Some of the events that I relate here probably had a greater impact on my life than I would want to admit. I relate these things not in importance to one another or the order that they happened but only as they come to mind. I may later take the time to separate them in to a time frame so that the impact maybe shown more.
The summer of my sixteenth year, I was working on the construction job in Kamas. I left work one afternoon. On the way home, I passed Mother as she was walking to town to do some shopping. I told her I was pretty tired and thought I would go home and go to bed. Further up the street, I passed Val Sargeant's home and saw him. He talked me into delivering milk with him that evening. His family used a Ford pickup truck to haul the milk around town to deliver it to their customers. I told Val I would go with him and so he picked me up a little later. We also picked up Keith O'Driscoll. We delivered the milk and, after stopping at the local ice cream store for ice cream, started driving around town. Going north out of town toward Marion, (about 11:00 p.m.) we were doing all the little Ford could do when we ran into a herd of cows that had gotten out of the pasture onto the highway. Val was driving and I was in the middle with Keith on my right. Val missed the first cow but hit the second one broadside. The lights went out and when things quieted down, I found myself laying in the marshy meadow on the west of the fence running along the highway. My buddies were also there with me. Keith was complaining of a sore back and we climbed through the fence, helping him. We hailed a car and asked if they would take us to the Doctor's office. They could see we needed help. As the car proceeded south to town, I was wiping water from my hair and face when I ran my fingers along the side my head and felt this raw flesh. I knew then that the water was blood. I told them to hurry because I had a deep cut on my head. When we arrived at the doctors office and got out of the car under a street light, we broke out laughing at the sight of Keith. All he had on from the waist up was his collar and the cuffs of his shirt. Apparently he had gone over the fence or through it and the barbs had ripped his shirt off. In the process he had several small cuts that run almost across his back. Not being very deep they were causing him a lot of pain.
My head injury did not hurt because it was so bad that my head was numb. The doctor took one look at me and knew I would need much work so he gave me a shot to help stop any pain and laid me on the table in his office. He next took care of Keith and then Val. Val had a pretty little 7 cut in the side of his face and a split thumb with other minor cuts. While this was going on, the fellows who picked us up went down to the ice cream shop where my sister was and told her she had better go get her mother because I was at the doctor's office with my head cut off. Poor Mother. She thought I was in bed. She rushed to the doctor's office. The doctor started to work on me and after four hours of cleaning and scraping, I was taken home to bed. It was reported to me that four different times during that operation, I stopped breathing. The doctor would breathe in my mouth to bring me back. I had lost a lot of blood and the shock was very great. The cut on my head started behind my left ear went to the front of my forehead across the top and down toward the back of my right ear. They took the skin on top of my head and laid it back on my neck so they could clean the rock and dirt from the wound. Years later, I was still scratching small rocks from my hair. The only bad thing about this wound was the intense pain that was caused by the doctor shaving the hair from my head. It was almost impossible for me later to let a barber shave my neck after a hair cut. I would have to grasp the arms on the barber chair and hang on because of the memory of that pain. Both my hands were badly cut in several places and many stitches were taken. I was to learn later that the middle knuckle on both hands had been broken and the doctor had not noticed it. They sometimes give me a bad time but I believe the activity I do with my hands have kept them mobile. I was only in bed three days and off work two weeks after this accident.
Because of this accident, I was never to play in athletic events for the school. I would have loved track but the coach would not work with me because I did not play football.
When I got home from my first mission, I met Connie and started going with her. We had had a small misunderstanding about our relationship with a friend and had broken up. I went to a bishop and got a recommend to go get a blessing. Not knowing any better, I went down to the church office and made an appointment with Patriarch Smith. They made the appointment for the afternoon, so I went to the Salt Lake Temple and went through a session. After, I went over to the office to the appointment and met the Patriarch. He talked to me about three minutes and then gave me my blessing. One of the things that stuck with me that day and I later read it again in the blessing and have many times: "...because you have lived the Word of Wisdom the power of the Destroying Angel has passed you by." There are other blessings just as important and probably have more meaning but that has stuck with me. After this blessing, I called Connie and made a date to see her. We met and it seemed from that time on we were destined to be husband and wife. She had been to the same Patriarch just three days before and her blessings were much like mine.
THOUGHTS ON MOM'S PASSING
By Robert Clair Neel, October, 2003
My dear family,
What a chore, at this special time in my life, to ponder the many things that I am especially thankful and grateful for. This past two weeks, of October, has blessed my life so much. My family has rallied around to make the passing of Connie bearable. She was a special daughter of the Lord with an angelic mission to come to earth to train and keep a husband active in the church and to rear and train six wonderful children and to share her love of the gospel with our many grandchildren and now great grand-children. Sunday, 21 September, Connie was with me to the blessing of Olivia, Jennie's daughter. The following Saturday, Scottie and Alise were married. The 29 of September, Connie was taken to the Emergency section of the hospital and the following Sunday, 6 October, she told us goodbye as Conference ended. What a platter full of events in just three weeks. Of course, tomorrow, 13 October, Tristy will be married. I am most happy to be here to help her celebrate this great event. I pray that this will be a special event and down the road, 50+ years hence, she will be able to say as I do, “These were the most joyful and happy times of our lives.” Connie and I struggled to make a living, rear our children, serve the Lord and in the last 13 years serve three missions for the church. I am grateful for her testimony of the gospel and for her pure faith in the Lord. That simple faith she shined with will be a testimony to me the remaining days of my life here and will help sustain me throughout the eternities.
Connie is a very special, devoted wife that, if I can so live my life here, I will be joined again with her as friend, sweetheart, and companion. She was my very best friend here on earth. I pray to continue this relationship throughout the eternities. Thank God for this very special and comforting feeling in my life.
To go beyond these special things would be to miss many of the special things I am thankful for. Six lovely children, 20 grand-children, and at present 4 (2005, now 6) great grandchildren. With the recent marriages that number could swell. I thank all of our descendants for a great and loving tribute to their mother and grandmother.
I will be most grateful for knowing that you are active in the church, having this great faith in the savior, as your grandmother, Connie Neel had. I love each and everyone of you.
God bless you and may your life be as a full as mine.
MY PERSONAL HISTORY - QUESTIONS FROM THE TRENT NEEL FAMILY
Dear Trent NeelsWhile going through Connie's things, I found this little bottle full of colored slips. She had started to follow the things you ask her to do but then I guess she just got to the point that any free minute she could, she laid on the bed to rest or sleep. I am beginning to know more about her suffering in the last three years. I know that many times the pain was so great that she just got up and did housework or clean, or cooked. I would try to get her to rest because I could hear the moans from her throat. But I still tried to let her do what she wanted because I felt it was important for her to feel and keep her own dignity. She took such great pride in keeping everything clean and nice for me and her family. I decided that I would take this project on and not finish it for Connie but do it for my history. Connie did write on one subject:
What is your advice to those younger than you?
Hold to the rod - have Jesus Christ as your pattern, serving others and you will find true happiness.
This I believe was Connie's complete life summed up in such a few words. She served without thought to herself and always had others comforts and happiness ahead of her own comforts.
Tell about any conditions surrounding your birth that you may be aware of. Tell any interesting stories about your beginnings (how your name was chosen, any close calls etc.
I was born in Park City, Utah at a small home in the center of town. Dad and mother were buying this home but during the depression could not pay taxes and it was sold for taxes owed. There is a large resort center sitting on some of the property they had. Dad was working in the mine. This was also during the era of no booze, but Dad got around that by brewing his own. Soon after I was born, he spent six months in the jail at Coalville, Utah for “bootlegging” as it was called.
I am not sure how mother was able to live at this time. Of course, I was too small to remember details but stories have been told and I also found a newspaper clipping in their belongings that told about this incident.
What ware your most precious and deeply imbedded values?
You really put me at a loss of words on this one. As I reflect on my life and those things that have transpired, I would have to say that the work ethics that Dad and Mother instilled in my life are very high on the list. I was taught that an honest day's work was above most things. Another thing that we were taught by parents and experience was my name “NEEL” was most precious and was to be guarded with great care. My ancestors came to this country in the early 1700s and I feel they came for the freedom this country offers. Not all of them were active in the church or joined the church when it was introduced., but there were many who were early converts to the church and many were very early pioneers to Utah Territory. The Neels, Palmers, Turnbows, Woolstenholmes, Havens, Caspers, Howes, and many others were dedicated people who loved their families and wanted only the best for them. These are good names. They worked hard.
Did you have a favorite subject? One you dreaded?
I guess the most favorite subject was reading. I learned early in life to enjoy a good story. Dad used his free time - we did not have radio, TV, Movies, sports, etc, etc, - to read. He read what we called the “dime Westerns”. These became my tutor for learning to read. I could not read the big words but my imagination filled in these spots. Mother or Dad always helped me with these big words. A confession: I never learned phonics as I journeyed through the school system. I was able to read a lot of words when I started elementary and they let me slip by. Even after years of teaching reading, I must still look up a word for its pronunciation and meaning if I have not already memorized it.
Typing was another great subject I took in high school. This skill has helped me through many hard spots in my life. I didn't have to learn this as the computer came into my life. Also in the printing business, much of my work was done on a typewriter.
I also enjoyed math. When I took geometry, the teacher assigned to teach knew very little about it. This was during the 2nd World War. Another student and I would work ahead in the text, and then was called on to teach the teacher and other students.
The one subject I have not only dreaded but hated was History. It is hard to picture all the facts and dates they wanted me to learn. I needed to see a picture in my mind. When I read, it is like I am watching a movie. Everything just flows along and scenes are flashed before my mind as I read the words. I guess this is why Zane Gray, L'amour and other great writers have in common. They make the story flow with their use of words. History writers just give the facts and dates and never try to color it up too much. This dread or hatred carried on into college. This is the only class in college that I failed.
: Did you have a bicycle? What was it like?
As a young boy, I never did own a bicycle. I learned to ride on a friend's bike. At one time I was working for a man in Karmas. I had to walk a couple of miles to the barn where he kept the cows. I had a chance to buy a used bike from a cousin for $15.00. I needed 7 more dollars. This man owed me the $8.00. I asked him to advance me the other 7 so that I could have a bike to ride but he refused on the grounds he couldn't trust me. I never worked for him again.
What do you remember about shopping with your mother? Any particular stories? What was your favorite store?
This is an interesting question. Much comes to mind. First, the times were different. Shortly after I was born, the depression started. You have no idea what this was like. Father out of work - plenty of food around but no money to buy it with. When were living at Hailstone Junction Dad was working for the Broadhead Timber Company. They had a company store. We were always in debt at this store. Another store mother shopped at was the Marchant Mercantile located in Peoa. Del Marchant grew up with Dad and they were the best of friends. He always gave mother and dad much credit. I am sure during those years he never made much money from Dad and Mother. Del would always put in a bag of candy for we children.
Another store that was very good to the Neel family was located in Karmas. Again, these were friends of mother and dad. They gave much credit. I still go shopping in that store if I happen to be in town. The old store is now being used for something else and Hoyts built a new store south of town. Mother sent me for a bucket of syrup at the store in Hailstone one day. My sister, June, was going to school in Heber. She had just gotten off the bus as I came from the store. I wanted her to carry the bucket home. She refused. I got mad and threw the bucket at her. The lid came off the bucket and the syrup poured out on the ground. I got a real whipping when I got home. Mother went down on the road and cleaned the syrup up and we used it on our pancakes. I was about 5 years old at this time.
There were not the kind of stores that we have now days. These stores were small and carried many things but not everything that you may need. We just went without a lot of things.
Tell about my influential church leaders or teachers and what made them special to you.
I believe that the first teacher I would put in this question was my Dad. He was not active in the church but had a great influence on my life. I was the oldest boy in the family and spent many hours with him on the fishing stream, in the timber, and in a cabin or tent. He would take me with him in the early spring to the timber. He would set up camp; either a tent or cabin and get it ready for the rest of the family to come and spend the summer while he worked. Dad took me along to “help him.” Mostly, I think it was for company and then also if he got hurt, I would be able to go for help. Dad taught me much about life, cooking, reading, playing, and just being true to myself. Dad only went to the 8th grade but I still feel he was able to do more than most of the teachers I ever had in school, college, or church.
I had one leader in church that I greatly admired. Dick Goodworth treated me with great respect which few others in the valley did. He was a scout master of mine when I started scouts. If he had been left as my leader I would probably gone further in the scouting program. Dick was a farmer, but also directed the work at the fish hatchery located east of Karmas about three miles. He was honest, faithful in his assignment and like I said above, he treated me with great respect. I had few of those kinds of teachers in my life. We did have a woman come to the high school to teach English. This was a required course. I remember she came from Canada. She was only there at the school for a couple of years, then got married and moved to Salt Lake City. We met a few times while I was going to college and we became good friends. She and her husband came to our wedding. But after 50 odd years, I have a difficult time remembering her name. During one assignment to memorize a poem, she kept me after school and would not let me leave until I had memorized Abo Ben Adam. “Abo Ben Adam may his tribe increase...” I believe with a bit of study I could still recall the whole poem. I believe her name was Christianson.
What kind of extracurricular activities did you participate in?
The answer to this is really simple. None! Now let me tell you why. In the summer of 1943 while joy riding with a couple of friends - we were out for a joy ride in a model A Ford truck late at night - and doing something we should not have been doing. We had helped our friend Val deliver his milk and pick up the empty bottles. We were driving north out of Kamas at about the top speed of that truck, probably about 45 miles per hour. This was about 11:00 p.m. at night. We were really enjoying the ride when we spotted a herd of cows on the highway. Of course, with the poor lights of the truck, it was too late to stop and we missed the first cow but the second was hit dead center. She was throw up on the truck and was carried about 85 feet before dropping off. We continued down the road into the bar pit. This is what we called the drainage area beside the road. Somehow the car was turned around headed south. It was stopped between a double telephone pole. The three of us were on the opposite side of a barb wire fence in a wet marsh. Our one buddy, Keith, was really complaining of a hurt back. We got him through the fence and to the road. We were able to hail a passing car and they gave us a ride to the town doctor. Your have to picture this scene - late at night and no lights like the kind we now have. It was black.
While riding into town, I was wiping the water from my head and chest with a handkerchief. I happened to run my hand down the side of may head and right through a large cut. I have felt too much raw meat to not know that I was hurt pretty badly. When we arrived at the doctor's office, we got out of the car under a street light. Everyone started laughing. Keith only had his shirt collar and cuffs on. Everything else had been torn off as he went over or through the fence. The barbs on the fence had cut some skin deep cuts across his back. They really hurt. We got into the doctor's office and the doctor took one look at me and gave me a shot for pain. He worked on the two buddies first because theirs were superficial wounds.
The boys that had picked us up went back to the local ice cream joint and told everyone that I had my head cut off. My sister overheard this and headed home to tell mother. She thought I was in bed and was surprised to find I was gone. She about passed out from fright and worry.
The doctor worked on me about four hours cleaning the mud and rocks from my scalp and then sewing me up. I stopped breathing four times and he gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation. It was very late the next morning when I finally woke up in my own bed at home. I was off work three weeks and was quite a sight going around town with my head in a turban.
When school started that fall, I chose to try out for football. About the second night of practice, I took a severe tackle and got a pretty nasty bump on the head. It gave me a very bad headache. I went to the doctor the next day and as a result, I was told I could not play any of these rough sports. Being in a small town, that killed me for any kind of sports other than tennis and horse shoes. I like to run and could have been a good cross country runner or even short distances on the track but because of the above, the coach would not spend any time with me.
What do you remember about yourself as a teenager? What was important to you? Your dreams? Goals?
I grew up in a different period of time than the teenagers know today. Also, I had many experience completely different from my peers. I was in school with them during the winter months but in the summer months, Dad took his family and went to the High Uintas. He worked in the mountains cutting “saw longs” or “mining timber” or he drove truck hauling these two types of logs to the mill in town. We had no one to play with so it was work and play with my brothers and sisters. My dad and mother were my teachers most of these summer months and they did the best they could to instill in us a work ethic that still lasts today. I really don't recall if I had any dreams or set any goals during those early years.
This was during the depression years and our only goal and dream was to have a warm place to sleep and some food on the table. Of course, my main goal at this time was to have fun, go fishing, swimming and play as much as possible. I grew up around rough timber men; men who had problems feeding their families and just staying alive.
They taught me to swear, to tell jokes, to see the humor in life. I guess that was their way of staying sane. These were in the days before psychologists and people who thought they could tell you, your parents did raise you right, or your parent were mean to you.
If we got out of line, we got a whipping from, not only parents, but others who thought we had crossed the line and needed to be set straight. I remember the first radio dad and mother bought. The battery probably weighed eight to ten pounds. When it went dead, we had to buy another one. They were not rechargeable.
I started working away from home when I was twelve. My uncle, Ivan Turnbow, had just returned from his mission, gotten married and had leased a farm on the west side of Kamas Valley. He had 25 cows to milk, feed and take care of morning and evening. I was paid $20.00 per month and board and room to help with this task. Our day started at 4:00 a.m. This milking was done by hand, not by machines that they use today. I had to muck out the “crap” from the cows, feed, milk, and then get ready for school and walk a bit over a mile to catch the bus for school. At night I was dropped off and walked back, got the cows into the corral and got ready to start the milking. My uncle drove the bus but he would not drive the distance down to where we lived to pick me up.
When I quit this job, I went back to the timber with the family and I had to get out and work in the timber with Dad. He was cutting mining timber at this time. The logs had to be peeled. This is the process of taking the bark off so the logs would dry. These logs were used in the mines to support the roof so the mine would be safe for workers to go in. The summer I became 16, I was hired by the company owner to get the logs from the timber to a skidway. This skidway was used to roll the logs onto the truck to be hauled to the mines. I used a horse for this process. I had to take care of the horse, feed him, harness him, and in general keep him in the best working shape he could be in. I had to take him to the barn at noon every day for a rest and for some grain, water, etc.. This provided me with the opportunity to enjoy some time with mother. She always fixed a nice meal for me. We had some great talks at this time. Dad and the brothers and sisters carried lunch to the timber and never came to camp for lunch.
During the winter months, school was the dread. Our fun was cut short, but it also meant to me hours of pleasure of reading. I love to read and still find great pleasure in a good book. I think children of today need to turn off the TV and read. Let their imaginations run wild as they read of characters and events that a good author can paint for them.
What is the most important lesson, message, or advice you've learned that you would like to pass on for others to profit by?
The most important thing that I believe I could pass on to others would “Be true to yourself!” If you are really honest with yourself, then others will be able to trust you and believe in the things you say. You have to live with you. Learn all you can about yourself - what you love, what you believe in, what you enjoy doing when you have no others to entertain you and above all learn to extend you abilities to try many things. Believe in yourself. Learn to believe in God. He is real. What the scriptures tell about him is true. We are here for a purpose. Learn what that purpose is for yourself.
Question things you do not understand BUT then study these things until you do understand them. I have always felt that someone had to think through problems, find answers to these problems and then fix them. Why do we have all these wonderful things that make life comfortable? Because someone put his mind to work to solve the problem. Study these great men/women and learn how they had to study, sacrifice, and try and try to find answers. You are no different than men and women who lived hundreds of years ago. You are only different because you enjoy the many years of struggle that all those who have gone before you have done. They solved their problems. We enjoy the fruits of their labors. What kind of bridges are you going to leave for your children?
Note: Reaching into this bottle for questions is like getting up in the morning - you never know what the day will bring.
What political party comes closest to representing your own point of view? How do you feel about politics.
I am not really sure even now just which party I really feel closest too. I have always tried to vote for the person I feel would do the best job from what I know about him/her. I do not think either party has all the right individuals running for office. I have seen much good come from those who would support an idea rather than support the party. That's what makes this country great. We can become involved in either party or any party but we also should support the constitution with some knowledge behind that support. I do not think that all that is going on in the political parties and the courts of this nation are really in the constitution. Politicians, lawyers and judges are interpreting the constitution to suit their own beliefs and needs.
Tell about the house(s) you lived in during your childhood. Do you remember the address?
I have written a little about these things above. A lot of my youth was spend living in a tent, small cabin or a shack. The home where I spent most of my junior and senior high days was a very poorly built one room affair that we could get out of the weather. It was built by the men of the timber company that Dad worked for. The company donated the lumber and the men Dad worked with came and put this affair up because winter was coming on and the tent we had was not fit to live in during the winter months. The house had no insulation. It had tar paper on the outside to keep the wind and rain or snow out. It was heated by a wood stove that dad and we boys cut the wood for. This became our job as we got older - keep the wood box full for mother. Dad was able to add three small bedrooms on the north end of the house. There was not enough bedrooms for the older boys. A tent was set up across a small creek and we had a double bed where all four of us slept together to keep warm. Later, I was able to build a 8' x 10' cabin and we used this until I was able to work for a lady that owned a hotel. She let me work for four days so I could buy a small wood stove from her. This stove was set up in our cabin and we spent many nights going to sleep with this old stove red hot. It's a wonder we did not burn the cabin down.
I believe the first address I ever had to write from or receive letters to, was my address in the service at the Navy training base in San Diego, California. Then I had a few while in the mission field in 1947 and 1948. The house address at Kamas was just a box number and we had to go to the post office each day to pick our mail up. No door to door delivery.
Describe the perfect summer day.
In my youth or in my golden years. Much the same. I enjoy spending time on a stream or lake enjoying the beautiful [things] that God has put here on earth to enjoy. Of course, that includes a fishing pole in my hands, my feet in the water and the quiet sound of running water, humming bees or mosquitoes or the birds singing. I have spent much time in the pursuit of these summer days.
I also find that it is best to have a good friend along to enjoy the solitude. I have seen much in my day. I have watched the moose feed, mountain lions go by, deer feeding and does feeding their young. I have sat quietly on a river bank and watched the fish feed and play. I have also enjoyed much time with my mother and father in these same pursuits. Mother really enjoyed fishing and loved the beauty and serenity of the fields of flowers that seem to abound in the mountains.
I have also enjoyed the quiet time spent in the temple doing the work for the dead. Here is a place that time seems to stand still and if you listen very quietly, you can hear the breath of God and see his work and glory. Nothing could be as perfect as this. I can see God in both places, mountain streams or in the rooms of the temple. I enjoy life. I have learned much and enjoyed much. One other perfect day is watching the new baby in the hospital or at home as it learns new things. Again, here I see the handiwork of God in all His glory. Learn to open your eyes - be aware of things going on around you and each day you live will be that perfect day for you.
Did you receive your education somewhere other than a school?
There is much “education” in life that is never gained from a “school”. Yes, I have received much that I know from other than schools. I spent much time with my dad, both working and playing. He taught me much about life. I had to work early in life - away from home- working. This taught me to be very observing because much that I had to do was learned on the job. This served me well in later years of my life after the formal school.
I think much of what I know about teaching was never gained from the five years of formal schooling at the University of Utah. As one teacher exclaimed, “I have spent five years learning about the ideal classroom, the ideal student, the ideal lesson plan. Now I find there is no such thing as ideal!” This is the way of life. I have had to learn as I struggled to make a living for me and later for my wife and family. Each new job or experience has had its own learning curve. When I got my first part time job after starting the University, I had never seen a printing press. I told the man hiring me, “I can learn how to do it!.” I was paid 70¢ per hour to run a letter press. This machine used lead type that cast up by a linotype machine. I had to learn to insert the type into a chase, tighten it up, make sure it was level and then run the machine that used this lead type. I worked for the man for about 18 months. From this job, I received employment as an assistant desk clerk at one of the early hotels in Salt Lake. I learned to sign visitors into the hotel, collect money, answer phones, etc, etc.. During this same period of time I started working in the packing department at ZCMI. This job consisted of packing items for delivery or shipment plus gift wrapping for customers. I also had to deliver items to customers homes.
From this job, I was hired by a professional chinchilla farmer to feed, water, and generally take care of chinchillas. This also included Saturday work cleaning cages and in the summer months building cages and generally being a handy man. This was the part time job I held when I started teaching at the Sherman Elementary school on 2300 East and 3300 South. During this same time, I started part time employment at a fast food - The Dairy Queen - that was located next to the Sherman School. After 2 evenings of training, the Boss gave me the key and told me to close up he was going home. This job lasted about two years. I would teach during the day, tend the chinchillas on the way home, get my dinner at the house and then report at the Dairy Queen for the evening work.
When Connie and I started to remodel our “little house” I quit all these jobs and spent many hours struggling to learn the construction business of building a home. Our contractor was a very gentle, caring man, who taught me much. Clarence Hurst was a great friend.
So you can see, that much of what I consider my “education” did not come from formal classroom conditions. When Connie had her private school going in our home, I was able to observe her skills at teaching and this helped me in my classroom. After this school closed, we decided to go into the printing business. Much had to be learned from setting hand type to photograph, layout, offset presses, billing customers, acquiring jobs, and trying to train our children that work was important for them to learn. We had some great tomes in this business.
I have had many kinds of jobs. Farming, milking cows, hauling hay, feeding pigs, construction work of all kinds, timbering, military life, university life with all its facets of learning, fast foods, chinchillas, education, media (Masters Degree) printing, etc. The list could go on. Many of these jobs have their own special skills that came not from the classroom but from on the job training. Good luck with your life in the college of “hard knocks” as my dad used to call it.
Tell about your life as the children left home. New interests, what you did with the extra time, new employment, moves, hobbies, etc.
This question probably pertains to Connie more than for me. My life really has not changed much after our children left home. My employment stayed pretty much the same. My worries certainly increased. Wondering if they would be able to make the grade in this life. Most have been very successful and some have had great difficulties adjusting to the outside world. I am happy to say that I was able to have more time with Connie. She and I were able to do much in this life that would have been impossible with children at home. She and I spent time serving the Lord on missions for the church. Also working at the Temple.
The only moves we have experienced in our life was going to the Philippines on a mission. We have lived at the same house for over 52 years before her death. We had some exciting times in this house. My hobby has always been fishing. I learned and am still learning to tie my own fly hooks. I still get just as excited about catching a fish as I did the very first time I was given my dad's pole while he was eating lunch. I believe I was between four and five years old. It seemed like there was a fish behind every rock that I placed the fly hook behind. This experience took place on the Duchenne River in the High Uintas. Dad and I hiked from the cabin where we lived, over the mtn. and down to this stream. I was so tired on the way home in the evening that Dad had to carry me a lot of the way. Since then, Dad and I spent many hours on the stream or lake sharing this love for a sport that still holds great fascination for me.
Now that Connie has left home, my life has changed very drastically. A great void has come in my life and I find the tears flow very freely many times as I remember all the good times we have had in this home. As I go about doing the work that she performed in this house, I now realize how much she gave to make this a very special place for me and for our children. I believe we all feel this void very much.
Being retired, I am not longer facing the problem of making a living. BUT there are other problems that come where much of the past will be put to use in dealing with them. My decisions now will not be “how does this affect Connie?” I look at something and know that I have to face this and make my decision without her input. This will definitely have a big impact on the rest of my life. I must still learn new skills as I deal with this phase of my life here.
What do you think about movies? What is your favorite movie?
I believe movies are a vicarious way of experiencing life. One can see in others what one would like to experience. I can be the hero, the villian, the lover, the loser, etc., etc., Movies can also be a great learning tool - I have seen things in movies that I never even hope to experience in this life. I do not enjoy traveling much any more but movies will take me to these great places. South Africa on a lion hunt, the Pacific ocean deep sea fishing, the Pacific Islands and their many natives with their special style of living, a great whale hunt or a polar bear hunt. The cameras can put me in touch with these things without the pain of the cold, heat or the great danger that comes from being in these places.
After experiencing the Philippines and its heat, dirt, dangers from snakes, bad food, and especially dangerous people that are far out in right field, makes me really enjoy the movies much better. I can see these things from the safety of my own home.
Watching a great mystery movie does not put me in danger. A great western with John Wayne and his gun fights does not place me in danger, yet I can vicariously live the experience. Moby Dick took me to the oceans hunting whales, I do not think most of us will experience this ever again in real life.
Fishing for the great sharks or swordfish, deep sea diving to see the great under water life is not in my future, yet I have been there and done that by watching from my easy chair those who do. I am afraid of great heights, yet I can experience these great adventures by watching thee great movies that come out. I have never in my life been in a mine underground, but have experienced these things by watching movies.
I don't know that I have a really favorite movie. If I had to choose one over all the rest, I guess I would have to choose “Robin Hood” made by Disney that featured the parts played with animals. I watched this movie with my grandchildren during the year I had operations on my knee, tendon, etc.. We had such great fun together enjoying the adventures of these characters as they fought the wicked king. Of course, I have other favorites but each new one comes out, that is really good, replaces my past favorite. “Gone With the Wind”, “Cats”, “Brigham Young”, “The Pulsifers”; the list could go on and on. I have always enjoyed a good Western - having grown up reading “Dime Westerns”. I just enjoy a good movie.
Describe your wedding dress. Bridesmaids dresses...etc.
This is just way, way out of my area of thinking. I would probably describe these things entirely different than the female would. I do know that Connie was the most beautiful thing in the world at that time and still is. You have to remember that in our day, we were married in the Temple clothes. I can not remember too well after all these years but I do think Connie wore her dress. Thinking back, it was a very simple dress that she made herself. I have no idea what the bridesmaids wore. If you watch the video that Connie gave one Christmas, you will see what they looked like. A friend took this movie for us as a Wedding present. Remember in those days, wedding photos did not play a huge part in the wedding as they do today. I think it is really out of hand. I know that a few years ago, our daughters asked Connie about her dress. She got it out and put it on. It still fit and she was more beautiful that day than when we got married. The only problem - when she tried to take it off, the sleeves were so tight on her arms we had to cut the stitching to get the dress off. Making bread all those years had really developed some muscles. I do not know what happened to her dress.
Tell about your grandchildren - how many? names? how you feel about being a grandparent, etc.
These etc. on the end of each question are really killers. They open the world up for a wide range of memories. As a father, it was exciting to receive the announcement that another child had entered into our family. You have to remember in our day, the father was only needed at inception, from then on he was just a sore thumb; always in the way and something to push aside. I envy the fathers today that get to be in the delivery room with their wife. I have watched and helped animals deliver their young but it is certainly not the same thing. We were blessed with 20 grandchildren. Each one was a mystery in the beginning. Now that they are reaching maturity, getting married, etc. they are still a mystery and a delight to watch. As each of them get married and have their first child, it is a very thought provoking experience. This is the one thing that does not come with a handbook and a trouble shooting section. They have to learn this by the seat of their pants. If they are not too proud and think their child is the first one on earth, mothers and fathers now become a source of information to help guide from past experience.
Our grandchildren are: Jenifer, Tristina, Shauni, Callie, Scott E, Crystal, Trevor, Marie, Molly, Tyler, Charisse, Leslie, Kurtis, Kelsi, Ryan, Daniel, Drew, Carly, Shaunessy, and Justin. If I have missed any, ask your mom and dad about this. Each one of these grandchildren is very different from one another. Each have their own personalities and talents. Those who have reached adulthood and are going on with their lives, will grow to be that special person in the eyes of others. They will see them entirely differently than I do. Each has a great heritage of people behind them. Each will join other blood lines in marriage and will add much to this family line. I see many with great talents, great ambitions, and greater possibilities. I have seen each one with their own kind of problems but in each I see the great growth that comes from realizing they are a child of God and each have a special purpose here on earth. I have most happy to call them my grandchildren. Each have their own special love they have given to me. I thank them for that and I pray for their success in life. I pray that each of you will experience the kind of love that Connie and I have, that each will have their marriage blessed with children, much love, and much longevity. At the present time --December 2, 2003, Connie and I are now the Great grandparents of four: Baylee, Natalee, Ammon, and Olivera. I enjoy seeing them and knowing what great possibilities each will be able to give.
What family Customs do you recall which may have had their origins in a foreign land? Describe a family tradition that you remember from your childhood.
This is very difficult for me. We were so poor that the only tradition we had was get to the table and eat as fast as you could so no one else would get your share. Also, as you look back on our ancestry you will see that the Neel line and many others have been in this country for about 300 years. Customs tend to fade in that length of time. Connie, you recall, is a first generation in this country. Her dad came to this country from Denmark as a 12 year old boy. They had customs that may have carried over. Mother Lund came to this country from Norway. She joined the church and was given means to travel to this country but nothing else. She did not speak the language, was the only one of her family to join the church and never went back to Norway in her life time. I know that she made some special things for Christmas but I can not recall the name of them. A special meat she fixed up took several days preparation and was delicious. Her cakes and cookies were very good. Dad Lund really turned loose the pocket book at Christmas time. This was a very special day in their family life. I believe that is why Christmas meant so much to Connie.
You will recall all the sugar cookies she made and gave away. Her candy was excellent. She stayed up all night wrapping and getting things made up. She made dresses for all the girls and may have sewn shirts for the boys. It was a great time around our house. Christmas morning, the children had to have their bowl of cheerios before they could get to the presents. That was probably the fastest meal of the year. Each one had to be finished before we threw the door open for their Christmas. This will be missed very much this first Christmas without her.
What lessons did you take as a child that have carried over in your adult life? What lessons haven't?
Again, I go back to the kind or type of life we were living as I grew up. Lessons were never even thought of, unless the discipline Dad and Mom gave out when we got out of line. In the political world we live in today, Dad and Mom would be accused of child abuse. When we deserved a whipping, we got it. We all know that if we stepped out of line too far, then the willow of razor strap was the next lesson. Dad and mom taught me to play cards. They needed a third hand to play the game they liked to play and since I was the oldest boy in the family, I became the third hand. We had many long evenings playing Rummy. Toothpicks and beans were the chips. I got so I could hold my own playing cards with them. You may recall that in my boyhood days, there was no radio, TV, computers, etc. to waste our time on. Dad loved to read “Dime Westerns”. I started to read before I entered school. My imagination was such that I can still read a good story and picture in my mind the scenes that are being described and the action that the characters face. I still read a couple of books a week and sometimes more.
How was discipline carried out in your home?
As you read in the subject above, discipline was harsh and quick. As each of us have talked about it now, we look back on those episodes in our lives as just and worthy. We were a free wheeling bunch of kids and loved life. We fought, we laughed and played together, we suffered with each other and we made war on each other. Dad and mother were justified in every whipping dished out to their children. We are better for this discipline. You think of my brothers and sisters; they are hard working, goal oriented, and have made successes of their lives. We were always shown much love after these sessions. Dad and Mother never turned their backs on us after they disciplined us.
I remember one experience while living in the Uinta mountains at what we knew as Broadhead. The Broadhead timer company worked this one particular area of the canyon and dad had fixed up a cabin that had been used much earlier. One night after supper, (we always knew the night meal as supper), dad and mother took us out in the yard playing “Kick the Can”. This was a game of it where it had to find those hiding. Dad was it and he counted, came to find us and he let everyone of the kids get in and kick the can ahead of him. When he went out to find mother, he let her come in and kick the can to get in free. But before he went out, he had put a rock in the can. Mother about broke her foot. She limped around on it for a couple of weeks.
What is your greatest Joy? Your greatest sorrow?
I guess without question at this time, my greatest sorrow is the loneliness that comes from not having Connie by my side. I knew this time was coming when one of us would be left behind. I have always hoped that it would be me. Connie was always telling me that she hoped she would not be left behind to fend for herself. I am not sure that I am any better to fend for myself but I will have to try. I have had so many great joys in my life. When it comes right down to it, I just really enjoy life. I enjoy watching nature. The animals have their own personalities and have fun just as we do. You just have to learn to observe. The beauty that God has given us to enjoy is beyond belief. But some of the great joys would be my marriage, the birth of each of our children, then the great successes they have achieved in their lives. Taking each one to the Temple to be sealed to their eternal companion has been extremely satisfying.
The blessing of each child, now the great grandchildren - how can you separate each one from the other in choosing my greatest joy. Serving on missions with Connie was very delightful. She amazed me with her talents and her adaptability to each new situation and condition that we found ourselves in. Just being in her presence was a joy. When I went to the temple with my sister to have Dad and Mother sealed and also sealing our youngest brother to them - what a thrill to know that mother will now be with him and that dad and mother can be together. Dad was a great man but had very little training in the church. He lost his mother when only 10 years old. His dad was not a church going man. Being on the farm, work became important seven days a week.
Were you responsible for any household chores? What were they? Which did you most enjoy? Least enjoy?
As you recall from reading early, we grew up without much. Small houses, tents, or cabins were our lot. So household chores were left to my sisters. BUT the boys had to cut wood and make sure there was wood in the house for heat, cooking, etc.. When living at Hailstone Junction, I had to carry water from the river up to the tent. Mother carried a lot of it but with a smaller bucket, I helped out some. At another time, we had a washing machine that was turned by hand. This became my job a lot of the time. I was the motor on this machine. As each new baby came along I had to take my turn at washing diapers. In those days, cloth diapers were used and they had to be cleaned when mother ran out of supplies. How I hated this job. When we didn't have a machine available, this cleaning was done in a #2 iron tub with a wash board. This wash board was a frame with a corrugated center to rub the clothes on. After this process, they were put in clean water to clean the soap out and then hung on a clothes line outside to dry. This was done summer and winter and oh how hateful a job to go out and collect diapers that had frozen on the line. We had to bring them into the house and put in the oven of the wood stove to thaw out and then hung on a line in the house where the heat would get to them and dry them. How great you children have it today when you have to clean and wash your own clothes. I think that old “rub-a-tub” ought to be brought back and each child taught that cleaning process. I believe it would only take one lesson for each to start appreciating the great advances we have made in just this one household chore in the last 50 or 60 years.
Cutting wood had to be done summer and winter. If it were snowing and below zero temperature outside, wood still had to be sawed and chopped and brought into the house. It was tough work but oh did we enjoy the results as we gathered round the stove to get some of that heat on a very cold morning. As I got older, I had to help Dad in the timber. When he was cutting mining timber, the bark had to be taken from the logs. This was done with a home made tool. A garden hoe was straighten out so that the blade was in line with the handle. This blade was then kept very sharp and it was slid under the bark to life the bark from the log. The pitch from the log would get on our clothes and they would become so stiff that they would stand alone when we took them off at night. The pitch was very hard to get off our hands and arms. But this was part of life. Each had to do their share. As I went to work on a farm, milking cows, feeding them, cleaning up after the milking process was over. I wrote about the “crap” that had to be cleaned from the barns. Another favorite word for crap was “brown sugar”. Not the kind you eat either. This was the kind that became very good fertilizer when spread on a field of grass or other crops.
What is your child rearing philosophy?
You really want to put me on the spot with this kind of question. If I answer one way, some will get offended; if I answer the other, others will become offended. Even after rearing six children, teaching children for 30 years and being around young children all those years, I am still not sure that I have a real feel for child rearing philosophy.
I can say after all this experience I know that unless children are happy, any kind of philosophy is wrong. I found from my teaching experience that children learn best when they are happy and having fun. I tried to make school experience a happy time for most children. There are still those who like to cause trouble or mischief where ever they are. Children need to learn responsibility. Learning to work is one of those most essential goals. I heard a statement one time: “Teach a child how to work at two so that when they arrive at three, they will be able to learn the skills of a three-year-old”. This could be said of any age. I see many persons in the world today that have not learned these special skills for each age and therefore they are unable to handle the responsibilities of adulthood. Divorce broken hearts, unwed mothers, irresponsible fathers, unemployment, welfare rolls - the list could go on endless. When a child is learning to work and play by the rules of the age where he/she is, then they are ready to take on those skills needed in later life.
Describe a childhood birthday.
I do not ever remember having birthday parties. A birthday in our family was just another day. Mother may have made a cake or a special meal but we took each birthday in stride. Another day of fishing, hunting, playing, teasing, or just being around with the family.
I had the special birthday the day I became 5, because Virginia was born that day. I not only remember her birth but I was with my dad on one of his many celebrations. He and two friends decided to celebrate Virginia's birth with a little drinking party. They happened to take me along with them. The party lasted for three days and extended to a trip to Salt Lake City. I don't remember much about that trip, but recall having some pretty nice treats. I recall one thing that stuck with me. As they were driving down State Street, we passed an auto dealer's lot. In the open space if front of their office, they had a car going around in circles. The one front wheel had been taken off and they were showing who well this particular car was made. It could still run with only three wheels on the ground. That was impressive to a five-year-old that was missing his mother very much. Virginia and I have always shared that day together. Even now we try to call each other on our special day. There have been many where we were not available to each other but a letter or card always brought us together. After reaching some mystical year, birthdays become a “forget it” day. Don't mention that I am getting older. I have always enjoyed my birthday with the children and with Connie. I believe Connie always tried to make birthday a special treat, not only for the recipient of that day but for all of us.
Describe a favorite vacation in your married life.
One year Connie and I decided to take the children and go to Disney Land in California. Part of the trip was to visit Aunt Temmie and Vonnie in Sacramento, then go to the coast and see Vange. From there, we would travel down the California coast to Disney Land, spend a couple of days there, then visit Ronald and come on home. This trip was a disaster for the first part. On the trip to Sacramento, we blew the engine on the Volkswagen bus we drove. It needed a major overhaul. Temmie would not hear of us trying to fix that car. She took us to a car dealership and paid cash for a new bus. What a joy that was to drive after having so much trouble with the old one. We continued our trip to Disney Land, had a great time and was able to complete the trip having had lots of fun as a family. We had many vacations going to the Uintas and camping out. Most of the time spent there was fishing and enjoying each other.
What is the most adventuresome thing you've ever done?
There have been so many in my life. Probably the most adventuresome was the Mission to the Philippines with Connie. Every day something happened to make it memorable. Going to a strange land, a strange people, another language, and living without much of the luxury we were used to at home made this a true remarkable adventure. We found the people, by the most part very friendly. Most were able to converse with us in English so we did not have to learn a new language, and we made some very dear friends. New skills were developed. Old skills were called on to deal with day to day problems. We had to learn the monetary system and deal with large amounts of money in pesos. Exchange rates were a thing I had never heard about but it had to be watched on a daily basis. Small uncomfortable apartments - we moved four times in the 18 months - were hard to get use to. Heat was intolerable. We learned to sleep on top of the sheets at night with a fan blowing right across the bed. It did work if the power did not go off during the night. Showering with cold water a couple of times a day was a new experience. Our house help taught us many things and we soon were able to cope with most problems.
It was a great blessing in our lives, but it was still absolutely great to be back on Millcreek Road in our own culture, and to be able to associate with family and old friends again.
Where did your grandparents live? What was their home like? Did it have a certain “smell or “look” or “feel.”
My mother's parents' home is located in Kamas, Utah. I have a photo of the house as it looks at the present time. There have been some changes made since my boyhood days. The basic house is still the same. Most of the living was done in one large room where there was a big square table. The cooking, etc. was done here on a wood burning stove. Grandmother Turnbow made the most delicious breads and cakes with this stove. In the summer, fruit was bottled, and anything else that needed preserving went on in this room. The house did have a formal living room but was seldom used except for viewing of bodies and other special occasions. To the north of the kitchen was the bedroom of grandpa and grandma. The house had an upstairs where the girls slept on the east side and the boys on the west side. I have stayed in both these rooms during some of my stays at their home. There was not an inside toilet. I can't remember if there was running water in the house. To the east of the kitchen was a walk-in pantry that always had great smells and there seemed to be cookies there when we wanted some. Grandma Turnbow always had a garden and flowers around her place. She loved pretty things like this.
Life was very hard for this couple. They had a farm which was hard work. Grandpa drove a freight wagon from Kamas to Park City. This wagon was pulled by a team of horses - I don't remember seeing the wagon because this was before my time. But I can imagine it had more than two horses pulling the freight wagon because the loads would be heavy. Mother was the oldest child in the family and so I was there a lot with her. Grandma always treated me with great respect and I always felt very comfortable going to their home. Dad's parents had a farm in the Peoa bottom lands. A two-story brick home was built there on the farm in 1903 and it still stands and is lived in at the present time. Dad's mother passed away in 1910 when dad was only 10 years old. Thomas, his father, died about a year after I was born. I don't remember much about their home because of my age. I have gone by the home many times in my life and still am enchanted by the looks of the home. I am sure that if Ann Eliza, dad's mother, had lived longer, I would have felt just as welcome in this home. Dad was the third from the youngest in this family so his parents were much older when I was born.
What is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
There have been so many wonderful things happen in my life that it is very difficult to bring it down to one thing. Growing up with a family that loved me; being able to live at a time when we were pretty free to go and do what we wanted to do; the service at the right time; my missions, schooling, teaching, retiring, living with a wonderful companion, sharing my life with her; fathering six beautiful children with all the accompanying problems; running a printing business; working at many kinds of jobs and learning many kinds of skills,; working with my children in the printing business; vacations we went on in the old clinkers we could afford; the list could go on forever. I guess when it comes right down to basics, the very fact of being allowed to come and live on this earth, having a body so I could experience all these things plus learning to overcome most of the problems developed because of all the above is perhaps the best with once exception. The Lord had his hand in my life when I was allowed to meet Constance Irene Lund. Her influence and love helped to develop the kind pf person I have become. Now the worst thing! The day that she was called home to that One who gave her life. I have a very hard time admitting that I am lonely. Life without her being close is very difficult. I do know that our love will extend forever if I am able to endure and keep the covenants we made in the temple. I have had the assurance that came to me after her death that we shall be together forever. I want my children who read this to know that I love each of you with just as strong a love as I do your mother. We shall be together as a family and with much effort each of our children, grand- and great-grandchildren and on and on, with being a great family.