipple on it and feed the lambs. After they got growing pretty good, they would chew off the rubber nipple. Dad would take a quaking aspen and carve a wooden nipple that they couldn’t chew off.
I always liked to go to the corral to watch the cow get milked. It was always late evening for this chore because the men were busy until night. I would sit on the corral fence and watch the night come on and listen to the mourning doves. I can’t remember every seeing one but I remember so very well their mournful song just at dusk like they were saying good night. It was so quiet you could hear them a long way off.
We had an old cow named Red. One summer she was dry and waiting for her calf to be born. One morning she came down the canyon to the ranch with a cute little red and white spotted calf. Dad put the calf in the pen and turned Red out to graze in the canyon. Max was riding later that day and saw her with a red calf. She came home that night to the spotted calf. Dad told Max he was having pipe dreams. It took two days to find her with the red calf. That old cow caused a lot of excitement in South Fork for a while. I never remember any other twin calves in all our ranching years.
I loved to ride horses. Dad took me once in a while but most of the time he took Max. I can remember when he took me to ride for lost bucks. We went up Shingle Mill and he couldn’t find them. He decided he would have to ride up into the Holes and possibly down Big Spring. He didn’t want to take me that far because it looked like rain. He left me at one of the sheep camps in the head of Shingle Mill Canyon with Lawrence Ewell. While we waited to see if dad came back, Lawrence gave me some Dolly Dingle paper dolls to play with. They were in the Pictorial Review Magazine he was reading. Dad didn’t come back so at the appointed time, Lawrence prepared to take me to the ranch. It was raining hard so he draped his yellow rain slicker around me, put a pair chaps over my legs and led my horse home.
I always went with the men to corral the sheep when it was at the ranch or the dipping vat corral. There was a dipping vat in the corral for the purpose of dipping the sheep to kill the ticks in their wool. There was a chute with a canvas over the end to hide the liquid in the vat. I have watched many sheep hit the canvas and fall into the vat. The vat was very narrow and they could not turn around so they would swim through the vat and climb the ramp and into the drying pens.
It was kind of a gory mess to watch dad castrate and dock (cut off the tails) the lambs. After all the work was done, I liked the counting of the sheep. Dad would let me cut the tally marks on the Quaking Aspen poles of the corral fence. He would stand by the gate and let the sheep go through, counting them ten at a time up to one hundred. Then he would holler tally and I would cut a bright new notch in the pole with his pocket knife every time he hollered. When all the sheep were out of the corral, he would count the tally marks and that would tell him how many hundred sheep there were.
I can remember the best ride I ever had with my dad. We rode up Water Hollow and onto the bench, through the aspens and past the big spring into Shingle Mill. As we rode along the trail, dad started to sing, “My Isle of Golden Dreams.” He had such a beautiful voice and he loved that song. He had been to the Ram Sale in Salt Lake City and while there he had attended a musical show. He told me all about the show. I don’t know how he remembered the song so well. That day was a special one for me with my dad.
Max had a buckskin mare, named Buck. When she had her fourth cult he gave it to me. It was a small black horse with a long mane and a beautiful broom tail that almost touched the ground. I named him Rex after I saw the movie by that name. I only had him for a few years. One fall just before winter, dad told the hired man to go to Big Spring and get the horses and bring them out. He could not find Rex. In the spring they found him by the Big Spring gate, dead. The gate was closed and he couldn’t get out and he died in the heavy snow. I never did have another horse of my own.
After we moved to Ercanbracks, we had cars and mother would go to Provo once a week to wash and iron. In later years Afton used to stay in town and she would do the laundry as well as most of the canning. We never did have a hired girl at the Ercanbrack place. I was it. When I was twelve years old, I could put a meal on a table for the ranch hands.
I don’t know how mother could maintain her work schedule so rigidly. She always figured to get the housework done by dinner time. After dishes were done, the small children would nap and mother, Afton and I would read or embroidery or do something else until time to start the evening meal. At the ranch those evening meals were really in the evening. The men didn’t figure on eating until nearly dark. I loved to read but I didn’t have the self control that mother had. I couldn’t put my book down when I had work to do. I used to stay in the toilet as long as I could get by with it and read. I would hide in the commissary, sleeping house or anyplace I could find with my book until mother would find me and get me on the ball.
One day mother went to Provo early in the morning and for some reason she took all the children, leaving me to do the work. Dad and Max rode away for the day and I was alone. I grabbed my new library book and a quilt and stretched out on the grass to read. I stayed right there until evening, moving only enough to avoid the sun. I was not able to lay that book down until I heard the sound of mother’s car coming up the canyon. I let it fly then and rushed into the house to start the fire to heat the dish water. The water wasn’t even hot when mother walked in. Wow! I was too big to beat but I got a good tongue lashing. Everyone had to go to bed in an unmade bed. Supper was good, after I got the dishes washed so we could eat, because mother would always bring something good from Provo.
When I was fourteen and fifteen years old, dad was doing very well, financially. That was the year he gave me the pretty watch I have, for Christmas. He, also, gave mother a watch for Christmas. I had a beautiful brown satin dress with a very long waist and a short flouncy skirt. I wore the corsage that is still in my cedar chest. Dad opened a checking account for me. Mother was furious. She didn’t believe in spoiling her children. I would write checks at school for candy and school lunch and really thought I was neat. No wonder I didn’t have much fun at school. That’s when I started to put on a little weight. I ate too many Fruit Paradise candy bars.
I started to school at the Lincoln High School as a freshman when Frank was a sophomore. We fooled around together quite a bit at school and out of school. He had been walking me home from church and had taken me to several dances at the high school during his freshman year. I really thought I was neat to go to the high school dances before I was in high school. Mother would only let me go if Clarence and Leah went with us.
When spring came and the Junior Prom was coming up, mother bought me that peach colored, beaded georgette dress that I still have. Frank wanted to double date with Ross Dix. He was taking Fay Allred. We had always gone with Leah and Clarence so mother didn’t ask how I was going. I got ready very early and when the boys swung into the drive-way, I dashed out, jumped in the car and we were off. I felt exotic in that beautiful dress and the night was a blast even though I had to dance nearly every dance with Frank.
Not long after the prom, Frank quit school and went to Wyoming with Horns to work on the Mickelson ranch. He stayed all summer and into the fall and never did write to me.
When it came time for school to start the next fall, I decided to go down to the BYU with Edith Slack. I didn’t want to go back to Lincoln without Frank there to have fun with so I changed. I didn’t have any fun down to the Y and I hated the gym class. I had to wait until four o’clock to take the class with a group of college girls and a few high schoolers. They spent most of the time dancing, especially, interpretive dancing. I just couldn’t stand it so I flunked out and lost my credit. I, also, took geography down there and was top student, receiving an A plus. When I returned to Lincoln the next fall they let me transfer my geography credit to the science and mathematics group because they didn’t teach geography at Lincoln. I didn’t have to take any more math and that is why I don’t know anything about it.
My last two years at Lincoln were not fun either. Frank didn’t ever go back to school and I was either too crazy about him or too loyal but I didn’t even talk to any other boys. I just went to school. Sometimes Frank took me to the high school dances and once in a while I went with someone else.
My grades were good. I made honorable mention a lot of times but never the honor roll. I never could get an A in Physical Education. I was chosen to march in the posture parade once, on the very front row, because I had a very good posture. When Miss Jensen got everyone lined up, she discovered she had only three girls of the same height on that front row. She said she was sorry, we couldn’t march. I went over on the side of the gym and sat down and cried.
In the spring of 1928, Frank went to work herding sheep for dad. He got down to the ranch as often as he could reasonable find an excuse. We didn’t get to go to town very often because he had to stay with the sheep. I remember going to town to see Raymon Navarro in Pagan Love Song and Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald in Rose Marie. Oh, what beautiful, romantic movies.
I graduated high school in May 1930. Dad sent Frank down to take me to graduation. He said they both couldn’t come. He was having heavy financial pressures by that time and he was worried and he didn’t act like he did a few years before. I felt real hurt that he didn’t come but May was lambing time and he really was busy.
I always loved the life at the ranch. There was a big barn, corral, and chicken coop. The coop was right against the corral fence. We used to sit on the roof of it to watch the excitement when dad brought the wild band in. We were safe there and we could watch the roping and snubbing from our grand stand seats. I remember the day they caught Billie. Fay Allred was visiting with me. He was a beautiful bay with a long, black tail and a very long, black curly mane on his arched neck. He always looked fat and his feet and legs bent, gracefully as he pranced, which he always did. He was hard to break. He had a habit of shying at the most unexpected things. Dad didn’t let Max ride him and he didn’t ride him himself. Some of the hired hands rode him and dad finally sent him to Goshen.
Then there was Lady. She was a beauty when they drove her in. She was a soft, light gray with very soft, darker dapples on the legs. I think Lady was Eldon’s horse more than anyone else’s.
By 1930, the wild band was a thing of the past. As I remember, Billie and Lady were the last ones broken. In my youth the wild band was wild. They stayed in South Fork the year around and wintered on the big, bear, south slopes just west and north or the Ercanbrack ranch. When I was a child, dad used to kill and strychnine some of the poorer horses they didn’t want to break. After the sheep left for the desert, he would leave the poisoned horses laying around the range so the coyotes would eat them and die. Coyotes killed many lambs in the spring when they were small. The poisoned coyote bait caused a lot of trouble with the sheep dogs. The herders and everyone else knew where the poisoned bait had been put out. They watched their dogs carefully. But every summer, a dog or two would find a poisoned bone that had been drug away from the carcass by some animal. Max and I watched our pets die several times when they had been on a ride with dad. In later years, the government sent in trappers during the summer to trap the coyotes. In time they ceased to be the great problem they were when I was a child.
When I had my horse, I rode the trails of South Fork a lot. One day, after Frank started to work for dad, I rode up Big Spring where he was camped to take him a birthday present. It was a book called Wyoming. I also took his picture. When I started home, I discovered I had stayed too long. I decided to go off the mountain right where the Big Spring is, instead of going around the trail. I was supposed to be home early or mother and dad would worry. I got part of the way down when Rex got caught in a patch of chaparell. He actually slid down the mountain on his haunches. The shrub grows down hill and is very slick and grows very thick. My horse could not turn around so he just kept sliding down, trying to get a footing whenever he could. We finally reached the bottom of the canyon. I was really scared. I learned about chaparell that day.
In 1930, just before the Fourth of July, Frank bought a snazzy, tan Chevrolet convertible with red seats. He didn’t make a date with me for the Fourth. I saw him with it at the parade and I was sure worried for fear he wasn’t going to come around. But after the parade, he came and got me. I can’t remember where we went, probably riding in the new car and to a show that night.
Later in the summer, Clarence and Anna were going to get married and they wanted Frank to take them to Alamosa, Colorado to see her family. I got to go, too, and we sure did have a fun trip. That was the first time I ever saw the Mesa Verde National Park.
The next winter, the convertible broke down, seriously, and Frank put it in a garage to get it fixed. He didn’t have a job then and couldn’t pay the repair bill so the garage kept it.
In 1930, I was asked to be secretary in the Primary. I worked for fifteen years in the Primary, either as a secretary teacher and counselor. They asked me to be president, once, but we didn’t have a car that I could drive nor a telephone so I didn’t think I could do a very good job in that capacity. They asked me to be second counselor.
In 1931, the depression was in full swing. Dad was in bad trouble and there wasn’t a job to be had anywhere, except on relief or government jobs. Frank was not married and his brother, Clarence, had a government job. For these two reasons he was not eligible to work on government jobs. He worked for dad in the summer.
In the winter of 1931, dad was able to wheedle thirteen days of work in the county assessor’s office for me. He knew Robert Elliott, the assessor. I bought a new black coat with a fur collar and a hat to match.
In the Spring of 1932, Frank went to the desert to help trail the sheep in. We were planning to get married. Frank got sick with a ruptured appendix while he was on the desert. He was very ill and almost died. It took him all summer and the next winter to get well enough to work again.
The summer of 1932, dad lost his sheep outfit through foreclosure by the Farmers and Merchants Bank. That fall and winter, things were very bad with all of us.
In the spring of 1933, Frank went to work for Ercanbrack for one dollar per day. He saved everything he made except enough to buy a pair of shoes and twenty dollars he gave me to buy bottles, sugar and fruit. We had decided to get married in the fall.
I worked picking strawberries and raspberries that summer. I bought a depression pink dress with a pink and green striped sash and a hat to match. I bought a table cloth and some dish towels for my trousseau and a pair of black shoes.
Frank quit working for Ercanbrack on Thanksgiving Day. We decided to set our wedding day for the twenty first of December.
Grandmother Foote had given me a quilt for my birthday and Aunt Valera had given me one for helping her when she was sick. Grandmother made me another quilt for a wedding present. Mother made me a dark green and white polka dot dress and three house dresses. That was all I had in my trousseau.
I wanted a reception and somehow mother and dad managed it. It was selfish of me but I had romantic ideas. I read too many romantic novels. Afton said my wedding spoiled Christmas for the family. Jess bought her a new black dress for Christmas and the wedding because she just didn’t have anything to wear. In spite of everyone’s desperate financial situation, our wedding was all I ever dreamed it would be. I was very happy.
Mother bought my dress for the reception. It was robin egg blue taffeta with a two tiered skirt, a sash and short puffed sleeves. Mother made my veil of plain net.
In those days, not all girls wore the same dress to be married in the Temple and at their reception. In fact, Anna and Clarence were going to the Temple with us and she told me that all I would need was a white nightgown. A couple of days before our marriage, Nellie Snow dropped in. Somehow it came up about what I was going to wear to the Temple. She was very indignant and said that I should wear a white dress. She offered to let me wear her Temple clothes. It was a pretty, fitted, linen dress that buttoned down the front and had lace around the collar and cuffs. I was certainly glad I had it because all the girls being married were wearing temple dresses or their fancy, white wedding gowns. They did not use rings in the ceremony. After we were dressed and sitting down to put our shoes on, Frank took my wedding band out of his pocket and put it on my finger.
After we got back to Clarence’s car and started down Main Street, Salt Lake City, Clarence said, “Do you want to go anywhere?” I said, “Yes, I want to go to the Dollar Store.” He parked by the curb and I jumped out and into the store and down to the bargain basement and bought me a pink, cotton, crinkle crepe nightgown because I didn’t have one. It cost one dollar.
Our wedding day was a very cold December day. We had to wrap up in heavy camp quilts in Clarence’s old car. Frank didn’t own one. When we returned from Salt Lake City that evening, mother served a lovely turkey dinner to our family and Frank’s.
Our reception was on the day after we were married. Leah and my brother, Max, stood with us. Mother and dad and Frank’s folks stood in the hall of the Pleasant View Church. Afton, Jess and Leah had decorated the amusement hall with crepe paper streamers. There was an orchestra and everyone danced. I think the refreshments were punch and cookies. While we were dancing, we heard some of Frank’s cousins talking about taking us for a shivaree. Frank said, “Let’s go home now and lock the door and not turn on the lights and they won’t know where we are.” I said , “All right, but let’s just dance by the gift table for a quick look first.” We danced around the hall again and barely stopped to look at the gifts and then on out into the hall. But it was too late. They caught us out on the sidewalk before we could get across the street to our home. They let me go home to change my dress. They told us if we didn’t come out they would break the door down. They would have done it. They made us ride around town on the trunk of a car and making a lot of noise. It was so very cold. I was freezing. One of the fellows gave me his coat to wear. We ended up down at Clyde and Erma Jacobsen’s where they served an oyster supper. We finally arrived home at three o’clock in the morning. I did not enjoy that evening after the reception.
Our first home was a small, three room, brick house which dad owned. It was located just south of the new home they would build later. We had painted it throughout and it looked nice but we didn’t have any furniture to put in it. There was a kitchen, bedroom, living room and a small room where a bathroom was supposed to be. There was a sink in the kitchen. Mother and dad sold us some of the furniture in the cabin in South Fork, a bedstead and dresser and a woodburning Majestic range. What god bread I baked in that range for the next thirteen years. We bought a new mattress and a table and two chairs. Leah gave us a small kitchen cupboard for a wedding present. Frank’s dad gave us a flour bin that had been his fathers. It was full of flour and beans. There wasn’t anything in the living room. Aunt Hazel and Uncle Dan had given us five dollars for a wedding present. We took it and bought an old china closet to put our fancy dishes in. Most of our wedding presents were dishes. There wasn’t any glass in the ends of the china closet so Frank took the windshields out of some old cars in his dads backyard and put in it. That china closet is now in the apartment serving as a bookcase. The dresser we bought from mother, is there, also. It had belonged to my grandmother Foote. It was the one with the flowers on the front. After we got our home fixed up, we had ninety five dollars to see us through the winter. It was ample. We spent a lot of time with our folks. We ate with them a lot. The Ashtons always had plenty to eat. It was the worst year, economically, for my parents during their complete married life. We were young, in love, without much money, no job, but we had a good house to live in and we were happy.
In March, Frank went back to herd sheep for Ercanbrack. He stayed on the desert until the first of May when they brought the sheep in. He said no matter what happened, he was not going to herd sheep so he quit.
When the berries came on he bought an old model T Ford coupe with the last twenty five dollars we had. He built a bed in the trunk that would hold twenty five or thirty cases of berries. That was his first truck. Grandpa would pick his berries, put them in cups and a crate which cost him twenty five cents. When they took them to a fruit stand that’s all they would offer him. Frank pedaled some out to Helper. I can’t remember whether he made any money or not.
I was picking raspberries on June 25, 1934, when they brought me word that my grandmother Foote had passed away. I felt so sad because she would not get to see my baby that was to be born in October.
The summer of 1934 was a very dry, hot one. One summer night it was so hot that Frank could not sleep so he got up and got out the old tin tub and took a bath to try and cool off.
It was so dry the canals started to dry up and there wasn’t water for the crops. Frank’s father was president of the canal company. They decided to drive a well up by Marrcrest and pump the water across the road and into the canal. Frank got the job of watching the operation so that nothing would go wrong with the pump. I went with him and we slept on the ground. They paid him five dollars a day but it only lasted a few days.
That first summer after we were married, Frank and I went up South Fork and stayed a few days at the ranch to put up dad’s hay. We helped dad whenever he needed it to help pay our rent. Dad took us up and we were to bring the hay back to Provo with the team and wagon with the hay on it. We got it all cut, raked, and loaded a load on the wagon ready to start for home. We were going down the lane above Ercanbracks by their corral when Frank let the horses take a little grade too fast. One of the wagon wheels hit a large boulder that was sticking out of the ground a little bit. It broke the axel and the hay tipped over. Frank knew enough to jump clear but I didn’t. I just rolled off the edge and the hay covered me up. I landed with my knees up under my chest and my head bent forward. I could not move at all for the hay was heavy on my back, even though I was near the edge of the pile. I could see a tiny bit of daylight and I was able to call out to Frank. He made a little more of a hole so I could breathe. Then he ran down to Ercanbrack’s ranch and found someone to come help him. They got a pole and stuck it under the hay and raised it up until I was able to crawl out. If I had been a few more inches under the hay, I would have suffocated before they could have gotten me out. We walked back to the ranch and stayed the night. I was terrified for fear I might have a miscarriage or something would happen to the baby. We made it through the night. Neither one of us can remember how we got back to Provo.
We were expecting Melvin to be born the last of October and we needed some money. Frank was tying to get a job with Grover Purvance on the state road crew in Provo Canyon. At night when it was time for Grover to be going home to Provo, Frank would stand out on the road and hail him to see if he would give him a job. He finally did give him three weeks work. We lived on it all winter.
Melvin was born on the 23 of October, 1934, at ten minutes past five in the afternoon. He was born at our home. We had a registered nurse come to stay for the delivery. Women stayed in bed for ten days at that time when they had a baby. Grandmother Foote had passed away in June and mother brought me her history to read while I was in bed. I read the name of Melvin Foote, uncle Eldred’s boy, immediately decided to name the baby, Melvin. He was a cute baby, weighing eight and a half pounds, and with a lot of dark brown hair. LaMar Ercanbrack came down to see him and said, “No fooling, this is the best looking newborn infant I have ever seen.” Clarence made a crib for Melvin.
While we still lived in dad’s house, Frank bought a model A Ford truck with which he did a little better trucking. In the spring time, he would get a few jobs custom plowing and grain planting. Once in a while he would get a job digging a basement with his dad’s team. Occasionally, grandpa would get him a few days work on the canal
During these first years, we managed to buy a refrigerator and a washer. For Christmas one year, Frank surprised me with a radio. We really enjoyed it. I listened to Betty and Bob for weeks waiting for the crisis episode. The day it happened, I wasn’t home and I never could find out what happened. I swore off soap operas until recently.
In August, 1936, we had a baby boy that was stillborn.
We found it increasingly difficult to pay our rent. Frank would work for dad when he could use him. We dug a cesspool, which was quite a big job. We fenced the yard and planted a lawn, trying to do what we could to improve the place in lieu of rent.
In 1938, Clarence, who had a job as Assistant County Agent, built a new house across the road from grandpa Ashton.
We decided to move into the old packing shed which Clarence had fixed up and where he had been living. I didn’t want to move but I knew we had to. It meant we would have a place to live that was rent free.
The packaging house was just a building with rough cement walls and a lumber roof. The rafters of the pitched roof just set on the walls allowing lot of cold to get in. The Beesley family had used it to pack and sort fruit when they owned the farm before grandpa Ashton owned it. It had two windows on the south and a large door on the east and west with double doors on the north. Clarence had filled in the east and west doors with a window and a smaller door He had put a partition across the middle of the building and enclosed the south half of the shed with celotex walls and ceiling. There was a wooden floor over the cement one. He had built a book case along the south wall, leaving room in the corner for a bed. The living area measured about eighteen by twenty feet.
I went up and cleaned the place from top to bottom. Frank moved us in and then he went to the pea factory with a load of peas for grandpa Ashton. He was gone most of the night. Melvin and I went to bed. It was a very warm, June night and I had to leave the doors open because the windows didn’t open. After a while, I heard a strange noise. I could not figure out what it was. It seemed to be moving around. I stood upon the bed and reached around in the dark for the string to pull the light on. I saw two large rats running along the bookcase toward me. I was terrified. I reached down beside the bed and grabbed my shoes and threw at them. They ran out into the kitchen. I jumped off the bed and closed the doors. I laid there in that very hot, sultry room, crying and feeling sorry for myself. When Frank came home and I told him about it, he just laughed.
We had to carry water in a fifty gallon barrel. I thought I really had convenience when Frank soldered a tap on the bottom of the barrel. Instead of dipping the water out, I just set the bucket under the tap, turned it and my bucket would fill.
I did not mind the inconvenience, too, much. I was used to it from living on the ranch. I didn’t mind the tiny little rooms without any storage. We didn’t have many clothes so a few hooks did the job. I was very relieved to have a place to live and not have to worry about rent.
I did mind the rats and mice. I was afraid to go into the other part of the building where we had to keep our refrigerator, the water barrel, the bottled fruit, and our wood and coal. I would knock on the door and make a lot of noise before I went out there. They would scurry away and hide and I wouldn’t see them. Frank kept traps set and we got some cats. Periodically, they would get into the house, especially in the fall.
Most of all, I minded the cold. The place just had a sheet of celotex to shut out the cold. We could not keep the stoves going through the night. The cold would freeze the quilts stiff from our breath upon them. We would let the kitchen stove go out in the evening so it would cool off. Then before we went to bed we would set a fire with kindling and coal ready to strike a match to it. In the morning, someone would hop out of the bed, light the fire and hop back to bed again until it warmed up.
We moved there in June of 1838. That fall we decided to put a partition across the longer, south room. Then we had a living room and a bedroom. We took out the bookcase because we were not book people and we needed the room it took. Afton found me an old couch down to DTR’s where she worked. It was one of those overstuffed, leather covered ones with a curved headrest on one end. It was an antique then. I wish I had it now. I covered it with a pretty floral material. I hung new curtains, painted and hung some wall paper on our mattress cover partition. It looked real pretty. We lived there from June, 1938, until December, 1944.
We had a lot of sickness during those years in the packing shed. Frank had pneumonia once. Just before Jean was born, I had been going to the doctor every other day for six weeks to have my head drained because I had such a bad infection in my sinus. Melvin had gathered ears several times and had to have them lanced. When Jean was two years old, she had a very bad case of tonsillitis. Afton called Doctor Cullimore to come out and tend to her. She was very sick.
Jean was born on February 19, 1939, at the Crane Maternity Home. She was born on a Sunday morning at seven o’clock and weighed seven and a half pounds. We were so happy to have a baby girl. I stayed at mother’s for a few weeks before I went back to the packing shed. When I went home I had a new platform rocker, the one Jean has now, only it looked better then.
The summer we moved to the packing shed, we had saved eighty dollars. We paid it down on a brand new GMC Pickup truck. We took the money in bills and silver to buy it. We were really proud of our first new car. Melvin always called it the jimmy C. Frank built an enclosed body on the back and he was able to handle the fruit better in it. He trucked a few berries, some melons and cantaloupes, tomatoes, peaches, etc.
The summer after Jean was born, we decided to farm up South Fork on dad’s place. Frank was buddying around with George Wagner. They decided to go together and raise meat chickens for the fall market. I think we brooded the little chicks in dad’s coops at Provo. When they were big enough, we moved them to South Fork. George and his wife, Julia, decided to move up there with us. We slept in the sleeping house and they slept in the cabin. One day we went to town. Julia and I had decided we wanted to paper the cabin because dirt kept blowing down out of the cracks, especially mice droppings. We were able to find some very cheap wallpaper that was on a close out sale. It was white with red roses and green leaves. We were all in the truck going up Center Street, on our way home. We had a flat bed on the truck and our baby buggy on it. Frank stepped on the gas a little heavy and the baby buggy rolled off the end of the truck and down the street. Frank told George to get out and get it but he wouldn’t. Frank wouldn’t get it either because everyone on the street was laughing and watching us. Finally, George got out and went after it.
Julia and I spent all the next day papering the cabin, ceiling and walls. When we went to bed that night, it was beautiful and so clean. When we got up in the morning the paper had dried and shrunk. It had spilt over every crack in the place. We were disappointed. We should have put cheese cloth over it first. George and Julia only stayed with us for a few weeks. His dad got him a job on construction with Morrison and Knudsen. He stayed with them until he retired a few years ago. He was going to get Frank a job but it didn’t materialize. George made more than Frank did on the chicken deal because Frank had to pay him for his share of what they had put into them.
We did not do well with the chickens. The hawks killed a lot of them. We let them range wherever they wanted to go. The hawks would just swoop down and bingo another one was gone. Frank was always shooting at them to try to scare them and try to kill them.
One day, he was gone and the hawks were especially bad. I decided to shoot at them. I got the shot gun and went out on the lawn to shoot. I had watched Frank but had never tried it myself. I cocked it and put my thumb and the hammer to pull it back. I didn’t have my hand on it right and I couldn’t get it clear back so I tried to let it go back in place. My thumb slipped off and the gun fired. I didn’t know it was going to happen and I had it pointed into the ground about a foot and a half from where Melvin was standing. I was terrified when I realized what might have happened. I have never shot a gun since.
One day when we were in the yard, we saw a deer running up the road above the cabin. Frank decided we needed some meat so he took his gun and started up the road after it. While he was gone a man came riding past the cabin from down the canyon. Melvin ran out to the road and said, “Hey, mister. Don’t make any noise cause my dad has gone to shoot a deer.” He was a government trapper and, luckily, Frank did not get the deer.
Frank worked the next winter over in Goshen digging up a mile of pipe and hauling it to Provo. Dad got it from the Goshen water works for almost nothing. The next summer, he and Elwood Conrad hauled it up Shingle Mill Canyon to pipe the water down from the spring to the farm. At last we were going to get some water down there. We were raising hay and potatoes on the bench. We had grandpa Ashton’s team up there. He had a new bay mare that was a beauty. Frank had some poison oats in a nose bag that he used to poison gophers. It was hanging in some oak brush inside the fence. Frank had tied the team to the gate post outside the fence. We were a little ways up in the potato patch, weeding, when we heard the fence squeak. That mare was mashing in the fence to get to that nose bag full of grain. Frank broke and ran, yelling at her all the time. But she got her nose into it before he reached her. We just didn’t know what to do with her. He waked her around and pretty soon she started to shake a little. He then decided she must have gotten a little of the grain. We decided to take her down the hill and load her into the truck to take her home.. We got her halfway into the truck and then she fell over dead. That was one of our worst days if not the worst. We sure hated to go down and tell grandpa. He felt bad but didn’t say much, which was like him. That summer was our last in South Fork. I didn’t know it then but I had slept my last time in the old sleeping house, among the maples and the quaking aspens. South Fork was never to be my home again.
Dad soon sold the ranch. The economic situation had started to pick up because of the war in Europe. Prices for farm produce was picking up. Frank decided to lease the John Beesley property (all of the Hill Ridge Heights area) and the Berry prune and cherry orchards. By this time, Frank had the full work load of his father’s farm because grandpa was unable to do it. Frank trucked a lot of the fruit. We usually sold the sweet cherries to a local contractor. We picked the sour ones for the cannery. We raised lots of tomatoes which required much work to plant them. Then they had to be weeded and cultivated and watered every eight days. We were very, very busy. We had our own three acres which we had bought from grandpa Ashton. On that we grew strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes. Frank tucked a lot of the early tomatoes. We had steady customers who would come to the farm and buy cherries, berries, and tomatoes. Sometimes we ran an ad in the paper and delivered around town. We took lots of berries and tomatoes down to Jack Booth who owned a small store across the street to the south of the old BYU Campus. We would charge groceries in the winter and pay for them with produce in the summer.
The Ashton family usually had several picnics and outings during the summer. Nearly always, I had to go and take our children and Frank had to stay home to take an irrigating turn or pick something. When Frank was gone, I had to milk and do chores. I used to take my babies in a buggy to the fields. Jean and Paul were very good. If you changed their diapers often and gave them a bottle when they needed it, they slept the rest of the time. Frank wheeled Jean in the hayfield while I got on the truck to tramp the hay.
We had to hire help to get the crops harvested. We had quite a few women who would come and pick and take berries for pay. But they only wanted to come a time or two. A Mrs. Taylor came to pick one day. When she came to the berry shed to put her berries in a crate she had been picking in a water bucket instead of a quart one. The berries were mashed into juice. Afton was a good, fast picker and she used to help us real often. Some kids who came to work were good workers and some were not.
One summer, two or three cars full of Oakies came into the area to do farm work. They were refugees from the dust bowl. They had an old man who was the leader and boss of them all. They worked real hard and all we had to do was pay their boss. He distributed the money as he saw fit. They were a sorry looking group of people. Their vehicles were rattle traps. Their clothes were dirty and ragged. They lived in a tent up at the mouth of the canyon. Grandma gave them food and things besides their pay.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was announced on radio on Sunday morning. We did not hear about it until after Sunday School. We all visited around discussing the tragedy. I listened to the radio up to Afton’s (she and Jess were renting Leah’s and Tony’s home). President Roosevelt called the Congress to convene and he went before them and declared war against Japan. I remember, so well, how he called it ‘a day of infamy’. We all went around sad, frightened, with a feeling of unreality. In our hearts we had the wondering fear of how it would affect each of us.
Vital materials were used for the war effort. Many things become scarce. We used to line up early before the stores opened so we could buy nylons and all kinds of fabrics. Kodak film became very scarce. Rationing became a way of life. We had ration books for sugar and gasoline. Jobs became available, although there were times of scarcity and privation. Certainly, there was privation for those who had to go to war.
The war ended before Franks number was called. They did it by age. Twenty one year olds were first to be drafted and so on. If men were in a job that was vital to the war effort, and they couldn’t be replaced, they received a deferment. My brother, Eldon, spent five and one half years in the service of his country. My sister, Nedra’s husband, Kay Snow, was drafted into the Navy. Frank’s sister, Lenora’s husband, Ferris Olson, was drafted into the Air Force. My brother, Max, had an agricultural deferment. Frank’s brother, Jess, had an industrial deferment. It was a terrible time. Many boys in our community of the age of my younger brothers, lost their lives in the war.
In February, 1942, Frank worked in the mines for a month. The twins were born while he was gone. I went to stay with Afton to take care of them.
Frank quit the mines to go to work as a truck driver on the airport construction. The war boom was on. Frank worked at a job and farmed too. One morning, very early, he took a load of peas he had loaded onto his truck the night before, to the pea factory. They broke down and he could not unload before he had to report for work. He phoned grandpa to come and take them. He had to drive the load to the airport where he worked. Before grandpa got there, the construction workers had pulled half his load off to eat fresh peas.
In the fall of 1942, Frank went up to Backus, to work on construction for one hundred dollars a week. It was too far to commute so he quit and went to work at Geneva on construction as a painter for Fuller Company. He almost got sent to the Army for quitting a government project.
While we still lived in the packing shed, Paul was born March 11, 1943, at the Utah Valley Hospital. Frank had started working for LaMar by then. The day Paul was born, he took Melvin to work with him and left Jean and me with Afton(she and Jess were living in dad and mother’s two front rooms because there was no place to rent). He had to deliver feed in Heber that day so he had a beautiful, blond, eight and a half pound baby boy by the time he returned home that night. Doctor Austin was the doctor. Paul was such a good-natured baby. I took him home from the hospital and never, ever had to feed him in the night. We stayed at mother’s for a week or two and dad could not get over how he slept.
By Frank working and farming, both, we were able to save enough money to begin planning on building a home. In the fall of 1943, we started to build our basement house. Frank’s cousins and friends all came to help pour the foundation. I helped his mother fix dinner for ten or eleven fellows. It was very cold and the water hose to take water down to our lot to mix the cement froze tight. Frank had to give up working on it until spring. The cement was only poured up to the ground level. It took us all spring, summer and fall to get it finished. Frank didn’t have much time to put into it with a job and the farming to do.
Bill Johnson helped us build the basement house and he was very good. We found someone who was remodeling and wanted to sell their kitchen cabinets, so we bought them. There was a drop-out bin for flour and sugar, a place with glass doors for the dishes and several other cupboards and a large sink. The counters were covered with deep blue linoleum with a red insert edging. The floor had blue and ivory marbleized linoleum. The walls in the kitchen were covered with white Walltex with blue and red designs. There was a large washroom and place to store our fruit. We had two large bedrooms with clothes closets, a bathroom with toilet, basin, shower and a large storage cupboard. The living room was about eighteen feet long with three nice windows. We had a nice space heater to warm it. We had lined all the walls with plaster board, so I hung a pretty embossed wall paper that was kind of a light grey with pale blue in it. The rug was dark blue that matched the kitchen. We just had our old couch, a round table, the china closet and some chairs but it looked beautiful. We still had our good old Majestic range in the kitchen. We took the reservoir off and put a hot water jacket in it to heat the water. What a luxury, running hot water. Melvin and Jean were excited. They vowed to shower every night but that didn’t last long. Truly, it was a palace or so it seemed to us.
We moved into our new home the first part of December. It was a cold and very rainy day. Frank layed a board sidewalk so the movers wouldn’t have to wade through the thick mud. Even so, the pretty new linoleum was covered with mud. I felt bad but I didn’t want to wait for the weather to change so move we did. We piled everything but the beds and furniture in the washroom. From there I took everything and put it away. It took me days.
Christmas Eve, 1944, came and we still had to put down the rug and decorate the Christmas tree. We were late for the Ashton Christmas Party and everyone was angry at us. Without a doubt, that was the happiest Christmas of my life. Our home was so big, so warm and so comfortable and convenient. We were very happy.
Soon after we moved into the basement house, Frank bought a one and a half ton used truck from his cousin. He had already sold the GMC and bought a larger truck from LaMar. But Frank still wanted a bigger one. It seemed like we were always buying a truck. Frank did well with the bigger truck and the price of farm products was good.
In the summer of 1945, the war ended. Eldon was at home, on furlough, after his return from Germany. He was to report for duty in the South Pacific. He was a happy mad when he heard that the Japanese had surrendered. In fact, everyone was very happy.
On October 23, 1947, Melvin’s birthday, Clyde was born at twenty minutes past five in the afternoon at the Utah Valley Hospital. He was almost thirteen years to the minute younger than his oldest brother. I had a pretty rough night the night before he was born but when morning came my pains had stopped. Frank decided it was a false alarm so he went hunting up Rock Canyon. When he returned that evening, he had a nine pound two ounce brown haired baby boy. He was big. Doctor Westwood called him a four square.
In 1949, after our crops were in, we had a few thousand dollars. I wanted to build the upstairs on our house. Frank talked to Garn Phillips and found we would need four thousand dollars in addition to our savings to finish it. Frank didn’t want to borrow the money. We had three boys and a girl in one bedroom and I felt it was time to have more room. We had been five years in the basement house. I think that was the only time I ever pressured Frank to do something he didn’t want to do. He borrowed the money and the finished the house after a fashion. A year went by before we got it painted, curtains at the windows or linoleum on the floor, but we lived in it anyway. We wanted to get the basement rented.
In the long run, I guess I was wrong because when Mr. Goates came along and wanted to buy an acre and a half, we quickly sold it to him to cover our mortgage. It wasn’t very long until the property was worth many times what we received. A few years later, we sold the rest of our ground except the lot our house was on, to Leila Edwards for three times what we had paid for it. She sold it in a few months and tripled her money. We knew how to work but we were not very smart.
Frank did a lot of trucking as long as he farmed. I went with him once. It was fun. Afton tended the children for us. I decided to go on a Sunday morning. We had to leave early Monday morning so I had to wash all the children’s clothes on Sunday. I was so embarrassed having to hang them on the line on Sunday.
On one of Franks trips he found a black and white English Setter which appeared to be lost. He brought it home and the kids named him Jack. He learned to jump up on the cab of the truck and ride around the neighborhood. The kids got a big kick out of it.
One day Frank bought an old touring car, the first one we ever had. Immediately, I decided to go to town shopping. I drove away in the car and as I turned the corner by Uncle Chuck’s I could hear old Jack barking. He was following me. I stopped, got out and threw rocks at him and told him to go back. He started back home and I drove on to town. I parked the car on first west between center and first north. I got out and walked down to center Street. Just as I turned the corner, I heard old Jack barking. He had followed me clear to town after all. I was horrified. I hurried and hid in the entry to Leven’s. It did no good. Old Jack found me. He was delighted. His loud, gutteral bark resounded up and down Center Street. I tried to tell him to shut up but he just kept expressing his delight at finding me by jumping and leaping in the air all around me and letting go with his loud bark at each jump. I was so embarrassed. Everyone was looking at us. I had to take old Jack back to the car, put him in the back seat and take him home.
When we first started renting, after we built the top on our home, Kenneth and Bonnie Christiansen (newlyweds) were our first tenants. They stayed three years and had a baby while with us. They were really nice kids. A few years ago Ken shot Bonnie and then killed himself. I have never found out what happened to them. After four or five years of renting to couples we changed to male students. We had some interesting fellows come along. Bones Pedersen, B. Y. U.’s star basketball center for several years, and his three brothers lived in our apartment for a long time. Ray Raymond, who is on T V for the Fish and Game Department, lived with the Pedersen brothers. There was Clyde’s pal, Daniel Whitmore and Ray Field, Carol Gleason’s husband.
When we moved to the new house, we had boys but after a while we changed to girls. Boys were too rough on the apartment and wouldn’t keep it clean. The girls I remember the most and the ones we became the closest to were the Rogers girls and Sarah Lee Flowers. We still hear from Sarah Lee. They were sweet, good girls. There was, also, Susie and Debbie (downstairs). Life was hard on them and for Susie it probably still is. The last I heard she had five children and they were not doing too well, financially. Debbie married well and seems very happy. We hear from her.
Many fine boys and girls have come and gone in our lives and to date, we have never lost one dollar in rent. This past year someone stole a table and some dishes when they moved from the apartment. It has been a good income for us but many times I have wished I could have had some basement room to use. You can’t have your cake and eat it.
For a number of years while Frank was farming and before he went to Geneva, he would work in the winter delivering feed for LaMar Ercanbrack. The work was very hard because he had to carry large bags of feed on his back. In Spetember, 1950, he went to work for the Geneva Steel in the Coke Plant. I think we kept farming and Hillridge Heights area for a year or two after that. Then we lost the lease. Not long after that Grandpa Ashton sold the farm to B. Y. U. Then Frank had only the cow to milk once a day. Jess milked her the other time. A little later we bought the lot where we live now form grandpa and grandma. We cleaned it up, burned down the old barn and got rid of the last cow. We were city slickers for the first time in our married life after spending twenty five years farming.
On the 17th of February, 1957, Grandma Nora Davis Ashton passed away suddenly on a Sunday morning. She was well and had been shopping the evening before.
On the 9th of May, 1957, Grandpa Ashton passed away after a gradual deterioration and many years of suffering from arthritis which had put him in a wheel chair for a number of years. He only had to live without grandma for a little over three months.
In June, 1957, we bought a new Dodge Station Wagon. With our family, we started for Warrington, Virginia to visit Melvin, Phyllis and Mike. Melvin was stationed at Vint Hills Farm with the Army. It was our first extensive trip and we all enjoyed it very much. Our trip is written up in detail in our travel scrapbook.
During the summer of 1957, I worked at the Ekins Packing Shed. In the summer of 1958, I worked at the cannery. I was too slow at the cannery and it bothered me a lot. I developed a severe pain and had to go to the doctor. He said my heart was involved and I had to go to the hospital for ten days. I went on a diet and lost forty pounds. Remember how I looked on our 25th anniversary? I still have that beautiful dress Frank bought me at the Gloria Shop for the very expensive price of seventeen dollars.
The only other time I ever worked away from home was when I worked for Kirk’s Drive-in. Mrs. Benson got me the job. I had to work late. One night when I was coming home from work about two o’clock in the morning. I had a flat tire on the old green Pontiac. It happened where Sambo’s is now. I couldn’t change it so I started to walk home. A man came along and offered me a ride. Foolishly, I got in his car but he brought me safely home. I decided I did not want to work any more. I went to work the next night with the intention of telling Mr. Kirk I wanted to quit. Before I got around to telling him he fired me. I was too slow for the trade.
In January, 1959, we decided to build a new home on the lot we had bought. I was in the hospital having had a hysterectomy. Kent Patten drew the house plans and Frank brought them to the hospital for me to approve because he was going on strike and wanted to get started building. In July Floyd Taylor came by and wanted to buy the old home for B. Y. U. We made a mistake in selling instead of building apartments as we had planned. It is hard to see into the future. We had been trained to stay out of debt by living through a devastating depression. We had seen my parents lose their beautiful ranch and their livelihood. We had watched Frank’s parents struggling to pay for their property. It seemed like an opportunity for us to stay out of debt instead of carrying two mortgages. We felt secure and relieved in having our home paid for instead of mortgaged. Not everyone has keen insight into the future. It would have been better for you children if we had kept our property longer. We never did sell anything that we did not double our money. It seemed right at the time.
We had a few problems while building. Mike fell through the hole for the fireplace chimney and we thought he was dead. The garage roof nearly caved in before we discovered its precarious position. I picked out blue shingles and had a slight heart attack when I saw them on the roof. They were brilliant. We had ordered adhesive shingles and they were not adhesive so we made them take them back and we got white ones. The cement man poured the basement floor on a very warm day and it set up so fast he and his ten year old son could not get it smoothed out in time. Every corner of the floor is high. We finished the apartment first so we could get the rent when school started. We moved in for Christmas.
In 1962 Aunt Net passed away, I knew she had some correspondence from Wales. I asked dad if I could go through her things and look for it. He gave me permission and Frank and I went down and began a search. We did not find anything in her living quarters so we went to the back room where it appeared she had piled everything she did not need. There were boxes of nails, chains, tools, boxes of books, etc. It took us a couple of days. One afternoon Frank was going through a box of magazines. He said, “Do you want this old purse”? I looked and said, “Yes, that is the purse my grandmother used to open to get me a nickel whenever I went to Goshen”. He threw it to me and when I opened it there were the five letters which started a very rewarding and interesting genealogical research activity.
I wrote three letters and sent them to the return addresses that were on those old letters. Some of them had been written in 1856. They were to my grandfather, Rufus Lewis, from his parents and brothers and sisters. Copies of the letters are in the Lewis histories I wrote. I received one answer from Johnny Jones, who was of the third generation living at Bryncoch, the home of Anne Lewis Jones, a sister to my grandfather, Rufus. At the same time Leah and Tony were on a Mission to England. I wrote to tell them of my letters. One day when they were rather close to Llandovery, Leah went there and found Herbert Lewis. Johnny and Herbert gave me bounteous information on the Lewis family in Wales. If anyone is ever interested, the correspondence is in my files.
I became intensely interested in genealogy. So much so that I took two classes in English Research at B. Y. U. I have three hours of credit and a student number at Brigham Young University. I needed to learn how to do the research.
The Foote family insisted that I become the family genealogist. It is through working for them that I can say that I have sure Testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They asked me to go to work on the James line. The Genealogical Society had been working on it off and on for twenty years. I set to work on the project and after many weeks of searching, I had not found the long sought, christening of Charles James. In reviewing my research, I found I had not searched the very small perish of Nash. I went to the card catalog to obtain the film number of that parish but it was not there. Since Nash was next to the parish of Goldcliff, the ancestral home of Charles James, I knew it had to be searched. Since the record was not available to me in the library at Salt Lake City, I would have to send to the parish of Nash in Wales and ask the Vicar to search it for me. I put away the card drawer and started across the room to get a book which would give me the address of the Vicar of Nash. My thoughts were busy with the problem of getting him to make the search. Just before I reached the other side of the room something interrupted my thoughts, completely. Into my mind came this thought, “The records of Nash are here but they are not catalogued”. My heart began to pound in my chest until I could hardly make my way back to the card catalog. I pulled the N drawer, all the time shaking so hard I could hardly turn the cards. I found the number of the film where the records of Nash should be. I put the drawer away and started downstairs to the film room. I was still shaking, my head was pounding and my face was so hot. As I moved down the stairs to the film room, I knew without a doubt in my mind that I was going to find the christening of Charles James. I obtained the film, put it on and turned to the year, 1782, and there it was. I know that I received inspiration and direction that day, apart from my own thinking and reasoning. After all, a researcher assumes a record is not available if it is not in the card catalog. That much sought record had been in the library all those twenty years that the Genealogical Society had had their top researchers working for the Foote family.
With the christening record of Charles James, I was able to extend the James line back two more generations. In all, I sent two hundred and fifty James names to the Temples. When they were processed at the Genealogical Society and returned it to me, I found that only one name of the two hundred and fifty names had been sent to the Temple, previously. This is very unusual when the records have been in the library for many years. I received a certificate from the Genealogical Society stating that the records I had submitted were so well prepared that they were able to process them faster than usual. I have never received a note like that since. Someone was very anxious to have their temple work done. My experience in genealogy has given me a testimony that our Father in Heaven can and will direct us when we do his work.
On April 14, 1964, I went to my parents home to get my dad and take him to the doctor for an eye examination. I walked into the house and mother was sitting in her chair. I asked her where dad was and she said he must have gotten up early and gone to Goshen. I knew, immediately, that something was wrong. Dad had not been going to Goshen for some time. I went to his bedroom. There he lay with his hand tucked under his cheek. He had passed away, some hours before, while he slept.
Mother had a hard time for the next year without dad. Her health was poor and she was lonely. She went into a coma on the morning of May, 8, 1965. Later in the day she passed away.
On Christmas morning, 1966, when I opened my present from Frank, I found a small Pan
Am Flight Bag. It contained a receipt for the down payment on the B. Y. U. Genealogical Tour to England. It was one of the nicest presents I ever received and so exciting. That trip to England and the years I have spent in genealogical research have been one of the highlights of my later life. I left for England late in July, 1967. I was scared to fly. A lady gave me a tranquilizer and I made it fine. Many lovely things happen to me on the trip, some not so lovely. I will never forget it and I will always be grateful to Frank for taking the step that got me started.
In February, 1972, Frank retired from Geneva Steel Co. He bought a new camper and truck and took off for the southland with Herm and Edna. We have travelled with them a lot, to Strawberry and Flaming Gorge to fish and all over the Wester States just camping and sight seeing. We have had two long trips with Leah, Tony, Clarence and Anna. One along the Mormon Trail to Washington D. C. and one to Florida. The past summer, we had a good trip to Northern Canada with LaMar and Marian. We are looking forward to many more if our health holds out. We went to Hawaii with Leon and Dorothy which we really enjoyed. Of all the places I have been in my travels, I enjoyed the Butchart Gardens the most. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been. Frank says he does not like to take me there because I always want to come home and make a Butchart Garden out of my back yard, but I think those gardening days are over. The hardest part of growing old is not being able to do the things you love to do.
If I live to be eighty, I will probably add some more to this history of our lives. We want to tell you, our children, how much we love you and how proud we are of the good lives you live. We are proud of your ambition, your honesty and integrity and your church activity. We are grateful for the devotion, concern and love you show for us.