Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life is so short at best

Emmett & Leora Fast, Los Angeles
Gene's father's letters were not as newsy as her mother's but more reflective. He was a sweet, gentle man who loved to visit with the adults about politics and search in the grass for 4-leaf clovers with the kids. He was proud of his family heritage and often told the story of his ancestor, Christian Fast, who was captured by the Indians.

January 21, 1954 (1:46 pm)

Dear Gene and family,

Your letter came in the morning mail and how tickled we were to hear from you. It may seem strange, but several days ago, perhaps a week, it came to me I should sit down and write you and bring you up to date on the "doings" of the clan here since Christmas Eve. Your mother, however, tells me she has written you and covered most of this.

It grieves me deeply we are not situated so we can drop in and see you and Perry and the kiddies occasionally. We miss you, every one terribly. Yes, a siege of any of those child diseases is distressing and most wearing on mama and papa. Am glad to hear everyone has had them (measles) and are over that one hurdle all right. Mother says to tell you that you should be careful to see they do not catch cold on top of what they've gone through. I am wondering if you remember when you had the measles? We moved at the time in the "dead" of winter, and I put you in a blanket with the 4 corners tied together, and you came through with flying colors. Never even called a doctor. In fact, never called a doctor when Pierce and Dick (who was in the hospital when he got them) had them either. This happened in 1928 when we were in Marshfield.

Your mother says so many times it leaves a youngster with a bad cough. You never had a cough afterward although Dick did and took several weeks for him to get over it. Well, of all these diseases, whooping cough tops the list, I'd say. Of course, today they have a serum for it which is supposed to make it much easier. I hope your youngsters can keep away from this one. I think they've done well to have disposed of the chickenpox and now the measles.

Fron December 1st to about a week ago, we have had real winter--the earliest and worst we've experienced in the eleven winters we have been here. This season has been the driest also. Had a good rain storm Tuesday the 12th and then last Sunday night it started in and the storm lasted till early yesterday morning the 20th, leaving a little over two inches of rain fall--a little over 4 inches for this season as against 7 inches at this time last year.

I see headlines in the morning paper: 40 degrees below zero in the Midwest. That's pretty severe. Your Aunt Edith [Emmett's older sister] arrived in Los Angeles last Sunday morning at 10:30 am. Kermit met her at the train and she is putting up at their Hotel Vermillion. She called me Tuesday and I talked to her for several minutes. She asked me to spend the day with her next Tuesday the 26th and look forward to a good visit with her. I can hardly realize we are getting to be "old people." Edith celebrated her 78th birthday last December 13th while Rena [Emmett's oldest sister] celebrated her 81st on December 11th and then the twins [here Emmett is referring to himself and his twin brother Byron] came along January 1st and we mark up our 71st. So it goes, and it can't be long now until it will be "exit" for some one of us. [Emmett died December 30, 1955.]

It is hard to believe, yet the years are passing quickly. Our temple here [the Los Angeles Temple] is rapidly nearing completion and in all stakes of Southern California, the people of the wards are being urged to do their genealogy work and be ready to go to the temple. This is a work that should be done earlier in life, or at least it becomes a very difficult task for one of my age when you are not economically independent and can devote so little time to it. I am sorry I did not get to come into the church when I was your age. Life is so short at best.

Last Saturday Dick announced that Betty had asked for baptism. We were quite elated. I told him I'd been praying for her these many months. She had been attending her own church (Lutheran) every Sunday morning and teaching a Sunday school class; although, she has been investigating all along, going to cottage meetings with Dick, attending conferences and Dick has worked hard, reading the Book of Mormon with her and taking up related references in the Bible. Dick has been teaching a Book of Mormon class all this past year and is qualifying himself to do effective missionary work.

He told me how Betty's pastor held several meetings at night for young married couples and engaged couples, which he and Betty attended. Dick posed some questions to him that proved rather embarrassing for him to try to answer. And Dick told him some things of the Book of Mormon and of revelation in these latter days by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He went on to tell him we accept the Bible, but we have the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and D & C which together with the Bible give us the complete gospel, and this is why it was necessary for the gospel to be restored. The minister asked Dick for a copy of our Articles of Faith. Well, anyway, we congratulate him for his faith and energy.

Gene, my health is fair, but I have to watch my step and get plenty of rest. I can not put in as many hours work as I'd like to. I am now studying for a state exam for a life insurance agent's license. It's difficult. I must run along now. Take care of yourself and I hope and pray the kiddies will soon be as well as ever. Love, your Daddy

PS. We spent a very happy New Year's day with Pierce and Mona. Nice dinner and the Rose Bowl game on TV. Little Rebecca is a dear!

Linda, Marian, Dale, Jan, Renee with Dad
October 20, 1954

Dear Mother,

Got the letter telling of your return trip several days ago. Also the nice anniversary card, which we appreciated very much with the good thoughts from you and Dad too. Also received the packages of cookies, dates, also the articles and magazine clippings, which we most definitely all enjoyed. Thanks so much from us all. Got a lovely card from Aunt Harriet and Edith too. How did they remember?

Guess Dick has written you that Emily and new husband came day after you left here (Sunday.) She called us about noon. Perry and I drove out to Dick's that afternoon to tell him. He and Betty brought the kids in that evening for a short visit. Also visited next evening (Monday) with them at Mabel's house. That was all. They left for east the next morning.

Well, we haven't gotten our rug laid yet. It's taking them longer to get around to us than we expected. I have my new couch cover material though and the fellow will be out to cut it this week. It's a beige, brown with pink and several shades of preen printed in it. I like it. A landscape fellow is coming in the morning to grade down the driveway in back by door. All that dirt and stuff that got piled up outside around the new addition. Then we will be able to put in our sidewalk from front door to driveway, lawn, etc.

Perry and I finally got the utility room cleaned out and the big gas furnace put back in the far corner where it belongs. (I packed all the old useless clothes in a big box--cleaned out the closets too--and had Deseret Industries come after it.

Everybody look at the camera and say "cheese!"
(Sunday, October 24th)

Today was our stake conference. We took the kids to the first session. LeGrand Richards spoke to us. Enjoyed it all so much. I've been going each Thursday evening too to Relief Society singing mother's chorus practice, which I also enjoy so much. We will sing on November 7th. Glad to see you are in it too. Just know how much you will like it.

Have seen two movies since you left. For our anniversary, Perry took me to "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." It was really cute. You would just love it, Mother--so much dancing and pretty music. Then last night we saw "It's a Woman's World." That was good too.

Got a real beautiful brushed rayon (long sleeves) night gown too, which is keeping me nice and warm these cold nights. Yes, our weather has gotten some colder since you left too but still clear and beautiful--that is it was until today--it has been pouring down rain most of today and really chilly too.

Yes the kids (mine anyway) are planning on a big halloween celebration. Our ward Primary puts on a big costume party for them here this week on Wednesday (in fact each year.) They sell candy, cup cakes, popcorn balls, candied apples, etc., give prizes for the best costumes, have games and booths, etc. They really have a good time. Then on Saturday night all the kids get out (after supper) in their funny faces and go up and down the street calling on all the neighbors "Trick-or-Treating." Of course, they bring home bags full of goodies-ha!

Remember when we kids did that in Milwaukee? I let Linda, Marian and Dale do it last year--gosh, how thrilled they were! It was better than Christmas I think. Yes, I could have Dick's kids in, but I wonder if they will be busy with programs of their own out there in Kearns. Well, I can ask Dick. Awfully nice of you to buy the Halloween things for all of them. Surely wish you could be here to enjoy it with them. Kids get such a bang out of little things like that, don't they?

Yes, kids all have had slight head colds--nothing serious, didn't miss any school though. Linda buys a nice hot lunch each day at school now. The baby is growing fast and is still good as gold, smiles and coos so much. [Harriet was born August 3, 1954.] Wish you lived close so you could enjoy her often. All the kids miss you and talk about Grandma Fast often. Jan says, "Is Grandma Fast in California now? Can we go to California and see Grandma?" (Just as though it were somewhere just around the corner-ha!)

Must stop here. Get a lot of good rest now, Mom, and build up your resistance before you start working someplace. Hope this finds you both well. Love from us all, Gene

PS, Do hope they do something about that terrible smog down there.

The following letter is from Emily, a good friend who married Gene's brother, Dick. They later divorced with Dick keeping their 3 children. Dick then married Betty while Emily remarried and moved to the east coast. This letter is in response to the shocking news that Perry's sister June, her husband, Dee, and their child, Kerry Dee, had been in a tragic car accident over the Thanksgiving weekend, and Dee had been killed.

December 22, 1954

My dearest Gene and Perry,

I have just finished reading a letter from Mabel telling of June's tragic loss. What a terrible shock it must have been to all of you. The suddenness of a loss like that leaves us so defenseless. I can't forget the very difficult time I had accepting the sudden death of my roommate last May. She was like a sister to me. But on calm thought, I could see God's hand in her going. She had been baptized and confirmed into the church the week before. She had a congenital heart condition and all of the doctors were amazed that she had lived so long. But she had searched for the gospel all her life and on finding it, was ready to assume duties on the other side.

God's purposes are not always so obvious, but nonetheless, there is a purpose in everything He does and we will eventually understand it. I hope that June's knowledge of that wonderful life waiting for us on the other side will help ease her loss and help all of you who were so close to her husband. I pray the child is getting along well. Where is June now and what are her plans? It has always been that those of us left on earth are the ones who suffer so from a loved one's death. The one who goes is finished with trouble and tragedy and all the things that harry us so. He has peace, happiness and accomplishment to look forward to without any fears of death and disease and loss.

This will dim your Christmas, I know, but I hope and pray that things will again adjust themselves for June and all of you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do. Our prayers are with you. Write us when you can. Love, Emily and Charles (Trenholm)

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