(My gift to my brothers, Christmas 2011)
I’ve been contemplating writing this for some time. You may know different versions but these are my memories.
Our parents met at a church social in the year of 1927. It was a box supper and dad chose mother’s box and so it all began. Mother was on the heels of a rebound from her life-long boy friend, Stan Jones. She was teaching school on a normal certification (two years college) in the tiny community of Alton. Dad was a successful businessman, his business being sheep. He had a large herd and also was custodian of his Uncle George’s herd as well. Soon after they were married dad decided to move the sheep to Colorado, in a range land near Grand Junction. Cattlemen were extremely hostile to sheep men because of the way sheep grazed. It left the land barren for years. All the time in Colorado there was a lot of hostility.
Prior to their move to Colorado, mother and dad married in the Salt Lake Temple and Orlande was born in Cedar City. When they moved to Colorado they moved to a log cabin in a forested area. It wasn’t unusual for dad to come home with battle scars as he frequently encountered an angry cattleman. Mother used to say that he usually ended up inviting the man to dinner and became friend with him even though they still had differences. Dad was sweet and humble and people aggravated to him. Times when dad was late in getting home Orlande would remark, “Maybe he is getting beat up by ole Coby” (Colby).
Although our living conditions were quite primitive, we were happy there, playing with our dogs and each other (Orlande and me). We learned to enjoy the simplest of things. We made people out of mom’s empty spools and made things out of forest material.
One incident I remember mother telling about was when we wondered off close to the pond or creek and I fell in. Orlande immediately ran to fetch mother. When they returned the dog had successfully pulled me to safety. Another one of her favorite stories was while she was out hanging out laundry; Orlande positioned himself atop a cupboard under which was a barrel of flour. I was just a toddler. I would crawl over to the door and back to the cupboard when Orlande would pour a scoop full of flour over my head and kept repeating this as we laughed joyously. She returned to find flour all over the floors and me. Mom and dad liked to tell of our going out riding with them as he checked on his herders and sheep. We were put in saddle bags, one on each side of dad’s horse. Orlande was always wide awake and alert and I ended up being lulled to sleep. (Perhaps that is why I always used to fall asleep while riding in a car.) One of mother’s sisters came to visit and she used to comment on how clean mother kept the cabin, especially the wooden floors which she mopped repeatedly.
These were tough times (during the great depression) and it wasn’t long before dad lost his sheep as the bottom fell out of the lucrative wool market. Rather than lose his uncle’s sheep he returned them to Utah. Mother often said, that perhaps he could have recouped if he had kept them and build on that but dad was honest to a fault. She also said that dad lost his nerve along with his sheep and never tried going out on his own after that. We moved to Grand Junction and dad instead of being an employer became an employee and a “sheep herder”. We lived in a basement apartment for a while and seldom saw dad after that which was the pattern for the next ten years or so. He would come home occasionally for a few days and then gone again for weeks.
Mother was unhappy with the situation and eventually talked dad into leasing a farm in a nearby community, Fruita. Dad tried to make a go of farming but his heart wasn’t in it all he knew was how to take care of sheep. So it was back to
Grand Junction and his being gone again. There were two or three incidents that I remember about the farm. One my job was to feed the pigs and chickens; I had to go into the corral where Old Rose, the cow, was to get the feed. I don’t know if it is true but it seemed so in my case that cows don’t like red. I hadn’t had trouble before with Rose but on one occasion while wearing red, Old Rose decided to chase me. I hurriedly ran and jumped into the hay loft to escape whatever she had in mind. After that she seemed to take delight in chasing me and I had to invent ways to distract her as our folks wouldn’t let me get out of doing my job. Another incident involving the cow was when I forgot to close the corral gate and she got out and began to munch on dad’s beautiful garden plantings. She destroyed a lot of the garden and dad was furious with me. I tried to justify myself and in so doing I sassed him. This was the first (and the last) time dad’s anger was directed at me and he started after me. I ran as hard as I could and he had a merry chase all over the farm finally catching me on top of the potato cellar. Mother was laughing hysterically. I got the spanking of my life and as he was spanking me he assured me that is wasn’t for the mistake I made in leaving the gate open, but it was for sassing him. The last thing I remember about the farm happened on Halloween. Mother and dad decided to have a costume part at their place for some of the adjoining neighbors. They solicited Orlande’s and my help in carrying out their scheme. We were to answer the door and let the neighbors in. (There were probably about four or five couples, all in costume.) In the meantime, dad and mom were getting ready. They dressed up in each other’s clothes and mom made up dad with rouge and lipstick and the works and then exited through the back door and came to the front where they knocked and we let them in. We kept assuring the guests that mother and dad would be there shortly as something had come up. After quite some time they let the neighbors in on their disguise and all had a good time and we saw a side of our parents that we hadn’t seen before. The other story concerns me (I must have been a brat). I along with four other first graders (all boys) made sand castles on top of the lid of the well, containing the school’s drinking water. We had excluded (at my insistence) one boy because he was unkempt. The well water had been contaminated and had to be drained and refilled. We were in trouble to say the least, but mother was more upset (the incident was innocent) because I had unfairly excluded the child that incidentally turned out to be blameless. She was disappointed that I thought myself better than another person. (A most valuable lesson learned and one I have always remembered and tried to never put myself above anyone who was different.
When we moved back to Grand Junction, we moved into a fairly new house. The neighbors smoked and this was our first encounter with people who smoked. Mother had a good friend that she had known for years. Her name was Hazel Gillis, she was a widow. Because dad was gone so much they did a lot of things together. She was the mother of several girls and the youngest, Sue Ann, was my age. One day when they were visiting us, Sue Ann and I decided we’d let the air out of their car’s tires (because they were bad people and smoked). We didn’t get caught that time but when we tried it again we did and needless to say we learned a valuable lesson in tolerance. Whoops, I thought I already had learned that lesson! While we were living here Garold was born. The year was 1937. We were excited to have a new baby in the family especially such a beautiful child with big brown eyes.
Our Uncle Ray was having a hard time finding and keeping a job, so he asked mother if he and his family (Aunt Bea and their two children, Ardith Rae and David) could come to Colorado and live with us. With them we moved into a larger home that was next door to the only LDS chapel in Grand Junction. Our two families took over the custodial and ground keeping of the chapel. Orland was in fourth grade and I was in third, Ardith, I believe, in first and David and Garold were toddlers. This worked for a while and then dad was hired as a sheep herder for someone in Utah, and we moved to Ephraim, Utah and the Gibson family moved to Hiawatha, Utah where Uncle Ray began working in the mines.
Our first residence in Ephraim was a basement house. It had been constructed with the intent that a house would be built above it. I don’t remember if it ever was more than a basement house. While there, the neighbor kids organized a “fair”. We were asked to participate. Orlande graciously offered me to box. Not with another girl but a boy. I was kind of a tomboy but this was carrying it a bit too far. I did win and I don’t even remember the prize. Mother was horrified when she found out. Orlande was my idol and I always (well most always) did what he asked of me.) Mother found living there was depressive and continued to look for another place. Soon we moved to a house on second south, just two doors away from the South Ward Chapel. I loved that house and have many fond memories of living there. It was owned by a man who had roots in Ephraim but lived elsewhere. It had been his family home and he kept two of the bedrooms upstairs to store the family furnishings. We did have access to one bed room upstairs which became Orlande’s. Mother and dad used the parlor for their bedroom and the big room adjacent to it became our family room. It had a free standing stove which was the source of heat for the whole house. It had a large kitchen with a big pantry. Another bedroom was off the family room. I shared this room with my little brothers. The bath room was off the kitchen. The cooking stove was large and had to be fed wood regularly for heat and cooking which gave Orlande a good job in providing the fuel. I don’t remember how we got wood or where it came from. We used wood and coal in the standing stove. There were several closets and adequate storage space. The yards were wonderful. The original owners had apparently traveled extensively and brought back trees from all over the world. There were at least twenty trees. In the middle of each side of the walkway in the front were tow beautiful trees. On the right side was a gorgeous flowering Horse Chesnutt tree and on the opposite side and equally impressive Pine tree which seem to me to be perfectly shaped with its lower branches touching the ground, a perfect hid place or place to play house. There was an immense back yard part of which we used for gardening. We had lovely gardens that yielded us adequate food. The yard was long and took up about half of the block. It had numerous sheds and pens that I imagine at one time housed all kinds of animals. The only animals we had were pigs and chickens which left many pens to play in and play house. At the very back was a barn with an adjoining cement yard. We used to roller skate on it. The house itself had many gables and became a center point for playing Annie, annie, I over (not sure of the spelling). Kids from all over town used to join us in this fun game in which we would throw a ball from front to bark or reverse and if we caught it we would sneak over to the other side and throw the ball at one or more of our opposing team who then became on our side. Because the house roof had so many configurations we never knew where the ball would land. We knew it was coming when the other team shouted Anni, anni, I over. One day our friend, Dick, was playing with us. It was fall and the end of the growing season. Orlande found a nice juicy over ripe tomato and threw it over and “you guessed it”, Dick caught it. In a few moments he appeared from around the front of the house and he was as red as his hair and not just because of the tomato. He was furious! He walked all the way back to the end of the yard not saying a word but you could sense the fury and began climbing over the fence and then fell in a heap laughing hysterically. Needless to say we were all wary about red balls after that.
In July of 1941, our youngest brother, Garth was born and the following December, the infamous day of December 7the occurred and the county was at war with Germany and Japan. Mother began working the Parachute factory located in Manti. She was very good at cutting out the parachutes and soon became a “boss”. I’m not sure who tended Garth when I was in school but he became my responsibility when I was out of school and on week-ends. I think that is who “Garth and I remain so close to this day. There was a turkey processing plant in Ephraim and during the processing season. The kids from seventh grade on up were hired (no excuse, only medical) prevented our participating. The girls usually picked out pin feathers as each bird traveled around on a wire above us. We followed it to the end of the line and if we weren’t finished we’d have to take it down and reposition it until it was clean. Orlande, I believe helped to dip the birds in hot wax which was then stripped taking with it most of the feathers. He may have had other duties as well. As a result of this work I got an infection under one of my finger nails which took forever to clear up (the days before antibiotics). We were paid for our efforts but the pay was meager but it was our contribution to the war effort and freed up adults to do more important work.
While we were in Ephraim, Garold had a series of unfortunate happenings. He began first grade. The first incident occurred on the school grounds during recess. The children were let out on the grounds with little supervision. The sheep men because of the war had had to hire Mexican Nationals to herd their sheep and many brought them families with them. The children couldn’t speak English and were often very much behind in school which necessitated their being placed in lower grades. One boy had been taunted because he wouldn’t take his turn at turning a jump rope possibly because he didn’t understand. But tempers flared and he started after the nearest child which happened to be Garold and pulled out a razor blade and cut his throat. The teachers were all in a meeting with the district superintendent and there was no supervision on the school grounds for all the elementary and junior high students. When the teachers were summoned, one of them sent a child to tell mother. He said, “Come quickly Mrs. Heaton, Someone just cut Garold’s throat.” She thought he was probably dead; she rushed to the school and seeing him alive, fainted. She was later accused of grandstanding. She began carrying him toward the doctor’s office before a teacher, Mr. Beal, finally agreed to give her a ride. The cut just barely missed his jugular vein and to his day Garold bears the scar on his neck. Mother and school officials became embroiled in a dispute. The community turned against her and one of her only allies turned out to be the doctor, Dr. Jorgensen. Things were never the same after that. The town’s people resented an outsider finding fault with some of their own. Shortly after this Garod had an emergency appendectomy and had to be rushed to a hospital in Richfield or Salina some distance away. Mother stayed with him for the week or so he was recovering. While in the hospital, someone visiting another patient in his ward exposed him to chicken pox which lengthened his recovery period as he had a severe case. Shortly after this he had only been back to school a short time and he got pneumonia and missed more weeks of school. With all of these happenings he became extremely nervous and first grade was more or less a “wipe out”. He had difficulty with learning from them on and it wasn’t until he had been in the army, that he was able to reverse some or most of his learning problems. I’ve always admired how he was able to over-come this disability. After school was out that year he was playing at a nearby home whee they had a teeter totter that went around as well as up and down. Not realizing what could happen, he put his index finger on his right hand (I think) in the hole with the bolt and his finger was chewed off to the first joint. Garold it’s a wonder you survived your sixth year.
The war ended in 1945, and by this time Uncle Ray convinced dad to come work in the coal mine in Hiawatha. He had made good money during the war. So we packed up our belongings and hired a man with a truck who took all our worldly processions, our family, minus dad who was already there and our dog, Rusty. Rusty was black but because we had been promised the rust colored dog from dad sheep dog’s litter we had picked out the name “Rusty”. The foreman decided he wanted the dog promised to us but the name “Rusty” stuck. We love him and had many happy memories of him. Unfortunately we could never break him from chasing cars and he was run over in Hiawatha doing what he loved to do, chase cars. Orlande and Rusty traveled from Ephraim to Hiawatha atop our belonging on the truck as there was no room for him inside.
The move turned out to be not good for us financially because once the war was over the unions staged a series of strikes and our parents were never able to make ends meet. It was at this time that Mother decided to go back to the classroom and teach and while doing so, she began taking classes by correspondence, by taking classes taught in Price by the U of U and she even went to BYU for a summer. She eventually graduated in 1953 after which the family now consisting of only Garold and Garth. Orlande and I both had married with families of our own.
There is much more that could be recounted but here is where you can take over and tell “THE REST OF THE STORY.”
I will mention that Garold joined the Army at 17. (I’m not sure if he had our parents’ permission or he lied about his age.) What is it Garold? Garth went on a mission to the same area that my grandson, Cameron is now serving in. It was there he met his dear wife, Chela, a fellow missionary. Orlande after marrying Charlotte Barras and being in the Army by govt. appointment went to on dental school in Texas at Baylor University. I went to BYWOO and found my darling Dan (didn’t get my BS Degree but did get my Mrs. Degree). Garold was sent to Germany where he found our delightful Brigette and married her. She claimed at the time that there were two things she would never do. (1) Never become a US Citizen and (2) she would never become a Mormon. We are happy she reversed her stand and became both. I love you all and may you have a wonderful holiday season. I pray that all our infirmities will be building blocks for our future lives in the hereafter when we will again all be reunited hopefully. Best Wishes
Your ever loving sister.
Grandma Brown telling the stories of The Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and The Three BIlly Goats Gruff
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Grandma Brown Telling the Three Little Pigs
Grandma's Story time Click on an image to hear Grandma telling the story. They can also be heard by scrolling down to the bottom of this page
Remembering by Vauna Brown
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Mom Singing to Ashlyn December 29, 2011