Pearl Vivette Sanders Black by Evetta Sue Averett
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
For Samantha Pearl Averett
A Short Life History of her Great Grandmother, Pearl Vivette Sanders Black
I am sad, Samantha, that you will never know your Great Grandmother Pearl Vivette Sanders Black in this life. I only hope that someday we will all be together again when we are united as a family forever. Until that time comes, however, you should know something of my mother as you were partially named for her.
Mother (and I always called her Mother not mommy or mom) was born on February 24, 1903 in the small town of Otto in northern Wyoming's Big Horn Basin, according to her written history, "in a one-room log house with a dirt roof." Her parents were Frank Edmond Sanders and Eva Amanda Gribble Sanders O'Dell Hyde. ( I always got a kick out of saying all of my Grandma's names.) She and Mr. Sanders (as she called him) had 11 children, six girls and five boys. My mother, Pearl, was the third child—just as you are—but unlike you, she was the third girl. All of her five brothers and four sisters were younger than she was. Grandma Sanders married two more times after Frank Sanders died in 1925 and she had another baby girl, Oleta, after marrying Mr. O'Dell whom she divorced in 1945. She married William A. Hyde that same year.
When I think of my mother, I remember her as a simple yet complex person. Simple in that she never wanted to be anything but what she was—a wife, a mother, a teacher. Complex because even now, I don't feel like I really knew her. She was born so close to the Victorian era when all emotion was kept locked away inside. Maybe that's why, as I look back, I can't recall her ever being angry, sad or happy. Neither was she able to show her love, but we knew she loved us because she was always there in our home to take care of us.
My mother was a smart woman. She started school at the age of four and graduated from high school in Basin, Wyoming at the age of 17. That year in the spring of 1920, she received the scholarship to the University of Wyoming. A few weeks later she borrowed money to attend the summer term at Laramie and at the end of the term she received a class C Teaching Certificate. In the fall, she taught school in Otto at the ripe old age of 17. I remember her telling me that she taught some of her own brothers, sisters and cousins and some students who were older than she was!
Mother was also pretty. Her mother, Eva, had dark hair and very dark brown eyes. In contrast, her father, whose family came from Denmark, was fair-haired with blue or green eyes and a light complexion. I never saw my grandfather as he died before I was born, but I know he was quite a handsome man. Together they had very good-looking children. Three of the boys had thick brown curly hair and brown eyes. The other two were lighter like their father. The girls were a mixture of both. My mother had dark hair and green eyes. Her nose was straight with a little flare at the bottom like her father's. Your sister, Jaylynn, has a nose like mother's.
My mother, Pearl, taught school in Otto until she was 21 when she and Dad, Volney Black, were married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 2, 1924. She was teaching school at the time, but women were not expected to work after they married so she finished the year and mostly substitute taught after that. In the fall of 1925 Mother went back to school in Laramie while Dad stayed home in Cowley, Wyoming to finish high school. He dropped out earlier so he could work and help send his brother, Clinton Black, on a two-year LDS mission to South Africa. Later, Mother graduated from the University of Wyoming with a two-year "Normal" degree and a lifetime teaching certificate.
In 1926, Dad "hired out" on the Union Pacific Railroad in Laramie. Dad continued on the railroad during the busy season and farmed at Cowley in the summertime. Both my sisters, Joyce and Velna, were born in Cowley. In the spring of 1936, Dad had enough seniority that he was permanently hired by the railroad and my parents moved to Laramie where my brother Franklin Sanders was born that same year and I was born in 1938. My sister, Bethel, was born the last day of 1947 when mother was almost 45 years old. We loved her so much, she was and is such a blessing to all of us. I was nine years old and very happy to have a baby sister. My oldest sister, Joyce, died in 1970 from breast cancer leaving her family of six children from ages 3 to 17, besides her husband Phil Reasch.
Mother went back to teaching in 1960 and retired in 1966 after five years. She taught at the Harmony School, 18 miles west of Laramie. She was diagnosed with diabetes in 1965 and lost the extra weight she suffered with all her married life. Her health was never as good after that. Dad worked for the Union Pacific Railroad until his retirement on the last day of January in 1971—a lifetime of almost 45 years. After Dad retired, he and Mother wintered in Arizona where they danced and enjoyed the company of friends which they hadn't been able to do in Laramie because Dad never had a regular schedule on the railroad. They moved to Orem, Utah in 1975 where Mother died in 1980 of heart failure complicated by her diabetes. She was 77 years old.
When I think of my Mother, I think of serving others. In Laramie, the Church was small and she was president and counselor of every organization at one time or another. She served her family too. My brother and I delivered newspapers and she got up every morning to fold the papers before she woke us up. During World War II, homeless men came to our back door asking for food. She always gave them something to eat. She was an excellent cook. She made bread, rolls, pies, scones, and homemade chicken and noodles, but her Sunday roasts with carrots and potatoes were legendary. It seems like we always had someone eating with us. She fed missionaries and college students on a regular basis. I learned to give service from her and to be a mother who cared for her home and children.
She was careful in her grooming and liked to wear nice clothes. In the 1940's she wore hats as most men and women did then. For years she sold Ex-Cel-Sis cosmetics which was manufactured in Salt Lake City. She never really made much money selling it but gave it generously to all her family and friends. She took care of her own skin which was soft and nice until the day she died. I learned good grooming from her.
She liked to read poetry. Dad gave her a book of Best Loved Poems and I remember her reading those poems to me as a child. I learned to love poetry from her.
As I reflect back and try to remember my mother, so many memories filter through my mind. One thing I know—I will only have one mother. And, no matter what, Pearl Vivette Sanders Black was the most important influence in my life until I married Grandpa Wally.
Little Sammie, I know you won't be able to read and understand this short history of my mother for a long time. Only when you become a mother yourself will you understand what having a loving and caring mother means to a child. I hope you have loved and respected your mother. Always listen to her—she loves you and Charlie and Jaylynn more than anything in this world. She only wants what is best for you. Hold her love in your heart and never let it go.
Written for my precious granddaughter Samantha Pearl Averett
With all my love, your grandmother, Evetta Sue Black Averett
December 4, 1994
Dad Volney died June 12, 2000, one month short of his 98th birthday, in Orem, Utah. Both he and mother are buried in the Orem City Cemetery.