Saturday, January 26, 2013

We sure miss the old cow

January 21, 1958

Dear Perry,

I didn't answer your Christmas letter. Other things keep crowding for attention. I hope Linda had a happy birthday. Did she make herself a cake like she did for Dale?

You have a way, Perry, in your writing of being able to make the reader feel the same mood that you are in, and your descriptions are so vivid. We could see the whole picture of "the night before the night before Christmas." That same early evening, Pa and I were walking up to Hazel's and we saw the bright star so close to the moon. He said, "Why that must be a plane on fire or something." I said, "No, that is the evening star, but I have never seen it so bright and so close to the moon before." It was really quite a sight, and I am glad you folks saw it.

A family gathering of Marion Manwaring, her children
and grandchildren. She's in the center. Her daughters,
Thelma and Leona are on her left. Elmer and Leona
and standing just behind her right shoulder. Elmer's brothers
are also behind their mother. Perry's sister, Hazel and
her husband, Walter are sitting at the far left of the picture.
I hope you folks are all well as we are here, but I must tell you some rather sad news from Naples. Grandma's old house caught fire last Saturday and the whole roof and ceiling joists were burned. Dee and Ashel say the bottom logs are so decayed with age that they think a new house of blocks will be the wisest thing to build. Wayne, Dee's boy, was up to the house with the girls, [Leona and Thelma are Elmer's sisters who never married and continued living in their mother's house after her death.] and Leona said she could smell smoke and asked him to go out and look. The whole roof was blazing, he said, and he ran to tell his mother. The boys, Dee and Ashel, [Elmer's married brothers who lived near by] were both away at work. Mary asked Elva to call the boys and the fire department while she ran to the neighbors for help.

They got the things all out of the house, and the fire department got there in time to put out the fire. The water soaked the plaster so that it all fell off. The two girls are staying out to LaVell's home with Grace and Estel. The boys phoned out here to Elmer and Arthur to know what they can do. We will have to borrow it. Arthur sent $100 and said he would have to borrow the rest. Material for a small three-room house with toilet and bath will cost about $2,000.

So you can see what we are in for. The biggest burden will be on Ashel and Dee and their wives who live there. With LaVell on a mission and Ashel's boy on a mission, it is going to be rather hard. I have been wondering if the church welfare couldn't be asked for help. Pa said don't try to send any cash to the girls until we see what we can do. Love, Mother and Dad

There is such a big difference between Grandma Leona Manwaring's letters and Grandma Leora Fast's letters. It's interesting how personalities are revealed in a person's writing. I'm including a part of Leora's letter here because it shows some insight into the circumstances surrounding Grandpa Emmett Fast's death.

January 28, 1958

Dear Gene,

I saw Dr. Ernest Ward after our services were over Sunday night. I went over and spoke to him. I told him that Dad had wanted him to come when he had his heart attack, and I told him that Dad knew he had made an ex-ray of his heart when he had a spell of pleurisy before I came up to stay with you in Salt Lake when Jan was born. Remember how sick Dad was then? I really had my hands full then--had to get Rich's children settled with the Community Chest, and had Emily with us, had to get her ticket to fly back to DC, Rich was in service then before he went to Japan. Dad and I had been out and packed a lot or all of their personal things so Rich could have them brought in and stored at Bekins near us on Grand Ave. I'd just gotten through working at Kermit's place when they were away, hardly got over my auto wreck either. I don't know how I did it.

Emmett Fast, his sister, Edith, and Leora on right
Anyway, what I wanted to tell you, Dr. Ward was called to look after Dad at that time, and he made several calls to see Dad even after I went to look after you in Salt Lake and Emily flew to her mother's. Mrs. Lawson paid the trip fare. Poor Dad went along with me when I went to the station. Mr. & Mrs. Cocke, our landlord, took me and thought it good for Dad to go, but he stayed in the car as he felt too weak. Pierce took Emily to the airport after I left, and Aunt Edith came to stay with him while I was with you 4 weeks.

Somehow he seemed not to like Dr. Ward and finally quit him. But I know Dr. Ward is good and knew what was wrong with Dad, but Dad never had much faith in doctors. I remember I talked him into letting Brother Kuch and Payne administer to him. He had faith in them.

But what I'm wanting to tell you, Dr. Ward told me Sunday night after I said Dad had a heart attack with excruciating pain and asked for the doctor (him) and then when I called, he was away. He said, "Yes, I had gone to Utah." And he said he (Dad) had a "bad one." He meant a very bad heart, and he said, "He was only living on borrowed time."

Now he knew Dad's condition, but Dad didn't seem to like him. And I know he made his charges reasonable for he had a medic to come to the house to make the picture. He'd asked me if we could afford the hospital. Dad would only take the pills when he thought he needed them. I think he had some bottle medicine too. Only once after did I get more pills for him. Dr. Ward told me then on the phone that "before he got any more, after that, he should come to see him."

So Dad was really worse off than he knew and kept on trying to work at insurance. I'm glad I talked with Dr. Ward. He is an LDS. He is blind in one eye. He must have been one of the early members in the first stake after it was established here. He is not an old man and practicing on or near Crenshaw Avenue west of us here. . . . Love, Mom

February 23, 1958

Dear Folks,

We were glad to get the Valentines, kiddies, and I could see each of you helping to decide which one goes to which one. I saw David's and Kerry Dee's too. They were all cute.

Leona and Thelma write that the new house is just about done. They have built a block house a little south of the old one--three smaller rooms with a bath and closet and kitchen cupboard. I imagine it will be very nice for them and I hope they will be able to enjoy it. They feel so bad about being so dependent on everybody. Leona said, "It's too bad we couldn't have died before this had to happen. They could have buried us cheaper." Hazel laughed till the tears ran down her face when I read that to her. She said, "She sure doesn't think her life is of much worth."

Elmer and his cow, Milky May
We have been able to contribute some to the cause and are trying in every way to economize. One item of food the ward is advocating members to buy is powdered milk for storage. We decided to use it now. It is only about 10 cents per quart that way. It seems that milk is our most expensive item of food. We sure miss the old cow and the eggs too! I also bake our bread and some once in a while for Hazel. I have decided I can make good bread and cookies too. Our gas for heating has gone up until it is really quite an item, but it has been warm lately so our next bill should be better. One thing about powdered milk, Elmer and I don't need the fat that is taken out. I am trying to keep down my weight and Elmer is too. . . . We hope to hear from you soon. Mother (Grandma)

As part of his responsibility in the bishopric, Perry went to Spring General Conference in Salt Lake. The following is a letter home telling us about his experience getting there on the train.

April 1, 1958

My Dear Family,

My but it was a heart-twisting experience to sit on the train and watch all of you move away from me as you stood on the dock. I am surely glad it will never have to be permanent. I so wished I could have taken all of you along. I know how badly you wanted to come--Linda especially. Linda could hardly even look up from the ground as the train pulled away. I hope we will all be able to come the next time--soon.

I had quite a lonely feeling as the train moved east and up through the mountains. It was quite a pleasant trip generally. First it was the groves of oranges, fields of grapes, and the rolling hills covered with grass. Then we began climbing higher and from where I sat, I could often see both the locomotive and the tail car at the same time as we wound back and forth making our way to the top of the mountains.

One of Perry's school pictures
Then through tunnels and the mountains became more jagged. Some rocks stood on the tops of mountains like giant saw-teeth. Others rose in stately columns like the pipes of a great organ. I would not have been surprised to have heard a Bach melody issuing from them. Then we moved out onto the desert. It was vast and treeless except for the deodars or giant Joshuas. It was very much alive, however. Acres and acres of small flowers of white, yellow, blue, red and pink were scattered abundantly. I am sure if I could have stopped and looked, I would have seen many, many more with blossoms so small that their beauty was passed unobserved. It was all very beautiful and all very sad. It was as though the salt had been left out of the most delicious food. I am sure heaven could never be heaven without one's family.

I sometimes thought I might as well have had my own family along. I was right in the midst of somebody else's family. I was seated right by a woman who was taking her four children with her. There was Pamela, Duffy, Kipperly and the baby. Duffy was a stem-winder. His hair was close-cropped, and his head had about twenty substantial scars as evidence that he had tried to wind plenty of stems in his short life. He delighted in jumping up and down on the seats, running up and down the aisle and making his little sister scream. His favorite pastime, however, was pushing the chair releases so they would snap back into place with a bang. Or better still, if he just pushed the release half-way, they would come back with a heavy, grating sound. The effect he created was something like running a cold iron up and down over your exposed vertebrae.

"Duffy, if you do that one more time, I am going to spank you," his mother would say. Duffy did it one more time. Duffy did it ten more times. Duffy did it until he got his finger caught. Duffy screamed. Duffy's mother screamed hysterically. Finally, with the help of the conductor, Duffy's finger was removed--blue but still intact.

Kipperly was no slouch at stem-winding either. She would sit up on the seats riding them like a bronco. Or else she would lean back over the seat and stare at me. Presumably she was wondering why I didn't want to get up and put the spurs into the back of my seat. When the train gave a sideward lunge, her cup of cold water came tumbling into my lap. "No, that's quite all right," I told her mother. "I didn't mind at all. I have children too." I might mention: her front teeth were knocked out and her front lip was still blue from some recent stem-winding experience.

The others deserve mention, but I am running out of time. Perhaps they will all have to wait for a story. I might mention that when Duffy and Kipperly finally got settled down for the night, I was completely unsettled. I hope I sleep well tonight.

I arrived here at 5 AM. Dad and Mother came and got me. Our place looks like a little fairy house that some little boy and girl might suddenly discover as they go tripping through the woods in some fairy tale. Hope you are all well. Be careful and be safe. Love, Daddy

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daddy, go on with the story

Jan. 26, 1957

Dear Folks,

This church job of mine is beginning to consume so much time, (I was out every night last week except Friday) and tonight two meetings and stake conference tomorrow. [Perry had been called as the second counselor in the bishopric.]

Stake Conference was held in Riverside, California.
We would take a picnic lunch and go to a park to eat
and relax between the AM and PM sessions.
Gene is over to Riverside practicing with the Singing Mothers for tomorrow. I have been home tending things while she is gone. I lay down and tried to tell the children a story in an effort to get them to sleep, all the time knowing I should be up writing. What happened, I suppose, is worth writing about and you may be interested in a typical Saturday afternoon at our house. It was Shakespeare who said, "All the world's a stage and its people merely players." So here is our play for this afternoon.

Act I, Scene I - This play takes place in Pomona, California, 2450 Merrywood Street. The principal characters are: Daddy, Mama, Jan, Renee and Harriet Lea. Also included are Linda, Marian and Dale.

The scene opens in a small living room. There is a sofa, a small bookcase, a chair and a piano. On top of the piano is an assortment of various and sundry things--pictures, a globe, a Bible and a stack of unanswered correspondence. Dale is sitting on the floor playing with an electric train. The tracks run from the floor over an elaborate trestle of boxes of various sizes, up on to the sofa and down to the floor again. Mama enters, stepping over a section of railroad track.

Mama: Now Perry, will you see that these three youngest children get a nap? (She is followed by Harriet and Renee. They each step over the track, Harriet with some effort as though she were stepping over a ditch.

Renee: Mama, where are you going?

Harriet: Mama, I want to go with you.

Mama: Perry, Did you hear me? (Perry enters from the kitchen, munching on a cracker.)

Daddy: Sure, sure. I'll take care of them. (Mama turns, exits, stepping over the train tracks into the bedroom followed by Renee and Harriet. Harriet knocks over a piece of the track while trying to step over it.)

Dale: Harriet Lea! (Mama enters again followed by Renee and Harriet.)

Renee: (Whimpering) Mama, where are you going?

Daddy and his little children
Harriet: Mama! Talk to me!

Mama: Now Perry, will you see that these children get a nap? I have them well trained. I just lie down with them for a few minutes and tell them a story and they go right to sleep. Will you do that?

Daddy: (Absentmindedly) I'll take care of them.

Harriet: (Crying) Mama! Why don't you talk to me?

Mama (Stooping down and kisses Harriet) Ok, baby. Mama's got to go now.

Renee: Mama, can I go with you?

Mama: No honey, Mama's going to sing with the Relief Society ladies. You stay here and Daddy will tell you a story.

Renee: (With a whine of resignation) Ok.

Harriet: Otay (The honk of an automobile is heard outside. Mama opens the door and looks out.)

Mama: Here they are now. Goodbye.

All: Goodbye Mama. Bye, bye. (Exit Mama)

Act II - The scene opens in a small bedroom. There is a double bed on one wall and a single youth bed on the other. At one end is a small children's dresser covered with various and sundry children's articles. Daddy is sitting on the bed holding Harriet. He removes her shoes and lies down, putting her down on his right. He pulls a blanket over them.

Daddy: Come on, Renee. Lie down and Daddy will tell you a story.

Renee: Oh boy. Jan, Daddy is going to tell us a story.

Jan: Oh goody, goody gum-drops.

Daddy: Well, come on. Take off your shoes and lie down with me.

Jan & Renee: Ok. (They sit down on the floor and begin removing their shoes.)

Jan: Daddy, tell us a story about when you were a little boy.

Renee: Yeah, Daddy. Tell us about when you were a teeny, tiny baby.

Daddy: Ok. Come up here and lie down. (They climb up and lie down, pulling the covers over them. Renee is next to Daddy. Jan is on the outside.)

Daddy: Well, once upon a time, a long time ago, Daddy was born.

Renee: Was that when you was a teeny, tiny baby?

Daddy: Well, yes.

Jan: Yeah! Daddy was one years old.

Renee: Was you this many, Daddy? (Renee holds up one finger.)

Daddy: Well, no. Not yet. You see, I was just born.

Renee: Oh, I get it. Daddy was this many. (She sits up and holds up a clenched fist.)

Jan: How can you be none years old, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, you're just born, that's all. Lie down, Renee.

Jan: Oh.

Daddy: Well, I was born in a log house.

Jan: What's a log house, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, a log house is--well, it's a house made out of logs.

Renee: What are logs?

Daddy: Well, logs are a--a--.

Jan: Oh, I know--Lincoln logs. Are they Lincoln logs Daddy?

Daddy: Well, yes, something like that.

Jan: Oh, boy. They're real neat. You must have been rich, Daddy. Were you rich, Daddy?

Daddy: No. we were kinda poor.

Jan: Well, Daddy, you had a house made out of Lincoln logs.

Daddy: No, you see, only people who didn't have much money would have a log house.

Jan: Gee. You were lucky, Daddy. Well, Daddy--.

Daddy: Now, Jan, be quiet and listen to my story. (In the next room the television is heard going full-blast. Linda, Marian and Dale are cheering while Roy Rogers and other great American heros establish order and justice.)

Daddy: Linda! Linda!

Linda: What?

Daddy: Now you kids be more quiet in there.

Linda: Ok.

Daddy: Now, let's see where was I?

Renee: You was to the log house.

Daddy: Oh, yes. Well, I was born in a log house and we had a great big tree out in front.

Jan: Was it a redwood tree, Daddy?

Daddy: No. It was a cottonwood tree.

Jan: What's a cottonwood tree?

Daddy: Well, do you remember Riley's big tree? It was like that.

Jan: Oh.

Harriet: (Sitting up) Daddy, we have a twee. We have a oange twee.

Renee: Daddy, our tree has two cute little oranges on it.

Daddy: Yes. Uh, huh. Well, this tree was a cottonwood tree--

Renee: Daddy, did it have cottons on it?

Daddy: Well, sort of, I guess. Anyway--now lie down Harriet. Linda! Marian!

Marian: What?

Daddy: Turn the television down!

Marian: Ok.

Daddy: Well, anyway, we had a farm and on this farm we had some cows and chickens and--

Jan: (Singing) Old McDonald had a farm, ee--

Daddy: Now, Jan, you be quiet.

Jan: Ok--Old Manwaring had a fa--

Daddy: Jan! Be quiet! Now, we had some horses on this farm.

Jan & Renee: Horses? Oh boy!

Daddy: Yes, and we would use the horses on the farm to plow and pull the wagon.

Jan: Did they pull stagecoaches like on television?

Daddy: No. They would just pull the plow and--and--and sometimes they would pull the wagon.

Renee: Did you get to ride in the wagon, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, yes, sometimes.

Jan: Did you get to drive the horse, Daddy?

Daddy: Sometimes I did.

Renee: How do you drive horses, Daddy?

Jan: I know. On television a man sits up there and holds those things in his hands and those things are tied to the horses and--.

Daddy: Yes, that's right. Those are lines and the lines are tied to the horses' bridles. Lie down Harriet. And the bridles would have iron bits on them and we would put the bridles on the horses head over the horses ears and we would put the bits in their mouths.

Renee: What's bits?

Jan: I know. (He sits up.) I saw on television. They are two round things like this. (He holds up his fingers making an oval shape) and they put those on each side of the horses face.

Daddy: Well--yes, and between those round things there is a big, round iron thing that's called a bit and that goes in the horse's mouth. Harriet Lea! Don't sit on my head! Now all of you lie down and listen. Well, we would put bits in the horses' mouths and then we could guide them.

Renee: Well, Daddy, that wasn't very nice.

Daddy: Well, the horses didn't mind.

Renee: Well, I wouldn't like an old iron thing in my mouth.

Daddy: Well, you wouldn't have cared if you had been a horse. Lie down now Harriet Lea! Don't put your hands in Daddy's mouth. Well, anyway, sometimes my daddy would be working out in the field and my mama would tell me to go out and tell him to come in to dinner. He would unhitch the horses and sometimes he--Dale! Now you stop chasing through the hall! And sometimes he would put me up on the horses back and I would ride one of the horses to the house.

Renee: Daddy, what was your mama's name?

Daddy: Her name was Leona. Leona Manwaring.

Renee: Yee-yonia!

Daddy: Yes, Leona.

Renee: Well, Daddy, did you call her Yee-yonia?

Daddy: No, I called her Mama. Well, anyway, I would ride the horses to the house.

Jan: Gee! Did you ride both horses at once like on Super-Circus?

Daddy: No. I would just ride one horse at a time. then when we--

Renee: But Daddy! Did your daddy call your mama Yee-yonia?

Daddy: Yes, He would call her Leona. Harriet Lea, get back on this bed. Well, where was I--? Oh, yes, a (pause)

Renee: Daddy, go on with the story.

Daddy: Well, we would come in the house and wash our hands. We didn't have running water where you would just turn on the faucet so we would take the teakettle off the stove and pour water into the hand basin. You see, we would heat water on the stove in a teakettle.

Jan: What's a teakettle?

Daddy: Well, it's a--well it's like a big pan with a spout on it.

Jan: Oh, I know. On television the cowboys make coffee in it.

Daddy: Yes, some people used to make coffee in them and some would make tea, but we just used it to heat water because we couldn't just turn on hot and cold water from the tap.

Jan: Well then, where did you get your water?

Daddy: Well, we would haul the water from town in a big tank and put it in a cistern.

Jan & Renee: What's a cistern?

Daddy: A cistern is a big hole in the ground where we would store our water.

Jan: Well, the water would be all muddy.

Daddy: No, we would put cement all around in the hole--a like a--(pause) then the water would be nice and clean. . .(pause)

Renee: Daddy, go on with the story--Daddy! Then what Daddy?

Daddy: Oh--uh--where was I?

Renee: You was at the cistern.

Daddy: Oh, yes, well--Harriet get off of me! We would take a bucket out to the cistern and tie a rope t it and drop it down into the cistern and then draw up a nice cool bucket of water.

Renee: Daddy, I'm thirsty.

Jan: Me too. I want a drink of water.

Harriet: (Climbing over Daddy) I wanna dwink too.

Daddy: Ok. Hurry up. (All three slide off the bed and go into the bathroom. The water is heard turning on and off, on and off, on and off. They soon return.)

Jan: Now go on with the story, Daddy.

Renee: Come on, Daddy. Move over Daddy.

Daddy: Oh--uh--what? Oh, yes. Well, by our house there was a big field or a pasture. We used to walk through the field to go to school and Sunday School. There were cows in the pasture--

Jan: Was there bulls in the pasture?

Daddy: Well, yes, sometimes. My sisters were always afraid of the bull.

Jan: Did the bull ever chase you?

Daddy: No. I was just (pause) I was always afraid he was going to. (pause)

Renee: Daddy, go on with the story. Then what, Daddy?

Daddy: Oh, uh? Where was I?

Renee: You was at the bull.

Daddy: Well, to get over the fence into this pasture, we had a stile.

Jan & Renee: What's a stile?

Daddy: It's a--it's a--well, it's steps or stairs over a fence--then you can just walk over the fence.

Jan: Oh, I know. Like the story in my book about the crooked man that found some crooked money on a stile. Is that what it is, Daddy?

Daddy: (pause) uh--uh--ya, that's it. (pause)

Renee: Daddy--Daddy--then what, Daddy?

Daddy: Oh, where was I?

Renee: You was at the stile.

Daddy: (sleepily) Well, the old lady couldn't get the pig to go over the stile. (Daddy starts to snore.)

Renee: Go on, Daddy--Daddy!

Daddy: Oh, where was I?

Renee: You're still at the stile.

Daddy: Oh yes--the stile--well, the bull--or the cows-- (pause)

Jan: Daddy, did the cows go over the stile?

Daddy: No.

Jan: Why didn't they, Daddy? Daddy, why didn't they?

Daddy: (Turning over, speaking with effort.) Well, they just don't like to--they don't want to (pause) like the pig in the----.

Renee: Go on Daddy. You're still at the stile, Daddy. Why don't you go on, Daddy?

Daddy: (slowly--very sleepily) I--I just can't seem to get over the stile.

Renee: Daddy!--Daddy! Go on, Daddy. Then what, Daddy? (End of Act II)

Act III, Scene I (One hour later.) Daddy drowsily enters the television room. There is a volley of gunfire and three Indians bite the dust. Pow! Pow! Zing! A bewhiskered man, aged sixty, a stalwart defender of the wagon train, throws his hands up in helpless agony and slumps slowly, an arrow protruding from dead center. Daddy glances at the floor. Jan is asleep with feet up, resting on the couch. Harriet is lying face down, her face resting on her right hand. Renee is slumped in the chair, her head leaning heavily on the arm. Dale is sitting on the floor. Linda and Marian on the couch. Daddy reaches down and silently picks up each of the three sleeping children and carries each out. Daddy enters.

Daddy: Linda! Marian! Come now. We've got to clean up the house before Mama returns.

Linda: Ok, Daddy. Just a minute, Daddy.

Marian: This show is almost over, Daddy.

Daddy: Come on, Dale. You've got to get all of your toys picked up. You know what we said. (A trumpet sounds. Daddy glances at the television. The cavalry are arriving with flag waving. The Indians are fleeing to the hills. (End Scene I)

Scene II - As this scene opens, Dale is slowly putting sections of track into a box under the constant urging of Daddy. Marian is putting some paper dolls into a shoebox, intermittently stopping to try a new dress on one. Linda can be heard in the kitchen putting dishes into the sink. The grating of feet is heard at the door. The door opens. Mama enters.

Mama: My! This house looks like a bunch of wild Indians had been through here.

Daddy: Perhaps they have.

Mama: Where are the other children?

Daddy: Asleep.

Mama: Oh, bless their hearts. Have they been asleep all this time? They do need the rest. They go to sleep easily, don't they? I just tell them a simple little story and it seems to kinda relax them. I think so much television with so much excitement has a tendency to over-stimulate them, don't you?

Daddy: Oh, yes, yes. That's right.

Mama: And they do need a little time to relax with their parents. And it's good for the parents too, relaxing, that is. Don't you think so?

Daddy: Um, hm. It certainly is.

Mama: What story did you tell them? Harriet Lea just loves Little Black Sambo. She just begs to hear it over and over. (Mama stoops down and straightens a rug.) And Renee is just crazy about Little Red Riding Hood. Of course, I sort of change it a little--you know about the wolf eating grandma and all that. It's rather gruesome that way. Well, come on, tell me some more. Did they go right to sleep? (Mama exits into the kitchen.) Oh, Linda, that's so nice, but it seems like you should have had them all done by now. (Mama enters the living room again wearing an apron.) What story did you tell them?

Daddy: Oh, just about when I was a little boy.

Mama: Oh, that's nice. Did they go right to sleep? Then what?


So you see, nothing very interesting happens around here, but thought you might enjoy just "dropping in" for a while. Love, Perry

Feb. 1 p.s. Today we are going in to Los Angeles. I am to be set apart.

February 13, 1957 (excerpt)

Dear Perry and all,

First, let me say, we really enjoyed the short visit with you and the children on "a Saturday afternoon." You should have seen and heard Pa laugh. Hazel said "I think that ought to be kept." So June will make several copies so the children can someday take a page and go back to "When I was a little kid." Love, Mother and Dad

Elmer & Leona Manwaring
April 8, 1957 (excerpt)

Dear Perry & Gene,

We were very glad to get the three letters from Perry, Linda and Marian inviting us to come to California. That is surely a nice invitation, and Pa asked for his vacation time in June, so maybe we will accept it. We will have to arrange for someone to take care of the grass and flowers.

Your bishop, Brother Carlsen, called us Saturday night. That was surely nice of him, and it seemed good to hear from someone who had recently seen you folks. Brother Carlsen said he was going to see to it that you come next October, so you will have to plan something. All the folks here seem to think it would be a fine thing for us to take the trip there. The conference was good. I heard most of it. goodbye, with love from Mother and Dad

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I will always see you folks in that house

Jan. 3, 1956

Dear Perry & Gene,

Lola told us of the passing of Gene's father. Our heart goes out to her in sympathy and understanding, and we pray the Lord to comfort her and loved ones. It's five years today since we laid our mother to rest. So we do know the loss of parents and the comfort of the Lord's sweet spirit at these times. We do pray Gene dear gets back home safe and that all of you can keep well while she is gone.

We do hope all the children were well to enjoy a happy Christmas. And we do wish a very bright, healthy and happy new year to you all. Thanks for the Christmas greetings. Our love to all. Leona and Thelma [Perry's aunts, his father's sisters.]

Dale, Jan, Renee & Harriet
Sunday, April 15, 1956, 3 pm

Dear Gene & Family

Well, how was the Adams Ward reunion? Brother Payne, our patriarch, and Bishop Randall told me they were at the reunion and that they saw you and many of the other former Adamites. . . .We had a welfare dinner last Friday night--a Swedish smorgasbord--$5 per member or $10 per family. So had a variety menu where they all could fill their plates with all sorts of food. . . .

I talked a little while to Mona [Pierce's wife] by phone this pm. Can't talk too long--costs 4 1/4 cents per minute for 5 minutes plus tax, which makes it 25 cents or so. They have a phone now. She was watching the picture of a visiting tour through the temple. It was on at one pm today with the choir and talks coming from Westwood Chapel near the temple. . . .

I've gotten those colored film pictures of Dad and me (sitting) that were taken on Mother's Day by Pierce. I have them enlarged 5 x 7 inches and put in plastic frames with glass over the pictures. They can be set up on fireplace. I have five made, and they are very good, I think. . . . These are the last and best pictures we had taken of Dad, and we're fortunate to have them. Sure am grateful to Pierce for having gotten the expensive color film and came around in time to take them. Dad and I had just gotten home from church.

We had a Mother's Day program and our Mother's did the singing in the choir that morning for Sunday School. Sister Phelps and I had worked Saturday pm making the red carnation corsages for each singing mother and one for LaVon Mead, our director, and one for our organist. So I was dressed just as I was at church.

Dad and I went to Clifton's for our Mother's Day dinner. Valerie (Mona's and Pierce's little girl) wanted to go along, so we took her along. I brought her home when we got through. Dad came on home to take his afternoon rest and nap. He seemed to tire out so quickly and just needed to rest and sleep so much. Now nearly a year gone, and this Mother's Day I'll be alone. We never know what the year will bring.

Anyway, I have 5 large pictures 5 x 7 made and I think they are very good. I'm sending one to Aunt Edith and Aunt Harriet without frame. They can get one to suit their taste. But I got one each for you, Rich and Pierce and myself. The glass and frame protect the pictures. They shouldn't be put in too much light exposure though. I will keep yours till you move for it will save you having to pack, and I also have the extra pictures of your children--the single ones--so will keep them for you till you move.

Well, I'd better close and go drop this in the mailbox. Heard you had better weather this Conference. Will be glad to have you closer, but you'll be a little farther away than Pierce's. Did I tell you that Sister Redford and I went to see the Robe? She said some of it had been clipped out. She saw it one time before. The comedy we saw for the 2nd picture was a scream--I laughed till my sides hurt. Well, so long. Lots of love to all. Mother

Linda in front of the little tract home on Merrywood St.
[Perry accepted a teaching position for the Pomona Unified School District to start as an elementary school teacher the fall of the 1956 school year. The following letter from his mother is addressed to 2450 Merrywood St., Pomona, California, the little tract home where Perry, Gene and family moved that summer.]

December 5, 1956 (excerpt)

Dear Perry & Gene,

We had Thanksgiving with Hazel up to your place. [Perry's sister, Hazel, and her husband, Walter, bought the house that Perry built from an old chicken coop behind his parent's property. They lived in this house with their son, David, for many years.] Genevieve and Lorin and three children, Hope and Grant and Nelson with the rest of us. We felt that you folks were here too.

I will always see you folks in that house. Little Renee and Harriet Lea around the sink whenever Gene was working there. Oh well, such is life. . . . Love, Mother

December 11, 1956

Dear Folks,

I'll try and send my letter and return Renee's "idea of going to California." We had quite a bit of fun looking at it, and I showed it to the folks at Thanksgiving. She didn't make any flowers down the driveway but remembered an apple on the ground. Of course the flowers weren't out much by then.

We got another good supply of snow. It seems good not to have to go up to the chickens, in the snow, but it would be good to have that much extra every month. [When Perry moved the family to California, he sold his chicken business. It seemed hard to have to actually go to a store and buy eggs and milk.] We got coaxed into having our house covered with white tile on the outside, also our garage. Surely does look better, and it will save that paint job that was inevitably coming. In fact, it will never need painting they say. So with our taxes $15 higher than last year and these new payments, it is good we got a little extra. Of course, we couldn't have done it if we hadn't had the egg money.

Renee can't remember how she got the "real" horsie
while Harriet and Jan had to settle for willow sticks
Is it easier to budget your income since you have a regular salary? Our ward bishopric is emphasizing very strongly storing some food. So that is another project we are going to try and squeeze in. The other night David stayed all night here as his parents went to a party. I read him a story from the Relief Society magazine about a little boy who had lost his sister and wanted to adopt one for Christmas. David said, "I'd like to adopt Harriet Lea for Christmas." We think of them so much, I mean her and the rest, and wonder how they are doing. Did they enjoy the "Over the freeway to Grandma's house" for Thanksgiving Day?

Aunt Eva has been very sick. [Another sister of Elmer's.] They didn't expect her to live, so they sent for their children. Venna went from here and Irvin and Hollis came home. I don't know just where Irvin was, but you know Hollis was in France. He got a month's leave and has 16 more months to serve there. I would like to see and talk to him. She is so much better again now. I think seeing her boys must have given her renewed hope and strength.

I am sending you a letter of Venice's. [Perry's sister] I have to laugh at the way she gets some things off like her children "getting hungry every day--not every two or three months to meet Elvyn's pay day." Did you read about John Goodrich's boy getting killed? Also if you take the news, you read about the division of Uintah Stake. Quite interesting. It is rather hard to imagine the lines of demarcation of the two stakes, but it is surely time they divided such a big stake--both in wards and territory.

Many people inquire about you. Love to all of you. Mother

Marian in the orange tree in the front yard on Merrywood
December 20, 1956

Dear Folks,

Here it is so close to Christmas. I'm only just now getting around to the writing of Christmas cards. It's hard to get the realization that it's actually the holiday season. Perry is out cutting the grass and the children play in their summer clothes.

Oh how we'd love to drop in on you for awhile Christmas Day! Hope you are both well and have a wonderful Christmas. Love from us all, Gene

December 27, 1956 (excerpt)

Dear Perry, Gene & All,

Thanks for the nice cards. The children's card was sure cute, and I pictured them also "all in a row." When your card came, I said to Hazel, "Well, no wonder those folks don't write. They don't have time. They still have to cut the grass and water it too, I guess." She laughed and got out this little verse she found in the Reader's Digest.

"A garden is a lovely thing, it must be spaded in the Spring;
And weeded when the Summer's near,
And mulched again when Winter's near.
The Season best? Do you wonder?
I like it best when it's snowed under."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How to grow old gracefully?

Emmett & Leora at their favorite restaurant, Cliftons
January 11, 1955
977 W. 42 St., Los Angeles

Dear Gene & Perry,

Thanks for the beautiful birthday remembrance. My how these birthdays seem to come around more often than they used to! We get a little grayer, look older, but feel no older than we did at 25 or 30, yet we darn well know that we can not kid ourselves--old age is upon us. How to grow old gracefully? Seems to come naturally to some, but for me to attempt it, well, it just doesn't appeal to me.

I now have your beautiful card before me. The carnations look so natural, I can almost smell their fragrance, which I admire so much. The verse, "For those born in January, . ." may quite possibly over-estimate our talents; however, we like to think we're that good, ha! I believe I can conscientiously say there are two things in there that are true of me:

(1) "Study," a thing everyone must learn if he goes far in school. I want to refer to what we have been studying in the Melchizedek priesthood quorums for the past three years, "The Divine Church" by John L. Baker. I hope you have been studying it, Perry. It is rather comprehensive and perhaps a little tedious at times, but I have enjoyed it immensely. You have to study it to really get the good out of it. I found most of the members in the high priest quorum at Adams, also in Manchester Ward, where I was the instructor for about a year, did not get down and study these lessons and several didn't take the time to read it even. It is work, mentally, to do these things, and I find unless a man has acquired the habit for reading good literature, he just won't read these manuals.

I have, after studying these manuals, acquired a fair comprehension of what took place down through the centuries to the church that our Savior established and left to his apostles and disciples. There was no authority after the apostles and the theologians interpreted the scriptures without the spirit of revelation. So what could you expect? Schisms arose to cause strife and confusion and man-made doctrines entered into the church. Very interesting. It would be well if all the young people of our church would study this course. It makes quite clear how necessary it was for the gospel to be restored.

(2) "High Standards," I always kept the commandments, with the exception, perhaps, of not always following to the letter the keeping of the Sabbath day. I did play golf one summer on Sundays. I did, however, believe in being honest, morally clean and always did keep the "Word of Wisdom" long before I ever heard of it as we know it in our church. Now, I don't mean to be egotistical. None of us are perfect. I hope I haven't gone too far with this to bore you.

Well, we are getting beautiful weather here now after a heavy shower Sunday night. Clear blue sky today with snow-covered peaks to the north of us and a temperature of about 72 degrees. I hope you are all enjoying good health, and I wish for you all a very happy New Year. I know you must be enjoying your enlarged quarters, and what a fine family. We only wish we could see you occasionally. We have ample room here now, and it would be nice to have you come and see us. It is hard for me to realize that Salt Lake City is almost as far from here as New York City is from Chicago, which to us in the "old days" gone by was a trip to talk about and only made once in a lifetime. How times do change.

Easter 1955 with all six children
Pierce is now a family man and quite busy, so we only see him on Sunday at church. Little Becky is getting cuter every day and in her blue coat and bonnet is quite a picture. Until only recently, I couldn't get near her but what she would scowl and turn away. She is beginning to get used to me now and gives me a big smile, and I can pick her up in my arms. How about some snapshots of those two youngest of yours, Renee and Harriet Lea?

I must run along now. With love and may the Lord bless you with His choices blessing. Your Dad

Excerpt from Leora's letter written July 13, 1955 where she's commenting on the remodeling of Perry and Gene's Salt Lake City house that started out as an old chicken coop at the back of Perry's parent's property and eventually became a comfortable 3-bedroom house that is still standing and occupied to this day.

Summer fun, 1955
Leora writes: "Do hope that carpenter makes your dish cupboards first for you sure need them. Have him fix it so you can stand your plates up in back and have more room. Glad to hear you're having your house finished, but gee? adding more closets too takes extra space from your rooms. Boy! You'll be all in an upheaval like you were when I was there in October. Hope you'll have it all done though before cold weather so you can get your house in order and everything in its place. You know, the Lord says, "My house is a house of order." Wish I could be there to help you put it that way when he gets the work done. You really need a 4-bedroom house too with your family of six.

Excerpt from Emmett's letter written July 13, 1955. Five months later, Emmett died unexpectedly.

Am pleased to hear you are getting the house remodeling finished. How nice it will be! I'm sure you will enjoy your new conveniences. With a family of 8 of you, how necessary it is to have things handy and convenient for "operation" breakfast, dinner and supper, which comes so regularly every day in the week and then "operation" dish washing to say nothing of wash day, ironing, mending, etc. The home becomes a small industrial institution all in itself. While Mother must be general manager, plan and delegate certain responsibilities and tasks to the children to make it a smooth, well-balanced, economical home. Some task! [Emmett graduated from college as a time-study engineer and he spent a lot of time thinking and talking about efficiency and time management as this paragraph illustrates.]

November 15, 1955 (Tuesday)
1149 Elgin Ave., Salt Lake City

Dear Mother & Dad,

Today Dick's and Betty's baby was born about 12:15 AM, I guess. Anyway, Dick called me about 2:00 AM to tell me about it. Ha! After talking to him awhile, I could not get back to sleep. I tossed around a long time--really felt like I was killing time! Betty read my book on "Painless Childbirth" and really tried to follow Dr. Reid's teachings. Her baby came so fast with few labor pains I guess. Dick hardly had enough time to get her to the hospital. The nurses and all were so amazed and could hardly believe it was her first child. Isn't she wonderful!

We've had quite a record snow storm here too for this time of year. It started Sunday night and yesterday it continued--had a blizzard in the afternoon. Last night Dick had fog out his way--had a neighbor drive him and Betty to the hospital.

Dale, Marian, cousin David, and Linda
Perry couldn't make it up the hills to the university yesterday morning in time to make an early class, but when he got there, he found out no one else did either--including the professor. This is really an old-fashioned snow storm like some we used to have back in Milwaukee. Perry sure hates it. Really makes it rough for the ones who have to be out in it. Of course, the kids love it.

(Wednesday) Well, last night and today we've broken some cold winter weather records I guess. The coldest Utah has been for several years. Gosh, it came so all of a sudden! We were having such lovely fall weather--then bang! Dick came in last evening for eggs. He had just been in Murray visiting Betty at the hospital. Guess they don't have much money. She didn't want to go to hospital and talked the doctor into letting her go home today. Do hope she'll be ok. I gave Dick a loaf of bread and some meat for their supper. Will go out to see them Sunday and take some things--eggs, chickens, milk, etc. Guess Dick is staying home this week with his family. He said this weather makes it impossible for any work up there in Ogden.

We got all your packages, letters, etc. Thanks, Mom! The baby is wearing her little "sleepers" and keeping warm. I bought some pjs for Dale and Jan one day in Murray at JC Penney. I also got another little sweater like the white one you gave Linda. It's yellow, and now Marian is happy. Had to get mittens for all too! They all had a very exciting Halloween. They went to the Primary party, also one at their school house.

Guess I didn't tell you, I have my automatic washer now. It surely seems wonderful to be taking care of my dirty clothes while I go about the house doing my other work. Must get this off to you. We're planning to go out to Kearns Sunday afternoon to see the new baby and take her something. Betty's friends out there had a nice baby shower for her one day. I think she got just about everything.

Did I tell you our new bathroom is in working order now--fixtures and all! We also have our front porch and sidewalk in. We keep busy, but we are happy. Hope you are both well. Love from us all, Gene & family