Saturday, February 13, 2010

World War II

As I reflect back on WW II one of the things that really stands out is our attitude towards the Japanese. There was a couple who worked for Grandma Robertson that were Japanese. Nobody would speak to them and she gave them their work orders on a piece of paper. Shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed I recall my mother taking all of the articles she had on her whatnot shelves and laying them on the bed. She looked on the bottom of them and if they were made in Japan, she threw them in the garbage can hard enough to break them. I suspect that the “Bookworm” book ends that I remember eating raisins from met their end in this manner.

Our attitude towards the Germans was completely different from our attitude towards the Japanese. We had an old German man who lived in the Third Ward, who apparently bore his testimony in support of the Nazi regime. I don’t remember what he said but I do remember the Bishop coming down off the stand and telling him he would have to stop or leave the meeting. After church I asked Mom why the Bishop had come down and she said that Brother Mueller was speaking in favor of Germany even though he had two sons who were in the U.S. Army.

A lot of things were rationed during the war. I remember Mom counting the ration stamps when I needed a new pair of shoes. I also recall her talking about trading the coffee stamps for sugar stamps so she could can peaches.

Along with the ration stamps it was a big thing to collect savings stamps. You would save them in a little book and when it was full you could get a War Bond. I remember taking a nickel to school with me on Fridays and going to the office and buying a savings stamp.

I remember listening to the radio and hoping that the war would end so there wouldn’t be any more news on the radio. Apparently the only thing I remember hearing on the news was about the war.

During the war years we recycled all the paper and metal. I have often wondered why we didn’t continue this after the war because obviously the infrastructure was in place to collect and process these items. It took another 50 years before we started doing this again and had to put the infrastructure all in place.

I remember having blackouts where we would turn off all the lights in the house and no cars were allowed in the street. The lights on the Salt Lake Temple were turned off for the duration of the war. It was an exciting time after the war when we rode the bus up to Temple Square to the Temple with all the lights on again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Learn something

I am falling behind on my life story, but hopefully I can write about World War II before the week is over.

But so I have something on the page, I love the following:

The context is the young King Arthur, struggling with depression, frustration, irritation, and a life of leisure that needed to be translated into a life of meaning. These things weren't being managed too well in the mythical story. He goes to the magician, Merlin. Merlin, talking to the young King Arthur, says:

The best thing for being sad . . . is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn—pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then after you have exhausted a milliard life times in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics— why, you can then start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough. (T.H. White, The Once and Future King, p. 183.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010


In January of 1941, Dad went back to work for Zion’s Wholesale Grocery as a route salesman. This included driving a delivery truck. Each week he would leave Salt Lake on Monday morning, stop at Alpine, go through Provo, stop at Mapleton, travel up Spanish Fork Canyon and stop at Thistle. From there he stopped at Soldier Summit then down Price Canyon to stop at Helper. He spent the first night at Price. The next day he stopped at Huntington, Castle Dale, Orangeville, Ferron and Emery. Then he drove through Salina canyon to spend the second night at Salina. On the third day he stopped at Mayfield, Manti, Ephraim, and Fairview. Normally he spent the night at Fairview, and drove back to Salt Lake on Thursday. I often went with Dad on the route. Sometimes when we reached Price, I would stay with one of my grandmas and then Dad would pick me up the next week when he made the rounds. I can’t image how I fit, but occasionally I would sit on Dad’s lap and try to steer the truck. Occasionally we would stop and fish either on the reservoir up Salina Canyon or north of Fairview. I caught my very first fish on the reservoir.

Our first home in Salt Lake was on Wall Street just west off the hill from the Capital building. It was an apartment set some distance back from the street. The only thing I remember about the interior was taking a bath in the kitchen sink. There were some neighbors that had a boy a year older than me and a girl a year or two older than her brother. They had a car and I remember going for rides with then. The boy and I would play out front of the apartment – most often we played in the water in the gutter. I remember that he had a wagon, but when I have driven past the place, I can’t believe we played in the wagon since the street was quite steep.

Wasatch Springs was not far from our home, down on highway 89. I recall going swimming there with my Dad.

The first time I remember church was in the building that is just to the west of the Capital building. It was a great spiritual experience (ha.) The only thing I remember is playing “train.” The piano stool was one of those round ones that was used as the engine. We would place our little red chairs in a line behind the stool.

In December of 1941, we moved to a house at 33 Kelsey Ave. – just north of 13th S
outh, between State and Main Streets. Some years later when I was in grade school, the teacher asked us where we were on “Pearl Harbor Day.” Most of my classmates could say what they were dong when they heard about the attack, but I could not remember anything about it. I recall asking my mom about it and she explained that it happened on the day we moved.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why Twin Falls?

Both of my parents were from Price, Utah and met the fall of 1934 while Mom was visiting home after 2 years in nurses’ training. They started to correspond when Mom returned to Salt Lake to continue her schooling and dated whenever Mom was in Price. In the fall of 1935 my Dad cut off two of the fingers on his left hand. The doctor told him that he shouldn’t work on the ranch because there was too great a chance that he would break open the skin, so Dad when to Salt Lake and started working for Zion’s Wholesale Groceries (a part of the Church owned ZCMI.) In March 1936, Mom and Dad were married and Mom had to drop out of nurses’ training because back then you could not be married and attend school. In May of 1937, Zion’s transferred my Dad to Twin Falls, Idaho to manage the warehouse there. Before they left Salt Lake they were Sealed in the Salt Lake temple.

A year later in May of 1938, I was born at Twin Falls. I came into the world with three great advantages. 1) I was born in the Covenant, 2) I was a native Idahoan and 3) I had two parents that loved me (after all, they sold their car to pay for me.)

My grandfather Robertson had died just before I was born and my grandmother was having trouble running the ranch, so my dad quit Zion’s and we all moved to Price, Utah in May of 1940 to help grandmother Robertson.

I was just starting to talk and with all of the family around calling Mom, Gennie, that is what I called her. Mom tells the story of us taking a bus trip to Salt Lake and I was “entertaining” the two ladies in the seat behind us when one of the ladies asked if that was my mommy. I put my arms around her and said no she was my Gennie. Mom had to explain.

My very earliest memories where while we lived in Price. I can remember going to bed with the “Bookworm” bookend figurines with raisins on the open books. I don’t think they were real Hummel’s, but rather copies made in Japan.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Wards

Yesterday, I drove down to Salt Lake to attend the funeral of Patty Jo Ward Jones. As I drove home, I was thinking of all the great times that I had because of the Wards.
When I was born, my parents had become very close friends with Katherine and Ross Ward. Even though we would live 200 miles away for 12 years, The Wards would always remain my parent’s best friends.
The first things I remember about Idaho were from a bus trip we made from Salt Lake to Twin Falls in the fall of 1942. After passing through Snowville, my folks pointed out the longest section of straight road I had ever seen. The road just seemed to disappear in the distance. After we crossed into Idaho, I remember seeing this abandoned grain silo off to the side of the road- it seem so strange to have this silo out in the middle of nowhere. It can still be seen from the freeway southwest of the weigh station east of Burley. Once we had gotten into the “Magic Valley” I could not understand all the sugar beets that were piled up at the dump center. I just could not imagine that many beets being grown. I don’t recall much about the visit, but the trip was sure impressive.
When we lived in Salt Lake you knew when the Wards were visiting. There was that great big Cadillac parked out front with the funny license plate with a baked potato on it. On two occasions, Katherine brought the Young Women down to attend June Conference (that was the church youth conference with dance festivals and a number of other cultural activates.) On these occasions our house was turned into a girls dormitory. I was working at this time and would tiptoe between the sleeping girls as I left in the morning and be sound asleep before they retuned at night, so I did not meet any of the girls, but when I was at BYU, I did meet a girl from Twin Falls that said she had stayed at my house.
When we moved to Burley, it seemed that there were almost weekly visits with the Wards ether at their house or at ours. Each visit seemed like the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving. There was always a lot of food and great activities.
The Wards had four children – Georgeanna, who was 10 months older than me. Patty Jo who was 18 months younger than me, Grant who was the same age as my brother Neil and Kathy who was a year younger than Grant.
Kathy was what we used to call a “blue baby” because of a heart defect. If she exerted much energy or got excited, she would get faint and her lips would turn blue. When she was 12, they took her to Salt Lake for the first open-heart surgery performed at the Utah Medical Center. They thought she had a hole between two of the heart chambers and they were going to close the hole. Kathy died in the recovery room. When they did the autopsy they found that she had two holes. They had no idea of this possibility because nobody had lived past the age of one with two holes. So thought we did not have the miracle of successful surgery, we did have the miracle of knowing her for 12 years. Dad was asked to speak at Kathy’s funeral, which he always said was the most difficult job he ever had.
During fall vacation I drove truck for Ross (we got 2 weeks of school vacation in October so the kids could help in the harvest of potatoes.)
While I was attending BYU, Dad and Ross would come down to Salt Lake for General Conference and I would join them there. Ross had been a missionary companion to Gordon B Hinckley and we occasionally would see him and have a brief conversation as we were coming or going to the meetings. At one of these meeting, Elder Hinckley told how President Kimball would suggest that they create a mission in Utah, but every time the subject came up, Elder LaGrand Richards would say: “This is the Center Stake of Zion, we need the missionaries elsewhere” and the subject was dropped. One week Elder Richards was out of town and President Kimball proposed the Utah mission and all those present sustained it. At the next week’s meeting the minutes were read and as soon as they were finished, Elder Richards hand went up. Well, Elder Hinckley said everyone gasped and almost sucked all the air out of the room. When President Kimball recognized Elder Richards, he said “ I propose that Bother so-and-so be called as the mission president – as long as the subject was up for discussion, Elder Richards was opposed to it, but once the decision was made he supported it a 100%. This was a great lesson for me as I have sat in a number of councils.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Begining 2010

I hate making resolutions for the New Year, but I still find that January 1st is a good time to start things that you have been putting off.

I had hoped to update my blog weekly, but already I see that it is the 13th of the month and I am just getting around to my blog.

We ended the old year on a high note by going to Idaho Falls when a nephew and his family that we hadn’t seen for 6 plus years was visiting. A number my of nephews and a niece managed to show up so we had a great time getting caught-up on what was happening in their lives.

I am much more involved with genealogy than I want to be. I am teaching the Family History class in our ward and am now working at the Family History library. (Everyone at the library is thrilled to have someone on staff that knows how to use a Mac.) It is funny that I never considered myself as a genealogist, but I seem to always get drug in to doing it. It started when I was in college, before my mission, when I got called as the ward genealogist, because I had said in a priesthood meeting that I knew who my great-grandparents were. The next time I got drawn in was when the Church asked for the 4 generations and I made a deal with my sister that I would do the research, if she would do the typing – there was no way I could do the typing. All my life I had heard about how much genealogy my Dad’s cousins had done, so when I got my first Mac, I found a genealogy program and volunteered to put all the information on the computer, if the relatives would give me their information and then verify it after I put it in the computer. Well, when I got the books, I found that no real research had been done and that there where multiple copies of a few families. What was worse was that none of the copies matched and there was almost no documentation. After more than a year of trying to get the “genealogist” to correct the information, I decided to do it myself. So I got in to the documentation business and grudgingly in to the research effort. Since I was one of the early users of the computer, I was called to teach the Family History class. And so it goes.

Diane and I did a fun road trip last Saturday. It had been a long time since we did the loop over to Stanley and Sun Valley, (something we used to do 2 or 3 times a year.) The snow-covered mountains were beautiful and we even saw some deer along the roadside. The highlight was at Sun Valley when we went to the new lodge at the base of River Run and had lunch. We sat next to the windows where we had a perfect view of the skiers coming down the hill and getting on the lifts. I had very mixed emotions about the experience – it was fun to watch, but I sure wished that I were skiing.