History by Spencer Madsen
Contributor: lyndahirst_1 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
I was born in Lake View, Utah on November 4, 1895. I was the sixth child of Peter Madsen Jr. and Bertha Knudsen. My brothers were Hans Peter who died of diphtheria at the age of ten, before I was born, John William and Raymond LaMar, who died as a child when I was about five years. My sisters were Annie Pearl, Clara and Evelyn. We lived in a two room house until I was three or four when Father had Tom Groneman build an addition of a large living room, bedroom and pantry. In addition to the house there was another building behind the house which contained a cellar, grainery and summer kitchen. The grainery was used more for sleeping quarters for various members of the family than it was used for grain.
My father was a farmer and fisherman. My first recollection of him was when he came home from helping his brothers seine for fish on Utah Lake. I met him at the door and he picked me up in his arms and kissed me. I think what impressed me was that he had icicles frozen on his mustache.
The first clothing that I can remember was a gray outing flannel night gown that my mother made for me and I must have looked like a girl because the older kids called me “Lizzy Jensen.”
As a young child I was very ill with scarlet fever and I remember how carefully and lovingly my mother nursed me through that illness. I slept in a brown crib that had peculiar paint designs on the sides of it. I used to study these designs as I would kneel by the side of the crib while Mother helped me with my prayers.
My father was a dance orchestra leader and one of the highlights of my young life was the privilege I had of sleeping with Mother until Father came home from playing at dances. I would fake being asleep so he would carry me from their bed to my crib.
Before I was school age there was a small pox epidemic in the ward. The school teacher and his family got the disease and exposed all the people in the community. Because of various conditions other people stayed at our house. Included were L.L. Bunnell and Pete Peterson. Along with the small pox we had a real ball. All of the family except Mother got the disease and only a couple of us were very ill. Pearl and Father were real sick. Mother was nurse for the whole bunch, but never got the disease. On account of the disease we were confined to the house and other people would bring our groceries, coal and other supplies. They would leave them at a distance because they feared catching small pox. Some people would cross on the other side of the road to be more safe. We had to stay in the house for several weeks and after people got well we made fun of everything we did. Because I was young it seemed like a carnival or something.
I started school in a two room school house in Lake View in the fall of 1901. Nita Dorius was my first teacher and I liked her so much that she still seems like an angel of some kind. My grade school days were not very eventful. I didn’t seem to have much trouble with my studies. I liked to do school work and I liked to sing. There were music teachers that went from school to school to teach singing. Some that I remember were John A. Vance and a Mr. Hood. The teachers I remember were Miss Dorius, Miss Dubit, Miss Davis, Mr. Clinger, Mr. Smith, Mr. Wakefield and Mr. Wentz.
The two room school house was heated by a big pot bellied stove with a sheet of metal cover around three sides to protect people from coming in contact with the hot stove. The teacher would appoint one of the larger boys to be fireman and it was his job to keep the room at a proper temperature. The teacher would also appoint someone to be official pencil sharpener. This was done with a pocket knife and I received this appointment many times because they liked the job I did.
In the spring, about March of the year I was in the sixth grade, a very remarkable incident happened. A new family moved into the ward. The sweetest little girl I have ever known started school. I have been google-eyed about her ever since. She was small and a very good runner. In fact she ran so fast it took me five or six years to catch her and I was after her all the time.
I graduated from the eighth grade and we had our graduation exercise for all of Utah County at Pleasant Grove. The affair took all day and we had a dance that night.
I started to attend church at a very early age. At first, our church held meetings in the old school house. Then we used the old dance hall and when I was five or six years old they started building the first meeting house in Lake View. I would go over and watch the men working. I had never seen concrete before I saw them pour footings for the foundation. I remember when the large flat pieces of sandstone were brought in from east of Heber, Utah. They were used for the porch floors and outside steps. It seems that Tom Groneman was the chief carpenter because I can still see him at work carving the designs in the upper part of the church shaped window sash.
I was baptized at eight years old, July 31, 1904, in the Provo River about one-half mile west of Alfred Madsen’s on Saturday afternoon and was confirmed the same day. I was baptized by L.L. Bunnell and confirmed by S.E. Bunnell.
Aunt Pricilla Madsen is the first Sunday School and Primary teacher that I can remember. I still recall some of her teachings. She put two passages of scripture together so well that they impressed me and stayed with me until now. She used the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain.” In connection she taught us the statement of the Savior, “Unless you are as a little child ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” She put these two together so well that she caused me to want to go to heaven and made me understand that if I should profane the name of deity that I would not be guiltless and therefore could not go to heaven. I have always been thankful for this teaching because while I was still young, about seven, a family moved next door to us that used very bad language. The mother and two boys near my age could swear by note and if I had not been fortified I could have easily picked up that habit.
I was ordained a deacon by S.E. Bunnell January 5, 1908 and soon after was made president of the quorum. Jack Dempsey was a member of the quorum while I was president and James Henry Clinger was one of our teachers. I can see him now with the large Bible (it weighed about 15 pounds) on his knee, with his knees spread out for a table and his toes pointed so they touched each other.
On December 4, 1910, I was ordained a teacher by Marion Clinger and became president of that quorum. My first ward teaching companion was P.W. Madsen. He took time to give me some good advice about going ward teaching.
On December 2, 1912, I was ordained a priest and became counselor to Bishop Johnson in that quorum. I had high hopes of going on a mission but these hopes never did materialize. I served in the Sunday School Superintendency while I was still a priest. The other members of the superintendency were Chris Jeppson and Scott Taylor.
I was ordained an elder by S.E. Bunnell on January 10, 1915. Then, I was made president of the YMMIA. While coming up through the priesthood quorums I became active in scout work and spent many weekdays and numerous evenings as a scout leader. I never was a boy scout because the church had just adopted the scout movement, so I had to learn the program and be leader at the same time. I stayed on as scoutmaster through the time I served as Mutual President and the two jobs really occupied my spare time.
After I finished grade school I attended BYU for one year, but because I didn’t have any cash I had to find work to make a go of it. I took care of Father’s farm but got nothing out of it but a place to live. I worked at the old sugar factory yards quite a bit in the summer time repairing pulp silos and beet sheds. In the fall I would unload beets from railroad cars and later in the winter I worked in the sugar factory. One day Clarence Johnson, Jack Dempsey and I unloaded a boxcar of beets. Forty to fifty tons, and they all had to be moved from the ends to the center doors. I came home, did the chores and milked the cows. Then Mr. Shaw called and asked me to come and work night shift in the sheds. This job was shovelling beets for twelve hours. I have been tired many times but I think that was the nearest I have ever come to being exhausted. Unloading beets paid ten cents per ton and the work in the sheds paid $2.16 for twelve hours. I was also able to earn some money hauling gravel on the roads in the ward. That would come in August and September of each year and paid 75 cents per hour for man, wagon and horses.
About this time the county established what we call “Church Street.” The road north from Sheldon’s home to the beet dump. The reason we called it “Church Street” was because the people living on the Sand Hill road had to go the long way round to get to the church and this road made it more convenient for them. I worked many days, with my team and scraper grading this road and in later years hauled gravel on it.
After staying out of school one season, I attended BYU another winter and that finished my schooling. Because I had to do the chores at home and walk to the Y and home again to do chores that left no chance to get any of the social life of the school.
When I was put in as President of the YMMIA it seemed that there was no chance for a mission so I took conditions as they came. The girl I met in school moved to Richfield with her parents, but I continued to keep in touch with her by mail. Sometimes she would answer my letters. Later her family moved to Ogden and I made occasion to see her occasionally.
At this time I joined the C.R. Johnson chorus (later Mendelssohn Chorus) and the Provo Tabernacle Choir under Boshard. In the chorus we went places to sing and on one of these occasions we were singing in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I rode to Salt Lake with L.L. Bunnell in his EMF, which was quite a treat for me to ride in an automobile. I had arranged for the girl from Ogden to meet me at the Bamberger Station in Salt Lake and we went to the concert together in the tabernacle. We had a very enjoyable day. One of this girl’s best girl friends was Zetella Goodridge and the Ogden girl used to come to Lake View once in a while to visit at the Goodridge home and I would have the pleasure of taking her for a buggy ride or a boat ride or a walk or any excuse to be with her. The Ogden girl’s sister lived in Spring Glen, Carbon County (Mrs. Silas Rowley). For Christmas 1915, this girl invited me to go with her to visit in Spring Glen. By this time I had become an old man (20) and had taken on very serious thoughts. So I took with me a diamond ring and on Christmas Eve 1915 I gave her a ring and she accepted it (Happy Day). From then on I walked on air. A correspondence course that had been fairly regular over the last couple years developed into a regular weekly edition.
In April 1916, J.W. (my brother) who had worked for years for the U and I Sugar Company was called to Garland, Utah to work for the sugar company there. He left in a hurry on his motorcycle and left Anna to take charge of moving their belongings to Garland. It fell my lot to be the goat to make the delivery. Those few days, the first week in May 1916, make quite a chapter in the history of my life. I had been on wagon trips before, taking loads of fruit to Sanpete and going to Strawberry after lumber, but never had I gone alone and had the responsibility.
We had an old, well worn wagon, a large flat rack that we used for a beet rack and hay rack and a good team of horses. Old George, a white horse about twelve or fourteen years old and Riley, a fine bay about five years old. This, with the harness and other necessary gear constituted the equipment.
It took two days to load all the furniture. A sanitary couch was placed across the front end of the rack and lots of bedding placed on it so it made a comfortable seat to sit on to drive. There was also a buggy horse and buggy to take with us. These we hooked up and led behind the wagon. I got up early to start on May 2, 1916 and had dinner just north of the point of the mountain. That afternoon I drove to Murray and found the tires on the two rear wheels were about to come off. Two very fine men, Mr. Miller and Mr. Shaw, helped me wedge them on with dry shingles, then water. They gave me a place to camp for the night and told me where there was a blacksmith shop where I could get the tires set the next morning. It was lonesome camping alone. Early the next morning I went to the blacksmith and after a few hours was repaired and on the way.
I bypassed Salt Lake City on the west and experienced my first paved road through Salt Lake City and north to Bountiful. I had never driven on paved roads before and did not know that wagons of that age were not made for pavement. I got a hot box on the right front axle and before I knew it, it had cut the thimble quite badly. There was a section crew working on the Bamberger railroad track and I borrowed a jack from them, greased the wagon and got on my way. I soon ran onto gravel road again so the greasing was not so much of a problem.
I made it to Layton that night and when I tried to buy hay for the horses I found there was none for sale. A man allowed me to camp in his yard and found a little musty hay in his barn. I gave the horses a good feed of oats and stayed for the night (lonesome again). The next day, May 4, 1916, I ran into road construction through Roy and had to go two miles west along another road to get around the construction. It is not serious now days to have to detour but horses move slowly (three to five miles per hour) and detours caused a loss of time.
I had arranged previously to meet a sweet little girl at 1873 Park Avenue in Ogden and I arrived there for a late dinner. There was a vacant lot a little way north of her home and I parked the wagon there and fed the horses more oats. While we were having dinner we talked over travel plans, because Ada was going to Garland with me. We decided we could make it to Warm Springs, where she could stay in a hotel and continue on the next day.
After dinner we were on our way and got to Five Points. There the street car track crossed the road at a very acute angle and as the right front wheel struck the steel rail it gave a twist on the axle and the worn thimble broke allowing the wheel to come off. As the axle struck the ground, wood broke. I was stuck, eighty miles from home, about sixty miles from our destination with a broken wagon and very little money. I was pretty low.
An elderly man from a nearby house came out and I guess he could see the helpless look on my face. He said, “It looks like you have trouble, what can I do?” It was around four o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday. No chance to get into Ogden to a store to buy an axle and thimbles even if I had had the money, which I did not. This kind man after thinking a few minutes said, “I have an old wagon down behind the barn that I think we can fix up and get you on your way.” I went with him to see the wagon and it looked good, only the tires were lose. He told me he knew a blacksmith and could get him to work late to set the tires. I asked what he would sell the front end of the wagon for and he said five dollars, then after a little thought he said he would pay for half of the tire setting.
I took the newly purchased part of the wagon to the shop and the blacksmith went to work immediately so in about an hour and a half I came back to the broken wagon. This fine man had secured the help of neighbors and with block and poles for levers had raised the load and taken the broken part of the wagon out, and was ready to put the repaired part in. It took only a few minutes. By now it was evening and this fine man told me to take my horses to his barn and feed them for the night. I told him I wanted to hit the road early the next morning and asked what I owed him for all his help and horse feed. He said, “Young man, I am an old man and have been on the road a lot and have had many kinds of experiences and have met many kinds of people. All you owe me is if anyone has trouble near your home, you help them as I have helped you.” I think that is good advice and have tried to pay him anytime I got a chance since then.
Ada and I took the horse and buggy which we had tied behind the wagon and drove back to 1873 Park Avenue, Ogden and spent the night at her mother’s home.
The next morning, May 5, at four o’clock we left Ada’s home in Ogden. By shortly after five o’clock we were at Five Points, had the horses hitched to the wagon and were on the way to Garland. We got on a wrong road and went several miles toward Plain City. Because the road was narrow, we had to drive into a man’s yard and turn around. We arrived west of Brigham City for a late dinner and after a rest for the horses proceeded to Bear River City by seven o’clock. We fed and rested the horses for an hour and started to travel on strange roads on a very dark night. We saw some city lights in the distance and turned where I thought we should. We soon found that we were on the wrong road. The road was so narrow that we could not turn the wagon around so I thought we would travel until we came to some farmyard, then stop and feed the horses and wait until morning. However, we went a mile west, turned north another mile and came onto the right road again. We traveled west until we came to the first street light in Tremonton and I looked the load over to see if everything was all right. I found the horse and buggy had broken the rope and was not with us. I left Ada to tend the team and wagon and ran back a mile or two. I found the horse and buggy where we had crossed a ditch while we were on the side road. By the time I got back to the wagon it was after midnight, but we had to continue on.
As we turned north in Tremonton to go to Garland, both sides of the road seemed lined with apple trees and they were all in bloom so the air was fragrant with the aroma. It was only a couple of miles from Tremonton to Garland.
We arrived in Garland at about one o’clock in the morning and did not know where we were to take the furniture. A guy came along in a Model T. Ford and said he would show me where to go for a dollar. He drove about a block and pointed the way and I turned on that road and arrived at the house J.W. was to live in at about two o’clock. J.W. took care of the horses. Zetella Goodridge took care of Ada, and I was given a bed which was very welcome.
We stayed in Garland for two days so the poor horses could rest a bit and on May 8th, we started for home. We had an empty wagon, plenty of horse feed and a wind to our back. The first day we got to Ogden. The next morning, May 9th, I started toward Provo. Bright sunshine, but a brisk north wind, so cold I had to snuggle down in the hay and wrap up in quilts. That night it froze very hard and killed many tender crops. I camped at Murray in the same place I stayed the first night (with Mr. Miller). The next morning it looked like midwinter. Everything was frozen so there was ice where-ever there was water. I arrived home in the afternoon on May 10th, which was nine days after starting and I was twenty years older. The frost was so severe we had to cut the hay so another crop could start.
I ran Father’s farm and picked up what work I could working for neighbors. Also, I carried on a steady correspondence with Ogden. In the late summer I told my parents I was going to get married in the fall and they seemed very unhappy at the thought of losing their baby boy.
Ada and I made plans for November 8th, for our wedding. Frank Taylor and I planned to take the 7:15 Orem car to Ogden on the morning of the 7th. Frank was going because Zetella was going to Ogden from Garland to be with Ada. November 7, 1916 was election day (the day Woodrow Wilson was elected). This is the first time that I was old enough to vote. The polls were to open at 7 A.M. and I had everything ready, the horse hooked to the buggy and was waiting for a ballot at seven o’clock prompt. Well, one of the election judges (P.W. Madsen) was a few minutes late and I could not get to vote until he came. I got my ballot and hurriedly voted and jumped into the buggy and made old Jergen, the horse, go at full gallop toward the Orem depot. Just as we got to the bottom of the hill, by Roy Stubbs place, the Orem train went by and we were left. I was so mad that I did not know what to do so I came home, changed clothes and carried about a hundred bushels of nice apples from an outside shed down to the cellar to work off steam. It was a good job done because it got so cold the next few days the apples would have been destroyed.
I was ready and waiting for the next Orem train and we were in Ogden in plenty of time after all. Woodrow got elected too.
At about 5:30 on the morning of November 8, 1916, two little kids (I was 21 years and 4 days old) left 1873 Park Avenue in Ogden, walked to the Bamberger station and took a train for Salt Lake City. It was hardly light when we arrived in Salt Lake. We walked up the street and finally found the proper gate to get into the temple and had a most wonderful day. We were as green as folks could be, but everyone was so nice to us that it seemed like we were really in the Celestial Degree of Glory. There was no one of our folks with us and we were through the temple ceremony and on our way back to Ogden shortly after 3 P.M. Ada’s folks had a lovely dinner prepared for her folks and my folks and quite a few friends other than the families. We finished the day very pleasantly.
The next morning we called a dray to take the things Ada had prepared to the railroad and we came to Lake View station and were nearly home.
Lamond Bunnell had been living in J.W.’s house by the church, but had gone to Magna to work and left some furniture in the house. We contacted them and bought their range, table, chairs, kitchen cabinet and the like. We went to Provo and bought some bedroom equipment and by November 10th, were at home in the little house by the Lake View Church that still belongs to J.W.’s wife Anna (1963).
My folks had arranged for a lovely wedding in the dance hall in Lake View. It was held on the evening of November 10, 1916. There were lots of people there and we had a supper and dance. In the two weddings, the one at Ogden and the one at Lake View, we got many lovely gifts, some of them we still have and use.
The day after our Lake View wedding there was a very cold storm, quite a bit of snow and it was very cold. It stopped all farm operations and stayed frozen up until nearly April 1st. I had a few chores to do around the barn but could not do any farm work and there was no work to be found elsewhere. So, the wife and I would sit with our feet on the oven door and read to each other for hours each day and take care of our church work such as MIA, choir and drama in the evenings. It was sure fun! We were in one show that went all around the county. We even went as far as Alpine in a bobsled with four horses. Ada and I played a comic part as lovers and after the show in Alpine the bishop came up and offered to marry us. But we told him it was too late.
Along with all my activities, from the time I was fifteen I could always find time to play baseball and basketball in season. We did not have very good diamonds or courts but we had a great deal of fun. I was catcher for the Lake View team for many years and caught for Provo a few seasons. I was catching for Provo in the Provo ball park on the 4th of July when we got word that Jack Dempsey had knocked out Jess Willard. There was no indoor place available in Lake View to play basketball so we had to go to Timpanogos ward or some other place and arrange our own games. There wasn’t a league to arrange schedules for us. At one time we played in the attic of Cherry Hill Farm dairy barn. It was about twenty feet wide with about a ten foot ceiling and real rough floors. I played center most of the time, and although I met taller fellows I usually was able to get the jump because I had good coordination and timing and knew when to jump. At that time the ball came back to the center for a jump after each basket. The best floor and equipment I had a chance to play on and with was while I was a member of the National Guard. They had a new Armory with a very good floor.
One night we played Battery A of Salt Lake. I was center, (Fat) Harold Clark one guard and Jerry Dunn one forward. I would signal Clark where I would knock the ball and he would be there to get it and throw it to Jerry. He would drop it in the basket. It was quite sad for the Salt Lake bunch because they were quite helpless.
I kept on playing baseball long after most of my generation had quit. We met teams from all over Utah County.
I took care of the farm and got any work I could for the summer of 1917. On August 18, 1917 Duane came to live with us and we really thought we had a fine baby. He was not very well at first and his mother was not well at all. But we nursed them through until they both got strong. I can hardly realize that it has been 45 years since then.
This was in horse and buggy days but automobiles were getting fairly common and my father sold a piece of land and bought a 1917 Model T Ford. He did not know how to drive, and did not care to learn, so I became the family driver. We kept the car in the barn at the place where we were living (J.W.’s) and Ada learned to drive. The car had no starter and cranking by hand was rather hard work so she did not drive very much. The barn was east of the house and the car had to be backed out onto the road. Across the narrow road was a real deep and wide water ditch. One day Ada wanted to use the car and wanted me to back it out for her. I decided it was time for her to learn to back out of the garage and told her I would crank the motor then stand on the running board and help her. Well, she backed out and I couldn’t help and we ended up in the ditch so deep that one could hardly see the car. No one was hurt, the car was not damaged but Ada was so frightened that it ended her Ford driving.
Things went along without incident. I worked the farm and did any other work I could get. Then, on April 14, 1919 another fine person in the form of little Milo Wren came to live with us. We had learned a little about mother care by now and Mother and the baby got along better.
On the evening of April 17, 1921 there was Ward Conference in the Lake View Ward. I was setting at ease in the choir when President T.N. Taylor announced that I had been called to be Second Counselor to Bishop W.W. Taylor. He asked if I would come to the pulpit and express myself. I had no previous knowledge of this call and was very fussed. I was not able to say much because of emotion and tears, but I did accept the call and at the next quarterly conference of Utah Stake, Brother George F. Richards was present and ordained me a High Priest. He also set me apart as counselor to Bishop W.W. Taylor. This was done on July 30, 1921. This assignment was to occupy a lot of time for the next seven years.
To make a living I continued to run Father’s farm. The first two or three years I had taken as little as we could possibly get along with from the farm operation. Father had incurred some debts and I helped get them paid. Now I had made a deal with him that I should have half of the revenue, it was a good deal for him the way it had been. But, I had to have a little security for my family.
The old dance hall had served Lake View and the surrounding community for many years and had become more or less obsolete. Two-thirds interest in it belonged to Mads Johnson and one-third to my father. They decided they did not want to bother with it any more and gave it to Lafe Johnson, Clarence Johnson and to me to use the lot and material to build homes for our families. During the summer of 1921 I went to Strawberry and got a load of lumber. In the late summer I borrowed some plans from Pete Groneman and dug a basement and got the foundation poured. Then the three of us, Lafe, Clarence and I, went to work on the wrecking of the dance hall and divided the material into three equal piles. With this material plus the lumber I got from Strawberry, plus twenty two hundred dollars that we had accumulated I started to build our house. I had very little building knowledge and very few tools but I had lots of desire. All winter long, regardless of weather, I worked on the house.
Lafe Johnson had been carpentering for a few years and he was very kind with suggestions and I hired him to cut the rafters. Uncle Jim Madsen helped me a little but most of the work I did alone. I paid $16.50 for hired carpenter help after the foundation.
One day I remember so well, I had just finished sheeting the roof and during the night sixteen inches of the most beautiful snow fell. It had stayed on the sheeting so the inside of the house was dry. I got my shovel and very carefully cleaned the snow off and by noon was ready to start work again. That afternoon a northwest wind came up and blew snow through every crack and crevice. It made me real unhappy but all of the growling I did, did not change it a bit.
The weather turned very cold after this storm and shingling was a real cold job. I wore a lot of clothes, a big sheepskin coat, two pairs of overalls, four buckle overshoes, gloves with the end of the fingers cut off so I could handle nails. I even tried heating the shingle nails, but I burned my fingers on the nails and had to quit that.
One little side light of the building job was the two chimneys. I had made arrangements for Don Williams to lay the brick and arranged for a time that it should be done. I was going to be mason tender. I told everybody, including my wife, that nothing could interfere with that arrangement. What happened? Leone decided to be born that particular day. I don’t recall just what we did change to meet the occasion. Enough said, we were very happy to have Leone come to live with us on February 18, 1922.
After I got the windows and doors in and got ready for paint, Ada and I worked together. We had a little stove that we could move from room to room with the stove pipe on it and it kept warm enough to work. The building progressed as rapidly as we could make it go and by the end of March 1922 we moved from the little house by the church to the house that has been our home nearly ever since. The house was not complete. No plumbing, no furnace, no water, no kitchen cabinets, no wardrobes, no porch floor, no basement floor, even no floor in the little northeast bedroom but we moved in and were happy. For a few months we hauled water from the neighbor’s in milk cans, but then we had Fred Westphall drive us a well.
About February 1924 the Ford began to show it’s age and I got the urge to change. Scott Taylor had bought an Overland and as usual it was the best car in the world. I arranged with Father to use the 1917 Ford as part payment on a new Overland which had side curtains that fastened to the doors and would open when the doors opened. My were we proud of that fact as we kidded ourselves that it was just as good as a closed car. Anyhow, it was our first car because the Ford belonged to Father. It was a pretty good car but it had some weaknesses that I learned later could leave one stranded without notice.
About 1923 Aunt Pearl and Uncle Don Allred sold their farm in Spring City and moved to Rupert, Idaho and bought a small hotel (Vine Cottage). Things did not go well with them financially and by March 1924 they had lost everything and were in Lake View living with my father and mother. One morning our telephone rang and it was a call from Don’s cousin telling him that there was a large snowslide at Bridle Veil Falls and the D and R.G. Railroad was hiring men to clear the track. I could tell from his conversation that he would like to work but did not have a way to travel so I hurriedly told him to tell her that he would go and I would take him in our car. The weather had been stormy and I could not work on the farm so I thought it would be a chance to pick up a few dollars. The next morning, March 29, 1924, Don and I went to the railroad station at 6th South University Avenue where there were several hundred men waiting for work. The railroad only wanted fifty men and Don and I were selected out of this large crowd. They put us on the Heber train and took us up the canyon and as we traveled along we were telling each other how lucky we were that we had both been selected. I remember it was not too cold and a most beautiful snow was falling, flakes as large as a dollar (silver that is). When we arrived near the slide the train stopped and we saw the canyon was filled with snow, 75 to 100 feet deep. The river was completely damned off and trees were blown down for a quarter of a mile around, and a sturdy bridge had crumbled. This damage had been caused by the terrific pressure of the wind that preceded the slide.
The railroad boss selected five men to cross the slide to the upper side and bring back a fifty pound box of dynamite each. Don and I were both selected. Although we were empty handed, we learned walking on a snowslide is no easy task when the snow is hard, rough and slick. Returning with the explosive load was much more difficult. As we reached the highest part of the slide we set our loads down so we could rest a minute and things began to happen. Another slide was in progress about 10 A.M. We saw the air turn more black than the darkest night, heard a noise louder than a thousand cannons and felt a wind so terrific that it seemed to be blowing from every direction. It seemed it could crush a person. By instinct I began to run and if the terrain was rough when one could see, you can imagine how much worse it would be in utter darkness. I was on hands and knees more than on my feet, but the gas was clear to the floorboard and I was doing my best. Finally after what seemed a long time, but really could have been but a short time, the air cleared and I could see a little and I looked up just in time to see a great volume of snow rolling slowly toward me. I put on all of the speed I could muster again and this time I made it to safety.
When I realized I was safe I was so frightened that I was unable to stand. My legs seemed to be made of jelly. I had on a sheepskin coat with a large collar and I spread out the collar under my head and lay down on the snow until my strength returned so I could walk again. I did not care to cross the slide to go back to the train so I waded the river and walked around the slide, which extended up the mountain on the opposite side of the canyon.
As I returned to the train, the time keeper was calling over and over three names that were missing, Hislop, Allred and Madsen. The main difference between them and me was they never did answer because they were both killed. The railroad company put the injured men on the train and took them to Provo to the hospital. I was not injured very badly but I tell you that shock can be as bad as a physical injury. The report had been sent out to the public that fifty men had been buried in the snowslide. But as luck would have it Ada had not heard the report and I got to a telephone to tell her that I was all right. Seconds later friends came to tell her that I was dead. I was very glad I fooled them.
The men of the community turned out in mass to dig for the buried men and Hislop was found on the second day. It took eight long agonizing days to find Don.
When conditions settled down I went to my farming again. The best crop we had that year came on June 29, 1924, when Bertha came to live with us. My how we do love our children.
I had never been on a deer hunt. I had gone fishing a little and been duck hunting and hunted sage hens a few times. In conversation with Silas he invited me to go with him and Irvin (Rowley) and some others on a deer hunt. I took my family to Spring Glen to stay with Lucretia and the men; Silas, Irvin, Uncle George, Mr. Deberry and I went to Teasdale where Irvin’s wife’s father (Forsythe) lived. We were taken by wagon toward Donkey Lane and left for the hunt. Our camp was a little grove of tall pines and we hunted Indian style, every man by himself. I got to hear deer moving many times and one day I tracked a buck most of the day but he was always able to keep a cedar tree between me and him. None of us got our deer but I enjoyed the trip so much that I have never missed a chance to go hunting deer since. When the hunt was over and we got back to the ranch I made a deal with the young Forsythe boys for Tip, the best dog I ever owned.
In the 1916 election I was a candidate for office, my first venture in politics. I was elected Constable of the Lake View Precinct. I have not found out yet what I was supposed to do. The only time I was ever called was when Lew Burningham was having an affair with another man’s wife, Mrs. Howard. Someone told me that there was going to be some shooting and I went out to see if I could stop trouble. Nothing serious happened.
Through the years I messed around in politics a little and when a change in county government came I was appointed Road Supervisor for this area. This included Lake View and quite a bit of southwest Orem. It was not a steady job but it gave me a chance to pick up a few extra dollars.
One time when we were hauling gravel out of the Olsen gravel pit, I noticed a very good deposit of concrete gravel. It was not very good road gravel because it did not have the qualities that make gravel pack. I ordered the scraper and plow teams, who worked the pit and loaded wagons, to work around that deposit of concrete gravel. I used the excuse that it was not good road gravel. I knew we needed a new amusement hall in Lake View and had not had much luck converting the other members of the bishopric that we should build one. When the money approved for road work in our district was all spent we had to quit hauling gravel for the county. I got the men to work one more day for the church and we hauled the cement gravel that I had protected to the church ground. There was enough for the foundations of an amusement hall. Soon after the gravel was hauled, pressure began to build for a new hall and a committee was appointed to secure plans. I was appointed chairman of the committee and we went to the church architect, Don Carlos Smith. Luckily, Bishop Taylor went with us that day because when I introduced myself as the chairman of the committee, Don Carlos in no uncertain terms told me he would not talk to anyone but the bishop. The bishop took over and told Don Carlos in just as certain terms that I was his representative so Don Carlos listened to me but he was not very cooperative and sort of sneered at some of our ideas. We were not happy and when I came to Provo to meet with the Utah Stake Presidency, T.N. Taylor, Simeon P. Eggertsen and J.W. Knight, I guess they could tell from the way I presented our visit in Salt Lake that we were not pleased. I can still hear President Knight laugh. I imagine that he had had unpleasant relations with Don Carlos. The Stake Presidency told us we did not need to use church architects if they did not please us. We finally hired Claud Ashworth to make the plans. Thus started the Lake View Amusement Hall.
I worked with horses a lot and had some narrow escapes form getting seriously injured. I bought a fine chestnut sorrel mare from a fellow in Spanish Fork. She was about 1600 pounds, a very fine animal but a little flighty. One day I was hooking Riley and Lady to the springtooth harrow. As I stepped behind Lady to hook the tug something frightened her and she jumped and started to run. I was caught under the harrow and was being dragged in a very dangerous way but Riley responded to my yell of “Whoa!” That caused the team to turn enough so I got hold of the lines and controlled the horses. My legs were badly bruised and skinned but it could have been so much worse.
Another time I walked into the stall where Lady was tied and she became frightened of something. As she jumped back the half inch rope which she was tied with caught my neck and my head against a strong post. She pulled hard enough to break the rope across my neck. I blacked out and fell to the floor but soon recovered. The place where the rope crossed my voice box left an injury that affected my speech for some time. I often wonder what would have happened if she had not pulled hard enough to break the rope.
In the spring of 1926 (May 29, 1926) baseball season had just gotten underway and we were having a practice game between the married and single men. There was a large crowd of people out to see the game. I was catching and the single men had a runner on first base. Jim Lees was at bat. The pitcher threw a kind of high one, the man on first started for second, Jim made a wild swing. I caught the ball and leaned forward to throw to second just as Jim came around with a second swing. The bat hit me on the left temple and I went down in a heap. I was not unconscious, but every time I tried to rise, the ground seemed to rise with me. Some fellows came and picked me up and helped me home. I soon became sick to my stomach. Every time I would exert to vomit my head felt like it was coming all to pieces. My skull was fractured in so many places that it is funny I didn’t die. I was conscious until about eleven o’clock that night and then lost consciousness. For about fourteen days I was in a coma. What happened during that time someone else would have to say because I do not know. When I came to, I was in bad condition but I was stubborn. I was so dumb that it seemed to me that I should be able to make my feet go even if my head was injured. My wife was so worried and tired from caring for me that I should have had the good sense to obey her, but I was determined to walk and so I tried walking. After I had gotten to my feet, my eyes went funny. To me it seemed like they were two or three inches out in front of my face and dangling as if on a spring bouncing around. The wife was righteously mad at me so I stayed down for a while.
A few days later George Scott came over to cut my hay. I had a new mower, a kind he was not acquainted with, and I thought I could go over to the barn and tell him how to operate it. By mustering all of my strength I made it as far as the apple trees, but had to lay down for a while to gain strength to get back to the house.
The neighbors were so good to take care of the farm and the chores. Tom Reese did the milking for weeks. One of the finest sights I have ever seen was when I looked out of the bedroom window and saw practically the whole ward thinning my five acres of beets. My strength was very slow coming back and that summer was a practical loss. The crops were not good and I was not able to do work for others. It made it very hard for Ada. Along with all of the extra work that fell for her to do, Sheldon was born July 6, 1926. We were thrilled to have our third boy. I do not know what we had to live on but we got by some how.
By August, I was getting so I could work pretty good and about the first of September someone called and told me they were starting to build Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Shop and needed someone to be night watch for that very night. I jumped in the car and hurried out to the building site and found Fred Staz. He needed someone to protect the lumber on the site from fire. They had been burning dry grass. The fire was still smoldering in places. I took the job and after a day or two there was no need for a night watch so I was hired as carpenter help. I had done some carpenter work, our own house, Scott Taylor’s house and some other construction but was not qualified as a carpenter.
The construction went rapidly and I worked a lot of jobs besides carpenter work. One job that worried me was putting steel sash in the high places, 35 feet off the ground. We worked on 12 plank 24 feet long and the hard part was moving these heavy planks from one vent to the other high in the air. But we did not have any accidents. One day about ten of us were bolting nailing strips on to steel. One of the older carpenters, Stan Curtis, went to the supply shack to get some bolts and noticed that the bolts were about used. So he took all there was and cached them by a column and covered them with a board. I saw him do it and when he was not looking I got his cache and divided the bolts with all the other fellows. Soon Stan ran out of bolts and came for the ones he had hidden and he sure did cause a fuss because someone had taken his bolts. Everyone on the job was laughing quietly to themselves while he was cussing, but not to himself. After a few minutes while Stan was still cussing, Jim Simpkins hollered down from the very top of the building, “Are you mad Stan?” Then he did throw a fit.
The construction was pretty well on the way by November and Fred Statz, who by now was a good friend, asked me if I wanted to go into the plant production. I did not know anything about how pipe was made so I asked what job paid the best. He told me that ramming paid best. So I told him that I wanted to be a rammer. There were men sent in from Burmingham, Alabama to teach the local fellows how to make pipe and I was assigned to Bob Dixon to learn how to mould 5 foot 4 inch pipe. At first we made twelve drags and twelve copes for practice but did not pour any iron for several days. They were also training a crew to make cores. The first day we poured iron it was on the floor where Harmer, Nebeker and I had made the molds. We had the questionable honor of making the molds for the first pipe poured at that plant. The first pour was twelve boxes, 24 pipe. Bob Dixon said, “When you get to 48 boxes a day you will know you have been to work.” Soon we got to 48 boxes or 216 pipe on each floor. That was the most strenuous work I have ever done, partly because we hurried so fast. I was not man enough to continue. I was not able to replace what I wore off each day so I was going down hill.
Because I went to work at 5 A.M., my days work was done and I was home at noon so I decided I could sell cars in the afternoon. The Whippet car had just come on the market and I decided I would try my luck at that. I had to have a demonstrator so we bought a Whippet two door sedan. When I went to sell cars I found that others were also in that business and I did not have much luck. I sold a few, the competition was too keen for me and I ended up having two cars, a Whippet and an Overland. The Whippet was a real car and I never was sorry I got it. I drove over 100,000 miles and it never gave me any trouble.
My job at the pipe plant was not only hard on me, but was also tough on the family. I was still running the farm and had to milk the cows morning and night and had to report to work at 5 A.M. That caused Duane and Milo to get up at about 3:30 A.M. to help with the chores and Ada to make breakfast and get my lunch. Along in June I hurt my back and could not work so I had a little time out to think. I went to the pipe shop to get my check and watched the fellows doing the job that I had been doing and decided it was no way to live if one had to hurry that fast and work that hard. I started to wonder what to do.
For the fourth of July we went to Spring Glen to visit Silas and Lucretia. Silas was on the Carbon School Board and told me that they were about ready to start building at Spring Glen and Chris Tolboe of Provo was the contractor. I decided to ask for a job. When I got back to Provo I contacted Mr. Tolboe and he gave me a job as carpenter helper. I left the farm for Reese and Father to work (which did not prove very satisfactory to either one) and we took what we could in the car and a little trailer I had made and moved to Spring Glen. Silas owned a house that was empty and we rented that.
The work was fine, I enjoyed it very much even though it was seven days a week. Ada and Lucretia had the best chance they ever had to visit. On Sunday night we would go to Price to church. Many other evenings we would take both families and go up to the dry farm for a weiner roast. The summer passed rapidly and pleasantly. While I was working at the pipe shop and in Spring Glen the amusement hall in Lake View had been built and while we were still in Spring Glen we learned that Serge Glade was going on a mission and that his farewell party would be the first to be held in the new hall. We made arrangements for Silas and Lucretia to come to the party with us. We left work in Spring Glen at noon and the four adults and some of the children started for Lake View. In the mean time I had bought a toupee and was getting used to it little by little. You can imagine the funny looks that were cast at me when I appeared at the party with a new full head of hair. It was real funny, I could sense the curiosity but most everyone was courteous enough not to say anything about it.
We had a very good time at the party, but a heavy rain started and about 11 P.M. we decided it was time to start for Spring Glen. It was raining cats and dogs until we got to the red narrows, then it turned to snow and we had to break trail through heavy snow all the way over Soldier Summit. We had alcohol in the radiator and on account of the hard pull, the radiator got to boiling and the engine got hot so we had to stop at a ditch and carry water in one of my overshoes to fill the radiator. The road through Price Canyon was closed for construction so we had to go all the way across the park and down Willow Creek Canyon. By the time we got to Castle Gate the snow had changed to rain and had frozen on the road so it was real difficult driving. We got home at 6 A.M. and I got my breakfast and was at work at 8 A.M.
The school work lasted until January 1st. I had planned to go in the Kenilworth mine on a tour. The mine goes back into the mountain three miles. However the weather turned bad and we thought we had better head for home. We loaded everything we could on the two wheel trailer and put a metal roof that I had picked up at the school house on top of the load. The metal roof later became the roof of the milk house. We started for home about January 6th. We had not reached Soldier Summit when one of the trailer tires blew out. It was an odd size and we had no spare so we just kept on driving on the flat. A short distance down the canyon the other tire of the trailer blew so we traveled on two flat tires. Flat tires do not wear as good as inflated ones and before we got to Springville rubber was gone and we made it to Provo on the rims. In Provo one of the rims came off and we only went a little way until the spokes broke off and we unhooked the trailer and drove the car home. I left the family and part of the car load at home and hooked the pig sled behind the Whippet. The sleighing was good and we went back to Provo, loaded the trailer on the sleigh and got all of the way home in spite of tires. I still see the remains of that poor old trailer once in a while down in the lower field.
When we got settled at home, Father came with tears in his eyes to get me to take the farm and because I felt bad for him I decided to do it. There was not enough farm to make a living on so after a year we got Bob Olsen to take the farm and I went to work for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
I had not been home long before another church call came to me. There was a Ward Conference held on February 26, 1928, and President T.N. Taylor announced that I would be the new bishop to take the place of W.W. Taylor who had been released. At the next Stake Conference held in Provo, June 3, 1928, I was ordained a bishop by Richard R. Lyman.
The job with the life insurance company was a good job. Most of the work I liked just fine and after the first three months I made good wages. Eighty to one hundred dollars a week, that was more than we had ever made before. I stayed with Met Life for a year but the manager was never satisfied with anyone’s work. Of course it was for our own good that he rode us, but on a Saturday in the spring it got under my hide and I up and quit. Maybe it was the call of the wild because every spring I have the urge to work ground. Later, when the depression of the 1930’s hit the insurance business went on the rocks and all of the agents who were working with me went broke because of lapsed insurance. So maybe it was not a bad thing to quit. Bob Olsen did not want to run the farm any longer so I went back to farming. This time I rented the lower field from the S.E. Bunnell estate so I would have more ground to work. I had only rented it a little while when Aunt Julie made a proposition to sell it to me and I thought that it was a good chance for me and accepted her proposition. I had saved a little money and gathered everything I could together and made a down payment. I got the rest on contract. The extra farm I had taken on and the church work kept me really busy. Farm work done with horses is much slower than with a tractor. For instance, it was a big day for me to get one-and-a-half acres of ground plowed under good conditions. It took long hours and steady going, but we had a happy home. Another thing to add to our happiness was that LaVar came to live with us on June 28, 1929. Growing family, growing responsibility, growing joy, growing crops, growing older.
When the depression came I managed to get a Federal Land Bank Loan for enough to pay Aunt Julie off and that saved my neck. For a few years the Land Bank did not require us to pay on the principle and by very close figuring and very scanty living we were able to pay the interest and taxes.
On the farm we raised hay, barley, wheat, beets, peas and anything else that could make a dollar. We had from seven to twelve cows to milk, raised a few chickens, some pigs, some beef, just a general variety of things. We always had to keep enough horses to do the farm work. I generally had three horses. One year Louis Olsen let us use his team to pay for pasturing them. When it came hay time, Duane would take one team and mower, Milo would take the other team and mower and I would follow them with the rake. We would start on the upper fields and cut and rake until we finished the lower fields. Then we would come back to the upper field and turn the rake dumps over with the rake and pile the hay by hand. When the second operation was complete, the hauling job would start. We stacked some of the hay in the barn and the rest we stacked outside with a hay derrick. Ada sometimes took the job of riding hay horse and sometimes she would pull the hay fork with the car.
On February 8, 1932, Donna came to live with us. She brought sunshine into our lives with her sunny disposition and her beautiful golden curls.
During the 30’s was a nationwide depression. Money was real hard to get. As it is the bishop’s business to see that the local church functions are financed, it became quite a problem to raise money. When the people had to choose between feeding their families and paying money to the church, they naturally took care of their families. I was almost forced to discontinue meetings because there was no money to buy coal for the church furnace. The Sugar Company used to store large piles of beets during harvest and haul them to the sugar factory later. I got the idea that the ward could get men and teams to haul the beets and donate their earnings to the ward maintenance. I took the matter up with the priesthood and got their support, then I went to Mr. Cobbley of the Sugar Company and he agreed. So we kept the church going by hauling beets. There was some opposition to this arrangement, but the great majority of the ward supported the plan.
Another bothersome item was the government relief. The Federal Government had acquired great amounts of surplus grain. Because of the depression they started giving rolled wheat for cattle feed and flour for human consumption to needy people. The Red Cross had charge of the distribution for the government and they, in turn, worked through local civic government agencies. Because there was no civic government in Lake View, the county commission decided the bishop should take this job. They sent large truck loads of rolled wheat and flour for me to distribute to those who needed it most. It was a hard job for me. Some, whom I thought needed the grain would not take it. Others, whom I did not think needed it, demanded it. So it was quite a problem for me.
The County Commissioners also handed me welfare work to get money to unemployed and needy folks. Owen Smoot, the County Commisioner, gave me a check book and a bank account for $1600 and told me I could not spend any money for tools or materials, but must find some worth while community project to employ men so they could earn the money. This is a difficult thing to do worth while work without either materials or tools. My advice is, “Do not run for bishop during depression times.” As if anyone ever runs for the office of bishop. I hope there will never be times like that again.
While I was bishop, Sharon Stake was created out of the north part of Utah Stake. At its creation, Sharon Stake included all of Orem, Edgemont, Lake View, Vineyard and a little of the north part of Provo. A.V. Watkins was made President of the Sharon Stake and one of his new innovations was a five year tenure of office for bishop. In compliance with this order, I was released from being bishop at the end of a five year period. I was made a member of the High Council of Sharon Stake and served with a lot of fine brethren. I was set apart as a high councilman by Melvin J. Ballard on January 15, 1933. (One of the high councilmen of Sharon Stake at the time was Henry D. Taylor).
While I was on the High Council, I was elected a director of Scera and had opportunity to help the supervision of that organization. I worked on the scera building and I had the privilege of signing a note for $500 to finance the building and its activities. When the note came due I had to pay the $500, which I could not afford to do. Later when Scera got on its financial feet I got the $500 plus pay for most of the work I had done on the building. This payment reestablished my belief in Santa Clause.
About April of 1935, Silas and Lucretia took Ada and me on a trip to Arizona and California. Sister Ester Boulton came and stayed at our home to tend the children and we met Silas and Lucretia at Spanish Fork early one morning and started south. We went through Las Vegas and ferried across the Colorado River just a short distance (about 5 miles) above Hoover Dam. The gates on the dam had been closed only a few days. We stopped at Kingman, went to Phoenix and the Temple at Mesa. Then we went to San Deigo, Tiajuana, Los Angeles, San Fransico, Reno, Salt Lake and on home. Two wonderful weeks we spent. Our first trip out of state.
One Sunday night we were coming home from church and had to walk on the road because there was no sidewalk. In years gone by the people living south of the church had done some work on the sidewalk, such as leveling and putting in culverts. Because of weeds and mud, no one used them. As we were walking on the side of the road a car brushed so close to us that LaVor was spun around by the force of air or else he was hit slightly. At any rate, we were really frightened. We decided something should be done to make pedestrians more safe. I had an errand to the State Capitol and while there decided to visit the State Road Commission to see if any help could be had for walks. I was a little bashful about how much help to ask for, but after talking to them for a few minutes it seemed to me they were thinking along that line. At last they said, “Why be so bashful, why not ask for concrete walks through a community that has so many houses along a road as you say this road has?” I had drawn a map and located each house at the approximate distance from each other. The man told me he would have his agent investigate the proposition. A few days later a man from the State Road met me and we went over the site. Because of this presentation, a project was authorized to make a cement walk from the church to the river. The State Road would pay all of the expenses. Jim Blake of Vineyard found out about the project some way and went to the State Road and demanded an equal amount for Vineyard. To appease him the State cut part of the Lake View allowance off and we finally got a cement walk, with all grading and culverts, paid for by the State Road from Dean Taylor’s to the church.
Duane and Milo were getting more able to take responsibility and they were very willing boys. I was not able to make enough money from the farm to meet all of the bills so I started to look for some outside income.
I heard that the Utah Power and Light Company was going to build a new power plant at Olmsted and I rushed there and landed a job as carpenter with them. I shall never forget the first day I went to work. It was the 2nd of February 1936. That year there had been lots of snow and we got the January thaw in February. There was a bridge across the Big Bench Canal that had been taken out and had to be replaced immediately. The rain started to come down as soon as we started to work and, though we got soaked to the hide, we had to keep on working. Ott Miner was our boss and he stayed with us and got just as wet and cold as any of us. It took until about 6:30 to finish the job. The last job I had to do was some braces under the bridge, working in water to my knees with mud and water running down the road, onto the bridge, through the cracks in the floor and on to my back. When the bridge was safe to leave, the boss said, “I guess we better go home before we get all wet.” That turned out to be a very good job. We worked seven days a week and had lots of over time, some days we had twelve hours. I believe the pay was 90 cents per hour. We were so low on money that the first pay day, for two weeks, looked like the biggest of any money I had ever seen. I got $107 and brought it home in one dollar bills to make it look bigger. We needed money so badly and appreciated it so much that it has always been a highlight in our lives.
I stayed on this job for more than a year, except a little spell in the summer, and it helped greatly with our finances. Duane and Milo, with what little help I could give, ran the farm and did a very good job of it.
On July 15, 1936 Ruth Ada was born to add more joy to our home. About this time I was out of work at the Utah Power Plant and much to the displeasure of my wife, when Ruth was only two weeks old, I went to Bridgeland to work for the Bureau of Reclamation. I only stayed on this job for two weeks and then came back to the Steam Power plant at Olmstead.
From now on I more or less left the farm to others. Milo took over and did a very good job. He built up the cow herd and did well with the farm in general. A desire to go to Idaho came over him and he bought what cows I had and took his and went to Meridian, Idaho.
Sometime along about now, I worked for the Concrete Pipe Co. of Pleasant Grove. I was yard carpenter and had to keep everything around the yard, including the houses that they used to steam the large pipes in and the storage yard where they stored those 20 ton pipe, in good condition. The steam houses were about 10 feet square and 22 feet high and were moved from one pad to another to cover the newly poured pipe. This moving was very rough on the houses and caused a great deal of repair. I talked to the superintendent and told him if he would get me the proper material I would build him a house that would hold. It would take a long story to tell it. He got me the desired material and I built a barrel 10 feet in diameter and 22 feet high. It was so much better than the square houses that eventually they changed all 24 of their houses for barrels.
While working at Pleasant Grove, Wesley Soulier got me to take on a night school in carpentry at Lincoln High School. The school ran three months at three nights a week. I had about 24 boys of high school age. Some of them didn’t do much, but some of them turned out to be real good workmen. Three of the best were Leo and Dello Rowley and a Christensen boy. My class built the forms for the round snack bar room on the Scera Building along with other projects.
The next carpenter job I had was on the overpass in Provo. I worked for Lee Young. John Tolman was the superintendent and John and I became very good friends. Enough so, that when he died many years later he had asked me to talk at his funeral. The overpass started in the late summer and lasted all winter. Some of the coldest work I have ever done was while working there. One day Andrew Johnson talked to me about joining the carpenter union and it seemed quite reasonable to me that I should. I had been a member of the Farm Bureau and had been it’s local president. I had been active in every organization that I had belonged to so why not be a member of the carpenter union if I was going to do carpenter work? I joined in the fall of 1937 and started to take an active part in that union. After a while I was elected secretary of the union and a couple of years later was elected Business Agent. That was just a job at that time because there was not membership enough or business enough to justify paying a Business Agent full time.
When the overpass was finished I worked at the power plant in Spanish Fork Canyon for a while. But I did not like the boss there. Then I worked on the remodeling of the Provo Library and whatever came up. When war work started in Utah it was all in Salt Lake and Ogden. I worked on the Birch Creek housing project for a while. Then I came to the Salt Lake Airport because it was closer and I could drive back and forth. When the Small Arms plant started I got transferred there because it was a little closer to home. I started on the Small Arms about July 1, 1941 and worked there until Geneva was about to start. While working at the Small Arms, it was seven days a week. I couldn’t take care of Sunday work and was released as president of the Sharon Stake High Priest Quorum. I served as High Councilman for six or seven years and then was made president of Sharon Stake High Priest Quorum. One project I had was to try to get every member of the quorum, regardless of age, or infirmity, to attend at least one quorum meeting. I failed with Jim Cordner. Another project was to present each widow of a deceased high priest with a turkey for Christmas. I succeeded at that.
On March 1, 1942 I went to work for local 1498 as full time Business Agent. Work had not gotten under way, but lots of preliminary work had to be done. We worked many days on an agreement for labor wages and working conditions. We wanted to get everything so well understood between the employers and the unions that there would not need to be any work stoppage on account of labor relations. There are two words used in the English language that I hate more than any others. They are “strike” and “picket.” I had made up my mind that there would be nether of these words used in connection with the Geneva work if I had the power to prevent it. During the entire job there was no major stoppage. At one time the welders tried to upset things by making a special union for welders, but by hard work and work around the clock and with wise negotiations this threat was overcome.
Local 1498 had grown to nearly 300 by the time Geneva started to do carpenter work. The first time I met one of the high officials of the contracting firms I asked him how many carpenters they would need. He asked me how many we had and I told him 300 and he said he would need more than that. Bertha worked in the office with me beginning about three weeks before she graduated from high school and continued until a month before she was married. At the peak of construction the five largest contractors at Geneva employed between 3,000 and 4,000 carpenters. There was a lot of other construction started soon after. Lots of houses to take care of the influx of people and school houses to take care of the children. Other industrial development began, hospitals and many kinds of related work.
While working at Small Arms we were able to save some money and finally, after working as Business Agent for a time, we had enough money to pay the mortgage on the lower field (Bunnell Farm). One day I took Ada down to the field, got out of the car, pointed to the fence all around the farm and said, “This is our’s now and no one except maybe the doctor or the undertaker will ever get a mortgage on it as long as we own it.” We have lived up to our promise.
Soon after Geneva got going, the prisoner-of-war camp for the Japanese doubtfuls was established at Topaz near Delta and they needed several hundred carpenters there. Two wall board factories at Sigurd were underway, plus a hospital and school at Richfield and they all needed carpenters. I had charge of recruiting and keeping satisfied all of these carpenters and contractors. In addition to the local work, I was delegate to the District Council of Carpenters and Executive Secretary of the State Council of Carpenters. This latter job took me all over the state; Vernal, Kanab, Moab, St. George, Ceder City and many intermediate calls.
I was a delegate to many annual conventions of Utah State Federation of Labor. I was Vice President of that organization which held meetings in Price, Ceder City, Provo, Salt Lake, Ogden, Brigham and Logan in different years. At the Provo meeting I had charge of selecting outside speakers and was fortunate in getting Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of Twelve to be the speaker at a general meeting. I could not help but notice that the nature of the meetings to a great extent followed the ideals of the host group. The Logan and Provo groups always conducted their programs in good taste.
The union took in quite a bit of money in initiation fees and rather than just let it lay in the bank, we decided to invest some of it in Liberty Bonds. BYU was helping advertise and they announced that at a coming football game the ball would be auctioned off to the one who would buy the most bonds. I talked with the ones who had charge of the affair and we arranged a little show. Others were to bid and I was to raise their bid each time to make a show of it. The others had seen that my check was for $22,000 and knew that I would go up that high. When the auctioneer got up to announce the proceeding he stated that he did not want anyone to bid unless they had the money to back it up. This must have scared the other bidders because when I got up to $5,000 everyone else quit. After the auctioneer had made a futile effort to get someone to bid I could see that the show was over and bid the $22,000. I started down to get the ball and I guess I was a little fussed. The band started to play the National Anthem and I forgot to salute. I got chided and the crowd got a good laugh. Ada and I sat with the BYU President in his special box at the game that day.
I continued on at this wild pace every day and nearly every night until I would not have blamed my wife if she had sued for divorce on the grounds of desertion. The office of Business Agent came up for election every year. And, although I never had much to worry about, I did not like the tension of election every year. One year I decided not to run for reelection and my name was not on the ballot, but enough people wrote my name on so I got more votes than the other two fellows who’s names were on the ballot put together. While I was Business Agent, the Union 1498 built the Labor Temple which stands at 155 West 1st North in Provo. I had a great deal of the responsibility for the construction of that building. About 1949 I decided I had had enough of that business, work had decreased considerably and there was not much to worry about so I declined to run. Bill Ryan was elected.
We bought a large house at 765 North 4th East in Provo. Milo had bought the house from a guy who had bought it from Mr. George Collard. At the time Milo was selling Hudson cars in Provo but someone from Boise offered him a job as sales manager. He wanted to take the Idaho job and got us to take the Collard house off his hands. We made the proper financial arrangements with Milo, absorbed the remainder of the contract that Mr. Collard held and had ourselves a house. There was room for lots of students to live in the house besides our family. We thought we would move to Provo and rent part of the property to students and live happily ever after. We moved to Provo, rented all of the space we could spare to students, rented the house in Lake View and did not live happily ever after.
Ruth went to school at Lincoln, I wanted to be near my shop and farm and Ada wanted us to be happy so after about a year we rented the Provo house to the Brigadier Social Unit, remodeled the Lake View house quite a bit and moved home again. The Provo house was a good venture financially. It paid it’s way and more and by adding a little from my earnings we had it almost paid for when we got ready to sell it.
I worked at carpenter work and for a while I worked on production at Gaten here in Lake View. While working there I became sick and after three trips to the hospital for observation they told me I would have to have an operation. The date with the hospital was three weeks ahead and by that time I was feeling good and was back to work so it was with some reluctance that I went to the hospital. Even after I was assigned my room I decided not to go through with it and put my clothes on and was going home. Then the doctor (Dr. Endsley) came in and after talking to me for a while said, “We all think you have a cancer.” That took care of the conversation. I said, “Give me a pill and put me to bed.”
The next morning they took me to the operating room. I guess I was slightly woozy from pills but the doctor poked me in the back with something, then soon began to cut my stomach open. Then another doctor put a mask over my nose and mouth and I didn’t know anything for a long time. I have been told the operation lasted five-and-a-half hours. They went completely through my innards to be sure they didn’t leave any cancer unnoticed. When Ada saw Dr. Endsley she asked him how I was getting along and he told her he had just taken a cancer as large as a football out of me. Two or three days of testing proved it was not cancer but a tumor. (Lost one kidney).
I was in the hospital about five days and had the best of care from everyone. My wife was sweet, concerned and helpful. The nurses treated me well and the doctors took very good care of me. I was not nauseated one minute even after five-and-a-half hours of anesthetic. It took several weeks before I could go back to work and after I got strong enough I went back to Gaten. After a few weeks they ran out of orders and half of their crew was laid off.
I worked at different jobs and finally went to work on Wasatch School. Many of the union members asked me to go for the Business Agent again. They were not happy with what they had and after much urging I decided to run again. I won by a good margin. Bill Ryan got mad at me and never got over it. I kept the job for nearly three years this time. There was a Western States Convention held in San Francisco and I went as a delegate from 1498. Ada and I went on the train from Ogden. We had a lovely trip. While I was at the convention for three days, Ada visited with Dru in Palo Alto. All of the top brass of the Carpenter Union International were in attendance. Their attitude was so domineering and autocratic that I decided I did not want to be connected with a bunch like that. At the first good opportunity that presented itself, I resigned and have not taken active part in the union since.
I got a job as inspector on Provo High School, but the salary was not what I wanted. After some talk the school board and architect decided I could take on extra work to help out financially. The Plew Construction Company was the contractor and they gave me the saw filing for the carpenters on the job. This gave me a few dollars extra every day and made it a good job. This inspection job lasted nearly two years.
While the school job was in progress, Vascoe and Lea invited us to go with them on a trip to Hawaii. After much consideration we let Christopherson Travel Agency make the arrangements for the trip. A day by day account of that trip is recorded in this book. Needless to say we had a very interesting, educational and enjoyable trip.
When the school house was finished Elman and I decided we would try our hand at house construction. In the next couple of years we built fine homes for Dr. Russell Swenson, Dr. Smith Pond, Dallan Clark and Dr. Da Costa Clark as well as several smaller addition and remodelling jobs.
My back had been giving me trouble for a long time and was getting worse. Dr. Kazarian told me the only thing that would help it was to get some kind of work that would not be so strenuous on my back. I decided to quit heavy work and started living. Both Ada and I are enjoying very much having more time to be together and not to have to hurry all the time.
The house at 765 North 4th East, Provo was more or less a worry and we were not inclined to keep it longer. The man that had been manager for the social unit made us a proposition for a down payment enough to clear all indebtness on the house and monthly payments over a period of ten years. So now Robert Robinson has the worry and we are receiving the payments each month. Roby is doing well, we are satisfied and everyone is happy.
After I quit regular work we had time to do more temple work. We have always been interested in temple work. Each time we have taken a trip, we have tried to include temples in our tour. We have been to Salt Lake City, Logan, Idaho Falls, Cardston, Canada, Hawaii, Mesa, Los Angeles, St. George and Manti for temple work as well as a visit to Kirtland Temple.
For the last ten years my chief church work had been with Senior Aaronic members of the Church, both in stake and ward capacity. Sometimes it seems like there is not very much being accomplished. However, when some couple with whom you have been working makes a complete change in their life and goes to the temple with their family it is reward for a lot of time spent. I have enjoyed going to the temple with eight couples from our ward and at least one from another ward that it has been my privilege to help see the light. I still have a hope list about a dozen long.
In July 1961 we decided to go on a bus trip to the Church Pageant at Palmyra, New York. We had a most enjoyable trip for three weeks.
We have a good blue Ford 3/4 ton truck, a ten foot Vista Liner Camper, a sixteen foot glass boat and trailer. We have a three horse power trolling motor and a 35 horse power motor along with a pretty good supply of fishing tackle and we surely do enjoy going to various places with our good friends and using our things. We have fished at Meed Lake, Fish Lake, Schofield, Strawberry and Utah Lake as well as a fine trip to Yellowstone Park and Hebdgen Lake in Montana. At Hebdgen Lake we visited all of the earthquake damage of a few years ago.
About seven years ago we bought season tickets to the BYU basketball games and it was so enjoyable for both of us that it seems to be part of our life now. We surely do enjoy seeing the games.
I became bald while I was still in my twenties. I knew some people who were wearing wigs, so while I was working on the Spring Glen School I got the urge to get a toupee. I boarded a train one morning and went to Salt Lake and purchased a head piece. I got used to wearing it while I was still in Spring Glen so I was not so conscious of it. The first time I wore it in Lake View was the night Silas, Lucertia, Ada and I came to Serge Glade’s farewell party in Lake View. I got a lot of funny looks and a couple of remarks but not too bad.
After we returned to Lake View I continued to wear the toupee for about four years. I could not use it while I worked because perspiration would cause the thing to skid. I had several embarrassing situations and finally decided to quit wearing it. So when I went with the scouts on a week long trip to Strawberry and Stinking Springs, I left the wig home. I thought that would be a good time for me to get used to being without it.
I was bishop by now and the first night I was home from the scout trip, Pres. Watkins called a ward meeting that I had to attend. I was almost late for the meeting and I never will forget the strange looks I got as I went through the crowded house up to the rostrum. It couldn’t have been much worse if I had forgotten my trousers. Everyone was curious, but only two were curious enough to ask what had happened. I told Mrs. Rosetta Johnson that I had put the wig up on the rafters and the rats had made a nest out of it. Liza Starting asked me what became of it, and I told her that I was fishing on Willow Creek when a dry willow caught it and pulled it off my head. I said it floated down the stream so fast that I could not catch it. A year or two later, I wore the toupee in a vaudeville and they both got mad. They thought a bishop should not lie to them. I still have the toupee but only use it on special occasions.
Vasco, Lea, Ada and I left Lake View May 4, 1956 at 2:30 P.M. on the first leg of our journey to Hawaii. We stayed in Washington, Utah with Ira and proceeded to Los Angeles the next day. Uncle Hugh had a lovely dinner arranged for us in the Lafayette Hotel. After dinner, at 10:45, we went to the Los Angeles Airport and boarded a large plane for the islands.
The plane was a DC 7 with four motors and 75 seats, all occupied. The stewards showed us the life preservers and how to use them in case we dunked in the ocean. It was dark so all we could see were the lights getting lower as we traveled. The seats were comfortable, but sleep was not easy. As daylight came all I could see was the blue sky above and the fleecy clouds beneath, very beautiful. We were at 20,000 feet altitude. We came down through the clouds and sighted the ocean and island at 6 A.M. and at 6:20 landed at Honolulu Airport. A taxi was waiting and took us to the Edgewater Hotel on Waikiki Beach.
Billie Hollinshed (female) took us for a tour of much of Oahu. This tour lasted until mid-afternoon. We spent the evening on the beach and in the gardens of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
May 7, we were taken by plane (30 minutes) to Maui. Lily, our driver, took us to the Maui Palms Hotel and later, with 3 other people, to the summit of Haleakala (9,800 feet elevation). This is the rim of an extinct volcano. The clouds were so heavy that we could not see, so we returned to the hotel for a lovely dinner. We went to historic Lao Valley and while we were sight seeing, Lily prepared fresh pineapple, the best in the world, for us. We returned to the hotel and Vasco’s friend, David Moikaha, took us on a tour of the east side of the island of Lahima, famous for church history.
May 8, we boarded a plane for the largest island, Hawaii, and landed at Kona. We stayed at Kona Inn which is a lovely place. In the afternoon we were taken on a tour of coffee plantations. We saw historic places and scenic places. At night in the hotel there was a program of singing and hula dancing.
The next day we circled the south and east sides of the island. We saw coffee plantations, sugar cane plantations and stopped at Black Sand Beach. We also visited active volcanos and saw beautiful tropical vegetation as well as the city of Hilo. This is the second largest city and to me the most beautiful of the islands. The LDS Church had a lovely building and grounds close to the Rainbow Falls.
We boarded the plane at 5:30 to return to Oahu. The view from the air was wonderful, ocean waterfalls, vegetation, plantations and coastline are indescribable. Sixty-two minutes after take off at Lio we set down at Honolulu. Our driver picked us up at the airport and took us back to the Edgewater Hotel. This time we had the most elaborate suite of rooms in the hotel. There were three rooms and a fancy porch.
May 10, we were scheduled for a circle island tour, but the driver was late so we rented a car and Vasco took over as our guide. We went to Hickman Air Force Base, Pearl Harbor, where we saw many battle ships. Vasco worked a permit to go through a most modern submarine, the Wahoo. In the afternoon, Chaplain Murphy and six nuns invited us to go with them on a tour of Pearl Harbor in Admiral Olsen’s private yacht. We cruised past the sunken battleship Utah, the docks and saw much of the destruction of Dec. 7, 1941. We saw many other interesting sights and launched on the sunken hull of the battleship Arizona in who’s hull 1100 bodies of navy men are still entombed.
We left Pearl Harbor and traveled through Pearl City, spacious pineapple country, passed Schofield Army Depot and to Laie. After seeing the LDS temple and site of the church college we had dinner with Miss Holling’s head and returned via the Poli to Honolulu and our lovely suite in the Edgewater Hotel.
May 11, we toured the swank residential district of Honolulu and went to the Punch Bowl where preparations were under way for a funeral honoring several unknown dead of the Korean War. We met the chaplain and Lieutenant in charge. We went back to the hotel and prepared for a trip to the temple at Laie. We drove over the Poli and took an excursion on the glass bottom boat to see the coral gardens around Coconut Island. This is a tourist spot of great renown.
We arrived at the temple in time for the four o’clock session, it was very lovely. There were some differences in people. After the temple session we went to a very interesting community carnival, food and activities of all the polynesian island people.
May 12, we leisurely toured the northwest shoreline of Oahu back to Honolulu. We went swimming in the ocean at Waikiki and Ada got a nasty dunking in a dirty wave.
May 13, we attended Sunday School with the Waikiki Ward. It was a Mother’s Day program. Mother Ada received an orchid from the children at home. We spent the evening prowling through the reef and Royal Hawaiian Hotel and we saw a good hula show.
May 14, we went to pier 8 and saw a large ocean liner (Pres. Wilson) arrive from the Orient. It was a beautiful affair with bands playing and flowers. In the afternoon we went to Hailua where the sandy beach is natural and much superior to Waikiki. We had a fine swim in the ocean and a weiner roast. Then we went back to Honolulu by way of the south end of the island where the coast is very rugged and the waves splash high.
May 15, Vasco borrowed Pres. Clissold’s Cadallac and we finished our tour of Oahu. We returned to Hickman Field and got to see some large planes (B 36). They have ten engines, five propellers and four jets. We also went to the pineapple cannery and drank juice from the famed fountain. We visited Bishop Museum and did many other things. Then we headed back to the Edgewater Hotel where we dunked our feet in the swimming pool, packed our things and went to the airport at 6:20. At 6:30 we were on our way to Los Angeles. They served us a nice turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. We flew at 20,000 feet going 300 miles per hour. At 5:30 we were served breakfast and told we were one hour and 10 minutes from LA. We soon saw the sun come up way down below us in a beautiful array of color. We landed at 7 A.M. and arrived at Los Angeles Temple barely in time for the 8 A.M. session. After the temple session we visited with Pres. and Mrs. Henry D. Taylor for a few minutes and took off for Provo. We arrived at 6 P.M. on May 18, after a very lovely trip.
Milo, Lila, Ada and I had a very lovely trip to the northwest territory and visited the World’s Fair in Seattle. Ada and I and the camper (Katrena) left Lake View at 4:30 A.M. and met Lila and Milo in Salt Lake at about 6 A.M. May 13, 1962. We planned to ride in the cab and camper so we would not be crowded. We travelled via Tremonten, Burley, Mt. Home and arrived at Boise about 4:30 so we could go to church at the ward where Milo and Lila used to live. After church we attended a gathering of about a dozen of their friends (lovely people) at the home of Bro. and Sis. Ernest Mason. The next morning we travelled northwest through Idaho and Oregon and visited at Pendeltom with friends of Leone and Wayne (Irma Foster).
Then we went on to the Columbia River and crossed a long toll bridge, Umatella, into Washington. We went on the Yacakma to a place near Seattle. Because it was getting late and we did not care to enter the city at night, we found a place a little way off the highway and camped in the wilderness. It was beautiful. The next morning we found our prearranged camp at River Bend, a trailer park in Maple Valley. We got ourselves established and went to the World’s Fair which was some twenty or thirty miles from our cabins. There was plenty of parking space close by the south gate so we parked the camper and went into the fair. The weather was cloudy with a little rain and quite cold. Not too good for taking pictures. We visited several exhibits and went to the top of the needle. Then we went to the camper and had lunch. We went back to the fair until evening and then drove to River Bend for the night. Between the fair and the trailer park we crossed an arm of Puget Sound on a long five lane bridge that was floating on some kind of pontoons.
The second day at the fair we visited more exhibits and went up the needle again. The weather was clear so we got good pictures, some of the water skiers. The exhibits were all very good but they were too scientific for me to understand. We had to wait in lines from 45 minutes to an hour and an half to get to see any of the major attractions. We ate dinner at a Chinese Restaurant inside the fair. That afternoon (May 16) we started north and found more of Milo and Lila’s friends at Edmonds, Washington (the Orlan Haroldson’s). We parked the camper in their backyard among tall, beautiful native pine trees.
Early the next morning we drove to Anacortes and put the camper on the ferry for a trip to Vancouver Island. The boat, which went across the sound and past the many beautifully timbered islands, was surely something to remember. The water was smooth and blue. The sky was blue and sunny even if it was slightly cold. We passed a few other boats and stopped at two island towns before arriving at Sidney, British Columbia in the afternoon. As we were driving off the ferry, the camper struck some protruding object that ripped quite a bad hole in the upper right corner. We travelled around looking at the country and visited Burtiches Gardens. This is a wonderful flower garden built in an abandoned rock quarry. It was one of the highlights of our trip. In late afternoon we started for Gold Stream Camp to stay for the night. Lila had camping places and accommodations all plotted on a map. This camp is as nearly unspoiled by people as a camp can be. The beautiful tall trees made me wonder how they have survived the demand for lumber. These trees were six feet thick and 200 feet tall with hardly a branch except at the very top. It was a lovely place to spend an enjoyable night.
The next morning we drove to Victoria, the seat of government for Vancover Island. After visiting a while, we boarded another ship for the United States and after a chilly, windy, pleasant voyage landed at Fort Angeles, Washington. We travelled along the sound to Bremerton and saw the ship yards from the road. We also passed through forests and by lumber mills, Tacoma and Olympia. But we didn’t stop for a free beer. We made our way down through Washington and crossed into Oregon at Portland. Just west of Portland, at Beaverton, we found Grace Williamson Austin and visited with them in the evening. We parked the camper in their driveway and the next morning we kept on south to Salem. There we visited the capitol buildings and lovely flowers on the grounds before going to Humbug Mt. campsite for the night. This is a comparatively new camp and the accommodations are superb. The next day we got to California and spent most of the day enjoying the redwood forests. One has to see them to believe. It was getting evening by the time we got to Ukia and we found a camp to park in at a price (unsatisfactory). Ada’s sister, Dru Lawson, lived at Santa Rosa. We got there early, visited and had dinner with them. Most of their children came and we were happy to see them. After dinner we drove to Vallejo and spent a few minutes discussing whether to go home or to Oakland and see Grant Cluff. Oakland won and we found his lovely large home on the side of the mountain. Milo and Lila went with the Cluff’s for an evening in San Francisco and Ada and I stayed with Grant’s mother for an evening visit. The next morning we left early to cross California into Nevada. We were headed home and the sights had to be seen on the go. We did stop at Donnars Pass for dinner and to feed the squirrels. After dinner we drove through Reno and over the Nevada desert to Wells where we stopped at a service station for the night. We were on the road early and we stopped in the center of the salt flat for lunch. Then we went on to Salt Lake City. A very lovely trip and Milo and Lila were lovely to travel with.
ORAL LIFE HISTORY:
I’d like to ask you a little about your family background. Were your parents and grandparents all members of the church?
Well, that’s quite interesting because Lake View is much older than Orem and some of that history might be interesting. There were canals here before there were canals on the bench. My father was the first white child born on the north side of Provo River in Provo. That was Peter Madsen Junior. I feel kind of like a pioneer on account of that. My grandfather was a fisherman and he kept a lot of people from starving during the grasshopper wars and famines. He would catch fish with nets out of Utah Lake. People would come and get them and if they had anything to pay for them with, they would pay and if they didn’t they would get the fish anyway. I don’t know if you know anything about fish or not, but there are only five varieties of fish native to Utah Lake. Three of them are suckers. One of them is a native trout. Nobody knows where there are any more of these. My grandfather used to sell the trout to keep his families and he gave the suckers away. People would come with barrels and salt down from Sanpete Canyon. This won’t sound appetizing to you, but they would put a layer of fish, then a layer of salt, then a layer of fish, then a layer of salt in fifty gallon barrels. This way they would keep a long time and they would take them back down to Sanpete County. I guess they were more palatable than snowballs. That is a little bit of history that few people would know, and if you want that kind of information, I can tell you.
My father was born on June 2, 1858, down where Utah Lake Park is now. In 1862 the lake raised so high that it flooded them out and they had to move to higher ground. He was only about four years old, and he can remember his father backing the boat up to the doorstep and loading he and his mother and what little things they could in the boat and rowing off up to higher ground.
There wasn’t much going on when I was bishop because it was during the depression and I had one very bad situation to handle. There was a lot of government grain for cattle feed and flour for human feed that was available and because there was no specific community here, the county commissioners unloaded it on me and if you ever want to run into trouble, try to give away some government property. I tried to do the best I could, but I made a big mistake. I took it as a personal job. I should have called in the Relief Society Presidency and everybody who was concerned with welfare and had a meeting, but I didn’t do it. I tried to portion it out as good as I could to people who I thought would need it and some that did need it, I didn’t know, and others that didn’t need it very badly were right there after it. We had a few arguments. One fellow wanted to fight me and I didn’t want to fight, but he made me mad so that I wanted to fight and then he didn’t want to. I’ve always been glad that both of us didn’t want to fight at the same time because that would have been very bad for a bishop to have a fight.
What church service had you had before you became bishop?
Well, that would make quite a long story. I was President of the Deacon’s Quorum and President of the Teacher’s Quorum and Counselor to the Bishop in the Priest’s Quorum. I was an elder for a short time when I became President of the MIA and Assistant to the Superintendent of the Sunday School and then quite early in life I was called to be the Bishop’s Counselor. I served as counselor for about seven years and then as bishop for about five years and then President Watkins introduced this five year plan and my time was up so they replaced me.
Have you supported your family through being a farmer?
I started out as a farmer. Then I got injured and lost a year of farming. Then I went to work out at the pipe shop loading cast iron pipe. Then I started in the carpentry business for a couple of years. Then I went back to farming, then bought a farm but couldn’t make a go of it on the farm because the prices were so low. Then I went to work as a carpenter and I worked more as a carpenter than anything else. I sold insurance for a little while and did very well with the insurance business, but then the depression came and people had to choose whether to pay for their insurance or whether to feed their family. Soon the only money insurance agents made was if they sold more than they lapsed and when they started lapsing, I couldn’t sell as much as they lapsed so I got out before I went broke. Of all the fellows that worked with me at that time, there wasn’t one that survived that depression on account of lapses. So I’ve done quite a few things. I worked on buildings all over the county as a carpenter. I helped build the steam power plant up the canyon and quite a few school houses around the country. I didn’t do much house building until quite late in my career and then I worked with my son-in-law and we contracted houses for awhile. I don’t know if you can make out what I was out of all of that.
It sounds as if you were a jack-of-all-trades.
Yes, jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I was not a first-class carpenter. I was a first class pipe rammer, but it was too hard—I couldn’t do it. When they were building the pipe shop out there, I went to work as a carpenter. The contract finished in November and the carpenter work was done so they asked me if I wanted to go to work in the shop and I asked them what job paid the most money. They said a rammer makes the most money and I said, “That is the job I want.”
He said, “It’s hard.” At that time I thought I was able to do anything anybody could do physically, but I found out I was not good enough to hold that job. I was a rammer from November until the first of July and I kept going downward on the overtime and I finally went back to carpentry. That doesn’t make a very good story—it’s just all that happened to me.
That’s what we’re interested in, is what happened to you. How much education did you get?
I graduated from eighth grade and then went to high school at BYU High School for two years.
I was called to be a counselor in the bishopric in February and in those days, you had to wait until a general authority was visiting before you could be set apart as a bishop, so I wasn’t set apart until July 30th, 1921, by George F. Richards.
What was your reaction when you were called to be Bishop?
I felt very unable, unprepared. I had never been on a mission. I had served in all the auxiliaries but I had never been on a mission and felt very weak. I felt like I wasn’t qualified.
How did your wife and family feel about it?
Well, they have supported me in everything that I have tried to do. I don’t know anything I have tried to do that I haven’t had first class support from my wife and family. I was President of the High Priest’s Quorum at one time. I served on the High Council and I’ve been chorister of everything there is in the ward except the Relief Society.
Who did you select as your counselors?
My first counselors were LaMar Scott and Clarence Lloyd. Then LaMar moved to Vineyard and I chose Arnold Williamson.
I was scared to choose someone who had had a lot more experience than I had because I felt so inadequate. They were young men the same age as I. One man in the ward said, “I always thought that a bishop ought to be someone you could go to for counsel and advice, and I can’t go to those kids.” That didn’t make me feel any better.
I was installed to the office of bishop on February 26, 1928. And I was set apart and ordained a bishop by Richard R. Lyman. I guess that still holds even though he was excommunicated. But I must say to his benefit that he came back into the church very humbly. When he came back into the church, he insisted on starting at the bottom, passing sacrament with the deacons.
What building did you meet in at that time?
My first attendance at church was in an old red schoolhouse about a quarter of a mile south of my present home. There is nothing left of it now. When they consolidated the districts, they discontinued the Lake View School and sent the children up into Orem. At the time we first met, it was a two room schoolhouse. Then, later, they built another room to the side of it and later they built more rooms so it was a five room school. When I was still a boy, we moved into a chapel. It consisted of three rooms. I remember a stone mason who was a very nice gentleman. He let me pick out face rock for him. I couldn’t lift rocks, but I could pick them out.
Then we built an amusement hall on behind that and in a few years, the whole thing burned down and we started over.
Did the building burn while you were Bishop?
No. It was after I was Bishop.
Did you have an office at the chapel or did you do your business here at your home?
I didn’t have an office. I had a roll-top desk in the corner of my living room and that’s all the office I ever had, because there wasn’t room over there for an office. We had a three room building and the big room was divided by curtains, so there was plenty of noise. It was very difficult to hold classes because the classes ran into each other with the noise.
Did you hold regular bishopric meetings?
Yes, we did—in our homes. We would meet at one home and then another.
Do you remember about what percent of activity you had among members of your ward when you were Bishop?
I can’t tell you that. There were certain people that I didn’t get much support from—people who should have supported me and didn’t. That didn’t help me out much. For instance, collecting money to keep the church going during the depression was a very difficult job because people needed all the money they could get to feed their families. At that time they were cutting beets for the sugar factory and they had a big pile of beets outside because there wasn’t room for them inside the factory. I made an agreement with the man who was superintendent of the factory that we could haul the beets to the factory. Many of the ward members helped and we were paid 10 cents a ton. The money went toward financing the ward. I was censured by some people that should have come and helped haul beets, but instead tried to stop it. Anyway, we got some money. No one knows but me how close I came to putting a sign on the door saying, “We can’t have church because we don’t have any coal.” But we finally got some coal. You can’t imagine how bad things were during that depression. People couldn’t get anything for their crops, they couldn’t get jobs and they were just out of money. I’d advise anyone who is going to run for the office of bishop not to do so during a depression.
Did you have ward teachers at that time?
Yes, we were the Lake View Ward. The Lake View Ward at that time took in everything from the river to Pleasant Grove and from the lake to the mountain. We didn’t include Orem because there was hardly anyone up there then. My first recollection is that there was one chapel in Orem. It was the old Timpanogas Chapel. It took everybody from Provo to Pleasant Grove.
Lake View was a ward of few families. The Madsen family was the largest. My grandfather had 5 wives and 36 children—18 boys and 18 girls. Many of them settled around here for a little while. Then there was the John Johnston family. They were one of the leading families. And then the Taylor Dairy people moved out here much later and they married into the Johnston family. There were a lot of good people, but they were a little bit cliquish. There were a few very large families and a few others. The Sandhill people were in the Lake View Ward. They were good people but they didn’t seem to be leaders in the ward.
Were there any missionaries out at that time?
There were quite a few missionaries. I never got a mission and I don’t know anyone who wanted to go on a mission more than I did. But there were no finances available. My father just barely made a living. He had a little farm and his health was not very good and he couldn’t afford to send me and I didn’t have any money of my own so I didn’t go on a mission. When I was called into the MIA presidency, I figured there was no chance to go on a mission and about that time I got married. But there were quite a few that went. My brother went to Norway. His health wasn’t too good so he was sent to England to finish his mission there. There were a big percentage of the ward men that went on missions.
Did many missionaries go during the time you were Bishop?
I sent out about seven young men. Weldon Taylor was one of them. Alf Madsen was one of them, the Sumsion boy. They all performed good missions. Alf Madsen was one of the best missionaries New Zealand ever had. He got in with those New Zealand people and helped them build a town down there. A lot of the saints down there were scattered all over the country so it was hard for them to get to meetings and they didn’t have any school. So he convinced them that they should build a town and go out and work their farms from the town. They built a little chapel and a school and a little town and they named it Madsen. The town still carries his name. He loved those people with a passion.
Did you have an active Relief Society at that time?
We had a good Relief Society. They were active and willing. I only had one little problem. The presidency told me they wanted to resign and I accepted their resignation. Then, they were put out because I accepted it. But we did reorganize the Relief Society.
The Relief Society took care of the needy pretty much and they would report to me who needed help from the fast offerings and other help.
Let’s talk about your sacrament meetings. What kind of attendance did you have?
Well, I’d say around 30 percent. That is as near as I can guess. We didn’t have near the percentage they have now.
Did you have good musicians in your ward?
We had good organists and good choristers. My father was the first chorister. He didn’t play the piano, but he played the violin and he was a good singer. He led the music for a long while. Then we had W.W. Taylor who was a good musician and Lamond Bunnell was a good musician. We always had plenty of organists and pianists. Sometimes we had a choir and sometimes we didn’t. I feel kind of bad that I can’t join the choir now because I can’t remember a time after I was 12 years old that I wasn’t going to choir practice. But my wife can’t hear well enough any more to sing, so I don’t go to choir because I want to be with her a little. There was a time when I wondered why my wife didn’t divorce me for desertion because I was always out with the scouts, or the church or somebody so much of the time that she had all the responsibility of the children. But she did a very good job taking care of them. She had home evenings here before the church introduced them. She would gather the children around and have some kind of program that they have in church now. She did a good job. They are all active in the church and doing a good job.
How many children did you have?
We have eight. On our sixtieth wedding anniversary, we and all eight of our children went to the temple together along with quite a few of the grandchildren, returned missionaries, etc. We had 44 at the temple.
That was really special. Do you recall any spiritual experiences that you had during the time you were Bishop that stand out in your mind?
I had one funny experience. I had often wondered how much of our life is directed by the Holy Ghost, but I had one experience that was nothing else but the Hold Ghost. A man and woman lived over here and I knew they were doing quite a bit of fighting between themselves. I’d heard about it. She called me to her house one day to see if I could help her. She wanted to be rebaptized. I had never had that question come to me but, without even thinking, it came to my mind that she didn’t need to be rebaptized. All she needed to do was to repent and that is what I told her. She got pretty mad at me because I told her she didn’t need to be rebaptized but that, if she would repent, her first baptism would that care of that. I can’t think of anything else right now.
Did any of the people pay tithing during this depression period?
Well, I guess they did. I remember attending a bishop’s meeting up at the university where one of the bishops was talking about whether to mark people as full tithe payers or part tithe payers or what. One of the other bishops, who was a very prominent man in Provo, said, “If I don’t believe that they paid a full tithing, I write down on their record ‘They say they did.’”
We accepted tithing in kind at that time. Some people would bring something that they didn’t know what else to do with and turn it in for tithing. I had to dispose of it some way or another and give them credit. One man brought me four big hams that were salted. I was afraid they were salted so much that they wouldn’t be palatable, but I had to give him credit for it in some kind of way. I can’t remember what I did with those four big hams. I’m sure it’s much easier now that it’s all cash. I had to set a price on the commodities that they brought in.
Was your MIA fairly active?
It was very good. We had some good young people. We had one lady named Sister Glade. She was the mother of Earl J. Glade—later mayor of Salt Lake City. She was President of the Young Ladies when I was President of the Young Men and she treated me just fine. She held that position for years and was very good. They had a good organization and good activities.
Were there serious problems among any of your young people?
If there were ever very bad problems, they never came to me. If anybody went astray very much, it didn’t fall to me to straighten them up. Morally they seemed just fine. When they came to get temple recommends, they all seemed to answer the questions just right. I never turned anyone down for a temple recommend because I thought they were all good people.
What kind of problems were mostly brought to you?
Well, most of them were in regards to the flour and feed that I got. Some people I knew needed it, I couldn’t get to take it and some people were demanding it. A big truck load of rolled wheat and flour came. One fellow told me years later, “You don’t know how good that rolled wheat tasted on our table.”
It was suppose to have been for the cattle, but it was nice looking wheat and people were hungry. We had one problem. We had a large family, and it took quite a lot of flour to keep us going, but I raised grain, and I would go to the mill and get flour and feed for the animals and one day my wife washed a couple of flour sacks and hung them on the line and someone came along and said, “Well, it’s easy to see where the flour went to.”
But there was never one pound of that flour came into our house. We got blamed for using the government flour but none of it came to us because we had grain and didn’t need it. That was the only unhappy experience I had, it was over the grain sent to us by the government.
Did you have ward socials?
We had good ward socials. We put on local theaters. We had good help. My father had a little orchestra to go along between scenes and the like. We enjoyed music. He had two or three fellows who played guitars and some who played mandolins and he played the violin. He was the main part of it. He would take the lead and the rest would just kind of follow along. The first year we were married we put on a show and my wife and I were both in it and we went all the way to Alpine and all around the county with that show. We thought it was a good show and other people seemed to enjoy it. We had a show every winter and put it on in every ward where we had a chance. Then we had dances—there used to be a dance hall on this block. It was a small dance hall, but it was the first maple floor in the county. People would come from miles around as far as they could drive with their horses and buggies, to dance on that maple floor because it was better than the fir floors in other halls. They had big crowds there, well, as many as it would hold. The dancing floor was only 24 by 40 feet so you can see it wasn’t a very big one—not much bigger than a house, but they were crowded. We enjoyed dancing.
Dancing and shows were the main part of our recreation. We had ward carnivals. I remember I was selling hot dogs once and made up a little song. It went over pretty good for selling hot dogs and raising a little money for the church. We usually had a carnival once a year and a show once every winter. We had a pretty good director and he was easy to get along with unless we wouldn’t try. If we wouldn’t try, he was sure to tell us off.
I often wish these kinds of recreation were more popular nowadays.
There are so many diversions today that it is hard. I don’t remember when there was a local show put on.
Were you called on to perform many marriages when you were bishop?
Not very many. Maybe seven.
This history was taken from the Oral History Program of the
Sharon West Stake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Spencer Madsen was interviewed by Glenys Belt during the fall of 1978.