The Story of My Life, by Esta Ensign Sarager Call, written 1970
Contributor: Judiwh Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
"O shucks! I have to get this hay in. Can't you see it's going to rain?"
As Martin came into the yard with a load of hay, Martha came out of the house to tell him that she was having pains. That afternoon, July 21, 1892, a child was born and they named her Esta.
My father was the son of pioneer families whose father was Martin Luther Ensign and mother was Mary Dunn. He was born January 15, 1862 at Brigham City, Utah (during the Civil War).
His boyhood days were miserable by frequent re-occurring headaches which interrupted his schooling.
He very early showed a liking for horses and he always drove sleek spirited ones. He did farm work for the family who had a farm south of Brigham City. By the time he was 25 years old he had a team and a house where he hoped to take his bride. Three days before his 26th birthday, he asked Martha Wright to marry him on his birthday.
With the immediate members of the family present the marriage was solemnized in his father's home. On the 5th of March 1888 they were married in the Logan Temple.
What a life of self denial and hardship Father had! He worked hard physically all his life to provide decently for his large family. During his early married life her farmed in Collinston, Utah, but as the children grew up, he and mother realized the necessity of better educational opportunities for the family and they moved back to Brigham City. After that, Father worked as a day laborer, sometimes as a carpenter, sometimes as a teamster, road contractor or any work he could get. He always had fine horses and took pride in keeping them fat and sleek.
He had a dread of debt and always paid cash for what he bought. He set a fine example to his children by his industry, thrift, honesty, clean habits and kind heartedness. Father only held one church job as far as we can tell. He was the Sunday School superintendent in Collinston at one time. Some years after Mother died at Logan, Utah where they moved, Father married Olive Pratt Phillips of Logan, who cherished and loved him and made a wonderful companion for him during his later life. He died of cancer May 11, 1932 at the age of 70 years. After his death, Olive was sealed to him.
Martha Wright was born in Brigham City July 9, 1865, the daughter of Judge Jonathan Calkins Wright and Caroline Olsen. One of a large polygamous family, her girlhood was that of the ordinary pioneer child under similar circumstances. She attended school taught by her father. She attended Normal school at Ogden Academy in Ogden, Utah. She taught school at Five Points and Calls Fort. From her savings while teaching, she bought an organ upon which she taught her children to play. She sang in the Tabernacle Choir and was a member of the Home Dramatic Club.
It is difficult to avoid superlatives in speaking of our Mother. She had a super intellect. She was at ease with people of culture and refinement, and was always a lady. She had an aristocratic bearing which commanded respect, and her clear enunciation and correct use of English enhanced that demand for respect.
Mother had an unquenchable desire to have her children receive a good education, and she overcame ay obstacle in the way of their getting it. She was a natural teacher, with the ability for handling children. Her "no" was final. Her children learned the rudiments of music by singing and learning to play the organ. She had an exceptionally good voice and sang much in public. Her fine sense of things spiritual has been a guide and a character builder in the lives of her family. Altho when we were in Collinston we lived too far away from the Branch to attend often, every night at home was "Family Night" at the Ensign home.
Mother suffered with cancer and left this life June 13, 1922.
MARTHA EUNICE ENSIGN-NELSON is the oldest child in the family. Probably for this reason she developed a motherly attitude toward the rest of the family and was rather serious, and took responsibility beyond her years. Because she had typhoid fever at one time I remember that she was the only one who could have the precious "sliced dried beef" that came from Brigham City and hoarded for her.
She was always an A student in school and developed a beautiful writing hand. She took the teachers examination while very young and taught her first school at Bear River City, Utah. She later taught in Brigham City. Esta had entered the Budge Hospital at Logan for nurse training and persuaded Eunice to take up the same line of work. While there, Eunice finished high school and graduated from nurse training also. It was while in Logan that she met Paul Nelson whom she later married. She studied music under Professor A C Lund and further developed her very fine soprano voice.
After her marriage she went to school at Berkeley, California, also at BYU. Nine children were born to this couple, although Eunice was an invalid for years having TB of the spine where four vertebra were dissolved. Thru administration her spine was fused so that she could again walk and be without pain. The family seemed to be always on the move as they followed Paul where he taught school in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Paul also had some big farming projects which involved both the sons and daughters who learned how to work. They finally traded for a little home at 110 North 9th Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.
For 40 years Eunice has worked on genealogy and has been the means of publishing the genealogy of the Ensign and Wright families. She became a registered genealogist and did very well financially in that work. Recently she went to England to make a search there. Paul had suffered many years with hardening of the arteries and in February 1870 he passed away.
They have a fine posterity of children who are living the Gospel and still going to school to finish their education. She has many places she plans to visit in the east where she hopes to get more names on our lines. As she visited me in March of this year (1970) we had many memories to recall and I love her more and more for her wonderful life of hardships, suffering, self denial and love for everyone. We feel that this worthy couple will have a place in the Celestial Kingdom.
MARTIN RUSSELL ENSIGN is the eldest son. He was born in the old rock house in Brigham City, November 24, 1890. He, also, had a serious mind and was always quite a shining light for the rest of us to follow. We always said he was mothers pet and we felt that she regarded his opinion over that of father’s. He had his early school work at Collinston and then graduated from the Box Elder high school at Brigham City. Then he graduated from the Agricultural College at Logan. A few years later he went to Cornell University and took his Master’s degree financing his education all the way. While at Cornell he met Grace M Sabin who was majoring in home economics. They were married Christmas, December 25, 1018. They had 5 children who achieved high marks in education. After teaching a year at Box Elder high school, they moved to Arkansas and then Florida and have lived in the south ever since.
While there, Russell and the family joined the Presbyterian Church and he became active as chorister and soloist. He finally wrote the folks that he could no longer hold with the policies and doctrines of the church as he felt he had outgrown that philosophy. It was a great sorrow to mother who had doted so much on her eldest son. Two of Russell’s sons are ministers of different religions. We have kept in touch with Grayson and Marguerite to bring them back into the church, but without success. Russell baptized Marguerite before they were married and Milton had his endowments performed after his death. He passed away 22 Jan 1936 in Florida.
Russell once wrote, “Our family had a very deep devotion to truth, honesty, obedience and clean living; a seriousness begotten of hard work inconveniences and lack of social life on the farm seemed to pervade our home. But, sandwiched into this was play, laughter and song. I think the feeling on the part of the children towards each other was very fine --- congenial, courteous and helpful.”
HORACE DARWIN ENSIGN was the good looking one of the family and probably the least understood. He seemed to have a penchant for getting into mischief and the family as a whole, were quite worried about him. He was born in Collinston, January 4, 1895. After moving to Brigham City and finishing grade and high school he went to B.Y.C. in Logan for 2 years. He took part in operas and plays very successfully. When the 1st world war was declared, he was one of the fist who volunteered. He joined the 145th regiment and went to France. They were just ready to move p to the front when the armistice was signed. Horace returned safely and shortly afterwards married Zelma Webb, 2 Sep 1919. They left soon for Arkansas to live on a farm Russell had bought 8 acres. Things did not go so well in the farming business and Zelma got so sick that they returned west. The Zelma passed on, leaving Horace with little Taye to care for.
A few years later he married an old sweetheart, Laurine Anderson 2 Feb 1927. They adopted Tad Anderson and later had a boy of their own. Horace worked for Standard Oil until he retired. They moved to various places in California. I am reminded of a place where there were only a handful of saints but who built a church. At its dedication, they invited President David O McKay to give the dedicatory prayer. He came.
Horace Darwin and Laurine Anderson were called to preside over the Australian Mission in 1965. Horace’s health would not permit him to stay in Australia and so they finished their 3 years in the New Zealand Temple. Since coming home, Horace has presided over the church schools in the neighborhood of Fresno, California.
At the age of 10, Horace went to Religion Class. He was asked to lead in prayer. As he stood before the class he heard snickers. Looking down he saw the buttons on the front of his trousers were undone. He made a bolt to the door in the middle of the prayer with Sister Brown after him. Our family had some very enjoyable times singing and in the evening we would sit on the porch and sing for our neighbors.
GENEVA ENSIGN WRIGHT was the 5th child, which was no novelty, but even so, the older children said she was spoiled. She was born in the old rock house in Collinston in the winter of 1898 on Nov 21. At the age of 7 the family moved to Brigham City. She graduated from high school at age 16. Summers were spent picking fruit on the neighboring farms. She attended Smiths College in Ogden, Utah for 3 months and then went to work as a stenographer. Two years later she attended the University of Utah for a year. Then she finished at the Utah Agricultural College at Logan, so she could be at home. During her college work, she was a stenographer for the President and earned all her expenses. She was a member of Sigma Theta Phi sorority and Phi Kappi Phi, national fraternity.
After finishing school, she married Coulsen Wright and they moved to Prosser, Washington. She spent 2 winters with her husband in Washington DC. They have lived on various Indian Reservations, as Coulsen was manager in the Indian Service. They have 3 sons. Moses graduated from West Point and served in various countries and is now in Viet Nam. Earl is a bank manager in Hamiton where Geneva lives. Wnen Coulsen retired they bought a ranch in Hamilton, Montana. Tom, their youngest son, was retarded and Coulson thought it best to have him on the land. Coulsen died a year ago and Geneva is trying to carry on. She spent a summer here in Mesa and last yeay they moved into Hamilton.
On the farm at Collinston, she says some of our playmates were the Morgan boys, Saunders, Coverts and Orams. Timothy Vance and Jacob Vern were the Covert twins and Timothy Vance died. One Decoration Day, we went up on Coverts land to pick wild flowers and the Covert girls came out with sticks, saying, “Get off our land, those flowers are for Timothy Vance.”
J. C. WRIGHT ENSIGN came on a very cold night in Dec 1903 and all the children stood around the little heater in the front room and watched Dr. Friday dress him. From the time he could walk he had a mania for running away, and many frantic searches were made for him. One time he walked down the railroad track and over into town where the section boss picked him up and returned him to us. His white hair was an easy thing to see, and that is what we looked for, whenever he was lost. He and Milton were constant companions and where you saw one, you saw the other also. He went to grade school and graduated from B.Y.C. in Logan. He proved to be quite an athlete, especially in basketball.
After finishing school he went to California and got a job with Standard Oil Company. He married Elva Bench 13 June 1926. They have one daughter. J.C. finished with Standard Oil after years of changing locations in California. At this writing they are living in a splendid trailer court in Stockton, California. J. C. has been bishop, high councilman and is now a Patriarch in the Stockton Stake.
Elva, his wife, has been a darling. She worked right until J. C. retired and has stood behind him wherever he was. After we moved to Brigham City, the older children picked fruit in the summer time and left in a wagon early in the morning. One morning J. C. saw them leaving, and thinking he was sadly neglected, ran screaming after them for the length of a city block. He had on a little black and white checked nightgown and made quite a stir in the neighborhood at 5AM. J.C. says, “Our winter at home after mother died (1922) was a rather dreary experience. Geneva, Milton and I would come home and rustle around to get something to eat. I remember how we bought honey in 5 pound pails and along with peanut butter, we subsisted.”
MILTON WRIGHT ENSIGN being the baby of the family was a favorite from the beginning. He was born 19 March 1906 at Colliston. When he was 8 days old he had convulsions which was a terrible experience for his family. We moved to Brigham City when he was 3 months old. He and J.C. were so inseparable that it was hard to think of one without including the other. Milton contracted typhoid fever one summer and was very ill. He had to be taken in a wheel chair for some time. School was easy for him. When he finished the 8th grade we again moved to Logan when he graduated from B.Y.C. He too loved sports.
While attending school at the B.Y.C. he met Mona Larson from Lewiston, whom he married 19 June 1926. They went to California where Milton worked for Standard Oil Company. Later on he transferred to Salt Lake City where their 3 children were educated. They have both been active in church and spent some time as set apart workers in the Salt Lake temple.
Milton remembers when, “We went on excursions with Russell, Geneva and J.C. up the Brigham Canyon and caught trout and learned to catch butterflies. We had a happy life.”
IRVING WRIGHT ENSIGN was born in Brigham City 28 October 1908 and died the same day after a critical birth. He was buried in the Brigham City Cemetery in the same plot that Father and mother are buried in.
ESTA ENSIGN-SARAGER-CALL - - I was born in the rock house on North 1st Street in Brigham City in summer, 21 July 1892 and was 3 months old when the family moved to a small farm in Collinston, about 20 miles north of Brigham City. The house we lived in was built of rock and in my youth seemed very pretentious, but when we visited it some years later, I was astounded at its meager proportions. The creek running near the house form the Bigler spring from which we carried our culinary water, the pig pen where we played house when there were no pigs, the granary, flies, that we shooed ut of the kitchen before we could eat; the rag carpet and piano in the front room. All these stand out in memory, along with Fryers pond where I was baptized on my birthday by Francillo Durphy.
Living about 8 miles from the only branch of the church, we attended very seldom. Mother became our teacher. We seldom went anywhere except to school so our amusements were home-made but we had home night almost every night and we learned to play the organ. Several times when mother was alone with us children, we were frightened by tramps who frequented the highways and our farm was situated halfway between the railroad tracks and the highway. Indians also came often to the house to beg. I was mortally afraid of them because mother used them as a threat when I disobeyed, saying she would give me to the Indians. Fishing was a pleasurable pastime in the treacherous old Bear River and I wonder how mother would allow us to go there by ourselves.
When I was 12 years old, Milton was born. The house was so small that us children were urged to leave the house. Being night and chilly, we nested in the haystack. From that place we were horrified to hear our dear mother scream in labor, as we tot she was dying. I was chosen to be the nurse. When the baby was a few hours old he had a convulsion and being a long way from a doctor, the family was terribly upset.
Our annual trip to Brigham City where our grandparents lived was always eventful. Grandma Ensign (Mary Adeline Dunn) had a attic full of the most wonderful treasures where a child could spend a lot of time. But the attic was a stolen sweet and grandmother always knew our whereabouts and we were always punished. It seemed that about all we were allowed to do was to sit and keep quiet. I remember one Christmas at Grandma Wright’s (Caroline Olsen), we slept on the floor and stayed awake to see Santa Claus. Driving the team that 20 miles from Collinston to Brigham City required 3 long hours over bumpy roads and it seemed endless, especially in the cold.
In 1906 we returned to Brigham City to live as there were 3 of us to begin high school. We would run home for lunch which was almost a mile. Parties were few and algebra, physics and geometry was a night mare. My school life stands in memories of hateful exams and laborious study, but I graduated June 1910.
That summer, Eunice and I attended the University of Utah summer school in order to qualify as teachers. We lived with Aunt Lucy & Uncle Arthur at 149 G Street. They were well off at that time and Aunt Lucy drove a little electric car. In the fall I was on my way about 20 miles from Brigham at a little place called Union. It was a one room school where I taught all 8 grades. I suffered homesickness when I tried to stay in the district over the weekend, so I managed to take the electric train every Friday afternoon for home.
After Thanksgiving, Eunice took smallpox and exposed the whole family, and we were quarantined. Then, my Union school was taken and I was sent out to Snowville, an old settlement about 85 miles out in the county. The trip was made in a two seated open buggy that carried mail. We stayed at a ranch house the first night. The stay at Snowville was exciting and romantic with a love affair. We drove 40 miles in bob sleds to dances.
The following winter was spent very quietly in Brigham City teaching 5th grade, as I was looking forward to taking my nurse training next spring. Two weeks after my school closed I began my nurse training in May 2012 at the Budge Hospital at Logan, Utah.
I rated high in theory and practice and had a good time all in one. Here I met my 1st love who owned a car. His name was Robert Holbrook and his parents owned a ranch at Holbrook, Idaho. I graduated from nurse training in June 1914 and began very energetically to do private nursing for I was a prospective bride and I must have one of the most elaborate trousseaus in the whole country. I began my fancy work in sets of six. Real linen sheets, spreads, pillow cases, table cloths and towels, all hand embroidered. I spent all my money on silk floss and damask and then my appetite was not satisfied. I bought a trunk with 5 drawers which I filled.
After we were engaged, Bob invited me for a visit to the farm where his father promised us a building lot. I was amused at his mother while I visited. She put me through the traces in cooking, sewing and keeping a house.
My fiancé was suddenly called on a mission to the Hawaiian Islands. We parted in Salt Lake City with a solemn promise to be true. Robert came home from his mission after about 6 months for some unknown reason and upon returning he broke off our engagement. The shock was one of embarrassment, for I had flashed his diamond for a year. I set about doing other things.
I was then taking charge of the Henderson Hospital in Brigham City. It constituted about 8 rooms over a store on Main Street. I did all the nursing and Dr Henderson did all the doctoring, and when there was a surgery, he was the surgeon and I was the anesthetist. I did 24 hour duty and slept between calls at night.
Well, I left it all and went to the University of California at Berkeley for a year and soon forgot my troubles. Utah girls were scarce and there were ever so many fine Utah men to play around with. I lived in an apartment with Eunice and Paul. A group would walk around the bay to San Francisco; spend the day at the beach and then go back to Berkeley on the boat across the bay. Sundays we often walked to Sunday School in Oakland.
The Doctors Budges at Logan offered me a proposition to take a laboratory course in Chicago and then set up a laboratory at their hospital. I took my training at Wesley Hospital, Chicago, on the south side. It was in the “black belt”. Rows of apartments, six stories high with colored children playing on the street below. Often a load of watermelons or an Italian with a monkey on a string would come into the block and then literally hundreds of black faces would come to the windows to look.
One day I was looking for a Japanese kimono and I kept walking over to the south side, and went into a little shop. There were a dozen Chinese men standing around, but none could speak English to know what I wanted. How easily I could have been abducted.
Then I made a visit to the Arthur E Snow family in Detroit. Aunt Lucy Snow was a sister of mother’s. She wrote me in Chicago that if I would come to be with her when her baby was born, she would get me a boyfriend. That sounded enticing so I made the trip and this is when I met Rudolph Saueregger.
After Carol Snow was born I left to take a course in hydrotherapy at the Battle Creek Sanatorium, Battle Creek, Michigan. This is the haven for ragged nerves and rehabilitation. The vegetarian diet, baths and massage has been a boon to many a weary sufferer. I did not return home as intended and after that I lingered another month.
Yes, Rudolph had proposed in a letter which was to be opened when I was on my way to Battle Creek. Glory be what a letter of 24 pages!!! After I read it there was no question as to where he stood on the subject of matrimony. My time was up and I just had to go set up the laboratory at Logan.
I was at the Utah-Idaho Hospital from January to June 1918 when I accepted a position as nurse supervisor with the Anti-Tuberculosis Association in Sal Lake City. We made a survey throughout the state to determine the extent of tuberculosis and found that it was more prevalent than had been thought. Through the schools and other media we tried to influence the public as to its danger. That year was the beginning of the terrible fly epidemic and I was enlisted by the State Board of Health to assist in the mining towns throughout the state. I worked in Duchesne, Eureka and Bingham Canyon. Hospitals were set up in school buildings and we did the best we could with a limited number of nurses and doctors, but the dreadful flu was respecter of none and people died like flies. Pregnant women and miners were the most susceptible. I wore a 16 thick gauze mask while I slept and ate with the dead and dying, and I did not get the flu. In Bingham Canyon we operated in the high school building. Cots were filled with about 40 patients, and when they became delirious, about all we could do was to fill them with morphine to keep them quiet. People were terrified, and about all the help we could give them was in the kitchen, where they prepared food, and in the basement doing laundry.
I remember the day the Armistice was signed and the bells were ringing, we had 7 bodies stacked up in the basement, because we couldn’t get coffins for them. I have never experienced a time when service was more appreciated. However; how helpless we were to save a life! Speaking of masks, it was a ruling that everyone wear a mask. I have seen the cowboy ride into town, stop on the deadline for mask covering, whip up a dirty mask, dangling around his neck, and place it over his face before riding on.
Ralph Sarager and Esta
RUDOLPH SAUEREGGER What a Man!!
Born in Munich, Germany May 22, 1895, Ralph Sarager was ushered into the world already equipped with as much of the spirit of music as heredity can grant a child. His paternal grandfather, George Kuteni (Kuttin), was an Italian (Austrian) composer of note. From his father, he drew a strain of Hungarian blood and from his mother, the German. Thus, he came not only from a family of musicians, but of racial stock which is pre-eminently musical as well. When he was nine years old, he was playing violin with his father, his brothers and a sister in the German Beer Gardens, where critical ears abounded as much a critical palates, and the taste and appreciation were of high order.
It was Ralph who showed the greatest capacity for absorbing and expressing music. He was given instruction in voice, as well, and he continued his study of these two branches of the art until, at age 16, he left his home from England. In the German schools he was tutored by men teachers who did not spare the rod. In one year every morning he leaned over the strapping board for the morning lash before his studies. His violin teacher kept a pin in his bow to be used on the body when Rudolph played a wrong note. One time he was playing on his snow sled going down a hill. He ran through a steel fence which took the skin off his shim bone. Before he went to the hospital, his father gave him a licking. With corporal punishment as a way of life for him, he used a lot of it on his own children.
Now began a period of wanderlust which took him through England, Panama and finally into various parts of the United States. Everywhere he absorbed color, sounds, movement, sensations, all unconscious that one day he would translate all this into feeling and all this feeling into song. He might have continued in this pleasant form of wool-gathering indefinitely, when his career as a world traveler was cut short by his finding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
He was baptized while he and his friend, Charles Esser, were batching it in Detroit, Michigan. They had been working as waiters in various hotels around the eastern seaboard so they could better learn the English language, when they were planning on being interpreters. Rudolph was at a church party shortly after his conversion. After spending a very enjoyable evening in which he was the life of the party, he remarked, after leaving my aunt and me, “That is the girl I would like for my wife.” Well, he got her. We were married 22 May 1919 at the home of Arthur E and Lucy Snow in Detroit, Michigan, two years after we had met.
He immediately and very earnestly set about completing his musical education. As a result of this dedication, he graduated first from the University School of Music, Ann Arbor, Michigan and later from the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago. He was developing and training his voice; he dreamed of a concert career, but there were many practical things to think of for the moment.
There were, in fact, 3 small children who demanded in no uncertain tones, adequate nourishment and shelter. An invitation came to take a place on the faculty of Gila College in Thatcher, Arizona. It seemed an immediate answer to all the needs, as the family had little to live on since 3 children had been born in the space of 3 ½ years and I was in no position to continue as bread winner.
That which comes in the night to smite a man and seems to strip him of all his strength is sometimes a different sort of instrument to show him a new way of life. The thing that smote Ralph Sarager was infantile paralysis (polio), which came a few days after returning to Tucson where he spent summer school at the University of Arizona. This was after he had taught his first year at the Academy in Thatcher.
The way of life now pointed to a creative, rather than that of interpretative achievement. Lying in his wheel chair, day after day, helpless of limb, but sound of mind, all his instinct for beauty and order, for harmony and movement, was poured into a new vein of creation, and he began to compose instead of to sing and play music. And this now took the place of what he lost when the gift of motion was taken from him.
Undoubtedly, the most impressive of Ralph Sarager’s compositions was his music drama, “America’s First Easter.” This was written for the most part in 2 weeks time, but only because the mood of creation, the spirit of the piece was with the composer and drove him to an almost unremitting effort, until the work was done. Outstanding in the composition are its Hosanna and Hallelujah choruses. Besides the conventional, there are Hebrew, Jewish and Indian themes. It had its premiere at the phoenix Union High School Auditorium in April 1931 and the following year was dramatized and given 7 performances in the valley. Ralph Sarager has written some lovely ballads too. Among them, “Dark Shadows” and “Arizona Sweetheart”, along with “Hail the Future Farmers of America”, which won first place in a national contest.
A diagnosis at the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City confirmed the previous one of infantile paralysis, and with very little treatment prescribed for such cases, he became completely paralyzed from his hips down.
Now, let’s retrace our steps to more details after our marriage.
The year was gone. I had corresponded with the man in Detroit and one day in spring an ultimatum came saying, “Come, I have waited long enough.” Mother came with me. We were married May 22, 1919 at 7pm by Elder Vorkink at the Arthur Snow residence on Campbell Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. Pearl Jones was our bridesmaid. I was offered a choice of engagement ring or a diamond. Knowing Rudolph was seriously wanting to make music his profession, I chose a piano. I thus became Mrs. Rudolph Saueregger. Later his name was legally changed to Ralph Sarager (per her insistence).
Our first home was on 91 Ledgard Street, Detroit. It was an old stone mansion with large rooms and high ceilings. In making this former palatial residence into an apartment house, a door was cut in one corner of the room and a stairway led into the kitchen below. Because of the heat, we put our bed downstairs. Huge rats would often raid our larder and awaken us by dragging food across the floor. It was there I began washing my precious linens. The following week after marriage I was successful in getting a position as child welfare nurse with the Detroit Board of Health. I worked in the Ford Motor foreign section of the city and my experiences were quite worthwhile. Many of them had vicious dogs that were trained to keep strangers away. Their houses were clean and many of them shared vegetables with me from their garden.
In the fall of 1919, my husband decided to go to school at Ann Arbor, Michigan. He knew music, but had no certificate to show his eligibility, so that autumn found us located in the University City. I took the position as head nurse at the University Hospital in the children’s division. This is where I found my initial hospital training in a small hospital very inadequate and how I suffered while trying to direct 20 other nurses in their work. I resigned and began doing private duty nursing in Ann Arbor and surrounding towns. It kept me going too. I mean that my husband’s expensive tuition, besides private lessons on piano, voice and violin really took the money. We had a room with our piano, and a small grill. He practiced on that piano until the land lady went crazy and when he got hungry he scrambled eggs on the grill. Occasionally mama would come home and then we would celebrate. That summer we went to Cleveland and both were employed and we saved about $500 to begin next year. I nursed in a Catholic hospital and Ralph was a waiter in a hotel.
The following year, when a friend’s husband was about to graduate, Martha (baby #1) had announced her intentions of coming to see us and I wanted to go home. I had nursed a case long enough to be able to buy round trip tickets to Logan, Utah. While there, we were endowed in the Logan Temple 17 June 1921.
My mother’s condition was very serious upon arrival at Logan, as she was suffering with an enlarged kidney, which proved to be cancerous. She had been losing weight and feeling badly for some time and an operation was advised. Dr. Wright, her brother, performed the operation and I nursed her. She rapidly improved so that when my baby was born in September she took care of me. We spent a wonderful summer together and that is the last time I saw her, for she died the following spring, having suffered extreme pain for 6 months before her death, which came June 18, 1922.
Ralph left for Albion, Michigan in July 1921 and I followed him in October. That winter, Ralph was music director at the Methodist College in Albion, a town of about 20,000. We thought things were going fine until they found out that we were Mormons and then the community wasn’t satisfied until we were evicted. Our landlord told us to vacate and we had no friends. The minister brought volumes of anti-Mormon books to read. I have never felt so depressed in my life. There was nothing to do but dispose of our few possessions, yes, the piano, and leave.
We went to the Snows at Royal Oak to try to heal our wounds before going on to Chicago where he would have further chance or musical study. We struggled for 2 years in that huge city.
There were 2 more children born which cut my ability as a nurse. Ruth was born 21 June 1923 and John was born 29 June 1924. We had a midwife for both of them. John’s birth was especially critical and no ether could be administered. Aunt Lucy came to help. Money was scarce and rent day was a nightmare, because selling Fuller brushes and cemetery lots was not very lucrative.
Ralph finished his course at the Bush Conservatory and was promised a job at Gila College at Thatcher, Arizona. We landed in Salt Lake City and stayed with Eunice until Ralph got settled in Thatcher and could find us a place to live.
The winter in Thatcher was a breathing spell despite the fact that John had been so ill with diarrhea for weeks and was so frail. For the first time there was a salary to depend on.
We lived in the old Andrew Kimball home (President Spencer W Kimball childhood home) and we were glad to have my father come for the winter. The grounds were beautiful with flowers and shrubs.
Ralph went to Tucson and 3 days after returning home he was stricken with infantile paralysis (polio). We took him to Safford hospital for 2 weeks but they didn’t know what was wrong. Inasmuch as he was employed by the church, they offered to send him to the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. We put him on a stretcher in the baggage room of the train and I accompanied him. We left the children with friends. We were at the hospital for about a month and after he was released I brought him to Brigham City, where I found a job as Nurse Supervisor with the Box Elder County Schools. A friend from Thatcher brought our children to Brigham and we were glad to be a family unit once more.
We lived with a family who looked after the children and Ralph, who was a bed patient. I began my service with the school, but before I left home, I would bring the children from the 3rd floor where we slept in the cold. The girls slept in a double bed with me and John was in a crib. By morning, we were all cold and sopping wet. After making the kitchen fire, I proceeded to clean the children up and gave them breakfast. Then Ralph needed attention, so that he might be comfortable for the day. I left for work and tried to come home for lunch and to feed the family.
About Christmas, the children of our landlord came down with diphtheria and I reported it to the quarantine officer, who put a sign on the house. It made her so angry that on Christmas day, she put us out on the street. The only transportation we had was Ralph’s wheel chair. Ruth and John sat on his lap and Martha helped me push the wheel chair through the snow. We looked for a place to live and finally found an old house that had not been occupied for some time and which was damp and moldy. It was night when we found the owner. Shortly after, the three children took whopping cough. I would put a box on the bed and by morning it would be filled with last night’s supper.
Then, I took sick with pneumonia and was out of school for a month. I have often wondered where our neighbors and ward teachers were that winter when we were in such distress. Finally, the Relief Society came and took over. Later that spring, we bought a little house on South First Street. We remodeled it and then I had a girl come and look after the family while I was at school.
That summer, the local paper offered a new sedan for one who got the most subscriptions to their paper. Ralph entered the contest and Martha helped by pushing his wheel chair from door to door. Doubtless this situation sold subscriptions, for he won first prize. We sold the car for $900 and paid off a bank loan at Safford and we were able to go to a hot Springs near Corrine. The springs had only one bath house and a cabin or two. One day Ralph and John were in the pool and John jumped on his father’s back and before he could get to the edge they almost drowned. Then another time, Ruth set the mattress afire and stood by the window while the smoke attracted our attention, because she was afraid of a good spanking.
Ralph opened a music store on North Main Street with Joe Watkins as partner. When we decided to move to Arizona, they dissolved the partnership, and we took any orange display to be used to advertize orange drink. It was a large 8 by 10 with a slot where oranges went round and round by some electric current, suggesting that the orange juice was squeezed out for your drink. While, as a matter of fact, you only had a drink of synthetic orange juice. We shipped this to Phoenix and used it when I had my hamburger stand.
In November 1927 the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona to get away from the cold. We were several hundred dollars to the good, and I could always nurse, if necessary. We lost money in a business deal and nursing was scarce. Ralph, still was in a wheel chair and without other means of conveyance, his world was pretty small.
My first case was out in Coolidge, way out in the country, and I had to be gone 3 weeks. The duplex we moved into only had heat in the oven of the stove in the kitchen, and our bedding was not sufficient. Martha was about five and she was the one who had to get the groceries at the corner store. I was gone from home quite a lot as I took what cases I could get.
The next spring Ralph got ambitious and worked up a nice violin concert, which he gave in several towns in Graham County. Shortly thereafter, the saints in Maricopa and St Joseph Stakes contributed $750 and President Heber J Grant matched these funds to send Ralph to Warm Springs, Georgia, where President Franklin D Roosevelt was receiving benefit for his polio by swimming in Hot water. Ralph was there June 13 to September 1928. Besides the hot baths, he had a lot of therapy, but the dead nerves refused to respond. He was fitted with braces and by locking the knee he could walk with crutches.
Upon returning to Phoenix, he sold pianos and was thereby able to procure a grand piano for himself. He began to give piano, voice and violin lessons, beginning his composing career. He had a fine choir in the 1st Ward and they were put through their traces while little John entertained himself, and slept under choir seats. Ralph leaned to tune pianos and was band director in 3 county schools. Our money problems were beginning to life, insomuch that we bought a car which was soon paid off. Ralph had an extension put on the clutch, so that he too could drive.
In Phoenix while were still living on East Adams, I wanted to use the orange display that had come by freight from Brigham, so I found a small hamburger stand down town. It was an open affair where you ate your hamburger on the street. At 6am when I came to open up, and at 7pm when I closed, it was cold, too. I finally found someone to stay while I rushed home to wash and cook something for my family. I later sold out.
After Ralph came back from Georgia, fall 1828, Dr. Shupe and I equipped the old two story home at 1106 West Washington for a hospital and for 4 months I was chief cook, bottle washer, nurse and laundry maid, along with everything else connected with a family and hospital. Our operating room was upstairs in the front room. The hospital was soon full of patients.
Some kind friend took John down to Thatcher, but about Christmas they phoned and said he had pneumonia and come quickly. I found him in cold packs with a fan playing on him to keep his temperature down. One day the building inspector from the city came and condemned the building as a fire hazard and he gave me a week to vacate. It saved my life for I know that I couldn’t have held up under the strain. I proceeded to take in roomers during the time we stayed there.
In April 1929 I took an examination as Sanitary Inspector of Phoenix and passed as head man. Being a food inspector is hardly a woman’s job, but I held it for 23 years. During the great depression, we did not want. Steaks were 10 cents, and a leg of lamb a dollar. To degrade a big restaurant took guts, but it seems that men were afraid of the “Little Health Lady”.
The next event was the leaving of Ralph Sarager from his family 26 March 1933 (during the Depression). We moved to 113 North 11 Avenue. I managed to get some 2nd hand furniture, as we rented unfurnished for $45 a month.
It seems that Ralph was unable to withstand the strain and daily grind of his affliction of paralysis of his lower limbs. For a year he had been morose, morbid and indifferent to his former friends. He selected friends who were punks in politics and religion, and he seemed to get pleasure out of the German club where they danced all night, and drank beer. He deliberately planned to leave and he worked to that end.
He was mean to his family, so that when he left, they would have no regrets. To build up a life of hope and ambition for a family unit, and then to have the head of the house leave, never to return, made a scar on each member of the family (none of his 3 children divorced).
His attitude was expressed in the following letter:
“Dear Esta: - I know we have always gotten along well in our 15 years of married life, and the fact that I am going away does not mean that you are to blame in any way. You have been a good pal, but I just had to get out. Where I am going, or when I will return I cannot tell you now. I simply want to get away for a time to get my bearings. I am blaming no one but myself. This gnawing desire to get off somewhere to the rim of the world where I can begin to live - - - where I can be the kind of person I have longed to be. Where I can be foot loose with nothing between me and the other side of the world, but a winding white road, which dips down to some hidden turning that may lead somewhere.”
The last chapter in Ralph’s life is short, because so little was known of him by his family. We heard nothing for the first 7 years and then he was preparing to get married and needed my signature for the verification that he was single. He married Angelina Quevido at Reno 27 May 1941. They had a son. (We later discovered he had another son out of wedlock).
Christmas, he came and had dinner with us. Possibly, he would have stayed, but I was in no mood. Then, in 1960, John sent his dad an airplane ticket and he came and stayed a month. Martha came over from California to visit, but Ruth refused to come and see him. The members of the old choir gave him a warm welcome. I was on a mission to Liberty, Missouri at the time.
John received word of his death and flew over to the funeral. John likes his step mother, Angelina and keeps in touch with her.
In my travels about town as Sanitary Inspector, I met a Jewish woman at 1707 N 7th St, where she was running a snack stand for students at Emmerson School. She took a notion to me and was responsible for getting me a home; selling me her own apartments later and putting me on my feet financially. Bless her. Mr. Chadwick was LDS when the two met and fell in love. They could not agree on their ideologies so married anyway, and decided not to affiliate with either religion. They were not happy when I met them, but they seemed to get satisfaction talking their problems over with me. Chad was a building contractor but he lost heavily during the Depression and Jessie was trying to eke out a few pennies at the snack bar.
Jessie prodded the life out of me to let Chad build me a house. I finally got together $1000 and they began to build two houses on a lot at 2212 N 13th Street. Jessie said that I could use the rear one when the children were gone. Jessie went all out to make those houses beautiful. They built the front house around our grand piano and both were ready for occupancy January 1938.
I rented the front house to a Mr. & Mrs. Langley from San Diego, who brought their own furniture. They had two sectional couches in beautiful overstuffed, which filled the rooms. Soon the Langleys were called back to the coast and with the help of Jessie, who signed a note at the bank, I bought the furniture and we moved in with the grand piano.
I filed divorce proceedings from Ralph Sarager and was granted a divorce on grounds of desertion April 25, 1935. Later I was granted an annulment by President Grant.
The Chadwicks had moved to California and they were a long way from their rental property in Phoenix, so they offered to sell it to me for $6500. I assumed the mortgage of $4500, paid them $1000 and moved in. Jessie didn’t even come back to pick up the knick-knacks in the three apartments. Now I had 5 apartments and I decided to move into the front apartment at 702 East Coronado. Again, we moved the piano and rented our lovely home at 2213 N 13th Street. When the war first began I foolishly sold my two houses at 13th Street, and could have sold them for twice as much, 6 months later. Somehow we liked the large rooms at 702 and even the basement, after the remodeling job. The family was proud to bring their friends.
My job was a political plumb, and I will never know how I held it during the Depression, because so many people were without work. Every year was election of city councilmen and we were asked to pay into the kitty. Dave Kimball appointed me, but he always let me know that I was beholden to him. Two children were born to Nellie Kimball, his wife, during my job tenure and they had me come and stay at the house each time for 2 weeks. Dave had a drug store down near the capital. Nellie made money during the war when everything was rationed, but she seemed to get materials for cakes and pies, which she made at home and carted them in an open car clear through the town to the drug store, then stored them under Dave’s prescription cabinet in the drug department. They washed dishes in a tub in the alley in cold water and otherwise did as they please. When I degraded their fountain, they all but threw me out of office. I played politics, which was likely the reason that I kept my job.
The primary election was all that mattered in Arizona, because no one but Democrats were nominated, so for many years I was a Democrat and I helped friends to various offices in the state. The Prices in Phoenix were recognized as the Mormon principals and whoever they wanted to fill state jobs were given precedence. I joined several women fraternities, but got little satisfaction out of attending their meetings.
I was 13 when we moved back to Brigham City, but until then the family had very little church activity in Collinston. We lived in the 4th Ward where Bishop Wright was bishop for many years.
I was the Sunday School organist for 4 years 1906-1910.
I sang in the Box Elder Stake Choir with Lee as chorister.
Secretary of 4th Ward YWMIA 1911-1912.
Class leader Relief Society Logan Square Branch. Chicago
Class leader Relief Society Thatcher, Arizona 1924-5
Ward organist 1st Ward Brigham City 1926-7
Class leader Adult Sunday School 2nd Ward Phoenix
Gleaner leader 1st Ward Phoenix 1931-2
President YWMIA 2nd Ward Phoenix Sep 1936-9
Maricopa Stake Board 1935-6 when Delbert L Stapley was president of YWMIA
I was set apart as a Stake Missionary 22 Dec 1947 and continued with that assignment until I was called to fill a mission in the Eastern Canadian Mission Oct 13, 1952. Missionary work proved to be the kind of church work with the greatest challenge.
We attended a weekly class for missionaries with Thomas Inman as instructor and an excellent teacher. I went out with Bro. Bert Flemming who was the instigator of the Stake Missionary movement in the church. We began the Ander Plan, but I was the first to use the 7 lesson plan in the Canadian Mission. I have the names of some 50 people who were our converts. All have not remained firm in the church. Just recently, I talked with my ear convert, Mildred Flock, who married a widower at my insistence, and who proved to be a queer. Now Mildred has joined the
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There were 6 women and a few children in the Galt Branch (W of Toronto, S Ontario, Canada), so it was necessary to bring the priesthood from Kitchener to preside over the Sunday School and meeting, right after. I had very few speaking engagements on my mission. We were asked to keep a diary and I hot upon my plan to write to my sister Geneva often, as I could tell her anything, which I did. When I got home, she typed all my letters into a book. Inasmuch as I too had saved her inspirational letters, I then put them together and have my history in Canada.
When Grace Christensen came into my life I was delighted. She too, had suffered with too little good food. We went grocery shopping and before we were aware we had filled our cart to the limit and did we eat! Grace was a young woman who was very much in love with a former missionary and while he was in Germany, doing his stint in the army, Grace took this mission. They were devotedly in love and she was radiant when his letters came. I was through with men! And had no desire to ever get married, but living with Grace for 2 months made me change my mind.
When I left the mission, I took the Galt Branch with me, yes, all 5 of the women. A Mrs. Vengoe, about 70 had tried for 15 years to quit smoking because she did so want to join the church, but she could never quit. I thought 2 weeks with us, Mormons, night and day would help her. But, on our way she snitched behind our backs. We could smell the smoke. Her grandson joined, but I don’t believe Sister Vengoe ever did. Bless her.
When I returned home, I was truly a fish out of water. My apartments at 702 East Coronado had been rented, but they were run down and needed painting. My income was sufficient that I did not need to work, which made things worse. I was a stranger in the ward and my acquaintances, for the most part, had faded away. It was a letdown, for sure, and the jolt was terrible. I decided to get married, to whom, I did not know.
President Haymore invited me to be a realtor salesman in his organization and I took the state examination, and passed. The pickings were poor, and I only made one sale, along with Paul Updike. This should have occupied my time, but I still wasn’t happy with my surroundings. The little apartment at 1707 North Street just didn’t have any appeal.
I was appointed to come to Mesa to the Genealogical Library once a week, to help assist those who came for information. One day I stopped in a Harry Bennett’s for a visit here in Mesa. I jokingly asked Harry if he didn’t know someone who might be eligible who was working with him in the temple. He said he would make me acquainted with a widower by the name of Vasco Call, from Gridley, California.
For some reason it was some time before I met the gentleman, but it didn’t take long after our introduction in the temple one night, for him to find me in my home in Phoenix. It was a whirlwind courtship and we were married in the Mesa Temple, Feb 4, 1955. I had my previous marriage annulled and so the children, being born under the covenant were also sealed to Vasco Call (except Martha).
I was set apart as an ordinance worker 19 Apr 1955 in the Mesa Temple, along with my husband. We were released when we were called to the Central States Mission, as Liberty Jail guides.
The marriage worked out fine. We bought a home at 426 South Solomon, which we furnished with beautiful furniture. We bought a home at 426 South Solomon which we furnished with beautiful furniture. Vasco is 12 years my senior, but is well preserved. We needed each other, as his wife had been dead some 6 years. He has 6 married children. With my 3, the new brothers and sisters have become acquainted and have accepted us and each other, whole heartedly. At this writing in 1970, when Vasco will be 90 years old, the families are planning a reunion at Lake Tahoe, where Max lives. We have 103 descendants.
I was able to sell my property in Phoenix, and Vasco sold his dairy farm, so we now have a fixed income, and with our Social Security, we manage very well. We sold the home on South Solomon and moved into the Temple Apartments at 245 South Hobson in Sept of 1966. We are close to the temple, the church and the shopping center, which may by a big help, if and when I cannot drive the car.
I think of my girlish ambitions to be a good wife and mother; to have a comfortable home where love would abound. This was never accorded me. True, I was the mother of 3 children, but they were born between nurse duty and for 23 years while they were growing up, I was the bread winner doing a job, not exactly to my liking in that it was political and contrary to my nature.
I was a widow for 23 years. A widow is the forgotten man in society, except for those predatory males who thinks a widow is their meat and at their disposal. I belonged to Women’s clubs and we thought we were having a good time. I was never invited to a quorum party in the ward or stake, or, even to the cannery. On the other hand, life has been good to me. My health was good and I had a job during the long Depression, and my family never wanted for anything. We never had to call a doctor.
We had some fine vacations. Summers usually found us in the mountains, as we did not have refrigeration. On our honeymoon, we flew from Nogales to Dublan, Mexico where Vasco’s uncle, Bowen Call had lived most of his life with his 3 wives.
I drove to Sacramento several times where Vasco’s children live.
In 1957 we went to the Pageant in New York with the Marguerite Lund tour. In 1958 we made a 5700 mile trip to the Canadian northwest. Eunice and Rebecca were with us and for 6 weeks we had the time of our lives, meeting relatives and friend on our way to Lake Louise and down the Canadian Hwy to the west coast and on to Sacramento.
When we were called to our mission to Missouri, I drove the Simca. We did considerable touring around the state.
Eunice and I visited Hawaii in 1968. We stayed with our cousin’s family at Laie for 2 weeks before joining the group for the other islands. The Swapps had lived on Oahu all their married lives and they teach at the Church College at Laie. Years ago the church acquired property at Laie and this is where the beautiful temple is located. Later we made the 4 island hop to Kauai, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii. Because of heavy rainfall, the verdure of the islands is very impressive. Hawaii has become a great tourist center and we had to get in line for everything. Food was expensive, but eating ripe pineapple became a habit.
In June and July 1969, I indulged in a dream of long standing. I took a trip to Europe while my sweetie stayed with his folks on the coast. I went with a BYC group of about 35 people. We visited Amsterdam, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, England, Westminster Abbey and Shakespearian country.
The trip up the Rhine River is an experience that one can never forget. The castles on each side of the river; the cultivated vineyards up on the mountainside, the bridges; the boat houses of the people, all seem like a pageant of a pictorial history book.
Switzerland was clean, green and beautiful. The cloud draped mountains; the wild flowers; the green pastures where they Swiss cattle were on summer feeding were picturesque. We visited the Bern Temple which has a beautiful setting. The Swiss Alps are beyond description, with colorful towns below. Our bus wound round and round, first to the rivers edge in a deep gorge, and then to snow in the mountain tops. Beautiful waterfalls and spring flowers. It would seem at times that the huge mountains would touch the sky.
Surely Italy, is a land of antiquity. The art galleries, famous churches, the Coliseum, the Catacombs, the Appian Way, and the Vatican City with all its wealth and splendor, presents a heavy contrast to poverty. Rome shows little progress, Venice has her enchantment. As we rode the gondolas, the swaying gondolier is really a part of the past. The Arias from the operas as the tourists took the evening ride on the canals.
Paris is an old city, the outstanding features being the tree lined avenues, the Louvre, the many cathedrals and the Rose window of Notre Dame.
Meals during the trip were monotonous. Breakfast was a hard bun with chocolate. The night meal was American, all the way, with ice cream for dessert. I wanted to sample the several countries’ famous recipes.
London needed more time. We passed Trafalgar Square, 10 Downing Street, House of Parliament, Bog Ben, Westminster Abbey, where thousands of elite are buried, and where kings and queens have received their crowns for generations.
Then we were taken to the LDS temple, about 25 miles outside of London, 32 acres of beautiful landscape. A colonial mansion on the grounds which dates back to Elizabethan times, features flagged floors, handhewn oak beams and wrought iron fixtures.
We went to Stratford on Avon, 3 hours ride out of London. We visited the house where Shakespeare was born in 1564, where 1000’s of visitors come and go, and Ann Hathaway’s cottage with its thatched roof and gardens. That evening we were taken to the Shakespeare theater where we saw a 3 act play. We left London at 9am, July 6, 1969 and arrived in Phoenix at 9pm, the same day.
In May 1969, Vasco and I spent 3 weeks at Rio Caliente, Old Mexico. This is a health spa which is located about 25 miles in the mountains from Guadalajara. A natural hot springs with a sauna bath, massage and vegetable died. It was very relaxing.
More to come!