Rulon Max Huntington 1918-2010

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Rulon Max Huntington 1918-2010

Post by Tuly »

This is the life story of Rulon Max Huntington. John's uncle and we are blessed that he is still alive. At your leisure read about his life. This is long so I broke them down to four posts - This is part 1 of his autobiography.

My Story
By: Rulon Max Huntington

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I’m not doing this for me. It is a priesthood request and a flavor of what it was like as a boy.

I was born at home in Midway, Utah, without a doctor but with the help of Maggie Kelly, a neighbor who was a midwife, on September 28, 1918. I was born in the family home at the corner of Stringtown Road and Cemetery Road. This was a two story home made mostly of red brick which was made from clay from the farm and fired and dried in a kiln nearby. The clay, the molds, and the brick were less than 300 yards from the house.

My mother and father were loving and concerned parents. There was little dissension or discord and I grew up feeling safe and loved by them and my siblings. By the time I came along, Ross was in college so my life was involved with Maurine, Roy, Mable, Robert, Relva, and Russell. Everyone worked hard, had plenty to eat, went to church, and lived as most other families around us and observed the ritual of family prayer twice daily plus blessings on our food. We were also taught what it means to be ethical and always do the right thing.

As to specific events in my early years, they are few and I am not sure that they are in order as they happened. I remember that Bob and I were very sick with diphtheria. We were isolated from the rest of the family in what we called the front room. I recall my throat was so sore I could only swallow liquids. I had an extremely bad cough but the things that stick in my mind most is that Dr. Wherritt would come twice a day and give us each a shot in the thigh. It hurt so badly! I hated them. They seemed to help Bob and he got better but my throat was so swollen that it was getting very hard for me to breathe. Dad called Dr. Wherritt in the morning and he came as quickly as his Model T Ford would bring him. He brought with him a can that had menthol and probably some other ingredients and I presume an alcohol base that would burn. I was lying in the metal crib that had been used for most of the family growing up that had sides that would slide up and down. Mom put a bed sheet over the crib and the doctor lit the can with a match and put it under the crib so the vapors would come up and help me to breathe. It didn’t seem to help and the doctor was standing by to do a tracheotomy. My Dad gave me a blessing and from that point on I began to get better.

Another event that took place when I was about two years old is in the fall of the year. I was dressed in a warm coat and cap to go to the barn where Dad was building some stanchions in the cow barn. There was a cow with a new calf and as I approached the barn, I guess the cow felt threatened and she came after me and knocked me over. I cried and Dad came out with a hammer in hand, threw the hammer and hit her in the head and drove her away from me. He picked me up and took me to the house where Mother took me in her arms and held me close. I felt so warm and safe.

I also grew up having a great appreciation for the beauty of the valley and my surroundings. Timpanogas was a main fascination and the Cascade Springs, Snake Creek canyon, and the big grove of aspen from which we would drag loads of wood each summer for our winter fuel. These huge piles of wood had to be chopped or sawed into stove sized pieces, mostly by hand in my younger years. Pine Canyon was another beautiful area. It took you to Guardsman Pass and Brighton or to Park City and Snyderville where as a young man Dad and one of the boys would go in midsummer to help put up meadow hay and the other boys would stay home to milk and irrigate.

Bob and I would often unload a load of hay, peel our clothes off quickly and take a swim in the creek nearby. It was quite cold. Another bit of information that is interesting to me is that Dad was a very progressive man. He put in the poles to support the telephone wires from Charleston Road to Stringtown and our home so we had the first telephone in our area. We also had the first bathroom and interior water taps. Our first automobile was a 1921 Model T Ford which I don’t remember but I learned to drive in a 1927, seven passenger, four door Oldsmobile with “button on” side curtains.

Finally, I come to the most dramatic and vivid memory of my childhood, the death of my little sister, Relva. It was late May and Relva was fifteen months old and a toddler. I was four years old. It was a beautiful summer day and my mother was going out to work in the large vegetable garden plot. The kitchen door was open to keep the house cool but Mother had put a chair on its side, across the door to keep Relva from getting out and asked me to watch her while she was working. Well, I don’t remember much what I was doing, but sometime later, Mother came in and asked me where Relva was and after a thorough search of the house Mother became quite excited and called Dad from the barn and the search continued around the outside of the house. Since the creek ran through the corral and pasture it became a focal point of the search. By this time most of the neighbors were assisting to find the baby.

I am not sure just how long, maybe three hours, and you can only imagine the anguish and emptiness being felt by my parents. By that time Maurine was home to assist and as she was coming to the house from the barn she had to cross the little foot bridge over the irrigation ditch. She had her head down, crying, and through the cracks between the boards, she saw something. She investigated and found little Relva, face down in only four or five inches of water. She evidently had tried to crawl under the bridge and a nail in one of the boards had caught her dress and held her face down. The momentary joy of finally finding her was soon gone as the realization that she could not be revived. Dr. Wherritt had worked on her in the back yard, trying to get the water out of her lungs. When he finally gave up and pronounced her to be dead, my poor mother collapsed in a heap and the doctor became worried about her. Though it has been eighty years, the scene is as clear as the day it happened.

Bob started school at six years old and was not promoted (the teachers fault). Mother started me the next year so Bob and I went clear through grade and high school together and I think the reason she did this was because I was so timid and backward that she thought Bob, because he was more forward and integrated in the school, could help me. He did and I’m very grateful. My first grade teacher was Miss Fillerup, second, Simpson, third, Huber, fourth, Duke, fifth, Coleman, sixth, Probst, seventh, Rex, eighth, Karl Probst. I enjoyed school and usually made good grades. I especially like math and music. I also enjoyed recess to play sports or shoot marbles. Sometimes I would go across the street to great Grandma Betsy Ross (not the flag maker) who was bedridden and about ninety years old. She would ask me to get a small paper sack out of the bureau drawer and she always had some mints in the sack and she would give me one which I always enjoyed.

Another memory is the harassment of Charlie Hamilton who would periodically engage me in taunting and pushing me until I would fight and always he would beat me up and leave me crying.

My high school experiences were quite normal and happy my first three years. I loved the Glee Club and enjoyed all of my classes. I didn’t date at all. I came up through the Aaronic Priesthood and all the church activities and started to sing solo at church and other activities when I was thirteen years old. Eventually I sang at funerals, doing solos, duets with Marge Provost or Roy Huffaker and about ten years in the male quartet with Roy Huffaker, Karl Probst and Reed Kohler. Back to high school. My senior year was very eventful. My classes were quite heavy. I took agriculture from Mr. Hatch, English from Nell Madsen, physical education, and physics from Mr. Clark, government from Mr. Clegg and speech from Eva Wilson. It was in this speech class where my life changed. It was where Vonda came into my life. She was the most vivacious, outgoing and energetic person that I had ever known. At the dances she and Vernon Winterton would go around the dance floor with such speed and precision that everyone watched them, including me, with much envy that I couldn’t do that with her. She was voted the most popular girl in the school and I was one of the most backward and bashful boys in the valley. She never lacked for a date and I never had a date.

We rode in buses that had no heat. There was much talk about girls and light hearted banter about just about anything. It was a time of growing from childhood into adulthood, a time of learning about responsibility after depending on our parents for fifteen years or more, a time of discovery and learning, of testing our wings and our theories and discovering how wise and knowledgeable our parents were and how much there was to learn.

Vonda was much more mature than was I and participated in almost every activity that was presented. She started in the band when in the eighth grade, playing the snare drum. There were four girls her same age and they called themselves the “dumb drummers”. The band, under the direction of Delmar Dixon, became a well trained, highly skilled group of musicians and also a marching band that were given superior rating in almost every competition that they entered.

Vonda also excelled in tap and interpretive dancing and won the state competition in those categories. She, because of her smallness, along with another girl, was chosen by Miss Hodgson to be in an adagio. This presentation was with six very muscular senior boys. They would swing and throw these girls up in the air and across the stage for the other boys to catch. Vonda and the other girl had a very abbreviated gold sequined costume on and for that day and age it was quite a spectacular sight. In fact, Vonda’s Dad was upset about her costume and scolded her to never do that again.

She was in many of the school plays and, as you know, she could be either funny or dramatic. She took state in her humorous reading competition, was a cheerleader for three years, and was asked almost weekly to give readings at civic and church functions.

Wasatch High School had an awards program called the Block W for special achievements. You would earn your W first and then a pearl on each point of the W for recognition of each achievement. I had my W and three pearls but Vonda had made her W plus nine pearls. For each pearl when the five points were full they gave you a ruby so she had four rubies and one pearl. The W was a lapel pin. My W and two pearls came for music and 1 pearl for football.

The principal, William Bond, was always thinking of ways to keep the youth involved in activities such as dancing on weekends so they would not be so apt to drink, smoke, etc. He made a bet of a five pound box of candy if Vonda could get a date with the three most bashful boys in school - Dee Mecham, a junior, and Robert Hewett, and me. This was at the beginning of her junior year and by October 5th she had dated the other two and I was taking a class in speech in the school auditorium. I was sitting in class early on October 5th, 1936, studying, when Vonda came in and sat down beside me and turned on the charm, telling me she had a date that night that she really didn’t want to go on. She asked me what I thought she should do and I said I didn’t know but she could just tell him or she could get another date. That was all she needed and said, “But what if no one asked me,” and then waited for me to ask her, which I did. With a big smile on her face, she picked up my hand and patted me on the back of my hand as she held it up in the air to show Mr. Bond, whose office door overlooked the auditorium, to show him she had completed her conquest.

You can imagine how my self esteem went up as we continued to date and meet in the school hallway. I knew that many of the boys envied me. In the next two years we dated as often as I could get the car or go with someone else. It was a time of great joy and getting to know each other and our families. Vonda went with other boys quite often. I never really dated another girl but felt I had no right to ask her to go steady. As is normal, we had some disagreements but enjoyed immensely going with other couples, Leo and Alice, Dave and Edna, Wilburn and Verna, etc.

In the times of dating I was so naive and unschooled in how to treat a date that I’ve always been surprised that Vonda would continue to go with me. I had grown up in a family that was not very demonstrative. Even though we knew we were loved, it was difficult for me to say, “I love you”. It became a bit of contention with her because she was so uninhibited with her feelings.

Our first date was on October 5, 1935, and I graduated in May of 1936. By the late fall of 1937 I had decided that I would like to get married so I asked my mother to go to Salt Lake City to find an engagement ring as we looked to try to find a ring that would fit my finances. I had been able to save up close to $45.00 over the summer but at this time I had not asked her to marry me. We found a combination engagement and wedding ring for $18.00 so I decided to buy her a cedar chest also, which we also found for $18.00. This was either just before or just after Thanksgiving but Vonda was working in Charleston in Scrappy’s Café and was living with her sister, Elva and Verdell Ritchie who owned the café. She worked ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week for $1.00 a day.

Since she was not at home, I asked her father if I could leave the cedar chest at their home so I could surprise her for Christmas. He agreed so on Christmas Eve I picked up Leo and Alice, Dave and Edna and drove to Charleston to pick up Vonda who was still working at the café and we were going to a dance. Vonda took me out to the car and gave me a brightly wrapped package which I opened and found a Helbros wrist watch, curved to fit the wrist. I began to well up with tears. I had never had anything so nice in my life and I knew that it must have cost her at least one month’s salary, which it did. I kissed her and thanked her the best way I could and I knew she was expecting something in return.

We went back inside and the other couples had exchanged gifts. We started to go up to the power plant so Vonda could get ready for the dance. As we were going up the prairie road Vonda joked that everyone had a gift but her. We were in the front seat, the other couples in the back, so I reached in my coat pocket and took out the engagement ring box and handed it to her and turned the interior light on so she could see. She got this mouth opened surprised look and as the tears came she said, “Stop this car you crazy fool and put this on my finger!” I did that and kissed her again and as we looked around, all four people in the back seat were up looking at us.

I hadn’t asked Vonda if she would accept it and no one else but me and my parents knew that I had planned to do this. The other couples were totally surprised. Now that is about as unromantic as anything could be. It’s a wonder to me that she decided to go on with me. One other thing. She was out on a date the night before with Jack Carlson.

We continued up to the plant north of Heber City for her to get ready to go to the dance. We walked in the door and she saw the cedar chest and started to cry again and said, “Oh, thank you Dad.” He said, “If you don’t like it I’ll put it out in the chicken coop.” She walked over to it and saw a pillow top with a love verse on it and knew it came from me. Then she cried again. Well, we finally went to the dance in Heber and enjoyed the rest of the evening. It was truly a night to remember.

Christmas day we had dinner at both families and had an opportunity to do some serious talking and both felt that it would not be in our best interest to have a long engagement. We needed a short time to do all the planning, get our temple recommends, organize a reception and get our patriarchal blessings. It really was a whirlwind two and a half weeks to January 10th, 1938. Vonda had to quit her job and I had to try and get money for everything. In the previous September I had worked two days helping Bill Farrell do his threshing. He still owed me $10.00 which I had to beg him for so I could pay for the marriage license and I had to take my Dad to sign with me because the law at that time was that you were not an adult until you were 21. I was only 19. Just prior to this Vonda said it was necessary to ask her father, Papa Bill, for her hand in marriage. We went that night to visit her parents and Bill was on shift at the power plant. I walked across the highway and knowing that he was a real joker and would put me off for as long as he could, because he knew why I was there. I simply walked in and said, ABill, Vonda and I have decided to get married and wondered if it is alright with you.@ He looked at me with a sly grin and said, “Hell no, it’s not alright. I’ve got enough to feed!” Knowing him, I knew he was kidding. Vonda got a lot of her wit from him and a lot of her wisdom from both her mother and father. She said many times that she had so much affection for her parents that she would never do anything to make them ashamed of her. That’s just one of the things that made me love her so much.

That Christmas Eve was so very memorable. I don’t think I slept much that night. Christmas morning Russell and I were up early and I remember very little about “our” Christmas except all the stockings filled with fruit, nuts, and candy and then it was time to go out and milk and do all the feeding and cleaning.

We came back into the house where it was nice and warm and the smell of breakfast filled our nostrils - bacon, eggs, toast, and melted cheese and fried potatoes. I was hungry and Russ had gone into the dining room checking for presents. I had an opportunity to sit and visit with Mom and Dad and tell them about what happened that night. Before I finished they seemed to be very pensive and had slightly misted eyes. I waited for them to speak and finally Dad looked at me in a most kindly and loving manner and said, “I’m so happy for you and Vonda. Please don’t let down the bars”. In other words, please keep your chastity. I knew what he meant and I was grateful. Mother also said she was happy in a more reserved attitude. It would take a little more time for her to get used to losing her bashful little boy. Dad loved a good funny story so he and Vonda got along just fine.

About 10:00 A.M. I cleaned up and went up to Vonda’s home. They always had a special and unusual Christmas. Presents were piled high. Papa Bill and Esther were both just like kids themselves and made everyone feel special. I only have one word to describe the atmosphere at her home on Christmas, hilariously marvelous. It was always a riot. Elva and Verdell Ritchie, Avis and Owen Farley, Faris and Pauline and all of their children made them a Christmas to remember.

After a sumptuous dinner and things had settled down we left to go to my house and have an opportunity to talk and do some planning. Because of my lack of letting Vonda know my true feelings and intensions, we had not had a chance to discuss any of the plans for our future, like where we were going to live, a job, wedding plans, etc. On the way home as we talked, Vonda said something to the effect that she didn’t believe in long engagements and I concurred whole-heartedly. We laughingly agreed that we had nothing of this world’s goods or wealth but we had lots of faith and hope to compensate, strong bodies and a good dose of determination was all we needed.

When we arrived home about 2:00 PM, Mother, Dad, and Russell were there but also Mable, my sister, and her boyfriend, Karl Wilde, who came up from Provo. We exchanged season’s greetings with them and of course the talk turned to our engagement. Mable, in her outspoken way, said, ABut he is just a boy.@ Everyone laughed, but it was agreed by all that we should get married very soon. Mable called Vonda into the kitchen and of course I followed and she said to Vonda, AIf you hurt this boy I will never forgive you.@ Vonda gave me a squeeze and said, AI promise.@ Mable laughed, knowing she didn=t have to worry.

We tentatively set January 10th, 1938, as our wedding date, which gave us just two weeks to get everything ready. That=s not much time to prepare but we felt we could do it. My Dad suggested we needed to get our patriarchal blessings so he called Patriarch Henry T. Coleman and made an appointment for us on the next Sunday afternoon. It was never a question that we would be married in the Temple. We each had to have our interview with the Bishop to get our recommends. My Bishop was Nephi Probst, with whom I met and one of the things I asked him is, ADo you think I should go on a mission before we get married?@ He paused for a few seconds and said, AThere are many ways to do missionary work and I don=t have a doubt that you and Vonda can and will fulfill a greater mission together than you can accomplish alone.@ We were so grateful for this advice and in his confidence in us, so I got my recommend. Vonda=s Bishop was Fred G. Carlile of Heber 2nd Ward and she also got her recommend. Getting temple clothing in those days was quite a problem and it all had to be hand ironed.

My recollection about the days of the week are all past my memory so the timing is not as important to try and get all the facts and one of these is that Dad and Mom agreed we could stay with them for the time being and work for our board and room. Vonda would continue to work for Elva. The old home in Stringtown was a large two story home so it was not crowded. I didn=t have enough money to buy the marriage license, which I recall was $3.00. The previous September I had worked two full days for Bill Farrell, helping him thresh his grain, for which he owed me $10.00 and had not paid. I went to his house to tell him I needed the money so I could buy our marriage license. Fortunately, he was able to pay me but I still had a problem. I needed my father’s signature to get the license. In 1938 you were not an adult until you were 21 years old. I was only 19 years old. I was just a bit embarrassed but I had no choice and it was only temporary embarrassment. My father ordained me to the Melchizadek priesthood and made me an Elder.

Because we were so busy the time seemed to fly by in a hurry. As I recall, January 10th, 1938, came on a Monday and we asked Vonda to stay at our home so we could ride together to the temple. We needed to be at the temple by 7:00 AM so we had to leave about 5:00 AM. We were driving a 1937 Chevrolet that had no heater or windshield warmer and the moisture from our breath coated all the inside windows with a coat of ice from the bitter cold outside. A small bag of salt was used to rub the inside of the windshield to keep a small hole to see the road and we had lap robes to keep us warm. We also put a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator to keep the water in the car warm. The roads were only two lanes and covered with snow and quite steep at the summit so travel was very slow but we did arrive on time. Vonda=s family came down later. At the temple we showed our recommends and were greeted by special workers who made us feel that they and our parents would help us to feel at ease and comfortable. There was much preliminary work to be done and I think we went into the 9:00 session. We each made our individual covenants and learned much about the Father=s expectations of how we should live and the blessings of obedience. There was too much to absorb in only one session. We needed to go back again and again but at a later time. At the end of the session we were taken into the Celestial room and it truly felt Celestial. Here we could meditate and feel the Spirit of our Savior and know that he was very near.

Shortly, we were taken into the large sealing room. Our families and a few friends were seated around the room. The altar was in the center of the room and the mirrors on opposite walls. Looking into the mirrors seems to go on forever, a significant representation of eternal marriage. We had asked for Elder Nicholas G. Smith to marry us and he was there and recounted about the endowment and gave much good advice to us and our families. He then asked us to kneel at the altar while he performed the ceremony. We each said our AI do=s@ and he asked if I had a wedding ring for the ring ceremony and I said I had left it home in a drawer. You can imagine the ripple of laughter and disappointment that went through the crowd. Fortunately, Vonda had a good sense of humor and after he pronounced us man and wife, he said, AYou may kiss the bride.@ We leaned across the altar and enjoyed an extended kiss as Yvonne Cummings Watson gave an extended sigh. It was a mixture of tears of joy and laughter. It was a beautiful ceremony and we are always grateful to Nicholas G. Smith for his loving and gracious mood that he left with all of us.

Mom and Dad and Vonda and I had been invited to eat dinner with Ross and Mel who lived in Salt Lake on third south and third east, as I remember. Vonda=s family got together at Avis=s place. We had made a decision to stay in a hotel but we had no car to go home the next morning and I am not sure how we solved that now but we did somehow.

Bishop Nephi Probst had previously asked Vonda to teach the small children in Sunday school and she did a fabulous job as we all knew that she would. We stayed with Dad and Mom where I worked for them for our board and room and Vonda worked for Elva at Scrappy=s. I was also riding a horse every morning one mile up to Grandpa Ross in Midway to help him milk the cows and feed the livestock, etc. Grandpa lived all alone in a fairly large home and he agreed that he could live in a couple of rooms and we could have the rest of the house, including the kitchen.

The snow was going fast and the days were warm and Vonda=s Mom, Esther, Avis and Pauline, Vonda and I took on the task of cleaning, painting and papering the whole house. Grandpa had lived alone for several years and was not a housekeeper in any sense of the word and there were bed bugs and much stuff that had to be burned. We had to fumigate and all in all it took the four of us three full ten hour days to prepare the house. Grandpa was happy to be in a clean, fresh environment. There was no bathroom, only an outhouse. Vonda and I were happy to finally be by ourselves. She wanted to try her hand at cooking and housekeeping by herself and she did a remarkable job. Just a couple of cooking blunders early on. She made some baking powder biscuits. My sister Maurine was coming to lunch. She bit into one of the biscuits and broke a tooth. Needless to say, we had a hilarious good laugh and both families wouldn=t let her forget it for a long time. Vonda was an immaculate housekeeper and while Grandpa Ross would go to Guy Coleman=s store and play cards, she would clean his place, for which he was grateful.

The years following the great depression there was a government sponsored make work project called W.P.A, Work Project Administration, and they were putting the first sidewalks in Midway. Through the help of Guy Coleman I went to work with W.P.A. as of April 1st, 1938. We badly needed some transportation so Vonda=s Dad took us to Provo where we purchased a 1929 Model A Ford coupe for $100.00. We paid $10.00 down and agreed to pay $30.00 per month for three months. Our agreement was guaranteed by her Dad. How proud we were as we drove up the canyon in our new car. Gasoline was about $.18 a gallon. I continued to help Dad in the mornings, evenings, Saturday and Sunday which gave us most of our food and Vonda continued to work part time so we were doing quite well. We were completely involved in church on Sunday and in M.I.A. on Tuesday nights. We were also called to entertain at many church and community programs, one more reason that we needed a car.

The summer went by rather quickly and interestingly, I was helping build the sidewalks of Midway and helping Dad as much as I could. Vonda kept up the house, cooked the meals, worked part time and became the hairdresser and stylist for our womenfolk in the neighborhood. She also took over paying the bills. We were each learning our part in living as man and wife. I think Vonda was much more mature than I was.

Vonda=s sister, Avis, and her husband, Owen Farley, lived in Salt Lake City and he worked as a baker and cake decorator for New England Bakeries. He had secured a job for Faris as a clean up worker and Pauline as a retail sales person in the front of the bakery. It was located on 9th south and Main and they had worked there most of the summer. About September 15, Owen told us that the first of October another job for clean up would be available and if I wanted it he could get it for me. The salary was $25.00 per week. Since my W.P.A. job was only temporary and was somewhat of a stigma, being on government assistance, we decided to move to Salt Lake and take the job.

We went to look for an apartment with Vonda=s parents. Most of the ones that we could afford were dirty and had bedbugs. Esther could tell by the smell and she would simply say, ANo, not this one.@ We finally settled on a one room apartment. My brother and his wife had leased a large two story home in the avenues area. It had five bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs. Each bedroom was leased to a young couple and shared the bathroom. Ross and his family lived in the downstairs. Our rent was $18.00 per month. We had purchased a davinette, a sofa that the back would lay down to make a bed, a small wood table and two wood chairs. Orange crates with curtains served as kitchen cabinets, a small gas stove was our only way to cook and that was the way we lived. We had a specific time to bathe and much conversation in the hallway.

I went to work from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM. We had to clean all the trays, bread tins, utensils, work benches, and machinery and also keep the floor clean. Another job was to help load the distributing truck and unload the empty trays off the truck. The bakers and all the help were very congenial and I enjoyed very much working there. Very often Vonda would catch a ride to town and we could go to a double header movie for $.10 each, an all afternoon entertainment.

I had made a call to the office of Spencer J. Cornwall, director of the Tabernacle Choir for a tryout. He called me back at Ross=s telephone because we didn=t have a phone, and asked me to come to his office the next day at 3:00 PM. Needless to say, I was very nervous when I went in but he greeted me warmly and questioned me about my voice training, of which I had none except my high school teacher. He then sat down at his piano and asked me to go through a few scales, making me sing to the highest notes I could reach. He arose from the piano and faced me, paused a few moments then said, ABrother Huntington, there are no vacancies in the choir at the moment but I would like you to come to my office twice a week to let me help you practice.@ He also said I should get records of Richard Crook, a very famous tenor of that day. He said my voice was as near like his as he had heard and that I should copy as near as possible his voice, interpretation and inflection, which I did. By this time it was at the end of January and we were in a routine and making progress in acquiring a few household items.

One day at work Vonda called me and said that Dad would like to talk to me. Could I please take fifteen minutes to talk to him and I said I would. This was somewhere in the middle of February and when Dad came I found a quiet corner and a couple of chairs and Dad began by saying that he was just unable to keep up with all the work on the farm and that none of the other boys was interested in running it. He had gone to Vonda first I suppose to see if she wanted to live on a farm before asking me. He also asked me if I had any interest in buying it and that none of the other boys had the slightest interest in it. Of course, it took me by surprise and I didn=t know how to answer him so after some pause I told him that I was definitely interested but I would need some time to talk to Vonda and that we had no money and doubted that we could borrow a large amount of money to pay for it. He then said that he could borrow the money from Federal Land Bank and all we had to do is guarantee to make the monthly payments. The purchase price was $10,000 which included livestock and machinery.

We decided it would be a good opportunity and Vonda was excited to have a home to call our own and decorate to her taste and to keep neat and clean and also to have some space and privacy. There were approximately 30 head of cattle, 5 horses, 3 pigs and 20 chickens, 49 acres of land and140 acres of hill ground, west of the cemetery.

In early February we traded in the Model A Ford and purchased a 1938 Plymouth sedan. We moved in on March 1st, 1939. My folks had bought a home on Main Street in Midway, a home that had been built for my mother=s grandmother, which they were remodeling. The folks had left enough furniture and dishes for us to live and they were staying with us most of the time until their house was finished and Russell was also living there and helping me with the chores and milking. The weather was warming and the corral was starting to thaw. It was time to start hauling out and spreading the manure and Vonda was out there helping me while Russell was in school.

The next few months were busy, plowing, harrowing, planting and preparing for irrigation and always the milking twice a day by hand. I was called as a counselor in the Sunday School and was asked to sing in a quartet of Karl Probst, Reed Kohler, and Roy Huffaker and we practiced sometimes three times a week and performed all over northern Utah at the Salt Lake Country Club to the Bushnell Amputee Hospital in Brigham City and most often our wives were with us. Very often Vonda was also a participant on these programs and I sang at funerals, funerals, funerals.

I applied in the summer to the school board to drive the school bus even though school started in early September but I couldn=t get my chauffeurs license until my birthday on September 28th. I had to be 21 years old. Frank Clayburn drove for me during that time. I started out at $30.00 per month but it helped us greatly. I drove a 36 passenger 1937 International bus with seats that ran lengthwise along each side and a straddle seat down the middle. I have to confess I ground a few gears before I learned to shift. The other drivers were Bert Carlson, Charleston, John Young, Wallsburg, Otis Sweat, Center Creek, Jim Orgill, Daniels Creek, Chase Crook, Lake Creek, Wilson Young, north of Heber, Morgan Keller, Hailstone, and Laurence Luke, north Midway.

One of the things Vonda and I did in the summer of 1939 was to go back to the temple weekly and we were able to get 7 or 8 couples who hadn=t been back since they were married to go with us. As we were going into the dressing room a temple worker came up to us and said that they needed a couple of sturdy men to do some baptisms for the dead and he picked Ren Provost and Darwin Schear, a job which they did each week for several months.

The next two or three years were very eventful. We had become very close to Faris and Pauline as they would come up from Salt Lake with their family almost every weekend to be with Papa Bill and Esther and we would go up to the power plant to visit with them. In May of 1940 my sister, Mable, was expecting her first baby. She lived in Provo and was quite ill from albumin poisoning. She called us to let us know she was going in on May 27 to deliver her child and was somewhat apprehensive because of the albumin. This was before antibiotics were used. We told her we would get Roy Huffaker and be down to the Utah Valley Hospital as soon as we could to give her a blessing after doing the milking. Roy and Iona, Vonda and I arrived at the hospital at about 6:00 PM and she was already in delivery. We sat and waited and briefly talked to Karl Wilde, Mable=s husband. About 6:45 Karl came back sobbing and said the doctor couldn=t save her but was able to save the baby boy. She was 25 years old. My mother and father came in just as we were informed and it was an unbelievably sad moment for all of us. Karl was so broken up that he had to leave and be by himself and decide what to do about the baby.

The next five days were very difficult for all of us. Karl, Mom and Dad planned the funeral for May 31st, Vonda=s birthday, a sad occasion.

One funny incident about Karl and Mable is that when they were married we planned a party at our house for them and Vonda was to furnish the wedding cake. She spent all afternoon doing a two layer round cake in two nine inch pans, and when they came out of the oven they were as flat as when they went in. We all had a big laugh and much comment about a flat wedding cake. When we tasted it she had used salt instead of sugar and we couldn=t eat it.

Another incident that happened a year earlier while my Dad and Mom were still living with us is that my Dad=s stepmother (he called her and treated her like his own mother) who was old and could not live alone, was living with us. She had kidney disease and we knew she couldn=t live very long. She was going into semi-coma condition and Vonda was sitting at the side of the bed keeping her lips moist. It was mid-morning and I came into the bedroom but Vonda gestured me not to talk and I understood but I walked over to Vonda and teasingly and gently tugged on a lock of her hair. She swatted at me and laughed. Grandma evidently saw this and beckoned Vonda to come closer and said quietly, AHe=s just like his Grandpa. If he bothers you just jump straddle of his neck and piddle down his back.@ It took Vonda by surprise and she looked at Grandma quizzically and Grandma just smiled and settled down into the bed. Those were the last words that she spoke. She passed on in the early afternoon. We all loved her very much.

Grandma was to be buried by Grandpa in the Salt Lake City cemetery. They had lived their whole lives in the northwest area of Salt Lake City on Oakley Avenue so the funeral was to be held in her home ward. I had been asked to sing, AYou are a Wonderful Mother,@ and I must insert here that Grandma, whose name was Agnes Rosetta, had two sisters, Gussie Rasmussen and Lessie Freeman, who were at the funeral. Alas, as I started to sing, I heard Aunt Lessie singing softly with me. I kept on singing and Vonda who was sitting by her, patted her on the knee to get her to stop but she sang the complete song with me. When she finished she settled back in her seat and whispered to Vonda, AAgnes had asked me to sing at her funeral and I promised her that I would and now it is done.@ Quite an experience.

In 1941 Dad and Mom had decided to spend their winters in Mesa, Arizona, working in the temple and where it was warm. They had made arrangements to live in the home of Sister Westover and had been packing their car for several days. They left to go through Needles, California, because the roads south of Kanab were so steep and winding. They left on Saturday, Dec. 6th. On Sunday, the 7th I went to the barn to do my chores and milking. I turned on my radio in the cow barn and heard the news of the Pearl Harbor assault and the day following the declaration of war against Japan.

Something that just came to mind is in 1939 we went to Salt Lake City and traded in our 1933 Plymouth for a brand new 1939 Chevrolet pick up truck with six ply tires and four speed transmission. The total price was $750.00 with a $100.00 trade in for a net $650.00 and no sales tax. Gasoline was about $.22 per gallon.

Now, back to the war. The government had set up a selective service system to draft all young eligible men into the services and this caused us a lot of concern because of the uncertainty if I would have to go in the service. What would happen to the farm, to Vonda, and life together? As I recall, my social security number came up in August 1940 and I had to go to Fort Douglas in Salt Lake for a physical examination. A group of us from the county left early in the morning and arrived about 7:00 AM. After checking in we were ushered into the examination room where we had to completely undress and then get in line. I must say here that I had seen nude boys in the high school dressing rooms but this was shocking. Approximately 200 men and boys, all standing in line or walking around in the nude was a sight I didn=t wish to see again. I was shuffled from one station to another, taking blood, checking feet and legs, heart, teeth and always asking questions. It was when they checked my heart that I was pulled out of line and taken to a specialist who made me hop on one leg twenty times and then the other twenty times, often listening to my heart very carefully. He called in another doctor to confirm his diagnosis which he did, and they said that the mitral valve in my heart was not closing completely and that I should get dressed. I would be classed as a 4F, not fit for military service. I had some mixed emotions. I felt a little bit unpatriotic at that time. Vonda was happy because our future was not as uncertain but was also worried about my heart condition. ATwo explanations,@ the inquiry into my heart condition came as a result of a question they asked, had I ever had any rheumatic fever. My answer was, AI think so@, and as a result of this diagnosis my life insurance was up-rated by about 20% for the next 35 years or so.

Through the previous years it had been a constant source of disappointment that we were not blessed to have children and when we would go to church or anywhere and people would show off their babies, Vonda would think they were doing it just to make her feel bad. One day we met Ray Wooten, a friend who was working for Utah Juvenile Services, and he asked us if we would be interested in being foster parents for youths who had been in trouble with the law. He said he felt that being on the farm could keep them busy and out of mischief. It took us a few days to decide and finally told him we would. He took us to Salt Lake City to 21st South and 2nd East to the place called Fishers Boys Home and as we entered into the large foyer we saw a chain link fence with boys from 9 to 15 years old with their fingers clinging through the fence calling, ATake me Mister, please take me.@ It just about broke our hearts.

We finally settled on a clean cut boy with dark hair and fair complexion. His name was Johnny Cutler. He was 11 years old and had run away from home several times but as we drove home we were able to establish a relationship with him and to give him the general rules so he knew where he stood and outlined some of his duties and expectations.

He seemed to be quite happy in the intervening days and we were able to buy him some new clothes for which he was happy. He learned his duties quickly and went to church with us. Everyone, even the school kids seemed to like and enjoy him. We felt that everything was going good, as did the State. We took him in November and it was now almost the first of August and we were extremely busy all summer. It was time to harvest the crop of peas, about 3 2 acres, plus the cows to milk night and morning, irrigation, and all of the attendant chores that the farm entails. I was working at the pea vinery and Vonda was working at the cannery in Heber City. I arose about 4:30 AM to get the milking done and be to work at the vinery at 6:00 AM. The new truck was at home. In those days we always left the car and never worried. I also got Johnny up to finish up the chores. At 10:00 AM we had a breakdown at the vinery so I took the time to run home to check on things and when I got there the truck was gone. I called Vonda and asked if she had taken it. She had not. She had gone with other women to work. Johnny was no where to be found so I knew that he must have taken it. I asked Vonda to get someone to work for her and I would do the same and I would call the Sheriff. I did and Deputy Bert Lindsay answered and said he would be right over so I asked him to pick up Vonda and bring her with him. I found out that Johnny had taken my wallet with about six dollars in it and also the gasoline coupon book. Gas was rationed because of the war so I knew he would stop at the only gas station in Midway. When the sheriff came I told him of the situation so we stopped and Mrs. Epperson told us he had been there to get gas so we headed for Salt Lake City.

The old road went through Park City and just east of the city was a state road crew to whom we asked if they had seen the truck and the boy and they said yes. He had slowed down to pass them and then tried to speed up without shifting. It bucked and chugged a couple of times and then took off. What they noticed most was that he was barely tall enough to see through the steering wheel. We stopped at Pop Jenks Café and I called the Salt Lake police to be out at the mouth of Parleys Canyon and catch him before he got into the city. We were relieved and thought everything would be alright but when we got to the station I asked the desk clerk about the truck. He said he knew nothing about it and had no information. I was very unhappy but there was nothing I could do so I left and we decided to drive around and see if we could spot it. We drove for several hours and it was time to go back home to milk the cows. It was about 4:30 PM and we went back to the station to file a formal complaint against Johnny and the truck was parked in a spot that said APolice Parking Only@. I ran into the station and said, AI see you found the truck.@ His eyebrows raised and he said, ANo.@ I said it is out in front and he looked and was completely surprised. He called the Captain and we all went out but found that it was locked and we couldn=t find the keys. I called a locksmith who came and made new keys. We had no money with us and we had to borrow money from Mr. Lindsey to pay him and we were able to go home.

A few days later we learned that Johnny was riding on a city bus at night when Owen Farley, who was a policeman, took the same bus to go to work. He spotted Johnny and took him into custody. We had become so fond of him that we called the State and asked if he could come back to us but they said he could not. His actions were too serious and that he would have to be incarcerated in the juvenile detention center in Ogden. He remained there until he was 17 years old. They taught him the shoemaker’s trade but the war was prominent in all of our lives and he felt he wanted to join the Navy. This he did and was sent to Farragut, Idaho for his basic training after which he was allowed to come to his home in Salt Lake City. He called us on Saturday evening and asked if he could come up with his girl friend and have Sunday dinner with us. He always enjoyed the roast beef, brown gravy and mashed potatoes. We, of course, were excited and set the time but they didn=t ever come. We found out the next day that both of them had been killed the night before in an automobile accident. We were devastated.

Now to go back four years to when Johnny left, we took another boy from the state. His name was Raymond Loveseth. I could probably write a whole book about the next five years but suffice it to say that we also took a 14 year old girl from Utah County who at 15 went home to visit her father and got pregnant from a married man. A boy, whose name was Jimmy Hart, whom we later met in Overton and he remembered us. Another situation arose wherein our neighbor, Frank Clayburn, died and his wife decided she wanted to move to Salt Lake City. She took two daughters with her and left the farm with Jay and two teenage boys, Don and Grant, who were still in high school. They were in our home more than they were in with Jay and Helen.
This was all while the war was going on and through all this were the obligations of singing at funerals, church, school and community programs and Vonda giving her humorous readings. A group of us in the ward started a weekly study program with Elmer Kohler as our teacher. There were 20 to 25 of us and we had been going for about five months when we received word from the stake president that we should meet under MIA supervision or stop because we had no priesthood governing authority. Most of us were hurt but we acceded to their authority and could see the danger of continuing it.

In the spring of 1944 we received a call from my brother, Bob, in Seattle, asking us if we would be willing to take Larry, his son, six years old, from Jean Beckstead in Fresno. Bob was now married to Jane Stewart and it seems that neither of them wanted him and his mother, Jean, had sent him to his dad and didn=t want him either. After some discussion and much prayer we called to tell him we would take him. Vonda called Dorothy Eggleston, her very close friend, and whose husband was in the army, and asked her if she would go with her to pick up Larry and she agreed. They caught the train in SLC and Bob would pick them up at the station in Seattle. While they were there, Larry had a sick spell and it kept Vonda and Dorothy there an extra week. They arrived home sometime in late May. We were in for another new experience.

Another thing that happened in that time period is that the school superintendent, Lula Clegg, gave us an opportunity to go to Lima, Ohio to bring home a new school bus from the Superior plant. We invited Faris and Pauline to go with us and they accepted. We went on the Trailways bus and when you get Vonda, Faris, and Pauline together, they had most of the people on the bus involved in conversation and merriment. We picked up the bus and started home. We put heavy cardboard across the seats to sleep and bought groceries to eat.

As we came through western Kansas we learned of V.E. or V.J. day. (I can=t remember which.) As we came through Aurora, Colorado an eastern suburb of Denver, on a Saturday, about noon, I was driving and their seemed to be dozens of service men at every stop light and it seemed like the city buses were full. Faris, who was sitting up front with me, just opened the door and invited people to get in. They all had money or tokens or passes but he said, ANo charge.@ Everyone was laughing and Faris announced that they would have to let us know where they wanted to get off. We were full and they were standing in the isles. We got all kinds of thanks as we dropped them off in Denver. I am sure that it was illegal but once it started, there was no stopping it. It was a fun trip.

Back at home there was quite a lot of catching up to do and also Larry was still having problems adjusting. We told him and tried to show him that we loved him as our own but he would do some of the dumbest things and create conflict. He had everything he needed and more than most. He even had his own riding horse. He was always a good student and had a very pleasant singing voice. He always told us, AYou are not my parents and I don=t have to do as you say.@ Things would go well for sometime months and then conflict again but things seemed to always settle down.

The war was just over and goods became more plentiful so we went to Provo to a Jeep dealer and purchased a brand new Jeep that had a mower attachment and also a plow which we used on the farm. It was a lot of fun also.

It was at this time, October 1945, that Vonda surprised me by informing me that her period was late and she was not having the usual cramps, etc. We waited a couple more days and then went to the doctor to be tested. In those days, to test for pregnancy, the doctor would take a urine sample and send it to a company in SLC. They would inject some of the urine into a rabbit and wait a period of time and if the rabbit died, the woman was pregnant. It took approximately ten days to get an answer. It was without question the most momentous and happy day in our lives when Dr. Karl Nielson told us, AI think you are really going to have a baby.@ We spread the word far and wide and gave thanks to God for this good fortune. Dr. Nielson computed her due date to be about June 21st.

Nine months seems like an eternity when you are waiting, waiting, waiting and in the beginning Vonda had a lot of morning sickness. It was unpleasant but she always said she was the happiest pregnant woman alive. It was a time for us to buy all of the things that a baby would need and at Christmas time I found a package under the tree with my name on it. I couldn=t figure out what it was but on Christmas when I opened it, I found a package of cloth diapers with a wedding ring pinned to one of the diapers. This is the same ring I wear today.

Vonda by this time was starting to swell. The doctor told her she would have to eat enough for two so she would eat and throw up, and eat and throw up. By the first of March she was beginning to get the waddle. 1945-46 had been a particularly heavy winter and Vonda went out the front of the house. She got off balance and went off the beaten path and found herself in about forty inches of snow. She struggled as much as she dared but couldn=t get back on the path. Fortunately, Jay Clayburn came along and assisted her to get back into the house for which we were both grateful. She continued to get larger but stayed active as possible. By June 15th she was getting very tired of being pregnant and each day was quite a trial. When it was the 21st she couldn=t believe it hadn=t come and she had gained forty pounds and it was hard for her to get around. On the 26th the doctor called about 9:00 A.M. to see if she was ready to deliver. He was going out of town and we told him, no. On Friday, the 28th, we decided to go to Orem for some strawberries to bottle. We called the doctor to see if it was okay and he said the only thing it could do is to start labor and that was the general idea. We got four crates and we got them bottled by the time I had to milk. That night I had an irrigation turn on the Epperson ditch and would take all night. We agreed that I would keep an eye on the house. If the light went on I would come immediately. It didn=t come on.

As the 29th dawned I could leave my irrigation to go and milk and check on Vonda. She was up and awake when I came in and told me that as she was getting up her water broke but as yet she had no pain. I must say here that Dr. Nielson had asked us earlier if we wanted him to take the baby by C section and Elva and Avis sort of ridiculed Vonda by saying women are made to have babies naturally. They didn=t want her to be a boob, just grit your teeth and bear it. They said she needed to experience this as a woman. It was Saturday morning and I came in from doing the chores and I found Vonda going up and down the stairs. Someone had told her to exercise so she decided to do the stairs but even though it was quite unsafe in her condition, she was almost give out and I made her stop. After resting for a half hour, Elva came to visit and had heard that soaking your feet in hot water would help so we filled the bath tub with six inches of hot water and she insisted that she walk in place. She was getting desperate but still smiling, and still no action. Elva had to go home and feed her family. We ate our lunch and Vonda said she was going to lie on the sofa and relax. I also sat and watched her. It was about 12:40 P.M. and she seemed to doze for a while and then at approximately 1:25 she let out a scream and yelled, AI just had a pain!@ I started to call the doctor but she said no. We must wait and see how often they come. The second one came at five minutes later and we called the doctor.

He told us to come as soon as possible but the pains were coming every two to three minutes. We arrived at the front of the old hospital at just before 2:00 P.M when all of the patients for both doctors would be waiting in the foyer. She didn=t want to have a pain in front of them so she waited until the next one was over and jumped out of that truck and literally ran to the front door. I could hardly catch her. I opened the door and she took those stairs like a child. She was met by Zina Duke and put her on a table to see if she was ready to deliver. They said she wouldn=t deliver for some time so they fully prepared her between pains.

The doctor kept checking with the nurses and when his office visits were finished he came up to see her and she had endured those pains every few minutes until her nerves were on end. When he said he was going home to eat and he would be back about 8:00, she went into a panic. She said she wanted something to kill the pain. He patted her on the shoulder and with sympathy reminded her it would only prolong the misery. He finally came back at 9:30 that night and agreed to take the baby. She said she would give him twenty dollars for a whiff of ether.

Soon the delivery room was ready, the doctor was scrubbed and he invited me to come in for the delivery also. Avis and Elva were permitted in the same room. I was sitting to the side of Vonda holding her hand as the doctor began to have her push which she responded to with all her might. Soon I heard a noise like scissors cutting, more work and anxiety by the crew. It just wouldn=t come and I heard the doctor say, AI=m going to have to use the forceps.@ Both Elva and Avis put their hands over their mouths and I saw fear in their eyes. I began to be very concerned and asked God to please let them both be okay. The forceps were inserted and after pulling they slipped and the doctor said, ADamn it.@ Elva, who now was crying said to Vonda, AHoney, it=s okay to scream if you want to.@ The forceps were reset and the doctor put his knee against the bed and started to pull, gently twisting back and forth. He was sweating quite profusely and the nurses had to wipe his forehead. Merle Gardner, a 200 pound nurse was on a stool to the side of Vonda, pushing down on her stomach with all her might as the doctor pulled. Elva didn=t help when she said, ADon=t worry, Honey, I=ll give you one of mine.@

He was finally born at 10:45 PM on June 29th, 1946. The doctor paid particular attention to the baby=s head which was quite badly misshapen and dark but he had a good set of lungs. The doctor handed the baby to Zina Duke to clean him up and he attended to Vonda, who was crying and asking questions of the doctor about the baby. Elva and Avis were both crying and feeling that the baby would be brain damaged because he had a tear behind the ear and one eyebrow was also torn from the forceps. I was bewildered and awed about all that had happened but stayed with Vonda to rejoice or console her.

Several minutes later the baby boy was brought in and laid in Vonda=s arms and Zina explained that he had all his toes and fingers and no apparent deformities except the misshapen head and she assured us that it would eventually be normal. He weighed 9 pounds 5 ounces. Vonda was crying with joy and admiring him and starting to relax.
Last edited by Tuly on Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection,... but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31
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Re: Rulon Max Huntington

Post by Tuly »

This is part 2.

It was almost midnight and I left to let Vonda rest. I drove into Midway with my horn blaring and yelling out open windows, AWe have a baby boy!@ I stopped to tell Mom and Dad and also Roy Huffaker. Their baby, Leon, was just a month or six weeks old and Roy said we would have them singing duets in no time. When I returned the next morning, Vonda was so sore she could hardly move her legs. The baby=s head was almost normal and the nurse told us the doctor had spent most of the night molding his head and went home about 4:30 A.M. They brought the baby in to nurse and he just would scream each time he would try so they had to feed him by bottle. Vonda felt badly that she couldn=t nurse him and had to be pumped. The doctor told us to use cow’s milk from all the herd, right out of the can, which we did. She had set a schedule for him which she held to completely. She would give him 4 oz. every 4 hours. He was very fussy and didn=t sleep well at night. About two weeks after getting him home, Vonda went to a meeting and left him with me. I had just given him his bottle which he finished and was setting up a real howl. I could usually rock him and sing and quiet him but this night nothing seemed to help. I called Vonda and she asked some of the women what they thought. She told them the amount he was eating and they said a baby that size needs more nourishment and they suggested giving him another bottle. I gave him another bottle, which he drank about three quarters and fell sound asleep. I laid him down. He didn=t awaken and I wondered if I had hurt him. I stayed up until Vonda came home and we worried so much we even put our hand in front of his mouth to see if he was breathing and we slept fitfully until he awakened about one hour past his next feeding time. When we figured out that he wasn=t getting enough to eat we fed him more and he was a different baby after that. When he would begin to fuss at night, we would both jump out of bed to see who would get to him first to rock him back to sleep. I usually won. It was the most fun time of our lives. We wondered about a name and Vonda liked Michael but her Dad discouraged her. I had two good friends, David and Keith and I thought that they would be good names for him but Vonda settled on David Rulon. On fast Sunday of August, 1946, I took him up to give him his name and I was so proud to give him my name. He has never dishonored it. I remember one thing of his blessing. I promised that he would become an instrument in the hands of God to do much good. That promise has been fulfilled.

He had golden blond curly hair, a beguiling smile, and a wonderful disposition. He could talk before he could walk but that is not surprising with Vonda coaching and teaching him. He didn=t walk until he was thirteen months old. He is the light of our life and Vonda taught him several little poems that to the delight of all around him, he would perform for all who would listen.

Joe Erwin, who married Pauline Springer, Lethe=s full cousin, had started a Midway Boosters Club to promote all of the attractions in the area. There must have been at least forty people sign up, mostly couples. John Luke, owner of Luke’s Hot Pots and a member would let us hold our meetings there for us to discuss and suggest ways to promote Midway. I made a suggestion that because we had so much musical talent that we have a showcase of it as a climax to the celebration on Saturday night. Everyone agreed that it should be both Friday and Saturday and they gave me the job of being the director of the first Midway Days, later changed to Swiss Days, which has grown to be one of the largest celebrations in Utah.

July 24, 1947 was the 100 year celebration of Pioneer Days. It was a busy time and all males over 18 years old were expected to grow a beard and sideburns or face a day in jail.

The winter of 1946-47 and 1948-49 were especially severe and took a toll in many ways, including the loss of several calves tails and ears frozen. Their were several families from Midway that had moved to eastern Oregon on a new irrigation project on the Owyhee River. Those families were Burton Huffaker, Sherman and Maxine Huffaker, Henry and Evelyn Hasler, Emery and Lanyle Buhler, Burt and Lola Kinsey, and Claude and Mary Frisby from Heber.

The Buhler=s invited us to come visit them in Vale and we decided to take the invitation in December 1946 to see what was attractive to so many of our friends. We left David with Vonda=s mother and we drove in our truck to Oregon. As we drove through Boise and Meridian, the cold seemed to moderate considerably as did the amount of snow. As we got into Vale, the snow had all but disappeared. We were amazed that farmers were still in the fields working their ground. We visited with the Buhler=s and several of our friends and left for home the next morning. We were already homesick for David and worried about him but found everything fine.

I could see the many advantages of not only the climate but the fact that you could irrigate anytime you want for as long as you want, just by leaving a note on your headgate. Vonda was not really enthused about leaving the valley and friends. Someone had told Burt Sorenson that our farm might be for sale so he came to see if he could buy it for his son, Ralph. We told him that we would need some time to consider his offer and make a decision. My father, I=m sure was disappointed that I would sell it but he never interfered in any way. I=m going to go back now to some things that I have left out.

One of the memories of pre school days that has stayed with me is when Grandpa Huntington came to spend a few days. He was a large man, about 6' 4" and a very robust chest and abdomen and weighed over 300 pounds. He had full beard and face hair, the six inch beard was wavy, partially gray and was always immaculately groomed and combed. He also had the most kind and smiling eyes that drew you to him. He took me in his arms on the large front porch of our house, sat in the big wooden rocker and told me many stories of pioneer days. I remember how safe I felt.

I will say something here about the farm house. The water heated by putting a water jacket into the firebox of the kitchen stove. It had an inlet and an outflo which then went to a water tank. You had to have a fire to have hot water but it was quite efficient. You needed two jackets because they would fill up with lime and no water could go through so you would take plugged jacket out and soak it in muratic acid and put the clean jacket back in the stove.

We had a standing charge account with Harold Stevens Home Furnishings in Heber where we purchased a refrigerator, wringer washer, table and chairs for the kitchen, carpet in the front room and a few other smaller things. Vonda went to Provo with Elva one day and came home with two lamp tables and two lamps. The tables were walnut and were about sixteen inches square with glass tops built into the table. They are about sixty years old and antiques but I am still using them. Vonda always loved them.

Vonda was always involved in Primary, Relief Society, or MIA, both in the presidency and teaching. Shortly after we were married the church said we should use the Seventy to give the message at sacrament meeting and the stake president asked me to be set apart as a Seventy and I could provide a musical number for the speaker.

These are random memories. Vonda going into the barnyard, catching a chicken, wringing it=s neck, hanging it up by its feet and completely skinning it in a matter of a few minutes. I would take my fishing rod and fish the ripples and holes of Snake Creek and ski in the winter.

Because the original part of the house had been added onto the kitchen was just through the wall from the front room, which was used very little. Vonda asked Mom if a door could be cut through the wall to make the room more accessible and Mom said, AGood luck. I=ve tried for years to get it done.@ When I came in she already had some of the plaster removed down to the red brick. I told her I would finish it so for two days I chipped and hacked. You can=t imagine the fine red brick dust all over the house. It took several more days to get it cased in and finished but we enjoyed the front part of the house from that time on.

My mother’s brother and Juanita Zenger=s father, who needed some help one summer, came to live with us to help me on the farm. The next spring I received a phone call and when I answered it the voice said, AThis is John A. Widtsoe.@ I wondered what an apostle of the Lord could be wanting with me. He said he had heard that I would need some help on the farm and that he knew a couple from Richmond, Utah that needed work. He was subject to seizures and she was ill with some internal illness. They were in there thirties and had a baby girl about a year old but Brother Widtsoe said he was an excellent worker so we said yes. We had enough room for them to live by themselves and we gave them in addition to their wages, a garden plot and all the dairy products they needed. Their names were June Seamons and Grace.

He was quite dependable and a good worker but their eating habits were unusual to say the least. They used no white flour or sugar. They picked dandelion leaves to make a salad and used a combination of honey and vinegar as a dressing. They would take vegetables from the garden and put them in a blender, mix them all together and put them into three bowls for their next meal, then sprinkle wheat germ on top. In August he called to Vonda to help him. His wife was bleeding. Vonda looked at her and determined she was having a miscarriage. She called Dr. Nielson at about 7:00 PM and the doctor came right over and treated her at home and gave them a minimal bill - $35.00 for about three hours of work. June looked at the bill and said, AIsn=t it usual for the employer to pay for this?@ The doctor looked at him and smiled and remarked, AWhere I come from when you dance, you pay the fiddler.@ June didn=t get the meaning and knocked on our door even though we were in bed. We invited him in and he said he thought we should pay the doctor because Vonda is the one that called him. We knew they didn=t have much so we agreed to pay half. The doctor was in complete amazement as he left.

By the middle of October I told him I didn=t need him any more and he said, AI=ll get a truck and take my half of the firewood.@ After quite a discussion I told him he was not getting any of it. He was upset and they had someone pick them up the next day and take them home. A couple of years later I saw in the obituaries where she had passed away and that her liver was dried up.

We had a Halloween party at our house that was talked about for years. We made the guests climb a ladder up over the front porch and enter through an upstair window, walk down an old bed spring and go through a series of booths with people jumping out and grabbing and screaming at them. They were then taken to the top of the stairs where I had boarded the stairs over then covered the boards with waxed linoleum and we had a feather mattress on which we would seat each guest. I would yell and someone at the bottom would open the door and the guest would be pushed down the chute and into the hallway with a scream on their lips. One of the last men to come down the stairway had hobnails on his shoes and as he hit the bottom his shoes tore through the cloth and he ended up inside of the feather mattress and believe me, the feathers floated and flew all over the house. It was a mess. We all cleaned up the house and had a good time.

An interesting incident was that Joe Probst, whose field was adjacent to mine, asked one day if I had heard the noises in the cemetery at night which is adjacent to both our farms. I told him that I hadn=t and he said he had been there the previous night and all of a sudden he heard coming from the cemetery a clang, clang, clang like a blacksmith pounding on his anvil. This would happen and then stop for a while, then start up again. It scared him so bad that he decided to go home. The next day my neighbor, Frank Clayburn, whose farm is across the road from the cemetery, told me he had gone up in the field to take his irrigation water and had just got to the ditch when he heard this clanging. He said he threw the canvas in to turn his water into his ditch and took off for home on the dead run still hearing the weird noise. The next night was my turn to take the water. It was common for Vonda and me to throw a blanket and an old mattress in the back of the truck and sleep in the cemetery while I made my water changes. We talked about what we had heard and Vonda said her Dad had told her you don=t have to worry about dead people, just the live ones. I was just getting back to the truck after a water change when all of a sudden we heard the dreaded clangs. I said I was going to find out what was causing it. We started walking toward the noise and found the mystery. The town of Midway had installed a new steel flag pole. The rope to raise the flag was quite tight with a snap to attach the flag. It was being blown out by a breeze and then snap back and hit the steel pole. In that crisp clean air the sound seemed to amplify. We were the heroes of the neighborhood.

There is one other thing of note I will relate to you. I went out one morning to do my milking and one of my cows had twin calves, much to my surprise and pleasure. I let them stay with her all day to get the new first milk. That night I put the calves in a pen but when I went out the next morning she had another calf at her side. It was unbelievable! I had never heard of this before. I checked to see if the two were still in the pen, which they were. After chores I went to the house and told Vonda about it. At 8:00 she called the county agent, Barnard, and told him that we had a cow that was calving but we couldn=t get her turned off.

He came over almost immediately and I showed him the three offspring. He said if he hadn=t seen it he wouldn=t have believed it and he thought it was worthy of a write-up in the Utah Farmer. We went to the house and began to compose a story. We were almost finished when a knock came at the door. It was my neighbor, Bill Farrell. He greeted Mr. Barnard and then said to me. ARulon, you know that cow I bred to your bull. She has had her calf and I can=t find it anywhere.@ Mr. Barnard and I looked at each other, knowing exactly what had happened so we gave Bill his calf. It was a bizarre set of circumstances that gave us all a laugh.

I can remember things that happened fifty years ago but I can=t remember if I wrote about this last week so if I didn=t, I=ll tell it again. We were sitting in front of the old bank in Heber and a man came to the window and asked me if I would be willing to sell him the truck. I must give an explanation here. It was just at the end of the war and very few pickups were made for civilian use. They were extremely scarce and I looked at Vonda and she shrugged and said, AI don=t care.@ I asked him how much it was worth to him and he gave me this explanation. He owned a drilling rig and had a job at Keetley and he was finished with the job and had to move to his next job but his old pickup had completely quit and he would give us $800.00 for ours. He needed it right now. We had paid $750.00 for it new and after 76,000 miles it was worth $800.00! We all went into the bank and they completed the transaction for us. He took the truck and we were left without a ride back to Midway. We called a friend to take us home where we had the Jeep for our transportation.

We called Vonda=s Dad and told him what we had done. He said that Avis and Owen were going to buy a new car and their 1937 Terraplane would be for sale. We purchased it for $400.00

In May, 1947, just before Vonda=s birthday, they took Esther to the hospital in Salt Lake to be operated on. For two or three months she had been having pain in her abdomen and they were becoming very severe. She went to the LDS Hospital for the operation. The whole family was there and much concern was expressed. When the doctor finally came he said he felt very bad that he didn=t have better news but Esther had cancer in the liver and it had spread to other areas also. He gave her six months to live. It was devastating to all of us but Papa Bill just took off down the hallway in tears. He came back in a few minutes to help make the decisions of all the plans for the near future. I knew that the family would all do what they could. Vonda would be the most free to help. They were able to get a hospital bed in the home and when Esther came home the incision had been left partially open so it would drain. The pads had to be changed and the area sterilized three times a day. She passed away on the 6th of November. There was a beautiful and fitting funeral but Papa Bill said he just couldn=t be alone at night and he ask Dee Ritchie if he would please stay with him for a little while. He agreed even though he was only eight years old.

It was a summer to forget and winter was just starting. It looked like it was going to be another one of those North Pole winters and by now Vonda was a bit more willing to move so we jumped in the Terraplane and took off for Oregon to look at properties. We met Nephi Grigg, a real estate agent and the bishop of the Vale Ward, who took us around to see what was available. We saw many places but settled on a place five miles east and north of Vale owned by a Mr. Easom. It was 50 acres with 18 cows and calves, a flock of chickens, a hay derrick and a very small house. The house had an excavated area under it but didn=t have a foundation. It consisted of the main house, two rooms, a kitchen and a living room, a lean-to on the side which were two very small bedrooms and a full length screened in porch. The main building was the privy, situated between the house and the cow barn. You could drive all the way around it so Vonda called our place AThe Circle Ranch@. We had no neighbors to the north of us so if one of us were in the privy, often another of us would do the Indian war dance around it.

We had already sold the farm so we were ready to move and it was a tearful week especially for Vonda. The quartet that I sang with was upset and Reed Kohler said, AI just didn=t think you would do this to us.@ The ward had a party for us and most of the town turned out. It made us feel loved and know that we would be missed.

We had asked France Probst with his big truck to move our furniture to Oregon. The snow in the rod was pushed quite high and the trail or walkway from the front porch to the road had built up until you were walking on about four feet of packed snow so as we carried the boxes and furniture from the front porch to the truck we could walk right into the truck bed. It was sort of an empty feeling. Vonda and David went with France and Alice on Feb. 6th, 1948. Larry and I stayed to finish up all the loose ends and left on the 8th in the Jeep.

Vonda tells the story that as they were going through Idaho a highway patrolman stopped them and gave them a ticket for not having the correct mud flaps. He put his foot on the front bumper to write the ticket and David said, ARun over him France!@ They all burst out laughing and when the officer came back to the window he wasn=t happy. He thought they were laughing at him. The ward in Vale was there to help them unload.

One night just after we had moved in, we came home at night and as the headlights shown out into the alfalfa fields, it looked like there were dozens of white boulders lying in the field. As we walked toward them, they all started to move. They were the big white Flemish giant rabbits. Vonda contacted the local grocery store and said she would dress them out if the store would buy them. It gave us a little income. We also sold eggs.

It was the early part of May and Vonda had a Toni permanent wave kit and she often gave herself a permanent. She did that this morning and she had prepared the neutralizer in a pint of water and put it up in the cupboard out of the reach of David, she thought. We soon became aware that he was becoming sleepy and inactive. We noticed that the neutralizer was partially gone and assumed he drank it. We had no telephone and the nearest doctor was in Ontario, almost twenty miles away. I was almost in a panic but Vonda started ripping the curlers out of her hair and knew that he needed to vomit. She put some light soap suds in a quart jar and began coaxing him to drink it and bless his heart, he would drink and vomit. I was getting the car, which wouldn=t start, so I took the Jeep and we headed for Ontario. It was the longest trip we will ever take. Vonda kept David awake and drinking to dilute and clean the stomach. When we got to Ontario I had to stop and inquire where the clinic was located. We arrived and I ran ahead to tell them it was an extreme emergency. The doctor was available and they rushed him in and pumped his stomach and gave him an antidote. I can=t recall but I think Vonda went in with the doctor. When they came out David was very lethargic and the doctor told us not to give him anything to eat or drink for twelve hours. We took him home and he slept in his mothers arms most of the way. It was about 4:00 when we arrived. We put him in his bed and he kept begging for a drink of water. Vonda would sit and keep his lips moist and he would lick them with his tongue to get a little bit in his mouth.

I had gone out to do the milking and I heard Vonda yell. I ran to the house and she had a tray of ice from the refrigerator and was rubbing it over his body. He had a high fever and had gone into convulsions. By the time I got there he was coming out of it. We had a neighbor, Wright Child, a high priest, who lived about two miles away and I went to ask him if he would help me give David a blessing. He gladly did and David began to improve. The Wright=s, after dark, drove up to our driveway and stayed there all night in case they were needed. We became fast friends. David improved and it was a couple of days before he got back to normal.

In the early spring of 1950 we received a letter from Maurine, who lived in Sparks, Nevada. She described the desperate situation that they were in. Her husband, Bill McBride, was unable to provide for them and she was working and had two children, Marlyn and Billy and their house had just burned to the ground. We had no money to help her but Vonda suggested that we sell a cow and go bring them to our home. I went to a telephone and called Maurine to tell her we would come as soon as we could. After we arrived in Sparks we purchased a medium sized two wheel box trailer, installed a hitch, and loaded all of their belongings, including a chow dog and came home to Vale.

We would have three adults and four children in a space that was hardly big enough for two to live and with that many bodies you know there will be conflicts. The bishop, Nephi Grigg, was able to get some food from the church to help us and he also found a job for Maurine in the local cleaning establishment. Taking care of the children fell mostly to Vonda and all of the food preparation and cleaning. The dog became a problem because he had been raised in the house but we didn=t have room for him. We kept him on the back porch or tied up outside. He would chew through the rope and be gone sometimes for days and would sometimes chase the cattle. There is much that I will not tell here but by late fall Maurine and her children moved to Boise, Idaho where she had a job. My father later told me that Maurine had said to him and mother that if I died tomorrow that she would not go to the funeral. We felt that we had been more than fair and helpful so even though we felt badly, she would have to reconcile her feelings about me.

I want to say something about Vonda here. She could make the most humble circumstance feel like a real home. Everything was neat and clean and she didn=t complain and always enjoyed having people visit our home. When we first moved in and went to bed that night in our lean-to bedroom, we could hear the mice running around and then you would hear them sliding down the sheetrock. Many women would have refused to live like that but her sense of humor took over and we had some good laughs about it. We got rid of them shortly.

We saw the Mexican workers picking up potatoes and making ten to fourteen dollars in a morning and Vonda said they weren=t any better than us so we made arrangements with some of the farmers to work for them. We would get up at 4:00 AM, eat something, and fix something for David. We would go to the farmer’s field and leave David in the car asleep while we started working in the potato fields. I had a belt that the sack hooked onto and I dragged it between my legs with the sack open so I could bend over and fill up the sack. Vonda had a wire basket and she would go ahead and shake all the vines from off the spuds, then fill the basket and dump it into my sack. David would wake up, get himself dressed and eat the breakfast that Vonda had fixed for him and then come and find us and help.

We could only work until 9:00 or 10:00 because the sun would scald the delicate skin of the new potatoes. We did this for almost a month and made good money for that time and Larry would take care of the chores at home. The first few days were painful on our backs and legs and it was difficult to get our muscles going in the mornings.

One humorous thing happened the first time we went to choir practice. We had been introduced and Sister Saunders, the director, was explaining how she wanted us to sing this number and an old man walked into the back of the chapel and five women, including the director. The piano player jumped up and ran down the aisle to hug and kiss him so Vonda also ran and did the same thing and he stepped back and looked at her because he didn=t know her. Vonda said, AWell, everyone was doing it and I didn=t want to miss out on anything.@ He was the father of three of the women and father-in-law to two more women in the choir.

Our good friends, Wright and Mable Child, introduced us to a man that was seeking farmers who would risk a few acres of ground to raise flower seeds. If all went as planned it would net us about $1,500.00 per acre and the Child=s would help us plant and harvest them. It sounded real good and Vonda said she would keep them weeded so we decided on two acres of zinnia seed. I prepared the soil for planting and Mr. Child did the planting. The seed to plant as I recall was over $200.00 which had to be paid at time of purchase. As the seeds grew so did the weeds and while you could cultivate the middle of the row, the weeding around the seed was strictly by hand. For a week or more we were on our hands and knees. It was an intense job. After the second such weeding the zinnias were about six to eight inches high and quite well rooted so it wasn=t so tedious. Vonda claimed she spent that summer with her Abum in the sun@. They came and inspected the field several times and said everything was going fine and we had that money spent in a dozen different ways. The stalks were three to four feet high now and the profusion of color was a sight to behold. The flowers have to be left to go to seed and then to be frozen before harvest. They were into full blossom when we got up one morning and Vonda noticed a few of the stalks looked like they were dying. We called the company immediately and the man came and just shook his head. He said we had red spider in them and it was too late to spray them. In three or four days ninety percent of them were dead along with our dreams.
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection,... but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31
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Re: Rulon Max Huntington

Post by Tuly »

This is part 3.

That fall our irrigation water assessment was due and it was about $250.00. We had saved just enough to pay for it. We drove to Vale about 10:00 AM in the Terraplane on the Saturday before Labor Day and parked across from the city offices in Vale. I went across the street and left Vonda and David in the car. When I came back and looked at where the car was I saw all of the doors to the car were open. Vonda and David were both crying and there was smoke coming from the car. I ran to Vonda and asked what had happened. She was not happy and told me that she and David were just sitting in the car when it started to flame. She pushed David out of the car, tore out the floor mats, opened the hood and put out the fire. I never did find out what caused the fire but it upset Vonda and she let out the pent up emotions she had been harboring. I said to her, AYou were parked right in front of the fire station. Why didn=t you just call them to come and help?@ Well, that didn=t go over very well so I told her we would go to Ontario and get a new car.

Monday morning she reluctantly got ready to go with me but she said she wouldn=t look at cars. We stopped at Cable Chevrolet and it was Labor Day and all the salesmen were in the office like vultures waiting to pounce. One of them greeted me and I told him my circumstance. We looked at several cars and decided on a sedan, 4 door Chevrolet. They would give me $50.00 trade in on my car and monthly payments we could afford. I went out to ask Vonda to help me pick out the color. She resisted and said she wasn=t dressed up but I insisted so she and David went through the office where all the men were congregated. We went into the back and she looked at the car and said it was okay but she would not go back through that office. She spotted a large double door opening where they drove the cars in and out and she picked up David and headed for that door. Some of the men tried to call to her but she wouldn=t pay any attention to them. AS she got to the door she stepped out onto a ramp that had just been poured with fresh cement. She sunk in to her ankles, hesitated for just a moment then proceeded, leaving her shoes in the cement. Needless to say, when I got to the car she was much chagrined. The owner came over to the car and told her not to worry and that he would give us back our trade in. Vonda was a little humbled and thanked him very graciously. She wouldn=t drive the new car home even after coaxing. We now felt not so helpless.

Another thing that we did in Vale that was an interesting job was when we were hired by Ardeth Huffaker to manage the Brogan beet dump. One of the largest crops in that whole area was the sugar beets. The U & I sugar processing plant was in Nyssa, Oregon, twenty miles away. It was my job to dump the big trucks into a hopper where any vines or dirt was then returned by belt to the farmer’s truck. The beets were elevated and dumped into a pile. The whole dump was built on caterpillar tracks so it could be moved and the boom would swing from side to side to make a huge pile of beets. The dirt and vines were called tare as in the Bible.

Vonda=s job was to weigh in the full trucks and then weigh them out including the tare, subtract them empty from the full and give the driver a receipt indicating the net amount of beets. There was also a railroad track to and within the yard and toward the end of the season we would pile them directly into the railroad car. By that time they were beginning to load the railroad cars from the piled beets and it was Vonda=s job to record the car number of those that came in and those that went out. The income helped us to stay on top of our bills. One interesting thing happened. A Japanese driver would talk to David when he came in and he brought his five year old daughter to play with him and they enjoyed each other. Then he brought some cookies with sesame seeds in them and David said he wouldn=t care for any. Vonda asked him why and he said they have mouse droppings in them. They all laughed and Vonda told him they were seeds and she ate one to show him they were alright.

We decided to put in a bathroom after a couple of years of doing without. The back porch ran full length of the house. It was enclosed half way up and screened the rest of the way up. It was really the only place we could put a bathroom. We purchased a used shower and lavatory but anew toilet. We dug the hole for the septic tank, built the forms for the cement, poured the cement and put in the drain fields. We also cut a door through from the kitchen. It probably took a month to finish it all up except boarding up the screen part so we used it for a couple of weeks being partially exposed. That caused a good laugh.

The Vale years, though sometimes hectic, were memorable in several ways and we grew in faith and understanding and met some great and unusually talented members of the church. Nephi and Addie Grigg, Ross and Marg Butler, Dan and Ruby Brown, Wright and Mable Child are just a few of them as well as Ardeth and Marita Huffaker.

David had his third birthday in June so we got him a puppy. It was mostly white with some yellow and brown spots, a small dog. He was happy and loved to carry the dog everywhere he went until we noticed he was squeezing its throat, not maliciously, until the poor dogs eyes would bulge out. We had to teach him how to carry it until it was able to follow us on its own. It lived less than a year. It got out into the road and was run over.

In the years since leaving Midway David had been ill a good deal of the time with periods of weakness and being pale and sallow. Dr. Hughes of Nyssa had sent us to Boise to have him checked and also sent some blood and bone marrow samples to have them analyzed to Portland. He then put all of this material and tests together and came to the conclusion that David had leukemia and anemia. He called us in and told us his conclusions and said that a blood clinic in Salt Lake City with Dr. Cartwright and Dr. Wintrobe was the best in the western United States and if we agreed he would set up an appointment for us.

We had talked about having Fred Blacker, a counselor in the stake presidency, give him a blessing before we took him to Salt Lake. Our home teachers, Ardeth Huffaker and his son, Mark, came to visit us and as they were getting ready to leave, David asked Brother Huffaker if he would give him a blessing. It surprised all of us. Ardeth said if your Dad will help me I will do it. In the blessing he promised David that he need not worry, that he would be normal. Ardeth was visibly shaking when he finished and his son, Mark, asked him how he dared make a promise like that. It took him a while to answer and he said, AI don=t know. I just know that is what I was supposed to say.@

We drove to Salt Lake City and had to be in the hospital at 7:00 AM. When we arrived it was a real shock. Several young people sitting around with bloated faces caused by taking medication. The doctor came and took David and told us that he would be there all day. It was a tough time waiting. We saw doctors from several different countries and assumed they were there to learn and study. At 4:30 the doctor called us into a room. David was on a padded table with only his shorts on and all the visiting doctors standing around. He said, AWe checked and double checked every conceivable way and I can say with certainty that your son, at least right now, does not have a cell of leukemia in him. We do not make mistakes.@ Vonda began to cry and said, AI don=t understand.@ David leaned up on his elbow and said, AMom, we=re not supposed to understand all of Heavenly Fathers blessings.@

Vonda had been asked to take a road show that she had written and produced to June conference in Salt Lake City. She had 54 teenagers in it and staging. The Bishop gave her complete cooperation and made it possible. They performed it at the U. of U. football field. It was one of only seven. It was a great thrill for her and the ward.

Just before we moved to Ontario and before the farm was sold we were still living in the farm house. I had gone to work in Ontario. Vonda had a feeling that she needed to wash the clothes, put up her hair and pack some clothes, which she did. About 3:00 I came back to the store after finishing a job and Fred Blacker met me and asked me if I knew Owen Farley. I nodded and he said that he had been shot in the line of duty as a Salt Lake City policeman. I was completely taken aback. I made arrangements to be gone at least a week and left to go home. As I approached the house, I could see Marion Provost and Vonda standing in the front yard. Vonda knew something was wrong because I was coming home early and I could see that look on her face. I told her and she fell to her knees and held on to my legs.

Vonda quickly arose and said we can leave in fifteen minutes. Everything is clean and ready. Marion said they would keep Larry and we took David with us so we were on our way and arrived at Avis=s place about midnight. The family was still up and waiting for us. It was an extremely sad greeting. Owen was a very special person and had risen very quickly in the police department to Sergeant and head of the auto theft department and was a man of extreme principle. He was greatly respected by all of his peers. The funeral was held in the Wells ward in Salt Lake City and there were approximately 100 motorcycle cops in attendance and they all either led or followed the cortege to the Heber City cemetery where they gave Owen a military tribute. It was all very moving and spectacular.

Vane and Marion Provost were very good friends and we visited often. Marion was pregnant and very close to delivery time. She drove to our house to pass some time away and get a little rest. Vonda laid her on our bed and decided to try a new method on her that she had heard about. The LaMas helped you to totally relax. Vonda had her lay with the palms of her hands up, close her eyes, and then think of the most peaceful scene she could think of. Vonda was talking to her, describing this scene. It is a beautiful spring day and you are in a lovely grove of trees with the sunlight sifting through. There is a clear blue lake with white sandy beaches. All of a sudden Marion sat up on the bed and cried out, AI=m having pains.@ We timed the next one and it was only three and a half minutes apart. We were all in a panic but Marion said she would drive to the doctor. She left immediately, against our protests. It turned out okay and the baby came about two hours later.

A group of adults from the Vale ward decided to go into northern Idaho, close to the Salmon River, to a resort called, Zim=s. It was quite rustic and nestled in the pines and had a fairly large swimming pool, outdoors, with natural hot water. You could camp in the pines. There were ten couples. Nephi Grigg was a big man, about 250 pounds, but he was just like a fish in the water and as graceful as a swan. He would lead the men in playing follow the leader. It was a riot seeing these middle aged, awkward men trying to keep up with him as he swam under water, walked on his hands and did a swan dive from the high board, and many other things. There were other groups including children there but they were all on the side watching us. After eating our evening meal we went to a big room with a small dance floor where there was a piano. Ruth Kapp, mother of Janice Kapp Perry, could play any song you could suggest, in any key. Most of the group had excellent singing voices and could harmonize. Almost immediately the crowd gathered to listen, then tell stories. Vonda would entertain with humorous stories. At about 9:00 we got tired and decided to retire. People who were there listening asked when we would be back so they could be there.

We were having a party at the Grigg=s home and Nephi was telling us about a new product that they were developing. They had the potato patty but this was a nugget size product out of the same mixture as the patty and they were trying to come up with a name for it. Vonda said to call them potato tots and Nephi said, AThat=s good, but better still, we will call them Tater Tots, and that=s still the name today.

An incident happened that changed our lives in a small way. I had been asked to sing at a wedding reception and, as usual, procrastinated selecting a song and practicing until the night of the reception. Vonda was not very happy with me. We went to have Ruth Kapp play for me and I tried several different songs. Vonda was getting more and more frustrated and as I was singing, AWe=ll build a house with morning glories that you read about in stories, and we=ll call it yours and mine.@ Vonda began to cuss me out something fierce. Ruth began to laugh and as I continued with, AWhere the flowers extend their greetings and the blue birds hold their meetings,@ Vonda was still going after me. Ruth was laughing so hard she nearly fell off the piano bench. When I finished Ruth said, AYou have got to do that!@ We shocked that poor audience, including the bride and groom. I figured that nobody would ever ask us to do anything again. We changed the song to AAnytime@ and over fifty years we must have done it at least 200 times. It became our trademark.

In the spring of 1953, Nephi Grigg asked me if I would be willing to learn the linoleum and carpet installation trade. The G&B - Griggs and Butler - and Rex Tolman, were opening a big new furniture store in Ontario. They would take our farm and sell it and we would be a full partner in the business and I would work as an installer for them. We made the decision to do it and the company would send us to Tremonton, Utah for me to work with Steve Hales, a highly experienced, master floor mechanic. We stayed in a motel and spent two weeks of intense instruction and on the job training. Steve was an excellent teacher and we became good friends.

We had to move and find a home in Ontario. We found one at 1065 S.W. Eighth Avenue. It was a two bedroom, quite modest, but well kept and on a fairly large lot. The couple that owned it were named Pressley and were very nice and accommodating. We were in the Weiser Idaho Stake as we were in Vale. Previously it was part of the Boise Stake. After a few months we were split off from Weiser and called the Nyssa, Oregon Stake.

The furniture store was an immediate success and there was more work than I could take care of so we hired Rex Ashcroft and for five years we worked together from Boise to central Oregon and became a very efficient team. The store was selling so much and putting things out on trial and not following up to see that they were returned that it became hard to pay the bills. We found three pianos, a large number of televisions and lost of home appliances. It was almost breaking us. General Electric was our dealer for appliances and we would usually buy a carload to get special pricing. Then as we sold them they were supposed to be paid for. General Electric set up a warehouse in our store that was sealed and padlocked and I was bonded for one million dollars to make sure nothing was removed until it was paid for and only I had a key. We had the original store in Vale and one in Nyssa also and a large delivery truck and crew.

Our home was on a hill, overlooking the golf course on a paved street. Our neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Clint Hill, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Monroe. Mrs. Monroe and Vonda became very close friends. All the time we were there. Mr. and Mrs. Don Kadruna were also our neighbors. We found out later that he said, ANo darn Mormons are going to live by us and like it.@ We eventually became good friends. Vonda wanted to be sure that David and Larry would know how to work so she would go with them to pick up onions or pick cherries and she would be exhausted and sore. I appreciate what she did for all of us. It was about this time that David began asking for a dog and I don=t recall how we heard about a litter of Boston Terriers about to be born in New Plymouth, Idaho, but when they were about ten days old we were invited to have David come pick the one he wanted. We would pick it up when they were weaned. We went to New Plymouth and there was a litter of 5 or 6 puppies. As David got closer to them, one of them came crawling out to meet him. That was all it took. He said, AThis one likes me." I pick this one!@ It was a male, perfectly marked and when we picked him up it was an exciting day. We paid $50.00 for him. He was jet black except for the white ring around his neck, white stripe down the forehead and extending down both sides of his muzzle and one stocking foot. David wanted to call him Jet but we discouraged him so he settled on Jeff. He became a real part of the family and there is a whole story that could be written about him. All the kids in the neighborhood would come and ask if they could play with him.

It was at this same time that I had decided to dig a partial basement under the house in my spare time. I had two five gallon buckets and I would fill them with dirt and dump them in the back yard. It took me all one summer. Cleon Spencer, a good friend, said to me one day, AI=ve got my opinion of any man who would pay $50.00 for a darn dog and pick and shovel his own basement by hand.@ It gave us a good laugh but I got it dug and cemented.

One incident that happened while I was digging was that it was raining and all of a sudden it sounded like an explosion and the atmosphere seemed to be charged with electricity. Vonda screamed. She thought I had hit a wire or something. She came with a flashlight to the basement door. I was on my way up and she could see that I was alright so we went to check on the kids. David was scared but okay and Larry was taking a bath and it had made him weak but he seemed alright. We concluded it had to be a strike of lightening so we began to check the outside of the house with flashlights. We couldn=t find any damage to the house but saw that a huge old tree at the back corner of ours and Clint Hills place had been hit by lightening and was split. Large branches, overhanging the Hill property, had fallen on the main wires going into their place. The wires were attached to the gable end of the house and when the tree limb fell on the wires it pulled out most of the end of the house and left it hanging. It was truly an unsafe condition so we called the power company emergency people to come. It was after midnight when they got it safe enough to leave.

There are two other stories about lightening. The Blacker=s lived just across the golf course from us and David would go to play with Cheri, their daughter. From the road Vonda could watch him. He was coming home because it looked as if it were going to rain and Vonda was watching him as he was running. Suddenly a bolt of lightening struck the ground near him and the shock temporarily knocked him to the ground and dazed him. Vonda, of course, was frantic and started to run toward him when one of the golf course workers saw what had happened and ran and picked him up. He saw Vonda and heard her yelling so he carried him to her and by then he seemed to be alright. Another time lightening struck the brick chimney of the Jones house next to the Clint Hill home and they were not home. When they inspected the house all of the wiring and plugs and fixtures had to be replaced as well as the chimney.

Larry was an excellent student and had lots of friends. One was Gary Blacker who had his knee operated on. Larry and Gary were going to sleep in the back yard. I had removed the step going down to the back door and the basement so I could rebuild the basement stairs. The boys had gone to the fridge and each had a big piece of watermelon. Larry knew where to step but he didn=t tell Gary. We heard this awful racket. We jumped out of bed and ran to the back door, turned on the light and saw Gary lying on the basement floor. He looked like he was covered with blood but it turned out to be watermelon. His splinted leg was sticking up in the air. We were terrified that he was badly hurt. We helped him get up and he was somewhat dazed and bruised and his vanity was hurt but otherwise he was fine.

Another incident about Larry. When we needed to discipline him he would say, AYou are not my parents and I am going to California to live with my Dad.@ We put him on the bus and let him go. It was November and we had an oil burning stove that had a glass in the front to see the flame. Larry had been gone for about two weeks and I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I could hear someone in the living room breathing and clearing their throat. I carefully got out of bed without waking Vonda and sneaked to the living room door. There was Larry lying on his stomach in front of the stove, which gave off enough light that I could see him plainly. He said he decided to come home and got there in the middle of the night and he didn=t want to wake us. We let him stay even though we had several concerns about his honest desire to be with us.

My mother, living in Heber with Dad, had broken her hip and was in the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. They had put a pin in it but she was not hungry and would not eat. The doctor had to threaten her that he would puree all her food and put a tube into her stomach and pump it into her. We decided to drive down and give her our moral support. She was walking with a walker and eating enough to gain some strength. We stayed a couple of days and the doctor would release her and they would go to the home of Charles and Elaine Knight, Dad=s nephew who lived in southeast Salt Lake. They would keep them until they were able to travel. We saw them put in an ambulance and we bid them goodbye and headed back to Oregon, knowing that they were in good hands. We arrived home alright and the next day I was reading in the Boise paper that an ambulance in Salt Lake City was transporting an elderly couple and was hit in the side while legally going through an intersection. The man was badly bruised and returned in another ambulance to the hospital. I immediately called the Knight=s and they said that Mom had been strapped down and was quite shaken up and worried about Dad but was now doing fine. Dad was a little short of breath but being released that afternoon. This all happened in the early spring of the year.

By the first of May, mother was walking by pushing a chair around with her. Vonda and I drove to Salt Lake to take them back with us to Ontario, Oregon. We piled all their bedding and clothes into the space between the front and back seat and made a bed for Mom to be down. I drove our car and Vonda drove their car with Dad. Mom made the 500 mile trip beautifully but Dad seemed to be quite tired and worried by the time we arrived home.

We had twin beds for them in the boy’s bedroom and the boys slept in sleeping bags on the living room floor. Mom was starting to walk without any aids and would help Vonda as much as she could. Her memory was leaving her quite badly and it worried Dad greatly to the point he would sit her down and rehearse the things he wanted her to remember and make her repeat them back to him. It made her nervous and she could not remember what he would tell her. Vonda cautioned him to try and be more patient with her. Each wash day Vonda would miss some of her wash clothes and finally found them in Mom=s chest of drawers.

Dad decided to drive down town for something. Our yard was about three feet above the road and as he backed out onto the road he turned too sharp and almost overturned his car. It unnerved him so badly it made his heart go into arrhythmia. Vonda had to get him to the doctor where they were able to stabilize him and ordered him not to drive anymore. He also needed rest most of the time and not to do anything strenuous or get upset. This was a quite a blow to both of them. They stayed with us until fall and during that time, Dad taught David a poem about what it means to be a real man. I=m sure he will remember.

In September my sister, Maurine, and her husband, Bill, came from Phoenix, and took them to stay with them where it was warm. We enjoyed them greatly and Mom was walking everywhere without a limp. We were sad to see them go.

We had some interesting neighbors, the Monroe=s, who lived across the street. Jack was a carpenter but Orian and Vonda became very close friends and visited in each others home almost daily. The Kolbaba family were next to the Monroe=s and had come from the Dakota=s where they were neighbors to Lawrence Welk=s family. We were the only ones in the area to have a television and we always had them over on Saturday night to watch the Lawrence Welk show. We were also headquarters for the kids to watch cartoons. Mr. and Mrs. Nolthanius were converts to the church directly from Holland and spoke very little English. He was the janitor for the church. The Sugai=s owned the down town Eastside Hotel and restaurant and he was a professional wrestler.

Our temple district was in Idaho Falls, Idaho. There was a priesthood session on a Saturday. There were six men going and the car had seats for seven so Vonda decided to go and shop. We left Friday afternoon and found a motel across the river from the temple. We had to leave very early so Vonda said she would take a taxi to town at about 10:00 a.m. I arose and it was dark and not wanting to awaken Vonda, I closed the suitcase which had my temple clothes in it and left with the men. What I didn=t know was that she, while getting ready for bed, had folded her clothes and girdle and put them in the open suitcase. When she got up and saw that she didn=t have anything to wear she began to laugh out loud. She put on her stockings and fastened them under her knees, put on her shoes and looked in the mirror and laughed. She then put on a spring coat that just barely came together in the front and called for a taxi. She decided to go to the temple and her clothes. As she went to the recommend desk, she told the brother that she just needed to get her suitcase and he told her that some women could go on the session so she decided to do it. She started to go and the brother called to her and said, ASister Huntington, will you please leave your coat out here?@ Vonda told him she would just take it with her. He told her there was no room in the lockers for coats. She told him she had nothing on under her coat. His jaw dropped and he stepped to President Killpack=s door. He came out and she had to tell him the story and he allowed her to go in. It became a standing joke in our stake that she was the woman who went to the temple without any clothes.

I came into the store early in the afternoon and Fred Blacker said he needed me to pick up some bunk beds that were being repossessed. He gave me directions and a description of the house. There were no house numbers. He said to go one mile south on Sunset Road to a small white house on the right and that no one would be home, which I did, but there were two small white houses. I checked both houses to see if anyone was home and neither was there. I decided to go to the one that was closest to the mile marker. I entered the house and found the bunk beds all neatly made up. I thought to myself, the least she could have done is to have taken off the bedding. I folded all the bedding on the floor and proceeded to undo the beds. I had just finished carrying them out to the truck when a car drove up and stopped. A woman popped out of the car and almost screamed, AWhat are you doing?!@ I explained to her the situation with a smile on my face and apologizing profusely, but she was not placated at all. She said they had just bought those beds at our store last week and she was going to call the police. I told her I would set them back up and I tried to convince her that it was just an odd mistake. I finally got them all set up and thought she would put the bedding on but she stood right there while I put every sheet, blanket, and cover back on the beds. I left really beaten down but still smiling. When I returned to the store she had called Mr. Blacker and told him that the next person she saw from the store she just might shoot! Now Mr. Blacker was quite a serious man but he almost split his sides laughing at the situation. He had sold them the beds just a week before. Needless to say, I had to go back out to the other little white house and pick up the beds.

On the second anniversary of the business we decided to celebrate and made reservations at an exclusive restaurant up the Payette River. There were eight couples in a dining room and the food was served family style. It was excellent and all enjoyed it. They then gave us a dessert menu to choose what we wanted. A couple of men and women chose the crème de menthe. Vonda likes chocolate so she said she would have the chocolate de menthe. Everyone stopped talking and looked at her but didn=t say anything. When she took her first taste of it her eyes opened wide and she put her hand over her mouth and everyone burst into laughter. She was embarrassed because she didn=t know that it was a liquor. I didn=t either but she was a good sport about it.

The conditions at the furniture store continued to worsen and Vonda and I decided to pull out by taking the merchandise at the Vale store. Don King, who managed the Vale store, would match our investment and would be an equal partner and would be independent of G&B. The immediate problem was housing for the family. We sold our home in Ontario but the only home in Vale was an old shack called the Bendixen house down by the river that had been empty for several months. We worked two full days cleaning it up and painting the inside. Vonda and David did most of the work. We lived there for several months and a house came up for rent a couple of blocks from the store so we rented it.

We began to hear some rumblings about there being something unlawful going on at the high school and the clerk of the board had purchased a large fan from me. He came in a week later and said that he needed another one, that one of the teachers had taken the other one. I thought it sort of funny but didn=t say anything at the time. This was in the summer and then when school started we began to hear more and more. One of the janitors had found in a waste basket, a receipt for a set of golf clubs. She knew who had them and she was going to tell all at the October PTA. Evidently, the clerk was giving gifts to many of the teachers and other employees and one of the board who was the wife of the county sheriff.

They had asked Vonda and me to entertain at the PTA meeting and do our AAnytime@ skit. The woman who was going to tell all was also there. The sheriff=s wife had heard that there was to be this big confrontation but her husband assured her that he would see that it didn=t happen. All of the teachers were sitting up front at a long table and the meeting began with prayer and song. The gym was packed to where you couldn=t put another chair in. They announced that I would sing for them. Vonda, not knowing the woman who was to tell all, sat just a few seats from her. I started to sing and Vonda jumped up and started her lingo. Everyone was aghast and the sheriff jumped up with his hand on his gun and met Vonda on the way up front. I finished my song and there wasn=t a sound for about a minute and then you heard a titter and then all of a sudden laughter broke out and everyone was slapping their knees and wiping their eyes. It took almost five minutes for them to be able to go on with the meeting. Incidentally, the lady never did blow her top. It was a most memorable occasion.

The school board clerk and a janitor were fired after an inquiry and asked to leave town and never come back. The janitor by the name of Hemminger had his house for sale which we purchased. It was a nice red brick home with many amenities, probably paid for by the school district. It was estimated that they lost over $65,000.00. We thoroughly enjoyed the home except for one thing, across the street was a family that had a huge dog called Brutus that loved to corner David on his bicycle and would also drive Jeff crazy. Jeff thought he could scare Brutus to death with his wild barking and his antics. One day we let Jeff out in the front yard and Brutus came bounding across the street, cleared the fence, and grabbed Jeff by the throat and shook him. We ran out yelling and waving our hands and he let Jeff go. From that time on, anytime we would mention Brutus, Jeff would jump up on the sofa by the front window and growl loudly and look for Brutus.

My partner, Don King, and his wife became discontented even though we were doing very well. They talked a young man with a small family into coming in as a partner with a $10,000.00 investment. He later used this money to buy us out. They later went broke and the King=s skipped town.

We talked to Fred Blacker and his wife about building a new furniture store in Brigham City, Utah. Thiokol had moved their business there and the whole area was growing very fast. We drove down to assess the prospects. We found a three acre parcel of land just north of Willard where we could build a store and have plenty of parking. We purchased this and contracted to have a 100 foot by 60 foot building built for our store.

Housing was at a premium and the only place we could find was an apartment with an old woman in Willard where we stayed until we found a new home in Brigham City. It was just one block south of the new high school. It was on the corner of 4th South and 7th West. It was built by Peterson Brothers. It was a nice yellow brick, 3 bedroom, new home, which we paid $18,000.00 to buy. Vonda wasn=t very happy about the finish on the kitchen cabinets so she called Vern Peterson to come and look at them. He agreed and said they had some trouble with the painter and he would call him back to re-do the cabinets. Vonda told Vern if he didn=t do it right the first time he probably wouldn=t do it right the second time around. The day he came Vonda left the house so as not to be in any conflict with him. When she returned she couldn=t believe her eyes. He had painted them a brownish color and then grained it with a comb. Those beautiful hard wood ash doors were ruined. She was furious. She called me at the store and she was crying. I told her to call Vern and let him make a decision. Vern and his wife had become fairly close friends and it was difficult to have words with them but something had to be done. Vonda called Vern and said she needed to see him immediately. He said he was busy but Vonda insisted. When he came in the door he was expecting her to be upset but he was not ready to experience Vonda. As he came through the door she said, AI told you what would happen.@ She yanked her glasses off her nose, pointed to her eye and said, ASee that scar? I have just had that new operation where they cut the cord that runs from your eye to the rectum so I don=t have such a shitty outlook on life and now you have just ruined my whole operation!@ It took a few seconds for him to realize she was kidding and not as mad as he had thought. He took a long breath of relief and assured her that he would see that it would be taken care of, which he did.

The store was doing well and David was doing great in high school. Vonda was very busy as president of the P.T.A. and the store had taken several contracts on commercial buildings both in Brigham and Ogden. David decided he wanted to play football. They were playing Tremonton, Box Elder=s arch rival. As David was lying on his back following one of the plays, one of the opposing team’s players jumped with his knees into David=s stomach. He continued to play but we didn=t know that he was hurt until we got home and the telephone was ringing. We were told that he was in the hospital in Tremonton so we rushed back and the doctor told us that he was bleeding internally. It could be very serious if it didn=t stop bleeding very soon. Coach Dunn had given him a blessing in the dressing room. The bleeding was subsiding so at about 1:00 A.M. they moved him to the Brigham City Hospital. Vonda stayed at the hospital while I went home to get some rest before going to work. In the hospital you can hear the doctors being paged over the intercom. About 4:00 in the morning Vonda heard, AMr. White, Mr. White, the janitor, come to surgery. Bring your screwdriver.@ She said it struck her so funny that she laughed out loud.

The next afternoon a group of Box Elder students came to the hospital to see David and tell him that they were all going to Tremonton to beat up the boy that had done this to him. He talked them out of it saying he didn=t want that on his conscience and asked them not to do anything that would embarrass the school.

We were always involved with Elva=s children in some way. We had them in the summers in Oregon and now Dee, Carol, and Joan were all older and married but Lynn was still in high school and working at a café in Heber City. He had no one to help advise him. We felt very strongly that he should come and live with us. He was reluctant and didn=t want to leave Wasatch High School and the football team.

Vonda finally convinced him that we needed him and he finally relented to come for one year and then he was going back home to graduate. He entered Box Elder High School as a junior and decided to try out for football and he made a position as a starter on the defense as a linebacker and pass defender. He made friends very quickly and was fully involved in all the activities that he liked. I have to say this for David, being an only child, never once did we see the least hint of jealousy or resentment of Lynn. They often dated together and became like brothers at home and our dog, Jeff, would take turns sleeping with them. In the middle of the night we would hear a fuss in their bedroom and they would say that Jeff had broken wind in their bed and didn=t like the smell so he would leave from under the covers and get out and snort to get the smell out of his nose and they would laugh. One night we heard the dog yelping in a muffled sound. David and Lynn were really hooting it up and when we went into the room Lynn was holding Jeff under the covers so he had to smell his own odors and he didn=t like it at all.

We encouraged the boys to bring their dates home to meet us. Even after a dance they would come into our bedroom and bring chairs and sit and talk to us and tell about what they had been doing. A mother of one of the girls was mortified when her daughter told her mother they had come into our bedroom. She told her mother that we wanted them to do it.

Near the end of Lynn=s junior year the classes were holding elections for class president and Lynn had been nominated to be class president. His campaign supporters would come to our house to plan their strategy and make signs. I asked Lynn when he was going to tell them that he was going back to Wasatch next year to graduate. He looked at me with a grin and said, AI forgot all about that.@ He won the election and had a great senior year.

Lynn told us one day that he would like to go back to Heber to his senior prom and as we talked about it, he wanted David to go with him. They decided that if they could get the Huggins twins to go with them as dates they would go. The girls were pretty red heads and their names were, Martha and Mildred. They had a good time. Lynn was embarrassed that some of his old friends were drinking.

Lynn would argue with Vonda that it wasn=t what you learned in school or read in books that made you smart but your life experiences and that he didn=t need to read. She told him that there would come a time in his life that he would change his mind and that wherever he was when he changed his mind, she wanted him to let her know. Shortly after he arrived in Scotland on his mission he wrote to her and said, AAunt Vonda, You were certainly right and I=m sorry I didn=t listen to you.@

Now, going back to the time we moved into the house, the basement was unfinished and at the time there were people looking for housing so we decided to make an apartment and rent it. The first person to look at it was a man that worked at Thiokol. He was not married and was of Arab descent. His name was Ryad Jharoudi. He was a mathematician and would bow each time Vonda came around. He was a good renter. He only stayed a few months and left to get married in Salt Lake.

We then rented to Reed and Sylvia Porter, a young couple from Springville, Utah. They were delightful and had been married in the temple. We became close friends until they were transferred. Another young couple then rented it for a short time and that was when Thiokol moved their headquarters from Utah to Huntsville, Alabama and many people left. We then decided to open our basement up for the kids and have a place for them to have parties. Vonda would often make six or eight pizzas and put them in the freezer to be used whenever the kids wanted them. We had a record player down there for them to dance and lots of games. David and Lynn would help us at the store after school and on Saturday delivering furniture and appliances. They worked summers and they earned $40.00 a week. Usually the boys and all their friends were at our place eating pizza and playing their music. One time we came home and the basement was full of kids and David and Lynn weren=t even there. We enjoyed having them there and not out dragging Main.

I know that these happenings are not in order of occurrence but I=ll tell them anyway. The scout troop that David was in went to Spirit Lake in the high Uintahs to a lodge and then a guide would take them into the back country. We had our Jeep station wagon so we drove up to the lodge the afternoon before they were to come back. The lodge was managed by a good friend of Faris=s, Keith Kemp. We took our sleeping bags so we could sleep out under the stars which we loved to do. The man’s son was to take a pack train to the scouts the next morning so the father said I could go with them. The boys said he didn=t want any Adamn tenderfoot@ going with him. Keith apologized to me and I told him it was alright with me. It was dark by this time anyway and we were getting our bags out to sleep when I heard the boy yell to his dad that one of the horses was down and wouldn=t get up. I ran with them to where the horse was down and Keith said to get some oats and we would coax her up. I could see that she had laid down in a small ditch and couldn=t get her feet under her. I lifted her head and neck up to where I could get my knee under her head and clamped my hand over her nostrils so she couldn=t breathe and she began to fight for breath and finally got her feet under her and got up. When the boy got back both he and Keith asked what I did to her. I told them I just helped her get her feet under her.

The next morning we got up early and I heard the boy say there were three horses that had lost shoes. The wrangler and his wife, the cook, had quit the day before. I knew nothing about shoeing horses but I volunteered to try. I did the job and then he asked me if I wanted to ride in with him to get the scouts. The next day Vonda helped the wives in the kitchen. When we arrived at the scout camp we learned that the scout master and his son had gotten lost and had been gone all night. The scouts had organized a search for them by teams going out so far and climbing a tree and calling and looking for them. Just minutes before we arrived they had walked into camp and were exhausted. I had intended to ride out but they were so tired that I walked out and let them ride my horse.

In the store we were selling Hoffman television and electronics and they agreed if we would buy a certain amount of units and attend a sales meeting in Paris, France, they would give us an all expense paid trip for two. The Blacker=s were not anxious to go so we made plans and boarded the plane on the 29th of April, 1961. We flew to Atlanta where we picked up the ones from the south. An older couple climbed up the runway and looked into the plane and she took his hand, turned around, and said, AThis thing will never get off the ground.@ They walked back down the stairs and left. We flew to New York and boarded Scandinavian Airlines that flew us to Copenhagen, Denmark and then on to Paris. On the way we were served raw eel and all kinds of cheeses. We arrived in Paris about 2:00 P.M. where they picked us up on busses to take us to our hotel. This was on May Day and almost everyone had a bouquet of flowers in their hand and a long loaf of bread under their arm. We stayed at the Claridge Hotel and even though we had practically no sleep in forty hours we were scheduled to go to the Follies Bergere that night. As we sat within 15 feet of the performers who were in swings, hanging from a very high ceiling, a man from Texas who was on our flight was snoring so loud that even the girls giggled.

In the daytime we would roam the streets and sit down at the sidewalk cafes and have a Coke. It was a real production as the waiter would come with a towel over his forearm and set up the glasses and pour the Coke in each glass and stand and wait for a tip. On the way over we had met Ken and Effie Furness from Ogden, Utah and Bill Child and his wife who were good L.D.S. We had become very friendly and were doing everything together. Ken was a photographer and took lots of pictures. We spent one day at the Eiffel Tower. We were in the top and in the wind it would sway as much as seven feet. It was quite a sensation. I held Ken=s feet as he leaned over a rail to get a picture from the top. There was lots of hostility against Americans as we went around the streets. Beggars would stand in front of you and hold out their hand for a donation and if you didn=t give them something they would spit at you. There were signs on billboards that say, AYankees, go home!@ There were peddlers of pornography everywhere.

We were fed every night at a ritzy hotel or restaurant and champagne was served or wine and since we didn=t drink, everyone wanted to sit by us so they could have our liquor. We were the toast of the party.

One day we were supposed to go to Versailles to the place but we missed the bus. The Furniss=s and us took the train there. The company was ahead of us and we thought that we wouldn=t be able to go through but an older man came out and we asked him if there was any way that we could get to the tour. He could speak enough English to say that he was a guide and that if we would give him $10.00 in American money that he would give us a personal tour and we quickly took him up on it. We had a ball. He showed us everything and when we got to the hall of mirrors where the Kennedy=s had just been entertained, the two couples danced very stately to the end of the hall as we watched ourselves in the beautiful mirrors. It was fabulous. The grounds were immaculately groomed.

By the time we finished it was dusk and we finally found someone who told us how to get to the subway, the only way to get back to Paris at that time of the evening. We were at the station looking at the big maps on the wall trying to find where we were to get off in Paris. We chose the one we thought was the right one and exited the subway car and looked around to try to find where we were. We were laughing and talking loud and a man in a service uniform came toward us. He had a big smile on his face and said it=s been so long since I heard anyone speak English. He was from Colorado and volunteered to take us to our hotel, which was only two blocks away.

We spent one day at the Louve and saw the Mona Lisa and many other famous paintings and sculptures. The day we flew home our flight was delayed and ate more than my share of rich pastries. On the flight I got really nauseated and spent much of my time in the restroom. The stewardess thought I had too much to drink. I told her I didn=t drink but she brought me a shot of cognac which she said would settle my stomach. I swallowed it and it came right back up. She was disgusted with me but there wasn=t much I could do.

On the way home we planned to spend a week in New York City. We stayed the first night at the International Hotel at the airport because I was still ill. The next morning I felt fine and we took a cab to the center of the city to the Taft Hotel. We were told that it would cost $100.00 a night. When we went to check in Vonda spoke up and said we are just poor farmers from Utah and we want to see your city but we can=t afford your high prices so could we please just sleep in the lobby and use the public restrooms. He smiled and asked us if we would mind being on the third floor and would $12.00 a night be reasonable. The hotel was on 7th Ave., just three blocks from Times Square. We walked to the NBC building on Sunday morning. There was a young man in a uniform with gold braid sitting in a booth. She told him we were poor folks from Utah and could he help us get into a show. He told us he was the head of the union of ushers and that we could go to any show that we desired and he would see that we were admitted. AJust trust me,@ he said, so it being Sunday we decided to go to the Ed Sullivan Show that night. We walked from our hotel room to the CBS Theater and found a line a city block long and four abreast, waiting to get in. Not knowing what to expect, we just kept on walking up to the entrance. The usher called out to us to bring our reserved seat tickets to him and he took the two of us in and sat us on the front seat, all alone. That is the method they used to get us in the show. The next morning we went to a show called ASay When@ and we chose to sit up high on the back row. They gave us a card to fill out if we wanted to be on the show which asked our name, address, and to tell a humorous experience in our life. Vonda just put hers in her purse but when she wasn=t looking I wrote this on the card, AEvery day is a humorous experience living with my wife.@ They called for all the cards to be handed in and said for those who wanted to be on the show to stay after the program was over. Vonda got up to leave and I coaxed her to stay a little while. The woman was glancing through the cards. She stopped and looked up and asked where are the Huntington=s. It took some time to get to the front and she asked Vonda if she wanted to go on the show. Vonda said we couldn=t wait months and we were almost out of our Metrical. She said she would put us on the next day. The next day when the emcee began to announce the next contestant he was laughing so hard he could hardly speak. I knew it must be Vonda who was coming on next. She had asked him if anyone had ever messed their pants before coming on his show. She won a multi-band radio and also a sable stole and some other things that I have forgotten. She had to go back again the next day but she lost. The emcee had his secretary plot us out a map to see all the sites of New York by taking the busses. We boarded the bus the next morning and Vonda stood up and faced the people and said, AWe are from Utah and we likely will never get back here again so if we pass anything that is interesting, just call it out to us.@ When she started to speak you would have thought that we were holding up the bus but then they began to smile and some began pointing at places of interest like, Wall Street, Macy=s, etc. It was a week before Mothers Day and they were all decorated with fresh flowers. It was quite a show. The bus driver asked if the people from Utah had ever seen a ticker tape parade. He stopped the bus so we could watch the Prime Minister of Israel in a parade.
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection,... but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31
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Re: Rulon Max Huntington

Post by Tuly »

This is part 4 and the end.

The bus driver let us off at the Stanton Island Ferry and told us we could buy a ticket on the ferry for five cents and we could see the Statue of Liberty and return for a nickel and we could buy a hotdog on the ferry for a nickel. He would pick us up in about two hours and take us through Harlem. We waited and sure enough he came and the Harlem area was a little scary but very interesting. We then went to the United Nations building. The whole day was spent on the original bus fee with passes and transfers. It was a blast for us.

The next day we spent walking. We went to the Lexington Hotel which is owned by the church, not as a hotel, but as a chapel and business center for the northeast area. We then went to Sax Fifth Avenue and there they had a center support column that went seven stories high and it was completely covered with fresh flowers from top to bottom and the smell was heavenly. We then went to Central Park. We didn=t go very far in because of it=s reputation but it was a lovely place to see.

I also got on a television show with Jan Murray as the host. It was something like ACrossword@. When I went on he asked my name and I told him, Rulon. He said that it sounded like a Mormon name. I eventually lost to my opponent but it was interesting anyway. During the warm up Vonda was coughing quite a lot and the announcer walked up to her and said, AYou have quite a cough.@ She apologized and said she would try to suppress it. He said if she would take some of the sponsor’s product it would stop. He said it was ExLax and if she would take it she wouldn=t dare cough.

Our time in New York was an interesting and fun time and we enjoyed it much more than Paris. Each time we entered the hotel they would greet us warmly but I think they were a little apprehensive because we had put several phone calls on the bill and had dinner brought up to our room one night. I think they were afraid we couldn=t pay for it but when we checked out they thanked us and wished us the very best.

As I recall our plane was to leave about 1:00 in the morning and due to arrive at 8:00 at Salt Lake City after a stop at Chicago and Denver. Chicago was fogged in and couldn=t land so the pilot told those that they would have to fly back from Denver. When we got to Denver it was snowed in so we would have to go directly to Salt Lake City. Instead of getting in at 8:00 we arrived at about 5:30. Faris and Pauline were to pick us up and we called them to come and get us early. Most of the people were very unhappy about getting home late but the two of us and a man from Thiokol were the only ones to come to Salt Lake City. It was nice to get home and see that David was alright and that our home was still in tact. It was a unique experience that has given us much laughter and given us a different look on life.

The deaths of my dad in July of 1954 and Vonda=s dad in June of 1953 were both sad occasions for us but we were not surprised and we both had the faith and knowledge that we would see them again. In David=s senior year he made the decision not to play on the basketball team but instead to play on the golf and swim team and also participate in the music and drama programs. He also was the starting center on the football team and had a very successful year. We were very proud of him. He asked to try out for a part in the operetta, ABrigadoon@ and was cast as the leading man. He brought the book home and with Vonda=s help he stayed up very late and memorized most of the dialogue. At the first rehearsal there was a lot of confusion and the director called them all together and told them he felt like he had made a big mistake and he didn=t think they could do this project. He had asked them to have the first act memorized and he noticed that David didn=t even have his book. He chided him about it and David told him he had the whole play memorized. He was really surprised and told the rest of the cast to have the first act memorized by the end of the week.

The night of the performance I think we bought nine extra tickets to give to Faris and Avis and their families. David did a great performance. His buddy hid behind the scenery when he had to kiss the girl goodbye and was calling him ALiver-lips@. David was laughing and the audience thought he was putting on a good act of crying.

Lynn was going up to Utah State University in Logan and coming home on weekends to have his clothes washed. After a year he went on a mission to Scotland.

By this time the business was so bad that there was not enough income to keep two families. Fred Blacker had some money to stabilize the business so we sold our interest to him. I went to work at Hansen Chevrolet selling cars. This was certainly a different experience for me but I enjoyed it never the less.

David was on the school golf team and was doing well. We would take Jeff, his dog, up to the golf course and let him out and he would race around checking each person until he found David. Then he would go crazy jumping on him and chewing on his pant leg.

A few rambling thoughts. I was at the car company when we heard about the shooting of President Kennedy, a sad moment. Our neighbors were David and Athalee Allen, Sonny and Nick Topic, who were from Austria and acquainted with the family that AThe Sound of Music@ is about. Also, the Lundgren’s and a couple who were converts to the church and he was the adult Sunday School teacher. He had a favorite saying that some of the local members were so narrow minded that they could look through a key hole with both eyes at the same time.

We had purchased from the car company a 1964 Chevrolet Impala, maroon with white trim. It was our pride and joy and it was really peppy. At an earlier time we had purchased a brown Ford station wagon that had an automatic load leveling system to keep the car level and stable. Something went wrong with the system and we would find the car leaning to the left or sometime to the right and sometime the front would be up or down. It was crazy. Also, we were going to the Seattle furniture market and we had all of our bags packed and David and I loaded them but forgot to put Vonda=s in. When we were almost there we realized her bag was missing. She was a good sport and said she needed some new clothes anyway.

Another time we were going to San Francisco to a market and I had told David to wash the car and clean out the trunk for our bags. He was not going with us but he did a good job getting it ready. We left early in the morning and drove all day and was just coming into Oakland where we planned to stay and it was about 9:00 at night. We had a tire go flat. I pulled to the side and stopped, opened the trunk, got out the jack, but there was no handle to the jack. I broke pencils and weeds and could find nothing that would operate the jack. I heard a flip flop sound behind us and a car pulled off the road about 40 yards from us with a flat tire. I could tell that it was a younger group and they were laughing so I thought I would wait a few minutes and go see if I could borrow their jack handle. They laughed when I told them what I needed because they had a handle but no jack. We helped each other change the tires. The Lord was looking out for us.

While in Brigham City we also had a Jeep station wagon which we used as a second car but also used to go to the top of Willard Peak several times. From the top of that peak you could see five different counties.

We drove to Midway to visit and found out that the Iver=s Mercantile was for sale so we talked to Leland Ivers and he said that he would sell us the inventory and rent the building. We agreed on a take over date and notified people that the store would be closed for inventory. We agreed to keep the Pyper girl on but after about two weeks she didn=t want to adapt to our way of doing things so we had to let her go. It took a few months for people to find out that we were there. Much of the inventory was old and obsolete which we had to move to make room for things that we wanted to replace. Some of the paint was dried up and had to be thrown away. We scrubbed the shelves, painted and cleaned up the whole store. We lived in the apartment above the store and stayed open nights to compete with Coleman=s store up the street. Holidays and weekends became very busy and became a good part of our business.

David would go to church and the Bishop would not even acknowledge him even though he was his advisor. David had told us that he really didn=t think that he would go on a mission and we had told him that we would be disappointed but that it was his decision. We were not going to hassle him about it. He came home from church the first part of June and asked us how we would like to have a missionary. We were totally surprised but extremely joyful. He said that the Bishop had called him into his office and asked him if he would accept a mission call and he said yes. From that minute the spirit was very manifest in him. The Bishop had given him the papers to fill out which consisted of a doctors examination, an official photo and a number of other things. He called the doctor at his home and told him that he had dated his niece in Brigham City and told him that he needed an examination so he could take his papers back to the church headquarters the next morning when he went to his classes at the University of Utah. He consented to meet him at his office. He received a clean bill of health. He then went to Howard Eggleston who had a Polaroid camera and got his picture. He got it all done and went back to the bishop for his signature. He told him that wasn=t the way it was done. The papers had to be mailed to church headquarters. David was persistent and Bishop Van Wagoner finally signed them and let him take them to Salt Lake. He left early the next morning and was sitting on the steps of the Church Office Building. I will leave the details of the mission to David but it was a time of rejoicing for us and the two years went by very quickly.

We had been notified that David=s mission president was being released and that President Berg from East Millcreek ward was to take his place. His farewell would be on the next Sunday night so we wanted to meet him. The meeting was full of church authorities including five of the apostles. Many parents of missionaries were waiting in line to meet the mission president. Vonda was talking to a missionary mother in front of us telling her there were 700,000 people in Flint, Michigan and there was not even a stake there yet. She was enthusiastically telling her about her son=s missionary experiences. She received a tap on the shoulder and turned around to a big smile on the face of Apostle Spencer W. Kimball. In his distinctive voice he said, ASister, if you have a son in the Great Lakes Mission I am sure that we will have a stake in Flint, Michigan in no time at all.@ Vonda always said that she would remember that touch for as long as she lived.

When it was time for him to come home we decided to pick him up when he was released and spend some time touring in the east. We planned on being gone about five weeks. We left on Vonda=s birthday, May 31st, and drove to Brigham City and purchased a new 1967 Chevrolet from Hansen=s. We had plenty of time to carefully and slowly break in the car. I had always wanted to see Mount Rushmore. Vonda was anxious to get to see David but she gave in and we drove to Rapid City, South Dakota. When we got to Mount Rushmore it was so foggy that we couldn=t see our hand in front of our face so we left without even seeing the visitor’s center.

We stayed in Rapid City that night and drove across the Badlands the next day then across Minnesota to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We got a hotel on the banks on the Chippewa River. It was a beautiful place and we could hear the water all night. We wanted to take a ferry across Lake Michigan but found out that was not possible so we went on to the mission home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We talked to President Berg and saw the beautiful mission home. We then decided to go to Williamsburg, Virginia. I was a member of the Rotary Club so as we passed through different cities and saw the Rotary meeting signs that day, we would stop and go in and have dinner with them. We met a lot of interesting people.

Williamsburg was probably the most touching of all the places we saw. The re-enactment of the Continental Congress and the signing of the Declaration of Independence made us know that God was at the helm and we felt a debt of gratitude to those brave and wonderful men and women who pledged their lives and their sacred honor to the building of this nation. I will never forget their sacrifice for our freedom. I know that the Constitution and the founding of this nation was under the direction of God.

We drove from Williamsburg to Washington DC where we spent two days and got to see the Congress in action and many of the statues. We saw the Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Institute and had a tour of the White House. We enjoyed the history. We then drove to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and then to Buffalo, New York and on to Niagara Falls. We arrived there at about 4:00 PM and went straight to a Travel Lodge to get us a room and then went to the falls. It was an awesome sight for two country kids. It was getting dark as we came back and there were lovers everywhere. It was the first time we had ever seen two women in an embrace. We were appalled. We thought we had found Sodom and Gomorrah. When we turned the covers back in our room they felt like they had just come out of the washer. The humidity was very high but we were very cold in the night. The next morning we paid for a boat to go to the base of the falls. We had to wear rain slickers and hats and boots to keep from getting drenched. There was a constant mist and the name of the boat was Maid of the Mist. The roar was so deafening that we had to yell to communicate. We went across the bridge into Canada and when we crossed back into New York we looked for a decent motel. We found one that was the crumbiest place we had ever seen.

Since we were going back to the mission home we headed for northern Indiana just to see the country. I don=t remember the name of the town but we found a neat and clean little motel in the trees on a lake and we stayed there for three days and just relaxed.

David would be released in a few days so I called President Berg to see when David would be at the mission home. He said, AIf I had a son on a mission I would want to do some missionary work with him.@ We drove to Columbus, Ohio and since he was the senior elder and didn=t have a companion, I was privileged to go proselyting with him. It was frightening but a great experience. In their apartment they had a canary called AMormon@. The apartment needed Vonda=s thorough cleaning. It was a sad goodbye when David left the mission home. They had a testimony meeting that left us all crying and full of the Spirit. I will never forget the feeling there and President Berg=s admonition to never forget that they should always be missionaries for the rest of their lives.

We had expected to get a motel but David said he was wide awake and couldn=t sleep so he would drive while I slept. He was very anxious to get home. He drove for about an hour or so and said he was getting a little sleepy and would I mind driving for a few minutes. Just as it was coming daylight he woke up and said he would drive again. I crawled into the back seat and fell asleep. When I awoke I noticed the sun was coming in the drivers side of the car and I knew we were going south instead of west. I told David we must be on the wrong road and as we looked up the big road sign told us we were on the wrong freeway. We needed gasoline so we stopped at the next exit to find out where we were. We got gas and looked at the map and found that we were headed south on highway 169 and we would eventually come back to I-80 so we decided, against Vonda=s objections, to stay on that road. It started to thunder and rain and the terrain was hilly and the low spots were filling with water. Vonda was agitated and told us to stop the car immediately, turn around, and go back the way we came. David was driving so he obediently stopped in a driveway to turn around. There in the weeds we saw a small sign that said, Mount Pisgah cemetery. We were stunned because we new we had a pioneer ancestor buried there. We got out of the car and walked along the fence to a sty where we went over and we could see a large monument with William Huntington=s name on it. It was a dark day but we took our last pictures and left with gratitude for William and his willingness to give all he had for the principles of the gospel.

We drove to Denver and decided to splurge on a new Holiday Inn. We paid $22.00 for it and it was quite luxurious. We left the next morning and took the old highway 40 over the mountains to home. It had been an incredible time for us but it was good to be home and David was anxious to get back in school.

The next few weeks were very interesting. David had to adjust to a different life and wanting to start dating, he asked us if we knew any girls that were available to date. We said there is a girl that has worked for us occasionally with whom we were very impressed. Her name was Peggy Wright but she was waiting for a missionary. He said he would ask her anyway, which he did after getting permission from her mother. He picked her up after she got off work that night at the Homestead Resort. David came home that night and bounded up the stairs two at a time and was whistling all the way. He came into our bedroom and announced that he had just met the girl he was going to marry. We both said he was moving way too fast and we didn=t want him to get his hopes up and then be disappointed. That didn=t stop him and he continued to see her as often as he could. All we could do was watch with amazement and wonder and hope he was successful because we thought so much of Peggy.

We were thrilled when they were married in the Salt Lake temple on November 17, 1967, and the reception was held in the Charleston ward that night. I=m sure over 500 people went through the line that night. I know that my hand was so tired and sore from shaking hands that I could hardly use my fingers. It was the event of the season and our hearts were full of gladness.

We purchased the old Bonner home that was across the street east of the store and had done some remodeling and had an apartment on the west side of the house which we occasionally rented for a little extra money. We saw in the newspaper that J. C. Penney in Salt Lake City was remodeling and putting in a furniture and carpet department and wanted experienced salesmen. I called and got a preliminary interview scheduled. It went well and he told me to come back in a few days to talk with the man that would make the final decision. He asked me to come to work immediately. We had talked that if I went to work we would hire some help and Vonda would run the store. It didn=t take long for her to find that there was too much lifting for her and she didn=t want to do it alone. We talked to Leland Ivers and he agreed that he wanted to take it back so the transaction took place. This gave Vonda much more freedom to go with me when she wanted to.

It was at this time that Vonda purchased the first two season passes at the new Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course and gave me mine for a Christmas present. We bought her some clubs and she began to learn how to play golf and she loved it. We spent many days during the summer and especially the fall when the colors were so beautiful on the golf course. We did this for several years. In the meantime, while David and Peg were living in Salt Lake and he was going to school and she was working, David became very ill. We called our friend Dr. Wally Jenkins and he said it sounded like spinal meningitis and to bring him in as soon as possible. As usual, he argued very strongly, but finally gave in to us. He looked awful. He needed a shave and his hair was messed up and as we were sitting in the waiting room with a room full of patients he said, AI=ll never take anymore drugs as long as I live.@ Some of the women gasped and drew back as if he was poison. He smiled and Vonda said, AYou are a crazy nut,@ and tried to explain that he was spoofing. It was spinal meningitis and he was given antibiotics and pain medicine and he was soon well.

As we were golfing, we would drive our ball out into the brush and oak trees. Since there were snakes and bugs, most women wouldn=t go after their balls so we would scour the bushes and pick up lots of balls. Sometimes we would go up just at day light and sometimes in the evenings after work. It was our relaxation and it was even better when David and Peg would join us.

Often there would be women from the valley who wanted a ride to Salt Lake when I went to work. They would spend the day at the temple while I was working. For a short time Vonda worked at ABetty=s Bra Bar@ which was across the street from Penney=s. I was on a base plus commission and I probably averaged $700.00 to $800.00 in commissions per month which at that time was a good wage. The second year I was there I was the top salesman and received a bonus of $200.00 of which I was proud. When we were gone to lunch or had a day off and one of our customers would come back, we would, of course, finish up the sale for them. One of our salesmen, Jerry Arnold, a member from Canada who was a Bircher, had gone to lunch when his customer came back and decided to purchase a set of den furniture. I wrote it up and had them sign a contract and was just thanking them when Jerry came back. Right in front of them he began to rail against me and say that this was his customer and I just kept saying, AYes, I know.@ They finally left, very embarrassed, and Jerry was livid. I couldn=t shut him up so I just not so gently hit him. He almost fell over and cried, AYou hit me. You hit me!@ I said quietly, AJerry, let=s go see the boss.@ We did and when we told him everything he said to Jerry. AIt=s a good thing I wasn=t there. I would have fired you.@ This was the only time I ever hit anybody.

The big bosses at Penney=s began hassling us as salesmen to start calling people in the city cold turkey and urging them to buy from our store. I didn=t believe in this practice so I told them they needed to get another salesman, so now I was out of work. Jimmy Ritchie needed to have a driver for their Meadow Gold home delivery and to the stores and restaurants. I got the job and this meant I had to get up at 4:00 in the morning to start and be through about noon. I had a helper who ran for me on the home delivery. The truck and the walk in freezer were in the old Fortie building where David set up his gun barrel shop at a later date.

It was during this time that I woke up about 2:00 in the morning so sick and dizzy that the world was going one way and I another. Vonda called Alan Young, my helper, and told him he would have to do the deliveries which he was very capable of doing. Two hours later Vonda called David. He came and practically carried me to the car and took me to the hospital where they thought I was having a heart attack. Dr. Jensen diagnosed me with minears disease or an infection of the middle ear, also known as vertigo. Every time I turned my head I would whirl and it would take several minutes for it to subside. They treated me with antivert, which is mostly nicotine which brings a rush of blood to the head and helps clear the infection.

It was while I was in there that the doctor decided it was time to deliver Dee R. After he was put in the nursery two of the nurses came and took me down to see my new grandson. It took almost six months for me to completely recover from this debilitating disease.

I remember that every time Mindi would come she would run as fast as her legs would carry her and leap into my arms and give me a big hug. She also got acquainted with our neighbor, Ivan Anderson and as a little girl she loved to visit with him. He was totally smitten with her. He would take her on his lap and when he was smoking he would say, ANow I don=t ever want you to do this.@ We also fixed a swing in one of our apple trees and I would push her in the swing and Vonda would stand at the other end and as she approached, she would stuff a miniature marshmallow in her mouth. This filled her with delight and this became a ritual with every one of the grandkids as they grew up. Tara was especially delighted with this tradition. I have special memories of her curly hair and big brown eyes, waiting in anticipation for her treat.

One of the most vivid scenes of my memory of the kids growing up was the day Dee R got his first bicycle. I have never in my life seen a more determined child! He would work and try and try again to stay up. His face was red and he was sweating and he just would not give in until he had conquered the ability to ride. His Mom would go out where he was riding and wipe the perspiration from his eyes so he could continue. Oh how proud and pleased he was to finally ride up and down the lane.

I also remember when Jared learned to ride his bicycle. He didn’t let anyone know he was practicing riding his bike until he ran into the house and was drenched from head to toe. He wanted his Mom to come quick and see what he had learned. He had ridden the bicycle about a half block when he lost control and ran it into the ditch. He didn’t care if he was wet. He was just thrilled that he had conquered riding a bicycle.

Vera and Ivan=s daughter, Kaye Herron, who lived in Overton, Nevada, had come to Midway to visit her parents, the Anderson=s, who lived next door. She also asked if I would come to Overton and lay her carpet and linoleum in the house they were remodeling. I agreed and that was about the time of the first gasoline crunch. We left Midway on Christmas day and were some of the first people to come down the new Virgin River Gorge road. While in Overton, Lee Bishop asked if I would lay carpet in the new library, which I did. He asked if I would be interested in coming to Overton to manage the Western Auto store that he had. We worked out a deal and we were to start as I recall, the first of November. We went home and Vonda said she would not live in any of those old houses in Overton. We went to Salt Lake City and purchased a used mobile home for $6,000.00. Before we left to go down, Ivan Anderson peeled off $5,000.00 and said he wanted to have that go to Vera in case of his death. He knew that he had lung cancer and could be gone in a year or two. This would be a small amount of income for Vera so we put $1,000.00 of our own money as a down payment. The seller was to deliver it to Overton and set it up as part of the purchase price. The seller said he would have it in Overton on the 27th of September so we were all packed with our Oldsmobile and our Chevy truck pulling our boat and everything loaded to the gills. David would not let us come alone so they also drove their car. I think we stayed in Beaver that night and came in the next day. We waited for the mobile home to come but it didn=t arrive. The next morning we drove toward Mesquite and up on the mesa was the man with our home. He had broken down the previous day and had called someone to come and help him. He said he had never hauled a heavier mobile home. It was built in Michigan. After we moved into Robbins Nest, the front door faced west. When Mindi came to see us the door handle was so hot we had to leave a wash cloth out to open the door so it wouldn=t burn her little hands.

It took some time to learn about all of the stock items in the store but eventually we became comfortable with all of our duties. We worked hard, sometimes twelve hours a day, often on Sunday because the freight would come on Sunday afternoon. We went to church every Sunday but the first Sunday after meeting a lady came up to us and said, AI heard you sing and I know that you will be asked to sing solos. I want to be the first to ask you to let me accompany you. There are so many good piano players that someone will ask you before I do.@ I thought that very strange but I agreed. Her name is Rose Whitmore and she has accompanied me many times since then. We became fast friends with she and her husband, Guy. When we first came here there was one ward and now there are five wards.

There was a three compartment mobile home that moved in across from us and we became acquainted with them. Their names are Ernie and Marie Runnion. I laid their carpet for them and we became good friends. He would have his toddy every afternoon but he knew that I did not imbibe because he had asked me several times before and I always said no. One early evening I pulled in our driveway and started to get out and he came out of their front door and said, ADamn you Rulon. I was standing at the kitchen sink with a drink in my hand and when I saw you drive in and I felt so guilty that I poured it down the sink.@ I apologized and he laughed.

When we first moved down it wasn=t long until the Bishop found out that Vonda could do road shows and she agreed to do one even though there was only about three weeks. She enlisted the help of Gary Bachelor and it was a total success.

Our home in Midway was a terrible sight and David needed me home to help him in his business so we moved home after over three years. We had to completely re-do our home. Dave and Peg=s home was unusable because of frozen pipes one winter so they had to stay with us. I remember I would get up in the middle of the night to take Tara to the bathroom. How I loved to feel her arms around me and say, AI love you, Grandpa.@ Every time Sam would start to cry I would pick him up and pretend that I was going to bump his head against the wall. He would get that cherubic grin on his face. It was one of the most satisfying times of my life.

Sometime in late February or early March we were sleeping soundly and Peggy and David came up to our bedroom and woke us up. They said they had something serious to talk to us about. They said they had both felt very strongly that if we didn=t go on a mission now that we probably wouldn=t be able to go. We were stunned and spent the rest of the night sleepless. The next day we met with the Bishop and he sent in our papers. We finally got our call and we were to go to San Diego to the church historical site of the Mormon Battalion. They sent us the script we should memorize and we were learning it. Peggy and Vonda had gone to Salt Lake City to do some shopping for our mission. I was at home and about noon the telephone rang and I answered it. The man said he was Brother Goates of the Missionary Department of the Church. He said he understood we were called to the San Diego mission in June. He said there had been an error in the timing and they wouldn=t need us until September. I told him I would discuss it with my wife and call him back but I knew she would be disappointed to have to wait so long. He said, ACould you be ready to go in the MTC tomorrow? We need a couple quickly at St. George.@ I promised to call him back that afternoon.
When they arrived home David was there too. We said we couldn=t possibly be ready by morning. They both insisted that anything we needed they could deliver to us. I called Brother Goates and told him that we would be in the MTC the following day. It was a whirlwind of a night! Many people are responsible for helping us, especially Bishop Eaton, for which we have much gratitude and thanks.

While we were in a meeting in the MTC we heard a call over the intercom for Brother and Sister Huntington to come to the office. When we got there Barbara Kohler Christensen told us that we had a grandson in the Heber City Hospital that was very seriously ill and that we should observe the speed limit but go as soon as possible. We worried all the way but when we arrived we found out that it was Samuel and that he had a fever of 106 all day long and the doctors couldn=t get it down. It was spinal meningitis. The doctor and nurses were working over him when we arrived. We finally found an opportunity to give him a blessing. As I took him in my arms he saw the ruby ring on my finger and said, APretty ring Grandpa.@ He had been in terrible pain all day and his head was slightly pulled back but as David began the blessing Sam began to relax. Soon a nurse came in with a rectal thermometer. I said, APlease don=t bother him. He=s finally resting.@ She inserted it anyway and we talked a few minutes and then she checked it. She looked at it and said she probably hadn=t left it in long enough so she inserted it again. She waited a considerable time and then took it out and checked again. With a strange look on her face she said his temperature was normal. She almost ran to the doctor and told him. They came in and examined him and were amazed. I remember Dr. Pitts saying, AWell, we all know what happened here, don=t we?@ He seemed well enough to go home but they kept him overnight just to be safe.

We were able to return to Provo and report to them what had happened. Sister Christensen said that as we left the MTC she had asked that all within her voice please either kneel or just say a prayer for Sam. There were hundreds of prayers that went up the canyon with us. We were happy to be in the service of our Heavenly Father in gratitude for his blessings.

Our experience in the MTC was a very spiritual experience. We were learning so much and the food was exceptional. We left the MTC and met all of the seasoned missionaries and we all came to be like a great big family. We were assigned to work for four hours a day and thought that this would be a cinch. We soon found out that after four hours you could be exhausted. We were sent to the Brigham Young home where you have to go up and down stairs and all the time having to talk loud enough so that as many as 25 people could hear you. As soon as you were back to the starting place another group would be waiting for their tour. It was very gratifying to answer their questions and bear testimony to them. If any were more interested they could sign a referral card. We would have a planning meeting every Monday morning early and several would bear their testimonies. This was very special.

The Visitors Center at the St. George Temple was always a special treat. We had a room that would hold ten to twelve people where we could play videos in several different languages. Vonda had taken a group of Japanese in the room to see a film. She started the film and left the room as she was supposed to do. After it was finished we would ask if there were any questions. The spokesman said that they didn=t understand a word that was said but thanked her and left. When she went in to return the film she had picked up the German language instead of Japanese. We all had a good laugh and it was a time before they would let her forget it.

When we first went to St. George we were able to rent one of the temple cottages which were built for members to go and do temple work. In the summer months they are not all rented so the missionaries were permitted to rent them. They were nice and inexpensive but by the middle of September we found a basement apartment on Diagonal Street which suited our needs and it was there that we were living when we received a call from David. He said it would be helpful to him if we could come home and help keep their family together. Peggy had just given birth to little Amanda on January 14th. A couple of weeks later Peggy had a pulmonary embolism and was hospitalized in very serious condition. She was moved to the hospital in Heber so it would be more convenient for David but she was in intensive care for a couple of weeks. We talked to our Director and he agreed with us that our family was most important so we were packed and ready in just a couple of days. We drove home and were very concerned about Peggy but were happy to see a beautiful little blonde baby girl. Peggy was quite weak and we were so thankful that we were there to help until she could recover. I remember she asked me to take her to the doctor to have some x-rays taken of her lung which was partially filled with fluid from the blood clot. She came out with the most satisfied look on her face and she said that her lungs were completely clear. We both knew that a miracle had just occurred. It was a time for much rejoicing and prayerful thanksgiving.

The next couple of months were pure heaven for us being with the family. Then in April, I believe, we received a call from our director, Brother Barnett, saying that they were shorthanded and that Easter was coming soon which was the busy time of year. He asked if we could please return to St. George and help them. It was as if our prayers had been answered. We told him we would be down as soon as we could get things ready. We were happy to be back on our mission and had many faith promoting experiences and long days of six hours because we were few in number.

Sometime later I received a call from Mr. James Moore in Overton, whom I had met when I worked at Western Auto. He asked me if we would be willing to come to Overton and manage his mobile home park. He needed someone by the first of August. I promised to call him back after I had discussed it with Vonda. I was reluctant to leave our mission again but Vonda felt strongly that this was not only a great opportunity but a blessing. We discussed it with our director and he agreed that we should take the job so again we bid the missionaries goodbye, went to Midway to arrange our affairs, and left for Overton again to live in the home that was provided for the managers. It was the first of August and had we not become a little bit accustomed to the heat I think we would have left immediately. We learned to stay inside in the air conditioning. It was somewhat hard learning all the ins and outs of the business but we were soon acquainted with most of the tenants and had a genuinely solid rapport with them. One incident that remains very clearly in my mind is the Christmas of the second year that we were there. We had told the family that we probably wouldn=t have a Christmas tree. The kids were living in Wyoming at the time. Dee R felt so bad that he climbed to the top of a pine tree and cut us the most beautiful small tree and sent it to us. We will always be grateful for his kindness.

In less than two years Mr. Moore called me and said that they were going to spend the next six to eight months in France with his wife=s parents and would I please take the check book and pay all the bills and make the deposits. I told him I didn=t think that I was capable but he said he was completely comfortable with it and they would appreciate it so I said I would do the best I could. I did it until the day we quit. They both said that they never had a minutes pause about it and I felt good that he trusted us so much.

Monsoon rains occur here in mid to late summer and about July 22nd, the year before we came, it came down on Overton and was so heavy that it washed out the railroad and pushed the tracks right over onto the mobile homes. The water was four feet deep where my home is right now. During the confusion of the day an older woman was missing and presumed to have been washed down the country but by the time they discovered her missing, it was dark. They organized a search party to begin at dawn the next morning. They started at Main Street and lined up about ten feet apart and started to search. When they got down almost to the river where the brush was thicker, a young man spotted her in thick mud up to her waist and hanging on to the small branch of a bush. He ran to her and as he approached her he said, AI think you are the one I have been looking for.@ She replied, AAh, go on. I=m too old for you.@ She had been there all night and was able to joke about it. They dug her out and took her to the doctor. She was cold and hungry but otherwise was alright.

There was much help on the clean up. Mr. Moore told me he had to borrow $40,000.00 to put the park back in shape. We, as missionaries at that time, got permission to come down a few days later and see all of the problems. Then, just two years later, while we were in of office, we had another flood. It was August 10th, a Sunday. I was in church when a telephone call came to the church that it was flooding again. It was Vonda who had called. Gary Johnson had taken the call and he came and let me know so I left and came as quickly as I could and the water was mostly on the south side of the park but was rising quickly. I checked on Vonda, changed my clothes, and went to see who needed help. I went to check on an 85 year old lady who lived by the tracks in the park and told her she had to come out. She refused so I just picked her up and carried her to a truck and had her taken to the office.

There wasn=t much we could do but wait and see how serious the situation would become. The water had washed all the ballast from under the tracks just south of the restrooms and was continuing to rise. Quite a number of people were there waiting to help if needed. The water rose until it was just ready to go up on to our back porch of the office when it began to recede. Of course the flood channel crosses the highway just to the south of the park so traffic was halted in both directions for almost 24 hours. It is difficult to clean up until the mud dries to a consistency that you can scoop it and haul it away. It was a couple of days before that happened. We all spent our time taking the skirting off the homes so it would dry out and you could get to the mud. The railroad had to suspend traffic on the tracks for about a week while they rebuilt them. We had to borrow another $25,000.00 from the bank to do the clean up.

There was a fairly large area, triangular in shape, that was not developed and had no homes on it so I asked Mr. Moore if he was amenable to my drawing up a plan to develop it. He agreed that it would be a good idea so I set to the task wherein I made spaces for eleven mobile homes and two temporary or overnight spaces. Oscar Robbins, a good friend of Mr. Moore=s, and the man for whom the park is named, helped me lay out the water, sewer, and electric lines and install them. The electric supply was bid out to Wheeler Electric and the connection of the water and sewer was done by the city.

I had hired a helper, Matilde Monharas, and he and I planted trees in the new part of the park. I also developed the little park across the ditch from our home where we planted trees and a row of oleanders along the tracks and ran the pipe to get water to them and to water the grass. The problems in doing this project were numerous. Having to go through the county to get all the permits was a major problem but we finally finished it and had the first mobile home in place before October 1, 1976.

One of the things that became a hobby with me during all this time was making hooked rugs and wall hangings in my spare time. It became almost an obsession with me to see that everyone in the family got one of these pieces from me. I also designed and made one of the homes in Midway. I cut all the yarn and double hooked each space with approximately 5,000 pieces of yarn. With all that yarn and the activity there was a very large amount of lint that was untidy and unhealthful. I grew tired of it and so did Vonda and I haven=t done any since but I enjoyed it at the time. Tara now has the Midway home displayed in her home and I still have a couple of rugs in the shed.

On our fiftieth wedding anniversary the Moore=s sent us a check for $2,000.00 to pay for a wonderful party which was planned and hosted by May Bailey in the local community center. It was a real success and we had a marvelous time. The whole afternoon was pure enjoyment as we visited with friends and neighbors. David and Peggy and Vonda=s niece=s, Carol Coleman and Joan Giles, also planned a fun anniversary party for us in Midway where we greeted and visited with friends and family. David and his family drove out from Indianapolis to help us celebrate in Midway. David flew to Nevada to attend the party in Overton as well.

The office was in our living room and it wasn=t unusual for us to be eating and have people walk right in without knocking. It became a real nuisance and sometimes embarrassing so Vonda said that when I turned seventy years old, she wanted to be gone.

We informed Mr. Moore of our intentions and we started to look for a mobile home to put on a lot because we were promised free rent and power for as long as he owned the park. We found a home that was used but had been rebuilt, which we felt would suit our needs. I developed a spot for it where it presently sets. I did this before it was time for me to retire and had it in place. Mr. Moore found a couple in Henderson to take our place so he hired them to start on July 1st. He paid us until September 1st. They have been good to us and we are grateful to them.

It was about this time that Vonda began having trouble with her knees swelling and also beginning with macular degeneration. She was bothered with angina, or heart pains for many years but these seemed to be increasing in frequency and intensity. Fortunately, we had signed up with Senior Dimension, a Nevada insurance company which over the years has saved us many thousands of dollars. Her decline in health began with her knees. We took her to the doctor to have them drained and a shot of cortisone but it usually didn=t last too long. She decided with the doctor to have the right knee replaced. It was quite a traumatic decision for us both but she was brave and had it done. We had purchased a lift chair to help her get up and down and it worked for about a week. It was a Lazy Boy and they picked it up and repaired it, brought it back, and it broke again so we got our money back. When she had her other knee done, David called a company in Las Vegas and had them deliver a lift chair to our home. This one worked and I still have it in my bedroom.

She seemed to recover fairly well after doing the rehabilitation and was able to walk quite well. She had some problems that plagued her. She had to have both the patch and a spritzer to help her control her heart pains and the macular degeneration was also getting much worse. This, coupled with the irritable bowel syndrome, made life miserable at times for her. She would get very depressed and down but tried to keep a sense of humor.

During all this time since we had retired, I had started to play golf and was involved in the programs of the Senior Center. I took a job at the Seniors Center of receiving all the food and had to see that it was stored properly. I was paid $200.00 a month. This was also a great blessing for us inasmuch as our income was very limited. I was also elected to the Board of Directors and made vice chairman of the committee. For thirteen and a half years I took charge of the semi-annual swap meet breakfast. We would feed as many as 350 people in our four hour breakfast. It was one of our best money makers but because of my back I had to give it up. During this time I was also called to be the High Priest Group Leader, sang in the choir, and then was called as a stake missionary. I was then called to be the Ward Mission Leader and also a Sunday School teacher to the 16 and 17 year olds. I have been blessed many times to have been called on to give blessings. I have done this not only for members of the church but for several non-member friends. This has been a special privilege to me and I am grateful.

Right after we retired, Vonda insisted, and I=m happy she did, that I have a prostate operation. The night I came home from the hospital, we had one of those storms that bring floods. A tree had blown down just west of our home and was blocking the ditch. Vonda had to call the new manager and tell him this was his job to get up here and take care of this problem. I was pacing the floor but couldn=t do anything because the doctor had said he didn=t want me to strain in any manner or I could start bleeding. The man came up carrying an umbrella in 70 mph winds and a drenching rain. I had to go back to bed so I couldn=t see it. Fortunately, some of the men in the park came with saws and took care of the problem.

Somewhat later my knees became so bad that I felt like I would have to be in a wheel chair. I made an appointment with Dr. Higgins and I had my left knee replaced on October 26, 1997. I did the therapy to the best I could and it was six weeks when I felt my leg was strong enough to be safe for me to do the other knee. I did it on my mother=s birthday, February 12, 1998, and again, even though the therapy at times was unpleasant, I always did more than was recommended. It paid off very well because I can crawl around on my knees and they never hurt. I am so grateful.

Life became a routine for us and we felt good for each day that we were permitted to be together. A couple of days before Thanksgiving in 1999, we received a call from David and Peg, telling us that they had been given an opportunity to have a condo in Oahu, Hawaii, for a week. They asked us if we felt well enough to come and share it with them. Since I had promised her when we were first married that I would take her to Hawaii, and never had, she said that she would like to go. David purchased our tickets to meet them at Honolulu airport where they met us with leis and gave us the royal treatment for the whole week. I don=t think I have ever seen Vonda more animated and astonished at the amazing beauty and grandeur of the island. We traveled all over the island and saw the pineapple farm, the Arizona at Pearl Harbor and the amazing Polynesian Cultural Center where we ate poi.

Vonda was so impressed with the banyan trees and the abundance of beautiful flowers. Even though she had to be pushed in a wheel chair most places we went, she had a wonderful time. When we would get home at night, and occasionally through the day, Vonda would sleep. I told the kids that I was worried about her because she was sleeping so much and had to take her heart medicine so much more often but she was a trooper. The last day on the island we went to the temple. What a fitting climax to a week in Paradise. Peggy helped Vonda all the way through the temple. Words are not enough to express our gratitude to both of them for what they did for us.

We arrived home on the 4th of December and had enough memories to last us a lifetime. On December 9th Vonda was not very well and was somewhat restless but as normal, she readied for bed by taking her daily shower. I helped her to dry herself and to get in and out of the shower. She would usually watch her programs in the bedroom because she went to bed about 7:00 and I would go to bed about 9:00. Much of the time, she would be asleep and I would just carefully try not to disturb her, which happened on that night. It was not uncommon for her to wake me and ask if I would say a prayer for her and I would put my hand on her forehead and pray. She asked that I do that on that night as I climbed into bed. She seemed to relax and I assumed that she was alright. I arose in the morning about 6:00 and she seemed to be peaceful so I went out to the kitchen and had my usual bowl of cereal. When I finished I went into her to see if I could get her a cup of hot chocolate. As I tried to awaken her she was already cold and rigid.

The shock was so great that it probably took me a full minute to come to a full realization of what I needed to do next. I took the telephone and called 911 and my heart was pounding so hard that I could hardly talk. I told the woman what had happened and she started to question me if she or I had consumed too much alcohol. I angrily said, AWe do not use alcohol! I am 80 years old and I know that when a person is cold, they are dead.@ She apologized and gave me instruction on how to give CPR and she called the ambulance immediately. For the next fifteen minutes I faithfully performed the CPR until I heard the ambulance drive up and had to unlock the front door to let them in.

That fifteen minutes with her gave me time to come to grips with the realization that she was really gone and the contemplation of my life without her was going to be very difficult and lonely. All of the time I was praying silently for the Lord=s sustaining power to help me cope and to not look too far ahead but try to get through each moment and hour. When the ambulance arrived, many of the neighbors came immediately to see if they could help. They came in and took over and there was no room for me in the room. I felt my obligation to Connie and Les Elliot, our park managers. They were extremely upset because of close ties to them and to explain to all who were coming what was happening. There are no words to express the feeling of emptiness, concern and hopelessness that pervades your whole being at the time that I knew she was gone. It takes a re-awakening over time to find and remember that this is God=s plan and that He gave His Son so that we could be together again if we are worthy. We agreed before we came down here that we were willing to submit to these heartaches and problems. I soon came to realize that my God gave his Son so he knows just how I feel.

I had called David immediately. Amanda answered the telephone and said that they had just left but she would call them on the cell phone, which she did. She was so upset that I felt so bad that I had to tell her. They called me back and said that they would be in Overton about midnight. It was the longest day of my life but to crawl in bed that night was an indescribable feeling. I was glad that I had my family with me to help take my mind off the feelings I was burdened with. The Bishop came and he had some consoling effect and we talked some about the funeral but I asked to wait until David came to make the plans. We decided to have a service here in Overton and one in Midway. Thanks to David, he took care of all the arrangements. Since you were there I will not need to repeat it but her service in Overton was beautiful. We called Sam on his mission in Lisbon, Portugal to tell him of the loss of his grandmother. He was sad and wished he could be with us. She was so proud of his missionary service. The one in Midway was also beautiful and at the interment, I felt that she was at home again, being surrounded by familiar sights and memories of our younger years. I hope she likes the memorial headstone that I picked out for her.

It was now time to come back home but as we arrived, David said he didn=t want me to spend the Christmas holiday alone so he called the airline and I was happy to go with them to Pepperell, Massachusetts. I came home on Y2K day. While I was in Pepperell, both Peggy and I had a dream wherein we saw and talked to her. She did not answer but it gave me the feeling that she was alright. I left for home on January 1st, 2000, and everyone worried that all of the computers would quit working on that day. Even though we had to wait for them to change planes in Dallas because they couldn=t pressurize the one they had, and the arrival in Las Vegas was delayed, I arrived safely. It didn=t bother me to be delayed and have to wait five hours because I realized that all I have left is time.

The adjustment to being alone is slow but I am determined to live as normally as I can and not become a hermit, which was my inclination. The first week home I decided to go to the Las Vegas temple at least twice a week, which I did. The second week I received a call from a member of the Temple Presidency, asking if I would be willing to become an ordinance worker in the temple. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to be doing something constructive and satisfying. They set me apart and I began learning all that is required of a worker. I found out that there was a group going in from the valley on the Tuesday mid shift and I could take turns driving. For the next two years I spent a most satisfying time. As time went on my back, which was getting so bad that I could not stand for more than a few minutes, became very painful. I finally had to quit working at the temple. I took a couple of shots in the back but they didn=t last until I got home. I asked Dr. Rimaldi if he would operate and clean out the arthritis from my back. He said he couldn=t promise anything but he would try. I had talked to both of my brothers, Bob and Roy, who had both had it done, and it had been completely successful for them. I thought I had a good chance of success and my operation was set for May 1, 2003. My blessed kids, David and Peg, came out to be with me. This provided great peace of mind and assurance that I would be cared for.

Three days after the surgery I went from the hospital to a rehabilitation center and three days later I was released to come home. I can=t tell how good it was to get into my own bed. That night I had to go to the bathroom and I felt I could do it in the dark so I got there. I was on my way back to my bed when I became over balanced and fell on the floor. I knew that I was in trouble and that I had done something very foolish. I called to David in their bedroom and he came very quickly. I asked him to lift my butt so I could get on my hands and knees. I was able to crawl to the bed and with David=s help, pull myself into bed. I wondered why I had been so stupid but I took a pain pill and it took the edge off the pain and I was able to relax a little. The next day was Sunday and as I tried to move it was so painful that David called the ambulance and they took me back to the hospital.

They put me in a holding area to await the coming of the doctor. I was there for three to four hours and no one came to see me. I could see people moving several yards away but couldn=t get anyone=s attention. A nurse came by and looked so surprised to see me and said, AYou=re not supposed to be in here.@ I told her I didn=t push myself in there and if someone doesn=t come I will raise the roof. She took me to another area and soon they took me to x-ray. When the doctor came he said that no additional damage had been done and sent me back to the rehabilitation center again. David had to return to work but Peggy stayed to take care of me. Prior to David=s leaving, he bought me a pool cue stick which I still use and thank him for. They cleaned the mobile home inside and out and planted shrubs in front.

Several things happened in the rehabilitation center that were quite unpleasant. The worst thing was being there for five days and never once did they even give me a rub down bath. When I told Peggy she got very upset and went to the office and told them what happened and demanded that something be done immediately. They came with a wheelchair and took me directly to the shower room. It was like heaven to get myself clean again.

After much rehab to get my strength back it was finally time to come home again. This time I would leave a light on all the time. I was getting stronger and many people came to see me and bring food. I was finally able to take care of myself and it was June before Peggy returned home. I can never repay Peg and David for their kindness to me. I can only say thanks. I was able to get into my car and drive so I spent a good deal of time at the Senior Center.

The last several months I have been going to the temple with the men that I worked with and doing three sessions while I wait for them. This brings me up to this date, May 8th, 2004. I am sure that I have left much out and got a few things wrong, but I have now fulfilled my promise to myself and I feel good about that. I will continue to update it as time passes.
"Condemn me not because of mine imperfection,... but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been." Mormon 9:31
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