Life Story of Leonard Orville Wasden
Contributor: jkersteter Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
LEONARD ORVILLE WASDEN
I was born on November the twenty-fifth, 1902. It used to be and I guess it still is that my birthday, about once every seven years, would come on Thanksgiving Day.
I was born in St. Anthony, Idaho. Dad and Mother were in a sleigh coming down from the saw mill which was up about twenty miles past Ashton in what they call Green Timber. They were coming down to the ranch in North Salem and Mother couldn't wait any longer, so she went into Grandmother Strong's home in St. Anthony and I was born. Mother stayed there awhile and then we come on down to the home place, eighty acres (they never did tell me what they paid for it, but, it couldn't have been very much) and there is where we settled down.
Now, Dad was the son of a polygamist family and it seems that his father married a younger woman than Dad's mother. He chose to take her into Canada at the time of the Polygamy Manifesto. So, he took her up there with her family and left Dad and his mother and the family down in Gunnison, Utah. But, it was tough times on the polygamist guys, I'll tell you, it was just tough. You can't blame Dads father and he didn't blame him. But, it was awful hard to keep both wives the same and families the same. So, he stuck with the younger woman and went up there. Dad's family stayed down there and Dad happened to be the oldest son of the bunch and it kinda fell upon him to earn the living.
Now, his mother died before I can remember. I think it was probably before I was born. In those days they said it was dropsy, but after seeing what has happened to the family since then, I can't help think it was nothing more than diabetes.
So, Dad assumed the head of the family and he and his brother James same into Idaho. James settled around Cody, Wyoming. Joe, who was the younger brother came up with him and lived with Dad. A younger sister, Aunt Olive, came up and lived with Dad for awhile. In other words he kind of nursed the family, took care of them and kept them together.
I remember Dad sent Joe on a mission, although it just about busted him. It took thirty dollars a month to keep him in the mission field. Joe was a wonderful man. He was very spiritual and very talented. Joe actually got a better education than any one of Dad's kids. I can remember he went on his mission to the Northern States Mission. Joe was my idol. If I'd say a swear word all Uncle Joe would do was just look cross at me and I was the most repentant kid you ever saw. Now you see, Dad was hard of hearing all this time. I don't remember when Dad wasn't hard of hearing. So, I could say swear words and he'd never hear me, but Uncle Joe would sure look me over.
Dad was a great advocate of close family relations. In 1918, (I can remember we had a nice big 1918 Studebaker with a big six. It was probably one of the nicest cars of that time) he organized what was known as the Wasden Family Reunion. The first reunion was held at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. He had a huge crowd there. He really had them there and we went down to it. They honored Father very much and you could tell by the way his sisters and the rest of the family respected him that he'd been a tremendous leader for the Wasden family. If his sister needed him any place, he saw that she was taken care of.
I remember one time when Dad and I think it was Charley Larson, our neighbor, went hunting. Dad was always talking about hunting in his younger days. I remember when he and Charley went in the bobsled, along about Christmas time, out east of Ashton hunting elk. They were gone three or four days and came back and it was a pretty sad day when they told us they didn't get anything. They did see what they thought was an elk and trailed it for a long, long time. Finally, it took them to the ranger's house. It seems it was the ranger's cow. Dad thought that was quite a good joke on himself. He came back without any cow or an elk either.
Mother was a very kind and sincere and humble woman. She was quiet. She was President of the Primary for years up there. She used to walk to Primary and I'd toddle along beside her a mile and a quarter there and back. But, she was loved by everybody. She was quite a little midwife. If there was ever work being done for the church she was generally around there. She had a goiter around her neck that showed quite plainly. I think it worried her although it never did cause her trouble. Never did become terminal.
You've seen that picture of my Dad's house. We were very fortunate in getting it. It was two rooms, the original log room and then Dad had built one room on to it, which made the two room log house. Standing out in front of this house is my Uncle Joe and me and my dear mother.
This house had a wooden floor, course a lot of them in those days just had the ground and that was anything but good. Our roof was dirt, a dirt roof, none the less. We had the telephone come to us when we were still in that log house. Later, we built a big five room frame house which was one of, the nicest nicest houses in Salem. In the log house the pump was outside and for years it was just one of those siphon pumps. In time we got improvements in there and actually got a good pump out there. I remember one of the main things with that old pump in the wintertime was getting somebody, some city slicker, and getting him to put his tongue on that pump handle and of course it would freeze it. It hurt! We didn't have a fireplace in either home. In the log house we had the coal range in the kitchen, that was the bigger room, and a little heater stove in the bedroom.
Altogether in my family my folks had Harold, Fay, me, Vigil Earl, May, Olive, Lowell and John. We were a close family, to the extent we thought the world of each other, but if Harold ever got one of us out alone he was the ruler because he'd kick the tar out of us if we didn't do what he said. But when there was two of us, we would reverse the field on him and Fay and I would take him. I think it hurt the one doing the beating more than the one that got the beating. Harold stayed on at the ranch with us until he was eighteen and then he told Dad he was going on his own, so he left. Of course Dad would always welcome him back whenever he wanted to come. And he'd come back and live with us for awhile then go again. By getting away from the family he wasn't much of a church member. But, all the rest of them were as long as they were home.
Fay was just older than I, two years and a half, and he was my pal. We were very close, very close. We were all of his life. In fact later on he and I bought the dry farm up there together. We enjoyed each other a great deal. He was red headed and freckle faced. We just thought the world of each other. We worked together so much that we idolized each other. It was pretty tough on me when Fay past away long about 1966. When he past away, I lost my closest friend.
Now May, my sister just younger than me, is probably nearer my age than Fay was-no, she wasn't-she was about five years younger than I was, because Virgil Earl was born a couple of years after I was born. He came to live with us, but only lived three days and he past away. We were living in the log house at that time. I stayed home with Mother from the funeral. It was a kinda sad day around there for us. We weren't used to that kinda thing.
One of the first things I remember was I was sleeping out in the granary with my two brothers during the time that the thrashers were there. They woke me up in the morning with the news that my mother had given birth to Olive while we had the thrashers there. I felt so bad to think that I'd been out them in the granary all night while she was having her troubles. But, that was when Olive was born.
Dad and Mother were always very active. We as kids were very busy. We had the farm, we got sheep, dry farms and irrigated farms. There was always plenty to do. As a result, I didn't get to start school like the other kids. We would start when we would come off the farm. It's quite a deal when you look back and realize what we were doing at such a young age.
I attended school in North Salem. I started to school and Harold got sick when I was about in the third grade and had to be retained from the forth back to the third, so I caught up with my older brother. He was four years older than I was and he and I were in the same grade. He was inclined to be not too interested in school and so he was not to aggressive, but I, a little bit of a guy (I was about half as big as an ordinary kid) I was quite studious. I graduated from the eighth grade in my thirteenth year in midterm. I graduated in January and left him to go the rest of the year all by himself. Fay had gone along two years ahead of us. While I was in this school, I remember very well, I used to hitch a horse to a what we call a toboggan, a box tacked onto the top of two logs. In this we would go to school. We would put some hay in the box, the box would be about two and a half by three maybe, and we would hitch the horse to it with the lines coming back and two or three of us would crawl in the box and away we would go to school. And this was all right. It wasn't ever bad. It got us out in the fresh air. We were very healthy kids, extremely healthy.
One time when we were about in the third grade, forth maybe, old Tom McFarlain used to have six head of oxen, six sometimes eight, hooked onto a set of coal wagons, a trailer outfit of wagons. He came past the School about twice a week pulling the coal. The oxen would get unruly once in awhile. They would be thirsty and we kids would get a big bang of it when they wouldn't go across the bridge, but would wade across the canal. They would pull his load through the canal and get a drink, of water in the mean time. This was quite a lark for us to watch. He hauled coal from Sugar City, which was on the railroad tracks, down through South Salem and past North Salem into Parker. This coal was used to fire the burners over at the pressure plant in Parker for the sugar factory.
While I was in that school,"Sugar" B. Anderson got a honey truck. He had a lot of honey bees. This truck was a train driven job. A putt-putt-putt. I guess it was a two cylinder job. He would go past the schoolhouse several times during the week and it was real fascinating. That was the first powered vehicle in our part of the country. We would stand out and watch that thing come up and down the street and run and try and catch it.
After I graduated from grade school, Fay and I went to Sugar Salem High School at Sugar City. We went one year. We couldn't participate in sports because of the fact we started school late in the season and got out early in the spring. I was athletically inclined to the point that I was a real fast foot racer. Olive was also very fast. We didn't excel in any athletics at all- we loved it, we ate it up, but we didn't get a chance to play.
The folks got me a trombone and they got Fay a cornet and a guy by the name of Sorenson gave us music lessons. When I was real young I couldn't reach the last two frets on the trombone. I was never too interested in it. I was getting ready for the beginners band about the time I got disgusted.
Dad would always say that he would give us all the schooling we wanted. He sent Fay on a mission and sent me to school. I'd always have to leave early in the spring and it was kind of a problem to get your credit. So eventually I kind of gave up. That's interesting though, I never did graduate from high school actually and yet I've gone to college. Out of it all I've been pretty successful. Even though they canned me from school when I was a sophomore. They canned me for attending a public dance at Whitman Hall. Dad never could see it. He always did think the head of the school was anything but an inspired man after that. So he said it was all right if I didn't want to go back to school, I didn't have to go back. So, I left school and went and got married. I was really very successful in my work.
We were a very happy family. We kids played together and romped around. 'Course in those days it was a little different than it is now in that we had not a great deal to play with, only each other. Dad had some good horses that we could ride. The ward put on Deacon's dances and the kids would get together and dance with the girls. I learned to dance real young. The only trouble with me is I would get sleepy and occasionally Fay would come over and wake me up. I'd be asleep on the chairs on the side of the hall.
Ahead of me was Harold and Fay. Harold was four years older than me and Fay was two and a half years older than I. I was sort of the runt of the family. Right off the bat, Dad put Harold and Fay to farming as soon as they were big enough to toddle and he gave me the assignment to herd cows and sheep, slop the pigs, milk the cows and this type of thing. I kinda thought this was beneath my dignity to be a chore boy while these others were out farming. But, I survived it. I started out herding cows in the road. I guess this is the reason I can go to sleep so easily now anytime I lay down to go to sleep. I'd herd them in the road and I'd get down there on the other end away from them so they couldn't go on away from the house. I'd be herding them half a mile from the house and I'd just get situated and go to sleep. I did a lot of that.
Once in awhile I'd get in trouble. I remember I got a right good tannin' for letting the cows get out on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day and get into the wrong field. Dad promised me a thrashing and I got it when I got my clothes off, ready to go to bed. He let me think about it so I would know it was coming.
One time Dad bought a bunch of mules from Ellsworth. He bought six head. He always wanted mules and finally he got these six head of mules to use on the dry farm.
Incidentally, I don't remember when he bought this dry farm. It was about as big a spread as you'd, find at that time. It was a thousand acres or better just three miles south of Newdale. Of course he and Harold and Fay and Zeke Hollman farmed it, while I stayed down home and took care of the milk cows and Mother. I used to watch them leave early in spring, take Harold and Fay out of school, and get on their wagons and get up there and do the farming. That went on for awhile and finally I was big enough to sit in the seat with Dad and I went to the dry farm myself. To my knowledge we were the only farmers around there that went into the dry farm business. Dad was always quite a planner to the point of where he used his own initiative. He didn't wait for someone else to do all the dry farming, he got up there and got some of the very best dry farm land there was in the country and proceeded to farm.
We kept that farm and then latter on in life, after I was married and went into Utah, he sold part of this land out. Dry farmers had seen a tough deal. There just wasn't any money in it. 'Course we farmed with horses in those days. We put anywhere from five to eight horses on a gang plow and go around as much as 320 acres at a time. It was slow, but Dad was a good farmer. He would go up there and make quite a good looking farm.
I remember once just after or before the First World War, I guess this would be about 1910 or 1912, Dad got awful tired of dry farming. He had the whole farm practically into fall grain. He got sick with something-I know they fed him a lot of spinach to build up his blood. So, he sold the farm to Willard Walker. He had a crop mortgage on all that grain for the next fall when it was harvested for the payment. The crop matured to where they thought that it went about 45 bushels to the acre. When Dad went up to collect his money old Walker had sold it all, collected his money and wouldn't pay Dad. To this day I don't think Dad ever collected a penny off of that property. He was great that way. He would trust friends and neighbors and they would take advantage of him. 'Course in those days, a man's word was generally just as good as his bond.
We kept farming up there and when we got far enough along we had about a hundred head of milk cows and young stock. So, he took me up to the dry farm to graze them. You see we were right out in the sage brush-surrounded by sagebrush and grass. We had these cattle up there and it was my responsibility to take care of these cock-eyed cows. Every day I would walk with them down to Moody or the Enterprise Canal. We would go to Moody early in the spring and later the Enterprise Canal would fill with water as they began watering the crops and it was only two and half miles away. Moody was five miles away. As long as I had to walk down to Moody Creek it was no easy job-hot and dusty. Mother was up there and she felt terrible to think that I would have to be down all alone with these cattle.
I remember when I first started down there, I had never been down there in my life and Dad just kind of drew a diagram and said they are down in this particular direction. I started them down to Moody Creek and along come a bunch of those old range bulls and got in the herd. I sat down and bawled and it didn't help any. But, I finally got them turned around after they got a drink of water and started back home. I got about half way back to the ranch and here come Dad on old Billy to help me. I went through this daily for, I would say, six weeks and it was quite an experience. But, they say overcome the obstacles and you'll gain yourself a world of experience and I certainly did.
I remember a year or two later we had them up there and we had a little mare that had foaled and given us a colt by the name of Daisy. Now this was Fay's horse. He got this horse by starting out with one rooster that the neighbor gave him for taking care of the chores while they were gone. He raised the rooster and he got a few hens from it. Through trading he got a pig and the pig had a bunch of little pigs. He traded this old sow and her little pigs for a horse and this horse had some colts. This is how Daisy came into being, it was one of her colts. He prized her very highly and I had her up there to start these cattle down to the Enterprise Canal. I would follow them down and follow them back and I would ride old Daisy. Well, my first trip down there I got along fine until I got down there. Dad had saddled her up. I rode her down on the other side of the canal to head them off. I sat there in the saddle with my one leg up around the horn and all of a sudden that little stinker made about three jumps and lit right down in the middle of the canal and I fell into the canal. She went out one side and I went out on the other. I had to wade across the canal and get her and she was as scared as I was or I would never have caught her. But, I got on her and took those cock-eyed things back up to the ranch and turned her lose to eat. Then I caught her and was going to put a saddle on her to go and get the rest of the cattle. I put the saddle up on top of her and tried to tightened the cinch and Mother came out and said,"oh, don't pull that too tight on that little thing." So, I didn't tighten it up very tight and when I went to get on, it turned on me and here I am down underneath the horse and she is a running around in circles. Finally, I let go and fell off. I caught her again and got the saddle off. So that was the end off that experience.
Fay and I used to travel from the dry farm. We would generally leave up there on a Saturday evening, drive a buggy down or else ride a couple of horses down to the home ranch. It was fifteen miles down to Salem. We would go to church on Sunday then go back Sunday evening. We didn't seem to have the time for play like most kids did, we were too darn busy a farming that farm up there. Generally, we would be up there by the middle of April. We started out by living in a tent that was put around a frame and we had a cook shack that was built right there. In addition to that we had a sheep camp. All in all we were generally inside but the horses for the first few years were on the outside eating out of a manger. We eventually built a small lean to or I should say a small stable. All it would do was hold the horses and the hay had to be stacked outside. Our stable was big enough to hold about sixteen head of horses and if we used more than that, they would have to stay outside.
We got our water from an old wooden water tank that was a leaking rascal. It would hold about five hundred gallons. Dad would work that over every time he had a little time and would calk it up and fix it so it would quit leaking. Then the day finally came when we bought a brand new galvanized tank that held 1000 gallons. This was a day that Dad was very proud of his accomplishment. We would pull it up to the farm with generally five head of horses on it, two on the wheel and three on the lead.
One of the sad things of my life up there was when we would take this thing down and stretch your guts out filling that thing. 'Course the pump we had just wasn't perfected to the point to where they were any good at that time. So, we stuck a bucket on the end of an eight foot stick and we stood down near the wheel and dip that thing full of water. You'd get it all dipped full and you never knew if those jackasses would pull it out of the canal or if they'd get stuck and you'd have to unload it. That was quite a trial.
We raised grain and hay and sugar beets on the lower farm. Spuds weren't a crop in those days like they are now. About the biggest crop of spuds there was in that country was when we went out on the dry farm and got a nice north slope and planted about two acres of potatoes out there. They were good spuds - no water whatever.
I don't remember when we had to unload any of our own hay by pitch fork. We always had a Jackson Fork. Every other Jackson Fork in the country had four tines and ours had six. I remember one time we were hauling hay in the wind and Dad was stacking and I thought he said trip and I tripped it and the fork came back and one of those tines went right through his hat.
Once, we had the harvesting to do up on the farm and we had a harvester with an auxiliary motor on it with eight horses to pull the equipment. Fay and Dad and the rest of them were all down on the eighty acres putting up beets or something. I was up there with Tom doing the harvesting. Tom was a quite a good man, an elderly man. Something happened that we just tore the devil out of the equipment. And I said, “Tom, what the devil are you going to do now." And he said, "I'm not going to do anything, your Dad says when I came up here that you was going to run this harvester and all I was to do is help you." And I was only 14 or 15 years old, but from then on I ran it.
Another time we had a hundred acres of barley that we hadn't harvested. Lots of times the barley wouldn't ripen- it would have to freeze ripe because we put in barley late. It was the last thing we planted in the spring. So, we had this hundred acres left up there to cut when they were working in the beets down on the irrigated farm. I was too little to work in the beets but I could go up there and run that harvester. So, my Grandmother Boylan, Mother's mother, who had Dorothy, George's little girl with her. George, Mother's bother, had divorced and he had his little daughter Dorothy with him. Grandmother and I and Dorothy would go out with these eight head of horses. I'd hitch 'em up and get on and Grandmother would sit on the seat. We'd have two sacks empty to be filled and when one would get filled she'd flip it over to the other one and maybe I could sneak back and let the horses go and come back and put another sack on. I'd stop and sew sacks and do it all over again. We harvested that hundred acres of barley. Dear old Grandmother was the sweetest thing in world. George would show up every once in awhile. Dad didn't like George 'cause George was too lazy. All he would do is tune pianos. But he couldn't help but love "Met" Mary Boylan, Mother's mother. She was great. She would sit out there-(now this was late in the fall) and just about freeze on that cock-eyed harvester and then she would wrap that little Dorothy up and sit her on the sacks and go another round. It was a great experience. I don't remember how long Dorothy lived with us but she went into California and eventually died down there.
I remember as a kid when Sheridan Evens came riding up (I was herding cows out in the street again up by where Alma B. Larson used to live) and here came wild-eyed Sheridan up there with his horse just a lathering. He said, "James a shot Ernest." Well, they were playing robbers. Now this was the time Pancho Villa was loose up here. Well we thought he could be up here. He was a goin' in Mexico, but Hugh Whitney was up here. He was another outlaw that shot two or three men up here. Sheridan came riding up there and right off the bat we couldn't think of anything but Hugh Whitney. He said,"James a shot Ernest and he's dead." So I took care of my cows and went down and told the folks and they went down and sure enough, he'd shot him right through the heart with a shotgun. They'd been playing cops and robbers. These kids were I guess from about 12 to 16. Ernest was the oldest.
Dad Went down one time to get a sheep camp that was down by La Belle. He was camped along side the road and as he got up the next morning his horses were gone. He didn't know where they were. He had them hobbled and he stood in the camp with his head sticking out and a man came riding down the road on a horse. He asked this feller if he'd seen his horses. He said yes, I've seen some way up there in a field. So Dad got out and went to get his horses and he passed a posse that was out after Hugh Whitney. This fellow was Hugh Whitney the outlaw. Dad went and got his horses. They were a cowering in the corner trying to get away from Hugh Whitney. They seemed to sense a problem. He got his horses and came home.
Hugh Whitney was a great guy. He was over in Menan riding along the street one night and a couple of guys were laying in wait. They were going to kill him. They were going to get him for sure. He shot them. Oh, there is some tremendous stories. This was about 1912 or 1915. There was a lot of that outlawry stuff in those days. They never did get him. He was on a saddlehorse before the days of the automobile.
Well, when I was about twelve years old Dad had bought Harold a double barrel shotgun. It was quite a gun. We were out haying and I saw a bunch of ducks land up on Big Hollow Pond. Now Big Hollow is a slough that ran north and south out east of our place. So I left my work and went and got the shotgun. I knew where they were at Big Slough, so I started crawling. I must have crawled a big city block. So I got up to them and they were a sitting there in the water. I crawled closer and closer so that I could get a good shot. I don't recall ever having shot the gun before. So I blazed away. Up go the ducks and I gave them the other barrel and I ended up with four ducks. I was as proud as a peacock that I could have killed those four ducks with a shotgun. I didn't even get cussed for leaving my work. It was my first experience with hunting and it kind of spoiled me. But Dad was the kind of guy that if his kids did it and it was worth bragging about it, he would tell them. He thought that was real swell. Just like when I was a youngster-real small, I could make real good fudge. Everyone in that country knew I was a good fudge maker.
My church activity hasn't been anything Out of the ordinary. I remember when I was a deacon I gathered fast offerings on a horse and in those days they would give you flour, eggs or butter or some farm products because they didn't have any cash. I've seen a lot of times when they would tie that flour on behind the horse and it would be mud by the time we got it over to the Bishop's Storehouse. I had no particular idea what it was being used for but they had a fast offering building that was about twice as big as this room that you would take your stuff into. Because in those days most all of the fast offerings and tithing was paid in kind not in cash.
I was a deacon at twelve and was a Deacon for quite awhile before I was a Teacher. I don't think I was ever a Priest. I was ordained an Elder real young. I think I was about 17 when I was ordained an Elder, maybe 16. I don't know why because I wasn't contemplating a mission or anything like that.
I was about 21 years old in 1923. I was chasing around with Van Parkinson and Ted Ellison and we were doing a lot of dancing at night and going to Ricks College in the day time. We met Jo Berrett. She was in our class at school. We used to get in different rooms upstairs where they had the piano for the music department. We would get someone to play the piano and we would dance. That was quite a pass time. Jo introduced me to her sister, Pearl Berrett. I asked her to go with me to the New Year's dance. We dated for a few months and eventually began making plans to get married. Dad told me I could have the crop on part of the dry farm to help us get started. But, as the season progressed we soon realized that there wouldn't be a crop that year because of the drought conditions.
On July 29,1924, Mother asked me to go to Newdale and get her a sack of flour at the mill. So I hitched up the team to the wagon and stopped by Rick's to see of Pearl wanted to ride with me. We got the flour at Newdale and then stopped by St. Anthony and got married at the courthouse. We didn't think what the folks would say until on the way home.
I got a job at the sawmill at Kilgore and worked there until the campaign started at the sugar factory. I worked there steady until the campaign was over about the first of the year, then I got laid off.
I had been taking a correspondence course on electricity and had to go back to Chicago to finish my training. I sat down to talk to Dad about what the future held and he said, "Well now, I haven't got any money but in view of fact that you are planning on being an electrician, you can go over to the hardware store and charge all you want to in the line of tools to me." Well, I went over to the store and charged five dollars worth of tools to Dad. I didn't hardly know what I was going to use them for. I was just a greeny.
Pearl continued to live with her folks and boy that was the hardest part of my life when I had to leave my wife and go back to school at the Coyne Electrical School in Chicago. Pearl was working and she helped me a little while I was going to school, but that was my start when I left home, about five dollars worth of tools. So, I went back there with practically an empty pocket.
I took the train to Chicago and went out to the school and I got a place to board in what turned out to be a rough part of Chicago around 21st street. I went out to school and I liked it but, good night, I had a time eating. So, there was a Checker Taxi building right across the street and a guy was living in the same apartment building that I was living in, by the name of Richard Blewitt, from South Dakota. Now, he had just turned an application into the Checker Taxi Company and he was going to be leaving town. He got talking to me and doggoned that day the Checker Taxi Company called up and wanted him to come on over and fill out an application. So,I went over in his stead. I filled 'er out and got the job! I was the night watchman, I suppose. I worked nights from five until one, that's eight hours. I'd get out there right straight from school and my assignment was to see that the Checker Taxis was all serviced with gas and oil and that the drivers all got in and out and got their car washed as often as they wanted it. We had five Negro women and four men car washers, all Negro.
Now, this was right during the days of prohibition. We had some other than our Checker drivers would be bootlegging. I'd roust them out, because after all, just those taxi drivers could sell liquor around there.
I stayed there quite awhile and some how or another this Blewitt guy came back. I had the job in my name, but, I had him go out in place of me and leave the name the same as it was and just work in my stead. I just went to school and then I got kinda in need of money and we switched off. I took the job over as night watchman and about the third night they came out and told me they didn't need me anymore. They had caught up to me and what I'd been doing. So, I left there. I had already got a job working noon hour at the Union Cafeteria, downtown. I'd walk downtown and get my meal and a dollar. That carried, on for a long time and then I heard there was a job over at Harmony Cafeteria in the evening. So, when I got definitely laid off at the taxi, I went down and got this job at the Harmony. I worked nights for a meal and two dollars as a busboy. I worked there until I came home. Little old farmer boy back in the big city and I'm telling you it was lonesome.
I think it was in this period of time that worried me more than anything else in my life. Always after I was married, it was an obsession to get established. Because I just didn't relish working for every man and not knowing where my next meal was coming from. So, I made up my mind that if I could possibly do it, I was going to fix it so that my kids wouldn't go through the same thing I did. That I'd be able to help them and truly this has been done. But it was a nightmare to me because invariably the people felt like either dropping off a big cliff just waiting to hit the ground or out looking for work. Yet, I was never really out of work. The job I would get at Cache Valley Electric perpetuated me on until I retired from KID. So, I was never out of work. But, I worried. It was quite a worry.
When I came home I wanted to come around by the Grand Canyon but it took an extra five or ten dollars to do, so I came right straight home. I was only gone about three months back there. On the way home I stopped in Salt Lake and stopped in at my Uncle Earnest Brazier's place. This was about the first of May. He was managing the Capitol Electric Company. I went in to see him to see if he could help me get a job. He said just a minute, I've got a friend here from Logan with several big jobs. Maybe I can get you on. I waited around and he showed up and I talked Hen Laub, a very outspoken tough guy from Chicago. He later turned out to be one of the best friends I had. I talked to him and he said, "Yes, I've got a job coming up in Kemmerer and two or three other places. Just stay available and when they're ready I'll let you know.
I came back to Rexburg and while I was back Dad had me dig the drain. The irrigation water came in on the east side of the eighty out home. All along the east side there is a big levee where the water comes in. In the middle of the farm was a kind of gully and I dug a drain with a team of horses and a scraper clear down through the center of that farm to drain out the excess water. I was just getting through with that when I got word back from Logan to come up and go to work. It was supposed to be the first of June when he was supposed to start me, so along about the fifteenth of June I called him up and said, "If you aren't going to put me to work I'm going someplace else." He told me to come on down about a week later.
So I went down all raring to go and it developed that he decided not to send me to Kemmerer, but to keep me around Logan. It was a blessing to me cause I didn't have enough brains to wire a back house let alone a school house he was going to send me on. But, he kept me around there and I did an awful lot of repair and service work there in Logan, at a hundred dollars a month. That was pretty good money.
I enjoyed my work. When I was working inside the store at Cache Valley Electric selling refrigerators and along would come a day when they needed a man to wire, so I would wire for awhile, and then I'd collect for a day. It always was diversified and never became tedious and dull.
Well, I got the knack and I worked early and late and when the real depression came about 1932, he laid all the old electricians off and kept me on at $300.00 a month. Since then I've been blessed with always making good money. Pearl had lived with her folks there in Rexburg and afterI had been down there awhile living with Uncle Joe in Smithfield, she came down. We moved into a pretty fair apartment. It was Orson Garff's apartment out back of the Capitol Theater. This was a nice big home and it had two apartments. It was a duplex. It had a big long front room with a colonnade in the middle, making one a dining room and then the living room down the front. Then came the kitchen and in back of that was the screened porch for summer. We paid $20.00 a month furnished. We lived there and it was there where Uncle Joe came and we put him up for the night. We had an upstairs room and we put him upstairs. When Pearl went up the next morning to make the bed she found it all full of bed bugs.
We moved from that apartment and went on down and lived at the Davidson place. It was another duplex but much nicer without the stair. By that time I was making $300.00 a month.
About this time I got an opportunity to ride in an airplane. The airplane was owned by Utah Oil and they came barnstorming and my boss Hen Laub made arrangements for little Conway Lewis, a kid, and me to go out and take a ride in the plane. This was
real big thing. I was a big shot! We rode around there, and at first they were hesitant in taking us up because the wind was so strong it was dangerous to be up there. So we were somewhat skeptical while we were up there. When we came down he said that's it, that's the last trip of the day. I'm not going up there anymore. So, I got my ride in the airplane and enjoyed it really a lot because it was a new experience.
Janeen was born at Budge Memorial Hospital, but I remember better when Barry was born. He was born about three in the afternoon. Pearl had a quite a time with him. Us young fellers was all a playin' around together (it seems like it was a Saturday). We got together and rode up the canyon and fooled around. They stayed with me all the time. Then I went back to the hospital about three o'clock and it was getting close to the time when Barry came around.
During the depression of 1928, which would make me 26 years old, I had been working for Cache Valley Electric for about five years. I had been to school in refrigeration service and radio service. It got so tough they laid off Ted Reed and Roy Reed and Con Lewis and Lauren Hubbard. These men had had quite a few years experience. They were good men, very good men, but there wasn't any jobs. So, I was kept on making 300.00 a month.
I was the monied man and I was chasing around with a bunch of fellows that didn't have a bunch of bucks, especially Walt Squires. We'd go to the dances and take Janeen and let her sleep on the chairs on the side of the hall. We'd go out there and tear around and polka. I remember one time Walt Squires was. . . just to show you his attitude, he said, "I'm a going to go to that show if I have to spend my own money." Because I had all the money. Three hundred bucks a month, I was a real spender. We did all right. I kept my job and made a lot of money. I got up early and worked late. Hen Laub stayed in business.
The boss paid me off in script, (there wasn't any money) and I'd take this script and buy groceries, milk and a little bit of everything, because the merchants would take it. At this time there was very little of your national currency, so we used script.
I think we were all more or less concerned with our fellow man more then. When we bought our home on 86 West 4 North, I was selling for Cache Valley Electric at the time. Wes Catson, (who owned the home) needed a range. So, I turned out a $300.00 electric range which was a nice one, and I gave him some cash. All and all, I just about cleared up the darned thing. It was a pretty fair home. It was built of tile and then plastered over. It was a nice home in it's day,but it had had too many days so it was a little decrepit. But, we got it built up to where it was pretty nice. It had a nice garden out back. It had two bedrooms, a bath, kitchen, a dining room and a colonnade between that and the living room in the front. We paid him as I recall, $2600.00 for it. And like I say we made the down payment for it with the electric range and cash, to the point where we cleared it all off. Wait, there was a little mortgage held on it by a building and loan. We paid that loan all off and had it clear when we moved away from there.
I came up here to Idaho Falls on June the 15th, to investigate moving because Hen Laub had bought control of KID radio. He bought control of KID radio and needed somebody to come up and I being his fair haired child, he gave me the privilege of coming up if I wanted to. I chose to come up here to Idaho Falls for two reasons. One, I quite liked radio and the thoughts of getting into radio. Second, I had an interest in a dry farm, the old place up by Newdale. I thought it would be nice if I lived up here by it. So,I came up and investigated it and found that it looked all right.
Hen Laub owned half of the station, Pete Hardy who owned Ogden Electric owned a fourth and Walt Baukman, who owned Idaho Falls Electric, owned a fourth. So, Hen pretty well controlled it. He brought me up and when we got here there was only $250.00 a month worth of business on the station. Within a very short time, a month or so, I had it up to a $1000.00. From then I really went to town. I did very good and made them happy. Reed Bulum got home sick for dear old Logan so he left and went back to Logan. At that time he brought in Frank somebody. He was a cross eyed guy and he managed the station. He was a good program man but what he knew about commercialism was very little. When he came in he said,"OK now Wasden you and I are going to run this station and you throw the rate card out the window and you just sell this for what you can get out of it." Now, I didn't agree with this, so we were at loggerheads right at the first. I wanted to sell on rate and it wasn't long until Frank pulled out. I was appointed manager of the station, a job I held until I was retired. This all happened about three years after we moved up here.
When Janeen got married we had a 1932 Chevy. We had one of the best little automobiles in the country. The most expensive Chevrolet at that time. It was a beautiful thing. Pearl would get all six of her sextet plus a piano player in it. Well, eight of them would get in that Chevy and they would put on a program. I remember one time they put on a program up at Island Park. A sacrament service up there. They furnished the music and the speakers.
Janeen and Kathy Kindred started to Ricks. And the two little stinkers right off the bat got boy friends up there and the next thing we know they wanted to get married. So, Pearl and I got in the car and went up and talked to “Shag”'s bishop. Shag happened to be Don. His Bishop said, "Ah, he's not the boy for your daughter." I don't know what was the matter but, he had done something to the Bishop. He had attempted to get Don to do something but, Don had done what he wanted to and didn't do it. We decided the Bishop was just an old grouch anyway.
Janeen was set on Don. He was all she could see and Kathy was going to marry Bill Norton. They chased together, Bill and Don. Shag and Janeen got married at Christmas time and they went back to school. It was a beautiful thing to do. They did the right thing. Kathy and Bill, got married the next spring.
I had a lot of good hunting trips as a kid and I hunted down in Utah a lot with Walt Squires and Mont Fife. I remember once being out in the Curlew area, out toward the game refuge west of Brigham. We'd go out on a Saturday and Sunday. Walt and I got out there one day early in the morning and we had our duck loads in our guns. We were walking over a sage brush flat to get over to the lake and we heard these geese coming. We looked and strained and here they were coming straight toward us. So we hid behind the sage brush. We had plenty of time to change our loads and put the goose loads in the guns. When they came over they almost knocked our hats off. We both emptied our guns at them. Not a darn goose fell. So, when we got to looking, both of us in our excitement had taken the duck loads out of the guns to put the goose loads in and had put the duck loads back in instead of the goose loads.
He was a great man, Walt Squires. He and I had a lot of fun together. He stayed in Logan when we moved away and after we had built this home on 410, he and his wife came up one day on the way from Jackson. They came in and told us then that he had a tumor on the brain and eventually it got him. A great guy. He called me Tom. Come on, Tom, he would say.
In my life time I've been out hunting elk quite a few times and generally got one. Course I went to the Primitive Area. I never could see any sense of hunting elk unless you had a way of getting them out. Elk are pretty hard to get out unless you have a pack horse. So, we would go into the primitive area. There were four of us that had a quite a group. We would go hunting and we generally got an elk a piece, but that was up in the Primitive Area. We would have a packer take us in and leave us and we would get our meat and when we were through we would send word and he'd come and take us and our meat out. We would kill these elk way down in a deep valley. Elk didn't like to stay on the top land to much so they would get down in the bottom in the heavy brush. You'd get down there and kill one and you'd think boy, that's going to be tough getting out. But get a packer with a pair of those mules and he would just strap an elk on one of them mules and he would turn them loose. That mule would make his way up. He wouldn't take the trail at all as he had gone down there but had his own idea of how to get out of there. They'll get your meat out and take you to camp. It was very interesting. I got quite a thrill out of that.
I remember we made a practice of being up there over Sunday, but, we didn't do any hunting. We just stayed around camp. One Sunday, we were in camp fooling around and I decided I should go over and do something with the ax. I don't remember what it was. I took the ax up and was a chopping and it slipped and that's how I got this scar on my leg. We were up there a good days ride on a horse from camp and after that it was an other half a day to get down to a doctor. I cut it and it went in quite deep and bled profusely. All the four guys ran and they could all find something to do but to stick around there and help me. It frustrated them I guess. But, finally, Jay Mason came back and helped me. I laid on my back and elevated my leg and when night time came I knew I couldn't lay that way. So, I got down in bed the best I could and it started bleeding again. I don't know what I did the rest of the night, but I suffered through it. The hurt wasn't so bad, it was just the loss of blood that worried me. So, the next day good old friend Jay Mason hiked out of there about 15 miles and got the packer to come in and take us out. They immobilized my leg and made it straight out like that. I got on the horse and went out and came home.
I got home just as Barry was ready to go on his mission. Pearl took him down and I didn't get a chance to go to Utah to see him off. I went to the doctor and he put a bunch of stitches in it to stop the bleeding. It wasn't serious, only that we were away from help. I really enjoyed my hunting. See, in those days I was pretty well confined to hourly work and I got away and took a vacation for a week and really enjoyed it. Then Steve came along and we spent a lot of time up there hunting sage hen and pheasant.
We always enjoyed when the grand kids would come up. I think one of the saddest times of Pearl's life was when Janeen moved to California. That about broke her heart. Yes, that was a sad old day when the kids moved away. Pearl seemed to have a premonition that she was going to die. There were certain things she wanted to do before she did. If you'll notice she has written a very complete history of her life. She was a good writer, very good.
This life history was compiled from two taped interviews. The first one taken at Christmas time in 1974 and the second during the summer of 1975. Although this history Is written word for word as recorded, the sequence of events as been arranged for continuity and duplication has been eliminated.
STEVE HARRIS Grandson of Leonard Orville Wasden