LIFE HISTORY OF RULON A. HILLAM
I was born September 19, 1931 in the little four room frame house on Dad's farm located in the community of Marysville, Fremont County, Idaho. (It was a beautiful fall day, and I spent the entire day with my mother.) The Doctor who came to deliver me was Dr. Hargis. The usual fee was $45 but Dad didn't have that much and told him he had saved $25. The Doctor was eager to accept that much cash and went on his way. All my older sisters, Nina, Grace, Vonda, Lola and Marg had been born at home, our little sister Bernice was the only one afforded the luxury of a hospital birth in Pocatello, Idaho. Mom was down there with my Grandma Lemmon who lived in Tyhee. I was the sixth child of My mother, one other boy was born prematurely and died within a day or two. Grandma Hillam tried to keep him warm enough to survive by keeping him in the oven of the cook stove but was unsuccessful. He was between Vonda and Lola and was named Marvin Jr. He is buried in the Ashton cemetery and the place of his grave has only been identified within the last few years. I grew up as the only boy in a family of six girls, 5 older and one younger, on the frontier of Fremont county. It was a wild hard country, being only 20 miles from the southwest corner of Yellowstone Park. I was sure the country was infested with bear, wolves and coyotes, although I never did see a bear until I was in my teens, I was reasonably sure they were always out there, hiding behind bushes and rocks just waiting for me to make a slip or become careless so they could devour me. We could hear coyotes howling over on the river at nights and in the evenings that nearly scared us kids out of our wits. Our house had no electricity or running water, so the nightly trip to the outhouse was a necessary ritual, that's why two hollers were developed # so kids didn't have to go alone # and we didn't waste a trip! We didn't always want to go that far, and I can still hear Dad holler at me "Get off the porch", through a half opened door, as I went out in the dark. With all the wild animals out there one couldn't be too cautious about going out alone. (Usually it was just our brown dog "Tip".)
Our home was only about one half mile from the Snake River and we enjoyed going over there summer and winter to slide down the spring trail on our skis and sleighs. Only a few years earlier the spring trail was used to haul water up from the spring on stone boats as the only source of water before the wells were dug. Mom loved to take us kids over there and cook up. It consisted of boiling an egg and cooking some mulligan stew in a tin gallon can, but we loved it and were taught to enjoy the beauty of nature. We used to go over there and play on the ice along the river. One day Lola fell face down on the ice and really banged her forehead on the ice. It really hurt her and she bawled most of the way home. I was so moved I even offered to pull her sleigh home, at least up the spring trail. We would always carry a knife to cut pussy willows at the spring or watercress from the spring. One of my worst problems in my youth was that I was always losing my pocket knife. This drove me to a life of spirituality as I was always praying and begging the Lord to help me find my knife. My blackest days were spent searching the ditch banks and through the fields where I had been the day before looking for my precious knives. They were expensive and hard to come by in those days.
One of my really great moments in memory was my sixth birthday. Dad came in from milking, I was still sitting on our bed, (I slept at the foot of the bed) Grace and Bernice at the top, and he pulled out a white pocket knife and gave it to me. He said I ought to be old enough to handle a knife now. Besides Mom was getting tired of losing her kitchen knives for my projects. When resurrection morning comes I'll be too busy to greet lost loved ones, I'm going to be searching for that white knife!
One of my early hero's was Jack Young. He owned and operated a dude ranch up on Rock Creek 15 miles east of our place. He had come to work for Grandpa Hillam one year many years ago when his car broke down in Marysville. He asked Orlando Gooch who ran a small service station, where he might find work, Lando saw that he wore a gold ring on his finger with a Boy Scout emblem on it. Upon inquiry he was told that he was an Eagle Scout, which was a great honor in those early days of scouting. Lando told him to go talk to Abe Hillam, who was the Bishop at that time (serving 27 years in there Marysville Ward). Grandpa gave him a job and they (Jack and Jerry, his wife) lived in a tent in Grandpa's apple orchard for two years. They had a baby who died during that time, and Grandpa and Grandma helped them bury their baby in a small box in the orchard near their tent.
Each summer we would take our non#milking cows up to Jacks to the summer ranges, and that was always the highlight of the year, the big
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of bread or slice of vienna sausage.
Our home consisted of three rooms and a back porch. Mom and Dad slept in one bedroom, Lola and Marg shared a bed in the other bedroom, as did Nina and Vonda. Grace and I slept on a kind of a couch with metal springs in the front roam until Bernice came along, then I was demoted to the foot of the bed. We had the wood cook stove in the front room and in the winter Dad brought in a heater which stood alongside the kitchen stove for extra heat. We would always take our clothes and dress by the heater as it was the only warm place in the house. Many times I remember the water on the wash stand freezing at night. It was my job to pack the wood to keep the woodbox full behind the stove, and to cut the kindling wood to start the fire in the morning. We burned a lot of quaking aspen and pine that Dad hauled from the canyons across the river. He and Grandpa and Norman would each take a team and trailer or sleigh and go after wood in the fall. After we had a big wood pile, some guy with a big round saw would come saw it up for us. That was always a big day, and we loved to play in the piles of clean saw dust. We sawed a lot of it ourselves with a five#foot long two-man saw. It was a lot of work to keep the fires burning in the house. The ashes had to be cleaned out and wood carried in every day. We also had to carry from the hand pump all the water we used. At first my prized buckets were two-gallon honey cans that had handles # then as I grew older I got to carry the water bucket and full sized pails. We had a windmill, but it would only pump when the wind blew, so we usually had to pump all the water by hand for ourselves and the stock. It seemed like those milk cows drank a hundred gallons a day in the wintertime. The pump handle was icy cold and to touch it with your tongue or bare skin would take the hide right off. Dad brought an old gas engine to put on the pump but it didn't work very often or good. It was more trouble to start than it was to just pump the water. On washdays and Saturday us kids were kept busy all day carrying water from the well.
One of my happiest days was on Vonda's birthday in the spring of 1940 when our horse named Pet had a colt out in the pasture. Dad and I went right out to see her and it was a little black mare. We named her Babe. I spent many happy hours with her and before she was six months old I had her broke to lead and wear a saddle. It was just a small kids saddle but she was gentle and had a good disposition. She grew up to be as large as her mother and looked exactly like her. We broke her to work as well as ride, and used her for many years. Pet and Babe were Dad's last work team as the horses were replaced by a Ford tractor. They were used in the wintertime as our only source of transportation was the sleigh. The snow was so deep the tractors were no good so when we went anywhere it was on a horse or in the sleigh. Dad made a little two runner sleigh with a canvas cover on it we called the "whippet". He had a door in the back and a small window in the front he could see thru to drive. We went to school and church all winter long in this little sleigh. In the spring when the roads were thawing of ice and the snow was leaving, it was really scary riding in it as it would tip over easy, Lola was scared to ride in it as she was on the bottom of the pile when we tipped over once.
This was during the years of the great depression and we didn't have much money. The folks never talked or discussed money in front of us kids, Dad said just a few years ago, that the greatest compliment he had ever had was a remark that Lola made after we had all grown up and left, that, "we never were poor!" Everyone was in the same situation so we didn't feel sorry for ourselves. I wanted a football awfully bad when I was growing up, and approached Mom on the subject many times. She said Dad would be glad to buy me one if he had any extra money, but he didn't. When they killed a pig in the fall he cleaned out the bladder and blew it up for me for a football. We had some good games with it but it was too light to pass too good.
One of my earliest childhood memories was the first time I ran away from home. Only I was so little I couldn't walk, so I crawled. My folks left to go down to Grandpa's a mile away, and I wanted to go. They left us kids at home and walked down the road to Grandpa's. I decided to go too and started to crawl down the side of the road. Either I left later or went a lot slower, but I distinctly remember just getting to the top of the second hill, which was nearly a half a mile, when I saw Grandpa's car coming. It was a dark red Chevrolet with wire spoke wheels and was tall and built square. They were bringing my folks home, and when they saw me they stopped and picked me up out of the road and took me home. They couldn't believe I would do such a thing, and I couldn't believe they would just go off and leave me like that!
Another time I distinctly remember in that same period of time was when we stopped at Grandpa's house after church. I was really tired and wanted to get home, but Velma had a camera and wanted to take a picture of me. They baited me with a cookie to get me to be quiet. Anyway, they took the picture while someone was holding me out by the south porch of Grandpa's house. Nina has that picture and I remember it as if it were yesterday.
We were comfortable in our little house, but I slept outside all summer on an old army cot, usually covered over with a white piece of stiff canvas. When it rained I would just pull up the canvas and let it rain. One night in a violent rainstorm lightning hit the house and I looked out just in time to see the radio antenna wire burning clear out to the apple tree. It really cracked, and why it didn't burn the house down I never knew. Sometimes we had an old canvas covered sheep camp that I slept in. It was really luxurious after the cot outside. I used to enjoy especially laying in my bed listening to the rain fall on the canvas. My only storage room in the house for my things was the bottom drawer in the water stand. It had a couple of drawers and stood right by the door. The water bucket and wash pan was always on it, so I kept my drawer shut and organized.
When I was twelve years old, Grandpa sold his farm to Dad, and we moved down one day while I was gone to Green canyon on a Deacon/Priesthood swimming outing. The folks had never mentioned it to me at all, and when I came home they had moved! I suspect they would have liked to move to California and left me behind, but a mile away was as far as they got, and I found them!
When we moved we had enough furniture to fill Grandpa's big house on the hill. They left a few beds and a big tall chest of drawers which I had in my room. I was given the room right by the kitchen so Mom could get me up in the morning. I would be awakened by Dad rattling the milk bucket's on the porch every morning. Then, if I heard the corral gate slam when he was coming in I knew I was in deep trouble.
We farmed two 80 acre fields of our own and two 80's of Stan Loosli's west of our farm. In 1940 Dad bought his first Ford tractor. We used horses for farming and most of our winter transportation so we always had them around to take care of. Right after we got the tractor Dad was plowing the pasture by Grandpa's house, and when noon came he just shut it off and went inside to eat dinner. I remember how we talked all thru the meal how nice it was not to have to feed and water and unhitch the horses to quit for dinner.
I was glad to be 12 years old so I could be a Boy Scout. The only problem was that we had a hard time keeping a scoutmaster. This was in 1943 right in the middle of World War II and all the young men were gone to fight in the war. A few from the community didn't come back, and us kids had to work hard in the hay and harvest because Dad couldn't hire help. Wayne Johnson and Foryl Kidd were my scoutmasters until they went away to war. We had several good trips and usually went to scout camp at Treasure Mountain, camp of the Tetons. Our first year we rode up there on the back of an old truck that didn't even have side boards. It rained and we nearly froze, and as soon as we got there we had to be initiated by being dunked in Papoose Creek! Most of us survived, but at the time I didn't expect to at all!
Vernon L. Strong was the chief scout executive and had an excellent Indian Lore program in addition to the scouting advancements. You started out as a papoose, then brave, then warrior, then chief the third year if you met the requirements. It was an impressive program and we really worked hard to learn the requirements. I didn't get to go three years as a boy, but was later made a chief after I came home from the service and attended as a scoutmaster. It took me that long to fulfill all the requirements. They took you into a large teepee tent with a fire in and you were initiated into the order and given a permanent name. Mine was Chief Birch Bark, in the Nation of the Tetons. I had won the camp jousting contest the day before where we stood on the bow of our canoes with one man or boy steering, and pushed the other contestants off theirs in to the water with a padded pole. Rex Baum was my partner, and we even dunked the staff in their contests. The ideals of scouting were impressed upon us around the campfire program at nights up by the big rock. Vernon Strong would dress up as an Indian chief, and come up on the rock behind the camp fire and tell us the most thrilling stories of scouting and Indians. It was an unforgettable sight to see him standing on that rock with the Grand Teton silhouetted behind him in the moonlight as he told us stories.
It took me several years to get my Eagle award. One requirement held us all back, that was life saving and the swimming merit badge. We didn't have any place to swim except the canals and the boys reform school in St. Anthony. That's where I finally passed it off in the dead of winter. Marg and Lola always reminded me how lucky I was to get to come home from there, and that by all rights I should have been locked up there instead. Zee J. Egbert and I got our Eagle awards at mutual one night. Joe Herward was the one that presented then to us as he was the MIA president. Mom was there but Dad wasn't. We also went through the Exploring program when we were 16#18 years old. I received my Explorer Ranger award which was harder to get than the Eagle. We took a life#saving class at Ricks College in 1949, so I was 18 when I finally got my Eagle Scout award.
One of the exciting trips we went on as explorers scouts nearly cost us our lives. It was in the winter of 1947. Foryl Kidd was home from the war after spending a year or two in army hospitals. He was shot in the lungs and leg with a German machine gun shooting wooden bullets near the end of the war. He had terrible infections from it and nearly died. Before he left he had been a fire guard on the Bishop Mountain look#out station north of Ashton. He arranged with the forest service to let us spend the night in the cabin at Bishop Mt. if we would shovel the snow off the roof. Some one took us in an old truck to a spot east of the present Osborne Bridge, and dumped us out. I had my webs, several other boys had skis, the snow was several feet deep, but on top was about a foot of wet snow. So we on the webs took turns breaking the trail for the others with skis to follow. Foryl Kidd was our fearless leader, Gerald Egbert, Zee J. Egbert, Jim Christiansen, Laurie Kidd, Blair Hillam, Floyd Huntsman and I were the ones in the group. (See paragraph on back of page)#
We hiked west along the road all day. The distance was supposed to be six miles. We later found out it was closer to 20 the route we took. At noon we stopped and took off our packs and ate lunch. We didn't carry much food as we had been told there was plenty in the cabin, and we planned to be there in the afternoon. The wet snow made it really hard going, and by nightfall we were just approaching the base of Bishop Mountain. We went along the road to the north side, then started south up the mountain about dark. As darkness fell we were so tired and hungry we stopped in a little ravine and built a fire to cook a few raw potatoes, which was all we had left to eat. Jim Christiansen was just exhausted as he was not used to walking to school each day like the rest of us were. He laid in the snow by the fire crying saying "I want to die, I want to die." Gerald cut a stick and began to swat him with it, and before long he was up chasing Gerald around cursing him for not letting him die in peace. The willow and chasing around warmed him up and he lost interest in passing to the great beyond when we all assured him we'd leave him to be eaten by the wolves if he didn't come with us.
After we rested Foryl asked Gerald and I to go on ahead with him to look for the cabin. I had a compass and also was carrying my 22 pistol on my belt. We took a compass bearing and I lead off into the darkness up the mountain. We walked for hours it seemed, finding nothing. Soon we began to hear voices. We just couldn't believe anyone else would be dumb enough to be out on that mountain at night! Before long we stumbled into a ravine and found ourselves back at our own campfire! The pistol had been deflecting the needle on my compass; and we had just traveled in a circle around the top of the mountain, We rested awhile, then started out again; we had traveled for an hour it seemed when Gerald turned on his flashlight and the beam reflected on a wire overhead. We decided it just be the phone line to the cabin so we followed it for awhile, and sure enough, it took us right to the cabin. We had passed within 50 yards of it on our first trip, but didnt recognize it as the snow was so deep only the tip of the roof and chimney were visible,
We took off our webs and used then for shovels to remove the snow off the boards covering the chimney, then shoveled down to the screened#in porch. We broke thru the top of the screen and made a stairway down into the cabin. Gerald and I made a fire while Foryl went back to the ravine to bring up the other boys. There was no water, so we started melting snow to drink as we were all really thirsty. It was past midnight when we were all safely inside the cabin and we were really tired and hungry. We had been told the cabin was well stocked with food. All we could find was a few boxes of K#rations that the army had given the Forest Service. We were hungry enough that they tasted pretty good. We rolled out our bedrolls and went to sleep on the floor in front of the fire. We told a lot of bear stories and other scary things before going to sleep.
In the night Blair had to get out of his sleeping bag to go to the bathroom # (one of which there wasn't.) He was wearing a wrist watch with a luminous dial, and as he crawled over Jim Christiansen, Jim looked up and saw that watch and thought it was a bears eye! He let out the most blood curdling scream and kept screaming "there's a bear in here!" Others started to scream and throw things around grabbing for the axe and stacks of wood to protect themselves from being eaten alive! Blair was more scared than all the rest and was scampering around trying to find his flashlight to locate the bear yelling at the top of his voice!
It took all night to get Jim settled down and back to sleep after such a close call! I had my pistol but wasn't about to come out of the bottom of my sleeping bag to shoot a mangy bear, or take a chance on loosing a hand or an arm reaching out for my pistol! When it was all over we all had a good laugh and went back to sleep.
Morning came early, and the weather had us socked in with a ground fog. We climbed the lookout tower but could only see a few feet. We were really disappointed. We looked around and spent all morning in the cabin. After lunch we closed up the cabin and started down the east face of Bishop Mountain. It was so steep we skied all the way down on our webs! It was really fun, but walking out wasn't. It was hard going in the soft snow, and took us all afternoon. Foryl's bad leg started hurting him again and he fell way behind. I stayed back with him to help him. He was hurting so bad he had to drag one leg along with his hands; those last miles were really torture for him, but the rest of us made it all right.
An old truck came to pick us up at the highway east of Osborne Bridge.
We were glad to get home safe after such a narrow escape from freezing in the snow, eaten by bears, and just plain fatigue.
I attended Ashton High School for four years # which was customary. Our class only had about 30 kids so we got to know them pretty well. I didn't get to participate in the sports programs as Dad insisted that I get home immediately as soon as school let out. I did box in the winter months in my junior and senior year. I weighed exactly the same as Kerry Heinz who was the star Golden Gloves boxing champion of the year. So all I did was work out and go on the trips with them. When I went to Ricks I boxed on the intramural teams with the Gamma Beta club, I won all my fights up to the last one. I had been home sick in bed for a week, and just came back and was told I had to go fight that night. My match was with a guy named Jack Scott. He had a secret punch and I think the referee was helping him too! They both whopped me every time they got close! Coach Dixon (Gordon) invited me to join the Ricks boxing team but I told him I was going on a mission soon, which I did. It kept me from being used as the local punching bag!
The day before we started high school Zee J. Egbert, Gerald Egbert and I got together at Zee J's and decided to stick together during our school years in the big town of Ashton. We had jackets alike and usually wore corduroys or Levis. It was customary to dress up pretty good as we always kept clean and neat. We always went together in our activities, double or triple dated together and had all our classes together. They were a good influence on me, and we had so much fun we never did think of having to cause trouble to have a good time. We were never tempted to smoke or drink like some of the other kids did, it just didn't look like the way to go to have a good time. One night at a school dance a couple of the local brethren were drunk and got into a good fight. We had a lot more fun cheering them on than they did fighting. During those years my mother was one of our Sunday School teachers. She taught us out of the Book of Mormon and inspired us to want to read and study more. Then Zee J.'s mother Louise also taught us a couple of years. She too was an excellent teacher and was always prepared to answer our questions. I never could figure out how she had time to study so much. Found out later that they were having bad financial problems at the time and she said she couldn't sleep nights so she read and studied instead. We never considered ourselves to be too religious, but we were just never tempted beyond our ability to say no. None of the three of
us ever touched a cigarette or a drop of liquor in our lives.
Zee J.'s folks Zeke and Louise, were our MIA dance instructors thru our mutual years. They were excellent dancers and taught us all how to do the current dances. We had a stake dance festival each year and the winners got to go to Salt Lake and dance in the big Dance Festival at the University of Utah Stadium. We won two years in a row and danced with 12,000 kids there one year. It was wall to wall kids dancing. We danced the rumba, samba, tango, fox trot, waltz and two step. It was really a good experience. My partner was Nola Gooch from Marysville. She was really a cute little buxom girl and we were all secretly in love with her. When we got old enough to date we all went out with her from time to time but she got to traveling with too fast a crowd for us. We started out dancing in the old Marysville ward hall when were in primary. Our orchestra was fairly limited but we didn't know the difference so we really enjoyed ourselves. We spent many hours in the upstairs hall in the Marysville school house having dance practice after mutual. It wasn't the best place in the world to dance but Louise taught us the steps and we learned how. We were in floor shows all thru our high school and college years as a result of our dancing ability. They taught us the social graces at the same time to tame us down and teach us how to act in the presence of ladies young and old.
We had a lot of Sunday evening fireside chats at our house during those years. We had a player piano that everyone loved to play. We would sit around and sing as the music went by on rolls of music. We had about a hundred rolls of popular music and knew the words to every one of them. We played them until we had literally wore the paper out.
The church and its activities were the only activities we had in those days on the frontier. We would work hard in the fields all day and walk to town (2 miles) to dance at night. We had a lot of ward parties, suppers and outings. Dad was in the Bishopric during my teen age years so we had to go to everything that came along. James Stringham was the Bishop, and Laurence Orme the 2'nd counselor. The only chapel we had was the Marysville school house. We used the rooms on the third floor as our chapel and school rooms as Sunday school rooms. We met in the same room as our school programs was held when we were in the first to eighth grade. The Marysville Ward chapel was built during the time I was on my mission 1950 to 1952. Gerald, Zee J. and I dug the sewer and water lines for the construction of the new building just before we left on our missions. The ground was frozen and
we worked with Dad and the other brethren for several days digging those trenches. That was our sole contribution to the new chapel. When we got back it was all completed and dedicated.
We enjoyed high school, but never did get to start in the fall when the other kids did. We had to stay home and help get the harvesting done. We didn't have a spud harvest vacation then, we just didn't start to school until we were through with the hay, grain and spuds. As a result I missed some good foundations in math and science classes. My grades were never too outstanding, but usually "B's" or "C's", some "A's". I especially enjoyed chemistry, physics and math. We also took bookkeeping and typing classes. I helped write, do the art work and publish the local school paper in my junior and senior years. For this great effort I was awarded a letter in journalism! It was interesting and kept me from getting into trouble as we were too busy on our paper.
During my last two years in high school I was also active in drama. I had the lead in the school plays "Amazing Grace" and "The Campbells are Coming." It was fun but required a lot of time and memorization. We also enjoyed the exchange assemblies with other high schools up and down the valley. I was in several skits, sang solo's and Zee J. and I played our harmonica's together. The main attraction there was getting out of school for a day to go traveling. One time when we were waiting to get on with our program at Driggs I picked up a girls note book and autographed it for her. She later wrote me a letter and we corresponded for a year or so. It ended, died on the vine, when she sent me a picture of herself! Another romance down the drain.
The year we were seniors Lisle Andrus asked Zee J. and I to come up to their place one night, and had Blaine Hawkes and her nephew from Salt Lake there, (Louis King). She formed us into a quartet and proceeded to teach us how to sing. It was a tough process because Zee J. and Louis were always wrestling on the floor. Anyway, we practiced every Thursday evening, and since Lisle was the stake music director and ward organist she soon had engagements for us to sing. Our voices blended very well. I was the base, Zee J. baritone, Blaine high tenor and Louis the second tenor. Lisle usually accompanied us but we often sang with only a pitch pipe to get us started. During the summer and winter we sang at 37 meetings or programs (according to my diary). Our best numbers were "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" out of the blue Priesthood songbook, "See the Mightily Angel Flying", "Nut Brown Maiden", "The Creation", which we never did master, etc.
Louise Egbert and the local mutual leaders wrote a play around us using the mutual girls to help us in a Hawaiian vacation theme. It was really good especially the girls hula dance numbers as they had real grass skirts! We took that play all over the stake and to Rexburg, Archer, etc. for fund raising programs for the wards. We helped build many buildings with our talents that year. After we were in the mission home in Salt Lake City Lisle tried to get Zee J. and I back to give one more show in Rexburg. Our fans were disappointed but we couldn't get away. Our official name was the "Zionaire Quartett". One time Lisle had us lined up to sing in the opening meeting at the Idaho Falls temple. We went to I.F. and stayed in the hotel overnight. Next morning we got all primed and went over to the temple but Zee J. and I didn't have recommends yet, so they wouldn't let us in! What a blast! Several months later just before leaving on our missions she tried again and that time we made it o.k. We went around to many of the wards in the stake and all over the park with the stake missionaries giving sacrament meetings. We would sing a couple of numbers and each speak for 10 minutes on faith, repentance, baptism and restoration of the gospel. It turned out to be really good training for my mission later. Blaine and Louis had both been on missions so they taught us how to conduct ourselves without getting stoned or thrown out with our antie's.
After our missions, Louis King had left the country so we recruited Mac Reynolds to sing with us. Not many years passed before we were scattered out and only got together to sing for a funeral or other special occasions.
During our high school and college days we had some choice girlfriends. We always went together, partially for protection from some of the tougher ones, but mostly because we just had a good time. Until after our missions none of us would dare go out with a girl alone! The environment on the frontier of Ashton was too wild to want to be alone! Zee J.'s folks bought them a yellow Jeep right after the war in 1946, and Dad bought us a Blue one in 1947. We sure had fun in those Jeeps, they were able to get us around summer and most of the winter, and we used them to irrigate with as well as go on dates. I bought a .22 H & R Sportsman Revolver from Alden Packer in 1948, and carried it under the seat of the Jeep when I went out to irrigate. I bought a carton of 22 shorts to practice with and by the time they were shot up I was a pretty good shot. One day hunting deer with Howard Murdock we ran into a flock of blue grouse. I pulled out my pistol
and shot the heads off six chickens with nine shots! That was all we got that day, but they were good eating!
Our work didn't interfere with our social life those last years at home, as we had been told, (nearly every day) that if we didn't have sense enough to come home at night and go to bed, that was just too bad, but we had better be able to get up and do a days work when that alarm went off in the mornings! We would often get in a nap out on the ditch banks while waiting for the water to get thru so we survived very well.
Having too many girl friends got me into trouble several times. One winter in 1945 1 stayed with Nina in town part of the winter. I worked in the City Market after school for Tommy Murdock. After a mutual dance one night I walked two girls home, Peggy Millward and Laura Allison. By the time I got the last one home we had lingered too long in the frosty night and both my ears got frozen! They swelled up and were really painful. What a price to pay for an act of kindness!
Then one Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1949, 1 had four girlfriends in different towns on the string, and they all came up to the ranch to see me! Luckily their visits were barely separated by a few minutes! My mother sure laughed at me as I was really sweating over that one! Dad thought it was pretty nice to have so much good looking company in one afternoon. They always taught me to tell the truth, but sometimes it's more convenient not to tell all the truth.
Another time the Fall before I left for my mission when we were living at Aunt Tildies (Matilda Winters) home in Rexburg going to school, the winds of fate blew over me again and I ended up with three dates in one night! My good friends David Croft and Gerald helped keep me from getting scalped by a jilted girlfriend that night. I boxed in an intramural boxing match that night, after which there was a dance in the gym. When I invited the girls one at a time to come down that night, two of the three didn't know # hadn't asked their mothers, so I assumed it was all off. So I picked up Vada Wheeler and took her to the fights. As I was in the ring fighting, I spotted Carla on one side in the bleachers cheering me on, and on the other side there was Venna Croft sitting above Vada! I was hoping they would extend the fight another three rounds while I could figure out what to do! I won the fight and disappeared to shower and dress downstairs. Gerald went upstairs and got Vada and brought her down by the front door. I made a feeble excuse and walked her home to her apartment downtown.
Then I made a mad dash back to the gym where Gerald had Carla outside waiting, the fights were over, so we took her over to an ice-cream parlor had a milk shake, then I took her back to her apartment, after telling her goodnight in a proper fashion??, I went in the front door, and ran out the back door, up the alley back to the gym! There was David at the dance waiting for me with Venna! She must have thought I was one for long showers. Anyway we had a fine time at the dance, and I hope they all enjoyed themselves. I was determined to be more specific in my requests for their company after that little episode!
By the time I left for my mission, Carla Lewis was the main attraction. Her Dad was our stake president, and my Dad really liked her too. (Compared to some of my other girlfriends he didn't like!) She was going to wait for me while I was gone and be true blue! Like most other love affairs, the old saying of "Absence makes the heart grow fonder, (for somebody else)'' came true. Seems she grew fond of the local basketball star, and when her folks asked her not to go out with him, she would crawl thru her bedroom window and meet him! I would like to have been there with a sharp stick just once! I could have broke her of that bad habit! She was such a pretty girl and there were too many fun things going on to want to stay home alone very long! After my mission we had some good times and some heart rending scenes, but things just didn't work out for us, so for me it was on to bigger and better things, like Marlene Rice!
In our last year of High School and early 1950 the Korean War was pulling all our Young Men into the Service in the Far East. Our quartet sang at the National Guard farewell party as they all left for Korea. Only one didn't return. As we turned 19 the threat of being drafted into the army was imminent. We debated long and hard about what to do. The clerk of the Draft board, a Mrs. Howard from St. Anthony bragged that she would have us in the army in a couple of months. However we knew we could get a deferment to go on missions and take our chances. Gerald was called to the Southern States mission a few months before Zee J. and I were old enough. But in December 1950 we received our calls, mine to the Southern States with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and Zee J. to the North Central States in Minnesota. I was really thrilled to be called down South where it was warm and where Gerald was serving. I had wanted to go to England, but I guess they thought I would have a language problem! We left on January 7, 1951, along with Clayton Rich, my good friend from
Parker, on a Greyhound bus, on a Sunday evening. Carla Lewis rode as far as St. Anthony with us, and the scene of those touching farewells to all our families and girlfriends would bring tears to the eyes of a Bengal tiger! Our folks and Carla and LaRee Munns and Barbara Rich all came down to Salt Lake City to see us get set apart and leave on our missions. They only kept us there for ten days, but after about three or four we all developed withdrawal symptoms from being away from our girlfriends so long. We were sure glad to see them when they showed up in the lobby of the Hotel Temple Square one day. We had arrived in Salt Lake City on the bus at 2:00 a.m. lugged all our luggage three blocks east and one north to the mission home, only to be told the mission home was full, take your things and go back to Hotel Temple Square, which was just across the street from where we started! What a night! We had a good time laughing about it and having fun until the realization caught up to us that we were there for serious business.
We received intensive training in every phase of life from keeping at arms length away from girls, (always was a question which end of the arm) to what to eat and what not to! Mostly it was training for preaching the gospel to the waiting world. We found out later they were not as anxious as we had hoped they would be. One of the high#lights was a tour thru the Salt Lake temple. We got to see the room where the apostles meet and all the upper floor rooms. It was a choice experience. The day before we were to leave we were set apart as missionaries and given our ministerial licenses. I was set apart by Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve. He gave me a beautiful blessing, and set me apart as the Group Leader for the 13 Southern States missionaries. The blessing was not recorded but he was inspired to tell me the things I needed most. Mostly that my mind would be opened to understand the gospel principles to be able to teach others. That I would be able to learn quickly and remember what I had learned. That I would be close enough to have the guidance and protection of the Spirit of the Lord. I was instructed to learn good principles and prepare myself. One method I used was to start an I.P. book (Instantaneous Preparation book). In this little book I kept all the good scriptures, poems, sermons and sayings I needed for talks and teaching. I decided to never copy a poem or anything in there that I did not first memorize. I can still quote most of the poems and scriptures that I have in my book. His gift of memorization was especially useful to me as I read and studied. At the end of my mission
I won a contest for having memorized over 400 scriptures. I also could recite the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6, and 7, the 4th section, 89th section of the D and C, the entire book of James in the New Testament, the last three chapters of the Book of John etc.
I got into the habit of studying early in the morning when I got a new companion while I was in Miami, Florida. He didn't like to get up early, so I would arise at 5 a.m. and. go out on the lawn and sit in a big metal lawn chair under a coconut palm tree, and read and study until he got up around 6:30, this was Donald Saunders from Smithfield, Utah. The weather was warm and those morning hours were beautiful to see. It was the most pleasant time of the day.
After arriving in Atlanta, Georgia after a three day train ride, I was assigned to the Miami, Florida area to labor. This required another day and a half on a Greyhound bus. It was a Sunday morning when I woke up on the bus and looked out to the east to watch a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic ocean. It seemed like another world away from the snow and cold of Idaho. I stepped off the bus in Miami carrying my heavy overcoat, wearing a wool suit my mother had made over from one of Dads suits, with a felt hat on my head. I nearly cooked before I could get a new light weight suit (cost $39#00) and I never did put on my overcoat during my 2 years!
My first companion was Elder Darrell Hall from Salt Lake City, Utah. He had been without a companion for a week, and a cab dropped me off at Sister Peales boarding house at 12 noon, and after a quick lunch we were out tracting and visiting investigators! What a whirlwind he was! He walked like he was going to a fire all the time. I could hardly keep up at first, but soon got used to the pace and the heat. I labored in Miami in the South Florida district for nine months, then spent eight months in Ft. Pierce and Vero Beach. The last seven months I was called as the Supervising Elder of the South Mississippi District, with headquarters in Laurel, Mississippi.
In Miami we has some choice spiritual experiences. We also had some very sad experiences. We were called upon day and night to administer to the sick, patch up family problems or explain the Gospel. We worked hard day and night tracting and holding meetings with investigators. We tracted out a special family named Jack and Judy Hazard. They accepted the gospel and I baptized them in the beautiful Biseayne Bay in downtown Miami. They were our first complete converts. Another lady named Jackson accepted the gospel and I baptized her while in Atlanta, Georgia. She went up there with
us to a missionary conference, and met President McKay at the dedication service for the Joseph Standing Monument in Dalton, Georgia, north of Atlanta. He was a missionary companion of Rodger Clawson, who was shot by a mob in the late 1800's.
One of my greatest tests of faith came one Saturday as we walked in the apartment with our arms full of groceries the phone was ringing. I answered it, and a woman's voice said, "This is Sister Cowan, my little boy Jonathan fell into the canal and the Dr. says he is dead, but I know the Lord wouldn't take him from me now! Please come and administer to him and call his Spirit back into his body!" They lived out on 121st street north, so we went right out, but when we got there, they had taken Jonathan's body to the morgue. We went into a bedroom and had a fervent prayer for Jonathon with the parents. Then Sister Cowan grabbed a handful of clean clothes to bring him home in, and we sped over to the morgue. Never had I seen such great faith as the woman had, but when we got there, the mortician who had been instructed to wait, had left on another call, and an assistant had already bled and embalmed the body of little Jonathan. That was a tough time, they asked me to be the speaker at the funeral, and never have I worked or pleaded harder for understanding to be able to console those grieving parents. About a year later I was coming in from tracting one day with my companion in Ft. Pierce, Florida when Elder Arden J. Palmer, my S.E. came driving in the driveway. He told us that the Cowan's older boy (Lowell) (12) had just been fished out of , gravel pond near his home, drowned! His parents wanted me to come back to Miami and talk to them and speak at his funeral. I was stunned by the news, and didn't want to go back or have any part of a repeat scene. Nevertheless, I went back with Elder Palmer and tried again to explain to the Cowan's that the Lord never promised any of us a specific number of days to live in this life. Sister Cowan begged me to ask the Lord for her why this had to happen, saying "I know he will answer you and tell you why, but he won't answer me!" I will never forget that night at the funeral home when it was time to leave. She pulled up the covers around Lowell's neck and kissed him goodnight, and turned and walked away. Over the years I have watched My lovely wife do the same thing to our sleeping children a thousand times, and I always think of Sister Cowan and Lowell. At these times I was reminded of a statement made by Abraham Lincoln when he stated "Many times have I been forced to my knees in prayer by the utter realization that I had no where else to turn!''
At the time I served in the Ft. Pierce, Florida area I was the Branch President. There were only about 40 people in the Branch, and the missionaries were about the only leadership they had. While tracting one day we found an old man named Akley Love Lamoroux. He had been baptized LDS as a youth, but had moved from Ohio early in life and completely lost contact with the church. He was thrilled to meet us and learn about the church again. He started coming to our meetings bringing his children and a hired man with him. One day in Fast Meeting he stood to bear his testimony and had no sooner concluded, when he had a massive stroke and fell to the floor as if hit by a club. He never regained consciousness, I was alone with him two days later when he died in the hospital. It was a terrifying experience. His former friends and clergyman would have nothing to do with him or help at his funeral. I made all the arrangements, conducted, spoke for the family and dedicated his grave. It was a tough time, and surely made me appreciate home, my family and the understanding of the plan of Salvation that the Gospel brings.
While in Ft. Pierce as the Branch President, we decided to start a chapel building fund. We met on a Saturday on the river, dug oysters and cooked oysters and cabbage palm in a cookout. We collected $35. A couple of years ago in 1978 1 was sent by the company to Florida to buy some surplus electronic equipment at Cape Kennedy. While there I drove to Ft. Pierce in my rented car, and attended church services in the lovely little chapel that is there out south on Virginia street. They now have a good sized ward there with about 300 members. There were a few old timers around that while we were in Miami we had many good experiences. The South Florida District extended from Vero Beach south to Key West, and west across the Everglades to West Palm Beach. We went to Key West several times for conferences and to visit the members and hold services for those who lived on the Keys. I knew we were in a crazy mixed up place when we first went to Key West in February, and there along the road in Homestead, they were digging potatoes!
In Miami we became acquainted with Sister Cameron who had a lovely daughter Jeannine that was looking for a missionary. They took us to the beach on Saturdays, to the ice skating rink, owned an airline and a few other things, but were just, good common people. They tried to make us feel at home and make our efforts more pleasant. They flew out to Idaho and met
the folks while we were there, Jeannie had her net cast for Elder Lorin Grover from Rexb4rg, but he slipped thru the net. Her mother tried to get me to come back to Miami when my mission was over, said she's pay all expenses and fly me home, but things didn't work out. They drove us to Atlanta, Georgia to the missionary conference and along the way we had an interesting experience. We had a flat tire for no reason at all, new tires on a new Lincoln Continental. We cussed and fumed over our bad luck while replacing the tire, but when we started out we had only traveled a few miles until we came upon a savage wreck. It was the same semi truck we had been following when our tire Went flat, and it was loaded with large cement culverts which were scattered all over the road. We knew immediately why we had been stalled with tire trouble, and were grateful the Lord had chosen that method to protect us from those culverts and the demolished truck.
We had a radio program at Radio Station WKAT on Miami Beach on Sunday mornings. We would get up early and go over on the Beach and study or watch the ships go by. It wasn't worthwhile watching girls there, the only ones around were the old Jewish women who walked up and down the beach looking for things people had lost the night before or just beach combing in general. We used tabernacle choir records and I read a five minute message of inspiration, usually taken from talks by Richard L. Evans. We often met people while tracting who listened to our program and liked the choir music. A year earlier I had been inspired to take a class at Ricks in Radio Broadcasting, it really helped when I got the load dumped on me in Miami. When I was in Columbia, Mississippi I also got a radio program started there doing the same thing. One Sunday morning during conference I took Milton R. Hunter with me over to the Radio Station and let him talk for our program. He laughed when I told him we had to have a prepared timed script! He said, You just watch the clock Elder, and let me know when I have 10 seconds left! It was a good experience and we got into many homes and met many good people as a result of our radio programs.
I served in Miami for nine months before being transferred to Ft. Pierce. I sure hated to leave all our good contacts and many friends. Especially the congenial Sister Lucy W. Peak, our landlady. I bought and distributed to our eight best investigator copies of "Marvelous Work and a Wonder.'' Seven out of the eight eventually joined the church with their families. One lady was the Primary President by the time I was released from my mission.
While in Ft. Pierce we worked a lot in a town to the north, Vero Beach. We went there and lived in the home of the South F1orida District President James A. Martell. He died of a heart attack while we were living there one Sunday morning. He was a wonderful personal friend, a spiritual giant, and a true pioneer of the orange fruit industry in south Florida. Everyone in Dade and Orange county knew him or of him, and that he was a good Mormon. I was asked to speak at his funeral as the main speaker, which I thought was a little unusual as we had all the church leaders there from all over the south including President Peter J. Ricks from Atlanta! I had a lot of help that day with my talk, mostly from the unseen world. The young mortician stood at the back of the chapel and listened to the whole talk. Afterwards he told me it was the most reasonable talk on life after death and the purpose of life he had ever heard. He asked us to come to his home and teach them more, which we did. He used to take us home after our meetings in his hearse. He would open up the siren and just fly across town, we were scared to death at first! He would often cut the siren and screech into a Frost Top drive in and casually order three root beer floats! What a character he turned out to be! Sister Martell sold me all Pres. Martell's tools before she moved out west to Arizona to live with her daughter Wanda Wolff. We got out the Sears catalog and found the new price of everything, then she cut it in half for me. I got his cross#cut saw, add. wrench, log chains, and a complete assortment of small hand tools. I still have, use and prize each one of those tools. Elder Palmer hauled them up to Jackson Mississippi and gave them to me, I built a green tool box at some members house in Picaune, Miss. and carried them with me in my car. Six months after Pres. Martell died Pres. Ricks assigned me to help rebuild the Raytown chapel north of Jackson, Mississippi. There I was with all my tools already in the car! One of my regrets is that I didn't buy Pres. Martell's pistol. He had been given a beautiful 32 automatic for being Pres. of a canal company many years earlier. She asked $25 for it and I just didn't have it or have the nerve to write home and ask for more. I missed plenty of meals saving to pay for the other tools. She also gave me his good leather briefcase which is still one of my prize possessions. She was one of my best friends and loyal supports of the southern missionaries. After I had been transferred to Mississippi she heard thru the other missionaries that some one broke into my car in Jackson one night and stole my clothes! She immediately sent me $100 to buy me a new suit! I bought
me a new brownish suit for $50; a used typewriter which I desperately needed for $25 and slide projector which I needed for the other $25. We never visited her without her insisting on us taking home a loaf of bread or some other goodies to eat. Many years ago she sent us a couple of Christmas cushions for Christmas, a red and green one that we always bring out at Christmas time.
While we labored in Ft. Pierce we met Sister Susi Ulrich, who had a daughter named Virginia Sue who returned from Georgia mission about the same time we got there. They were really good to us too, we didn't have a car or any transportation and they were always there to help us out and take us to church and where ever else we needed to go. They were lovely people and were known and loved by everyone in town it seemed. We enjoyed many trips to the groves and beaches with them on our days off. We had a lot of good times in Susie's old Jeepster. Another good friend was a bachelor named Sam Chew. He lived alone in a garage apartment near us and was a Scoutmaster for the local Lions Club Troop. He got me to be his assistant when he found out I was an Eagle Scout. (I had also been inspired to take a course in Scout Leadership at Ricks the year before my mission.) We had some good outings with our troop of half-breed Seminole kids. We often took them up to the church farm in central Florida at Melbourne and camped out with them in the Everglades. On our first trip I picked up a cypress knee by cutting it out of the swamp. (I just made this into a lamp in 1980, 28 years later). We did a lot of missionary work with our scouts and their families. Every where we went the kids would holler at us and come talk to us while we were tracting.
I had a companion who used to be a barber, Bro. Christensen from Wendell, Idaho. He sold me his clippers and tools and taught me how to cut hair. Sam Chew was my first victim. He just kept saying, "Just use your native intelligence Elder, my hair grows fast anyway!" I also got a lot of practice on my scouts. Those half-breed Seminole Indian kids had hair just like a broom to cut. They all thought that paying their scout dues entitled them to free hair cuts whenever they needed one! I learned how pretty good, with few nicks or bloody gashes. The word got around and I was cutting the hair of every missionary in my district when I was released. I cut a lot of hair in the army later, as well as my own kids until they grew up and learned the difference between my haircuts and , good haircut which I always insisted was only two weeks!
After serving in Ft. Pierce for eight months I was called to be the Supervising Elder of the South Mississippi District. I packed My bags and went to Atlanta to meet with Pres. Ricks who had replaced Pres. Albert Choules from Driggs, Idaho. He told me I needed a car so after a phone call to Dad and Gerald down in Valdesta, Georgia, I went to meet Gerald. He introduced me to a car dealer who was a member of the church and he sold me a two toned green 1951 Chevrolet that had been used for a driver education car. It was a good car and I was really thrilled to have some transportation at last. Gerald had a 1950 Chevy that Bro. Griner had sold him. We had a good time together for a couple of days, then I had to leave to my new assignment. Gerald had labored in Jackson, Mississippi so he knew all the saints there and told me where to stay while there. I was assigned to supervise 16 missionaries in eight towns. Headquarters was in Laurel, Mississippi for awhile, then I moved to Hattisburg where I lived with H. Shelby Berry family. He was a professional Scouter and we got along really good. He would come home late and come get me up so we could talk. They had a large family (eight kids) and were excellent parents. They had family councils, family government and the whole bit. He took me on several scout trips with him as the head of the Pine Burr Council. He was also the District President, which was one reason I liked to stay there with them. I paid them $40 a month for room and board, but I wasn't there most of the time. The Korean war was still on and the missionaries were not coming out due to the draft. We had a lot of older couples, among them being Jefferson Taylor Hunt and his lovely wife.
My particular assignment from Pres. Ricks was to get the membership records from Pres. Berry, find the saints, update their records, and organize them into Branches that could exist with their own leadership when the missionaries were all pulled out due to the war. It was a hard and lonely assignment. I never did have a companion, except for new missionaries coming or old ones going that needed a companion. My labors took me into the backwoods all over the state looking for members of record. I had many interesting experiences and whenever I was going to be in an area for a day or two the members would help me set up a meeting where everyone could come and listen to the Elders preach. Sometimes we would have a regular old revival for three nights in a row! It was really fun and I would go bring in all the District Missionaries to preach and expound the gospel to the saints. Many of the people I net had had no contact with
the church since their baptism as children. Often they would say, "We belong to the Church of the Elders", that's all they could remember.
One old lady I visited lived in a rundown shack in the backwoods by a little clearing that was her farm. The front porch was nearly rotted away and I could see the ground through holes in the floor. When I got there she was out back picking cotton. She was dragging a big cotton sack with an old dirty crutch under one arm. and she only had one leg! She lived there all alone and insisted I stay for supper. All she had was bread and milk and black-eyed peas cooked in pork grease. The poverty of those people was really surprising and humbled me, especially their spirit. She was really glad to see me and said I was the first contact she'd had with the church in 40 years! She was hungry for news of the church and what was going on in the world. She didn't own a radio or have a newspaper, or anyone close to keep her informed. Most of the old timers were still very bitter about the civil war and its effect on their families and lives. One old lady I met began to cry like a baby when I told her who I was. She finally told me that when she was a little girl the missionaries had come to her town and taught their family the gospel. Later a mob came and beat up her parents, took the missionaries into a barn and tied them up, fed them only corn like animals, and came back the next day, hooked them up to a hand plow and beat them until they pulled it for them. This happened near the town of Yazoo City, Mississippi. It was later cursed by the missionaries for their treatment of the Elders. No missionary work was done there for 50 years, and even when I was there we didn't do any work there. True to it's curse, the town looked exactly like it did 50 years ago, and was the most poverty stricken run down place I had ever seen or hope to see!
Many of the people I met told stories of the mobs and persecutions in the early days of the church there in the south. One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I didn't have time to record and document all their experiences and write a book about it later. Shelby Berry's Grandfather was shot by a mob when they came to his home to break up a meeting and run off the missionaries.
During this time I organized and financed thru the mission president the rebuilding of the Raytown Chapel north of Jackson. The local members furnished the workers along with what missionaries I took up there to help us, and the church paid for the material. We put on a new roof, siding and repainted it inside out. During this time I held meetings with the saints
and investigators there. Our labors bore fruit, as the last day I was up there, after Dad had came down to go home with me, I baptized three of those people into the churc4 in a little dirty pond on the Wallace Ray farm. It was a great experience to have Dad came down to go home with me, and especially to have him there for that occasion. He flew down, and I met him at the airport in Jackson. He couldn't believe it when we visited the state capitol building there in Jackson and they were flying the confederate flag right alongside the union flag! He said, "Why those S.O.B.'s, that's what we fought the civil war for!" We went all over south Mississippi those few days. Dad especially enjoyed visiting George Down's, who was a poor old farmer who lived in a shack out in the backwoods near McComb. He kept his pet chicken in the house and his closet was a rope stretched across a corner of the room with his clothes thrown across it. His best friend was his mule. He and Dad really got along good, he was really poor but a good member of the church, and was in the process of giving his land to the church after he died.
We left for the west from Berry's home in Hattisburg, Miss. on the morning of January 20, 1953. Before we left we listened to Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower give his inaugural address to the nation on the radio and was sworn in as the President of United States.
We brought two other missionaries with us so there were four of us with all our luggage! We drove straight thru by taking turns driving. The other two were Elders John Burt, and Lynn Bateman from Salt Lake City. We drove by way of New Orleans, Texas, New Mexico, stopped and toured Carlsbad Caverns along the way. Due to winter weather we took the southern route thru Arizona and then north into southern Utah to Provo. We made a historic stop in Provo. Gerald Egbert beat us home so he had an apartment reserved there in Provo so we could go to the "Y" that winter. However, I didn't have his new address. The only address I had was Carla Lewis's. We went over there and was informed she was in the Field House to a basketball game. We went over there and had her paged to meet us at the northeast entrance. She was living with a bunch of my old girlfriends from St. Anthony there and next door was Marlene Rice whom they had all known and grew up with in St. Anthony. She was with the bunch and when they heard Carla being paged over the loudspeaker at the, games, they knew it must be me, and all came running down to the entrance where we were waiting! I was really embarrassed by all those girls, but took a good long look at the little girl friend from
California. We talked for a few minutes, got Geralds address, and went on our merry way into the night! What a historic moment that turned out to be! Little did I know that I had just met the mother of My ten kids!
After meeting Carla we went over to where Gerald was living in an apartment and made arrangements to live there while; going to school for the spring quarter. We dropped the other two Elders off in Salt Lake and went on to Ashton. It was really a thrill to come over the last hill and look over the valley and see home again. The older folks hadn't changed much, but the kids had all grown up!
I stayed home for a few weeks, then went back down to the "Y" to school for the spring quarter. It didn't take long to look up Carla and find out that the sparks didn't fly like they used to, so I took Marlene out to a play on campus. It was "Pygmalion" and we really had a good time together. It became obvious that she was a special person and I couldn't explain my feelings for her or what was the great attraction, we spent many evenings on the mountain east of the "Y" talking, studying the stars and getting acquainted.
I had to go home in the summer and help Dad on the farm. He gave me the 80 acres of Stan's west of the house to run for him. We raised wheat, peas, hay and spuds in a rotation. We had a good time and the crops did well. That was an interesting summer. Our mission President had instructed us to go home and get married. So I had that charge laid upon my mind, then the Korean war was still raging in the far east and the draft board was breathing down my neck. In the midst of the turmoil we sure had a good time deciding on our alternatives. Gerald brought Marlene up with him one week end from Provo, Carla came home for the summer, and David Crofts sister Venna had grown up, Belva Rose had grown up, etc. Marlene spent the summer in Redding California working as a secretary in a plywood factory in between writing letters to me assuring me of her undying affections. She qualified for a music scholarship from her Ward Bishop to Ricks College in the fall (many people still think I paid for it, but I didn't), Lola arranged for her to live with Alden Packer's folks in Rexburg to work for her room and board. Clyde and Dora Packer had only Dora Lee living at home in a large beautiful home so they were glad to have Marlene as a maid. They were a good influence on her and treated her like their own daughter. When things began to look serious, I had a long talk with Bro. Packer about the pro's and con's of marriage. He recommended it as something no family should do
without, and thought Marlene would make me ; good partner,
The night we became engaged we stopped at a dance in Chester, and met Carla, who said she stopped in to see if I was there, she said she was on her way to Ashton to see me to tell me she had decided she wanted to renew our loving relationship!
We kept the road hot between Rexburg and Ashton until November 12, 1953, when we were married in the Idaho Falls Temple. I didn't know much about Marlene's folks until we got married. Her Grandmother Chloe Rice lived in Parker and was a great influence on Marlene's life. She was a friend of my folks and had worked with my folks in various stake callings thru the years. She was always a lady and tried to teach her kids to live right and keep out of trouble. At the time we were married she provided for herself by selling Avon products in the St. Anthony area. She drove a little Studebaker car around and was very independent. It was thru her influence and money that Marlene had learned to play the piano as a child while staying with her in the summer's.
The day of our marriage we hid our car in a shop building down to the church farm where Grace and Howard Murdock lived so my friends couldn't write on it or mess it up. It didn't work, somehow they found it. We had a lovely reception and dance in the Marysville Ward cultural hall. Leo Parker and LeRoy Haire orchestra provided the music and it was really fun. About half way thru the dance Gerald Egbert danced over by us and slipped something in my pocket. It was the rotor out of the distributor from the motor of my hidden car! Right then we knew we'd been had! They tried to make me wheel her down main street in a wheelbarrow but we got away in a shower or rice! After a good chase and a quick repair job on the car, we disappeared in a cloud of smoke and dust. We stayed at a motel in Rexburg the first night, then went on to Salmon, then over to Vonda's in Connell, Washington. She had been over for the wedding and had taken Mom and Bernice back with her. So when we showed up there it was like a family reunion! We stayed a couple of days and ended up bringing Mom and Bernice home with us. Our car was all painted up with "Just Married" signs and when we stopped in towns people would gather around to look and Bernice would try to hide on the floor so they wouldn't see her! We bought us some plaid shirts alike in Pendleton, Oregon, took a lot of pictures and acted like newly weds should.
Upon our return we moved our meager belongings into Aunt Matilda Winters home (Zee J.'s aunt) at 44 St. 2nd East in Rexburg which we rented for $40 per month. Gerald and Zee J. were living in the basement apartment where we had all lived while going to Ricks so we had ; good time. They often complained about the excessive noise from upstairs while they were trying to sleep, but it was really just the opposite! They had so many girlfriends coming and going I offered to hire a Bishop to be on standby duty to keep them out of trouble just in case! They didn't think a shotgun marriage would be too desirable at the time! One day in college choir Marlene introduced Peggy Call to Zee J. Egbert. She sat by Peggy and I sat by Zee J. in choir. We decided it was a good match, and sure enough, in two months they were married!
Our little burst of happiness didn't last too long, as in January Zee J. and I were both drafted in to the army! The Korean war was still going and they needed bodies! We ended up fighting the battle of Ft. Ord in California for basic training. Clayton Rich went with us also. Gerald and Lynn Davenport followed soon after so we had a lot of company down there. After our five weeks of confinement in Infantry Basic Training our wives came down and stayed in an apartment in nearby Carmel Beach. We had some good times until I ended up in an army hospital with the pneumonia. Luckily I had a good friend for a corporal who signed off my attendance cards in training for a week so I didn't have to go back and start over. His name was Corporal Shore from Oklahoma and he came to the hospital one night with a copy of my orders while Marlene was there. I was assigned to the Army's Radar Repair School in Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey.
An incident happened while on my honey moon that completely changed the direction of my life. We were at Vonda and Frank Biorn's in Connell Washington. Frank came home at noon and asked if I knew anything about electricity. Since I had taken some classes at Ricks on automobile mechanics and wiring, I assured him I knew about all there was to know about it. I spent the afternoon helping him wire an office building at his sand and gravel plant. A two way switch wouldn't work or was wired wrong. By the end of the day when it still didn't work, I was really embarrassed! We got it fixed more by accident than on purpose! I resolved right then to learn something about electricity, or to keep my mouth shut! When I got back to school and registered for my classes at Ricks, I signed up for classes in basic electricity and house wiring. I was half way thru the classes when
I got drafted, and made arrangements with my instructors to finish my books and take end of course tests before leaving. I completed these courses and got a good grade in them along with the credit hours I needed. When I went into the Army and took their battery of tests, I scored really high in the tests on electrical knowledge. That qualified me for the Army's Signal School instead of eight more weeks of Infantry Basic Training! This course led me into the field of nuclear electronics which was to become my life's work. I'm still wondering what I want to be when I grow up! My biggest regret in life is that I didn't go back to college and get a degree when I came home from the army! However we were gone two years and came back with two cute little girls. The years at home brought more little ones and there just wasn't time to take a couple of years off to go back to school. I used up my G.I. Bill eligibility on correspondence courses in radio repair as well as industrial electronics. This seemed to be the only course to take until the kids were raised and we had time to re#appraise our situation. We're still waiting for that time to come!
We had a good time in the Army. Basic training was just an extension of boy scout camp. I was soon promoted to the position of Squad Leader due to my having acquired the rank of Eagle Scout at home! Outdoor survival, night fighting, camping out, street fighting, all were about the same as our local scout troop! When we got to the part about hand to hand combat with bayonets we got into a few things I hadn't been taught in scouting. I especially enjoyed using up their ammunition to learn to fire their weapons. One night we were out on the hillside practicing firing tracers into moving targets. It was so dark no one could see so I just kept going to the end of the line of the squad waiting to go up and fire after going thru the trenches on the course. My rifle was a M#1 30: caliber semi automatic that we were required to carry at all times during basic training. I soon found out why the stock went clear out to the end of the barrel. The barrel got so hot from all the shooting it was glowing in the dark!
About half way thru basic training a soldier died from the running in the cold weather and abuse they were dishing out. After an investigation they decided to be kinder to us, and one day the even brought out hot chocolate to us in the field as we were training. All the running and physical exercise in the damp weather was hard on local brethren who were not used to the damp climate. Our company commander was an older officer who had just returned from the Korean war front and his entire company of
250 men had been killed in a battle, So he was really tough and determined to teach us all we needed to know to make us tough and mean. Learning to kill and survive was really against my tender nature and I always hoped that something would happen to keep me from having to use my training.
After graduation from basic training I went to Redding, California where Marlene had gone to visit her folks for awhile. We spent a few days with them, then drove to Ashton for a brief visit before heading east for Ft. Monmouth. As we crossed the country we visited the historic points on the Mormon trail as we followed it to Nauvoo, Illinois. As we were going thru Philadelphia Marlene started to complain of being sick and she stayed sick through the next nine months! We rented an apartment in a little town by the base, and she stayed there and tried to keep things going while I went to school out on the base. Radar electronics was really hard for me to learn as they went so fast. Most of the men in the class had had some electronics and for them it was a breeze. I worked hard and got thru ok, but was always worried about Marlene being home in a strange place alone. We found a house to live in out in the town of Long Branch New Jersey. We lived in with a Master Sergeant Polzskill and his wife Lottie. It was a new house and they were usually gone so we didn't get in each others way. We had some really good times there. Our first little girl Linda was born while we lived there. Marlene bought her first sewing machine, made her clothes and Linda's. I made the cabinet at the army crafts shop and she turned out some good products on that Kenmore sewing machine.
When we first went to Ft. Monmouth we went to the base chaplain and asked who the LDS service man group leader was. He gave us the address and we called him. Within a few minutes he was there to help us, we found a place to live and he invited us to dinner that first night. We met some really special friends thru the church and our activity there. I even helped make a pulpit for our services as they were held in the local woman's club. Being associated with the church we were kept busy from the first day helping with Branch affairs. It helped us get over our homesickness and was especially important to keep Marlene busy and involved with other girls who were in her same situation. Being in the military and pregnant and all, it was a new way of life with them, but among the hard times we really had mostly good times. One of our best days was a holiday for the military, July 4th. We pooled our resources among three of us couples and had about 50 cents in cold hard American money. We went to a service
station and picked up a bunch of inner tubes free and bought a 50 cent patching kit. We took our tubes to the Beach and spent the day riding the waves and eating and having a picnic. We really had fun in the sun. We all had bad sunburns the whole bit for some special memories!
Linda's birth was really a special time for us. When Marlene convinced me she was serious about the whole thing, we drove out to the Army hospital on the base for her delivery. Linda wasn't due to arrive until January so we were surprised that it happened so soon. She was born six weeks early and weighed 4 lbs. 121 oz. Since she was so small they kept her there for three weeks extra so we didn't get to bring her home until the week before Christmas. At the Army Hospital before she was born they treated us like enemies of the people, slammed her in a room to wait with three or four others who were yelling and screaming too! It was a traumatic nightmare. They wouldn't let me stay around at all, kicked me out the door and told me to go home and stay there! It was sure hard to just go leave her, but I had no choice. The next morning I had a new little daughter. Marlene was really pleased as she wanted a girl and considering my choices, I was pleased too! A friend of mine at the signal school was there and his wife had just reproduced also. Since Dick Cray was a man of the world he informed me we had to buy cigars for the troops. He bought White Owls and I bought the cheapest thing I could find to pass out! That night I passed the company orderly room and the first sergeant came out so sick he was just turning green! He said, "Those White Owl's you gave me were good, but those cheap cigars Dick Cray gave me made us all sick!" I hope he never did find out the truth!
We survived the first day, and I was really proud of my little girl. I spent the day in school, but had a hard time studying as I was busy planning my daughters future and all the things we were going to do together. Marlene survived the military hospital in spite of the care she received!
At the conclusion of our nine months intensive training in Radar electronics we went into the fields for a week long bivouae training period on the Radar sets. However when we arrived in the cold woods of New Jersey in winter time, we were informed that an inspection of the training facilities was coming soon and we spent our entire week digging fox holes and filling sandbags to stack around gun emplacements. What a blast! Here's the army's electronic wizards out there filling sandbags freezing to death in the wet cold! The enemy planes of our fictional foes would fly over and
bomb us with bags of white four, anyone who got hit had to go to the cold base hospital for fictional treatment, One day we were standing in a chow line waiting for our issue of rations and an enemy bomber skimmed over dropping its bags of flour bombs. We caught several small bags as they hit the big tents and slid off the sides, then we ran aver to the opposite side of the tents where the officers were all humped up hiding! As soon as the planes swooped over us again we threw those bags of flour over the tents right onto all those finely dressed officers who were directing the attack! Talk about bad language! If their mothers had been there they would have had their mouths washed out with soap! We laughed all afternoon about that, and we were very glad they never did know how the command post got hit with the flour bombs!
After graduating from the Signal School at Ft. Monmouth I was assigned to Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland as a Radar Inspector. We were really happy not to have to go to Korea. A truce was signed in July of 1954 while we were still in school but I didn't want to have to send Marlene home and go overseas. Upon arrival at Ft. Meade I got myself transferred into a signal battalion that was maintaining radar sets around the area, and it turned out to be an interesting assignment. We found some good friends thru the Church associations and had a lot of good times seeing the country around Washington D.C.
There were so many indications of divine interventions in our lives after our marriage that we have thought it important to write them down to pass on to future generations. At the time things happen we often don't recognize the signs or realize that we are being guided in doing things we do. Abraham Lincoln once stated, "The longer I live the more convinced I become that God rules in the affairs of men." So it has been with our lives and it has taken the experience of many years to recognize the hand of the Lord in preserving the life of our daughter Melanie after she was born.
We were living in a small three room apartment in Severn, Maryland. A small village on the east side of Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. It was a converted garage, built of white stucco, but Marlene had made it a lovely little house for use and our baby Linda. There was a store nearby that was a typical country store, and a few neighbors, most of them in the military. One old black woman came walking by one day as I was out walking with Linda. She was just learning to walk and was small so I was holding her hands. The old Negro stopped to admire how cute she was and inquired
of her age. When I told her she was only eight months she exclaimed loudly, "Eight months! Eight months! Dat baby's to young to be walkin'! Ya'll better be carryin' dat baby or you'll stunt her Iegs for sure!''
I was a corporal in the army attached to the 57th Signal Detachment at this time. Our. group repaired and maintained the Radar Defense ring of anti#aircraft installations around the city of Baltimore, Md. and Friendship International Airport. I had been trained as a Radar Repair specialist and enjoyed driving military jeeps and trucks all over the country side taking care of the electronics at the radar installations. They were all converted from 90 millimeter guns to "nike" missile sites during the time we were there. One of my favorite sites to visit was the installation of Fort McHenry across the bay from the city of Baltimore Md. We often stopped and looked at the grounds and took pictures of shops going in and out of the harbor. I gained a real appreciation for the song "Star Spangled Banner'' thereas that was where it was written. We were there working on their long range radar set one day when they had a Red Alert. All the sirens went on and soldiers ran to their duty stations to man the guns. The big guns were all controlled by radar, and their covers slipped off and they swung around all at once and locked on target. The radar range was about 100 miles so they were pointing out to sea on a target only the radar operator could see on his scope. We secured our equipment and ran into an underground bunker into the command post. It was very impressive to see how well organized they were with all the units in the area to pick out the targets and be ready to shoot so fast.
We were relieved to find out the incoming planes were friendly but their radar wasn't working which identified them as friend or foe. Every military or civilian plane of any size carries a small radar unit which puts out a signal that identifies them. We repaired those units and I worked for several months in the 2nd Army Headquarters Maintenance Center at Ft. Meade repairing the IFF units as they are called. We worked in a small caged in area at the huge shops with armed guards patrolling the outside as it was a highly classified military secret how the units worked. While working there I met and worked mostly with civilian experts from the Raytheon company who made the IFF units. We were required to carry a 45 automatic pistol all the time and they always teased us about shooting our foot if we had to use them. Two of the civilian tech. reps. were TV repairman in Glen Burnie, Md. and they talked me into coming with them on calls and work with them at
nights. I enrolled in a course of Radio and TV repair thru the Armed Forces Institute and learned how to repair TV's. It was fug going with them and I got to see a lot of country traveling with them on military jobs as well as TV repair jobs. The teasing about shooting my foot stopped one day as we took a load of bad radar scopes to the dump. We had time to play around so I sat up a row of tubes on a pile of rubbish for targets. I popped six of them without missing with my .45 automatic pistol and after that my nickname was Deadeye until the day I left.
Working with these men gave me my start in the TV repair business in which I have continued since.
On Sunday September the 18th, 1955 we were up early preparing to go to Washington D.C. to a conference. J. Willard Marriott was the Stake President and we were anxious to go hear him speak. We had spent many weekends in D.C. with the Wylie Goodsell family, relatives of my uncle Gordon's wife Evalyn, Wylie's wife was her sister. They knew my folks and treated us like royalty which we really appreciated. They took us all over the area and we enjoyed their friendship when we were so far from home.
As we prepared to go, Marlene began having labor pains, as she was about seven months pregnant she got pretty serious about the pains and When we realized how serious, we got Linda up out of her crib, bundled her up and raced for the base hospital. She was in great pain and I drove thru the countryside tobacco fields on the back roads like a mad man to get her there in time. We just left Linda in the car alone in front of the hospital as I had to help Marlene up the walk into the emergency entrance. Linda was only nine months old so we were really worried about her being left alone in the car. When I got Marlene inside an old nurse was the only one on duty. She immediately put Marlene on the table in the delivery room and kicked me out. I ran back to the car to check on Linda and signed the admittance papers.
When I got back, the nurse met me in the hall and said the baby had been born, but it was really small and not breathing very good. The nurse had delivered her as the Dr. didn't come in time. But the nurse said she was otherwise healthy and normal, and she said there was something very special about that baby as she had been born with a veil across her face, which was very rare, and that meant she would live a charmed life! She was put into an incubator immediately after she was born, and a Doctor Needleman from Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. was summoned to attend
her. Marlene was well taken care of and treated very nice (which was different than her treatment in another military hospital at Ft, Monmouth New Jersey when Linda was born.) She was disappointed in not being able to hold the baby or nurse her as they wouldn't let her out of the isolette or incubator. I kept running back and forth between Linda in the car, Marlene in her room and the baby in the incubator until Linda started to get hungry and holler. Then I got into our green Ford car and drove more slowly back to our apartment.
The following day Dr. Needleman called me into his office and drew me a picture of the baby's lungs and told me her chances of survival were very poor as the air sacs were not developed and she could not breath normally. She was so tiny, she weighed only 31 lbs. and would lay there and gasp for breath. We felt so helpless and sorry for her but there was nothing anyone could do. We found out that Dr. Needleman was one of the leading Pediatricians in the nation and had been drafted into the arm
a short time before. We didn't realize at the time how fortunate we were
to have him there to take care of our baby. We decided to name the baby
Melanie, after the lovely girl in "Gone with the Wind". She has lived up
to that namesake and has been as kind and gracious as her namesake.
The Doctors all said her chance of survival was very poor, but the old nurse never believed them, although she admitted she didn't know how she could last thru the first critical 24 hours when she couldn't breathe.
I had a neighbor tending Linda and was back at work at the base on the third day when I received a telephone call from a Red Cross worker at the hospital. She informed me that our baby was dying and that I should make preparations for leave to take care of her burial and come to the hospital at once. She said the baby was so weak she couldn't survive much longer. She said I should have the Priest come and Christen her before it was too late. I went out to Glen Burnie where the Bishop of the Baltimore Ward lived and picked him up on my way to the hospital. His name was Bishop Warner and was our good friend. We went in and scrubbed up and put on whites before they would let us into her room, then we reached thru the holes into the isolette and administered to her. She was so little her diaper reached clear up under her chin, and our hands covered her completely. She was gasping for breath but seemed to relax when we touched her. Bishop Warner gave her a beautiful blessing and promised her a long and fruitful life, much to my amazement. I took Bishop Warner home afterwards and went
back to the hospital. Dr. Needleman was there and called me into his office again. He said, "I don't know what's happened, but the baby has started breathing normally! If she continues to improve for the next 24 hours she may make it through." We knew what had happened, as we both had a very special feeling when we administered to her and felt she would survive. She couldn't even cry the first few days she was so weak, but she continued to grow strong and by the time she came home seven weeks later, she would bawl so loud it would rattle the dishes in the cupboards. Marlene sure hated to leave the hospital without her baby, but she had another one at home to care for so it wasn't quite so hard.
The old nurse was right about her living a charmed life. She has always been healthy and strong. Her growing up years have been filled with busy activity in Church, school and music circles (mostly circles) true to her namesake, she has always been a kind, loving, generous person.
We didn't recognize another example of the Lords guidance in preserving Melanie's life at that time. This didn't dawn on me until 20 years later. Prior to her birth I was going to school in the Army at the Signal Corps school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. There we met a couple from Salt Lake City, Joyce and Richard Carter, and thru our association in the church became good friends. They introduced us to another couple, Jim and Carolyn Rice, she was from Salt Lake but he was from down south. She was a member, but he was not. Thru our association we began to teach Jim the Gospel, and I went thru the series of missionary discussions with them over a period of several months. They were a very spiritual couple and we had many spiritual experiences with them. Many things happened to convince Jim of the power of the Priesthood and it's importance in their lives. One evening Jim called and asked if they could come over and talk to us, he said something was terribly wrong with Carolyn, she acted like she was possessed of an evil spirit, and wanted to know if I would administer to her.
When they got to our home and she walked in I could feel the presence of Satan. She was acting so strange we couldn't believe it was the same person. We talked for a few minutes as I explained the ordinance of administration to them, then proceeded to lay my hands on her head to pray for her. I was guided in giving her a blessing to command the evil spirit to depart from her! Immediately she relaxed and a different feeling came over her. When I concluded she looked up at me and thanked me over and over and she was the same Carolyn we had known. It was really a spooky
feeling to wrestle with an evil spirit and to feel the presence of such a strong influence of the Devil. I have had several experiences with evil spirits during my life, but none so dramatic as that moment. They didn't stay long afterwards, as it had drained Carolyn of her strength and it took her several days to recover. This seemed to be a turning point in Jim's life, as he became more interested in the Gospel and was certain the power of the Priesthood was important for him to acquire. Re joined the church a short time later, and they moved to Salt Lake City where they live now. They have sent at least one boy on a mission within the last few years. Jim was a Sergeant Major in the adjutont generals office at Fort Monmouth, and was the one who gave out assignments for duty stations for soldiers who had completed schooling. Most of the men were sent to the Far East, or Korea, to be Radar Repairmen on the front lines. The mortality rate was approximately 85% among our groups, so I was not anxious to go there.
After graduation I was assigned to Ft. George G. Meade, as a radar repairman, only about 50 miles away from Ft. Monmouth. That meant Marlene and Linda could come with me and we could stay together as a family for my two years in the military. We stayed with a young couple named Lieutenant Henry Butler while we were finding an apartment there at Ft.. Meade. We met them thru the church group and they were really good to help us. We ended up living in the slave quarters of an old southern mansion named Hardythe out south of Ft. Meade four miles on the road to Annapolis, Maryland. We were midway between Baltimore and Washington D.C. but were in the Baltimore Ward, so we went there to church and met a lot of good people. Everywhere we went in the military our greatest experiences, friends and happiness came thru our association in the church.
Whether Jim Rice knew what he was doing when we were sent to Ft. Meade, I don't know, but I am sure the stage was set for the incidents which took place later. This has always been a source of great strength to my testimony to realize how the Lord, guided our life in sending us to a place, at a time, and with a Doctor, where Melanie's life could be preserved when she was so anxious to come down here and get started with the business of living on earth.
We had many interesting experiences while in the army, but were really happy to be discharged in the spring of 1956. 1 built a car top carrier for our 54 Ford car and into it and the truck we loaded all our earthly possessions and drove home to Ashton, Idaho. We took the southern route
and stopped along the way in Chattanooga, Tennessee to visit Shelby Berry and his family who I had lived with during my mission in Rattisburg, Mississippi. He was the chief scout executive in that area and was doing a good job. They later moved to American Fork, Utah, where we have kept track of them since. He had filled me full of war stories about when he helped win the war with the Germans in 1945, so we had a lot of fun comparing war stories.
We couldn't find an empty house in Ashton, so the folks invited us to live with them that first summer we were home. Dad gave me the 80 acres of Stan's west of the house for my ground and we shared his machinery. We really enjoyed that summer being home. Mom and Marlene got along very well and the folks soon grew to love our cute little girls. Mom had diabetes at the time and couldn't work too hard, so she really enjoyed sitting down feeding and caring for Melanie because she was so little and cuddly. We were really busy on the farm, and I started a TV and radio repair business at night. I would work in the basement on them when it was too dark to see outside. There wasn't any TV repair shops in Ashton at the time, so I had a booming business, but folks didn't like to part with their cash. It served as good experience for me though.
They called me to be the scoutmaster of the local troop my old troop 83 -- and we had some good trips during the summer months. We hiked to Warm River from Dads ranch, and went to scout camp in August. The last day of scout camp Marlene came up with several of the parents for the Friday night program. Due to her sweet nature she had been over exposed and was pregnant with our third child. Climbing the hills and the attendant exercise was too much for her, and the following Sunday morning on August 5, she gave birth pre#maturely to our first son David Abram. (Named after my friend David Croft and me.) He had some problems getting started too, due to his size, and Dr. Melcher wasn't too hopeful he would make it. When I went home and told Dad the situation he said, "Well, if it's a boy they really ought to try to save him!" He spent some extra time there in the hospital but was soon home with us. Marlene recovered soon and was glad to have Mom and Dad to help her with the baby. Mom and Marlene got along really good, neither one of them had a mean bone in their body and they were so busy they didn't have time to dwell on problems. We enjoyed our stay there, but the farming didn't pay too well, and it looked like we were just taking a third of Dad's income by staying there. Jim Christiansen had a job
working for Phillips Petroleum Co. at the AEC site, and talked me into going in for an interview. I wasn't too thrilled about the prospects of spending the winter in the spud cellar sorting spuds, so I went to Idaho Falls to talk to them about a winter job. They were interested in my qualifications and experience and made me a job offer for $400 per month. Dad encouraged me to go try it, so we moved to Idaho Falls in November of 1956. The job offer didn't specify when I was to start, but was dependant on my security clearance coming thru. I got a job working for the "Reliable TV and Radio Repair" shop owned by Everett Jenson, who also worked at the site. I worked there repairing TV's full time for two months, and started work at the site on January 27, 1957. 1 worked part time at the TV shop for the next year until we moved to Blackfoot in the fall.
We moved to Idaho Falls into a basement apartment owned by Marge South. It was at 928 Ada Avenue right behind where Katz Pharmacy is now located. The people who lived upstairs were older people who had no children, and they didn't like us or our kids or the noise we made! She was the only person in the world mean enough to get Marlene mad at her, and one day they really had it out! I can't remember the details, but remember how I laughed later and wished I could have been a bird in the tree watching the feud! I couldn't imagine my tender, loving wife trying to whip up on the neighbor lady! I tried to be a good neighbor and even sharpened her knives one day for her, not realizing she probably wanted them sharp to use on us! Marlene gave me a little 1/4 inch Montgomery Ward drill with saw blade and table for Christmas and I made a lot of little toys, sewing boxes etc. in the furnace room which the neighbors didn't appreciate.
We were looking for a house to buy, and Marg and Jerry talked us into coming to Blackfoot to look at one next door to them on South Schilling Ave. We ended up buying it from Roy Howell for $9,000. It was a three story four bedroom home with a good sized yard. I made a workshop in the basement and a place for the kids to play.
We moved to Blackfoot on November 10, 1957, and the next day, Marlene gave birth to our fourth child, a cute little girl named Dianne. I don't remember why we chose that name, just seemed the thing to do. Marlene wasn't quite due but the excitement of moving was too much for her, she never could stand much excitement without something happening. When Dianne was born my folks came down and got the other kids and took them to Ashton a week or so until Marlene was up and around, She had to stay
in the hospital an extra three weeks too because she was so small. She was six weeks early also! She was so little she couldn't holler too loud but she would just squeak. So I called her squeaky for a long tine. She was always one who liked being home, and was always anxious to get home and settle down again. She got that from me, as I always considered the best part of a trip was coming home.
Marg being next door helped us out a lot. They were in and out all day doing things for us it seemed. I was working shift work at tie materials testing reactor so I got to take a few days off to help out, Dianne was a good baby and grew up to be a good little girl. We enjoyed our little family and always tried to have something going to keep them interested in staying home.
We built a fence around our back yard to keep the ornery neighborhood kids out and our own in, but it didn't work. A lot of our neighbors were navy people whose Dads were in nuclear submarine school at the site. Their kids roamed the neighborhood like packs of dogs looking for something to do to get in trouble.
We had a large garden across the street in Roy Howell's field which provided us with groceries and a lot of work. Jerry and Marg had one next to ours and it was fun seeing who could have the best garden. We brought Dad's horse, old Wheels down one time and hooked him up to the garden plow to plow and cultivate the garden.
The next year passed quickly it seemed and the following fall came another baby girl. We named her Julie Ann after a friend of mine, David Crofts sister. She was such a sweet girl when we were growing up, and we thought it was appropriate. Again Mom came to the rescue and stayed with us and Marg for a week or so.
About this time Marlene was made the Primary president of the Second Ward where we lived. They figured she was doing such a good job furnishing all the kids, so she could just take care of them! She really did a good job and everyone loved her. Julie was a cute little kid and the other kids loved her and had a lot of fun with her. She was the first baby that we got to bring home from the hospital when Marlene came. She was a few weeks early and had been born breech so we considered ourselves really lucky to have her. She was a good baby and the kids used to make little houses to put her in to play with. Especially under the desks they would hang a big towel over the front and crawl under for their tent. Julie would stay
there by the hours until the kids told her to come out! During the time Marlene was feeding her right after we brought her home that the tomato juice incident occurred. We had brought in three bushels of tomatoes waiting for them to completely ripen and had them stored in the basement. The kids had their tricycles and David's car down there to ride, Just for excitement they dumped all the tomatoes out and then ran over them smashing them! What a mess!
Linda and Melanie were big enough to be a great help! Linda was five and Melanie was four. Almost old enough to go to school! The kids used to come meet me at the bus stop and carry my lunch box home hoping something good would fall out! They were really cute little kids and Marlene kept them looking neat and clean. She was really a good little Mother and the good Lord figured if she was that good she could just keep having babies.
Next fall on August 22, sure enough, we were blessed with another baby. We soon learned Easter came in the spring, babies in the fall and Christmas in the winter. This time we got another boy! I'll never forget the feeling of pride and joy as Dr. Merrill Packer coming out of the delivery room and congratulating me on having a fine big boy! David was thrilled to have a new brother. We were afraid the girls were going to outnumber us. Danny had trouble breathing too when he first arrived. We were worried for awhile but he soon recovered and came home with Marlene from the hospital. The other kids really made a fuss over him and we named him Daniel Edward. Daniel after our friend Danny Hess from Ashton, and Edward after Marlene's Dad. He was a good little kid with such a sense of humor that everyone loved to have him around. It didn't take him long to establish a place as a loved and needed member of our family.
By this time we had a nice back yard with fruit trees planted, a play house, a wood merry#go#round 8' in diameter mounted on a car tire rim and bearings, a sand box, swing set and good place for kids to play. We were comfortable in our little house but could foresee a time when things might get a bit crowded! Jerry Hansen's dad died and they moved to Thomas to run his farm and build a new brick house. So the neighborhood started to change. One day when I was in Cleggs in Blackfoot, the local second hand store I picked up an old bit from a bridle, went home and braided a nice headstall, then realized I didn't have a horse to put it on! So we ended up buying a bay mare named Gandy from LeGrande Caldwell out to Pingree. We kept her in a pasture east of our place where the Blackfoot South
Stake Center now stands. It was on a bend in the Blackfoot river and we would go up there and ride her and care for her each day. Finally we decided to look for a place in the country to buy where we would have room for us, our kids and horse. I was working part time as a surveyor for the Bingham, County Soil Conservation Service on my days off at the site. One day when I was eating dinner in the office I pulled a newspaper out of the garbage can and read the want ads while eating lunch. An ad jumped out at me as it described a place in Groveland that had a tree house and five acres of ground. I called the realtor and Mrs. Vessiellckham came and took Marlene and I out to visit the place. It belonged to Harold and Margaret Mangum and consisted of an older home with apple trees, v garage, barn, white fences, and large garden. They wanted $18,500 for it, and after a lot of consideration we decided to buy it with a G.I. loan if we could sell our house in town. After looking all over at homes in the country we returned home on Sunday evening, having decided they were all to expensive for us. As we drove in the yard, our back yard was clear full of neighborhood kids, the merry#go#round was full, swings, sandbox, trees, bushes, teeming with kids in it! Right then we decided that there was the reason we needed to move. We couldn't even swat our own kids on the bottom without hitting one or two of the neighbors kids! So we made the deal on the five acres at Groveland. Then the V.A. appraiser reported they wouldn't loan 18.5 because it wasn't worth it. So they made Harold come down $1000 to $17,500. We were happy and the deal went thru. We sold our house in town for $11,000 and moved to Groveland April 25, 1963. Danny was three and didn't want to move. He kept saying he wanted to go home. After we got a dog and a few animals around he decided he would stay out there with us.
At the time we moved from town we were in the Ninth ward. The ward boundaries had changed three times since we went there in 1957. The Second, Sixth, and Ninth. I was the first MIA President in the new Ninth Ward and Marlene was the Relief Society President. So we each were fairly busy and involved, but had a lot of good friends we hated to leave behind. (But not that far!) We had some good Bishops there, first Bishop Clifford Robertson, then Dr. Merrill Packer, then Stan Arnell. I had served as Explorer advisor, teachers quorum advisor, MIA counselor to Jim White, then when he left I became the MIA president. We had many good experiences, there Marlene was always involved in music. Leading great choirs, congregations, and primary kids as well as our own. She started giving music lessons before we left
town. She was involved with Gale Bales and Kirma Nelson in starting a music school, but left them behind to go on her own. After moving to Groveland she kept on giving lessons in our home. We converted a front bedroom to a music roam where we put a piano and organ for her to use. Our own girls were taking lessons so we bought another piano to put down stairs in the family room.
When we bought the house in Groveland the basement was not finished, so one of our first projects was to waterproof the walls so we could finish it off. We sealed the concrete blocks inside and out with plastic and they haven't leaked since. We paneled the family roam and put tile on the floor to make it more livable. As time went on we had another boy born on November 27, 1964. We named him Randy Marvin after one of my good friends Randy Gneiting who was in my scout troop at the time, and my Dad. Randy came the day after Thanksgiving. We had been out to Margs for Thanksgiving because our water in the house was turned off. Melanie had knocked the lid off the back of the toilet climbing up into the cupboard and broke the commode so it wouldn't hold water. It was a mess trying to fix it and I wanted to go hunting besides. Randy was a really good baby and hardly ever cried and we were glad to have him to balance out the numbers. The older girls were a great help to Marlene and he took his place among the rest as one of our family. We had a play house built out of an old wooden school bus out behind the house, and the kids always had it fixed up cute with their dolls and the new babies. They liked to sleep out there at night on the bunk beds I had built into one end. At the time of Randys birth I was the local scoutmaster of troop 228. We had a good bunch of boys and enjoyed a good outdoors program. The highlight of the year was scout camp at Little Lemhi up by Palisades. It was built around a little man made lake that made an ideal place for a camp. When Danny was a scout he was the senior patrol leader at camp with Milo Packer as the scout master. I was in the Bishopric over scouting, so we went up for their program. Our troop won all the awards, best camp, most awards, etc. We were really proud of Danny and his scouting involvement.
In 1967 we were blessed with another little baby girl and we named her Gayla Jean. Not after anyone in particular. It just seemed to be her name. She was a cute little thing and the girls were thrilled to have another baby to play with. About that time we decided it was time to expand
so during the fall of 1967 and spring of 1968 we built on to our house. I did most of the work with the help of good neighbors to tell me how, The only part I didn't do myself was install the heat ducts when it was finished. It was a typical do it yourself project and all the family pitched in to help. We went north 14 feet and added five rooms, Two bedrooms downstairs, one upstairs, a small bathroom and a utility room. We completed it on July 4, 1968 and moved into our bedroom after Jack Pond helped me lay the carpet that day. The four older girls got the downstairs bedrooms, David and Danny the big bedroom upstairs and the little kids Randy and Gayla got our bedroom. We were thrilled to have so much room and to be able to bring the washer and dryer upstairs so Marlene didn't have to run up and down so often. Washing clothes was a major part of her entertainment and we were especially happy when wash and wear clothing came along so she didn't have to iron everything.
Marlene taught a musical kindergarten class in our basement that attracted a lot of attention. Our own kids were involved, in fact, we could have had one of just our own kids. She was such a good teacher everyone in the country wanted to send their kids to her to learn music and the piano. Some years she had as many as 30 students because she had such a hard time telling people no.
In 1966 1 was called to be a First Counselor to Bishop Edward Cook, with Don Jackman as Second Counselor. We had to reorganize the whole ward and had some good experiences together. We'd just get things going good and one of our key people would move so we'd have to start all over. It was a never ending process. I was in charge of the building during those years and it kept me busy keeping things in repair. One of our major accomplishments was the remodeling of the chapel, purchase of a new grand piano and new Baldwin organ. Everyone said there wasn't room for both, but we got our tools and went to work and did it!
After serving for four and a half years I was called to be the Stake Executive Secretary for President Robert M. Kerr when the stake was divided. This proved to be a challenging assignment as this was a new office! I wrote my own job description and went to work with them. It was a busy time, and people in our own ward thought I had become inactive since I didn't get to our church much anymore! I was in charge of Home Teaching in the stake, and went around to all the Quorums teaching them their duties in a series of classes. When the Bishops training manuals came out I was assigned to
give those classes also. This took all one winter. We had our classes in the seminary building. As I was also the coordinator of the seminary programs for the stake presidency. It was fun and exciting to be able to teach the new Bishoprics their duties after they were called. Up until that time they had been on their own to learn their duties and responsibilities when they were called. President Kerr was an attorney and very well organized so he really kept me humping. We got to meet and associate with all the General Authorities that came to conference so it was a really special time in our lives. We had many spiritual experiences with them as they came, especially Hartman Rector.
In 1975 they re#organized the High Council and I was released also. They offered me a job as a High Councilor, but I felt like I was needed at home worse! I was called to be a Sunday school teacher of the 16#18 year old class in Groveland, and got to teach Julie, Dianne and Danny all in the same class one summer. It was really fun and we had a good time! One of our best experiences was when we wrote a script and held a mock trial for Richard Stallings. He was charged with being a member of the Church and he had to call in his lawyers to prove that his life and conduct could prove it. What a time we had! It took two or three class periods before the trial was over! I based it on a statement or question Boyd K. Packer had made when he challenged the youth saying, "If you were accused of being a member of the Lord's true church could you prove it?''
After serving there for a couple of years I was made MIA superintendent again. Our scoutmaster had given up at this time and quit, and I made the mistake after a few months had passed, of telling the Bishop that if we couldn't find a scout master that rather than see the program fail, I would volunteer! He was delighted to take me up on my offer and I have served as scout master since that time until the present, being November 1980. Randy was beginning as a scout and I wanted him to have a good experience as I knew from my own experience what this would mean to him. He ended up as our senior patrol leader also and did an excellent job. He will receive his Eagle Scout Award in December of this year. David earned his Eagle award also, but Danny only got to First Class before he gave up and became too busy doing other things. He was involved with the order of the arrow for several years as was David. David joined the Indian dancing team while he was in the order of the arrow and went around to scouting functions to perform. We always felt like he was the best dancer of the bunch, and
probably inherited his ability from us! (Since we were always stamping around yelling at the kids!)
During these years we wondered if our time for having children was over, but we always had the feeling someone was missing. We often mentioned this to each other and we didn't know why. It seemed odd since we already had a house full of wall to wall kids! We were excited to discover in 1972 that Marlene was expecting again after four dry years! The day Barry was born Willa Harding our closest neighbor down the road, took Marlene to the hospital before I could get home. The kids were really excited, and the day we brought him home they all came trooping home from school at noon with their friends to see him. We named him Rulon Baron after me and my Grandfathers mother. He was a special little guy right from the first. He always trailed along behind me whenever I went outside and was my number one helper. He especially loved cats and dogs. But his love for dogs cooled when he went to school. We had a big black lab dog named Cub that followed him to school each day. He loved Barry and would follow him right in the school house every day and at recess he would dodge in the door and go find Barry! He was so big the other kids would try to ride him and when he'd try to get them off they would yell to the teachers the dog was mean and trying to chew them up. Barry would tie him up in the mornings and he'd break the chain and beat him to school. When the principal told Barry one day he had to do something with the dog he was really upset. Someone stopped and picked him up one day and we never saw him again. We checked the dog pound but it was no use! Barry was really relieved, and glad he didn't have to worry about the dog going to school anymore.
We still had the feeling someone was missing in our family after Barry came along. When we had the group together it seemed like someone was missing. We found out in August of 1977 when Marlene gave birth to our last little girl. The name Jennifer came with her when she came "trailing clouds of glory", she was a beautiful baby and has brought more happiness into our lives than we thought possible. She reminds me so much of my own mother in her mannerisms and sweet little spirit. She still comes crawling in bed with us at night when she's scared or cold and we don't have the heart to be too mean to her. She is really the child of our old age and we've slowed down enough to really enjoy her.
We've seen our older girls marry and leave us behind in their search for a life of their own. Our oldest boy David went thru the trauma of an unsuccessful marriage, and after serving in the Air Force is now attending Ricks College. Our most fervent prayer is always that there will some day be a girl in his life that will insist on him taking her to the temple. Our second boy Danny has grown up and is now serving as missionary in Belgium. Still wears miss#matched socks and loves to tease. We know he's a powerful missionary and will be successful in whatever he does in life. We are really proud of him for his service to the Lord.
Our house seems empty with only four younger children at home, and we look forward to the letters, calls and visits of our older children and their families.
Above all we appreciate the church in our lives and the influence it has had on our children to keep them close to us and the Lord. The Gospel has been our greatest love next to our family and each other. As we grow older it all becomes even more meaningful. Our testimony of it's truthfulness grows as we look back over the years and recognize the hand of the Lord in preserving our lives in peace here in this beautiful community. We are proud of our heritage and hope to be a credit to our family.
As I close this part of my life story there remains an account of all our good times on trips, pack trips with the horses into the mountains, etc. which should be told at some later time. This seems like a feeble effort to give an account of the years and good times as they've slipped by. We look forward to the future and the good times and hope we can make some contribution to society with our lives to feel like we have been profitable servants. Everyone is good for something, even if it's just to serve as a bad example!
STORY OF THE LOST BOY SEARCH
We often hear people question the value of the church in their lives and wonder why its necessary. An experience we had in 1966 taught me a lesson I shall never forget, and will pass it on for what it might teach others.
We were up home in Ashton on a Monday evening in September having had the Labor Day weekend off. We had been fishing and were preparing to leave for home when the phone rang. I answered it, and it turned out to be Aunt Mary Crouch, Dad's sister. She was almost hysterical as she told me that they were camped up on Partridge Creek fishing, and their nine year old adopted son Bryce had strayed away from camp and was lost! She asked if we could come help search for him. I assured her we would call the relatives and be there as soon as possible. I was prepared with compass, lights and lunch to leave immediately as soon as Dad and Howard Murdock could get ready. It was dark then and nine o'clock p.m. before we reached their camp. Glen Myers was there with the REA truck and two#way radios (which wouldn't reach very far thru the dense terrain). Willford Green, Norman, Doug and Kimber Ricks were there within a short time. The Crouch family had been fishing downstream from the camp in the afternoon. About 3/4 mile downstream the creek bends back near the road from where their camp was located. Bryce got tired of fishing and wanted to go back to camp. Ivan the father, knowing they were right by the road told Bryce to go up the hill to the road and follow it back to camp. Then he fished on until nearly dark, then walked back up the creek to their camp. When he arrived they discovered Bryce was missing, and couldn't imagine how he could have become lost. Their camp was in rugged country, heavily timbered with thick underbrush, and about five miles west of the Yellowstone Park boundary.
They drove to the end of the road to where Ivan had last seen him walking up the hill, and searched for him or clues to his where abouts with no success. Ivan headed down the creek in the dark looking and calling, thinking he may have doubled back and found the creek and went the wrong way. He ran thru the creek searching the beaver ponds for several miles until he came to where the creek flows into the head of Warm River at the fish hatchery. He ran up to the house to ask for help and collapsed
on the porch as the Ranger came to the door. He issued a call for help, but there was no one available in the offices or on the radios at that time of night. So he took Ivan back to the camp around the road after they had revived him. They arrived about the same time we did, As soon as Mary left him she drove back to the camp, instructed the other two small boys to stay there and keep the fire going while she drove to a phone at Warm River to call for help.
We drove to the point when he was last seen, then spaced ourselves and started walking thru the woods in pairs. It was totally dark, as the sky was somewhat overcast with no moon shinning. Kimber Ricks was with me and we soon lost contact with the rest of the searchers around us, so we went by my compass towards the north and camp. It was really scary when the lights were turned off because it was so dark. We often heard the sounds of a wild animal crashing off thru the trees when they heard us coming. We were mostly afraid of bears and moose. And talked of the lack of understanding these critters might have toward us crashing around in their bedrooms at night, or of how frightened Bryce must be out there alone some where. We hadn't gone too far before we were sufficiently humbled and scared into stopping long enough to have a fervent prayer for Bryce's safety. I think I also remember saying a word or two in behalf of the searchers who were out in the wilds also, as well as his family who were already exhausted from their efforts. I'll never forget the f6eling's we had as Kimber and I knelt there in the darkness, nor the feeling of the closeness of our creator and those of our family ali5were so anxious over Bryce's safety.
It was about three a.m. when we all found our way back to the security of the big campfire they had burning. As we talked over the situation, we realized we needed a lot of help, and all the horses and riders we could get to help in the search. Norman and I left to go get our horses and call for help. It was about five a.m. when we got to Dad's place in Ashton and made our first call.
We made two calls, one to Bishop Dick Clark of the Ashton Ward and one to Bishop Jim Reynolds of the Marysville Ward. Then we went our separate ways to round up the horses and set our irrigation water for the day. The Bishops called their counselors, who in turn called their Priesthood leaders, who called their home teachers thru the organizations of the church from top to bottom. Since Ivan was a seventy and one of the seven
presidents, they were called, and thru them the stake leaders were notified. Thru them the twin groves posse was called, the county sheriff and so on. The word spread like a grass fire before the wind, It was unbelievable. Norman and I had our horses loaded and were back up there by 7 a.m. We couldn't believe our eyes as we drove into the camp. There wasn't even a place to park! There were cars, pickups, trucks and horse trailers all over the area. As fast as we had been moving, we were still behind most of them!
Stan Clark drove up right behind us, and jumped his horse out of the truck right by ours. We were handed a lunch before we left that had been prepared by the women of the family and the Relief Society, Many of them had worked thru the night preparing lunches for the searchers to carry. The Sheriff was directing the search efforts and informed us that the searchers had been organized into a line going south along the creek, the horseman being on the outside east side. He directed us to go south on the eastern fringe of where they had gone. Norman, Stan and I mounted our horses and started out in the direction the Sheriff had indicated. I rode in the middle and we were spaced apart just far enough that we could see each other. We would get together often, get off our horses and I would take a compass reading to determine where we were heading. There was no way to tell our direction since the timber was so thick and a light rain was falling. After we had stopped a few times, Stan came up missing. He didn't come over, and we waited and called but he just disappeared! We didn't know what to do, we needed to push on to join the searchers, but didn't want to go without him. Finally we decided to go ahead and hope he would find us.
Stan became disoriented and started going about straight east instead of south. It wasn't too long before he realized he too was lost! He just kept going, and told his horse, "It's up to you, you know there's some oats back at the truck, and if you want some you'd better go find them!'' He rode on and on trusting the horse and the Lord to lead him back to camp. He wasn't guiding the horse but noticed he started to pick up his ears and look at something occasionally. Stan began to see something moving up ahead and thought it must be a deer or moose. As he continued to watch he caught another glimpse, and realized it was Bryce running away from him! He spurred his horse and called to the boy but he ran all the faster. He finally caught him by jumping off the horse and running after him and
catching him in his arms. Bryce was so terrified, he thought the horse was a moose chasing him and hadn't even heard Stan calling. Stan was a good neighbor and close friend of the Crouche's, but the boy was so scared he didn't even recognize him. He still had on his Dad's fishing boots and was carrying his pole in one hand and net in the other! He had spent the night under some downfall by a tree for shelter and was still on his way back to camp, although he had been heading straight east directly away from camp and was very near the Yellowstone Park line.
After giving him something to eat, Stan put him on the back of his horse, and started out, only to remember he was still lost also! He gave the horse his head, reminded him of the oats, and let him go. In about an hour the horse took them directly back to camp thru the drizzling rain.
A crew of railroad workers were searching along the tracks as the railroad ran on the west side of Partridge creek. As soon as Stan reached camp with the boy, a message was sent to the train crew and they began blowing the train whistle. This was a pre#arranged signal to the searchers to come back to camp. Norman and I were several miles south when we heard the signal, so it took us some time to get back. Everyone was overjoyed to find that Bryce had been found and was safe. There was still a multitude of people around when we got back, and it was estimated that there had been approximately 250 people on foot and 50 on horse back joining in the search. All but Stan Clark were searching to the south and he headed east because he too was lost! All the men and older boys of both wards were there and organized according to their Priesthood quorums. They had all left their farms and businesses and went immediately to Partridge Creek as soon as they were called. Everyone knew that their prayers had been answered, and many tears of gratitude were shed as Bryce and his family were reunited in safety after such a harrowing experience.
Thru a life of activity in the church I have seen many things accomplished thru it's superb organization. But this experience will always stand out in my memory of the greatest testimony to the value to belonging to an organization like the LDS church. I know that the church is the true church of Jesus Christ, and that by keeping his commandments and following his doctrine, we can become closer to Him than by any other way. I also know that living the Gospel can bring us not only the greatest source of happiness here but eternal joy in the world to come.
Story told by Rulon A. Hillam
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