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

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