Autobiography of Florence Elaine Carlisle
Contributor: Bevgen Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Autobiography of Florence Elaine Nicholes Carlisle
My children have been coaxing, prodding, coercing, and scolding me for many seasons to elaborate on (or I would say write a thumbnail sketch about) my life. My recollections draw me to the conclusion that I’ve had a good life, being greatly blessed, but I have made no spectacular accomplishments. But maybe it should be reported or recorded so that my posterity may benefit by my mistakes. After having the privilege of sojourning this beautiful earth for over 80 years, I’ve been recently more prompted and compelled to record my experiences in this pursuit and journey. I previously mentioned that I’ve made no “earthshaking” accomplishments, but I suppose that the greatest is the bearing and rearing of five righteous, caring children.
So I will begin, feeling much like Nephi of old, that I too was born of “goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father (and mother) and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yes, having a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceeding in my days.” I think I must have been quite a shock to my parents, being born over ten years after my youngest brother, to Sidney Wing Nicholes and Grace Clark Nicholes on May 18, 1923, at home in an adobe house at 336 West Main Street in American Fork, Utah County, Utah. That’s the most I know about my birth, other than that in those days, most babies were born at home, and the moms were confined to bed for ten days or two weeks. I suppose I was quite a novelty — especially to my two older brothers, Eldred and DeVerel, who were respectively twelve and ten years older than I. As I grew up, I was teased and called nicknames — “Toothless Jenny” and “Tash” — names for the veritable baby sister.
I had the opportunity to live in a small (mainly farming and livestock) community, since my father was a sheep rancher, with grandparents (my father’s parents), uncles, aunts, and cousins living within a block’s radius; thus I became very close and attached to them — deep roots. Many choice memories are too innumerable to recall, but I’ll make a brave attempt. As if it were yesterday, my fond recollections of spending many summers (from the age of 5 or 6 until I was a teenager) in the High Uintah Mountains (east of Strawberry Lake) with my parents, where Father had forest rights to summer graze his flock of sheep. At the outset and for many years, there were no roads provided by the Forest Service. Dad would drive his truck to the end of a drivable road, and we’d be met on a designated day and hour by a string of pack and riding horses brought by a herder to transport mother, dad, and myself, along with our food provisions, to a remote area where the sheep were grazing. Our shelter during the early years consisted of one or two small tents, which provided our sleeping, eating, and recreational accommodations. One would become somewhat frightened when the coyotes would howl at night, causing the dogs to bark and causing the hobbled horses to begin to nay and clang their hobbles. As I reflect now, these were spectacular summer vacations (in a child’s eyes), but for a father, a means of a vocation and livelihood. I never will forget the aroma of the lamb chops, the sourdough bread, and huge pancakes. And sleeping was something else. Our beds were prepared by father from pine boughs. Within ten days, one would find a pitch to fit for comfort when it became necessary to move camp to follow the sheep’s grazing. These are wonderful, nostalgic memories.
From when I was a small child, I still carry the scar on my left wrist where either a Dr. Linebaugh or a Dr. Grua from Pleasant Grove (the neighboring community) stitched a cut after I fell on a glass “cupie” doll. This minor surgery was performed on the kitchen table with no anesthetic. Another remembrance of my childhood: I was a very “sickly” child, having attacks of swollen glands, sore throats, bronchitis and on and on. I was the famous “Vick’s Tent” kid — spending many hours with a “Rex” lard can filled with hot water, Vick’s Vapor Rub, and a towel covering to make a tent—thus breathing the fumes to alleviate the illnesses. If my father was at home (which was rare), he would take a quart bottle to the Briggs Pharmacy where it was filled with a malted milk or milk shake. I don’t know how good it was for me physically, but was a great morale-booster and treat. (At the time the only available medications were aspirin, bromequinine along with mercurochrome, and iodine for cuts, plus turpentine and bread and milk poultices, Epsom salts, mustard plasters, and the reliable Vick’s tents. The first antibiotic was Sulfa, which was available in 1941).
Sickness seemed to be an ongoing saga during my early years. When I was 12 years of age, on October 12, 1935, (Columbus Day), I contracted Scarlet Fever. Since my mother was home alone with me (Dad was away with his sheep business), and had never had the “Fever,” the good old Dr. Noyes advised her to blow mashed aspirin onto my flaming, red, raging sore throat. While accomplishing this feat, she masked her face with a towel. (As previously mentioned, there were no antibiotics available until 1941. Penicillin, in particular, would have been effective on this communicable disease). Being so ill with a high fever and the violent sore throat, I could only consume liquids and a minimal amount of food. This raged on for over a week; then, because of my high temperature, my skin started to shed “like a snake.” (Mother had me place the scales in an envelope and seal it). I remember so vividly during this illness about when my father came home. He had a habit of quietly opening the back door, placing his suitcase behind the door, and then knocking. When Mother answered the door and finding he had put his suitcase inside, she backed him to the hedge wearing her white mask. (In those days, if a house had a communicable disease, the entire house was quarantined with a large sign placed in the front window indicating the type of disease, and no one could enter or depart). Father had not seen it, so he stayed with his brother, Howard, and Howard’s wife and family. I also recall at that particular time that the drain backed up in the basement, so Father had to slip in the back door to enter the basement to clean it. Oh, what a traumatic time! I fully recovered, and Mother didn’t catch the “dreaded awfuls” – a miracle. If I remember correctly, the house had to be fumigated to disinfect it with a formaldehyde candle.
My ongoing illness saga continued to the following spring (May, 1936). During the previous several years, I had been plagued with painful attacks of appendicitis. This battering of pain and anxiety culminated then when a young Dr. Ken Noyes determined that it was advisable to remove that pesky body part. His decision was very wise, at it ruptured in his hand during the surgery. The recovery was very arduous and of long duration, as I was hospitalized for ten days and wore a bandage most of the summer. (I was fortunate. If it had ruptured before being removed, I would have been in the hospital for seven weeks with drain tubes—if I lived). I might mention, at the outset of this experience, again Mother was alone. Father had to be paged at the Fairfield shearing corral to return home. Our Stake President and banker, Clifford E. Young, came to our rescue—giving me a special blessing of healing (which gave me a feeling of great calmness and assurance that all would be well) and taxiing us to the old Lehi Hospital.
During my childhood, another traumatic happening was the burning of my Grandfather and Grandmother Nicholes’ barn and outside buildings, their Willis Knight car, and the scorching of some of the horses, on a hot July 4th. This incident was very devastating to my dear grandparents. In fact, Grandfather never purchased another touring car—always commuting in a truck. This does lead to a fond remembrance: When Grandfather had business to attend to in either Heber City or Salt Lake, he was too embarrassed to travel in his truck. So I would spy him walking up the street all “polished and shined” in his only gray pin-striped suit to ask my mother: “Grace, if I would gas your car, would you drive me to …(either one of the above destinations)?” Of course, we were thrilled to death because it always culminated in a nice ride and dinner, which was minimal in those days. Also, I remember other occasions when we could travel with my father to Salt Lake. He was desirous of meeting Mother and me at the sheepmens’ Cullen Hotel on Second South, between Main Street and West Temple, which was undesirable to Mother. She preferred to meet at the more fashionable Hotel Utah.
Trauma struck again about 1933 when the Great Depression made its forcible impact after the stock market on Wall Street in New York crashed in 1929. I recall so vividly, as though it were yesterday, that my Uncle Foster Nicholes came to the top of our basement stairs while Mother was washing and announced: “Grace, the banks have closed.” That eventually meant that there was no financial backing for Father’s business, along with many other sheep ranchers in the area. It was a devastating time of great worries and concerns for my parents – being constantly in debt and operating “in the red.” During that period of time and for years afterward, the State of Utah operated the bank until laws could be passed and the banks reopened. Money was very scarce during those “growing-up” years. I remember one incident so indelibly: During those several ensuing months, Mother and Father were required to “charge” their groceries for the business and home. The local grocer, John Robinson, and butcher, Ren Halliday, were kind enough to allow them to do so. In order to pay this outstanding bill, my parents found it necessary to cash in an insurance policy. When Mother and Father repaid their grocery bill, these gentlemen indicated they were going to frame the $100.00 “greenback” bill – they had never seen one.
Other Precious Childhood Memories:
1. The pinto pony which Father kept at home in order that I could ride it bareback during the spring with my two neighbor friends, Chloe and Margaret Priday – packing our lunch on Saturday morning and riding to the Mill Pond and home via the garbage dump road.
2. Usually, on the Saturday mornings prior to Easter Sundays, my group of friends and I would pack breakfast and lunch, and hike to Alpine. Upon our return, being sunburned and tired, we’d accept a ride from any of the local drivers (expecting a sound scolding from our moms for being so burnt).
3. Christmas was a very special time. Gifts were minimal, but the memory of the early 6:00 A.M. pageant on Christmas morning was unforgettable at the large, quaint Tabernacle on Main Street – depicting the birth of Jesus. Afterwards, we would visit our friends’ homes en route home, requiring until about noontime.
4. With reference to Christmas, I never will forget when I was asked to portray Mary in a ward pageant. I had been so frightened during rehearsals that I couldn’t remember my lines. But on the night of the performance, after a word of prayer, a certain peace, calmness, and tranquility permeated my being to the degree that I was able to perform (without shaking) and speak my lines letter-perfectly.
As a child in the elementary grades, and even in junior high, I was very timid. In fact, I remember remaining in the restroom arranging and pinning my hair in a roll across the back for the entire lunch hour. A teacher by the name of Rulon Brimhall assisted in helping to remove this timidity. By lining the girls on one side and the boys on the other, he would force us to dance with a “per chance” partner while he played his accordion. I remember how frightened I was of him with his fierce, piercing eyes (I think he was half Native American Indian), so we danced with a partner who caught us at our chin (?) stepping on one another’s toes.
Onto high school, I became more social. Being blessed with dear childhood friends and “growing up” friends, it became somewhat easier to become more outgoing. In our 7th Ward, my closest “buddies” were Betty Houston McTague and Nina Sykes Hansen – and others. We attended Mutual (now Young Women) with Vivian Green Reimschiissel, Mildred Richards Dyer, Beth Ann Allen, Hillien Ruth Birch Brooks. I specifically remember one Mutual night, we all jumped out the window, leaving our teacher, Mrs. Ellison, to an empty room. Yes, high school was easier socially—belonging to the Pep Club, the Beethoven Club, the National Honor Society, and literary editor of the yearbook (during senior year), and working an hour each day with my good friend, Howard Gordon, in LaVere Wadley’s business department. One of my highlights as a senior was when Mary Basinger, our Physical Education teacher, asked me to carry the American flag in front of the posture parade competition (replaced now by drill teams). My mother and Gordon Hawkins’ mother made me a beautiful sleek satin pair of pants, along with a shimmering long-sleeved satin blouse. Guess what? On the big day, the occasion was cancelled because of an untimely late May snow storm. Much disappointment.
Yes, there were a few dates and boyfriends – mainly Johnny Walker, a girl’s day date – Glen Barratt, Gordie Hawkins, and I think Ralph Binnall (who I hit over the head once with a book), and a darling boy from Lehi, Howard Brown. (The American Fork boys were very upset when we gals would date the boys from the neighboring community and high school, Lehi). They (the Lehi boys) were more fun and better looking than the A.F. boys – Keith Eddington, Emory Jones, Dwaine Evans, Grant Ash, including Howard Brown. Of course, Johnny was more persistent, which lasted to our engagement for a year and three months prior to our graduation from the “Y,” when we broke up. Another special happening while I was in high school occurred when I was nominated from our 7th Ward as the Gold and Green Ball queen – a great thrill. Mother purchased me a lovely net-aqua formal with matching lace covering the bodice.
In March, 1941, prior to high school graduation in May, I developed a malady which appeared to be the flu, but was later diagnosed as “Yellow Jaundice,” which is now known as hepatitis A. I was truly ill, looking like a yellow wasp – even to the whites of my eyes! Since I was absent from school over three weeks, I was fearful that I would not graduate. I was administered the first sulfa antibiotic, which caused me to vomit for a week. I was threatened with hospitalization – they were fearful of dehydration – when the doctor decided to remove the antibiotic. Then I started to recover slowly and returned to school a week early, against the doctor’s orders. I did graduate.
It was a great time – attending seminary and high school graduation. I can still remember my lovely outfits: For seminary, a British tan and beige dress with a beige cape and large floppy hat, and my high school formal was elegant (a white flowing skirt with a bodice insert of black lace dropping off the shoulder). We marched down the aisle of the Tabernacle. I never arrived home that night (or morning) until it was breaking daylight – about 4:00 a.m. We had really splurged by driving to Salt Lake and having dinner at the Coon Chicken Inn on Highland Drive in Salt Lake.
My Brigham Young University Days:
Upon high school graduation, I had such a great desire to attend college that I went to my father, asking if he could help me financially. (my dear friends – Betty Houston, Nina Sykes, and Mildred Richards were going to the University of Utah). He said he’d try. (This was a period of time when we were still in the depths of the Great Depression – the summer and autumn of 1941. If I remember correctly, there were no A.C.T. or entrance exams, so I was accepted to enter B.Y.U. autumn quarter of 1941 at the cost of $87.50 for three quarters (autumn, winter, and spring). With this decision materializing, the problem arose regarding housing. There was one apartment vacancy with acquaintances from my home town, American Fork – three “greenie” freshmen – Barbara Taylor (a high school classmate), Rosemary Spears from Missouri, and myself – six in all living in a crowded upstairs apartment at “Jackson Heights,” across from what was known then as “Lower Campus.” With all the expectations of a “freshie” – matinee dances, dates, new friends, and rushing to the social units—that bubble was quickly burst when the Japanese dropped a bomb on Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, thus causing our entry into World War II. There was a dismal gloom which permeated the campus when we returned after Christmas and started winter quarter – January 1942. In order to continue school the remaining portion of the year, the young men were required to “sign up” in military units – the graduating seniors could join the Navy and be commissioned as officers, Ensigns; other could join the Air Force or Army, being inducted at the conclusion of Spring Quarter. Campus life was never the same, with rushed engagements and marriages and good-byes and train stations. The expectations and experiences of college life completely disintegrated.
Then there was rush time at the beginning of Winter Quarter, 1942, to the social units on campus. What an eye-opener and a horrendous experience! I followed my heart and pledged Val Norn, while my upper classmen roommates were Cesta Tie (along with my two freshmen roomies). Needless to say, I was ostracized and ignored, and my name was removed from our apartment door. Being completely shattered, I gathered my belongings, and moved home on the weekend and started to commute with acquaintances from American Fork.
Life at the “Y” after freshmen year was much like attending an exclusive girls’ school, with the exception of 4-F male students (who, because of physical disabilities, did not qualify for military service), some Japanese sent from California, and eventually some military contingents attending school in uniform. Aside from classes, I not only availed myself of joining the social unit, Val Norn, but also: Y Calcares (an honorary sophomore organization), Phi Chi Theta (a business sorority – being elected President my senior year), Associated Women’s’ secretary as a junior, and a White Key (an honorary scholastic upper classman organization). Since I was very interested in business, I decided to pursue this line as my major – Secretarial Science, along with a secondary teaching certificate, and a minor in accounting and English. After filling my undergrad groups, the class schedule involved many, many shorthand classes, accounting, statistics (60 hours for a major) and 60 hours in education classes for a teaching certificate.
During these 4 years, I made many lifetime friends – Joy Swalberg Barber, Elizabeth (Buffy) Sanders Sullivan (deceased), Doressa Paxman Child, Bonnie Saville Evans, Blanche Bowen Miles, Anna Stuki Wakefield, to name a few. (Note: these gals, along with others of our Val Norn social unit, still meet 4 times a year, after 60 years – unbelievable!).
Yes, there were heartbreaks, tears, laughter, joys, and happiness, in spite of the War conditions. I was engaged to my high school sweetheart, Johnny Walker, from 1944 through 1945 (and “pinned” previously), when he was medically discharged from the military service because of asthma. But this disintegrated prior to graduation in June of 1945 when I returned his diamond after Valentine’s Day of the same year. Needless to say, I had to “gather up the pieces,” so to speak, and was heartbroken, as we had planned to be married prior to his attending Stanford University at Palo Alto, California, to obtain his M.B.A. I graduated with high honors (at that time) -- summa cum laude. Since I was so tired of school, my former accounting professor, Weldon Taylor (who had taken sabbatical leave from the “Y” during the War to work for the Utah State Office of Price Administration), encouraged me to take a Civil Service examination to work for the Government (which I did). This opened up an entirely new dimension to my life – working at the State Office of Price Administration, moving to Salt Lake City (living at the Beehive House for 10 months), and continually dating dozens of returning servicemen. After moving from the ‘Hive, I moved to the Castle Heights Apartments, at 141 1st Avenue, with one unknown roommate, Pat Bennett, and Lucille Olsen. After they moved, I inherited many more: Lois Beth Orchard, Rose Taylor, Pat Critchlow, Anita Hyatt, Alma Hobson, and a “Brown” girl.
The War ended on August 7, 1945, so many young men were returning home – continual “line-ups” from professors and friends. This involved dating, which we had never had the opportunity to do in college – a great time. Many fine, brilliant young men. I especially remember one Bonnie Evans was instrumental in lining me with – a Vic Halling. He was a dream of any girl. Other dates included Dale Degraff, Sam Sorenson, Knute Petersen, Sterling Bench and many others.
It was not until May of 1948 that I met my future husband, Rex Carlisle, on a blind date, set up by Lois Beth Orchard, a roommate previously mentioned. After a whirlwind-like, fun, romantic summer of dating, movies, picnics, he finally popped the question in a round-about manner by saying we could certainly have two fine boys. He gave me a beautiful diamond on Veterans Day night, November 11, and we were married three months later on February 11, 1949 in the Salt Lake Temple. This engagement didn’t progress without its complications — Rex almost called it off when he found some letters from an old boy friend, Dale DeGraff. In fact, this incident happened just prior to my picture of our pending engagement and marriage appearing in the following morning’s paper. Bless Rex’s mother’s heart (“Grandma D” as we called her): she more or less “placed oil on troubled waters,” and Rex and I patched up our misunderstandings. Prior to our wedding date, there was a whirlwind of showers, a trousseau tea in American Fork, purchasing my wedding dress, selecting material (a delicate pink, running into a darker tone of the same color) for my “matrons of honor.” (I might interject that, since I was 25 years old, I had no single friends, so we had to call them “matrons of honor”).
The cold, wintry day finally arrived on Friday, February 11th, 1949, when President Clifford E. Young (a former Stake President, Assistant General Authority, banker and dear family friend, performed our temple ceremony, with only Rex’s parents, my parents, and his sister, Gloria, and her husband Jack Richards in attendance. (Rex and I had attended the temple the previous day to obtain our endowments). After picture- taking and several errands, we gathered at the Beau Brummell Restaurant on Highland Drive for a much-needed wedding breakfast. By evening, this crisp, clear winter day changed. A threatening “chinook” wind started to deliver a fierce snowstorm at about the time the reception was supposed to begin in American Fork. The guests slowly arrived, bearing “tales of woe” regarding the weather, slick roads, cars being stuck, and so on. This did not deter the temperature inside the Firmage Hall. It was truly festive with all the trimmings—excellent refreshments, dancing, and a short program by my Val Norn friends singing our sorority sweetheart song. As Nat King Cole (the famous male vocalist of that time) expressed, “The Party Is Over,” and we had to face Nature’s elements to return to Salt Lake by following a huge 4-wheel truck with “yours truly” donning knee-high weather boots.
We did arrive safely to our apartment, where we spent our first night. (Because of the weather, we could not leave the State on our “honeymoon” until the following Monday, February 14th, and “overnighting” in American Fork at my parents home. (At this time I have to interject the fore-boding weather circumstances. As my father was a sheep rancher, with the snow being so treacherous and deep, his band of sheep located on the West desert (near Ibapah, Utah) had feed pellets and hay air-lifted to them for sustenance during that winter. In fact, tunnels had to be plowed for the feed to be dropped by airplane. My father was nearly frantic with anxiety and worry regarding his being away from his business for my festivities. I also remember that my brother, DeVeral, arrived late in the afternoon to be “best man,” wearing a “snow burn” and appearing as though he had been skiing all winter.
With the snow subsiding, Rex and I finally left American Fork on a Tuesday morning, February 15th, looking for warmer weather that night in Las Vegas. We had a wonderful time catching several shows, touring the Hoover Dam and other sites prior to departing for southern California — Hollywood, etc. We both had friends in San Diego -- Nick and Persidia Drakulich and Bill and Helen Kirk, who both entertained us graciously seeing the sights of the city, visiting the San Diego Zoo, and having dinner at the Navy Officer’s Club. Our new Mercury headed northward to catch the sights of San Francisco via the coastal highway. There we lodged at San Bruno the first night, then spent several nights at “the city by the bay” having a wonderful time dining on delicious food, shopping (Rex bought another new suit at the Emporium), and several flicks. By now our noses were headed eastward, as our two-week holiday was screeching to a finish. Life was real. The bills had to be paid, the groceries purchased, and we had to return to work—Rex at Hill Field Air Force Base, and I as secretary to Gordon Weggeland, Director of the Federal Housing Administration.
We had a wonderful two years, “playing house,” meeting Rex every Friday night in the lobby of the Utah Theatre where we’d always “break bread” at one of the city’s popular eating spots — even the Mint Café, or the Grabeteria. It truly resembled being on a “second honeymoon.” I’d quickly clean our small abode on the 4th floor of the Castle Heights Apartment building, in order that we could play on Saturday.
Reality set in, in June of 1950, when we discovered that I was pregnant and expecting a baby, but I continued to work — “waddling” down 1st Avenue like a duck until January, 1951. At that time we were still living in “toad heaven” on the fourth floor. Our dear landlord, Mrs. Pack, took pity on us, as she had a vacancy on the main floor and allowed us to move downstairs. (We had a bargain renting “furnished” for a approximately $65.00 a month, in spite of it being only one bedroom) with a double bed pull-down in the living room. The winter flew quickly by for us, even with horrendous snow and weather, by working, attending flicks, eating out, with our eldest, Carolyn Jean, making her appearance after 27 hours of painful labor at the Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City (where all the children were born), weighing 7 lbs. 1 oz., if I remember correctly. Life was challenging for me to remain at home with a new baby, having never tended a child in my life — only attending school, working, and being the youngest in my family. In spite of my ineptness and lack of knowledge, and not having a car (only Carolyn’s stroller to cruise the avenues for transportation), we got along. Rex drove our only means of transportation to Hill Field five days a week, thus requiring us to run our errands and grocery shopping at the Grand Central in Salt Lake on Saturdays. We were members of the South 18th Ward on B Street and Second Avenue in Salt Lake, but we weren’t too active with a new baby. Our outings and excursions were car rides, “window shopping,” and visits to Rex’s parents in Murray (approx. 5th West and 3700 South).
Soon after Carolyn’s birth on February 1st, 1951, the Korean Conflict was ongoing. Since Rex was subject to recall in the military (with only one child) as a Captain in the Army’s chemical warfare unit, his military colleagues, whom he worked with at Hill Field, advised him to transfer his commission to the Air Force. Rex, indicating that he could not “walk another war” after serving approx. 4-1/2 years, did so. When Carolyn was 3 months old, in May of 1951, he was transferred to the Air Force and had to report to the Presidio, in San Francisco, for a week’s induction and proceedings. Upon his return, but prior to donning the Air Force blue uniform, he had to complete his civilian job at Hill Field by attending an I.B.M. school in Endicot, New York, for two weeks. Since I would not remain in the apartment alone with Carolyn, I packed our belongings and went to American Fork to reside with my parents for that period. Upon his return, Rex “sported” his new Air Force blues and was greatly blessed and fortunate in being assigned to Hill Field for his two-year duty, tour of commitment — the last year being called as military chief of the Accounting Division.
We continued to live at “141 First Avenue” the ensuing year, where Carolyn was the focal point of attention, being the only child in the apartment building, until I became pregnant with Cheryl in July. Decisions, decisions and more decisions: where were we going to move, living in a l-bedroom apartment? Rex commenced to “lot-look” and “house look” on weekends, finally deciding on a home plan he had seen being built by a contractor, Wood Peterson. Now to find a suitable lot. His parents had offered him a lot on Fifth west and 3700 South, and his Uncle Willard offered one on east 4500 South and adjacent to Highland Drive — both being undesirable because of the distance from his work at Hill Field and because I didn’t desire to live by his parents. We finally decided on a building lot in Bountiful on 1400 South, which was owned by Russell Duerden in the midst of a Haleberta peach orchard.
Plans quickly progressed. Lot 13 was purchased in September, 1952, the contractor was contacted, (who was not involved at that time), the forms set for the foundation to be poured during the peach harvest, with anticipation that it would be completed in January. Many decisions had to be made regarding brick (had to have a second choice), paint, carpeting and my being pregnant and on and on. Only one mistake was made. The contractor miscalculated measurements, and shorted the house one foot on the east side—thus causing the dining room and living room to be smaller — the worse mishap which we lived with because it was too late in the season to re-pour the foundation. We were hoping to have it enclosed in order for the workers to work inside during the cold winter months. Enough about the construction project. It was finally completed, and we moved in on a bitter cold Saturday, January 31,1953. I was very pregnant, expecting Cheryl on March 12th. I never will forget on that Saturday night of occupancy, I was so happy to move into a new house with new furnishing that the tears were prolific. Also Carolyn refused to remove her pink bonnet and coat until she spied her crib.
Rex had more decisions to make which were imperative to his career — whether to remain in the military (where he had acquired almost eight years of active duty, which could apply to an early retirement from the service and be able to return to a civilian position) or whether to remain at Hill Field in a civilian capacity. This decision was finalized when a former superior, Max Petersen, came to visit us, offering him a higher GS rating of a 10 if he would return to his division in the new computer section at that time, which he did.
Yes, Cheryl, “burst” into this world early on March 12, 1953 -- again at Holy Cross Hospital. We always considered her our St. Patrick’s baby, bringing her home to a new house on March 17,1953, St Patrick’s Day, sporting a “finger-wave” hairdo the nurses had concocted. They told Rex she would be a “fire-ball,” which she has been. The little girls, being two years apart, were truly a joy, as I had had no sisters myself. And the neighborhood composed of young families was conducive to the children acquiring new friends — the Memmott and Francis families had the most corresponding ages of children.
And our work was outlined with cultivating a huge lot—approx. 64’ by 164’. After two years, Rex had installed a sprinkling system, which had been recently connected to a cheaper irrigation water (Weber Basin), and sprinkled lawn seed—which had to be watered many times a day for over two weeks (no lawn sod in those days). So life was very busy while I was being a “mom” at home with two little girls, cooking, working, and supporting Rex in his long days.
Our family continued to grow after we had moved into our two-bedroom house; in fact, we grew into it and out of it with the birth of Rex, Jr. on March 6, 1955, his father’s 37th birthday. What a special birthday present, which I had predicted for months. I remember so vividly; On an early Saturday evening, March 5th, 1955, Rex was to be en route to visit his sister, June, who was hospitalized at L.D.S. Hospital for an appendectomy. Instead, he took me to the Holy Cross Hospital, where Rex, Jr. was born early on March 6th. I remember so vividly that I cried, exclaiming that I had only made him a chocolate cake and exchanged a pair of P.J.s for his birthday, but I did give him a boy.
Again life became very hectic with the children being only two years apart. When Rex Jr. was approximately 18 months old, after an injection of Ilotycin in his hip for a common malady (which all the children had had), he arose from his nap being only able to crawl. This went on for a week, and then he began to walk, prior to Rex’s departure to deer hunt with his father.
The shock of the century came when I announced to Rex via phone while he was fishing at Pinedale, Wyoming, that I was pregnant and would be expecting the following March (1956). (I told him not to come home). Anyway, another handsome boy was born on March 25, 1956, weighing in at 8 pounds-plus (the largest of the children). (We always said that he was the “China Village” baby, as I started contractions while eating there). After checking in at the Holy Cross Hospital, my precious Dr. Warenski told us to stay in the City until after midnight – thus avoiding having to pay for another day at the hospital. I was told that this resembled having twins the hard way. Greg was a joy and a most pleasant baby. At 4 months, he refused to eat baby food, so my pediatrician, Dr. Stan Child, said to feed him from the table, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Since I was diapering both of them, when Rex was 18 months old, I noticed that Rex Jr’s little leg was diminishing in size. Our pediatrician at that time, Dr. Dean Belnap, sent us to a Dr. Boyd Holbrook, an orthopedic specialist, in Salt Lake, for further evaluation. He indicated that he probably had had a slight case of polio, which I refused to believe, as Rex Jr. had had the same malady as the other children. For a year he “sported” a shoe brace to correct the problem, which it did. In fact, some of the furniture still bears the scars of his wearing it. These years were laden with constant work and tending my “angels.”
As they matured, I remember Rex, Jr. had a slight speech impediment, mainly with his “R’s” and “S’s.” This necessitated my taking not only him—but the three children for the ride—to a Dr. Wallace Goates for speech therapy. This became quite a trek once a week in an inherited “old” Mercury, whose engine would overheat. One of Rex’s employees, Ray Alexander, suggested that I wrap a dampened wash cloth around the water pump and carry a thermos of water. It helped some, but did not alleviate my becoming stalled with four children. The good Lord took care of me when assistance would appear. I think this was the car which stopped in front of Styler’s on my street, so I called my brother, Eldred (who was in the car business), to give us $50.00 and haul it away. I had had old cars. So that was a glimpse of younger years of maturing children – dancing lessons at the neighbor’s, Berta Brough (who lived next door in the duplex), piano lessons from Mrs. Johansen (who would walk to the house sporting her umbrella), little league baseball, 4-H for the girls and even Greg under the guidance of Elizabeth Willey (who taught the boys to make banana nut loaves).
While the things above were progressing, we were greatly blessed with the birth of another beautiful daughter, born on April 16th, 1959 (the day after income tax day). I remember so vividly – Rex remained home from work at Hill Field on income tax day, April 15th; I scrubbed and waxed the kitchen floor twice, and prepared a baby bathinet. The following morning – CRASH, BANG, my neighbor, Beulah Christensen, tended the two little boys (the girls were at school), while Rex rushed me to the Holy Cross Hospital, where Valerie was born, shortly after 8:00 (a.m.?). In fact, Rex was home by 9:30, making the announcement of the arrival of a new baby sister to the girls at school. My precious O.B. Gyn., Dr. Warenski, scolded Rex for tarrying so long.
Life became very challenging having five children to care for in our small two bedroom house – cooking, cleaning, and fulfilling Church and school callings and assignments. To name some, in order from 1961: 7th Ward Primary President; 7th Ward Relief Society President; Bountiful Elementary P.T.A. President; 36th Ward Relief Society President; 36th Ward Homemaking Leader; Secretary, Mother Education Leader, Spiritual Living Leader: Compassionate Service – Visiting Teaching Leader; Activity Committee Fine Arts member; Bountiful Utah South Relief Society Stake Inservice Leader; Education Counselor in the Stake Relief Society Presidency, 36th Ward Inservice Leader; “Pursuit of Excellence” teacher; Singles Leader; and Spiritual Living Instructor at the Heritage House; Relief Society Visiting Teacher for over 40 years, and Supervisor; plus being a Registrar for a D.U.P.; County camp for six years, a member of several local literary groups, including my special Val Norn alum social unit, and since Rex’s passing, attending the opera, symphony, and Pioneer Memorial Theatre productions. Among my volunteer activities, I served as a hostess at the Beehive House for 18 years (Oct. 1983 through June 2001 and currently at the Conference Center as a missionary hostess since June 4, 2001).
Catching up on the junior high and high school years, I will never forget some of the highlights – Val as a cheer leader at Millcreek Junior High School; Cheryl being the “social butterfly” with a great assortment and variety of friends; Greg’s participation as a dancer in the Bountiful High School production of “Fiddler on the Roof” as a sophomore, and on the Bountiful High School yearbook staff; Rex’s presidency of the Bountiful High School Seminary; and Carolyn’s participation in the band and National Honor Roll. Three (Carolyn, Rex, and Val) were Sterling Scholar recipients during their senior years. I have been proud of each and every one of them, in spite of a few anxious moments, as when Rex Jr. high-centered the Willey’s Jeep on the “B” mountain, Greg having the old Chevrolet stalled on Mill Street at 1:00 A.M., and Carolyn riding on the back of her band teacher’s motorcycle (Steve Allen).
They were good children, giving me only a few concerns. Upon high school graduation, Carolyn attended Utah State University in Logan, with Cheryl following several years later at the same institution (for only 2 years), then transferring to the University of Utah; Rex attending B.Y.U., with Greg at the U. of U., and Valerie, the “caboose,” selecting B.Y.U. in 1977. Intermingled were mission calls for the boys – Rex Jr.’s to Santiago, Chile during 1974-76, and Greg to the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission a year later in 1975. During this period, there was much happiness and concerns – the former being Carolyn’s engagement and marriage to Russell Hulse (whom she met at the Church Singles) on March 16, 1973, in the Salt Lake Temple (prior to graduation from Utah State University in music) with both the wedding breakfast and reception being held at the Lion House. Another wedding was in the offing when Cheryl met Gary Goodfellow (from Bountiful) at the U. of U., which date was set for September 12th, 1974. I always remember what Rex told Gary when he asked for Cheryl’s hand: “Gary, we can think about a wedding after Carolyn’s first baby is born (Loren, born June 25th, 1974), and after Rex, Jr. is en route to his mission in Santiago.” When we took Rex, Jr. to the M.T.C. in Salt Lake, Greg would not go. Upon our return, he had dug up our favorite irises in the backyard. Rex could have “hung” him. In between (these two events), Cheryl and Gary were married on September 12, 1974, in the Salt Lake Temple with a lovely wedding breakfast at Log Haven in Millcreek Canyon and reception at the Lion House.
After Rex, Jr. had been serving a year of his mission, an old knee injury flared up (an injury he received playing soccer at the Mission Training Center), requiring surgery in Santiago. Rex and I were nearly beside ourselves with worry. He came through the operation well and recovered for a month in the Mission Home in July of 1975. In the meantime, Greg was departing for his mission with much apprehension. Upon Rex, Jr.’s return in June of 1976, it became necessary to have surgery again on his knee; he was on crutches for a month. Then he fell madly in love at BYU that autumn with Susan Kofoed, from Salt Lake, and was married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 3, 1977, with a lovely wedding breakfast again at the Lion House, followed by a gorgeous garden reception at Susan’s home. (Greg arrived home from his mission just a week prior to the wedding, to serve as “best man”).
As I reflect, these were fun, exciting years amid all of the challenges and work, with new grandchildren and more graduations – Val from high school in 1977 and Greg leaving for Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in the autumn of 1980, to obtain his Master’s Degree.
A heartbreak at this time, after Rex Sr.’s retirement from Hill Field with 39 years of civil service with the government, was Rex’s failing health. After contacting a number of physicians for medical counseling, it was determined that he had a pituitary tumor, by Dr. Richard Boyer. Upon returning from Greg’s graduation in June, 1981, and with many tests – X-rays and CT-scans, he was operated on by a Dr. Joseph Charles Rich, a neurosurgeon, to remove the tumor. Very fortunately, the operation was a success (i.e., non-malignant, but Rex had to stay in the I.C.U. Unit at L.D.S. Hospital and on a drug reaction trip for one week). While recovering from this procedure (which required the remaining portion of the summer), the day after Labor Day, he started to bleed (and almost hemorrhaging from the rectal area). In the evening, I rushed him to L.D.S. Hospital, where he again underwent emergency surgery the following night to cauterize a bleeding blood vessel. This required another period of “T.L.C.” recovery until November, when the neurosurgeon, Dr. Rich, highly suggested and required a month’s radiation following the pituitary surgery as a precautionary measure. Truly, that was a year of great tribulations, but many blessings.
I had had great dreams, after Rex’s retirement, to travel, but that was not to be in the future, except for several trips to visit Cheryl and Gary at Pacific Palisades, California and Chalfont, Pennsylvania, aside from the trip to Evanston, Illinois, for Greg’s graduation from Northwestern. Our “trips” mainly consisted of rides to Salt Lake (especially on Monday, while I did my hostess work at the Beehive House for 2 hours –1:00-3:00).
Romance again blossomed in our family when Valerie became reacquainted with her high school sweetheart, Gary Goodrich, during the summer of 1980. By January of 1981, they became engaged and set their wedding date for April 30, 1981 (when they were married in the Salt Lake Temple). (This was the year and summer during which Rex had the pituitary surgery).
Amidst the birth of grandchildren, the most traumatic happening of our married life occurred when Rex had a sudden heart attack early on a Monday morning (May 14th, 1984), the day after Mothers Day. He was rushed to Lakeview Hospital where he was comatose for one week, expiring around 10:00 the following Monday, May 21st. This was the most horrendous week of my life. As I reflect, I don’t know how I survived other than the constant support of my family, friends and prayers. This experience resembled the statement that it felt “like the sky had fallen on the chicken’s head.” After a pleasing service in our 36th Ward, a patriotic burial took place at the Bountiful Cemetery, with a military contingent from Hill Field presenting me the American Flag and airplanes flying overhead.
The weeks following Rex’s passing were overloaded with business matters, many decisions, bill paying, concerns with Cheryl (who was pregnant), and a large yard to tend. My one great salvation at this time and for several years afterward was the fact that Greg (upon his return from Chicago) was living at home while working for James Sorenson’s company in Salt Lake — truly a blessing to have “a man around the house” for protection and support while adjusting to this new lifestyle. By October, I had to muster sufficient courage to fly to Cheryl’s in North Wales, Pennsylvania for two weeks to assist her with a new baby, Kristin. This was the most difficult thing I had to do—along with Rex’s passing—to fly alone. For 14 months, I ran so fast that I was exhausted. In fact, my morale “hit bottom.” It seemed then that life really didn’t matter, but after a family barbeque and gathering in July of 1984, I finally regained my composure and stamina.
Another horrendous challenge came when I developed Bells Palsy in June of 1989, remaining home the entire summer. It left me with a left eye drooped and a crooked smile. Another great challenge was the unexpected death of Cheryl’s husband, Gary Goodfellow, on January 31, 2000. A saving factor then was the fact that I was serving on the Stake Relief Society Board as an Inservice Instructor, and then in February 1984, Ada Haacke called me as her Education counselor when she was asked to be the new president. I was so busy after Rex’s passing that it became a “life saver.” During the summer of 1984, another dear friend, Beth Fadel, became a stalwart when we commenced going to dinner every Saturday night, as she had recently divorced.
I was Ada’s counselor until October of 1987 when she was released. Then “the sky fell on the chicken’s head again.” I was asked to meet with President Michael Watson, thinking it was a thank-you gesture for my service. Instead, he called me as the new Stake Relief Society President. The tears started to stream down my cheeks, and in the midst of almost sobbing, I asked him if he knew how old I was. He assured me that he did — 64 years old. Of course, I accepted, in spite of my apprehension. Upon returning home, Greg echoed from the basement: “You’re the new President.” I was in shock. I chided him about why he hadn’t alerted me if he had had such intuition.
At this time, October 1987, Greg and I had made reservations to travel to England. I had told President Watson of our plans, so he instructed me to come to the Sunday morning Stake Conference meeting long enough to be sustained (which I did), and then departed with Carolyn in sufficient time to meet Greg at the airport. We had a wonderful eight-day “holiday,” catching the sights of London and traveling as far as Stratford on Avon (Shakespeare land).
Greg was a life-saver again concerning traveling. He had known of my great desire to travel, but with Rex’s poor health it had been impossible. This was the beginning of several other trips mainly sponsored through his advertising business: Hawaii (on our own); Rome and Florence, Italy; Oslo and Bergen, Norway; Paris, France; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; and Bradaslovia. Aside from these safaris, I made trips to Disney World with Cheryl and Gary Goodfellow and many wonderful trips to visit Val and Gary Goodrich over 13 years while they were living in the East Bay area of San Francisco — in the towns of Moraga and Lafayette. I was also blessed to have taken several temple trips, including a picturesque one to the Northeast in the autumn with June Crawford, when the leaves were turning their vibrant colors. My other trips have been within the local area—the Logan operas and Tuachan productions near St. George, to name example, and more recently to my grandson Brandon’s wedding in Las Vegas, during February, 2003 -- and a very recent four-day holiday to the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. After having been away, there’s “no place like home.”
Life has been good to me during my 80 years — having been blessed with a testimony and knowledge of the Gospel, goodly parents and heritage, an eternal marriage, five wonderful children, their spouses, 17 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren (at present). This year of 2003 has provided much happiness and joy, along with its challenges. The year’s first big happy occasion was a special, spectacular 80th birthday celebration for “yours truly” at the Willow Creek Country Club on May 20th given by the children, who invited many people from different phases of my life. Greg barely made it for a brief period because of health problems incurred while in Kirtland, Ohio. I was also blessed in 2003 to experience the three marriages of grandchildren (Brandon Carlisle mentioned above on February 22nd in the Las Vegas Temple), John Goodfellow, on June 18th, and Nicole Carlisle on June 25th, (both being married and sealed in the Salt Lake Temple). I was greatly disappointed that I was unable to attend John’s ceremony — I had a strange malady during the week with a nagging cough, a nasal hemorrhage the previous day, and conjunctivitis in my eyes. I did make an appearance at the lovely dinner Cheryl hosted at the Grand America Hotel on June 17th and the reception at the LaCaille Restaurant on a “wing and a prayer.” By the time of Nicole’s wedding festivities, I was “patched up” for her lovely ceremony and wedding luncheon at the Lion House the following week.
In making a benediction and finish to this brief sketch, I’d like to convey to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends how sincerely I appreciate and love them — the wonderful additions and dimensions they have added, enhanced and blessed in my life. I’m also desirous of bearing testimony over the lifetime of my 80-plus years: how I’ve been greatly blessed with a firm testimony of the Gospel in rearing and nurturing my five “angels,” enduring many challenges, including the ill health of an ailing husband. I also want to express my great belief in my Father in Heaven, His son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, who have steered and directed my entire life, especially the past 19 years since being widowed (while I’ve lived alone) and providing and directing my energies to worthwhile, intellectual and social endeavors. Again, I pray that I can continue to grow in His restored Gospel and teachings, be privileged to witness the birth of more great grandchildren, and to witness those serving missions and being sealed in marriage for time and eternity in His holy house. I also pray that I’ll be blessed with the health and strength to maintain and care for myself as matriarch of our family, that I’ll be sustained to cope with the obstacles and growing challenges which have been afforded me, and that I’ll be able to “endure to the end” graciously in this earthly sojourn.