Some Remembered Happenings in My Life
By Robert Clair Neel
Written 7 December 1997 at Wichita, Kansas
As I reflect on the many things that I have experienced in my life, I think that there are just so many things that are difficult to talk about; perhaps too many people would see them as just stories that I have made up for entertainment purposes. But as I have told some stories to my children or friends, the comments are always, "why don't you write them down so all your descendants will be able to enjoy what has happened in your life."
Well, here goes! While living in Hailstone, Utah (of course, this is now under a couple of hundred feet of water being under the waters of the Jordanelle Reservoir), Dad had only a tent for us to live in. We lived there three years; mostly during the winter months because in the summer months we were in the Uintah Mountains in the Broadhead Timber Camp. This was the company that employed Dad. I remember as a young boy, going to the company store. The workers enjoyed teasing me. When they saw me coming, they would hold the door so that I could not get in. I would swear which they wanted me to do. I could not talk very plain and they would teach me these swear words and then make me mad to hear me cuss.
"You better open this **$&(**++-- door. I will tell my Dad. He's the meanest #@*** in this camp." They would let this go on so long. Then the timber boss would come out. He would have a willow or some other thing in his hand and would chase me around the hill to where our tent was. When he got there, he would give me a dime so I could get some candy. Then Mother would give him a glass of home-made beer. This became quite a game we played several times a week. The boss and Dad and Mom were good friends. I heard in later years that this man got mad at another man and killed him with a single tree (this is the instrument they hooked the tugs on the horse harness so that they could hook the horse to a wagon, chain, or something else.)
One time Mom sent Rose and me to the buy a bucket of syrup. We were on our way home with it at the time the bus dropped June off from the school (she went to school in Heber the first year or two of elementary). I asked her to carry the bucket home. She wouldn't do it. I got mad and threw the bucket to the ground. The lid popped off. The syrup spilled onto the ground. Mom came down and scooped what she could back into the bucket. She cleaned it up and made us eat it. I got a flogging from Dad with the old razor strop. Boy, did he know how to use it. We have often discussed this beating and others in later years and we all agreed that when he used this strop on us, we really deserved it.
Nowadays he would be hauled before the courts with child abuse charges. We disagree. It was discipline that growing boys and girls needed to set things right in their lives. Dad was never cruel to us. He showed a lot of love to each one of us in his own way.
One time, Rose and I were playing. We got anything to play with that we could. This time we had a collection of beer bottle caps. They made great toys to imagine all kinds of fun things. Rose and I got to fighting over the caps we had. She claimed I had taken some of hers (I probably had taken some). I would not give her what she wanted. She picked up a ball pined hammer and hit me right on the top of the head. Blood shot out like it was coming from a hose. I screamed. Mother came running. She took me in the house and was able to get the bleeding stopped. I believe Rose got the beating that time. To this day, I have a flat spot on my head that you can feel. It about fits the head of the hammer.
I recall one time June reached up on the table and pulled a coffee pot off. The coffee spilled down over her arms and back. Mother carried her over to the other women in the camp. They coated her with butter and other things. She was badly burned, but no real harm was done. We never were taken to the doctor for any of these kinds of injuries. It was too far with the kind of travel we had and furthermore it cost too much. We just healed from these injuries and went about our business of playing, fighting, and living.
My youngest sister, Virginia, was born in this tent in Hailstone on my 5th birthday. I recall my grandma Hep coming to help Mom. I don't recall if there was a doctor present or not. Grandma Hep was considered a midwife in those days. Dad was so happy that he and some friends went on a three-day party. They had me in the car with them and poor Mom did not know where Dad or I was for those three days. I recall some time in Salt Lake City. Of course, only being five, memories are fleeing. I can recall being at the zoo, some peoples' homes, and several places in the car with this partying bunch. One thing that really springs to my mind was seeing a new car in a lot with only one front wheel on. It was going around in circles with no driver. I guess they were demonstrating how safe this car would be if it lost a front wheel.
There are a lot of memories from the summers we spent in the Broadhead Timber Camp in the Uinta mountains. One summer, it must have been on a Sunday, because Dad was home sleeping; the other brothers and sisters were with Mother picking wild berries. I wandered off exploring and ended up at the main timber camp. At this time Dad and Mom lived in a one room cabin Dad had fixed up by the Provo River. The main camp was about one mile up the hillside from this cabin. I had just gotten to the camp and to the blacksmith shop where they were shoeing horses when a cyclone hit the mountain side. The men closed the door of the shop and I recall looking out through the crack of the door watching trees go all directions. This cyclone lasted only about five minutes. It seemed like much longer to me as a small boy. When it stopped and the men walked out of the shop, I recall the total damage done to everything. The cook at the camp had some pigs that he was raising for meat. The pen was nailed to a tree. This tree was uprooted during the storm, but I did not know that. I saw the pigs running around and made the comment, "the **##** wind blew so hard it blew the pigs right out of the pen!" The comment made the rounds and for years I was often reminded of it.
I found out soon after the storm that Dad and Mom had been out looking for me through the whole wind storm. It is lucky that nothing happened to them. It took the men two weeks to cut the road way clean of timber so that trucks could get to the camp with supplies and then haul the timber out to the Hailstone Junction camp. The men could carry supplies from where we lived on the river to the main camp by horses. Fifty years later, I could still tell where this storm went across the slope of the mountain where the camp was located. The younger trees were a different green than the old growth timber. Later a fire went through and now it is difficult to tell where it was except by memory. If you are standing by the Slate Gorge on the Upper Provo River, you can look south and will be looking at the approximate site of the camp and the storm damage. The forest service made the Broadhead Company clean out the dead trees and the piles of damaged trees. This was a very dangerous job. The trees would be twisted and bent over each other. As you cut one, the others may spring back straight and injure the worker. Mother spent some restless hours as Dad was one of these workers required to cut this dead wood out.
I recall watching the workers in this camp. One drove a white truck, loaded with logs, from where they were cutting them up the hillside, to the saw mill near the bottom of the canyon. This truck had hard rubber tires. The trip was so slow down the roughed out roadway. The driver would read a book while coming down this road that was perched on the steep hillside. I enjoyed riding with him. The sawmill was driven by a steam engine. The mill was quite a ways from the steam boiler. It was driven by a belt that ran between the two pieces of equipment. I believe they used the scrap lumber to burn in the boiler to create the heat to raise the steam. This boiler eventually blew up and was replaced with a gasoline engine. I recall seeing this same kind of boiler run a threshing machine on my Grandfather Turnbow's farm as they threshed the wheat.
Each summer as we would go back to the Uintahs with Dad, the tent or cabin we lived in would be further back from the main highway. This was because they would move to a new patch of timber to cut each summer. Some summers, we would have the same place but most often we had a new camp. Glen and I have both said, "we thought we owned the Uintah mountains. We were free to roam, play and do about what we wanted to all summer long." These were happy days. We had nothing but each other. We played, fought, slept, and lived as a family. Mother and Dad seemed happy in those days. Dad worked hard during the week and then on Sunday would go fishing. The streams and lakes had lots of fish and we had many fish stories to tell, many fish to eat, and enjoyed ourselves.
During those summers, we depended on the timber truck to bring supplies to our camp. Dad did poach deer for meat. There were fruit peddlers that brought trucks loaded with vegetables and fruit to sell to the camp workers. Dad became very friendly with these people. They were always treated well at our camp and responded in kind with good buys on their produce. I don't really remember ever going without food in those days. During the winter months, it was a different story. Dad did not always have work, and money was hard to come by. Food was cheap but you still had to have money. But we lived on rabbit, beans, and bread. Flour was cheap. The King grocery store was good to mother. She was a good woman and even though things were tough, she managed to pay most of her bills. Del Marchant of Peoa was close friends with Dad and Mother. Having grown up with Dad in Peoa, and being good friends, I am sure that he gave Mother and Dad lots of credit on groceries at the Merchant Store that may not have been paid back. He seemed to always have a small bag of candy in the sack for me and my brothers and sisters. I enjoyed taking Dad into that store in his later years and listening to those two friends tell stories of their youth. Del had this store for over fifty years before he passed on. It was never the same to shop there after he died. I don't think Dad ever stopped at the store after Del died.
Don Neel came to work with Dad at the Broadhead camp. I am not sure if he worked for Dad or for the company but one experience I recall with him: he was skidding logs to the skidway. I would follow behind to the skidway. After he would unhook the logs, he would hook the chain on the single tree. He would ride the horse back up the trail. I would grab the trailing chain and hang on letting the horse pull me up the trail. One time, I somehow got the hook on the chain hooked to my pants front. I stumbled. Don would not stop the horse to let me up. He laughed and laughed as I was dragged up the trail bumping into rocks and sticks. The chain finally came loose and I threw rocks at him and the horse. He just kept laughing. Later that day he was bending over to hook the chain to some more logs. He was right behind the horse - the horse's tail came up and out popped some nice round "used grass." I rolled on the ground laughing. I thought this was great payback for being dragged up the trail. Don chased me all over trying to get me. Finally, he could see the humor and began to laugh.
After being in Broadhead several years, we moved camp to a flat below Trial Lake. I believe at this time Dad was working for Ike Smith. He was cutting saw logs. We spent about four years at the same camp site. We lived in a tent. It was great because I was closer to the stream there and could slip away fishing more often. I bet Mother was nearly gray from worrying about her boy, Bob.
I recall one spring before the family moved up. Dad always seemed to take me with him earlier than the other children. I was the oldest boy and he had me help with chores around the camp. This day, Dad had taken me out to work with him but I slipped away and went back to camp. I got out his 22 pistol. I thought boy this is the time to try this thing out. Dad will never know. I started shooting at birds. I guess the bullets were going all directions. The men at the mill reported to Dad that the bullets had them ducking for cover. Well I got it that night. I had to promise that I would never do that again. I don't think I did for a few years. I would slip away and go fishing quite often.
I spent a lot of time trapping the camp jays flying around. I would hook them up to sticks making them pull the "logs" to the mill. I did a lot of things to keep out of trouble but have fun. My brothers and sisters would go down to the stream and bathe during the week. The water would be quite cold but it didn't seem to bother us that much. I have been in the Uintahs many, many times over the years. Glen and I have gone back to some of these spots and recalled memories. I can still pick out the old mill site and camp site that we were at below Trial Lake. What fond memories these things bring back to me.
In the eighties, a small dam let loose on the south side of Trial Lake. The resulting flood tore down the canyon bringing a lot of destruction to the stream and the spots that I recall so [well]. It doesn't look the same now as we no to these places. The Forest Service has also started charging a fee to go into the Uintahs. This is only a small service charge but it irks me plenty. Like I said before, "we thought we owned this mountain side. How dare anyone change things."
Things are never the same as we grow older. Things look smaller, not so far away, memories fade, people are gone, the experiences just live on in memory. The people that pass these places today think they may be the first ones there as I did as I was growing up. But in reality, many people had been on those same spots doing nearly the same things. I can only think that maybe my experiences were most unique to me and perhaps that's what makes the memories so important to each person. I cannot bring back the people. I wouldn't want to. I am sure Mother would not want to go through the struggles she experienced during those years. Dad must have felt the struggle [was] just too hard at times and escaped into a bottle of dreams. Sometimes he would just throw his ax on the ground and walk off. "Let's go fishing" and we would be off. I guess when he felt that he could face everything again, back to work. It was hard work in those days. The chain saw, power tools, machines to move the logs, all came later. I experienced the ax and crosscut saw in my teens and many a firewood piece have a cut with the old crosscut saw.
I would not want to go back to those days. Think of how easy it is to get up in the morning. The house is warm. The automatic thermostat has the furnace going. The water is indoors and either hot or cold to your pleasure. A place to put your clothes - not in a box under the bed. We surely have things easy.
Moving on time or back in time. These things I remember may not be in order but I do remember them. I recall living in a house by the highway going through Peoa. I recall a German Shepherd dog that was the best friend a boy could have. I was young here and the memories have faded into the dim past. But I do recall that the dog must have been a female. I recall a lot of pups around and some of Dad's friends coming one day and shooting all of them. This was one way to control the dog population. The other way was to put them in a sack with a few rocks and throw them in a river.
I recall some friends coming to visit one day. They were driving a model A Ford. It could have been a mode T. Dad was going somewhere with them and I wanted to go. He would not let me. As they drove off, I grabbed onto the back of the car. I was not able to get onto the car but I would not let go. They dragged me for quite a ways before their attention was alerted by family. I had some badly injured toes by the time they stopped.
We had lots of company come to visit Mom and Dad. They were well liked by family and friends and were happy to see them when they came. I guess that is the one great thing I liked about Mom and Dad. They were always willing to share anything they had with people that came to their home. Mom set a great example for me. She was ever serving family and friends. She had been active in the church but after she and Dad got married, the church soon took second seat. Perhaps it was just too much trying to keep active while we were in the timber during the summers and away from the organized unit. Dad was not active. His mother passed away when he was ten. His dad was not active in the church and was quite mean. He made Dad and Dad's brothers work very hard on the ranch.
Grandpa Thomas Marion Neel owned a 400 acre ranch in the Peoa bottom lands. It was located in what we knew as Woodenshoe. You can still see the brick house Grandpa built in 1903. It is still located on the ranch. When Grandpa Neel passed away, the ranch was sold for $8,000. Too bad one of the family was not able to buy the others out but they were all so selfish no one was allowed to keep the ranch and pay the others off. The ranch is worth millions on today's market.
Asa Neel had two acres given to him by his father just south of the original home. It is located on the west side of the road just before the road turns east. The place has now been sold by Asa's children. The old home was torn down and replaced. Today they have a beautiful location. We used to fish the Weber River that ran through the ranch. Today, because of some dumb actions by a few fishermen, the place is closed tight to all. We are not allowed access to some old memories.
HISTORY OF ROBERT CLAIR NEEL
written in 1996
John Clair Neel and Mary Elizabeth Turnbow Neel were both of pioneer stock. Dad's parents were Thomas Marion Neel and Ann Eliza Palmer. Mother's parents were John Gilroy Turnbow and Hepzabah Alice Woolstenhulme. Dad and Mother were born in Kamas Valley, Dad in Peoa and Mother in Marion. They spent their youth growing up; mother in Kamas, and Dad in Peoa. Both went to school in the valley; Dad to the Eighth Grade and Mother completing High School at South Summit High. Both the Neel and Turnbow families owned farms. At this writing, the old Neel House that Grandpa Neel built in Peoa is still standing. The Turnbow house is still standing at the north end of the town of Kamas. It was sold to Dean and June Walker, then they sold it and it has been owned by other families. The original farm of grandpa Turnbow is no longer there, the land being divided and sold. The farm was also split into two parts when the canal was put through from the Weber River to the Provo River. I remember, as a young boy, crossing the bridge that was right behind the family home to get to the barns where the teams of horses and other animals were housed. This bridge was later taken out as the barns were taken down.
Dad cut timber in the summer, drove truck, treated light poles with cresote, worked in the saw mill carrying lumber from the saw, worked in the mines in Park City, dug ditches and helped put in sewer lines during the WPA days of the depression, drove bus to carry the workers on WPA to the various communities where there was work, and in the last years of my high school was the custodian of the high school. He worked on a lot of construction jobs. He always seemed to get the jack hammer job. This was the machinery that was used to drill holes in the rock where the explosives were loaded for rock removal. He was good at this job. Dad was also very good at hand sharpening saws -- from circle saws to timber saws. I recall he did this at home in the evening after work to pick up some extra money. Glen reminded me that he would get $1.75 for a six foot crosscut saw. It would take him about two hours to sharpen one of these saws. One summer, he worked for the Forrest Service sharpening the saws of the crews that were cleaning trails and campgrounds. I still remember the camp was located just above the Provo River bride just below the Provo River Falls. These are both well known land marks in our family.
I was the second child born to my parents; the first of six boys. The children in order of birth: June Lorraine-1924, Robert Clair-1927, Rose Mary-1928 , Glen Allen-1930, Virginia May-1932, Keith Orin-1934, Thomas John-1936, Ronald-1938, and a baby brother-1940 that died before a name could be conferred upon him. At the present time all my brothers and sisters are living except Keith Orin and the baby. Mother passed away in March 1951 and Dad in June 1985. Keith passed away in 1986. Dad and Keith died of sudden heart attacks. Dad in Montana at home while shaving and Keith, at his home in Salt Lake, in his sleep.
Boyhood and Youth
I was born in Park City, Utah in 1927. I do not remember ever living in Park City but do remember spending many days there visiting relatives and friends of my Dad and Mother. Dad and Mother lived there for some time in my early years but moved to Peoa and Kamas. My earliest memory of where we lived was a home in Peoa, Utah, then Hailstone Junction which was located on the corner of the Highways going from Park City to Heber and the turnoff from this road to Kamas. The Broadhead Timber Camp had their winter quarters here and I remember very vividly of many experiences in this tent and camp. At this writing, this location is now under much water - being at the bottom of the Jordannelle Reservoir that was completed in 1994. The Spring of 1996 saw this Reservoir full for the first time.
This was also the location of a local power plant. There were several men assigned to operate this plant. The power for the plant came from water taken several miles upstream on the Provo River and piped in a wooden pipe to a spot a couple of hundred feet above the plant. As gravity fed this water down hill it ran the generators to produce the electric power used in the surrounding communities. I recall that as this water came out of the plant under the road and on to join the Provo River again, that it was warm and provided bathing water for the men of the timber camp. They bathed under the bridge of the road that went in front of the power plant. I remember Dad taking me down there with him in the evening after work to give me a bath. I believe they used this in the winter as well as summer. We lived in a large tent that was located between the power plant and the timber camp. It was a couple of hundred feet up the hill from the road going to Kamas. My youngest sister, Virginia was born in this tent in May of 1932. We lived there about three years. I spent as much time as I could at the mill and company store. The foreman of the job was a man named Cox. He took great delight in getting me mad and listening to me swear. The timbermen that worked in this camp in the winter and in the camp in the Broadhead Camp in the Summer took special delight in teaching me to swear. I could not talk very plain at this time and really made a mess of the language. Cox used to give me some candy or a dime if I would swear at him, then he would chase me home so that he could get a drink of homemade brew that Dad always had going. It became quite a game between him and me.
I recall that one day my sister June reached up to the table to get a cup and it was full of hot coffee. She pulled it over and it dumped down over her shoulders and back. I recall Mother carrying her around to the camp and the women helping mother put butter all over her back to help stop the burning. Another time Rose and I went through a fence across the road west of the main timber camp. There were some sheep there and we started throwing rocks at them. We didn't know about the buck sheep that had put one of the workers in the hay loft early and kept him there several hours. Well this buck lowered his head and took after us. I was faster than Rose and I recall that I looked back and the buck would hit her and she would get up and it would hit her again. I ran to the camp and told some men and they were able to get in and save her. She would have been killed we were told after. This buck later had to be destroyed because it became so mean.
One day, Rose and I were playing. We had bottle caps and got into a fight over who owned what. She was always quick tempered and as we were fighting over these valuable possessions, she said I took some of hers. Well, she got mad and picked up a hammer and hit me right on top of the head. To this day, I still have a small indention on the top of my skull. We kids were always fighting between ourselves but don't let anyone else try to stop us. We would turn and them and fight as a unit to defend one another. There was always something that we were doing to get into trouble and Dad and Mother were always spanking us for some offense. As we brothers and sisters discuss these things now, we laugh and agree that we deserved many more spankings then we received.
I remember that there was one man at the power plant that I became quite fond of. One of his jobs was to walk the pipe line and repair the water leaks. This line was constructed of wood and was banded with steel bands. As these leaks developed, much power was lost at the plant. He carried a bundle of shingles and as he found a leak, he would drive a shingle into the hole and thus shut off the water.
I remember that one day Mother was quite angry with me. At the age of three or four, I was always getting into trouble. She was going to spank me and so I took off up the hill running from her. At this time boys were always dressed in Bib overalls. Just above the tent was a barb wire fence. As I ducked down to get through this fence, I thought boy I am safe from that mean woman now. But alas, I got caught on the barbs of the wire just above my back. Mother was close enough behind me that I couldn't get loose before she was there. She took advantage of me helpless condition, being bent over trying to get between the wires. She whipped me with a willow right there. Every time I raised up with pain I would be stuck in the back with the bards on the upper wire. When I went down to get away, the barbs in the wire below me stuck me in the chest and stomach. I had a real pointed lesson about not running from my mother. As she got me unhooked from the fence, she grabbed the back of my suspenders and about every step back to the tent she hit me with that willow, still driving the lesson home, "Take your punishment like a man. Don't try to run from your mother!" I never did run again but as I got into my teens, she started to give me a whipping one day and I grabbed her arms and held her. We got to laughing and from that day on she never tried to spank me. Dad was another story though and if I needed punishment, she would ask him to do it.
Dad's five boys never did turn on him and fight him or try to stop him from disciplining us. Dad's usual weight was about 175 to 180. He stood 5' 11". All we boys reached over six feet. But he was so strong from hard work that we never tried to take him in a fight either in fun or anger.
I completed Elementary, Junior High and High School in Kamas Valley. I remember some of the teachers during those years of schooling. Miss Sergeant was my fourth grade teacher. She was the sister of one of my friends, Val Sergeant. I should have failed school that year but she must have seen some potential because she sent me on to Fifth grade where a Mrs. Smith took over. Mrs. Smith was a hard teacher but she made me learn in spite of myself. I will never forget the times tables because she drilled them into me with a very heavy hand. I must have been a difficult student, much preferring to be on the playground playing baseball. In sixth grade, Laddle Russel took me in hand and I remember that I loved reading more because of him. Junior High is not in my recall mode. I just remember going. It was in a new part of the High School. I remember four classrooms in this building plus the gym and shop. High School teachers were Gibb Marchant, Harper Marchant, Elmo Hoyt, Boyd Lake, Walt Daniels, Stanley Best, Elmer Brady, Grant Thompson, Ferda Mae Fuller. There were other teachers, I am sure but right now my memory does not function to its fullest. Miss Fuller was an English teacher and was there only for a couple of years but she did have an effect on my life. I don't recall other women that may have taught. Brother Best taught the Seminary classes across the road. I enjoyed his classes but really didn't take full advantage of them. I had trouble with Walt Daniels in music in Elementary; he made me hate music during those young years and then in High School would not let me in the band because of that same trouble. He was one of the type teachers and I got a "C" in his class. I deserved better because this was one subject I enjoyed and did well in. This grade later kept me out the class presidency. I had another class from him as a Senior and received an "A". He even went back and raised that "C" grade to a B. That year I spent most of the year typing up his commissioner papers for the county. This was my fourth year of type.
When it came time to choose a student body president for my senior year, the C that Daniels gave me created too low a grade level to run. I had the highest grade point average out of all the boys but it was just below what was need to hold a student body office. As a result of this, we had a girl as the Student body president our senior year. The summer between my freshman year and sophomore year, I was in an automobile accident that created a severe head injury. As a result of this injury, I could not play football that fall. A spin-off from this was no competitive sports for Bob Neel. I was pretty much left to myself those last three years in school. Everyone thought I was chicken not to play football. When it came time to choose the speakers for the graduation exercise, again grades came into play. The studentbody president and I had the highest grade point average in the class. She was just a bit higher than mine. We were chosen to be the speakers. I did not want this assignment and so in early March of 1945, I talked mother and dad into taking me to Salt Lake where I joined the Navy. The Second World Ward was in full swing at this time. Alas, they accepted me but sent me home to await my call to boot camp. It came about three weeks after the graduation ceremony. I did give the talk and enjoyed it very much.
As I was growing up, I worked with my Dad as he cut timber in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. He had me do some work but not much. We never had much of a home and Mother really didn't have anything to give us to do. Dad was a laborer and had many kinds of jobs though my growing up years.
My first job away from the family was working for Val Sargeant's family. I tended nets at the haystack. The net was set on the ground at the base of the stack. The hay was gathered by a push rack and brought to the stack and pushed onto the net. If the net was not set right there was trouble getting the hay on the stack. When the bullrack was pulled back from the hay I had to take one side of the net up over the pile of hay and hook it to the other side. The hay was lifted by a rope that was attached to the derrick by a set of pulleys and then back to ground where a horse was used to lift the load of hay to the top of the stack. As the nets reached the point on the stack where the stacker wanted it dumped I had to pull a trip rope to release a catch at the center of the net. It opened and dumped the hay on the stack. The Stacker would then move the hay around the stack so that it would tie in and stay on the stack as other hay was dumped on top. I worked for 50¢ per day. This was in the depression years when my Dad was only making $2.50 per day for his work. I thought it was good money. In my twelfth year, I went to live on a farm with Ivan and Mary Turnbow. They were newly married and had leased this farm to try and make a living. Ivan was my Mother's brother. He had just completed a mission. We had approximately 25 cows to milk night and morning, clean the barns, take care of the milk, feed the cows, etc. before walking to catch the bus. This farm was located on the west side of Kamas Valley. The farm is still located there at this writing but the house I lived in burned down and they are now building another one near the same spot. I had some very happy and some very miserable days on this farm. I guess it depended on which of the two people I was dealing with at the time. Aunt Mary has become a very dear friend to me for these many years. Ivan was more difficult to deal with because he wanted me to work as hard as he did. I milked cow for cow with him but was just not strong enough yet to work the hard labor he expected of me.
I remember being given $20.00 per month plus room and board. I guess this was really a better place for me to be than living at home. It was easier on Mother and Dad to have one less mouth to feed during those days. I believe I worked about two years for Ivan. I am not sure if I spent the summer there or in the timber with my family. During most of my youth, the family lived in the timber camps that Dad worked in. The early years for the Broadhead Timber Company, then later for Ike Smith of Kamas, and then later for others from Heber and Kamas. As I got older, I was able to help Dad. Mostly in the peeling the bark off the mining timber that he cut and still later, especially in Millcreek on the North Slopes of the Uintas, in skidding the timber to the skidway so it could be loaded onto trucks which hauled it to the mines for use in holding the ceiling of the mines up.
I worked for several different people during these years. I milked cows for Ile Russell, Johnny Lewis, and on and off for others that I do not recall their names. I worked the longest for Ile and Johnny. I was working for Ile when I had a chance to buy a used bicycle for $15.00. Ile owed me $7.00 and I went to him and ask if I could borrow the other $8.00 to buy this bike which would make it easier for me to get to work. I had to walk quite a ways to milk the cows. He told me he couldn't trust me to work that long for him and would not lend it to me. I quit him on the spot and was never able to collect the money he did owe me. Later he called me on a misson and after the mission during a rash time in my life, I told him he was a crook and shouldn't be a Bishop. He was about to have me kicked out of the church and so I left home and started school.
At the time I worked for Johnny Lewis. I was also helping Mother clean the old high school. Dad had the custodian job at the High school and this time and so the whole family helped him clean the building. I helped Mother sweep the old building while the rest of the family cleaned the new building. It seemed like my job was also the boys dressing room in the gym part. After this I would go to milk cows and then home. In the morning, I would be up early to milk and then to the school to dust and shovel coal into the stoker for the furnace. If there was a snowfall during the night then we also had to shovel the walks before school. These were busy years for me.
One summer Dad got me a job on the canal that was being built though Kamas valley. This went from the Weber River on the north above Oakley to the Provo River in Francis on the south. I remember one of my first jobs on this construction job was digging post holes for the fences on each side of the canal and then helping to build bridges. We were putting the planks on the bridge. We had to start the 80# nails with a four lbs sledge hammer and then complete driving them through the plank into the bridge beams with a ten of twelve lbs sledge. I was able to keep up with most of the men driving these nails. This was the summer that I was in the automobile accident. After the accident, they gave me an easy job with an older man helping him make cement spanners to put in the cement forms to keep them apart until the concrete had harden. This was a pretty easyr job but very boring. I can not remember the man's name but he was very good to me and taught me many things that helped me through my life. Mostly just good common sense things like getting along with people and doing the right things for the right causes.
Later, Dad had the opportunity of taking on as a helper on his job of fueling and greasing the heavy equipment on the construction site. He asked for me and they let us work together. This was another most enjoyable job because of working with Dad and also because we went to work early in the morning and got off early in the afternoon which usually ended up in a fishing trip for the day. I may not have all these jobs in chronological order but I still had the jobs.
I recall one short job I had for the lady who owned the hotel in town. She had a small wood stove I wanted but did not have the money. So, she agreed to put me to work to pay for the stove. I was able to complete what she needed and this stove served us boys many years in the small cabin that we had for a sleeping quarters that sat across the small creek that ran between our house and the hill behind it.
Schools I taught in and the Principals
Sherman - Mark Jackman
Mark was very good to me and taught me many things in teaching. He did get after me many times for not doing things right. At a faculty meeting one time he asked me to do something that I felt was just too much with the other things I was doing and I told him no in front of the other teachers. He became very angry. He stopped the meeting but later called me to his office and we had a good discussion from this event. I learned there are times to say no and other times to say lets discuss it. One of the teachers that I felt helped me most at this school was Winston Woodger. He really gave me some excellent help on teaching and in ways of dealing with children. I came to love this man but never got to spend a lot of time with him because he was kicked out of education because of some misunderstandings. In this day, he would not even be called on the carpet for the events that went on. He went into selling World books but many years later, was able to get back to teaching in another district.
I remember playing softball on the Sherman playground and knocking balls through the window of my classroom on the third floor. This was always fun for the students to see. I taught at Sherman seven years and then had the chance to go to the new Rosecrest school being opened on Fisher Lane.
Rosecrest - Arvil Stone
This was just after Christmas time that it opened and I was one of two sixth grade teachers. After a couple of years an addition was put on the school and there were three sixth grade teachers. I left Rosecrest in the middle of the year when Arvil Stone tried to get me kicked out of education for insubordination. This was a simple case of jealousy and the only thing that came of it was a transfer to the Stansbury Elementary on the West side of Salt Lake City. The class I had at Rosecrest was 37 students and at Stansbury I had only 27 students.
Much went on at Rosecrest but it seems the bad experience I had with Arvil Stone has wiped away many memories of those years. I recall one thing I had going with the students there was the crystal radio sets. Each student had made a set under my direction. The district had come in and put two antennae down my room plus two ground wires. When the students were studying, they could put their head sets on and hook up to the wires and listen to a station that their radio would pick up. It was a lot of fun and the students seemed to enjoy the sets. They surely did not give me any trouble when they were out of work or got bored with what was in the books. They could cruise the radio stations we could pick up. As I remember, the sets really worked very well. The faculty at Rosecrest was a wonderful bunch of people and I got along very well with everyone except the principal. He did not like many of the things that I was prone to do with students. Some days I would spend too long on the playground with them. In the winter, we used the multipurpose room for battle field which the children loved to play but it was located near the office and he felt that children should learn to play quietly. My philosophy was that children should be children and noise was part of fun.
My reading program was not what he wanted it to be and much debate was spent over that, even to bringing the Reading Supervisor in to observe me and then to put on a demonstration of what I should be doing. After two days in my class, working with my top ten students, she put on a marvelous demonstration for teachers on how it should be done. Two days later, she came back to pick up many of her supplemental supplies. Her comment, "Mr. Neel, you are right. It's just too much work." I asked her what I should be doing with the other twenty-five students while I worked with this special ten. She had no answer. As a result of these and other incidents at Rosecrest, the Principal charged that I was insubordinate. I was never bothered again about my reading program.
I felt that we spent hours teaching reading and then never gave children any time to read in school. In my classroom, there was always a period during every day that we had free reading time. Read what you want within reason but you must be reading. Students seemed to enjoy this approach. My students always went just as high on the achievement reading tests as other students of the same grade. Of course, there are a few exceptions but there were always exceptions in the very best taught reading classes.
Stansbury - Raymond Wrigley
Raymond proved to be an excellent principal for me. He came up in the old school and felt much like I did about children. His patience and love for children was an example for me. We had our problems but I was willing to give of myself for the school and for his programs and so things went very smoothly. I did feel cheated in some respects because after taking a year off to get my masters in Media, I was never able to get a job in other elementary schools. This went on for about three years. Then as he was retiring he called me to his office and explained that was because he would not let me go. He felt that I was a strong teacher and he needed me in his program.
Bonneville - Clive Roberts, Jim Short
"BUT this year I am retiring and I have lined up a good opportunity for you!", he said. I was sent to Bonneville Jr High School to be interviewed for a job in a special Media program that Clive Roberts had set up with his teachers. It dealt with the printing program, stage crew director, and hardware control with teachers. Every time Clive asked me a question about experience in a field, I had had that experience or was working in that field. I believe he was surprised that my background had that much experience. It proved to be seven very satisfying years. But a change of principals created some problems when the new principal, Jim Short, did not want to spend that kind of money. He felt that an aid at $2.50 per hour could do everything that I was doing. Well, he finally got rid of me by placing me in a teaching program where my certificate did not rate and then turned me into the state board. I had to move back to an elementary or get a secondary certificate. I was too close to retirement to go back to school so I took the elementary school. It took me all summer to get a job. I had to threaten trouble with GEA, etc before they got serious about giving me an honest interview. That's when Richard Davis at William Penn came into my life. I was told he had a second grade and a sixth grade opening and I was to be placed in one of them. He had to use me and so I started teaching my last four years at William Penn.
William Penn - Richard Davis, Richard Highland
Richard Davis had a program going that really worked and I felt good about this school. The school was divided into four units A- D. I was in the D Unit with three sixth grade and one fifth grade class. The fifth graders were the top of the fifth grade students. We broke into ability levels in Math and Reading, and then each teacher taught a subject to all students. I taught Spelling. We each taught our own Social Studies and gym classes. On Friday, we had Music together and it really worked out that the students had a good program. It surprised me that each teacher could mark the grades in their subjects and the grades seem to be very close to each other for students in the various subjects. If a student got a D in Spelling, very likely they were only a C or D in most of the other subjects. In the higher levels of Reading and Math, if they did not keep their grade up they were dropped into a lower level, or if their grade was high in that level they were moved up to a higher level. The idea behind this was "working the student at his/her potential.
I had been at William Penn only two years when Richard Davis was transferred to another problem school and Richard Highland became the principal. His philosophy was different and it only took him about three years until the whole concept of Units changed and the whole school program changed. I retired after two years with him and was most happy to be away from administrators. I miss the children and teaching but would never go back to it for all the money in the system. I have enjoyed myself too much over these twelve years of retirement. The church missions with Connie have meant much to me; the time being mine and not someone else's is nice and I come and go pretty much as I dictate to myself. Connie has pretty well left me alone in all this and seems to enjoy the time with me when we are together, which is most of the time.
Special teacher friends at each school
Sherman - Winston Woodger, Smith, Ovard, Brown Rosecrest - Sorenson, Stansbury - Johnson, Bonneville - Paul Brown, Gary McFarland, Robin Egan, Mabel Brown, William Penn - Jim Crane,
I retired in May of 1984 from the Granite School System after teaching thirty years. During those years, I taught in five schools and in grades three through nine. I believe the most enjoyable years were in grade three and some years in Bonneville because of the principal and the programs; printing, stage crew and photography. Most of the teachers were great at Bonneville. I worked with most of them with the hardware in Media and it was a great experience to go through the school and watch the various styles and methods of teaching. Paul Brown was an outstanding teacher there and I have stayed friends with him over all these years.
North Central States - Jan. 1947-48, President Killpack
Bishop Ile Russell came to me shortly after I returned home from serving in the Navy. I was working at the Blazzard lumber yard. He asked me to come and work for him for two years and I told him in no uncertain terms what he could do with his job. When I arrived home that night from work, Mother met me at the car and I knew right then that I would serve a mission for two years just to make her happy. That purpose proved to be a success because she died about 15 months after I came home. She had just worked herself too hard to really regain her health after she got sick.
I was called to serve in the North Central States which included the states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, the eastern part of Montana, and two provinces in Canada. A small part of western Wisconsin was also in our mission.
I had my farewell during the middle of the week at the amusement Hall the church owned in Kamas. We had a short program and then refreshments and dancing. The Seventy Quorum of Kamas paid for my mission. The monthly cost was $50.00. Toward the last part of my mission they started sending me $60.00. To my knowledge, Dad never sent any money to me at all. Mother did get some money and she would send this to me. She sent me some money one time but it was from someone else and she promised not to tell me who it was. I never did find out who had sent that money.
I served in ----, St. Paul, and Anoka, Minnesota, Huron, South Dakota, Wolf Point and Poplar, Montana.
I never converted anyone on my mission but myself. Maybe that was the main reason for going. I learned after coming home that several members of the seventy Quorum were opposed to sending me and some almost quit coming to church. If I could speak to those members now, maybe they would think the investment in my mission has paid off. I have stayed active in the church, sent three sons on missions and Connie and I have now served our third mission. I would some time like to go back to that home ward and speak to those older members about investing in their young people, about having faith in them and investing in their missions if they need help.
Church Headquarters - Travel - 1989 -1990
In 1988, Connie and I were at the Family History Library and were told they needed help. We decided that it would be a good time to volunteer to help out and so filled out an application to help there. Our papers were sent to Church headquarters and they were picked up by a special committee. They called us to work with Dennis Wilde of Church Travel whose assignment was to arrange for the travel, meals, and lodging, plus interpreters for Stake Presidents and Counselors coming to General Conference. The Stake Presidents came to April Conference and the Counselors came to October Conference once while they were serving in the Presidency. Our job was to help keep track of this travel: who came, and also the ticket charges to the church by Murdock travel. We found the assignment to be exciting and fun, but a lot of work. We worked part time except during the week before Conference and that weekend. We served as hosts at the Little America Motel for two conferences. It was fun to spend time there in one of their rooms and be on assignment when some of these leaders needed help. We served on this mission eighteen months.
Philippine Naga - Oct. 1990- Mar 1992
I was serving as Executive Secretary to Bishop Ken Peterson during 1990. Connie and I decided we would like to serve a full time mission. In August while all of our children were home on vacation, we went to Bishop Kenneth Peterson and asked for papers, filled them out and presented them to him on Sunday. President Bruce Lake interviewed us on Sunday night, same day, and took our papers to church headquarters the next morning. We received a call from the mission department on Tuesday. "Please go get a passport." We did this on Wednesday. Friday, in the mail, we received our call to the Philippine Naga Mission. We were really surprised at the call because when Bruce interviewed us he indicated that most of the couples being called at the present time were going to England to work on finding missing members. We were to leave in September. Because I was the Executive Secretary, I knew the meeting schedule, I talked to the Bishop and we decided that Sunday was the only time available for a Farewell. It worked out because all of our children were home and they could be there to enjoy the day with us. We all spent Saturday preparing talks; gave them Sunday and enjoyed the day very much. All of our children took part on the program and we were only over time about five minutes. Many friends were upset when they found out we had had our farewell program already.
We left for the MTC the first part of September, spent three delightful weeks there with some other couples going all over the world. There were no other missionaries going to Naga at this time. We completed the training at the MTC on a Friday and were to depart for the Philippines on Monday. We could have gone home and spent the weekend with our children that lived in Salt Lake but Connie would have nothing of going back home. The good-byes were just too difficult for her. If we were to ever go on another mission like this, I would override her decision. I felt really bad that we missed this opportunity to spend a weekend at home. We did get special permission to go with Jean Baker and family to the Manti Temple for a session. One of Jean's boys was going on a mission and they invited us to share this time at the temple with the family. It was a wonderful experience and we were with family part of the weekend. We also went out to their church on Sunday to the missionary farewell for their son. We had dinner with them and they took us back to the MTC. Monday morning, we learned that our flight was canceled that day and had to wait until Tuesday for our flight out of San Francisco.
Tuesday morning, being good missionaries, we were up early and packed ready to leave for the Salt Lake Airport. It took all day for us to get there. Our plane did not leave until 4:00 p.m. (The time may be a bit wrong. Memory after years is weak.) Our children and friends in Salt Lake came to bid us good-bye. We arrived in San Francisco, had a four hour lay over, got on the Philippine Air Line (PAL) flight and then flew to Los Angeles to pick other passengers up. We arrived in Hawaii early in the morning. The plane was just leaving Hawaii after about an hour and a half wait and as they taxied out to the runway, one engine would not start. So we had another two hours while the engine was repaired. We arrived in Manila several hours late and what sleep I had had during this time could be put in a small thimble. I was most miserable.
We were not met at the airport on time and Connie and I were really worried because we were in a strange country, tired and sleepy and really ready to go back home and forget this mission stuff. I was about to call when a van pulled up in front and the Philippine driver had come down just in case we happened to be on the plane. They were there the day before not knowing the flight had been canceled in the U.S. We were taken to an apartment in Manila where the missionaries are housed as they enter and leave the Philippines. We met the director and his wife. They lived in Kamas during my youth. Dr. and Mrs. ------. We were so tired that we showered and almost immediately went to bed. The next day we were taken to immigration and shown around the area. Here was my first taste of the Philippine people. The person taking us to immigration told me that it cost 500 peso to get this work done. I was to give the money to him and he would pay it. I was to get a receipt for the money. But alas, this was not true. I found out only after some remarks were made months later and I mentioned to President Lim that this happened. The man who got the money was a Bishop working for the church. So a good learning experience took place. We were put on the plane Thursday for Naga and arrived at the Pille airport and was met by Elder and Sister Page, the couple we were replacing in the office, and President Lim and his wife. Up to this time we had no idea what our assignment would be in the mission field. Connie would be the financial secretary, and I was to be the director of the office, the auto fleet, (nine cars) and take care of paying for the apartments. This became our assignment after being trained Friday, Saturday, and part of a day Sunday. The Pages left for home Monday and we were on our own. Learn or die on the job-- and we almost died on the job before learning some of the assignments that were given to us. After much travail, crying, joy, frustration, heat rash, etc., etc., we were released from this assignment in March of 1992 and returned home for a good rest and to get to know our family and grandchildren again.
We met many people, members, non-members, missionaries, and leaders in the Naga Mission which will live in memories for the eternities. We came to love this assignment and we relive it often in discussions with each other and also in letters we receive from time to time from Naga. Our testimonies of the Gospel increased and were strengthened with each special spiritual experience that happened. Pages could be written about each one. Connie and I grew closer together in our love and friendship. Many times, I am sure, she felt like killing me because of things that went on, but her kind, loving, forgiving spirit kept the spirit of the gospel in our lives and we have been able to continue on in love. Suffice it say for this history that our lives were enriched by this experience and maybe some time if the reader is interested in further information, he/she will look up our journals that were kept during these months and laugh and cry with us as we wrote of the many things going on each day.
CES Church Office - Nov. 1994 - Jun. 1996, Doug Williams, T. John Nielson
In Oct. 1995, Bruce Lake approached us about taking an assignment as Service Missionaries at the Church Office in CES. We talked it over and decided this would be a good experience and so filled out the papers and started our mission on Nov. 10, 1995. Connie's assignment was the Receptionist on the ninth floor of the Church office. My assignment was to compile the 1993-1994 CES history that came in from all over the world. This was a five day, eight hour per day, assignment. Connie had to answer the phone, answer questions and direct calls to offices or personnel as needed. It was a very taxing, and nerve racking assignment. Connie was able, with her kind, loving spirit to fill this assignment without too many problems. The leaders came to appreciate her humble spirit and her love for the Gospel.
My assignment was quite taxing on me because I was not sure just what they had in mind for the history. I was given several boxes of histories, not complete, and told to go to work. After a couple of months of frustration, we finally decided on a format and I went to work typing the material and editing until I had all the information put into the history. This was supplemented with some other small assignments. Part of it was data imputing with the number pad of information from seminaries and institutes in the Records and Reports department. I really enjoyed this kind of work and learned to use the number pad very well.
I was also given an assignment in the research library. I had to keep the books in order, catalog books with the help of the library on the main floor and make catalog cards and labels for book titles that were sent in by the CES Institute Libraries. This assignment became very easy with the help of Eva and Kim, two secretaries in that department.
As our mission was drawing to a close, T. John Nelson approached me with the idea of extending our mission and taking on the assignment of cleaning and configuring surplus computers. With the trickle down theory CES had with computers, many computers were being put on the market at Deseret Industries for very little money. The idea was to reconfigure these computers and put them back into service in offices and teachers' offices throughout the church. We accepted the assignment. Connie was replaced with two people in her assignment in November, but one of them, because of a knee operation could not come until January. Connie was asked to accept her part of the call until that time. So, from November to Jan, I worked alone at the new configuration center that was located at the old Institute building on 17th South and 13th East. This was an old house that the church owned and this became our work space for several months.
With the Lord's help and the help from others, the work moved along very successfully. It seemed when I had questions or problems that needed to be solved, the thoughts flowed very free and solutions and answers came. If I sat down to the computer to write directions for something, the thought process just seemed to flow onto the paper. I would show these things to Connie and she would give me her insight and we would make changes. The process was very spiritual.
Again if the reader is interested, I refer them to the complete story in another part of this history. Our testimonies again increased. Our love for each other and our friendship deepened. Connie and I both feel that we give to the Lord of our time and talent but He gives so much more back to us that we will always be in His debt for the eternities.
Connie's desk was in the reception area by the elevators on the ninth floor of the Church Office building. She associated with many of the top leaders of CES. Elder Eyring's office was just done the hall. He was made an apostle while we were on our mission and we became personally acquainted with him. Brother Lund, the author of the Work and the Glory series of books, became a good friend. He was very helpful to Connie. Others were the Zone Administrators of CES; Bruce Lake, .... , . Stan Smith was the director of CES right under commissioner Eyring. He was a very loving and fun person to be around. He was most appreciative of Connie's work as the receptionist.