What were your father's best traits? His worst? The traits you share?
Dad was a very loving person. He had great love for mother, and also his children. He was a strong disciplinarian. We know we were in trouble when he got mad. But even if he whipped us, we knew he loved us. We had fun with him. He made us work. Dad was not afraid of hard work and he was always in good shape because of this. There were very few men in the valley that would tackle dad in a fight. One of the men in Kamas that had boxed professionally, said on one occasion, "I would never get in a fight with John." I remember one time he came home really beaten up. Two brothers had gotten dad drunk and then proceeded to beat him up. They did not dare tackle him sober and fight him individually. Dad loved to play a good joke on someone. I remember as a boy living with them in the Uintas. We played games in the evening with dad and mother. One evening we were playing kick-the-can. This is a game of hide and seeks. The person that is "it" counts while the others go out and hide. While it tries to find each person, if you can get in and kick the can ahead of "it" you were safe. Dad was it. We all hide. Dad started to find us. Mother was the last one hiding. Dad went out away from the can and mother came running in and kicked the can. Dad had put a rock in the can. Mother about broke her foot. She was so mad at dad, but the family still gets a laugh out of this story. Dad only attended school to the eighth grade. I was always amazed at his knowledge. He was able to do about anything he tried. His working skills varied. He drove truck, cut timber, worked in the mines in Park City, drove a school bus that was used to transport workers to WPA jobs, tied his own fly hooks, sharpened saws of all kinds, run a jack hammer on road construction, was a custodian at the local High School and did all kinds of maintenance there. He cleaned and serviced the furnace at school. This was an old coal-burning furnace. He stripped and refinished the gym floor one summer. This took almost the whole summer to do. The superintendent, coach, and students were amazed at the quality of his work. Dad was a successful hunter. We needed a lot of his skills at hunting. He provided meals for family with his hunting and fishing skills.
One of dad's traits that I was never able to develop was the ability to memorize. Dad could quote poetry that he learned as a boy. He knew which family a person belonged to, who they married, and their children. One time Keith and I were with him driving from Park City to Peoa over what we called Brown's Cutoff. He started to recount who had owned land along this road. He knew whom it belonged to, who they sold it to and so on. But his one last comment was, "I don't know who has it right now. I haven't been around for the past ten years." The students at the high school liked dad very much. He respected them. He treated them like adults. They responded to this and gave him much more respect than they did some of the teachers. In his own way, he was able to teach them much about life. Dad's worst fault was his love for a party and the drinking. I am sure that if his mother had lived longer dad would have been an entirely different person. She passed away when dad was only ten. He missed that close love and teachings only a mother can give. I also think it was a great frustration for dad to have so many depending on him for a living. Those depression years were very difficult for so many people. He was never able to really get ahead of the need for food, shelter and clothing for his family. The church teachings would have been a great help to him but he missed out on these as a youth, young man, and as an adult through his life. Dad was able to give of himself and his means to help others. Dad and mother were very well liked by family and friends. They always had someone come to visit. They seem to always be able to feed a meal to visitors even if we had just eaten.
I am not sure about the traits I share with my dad. I like people. I like helping others. I try to fix anything that someone asks me to fix. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to look at something and be able to fix it. Sometimes that skill fails but not often. This is not bragging but simply stating a fact. Tools have become my pals at doing the odd and unusual things. I am in my own way religious. I think dad was religious in his own way but church attendance was not his way. I do serve in the church having held several different kinds of callings. Dad and I share the same love of fishing. Mother had this same great love. I still get excited when a fish of any kind or size hits my lure. I would rather be on any stream fishing than even eating.
What games did you play in your house or neighborhood?
I have mentioned before the "kick-the-can" game. We played a lot of variations of this game. My family loves all kinds of card games but they are an explosive bunch and I have decided that when we are together, I will watch and not play. It's just easier than getting in a fight over rules.
During my growing up years, my peers and I played softball, horseshoes, tennis, some football, a lot of sled riding during the winter months, and we all enjoyed hunting rabbits. This was more than just a game because many of us brought the rabbit meat home to eat. Fishing was also big on our "to-do-list". Ice-skating was a fun activity in the winter. Our skates were the clamp on type. We never had the skating shoes. Summer time brought the swimming, water fights, etc. We also had a game we played often. Some called it Indians and robbers, others robbers and sheriff, but we just had fun no matter what the name. This game consisted of home made wooden guns made to shot elastic bands. These bands were made from old rubber inter-tubes. Some guns were like rifles and could shoot several bands. Those rubber bands could really hurt if you got hit. We played this game mostly in barns where they was a lot of places to way-lay a friend or get in a quick shot at the robber or sheriff, depending which side you were playing on at the time. All they games were cheap to play and easy to do most any place we were. Sometimes while playing with my siblings, jump the rope or hopscotch was played. We made up a lot of our games to fit where we were and who we were with at the time.
Describe a sound from your childhood
I think the sound that was the scariest was the cry of a panther. It sounded like a woman screaming in fright. We heard it many times while in the mountains. Another sound that I enjoyed and it still brings pleasure and dreams to my soul is the whistle of a train across the valley. In the clear air of the mountain, that sound really carries. I get to thinking of distant places and being able to travel on the train to see and experience these places. Yet I have only been on two train rides. That was the time I left Salt Lake City to go to boot camp and the other time was when I left Salt Lake City to go on my first mission. We seemed to always be camping along side a stream. Our house in Kamas had a small stream between it and the mountain. The sound of running water still lulls me into a peaceful dream or makes me think of all the streams I have been on in my life time. There is another sound that brings pleasure to my soul. As I grew up in the timber when the chain saw was not known, the timber was cut with the ax and the saw. The sound of the wood being cut by a sharp saw is sweet and satisfying. There were many sounds that brought pleasure to me. The wind through the trees, the rain falling through the trees, the tremendous noise emitted by thunder and the lightning hitting the peaks close by, still brings joy to my senses.
Describe getting a Christmas tree with your family as a child; how did you decorate it; where did you put it up,etc.
This is hard to do because as a child, I would go to bed Christmas eve and when I got up the next morning, the tree was in the house or tent with the trimmings and presents already in place. This big event of having the tree up for a month before Christmas was not in our tradition. I remember there were few decorations and no lights. Houses were not decorated as they are now. During those depression years, presents were also very few. I remember one Christmas when I was young of only getting one toy. It was a wagon being pulled with a horse. As the wagon was pushed back and forth, the horse's legs would move. If we got more, the gifts were usually clothing, shoes, or something else much more practical that was very much needed. Being near the forests getting a tree was really no big problem. As I child, I thought that Santa was the one who brought, decorated, and gave us everything connected with Christmas.
Describe a typical school day as a child in elementary school
That's a long time ago. I guess those days were very much like these days without the entire computer bit, the gym classes, the supervision at recess, etc. I do not remember watching a film, filmstrip, or movie in school. We studied reading, writing, and arithmetic. There was much drilling in every lesson. I do remember that the music lessons we received was given by the band teacher from the high school. He would come in once a week and give us some lessons. I did not enjoy school. My family was very poor compared to the children coming from others in the community. Dad was a common laborer and was not held in high regard by other families in town. Our clothing was not of the designer quality of today. Bib overalls, old shirts, ragged shoes, and not much else were the design for our family. I grew to hate those bib overalls.
The big highlight of the day for me was recess time. We would hit the playground and play ball. In the wintertime, it was so cold outside that we never went out that much. If we did go out, it was to play tag, or to have a snowball fight. There was always a girl to tease but I never remember any girls that I wanted to tease. I had three sisters at home and got enough of that at home.
I was reading when I started first grade. Dad was always reading "dime westerns" and with mother's help and Dad's I picked up reading. I never really learned phonics because of this. Even after teaching school so many years, I still have difficulty when a new or difficult word is met in my reading. I learned the words by memory.
One thing that was very common was the spelling bee. We would have teams and would take turns spelling the words given by the teacher. I never lasted very long in these contests. Spelling was not my best subject. When I started typing classes in high school, spelling started becoming much easier. I was forced to look at each word more closely.
We always had a big school production for parents each year. This was usually done at Christmas time. I don't remember most of these plays. One year I had one of the parts of the three wise men. Dad made me a staff from a small tree. I thought it was the best thing I had ever had. It was around the house for years. Another time, the teacher had us do a panorama of a book or story we had read. My story was of the north. It was about dogs and adventure. The main character was trapped under a log by a moose. I really enjoyed this project. I believe the author of the book was Jack London.
Discipline was very strict. To be kept in from recess to complete some schoolwork or to be punished for some wrong was one of the worst forms of torture for me. I didn't mind the whippings because then I got to go outside to play.
During those days of my youth, the depression was in full swing. Many children went hungry. Roosevelt's welfare program got the school lunch program going. That was a highlight of the day for many of us because we were fed one good meal. As I recall, the lunch cost 3 cents each day. My mother and dad always had a large bill at school because it was difficult to come up with the three cents. I believe by the time I was going to high school the cost of lunch had gone up to a quarter. By that time, things were going a little better for us and I would go home for lunch. Besides, I enjoyed visiting mother for a few minutes each day.
I recall one experience at school. I was in the fifth grade. I didn't finish my lunch because we had a ball game planned and I wanted to go outside. My teacher stopped me from going out. She told me I had to finish my lunch. She made me sit at the table until I had eaten everything. I was still there late in the afternoon. Mrs. Smith came into the lunchroom. The lunch tray was still setting in front of me. She really got made. She slapped me to the side of the head and told me I had to finish the lunch. I got so mad I picked the tray up and threw it at her. She was covered with food. I really got in trouble for that. Dad and mother had to come to school. They wanted me to apologize for this action. I never did. Mrs. Smith was one old mean woman.
My fourth grade teacher was Miss Sargeant. She was the sister of Val Sargeant, one of my friends who was in the same class. I did so poorly that year that I was being considered for retention. She refused to hold me back. I loved that teacher from that time on.
What was your most embarrassing moment
I knew this question would come up somewhere in this great bottle of questions. I guess people really go through the same things in life and want to share these moments with others and have a good laugh. I think one of the most embarrassing moments in my life happened while in the boarding house while I was going to college. I was sharing a room with several other men. The room was in the basement of this house. I had come home during the afternoon to take a shower and get ready to go on a date or do something special. We shared a shower room. I forgot to take my underwear to the shower room with me. So after showering I went back to me room drying myself with the towel. As I walked into the room where my clothes were, one of the men had his girl friend sitting on the bed with him. I was stark naked. We had a good laugh about this experience later.
Describe a typical day during your junior high years
When I started junior high school, I went to a different building. The high school and junior high were located at the same place but were two separate buildings. We had classes much as they do today. I do recall that I had two different subjects from the same teacher. My classes were really small so we did not have many rooms to change. As I recall, there were only six class periods during those years. We had Utah history, English, Math and some reading. Gym classes were provided. Band and music was not given until high school. We had an hour off for lunch, which gave us more time to play outside. I think we were required to take a geography class. I don't remember much about those classes nor those days. English was a difficult class for me. I had been taught all the wrong kind of English from the men in the timber camps. My dad's English was not always the best. My knowledge of swear words was very difficult to overcome. I remember having to break sentences down into verbs, nouns, etc. This was always very difficult for me. The rough language of the people I associated with in my young years still comes out if I really get angry. I would tell young people today to be very careful about the language you learn. It is very difficult to relearn proper use of the English language.
How did you become engaged?
Connie and I met in December of 1948. We started going to M-Men/Gleaners activities together. During those years, they held all kinds of activities: Evening meetings you call Firesides now, dances, sled riding, ice skating, shows, and plays. We had a very dear couple leading these two groups. Brother & Sister Best. Brother Best was the Seminary Teacher in Kamas. They seemed to love the assignment and made it fun for everyone. After Connie finished her teaching assignment in Kamas, she moved back to Salt Lake. This was in the spring of 1949. We dated during the summer months. She started teaching in the Granite School District. I was working in the timber but would travel to Salt Lake a couple of times a week to see her. We went to movies, dances, church activities, and other things we could find to do. In January of 1950, I left home to start the University. I found a room at a Rooming house a few blocks from Connie and we continued dating. At Christmas time of1950, I asked Connie to marry me and she agreed. Her parents, especially her mother, did not want Connie to marry me. She wanted Connie to marry a doctor or professor or someone who had good standing in the community. I was a poor country boy with no future. Now as I look back on the past fifty plus years, I am very happy that Connie stood up to her parents and declared she was going to marry Bob Neel. Her parents become very dear friends to me before they passed away. They were in their eighties and both died the same summer within two months of each other. This was very difficult for Connie.
Tell about any interesting or important visitors to your home
Having a person like Peggy for a daughter, we had a few interesting characters visit our home. One winter, she brought this very sick man home and asked if he could stay there until he got over his sickness. He had been hiding out in an abandoned warehouse sleeping on the concrete floor with very little bedding. We took him in and then found out he was on parole and should be reporting to his parole officer but had skipped out. He had been in prison for murdering two men. His story: he and his wife had been involved in the drug trade. They had gotten into trouble with some of their dealers. These two men had kidnapped his wife, murdered her, then sent her unborn child to him as a warning. He lost his cool, found them and killed them. He was with us for several months during the winter. During that time, he installed part of the paneling on our basement walls, which is still there today. We convinced him he should turn himself in to the judge. I told him that if he would, I would write a letter in his favor, explaining where he had been and why. The judge accepted his story and did not send him back to prison. About three years later, he came back to visit and to introduce us to his new wife. She was expecting a baby soon. He had somehow been able to get started in the carpet cleaning business and was doing very well. We hoped that the association he had experienced with our family had had some influence on him.
A very important person to Connie and me who visited with us several times in our home was President Augusto Lim. He was our mission president in the Philippines Naga Mission. After being released from his assignment as mission president, he was sustained to the Seventy Quorum of the church. He came every Conference for a period of five years. We always had them up to eat with us. Several of the Couple Missionaries that served with us also were invited to come and visit. They were very inspiring evenings. I was always selfish in my opinions. I felt that Connie was one of his favorite Financial Secretaries.
All people that came into Connie's home were important and special to her. For several years each August, we held a neighborhood block party in our back yard. This was one of her highlight activities for the year. Friends still remind me of those special evenings where no pressure as put on by anyone and they could visit with neighbors in peace with a good pot luck dinner thrown in. I know that for a time these parties threw me. I didn't feel like enough other people felt they were so important. The work of getting the tables and chairs together, getting the yard in order and then cleaning up after was too much work for both of us. But she insisted and now the pay off comes back to me after she died. Connie felt that each neighbor that came to our home was special, interesting, and important.
What was the first piece of furniture you bought?
I really think the first piece was the house to put the rest of the stuff in. Connie insisted we have a home to start our life together in. We had to have a house no matter what. Through persistent effort, we finally found our small home. The next thing we bought was a used bed. It was the frame, set of springs, not covered like they are today, and a used mattress. This bed was set up in the basement because the main floor had two rooms and a bath. The kitchen was on the west end, a bath in the center, and a living room on the east. Other pieces of furniture followed; most of it from other people who were buying new stuff. The house was comfortable for the two of us and Connie took great pride in keeping it clean and fixing it up. We lived in this house for seven years before remodeling it to our present home.
How did your mother and father wake you up in the morning?
During those early years of my life, we had nothing to keep us up at night. We had a gasoline lantern for light. It was just easier to go to bed early and get up when it is light. I have really never had much trouble getting up as the dawn starts. I also started working on a farm helping to milk cows night and morning and having to get up at 4:00 am to milk made it very easy to go to bed. What all the above means, I can't remember how they got us out of bed. I remember when living in the tent or small cabin, the smell of coffee and eggs and bacon frying would get me out of bed. Dad had to work early and mother always got him a good breakfast so he would have the energy to put in a hard day's work. The noise of mother and Dad moving around also helped rouse most of us out of bed. You have to recall that for several years of my early life, we lived in a small tent. There were eight people living in this one room. I have always enjoy the morning sunrise and would get up just to see it if it were possible to view. I still get up early most mornings now because it has been a lifetime habit.
Tell about school B school attended activities, special teachers, friends, classes, achievements, etc.
Schools attended: South Summit Elementary, Junior High, and High School, the University of Utah for a BS and a Masters in Education, but then I attended Sherman. Rosecrest, Stansbury, and William Penn Elementary schools in the Granite School District and then Bonneville Jr High School in the Granite District. Of course, these schools in Granite were attended as a school teacher. I figured up recently that I spent forty-seven years in a classroom. This does not count the hours I had to attend classes to renew my teaching certificate every five years over the thirty years I taught. I nearly failed my fourth grade class but the teacher took pity on me and let me move on to the fifth grade.
In high school I had the highest grades of my class considering grade point average. I had to give one of the talks at the commencements exercises. I just found that talk in one of my notebooks a few days ago. [April 2004] if I had to give that same talk today, it would be a different subject and a much longer talk. I would need to know all I know now to do the better job. My graduating class in High School was a grand total of 28 people. But also remember, the II Word War was in full swing. Many of the boys attending school with me had already joined one of the branches of the service. I had joined the navy in February 1945, but they put me on inactive duty until June, when they had enough men to fill a company. I had to attend a lot of classes while in boot camp. The war ended in August of 1945 while I was in boot camp. I spent another year in the service before they finally released all reserve members of the service. During that year, I was repeatedly requested to stay in the navy. Something kept me from signing the papers. Looking back, I believe the Lord had his hand in my life already and influenced my decisions being made at that time. Shortly after returning home, the Bishop requested that I fill a mission for the church and the rest is history.
I have explained in another section of this history why my activities were restricted in school. Since I could not play football everything else was eliminated. I was in a couple of plays but nothing spectacular. I was out of town most of the summer months with my family and this restricted a lot of the things peers do together during the summer.
I had few outstanding teachers during my early years of classes. Mostly I felt they were trying to hold me from playing outside and I gave them a bad time during the class time. One of the special classes that I took in high school that I got the most use from was typing. I had four years in high school and still use this in my church activities. If I could advise young high school students today on what to take, it would be type and shorthand. I have always regretted that I was not advised to take this class. It would help to be able to take notes in a quick form. I did receive a BS in Elementary Education and then some years later, took a sabbatical from teaching for one year to achieve my masters degree. Betsy was in Kindergarten for half a day that year. For half the year, because Connie was working, I had to have her go to college classes with me. We had a delightful time. I also received a retirement degree in June of 1984. As I write this, [April 2004] I am almost in my twentieth year of retirement.
Thinking back, was their a teacher or class that had a great influence on you?
I had a music teacher that came to the elementary school when I was in fourth grade. He told me in front of the class, that I did not have a voice for singing and would never sing. So I never tried through the rest of my school years. Even in teaching, I would exchange classes with other teachers so they could teach music for me. This same teacher was the band teacher in junior high and high school. A friend and I went to him to try out for the school band. He would not give either of us a chance to try. I really had the desire to play a horn but never got the chance to try. Mother and dad did not have the money to buy musical instruments for us. During those years, I do not remember any music teachers in Kamas other than the school band teacher. Given the chance in my early years to have had the training in school, I believe my life would have been much different. I love music. I love to sing but that blemish has stayed with me all my life.
I had one college teacher that made a big difference in my like for college. He taught geography. He was a master teacher. He would start talking and at the same time start drawing lines on the board. Just before the class period ended, with a few stokes of the chalk, these lines were joined and the whole subject he had been discussing was in front of us. When Connie and I were married and moved to East Mill Creek, Brother Christiansen was living in that area. I become friends with him. When I started teaching at the Sherman Elementary, one of his boys was in my classes. Billy was one of my best students.
There was one other teacher that had a great influence on me. But he was not my teacher but a fellow teacher in the next classroom. He and I both taught sixth grade at Sherman. A door in the back of the classroom joined our rooms. I would observe him teaching. He would come over and watch me teach and then make suggestions for me to use in doing a better job. I would say that he taught me more in the two years we were together than the four years I spent at the University of Utah in Educational classes. Winston Woodger became a real role model for most of my teaching career.
Another friend in the educational institute that I met showed me much about concerns for students. He was one the most outstanding teachers I met in my seven years in Junior High. There may have been teachers that had an influence on my life but to recall each one by name would be quite a task. Many of those where people I taught with and shared many wonderful years sharing ideas, teaching methods and lessons with.
I must take time here to account for one other great teacher in my life. She had such great faith in the Lord and had such a love for people that she gave her whole being to making others happy. We shared a lifetime together. We served the Lord on three missions and would happily share more if her health had held out. Even in sickness she never complained about how tough life is. Each of you know her as mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor or some other role she played while serving the Lord. She taught me faith in he Lord and his great plan of happiness for his followers. Sure I am describing my eternal friend and companion, Connie Lund Neel. Connie was and is my very best friend and we shared many wonderful, happy years together here and I am looking forward to spending eternity with her in the service of our Lord and Savior.
Describe the perfect spring day
To arise as the dawn is breaking, to hear and witness life around me start to stir and awake, the birds singing their happy melodies in greeting the new day, and to share these moments in quite contemplation of the goodness of the Lord to each of us, can not be better. Some of the most beautiful music I have every heard are the sounds of nature as the dawn breaks and life stirs. I have experienced this feeling in many places. It is always the same. As a boy, a young man, and now in my older years, the feelings are still the same. Each day of my life, I try to thank the Lord for this earth and the experiences that living here has given me.
What did your father do for a living? How did he get to work, what time did he go and get home, did he take a lunch, who did he work with, did he experience training from anyone to perform his job?
This would take a book to describe and answer all these questions. If you think back to the time he lived, and what has happened in those some eighty-odd years he lived, the discoveries that have been made, you would see a very unfolding of the modern world. Dad lived through that period of two major world wars, the depression years, and many of the major changes in the way man has lived. His life started in 1900. He grew up on a farm in a very small community. We still call it Woodenshoe, which is just a small suburb of Peoa, Utah. Peoa is a small community located at the north end of Kamas Valley in one of the high mountain valleys each of Salt Lake City. His father owned a 400-acre farm. Dad had to learn many skills on that farm. His father was a tough, mean old man from everything I have heard about him. I was two years old when he died.
Dad's mother passed away when dad was only ten. I think that this was very a very hard and difficult time for him. I never did hear dad talk about those early years of his life very much. The I World War was going on in his teens. When dad was about 15 or 16 years old, he got sick with a fever that settled in the bones of his right arm. It was so bad the doctors wanted to cut the arm off. His father would not let them do this. Dad had to suffer untold pain as they cut into the arm and scraped the bone. The incision was kept open by placing buttons sewed in each side. This was used to drain the poison from his arm. Dad's right arm was always about an inch longer that the left.
Dad was only able to attend school to the eighth grade. A lifetime of many kinds of work, the need to provide for his family, and his love for reading gave dad a rich education. His memory was astounding to each of his children and to those around him. Dad could quote poetry most of his life that he learned as boy. We enjoyed listening to him recite these stories. Dan loved a good story. I believe that I got my love for reading from watching him read each evening. Remember in those days of my youth, we didn't have the entertainment available today. No radio, no TV, no telephone, no automobiles, (they were not available) and the list can go on and on. The development of all the things you enjoy today came about in his eighty years. Sure there have been a lot of new things in the last twenty years but think: travel by horse, buggy, or walk; the electric light coming to town, radio, the recording devices that gave us instant music, telephone, movie houses, the modern trucking system that brings us things from all over the world, the airplane, the modern roadway system we can quickly move from place to place on, the copy machine, computers, etc., etc., and etc.
Dad's recount of his school days of having to walk or ride a horse each day, his work on the farm, cows to milk, crops to harvest each fall, and his long hours of having to work with no pay as he lived on the ranch with his father, step mother, and other siblings. Dad was the ninth child in a family of twelve. Most of his older brothers and sisters had married by the time he was in his teens. I have explained these years because they had a very great impact on the type of work dad did. I can recall he worked in the mines at Park City, farmed as a youth, cut timber (this was before the chain saws and the modern timbering methods), sharpened hand and timber saws and axes, worked on construction jobs, building roads, sewer systems, etc., drove truck to transport lumber, timber, and other goods to market. He worked on road construction running a jack-hammer. This machine was used to drill holes deep into the rock so that powder could be inserted. This blew up the rock so that it could be moved to make way for the roads. Dad had many kinds of jobs and had to learn the skills necessary to do them while on the job. Dad made friends wherever he worked and to list all he knew would take more space that this draft would allow.
Dad worked long hours, starting early in the morning, sometimes before daylight and would not come home until dark. It seems to me, being a young boy, that dad was always at work. When he was cutting timber, he worked by the piece cut and not by the hour. So the more he cut, the more he made. During these timbering years, the family lived with him in the mountains, in tents or cabins. Our light was the daylight during the day, and a gas lantern at night. We had no refrigeration and so most of our food was from cans or the things we could keep fresh in spring water or hang out each night to get cold and then wrap and try to keep cool during the day. This was not too difficult because the elevation we lived at was between 7 and 8 thousand feet.
Dad had some cars but as I got older, the car I remember most was the model-A truck he drove for years. The family was piled into the back and off we would go. It would take hours to travel what would take a very short time in our modern cars today. I borrowed this truck to go see a friend in Salt Lake. It took me almost two hours to travel form Kamas to Salt Lake B one way. Now I can travel to Kamas from Salt Lake in about thirty-five minutes. Remember the cars have changed as well as the road system. There was a short cut over the hill from the Heber road to Kamas. It was five miles. This would take us almost thirty minutes to travel these five miles. This was the short cut. With the present highway over this same section probably takes four to five minutes.
The last few years I was at home before leaving for the service in 1945, Dad had the janitor job at the High School. This school was located just across the road from our house. Dad was on call almost twenty-four hours a day during the school year. The heat for the school was furnished by a coal burning furnace. He would have to get up at night to make sure the furnace did not run out of coal. Many nights I would go help him fill the stoker, or I would take my brother, Glen, with me so that dad could get some sleep. In the early morning hours, he had to check the building, dust the classrooms, clean the sidewalks, and make sure the classrooms were ready for the students. Many nights he would have to be available for ballgames, night activities and other things that were held in the high school like social events, board meetings, dances, plays, or other things. This became a family job. We all cleaned the building, set up chairs, took chairs down, shoveled coal, shoveled snow from the sidewalks during the winter, watered the lawn and mowed it during the summer, and cleaned the building to ready it for school in the fall.
I believe that we all hated this job dad had but it was also a blessing to us because we had many things that we had never had before. We used the shower rooms at night after work, the girls with mother in the girls shower room and dad and we boys in the boys shower room. Up to this time, our baths were taken in a number two galvanized tub in front of the stove in the kitchen. We had to heat our water on the wood stove for this bath. I use to spend a lot of time showering because it was such a luxury we had never enjoyed before. Dad worked many kinds of jobs that called for many different kinds of skills. He worked these hard labor jobs into his eighties.
Dad had a hard life. He could have made it better for all of us if the church had meant something to him. He used Sunday to relax. Visiting with family, friends, card games, drinking with old buddies, or fishing or hunting were his ways to relax. He did his best to provide for his family. I am not sure looking back, that I would want to change much in my life with him. I knew he loved me.
Share a principal you have learned, or one you have taught
When I started teaching, one of the things that I tried to teach students was that discipline comes from within and not without. I used this story: When I was a young boy, I used to take my grandfather's cows to the pasture in the morning. When these cows were put in a new pasture, they would walk the fence line to see where they were. . Most of these cows were content and would start eating. But there were some that tried to get beyond the fence. When these troublemakers were spotted, my grandfather would take a forked limb and tie it on their neck so that it hung down between their legs. This would stop them from breaking down the fence. After some time in this contraption, they would become very gentle and would stay in the pasture where they were put. I then told the students: I set the fence line, and when you break it or try to go beyond that line, then I will have to discipline you in some way to show you what the rules are and why you should obey them. I always felt that the best way to control students was trust them until they proved me wrong and then do something about it. Free agency in a society only works if we follow the rules of that society and not step on others free agency.
Tell about your parents' philosophy of raising kids, discipline, rules, etc.
I am not sure that I ever heard my parents talk about such things. I do recall that if we did not do things as we were told that both used the strap. I think they followed the bible teachings "spare the rod, spoil the child." My siblings and I have talked this over quite often. We still do not feel that we were ever abused, but we all got good whippings when we were doing things that were not right. I don't remember seeing many spoiled children in my youth. Dad and mother gave us a lot of freedom if we did what we were told to do. The boys had to keep the wood box full for mother. The girls helped mother do the cooking and keeping the dishes and the house clean. We all helped do the laundry each week. It was a full family job. Drying was done outside on clothes lines -- both winter and summer. Many times, I took clothes off the line that were frozen solid. We then dried them in the house by the wood stove. Diapers were cloth and had to be hand washed. What a terrible job each time clean ones were needed. We never had very much nor very good places to live but we were clean. Mother always kept us clean.
We didn't have rules on when to go to bed, or when to study. Our life was controlled by the kinds of things we didn't have. Our light at night was the gasoline lantern. It was much easier to get our studies out of the way in the daylight. We got in bed in the early evening because after dark we could not play nor watch things we didn't have. I still remember the first radio that dad brought so we could listen to the radio programs at night. Our whole life was so different from what I see my children and grandchildren living. The toys, games, TV, music, sports, movies, etc. came into my life as I got older. The war years we lived through made it impossible to get many of the things that were available. Rationing was on for sugar and gas. Tires were almost impossible to find if you had a car. We never knew a vacation except the summer vacation from school and then our family was moved into the mountains for dad's summer work. The things we had to play with were mainly things we could find around us. Our swimming hole was the creek that flowed from the mountain lakes and springs. Swimming in one of these was not like our present day swimming pools. Most of the time they were ice cold, sometimes with snow banks along the side.
Describe your first home/apartment as a young couple
Connie was very insistent that we have a home when we got married. She and I looked for several weeks before we found this house. Dad Lund mortgaged his home for $5000 and loaned us this money. Connie had agreed to pay for a furnace for his home and was paying on it at this time. We had to pay this amount off out of the $5000. When we found this home, the seller was asking 5200 for the house and lot it was on. At that time the lot was actually double the size it is now, 210 ft deep by 145 ft wide. We talked and talked trying to get him down to the five but he would not budge. Then he was called into the Korean War and so he split the lot. We got the house and lot for $4200 dollars. Our monthly payment was $39.00 a month. Some months, it was very difficult to come up with that amount. We were in this home for seven years and then we came up with a plan to remodel. Connie's sister Temmie, (Thelma Eve) helped pay off the old mortgage and then helped us get a new one so we could go ahead with the remodeling. We shall always be grateful for a sister that loved us very much. Temmie also gave us a brand new Volkswagen bus when our old one broke down while on our way to Disney Land for a vacation. She made our life very comfortable and happy. Our children will always remember the days we were at her home in California or she was here at our home in Salt Lake. Connie's sisters were very loving and caring for Connie and our family.
Describe a childhood Christmas
My Christmas as a child was much different than we experience today. I never remember seeing the tree and decorations up before Christmas morning. We would go to bed at night as usual and in the morning awake to the tree, decorations, and presents. I remember one year in the tent at Hailstone, the only room for a tree was on top of a chest between the two beds. I was only 4 or 5 that year. The only present I remember receiving was a small horse drawn wagon. The horse's legs would move as I pushed the wagon across the floor. I am sure then may have been some clothing or a couple of other things. There were a few pieces of candy and maybe an orange or a banana. Christmas was about the only time of year we saw such things. I did not feel slighted because I had not heard nor seen any of the things advertized like the children do today. We had no radio, TV was unheard of, and shopping with mother consisted of going to the Company store down the street. We never saw toys or such things in the company store. That store furnished things to live on or tools to work in the timber or lumber yard. As I got old, things didn't change too much other than more brothers and sisters came to share what we had.
Did you serve in the military?
The 2nd World War was in full progress when I was getting ready to graduate from High School. I knew that I had to serve some place in the military and so while I had a choice, I talked Dad and mother into letting me join the navy. This was in March 1945. The navy was glad to accept my papers but waited until June of 1945 before calling up to active duty. I was sent from Salt Lake to San Diego for training. This was a 10 week program which was supposed to get new sailors ready to sail and fight in the war in the Pacific. The war in Europe was over by now and the war with Japan was in high gear in the Pacific. I had a rich experience in boot camp and enjoyed the training very much. I entered Boot camp weighing about 165lbs. By the end of the training period I was over 200 lbs. Lucky for me, the Atomic Bomb was dropped in August and in just a few days the peace treaty was signed by Japan. This was 5 days before I completed my boot camp training. I received two weeks leave to go home. This was a great time for me because I had grown up a little bit and was treated much differently in a navy uniform than I was before I left 10 weeks earlier.
Upon returning to San Diego, I was given some training on the small landing craft. This training took about three weeks. At the end of this time we were placed in a company of men and put on a ship. We were being transported over seas for duty in the Islands. 300 miles out, they changed our orders and we were sent to San Francisco Harbor to serve as Liberty boats. These boats and crew served theships coming back from overseas in transporting the crew and officers to shore on leave and liberty. I was in this bay for about three weeks and then was sent with the rest of my unit to Long Beach Harbor. I served on these liberty boats for about a year and then because of being on reserve status, the navy discharged me from the Navy.
I guess the really great thing about this whole service experience was the schooling that I earned while serving 14 months. I was able to have my tuition and books paid and got $75.00 per month living expense for 27 months. This almost completed my college education. By this time Connie and I were married and she worked to help me complete the teaching training at the U of Utah. I had part time jobs working during my college years and this helped keep the hunger pangs from our belly. I graduated from the U of U in June of 1953 and started my teaching career in Granite School District that fall. I guess the best things I remember about this whole Navy experience were the friends I met, and the fun I had while doing it. Because of the war and things going on, I was able to get out on liberty several times during my training. I had a cousin, Bub Neel, in San Diego and went out to his place and had some enjoyable visits with his family. The training was a lot easier than working in the timber, construction, or on the farm.
What convinced you most in your choice of a spouse?It was not a blinding flash of light nor bells ringing that told me Connie was the woman to become my wife. We dated over several months. She was very busy teaching Elementary school in Kamas. There were few boys her age. Several high school boys tried to date her. When I started associating with Connie, I was fresh off my mission. The church meant a lot to me. I knew Connie had a very strong testimony of the church and wanted the same kinds of things that I did. Over almost a three year period of dating, we grew together into a couple that knew we wanted each other. Her dad and mother did not want her to marry me. She insisted she was going to marry me. So after a few battles and with Connie's strong determination, they lost the battle and we were finally married in August 1951. I met Connie at Church on the last Sunday of December 1948. Our association at church dances, Mmen and Gleanor programs, community dances, movies and we just had a lot of fun with those around us. Albert Wagstaff had come home from his mission and he started dating Louise Willey, another teacher at the Elementary school. We doubled dated in so many things the next few months. They were married five months after they met. Albert and Louise (2006) are still very sweet and dear friends that we have shared much with over these many years.
Describe your Sundays as a mother/father
When I was a first time father or after six children? My Sundays were usually the same. Go to Priesthood meeting, home to help get the children ready for Sunday School, then back home to eat and then go to Sacrament meeting. Remember in those days, our church did not consist of the consolidated meeting schedule. I was usually involved in teaching a class, taking notes in the 70s Quorum meeting ( I was the secretary for some years, and we kept minutes of the meeting) or some other assignment. I taught Sunday School classes, priesthood classes, was the executive secretary to the bishop, ran the stake printing committee for years, etc. etc.. It seemed like I always had something going. Poor Connie! She had the load of the children most of the time. I think Connie did an excellent job of keeping the gospel alive in our family with her diligent attention to being the mother and wife in the family. Aside from church meetings, we would visit family. Mother and Dad Lund came out for dinner while they were alive. Connie always paid the utmost respect to her parents. I would have to go get them and than take them back home in the evening. This was usually an hour each way. We did not have the modern road system then that we do now. I enjoyed them in our later years together. I think they got used to me and know I was trying to do my best for Connie. Keith and Bobbie, my brother and wife, also lived in Salt Lake and we use to visit them. Keith was fun to be around. Bobby was a very fun sport about having us around. For a few years Virginia and her family lived in Salt Lake and June and Dean were in Kamas. I believe if memory serves me right, I would spend a lot of time on Sunday doing the stake printing work. Each year we put out a stake directory and I spent many hours doing the organizing, typing, etc. for this work. For some time before the stake printing, Connie and I put together the Ward Newsletter. This typing was done mostly on Sunday. Connie and I both felt that Sunday was a day of rest. I tried very hard never to do my regular work on this day. Church work was another thing and so much time was spent doing this. I still spend a lot of time on Sunday doing the extraction work for the church. After we started the printing business, I very seldom did this work on Sunday. Sometimes it was necessary to get a funeral program out for Monday morning and them it became an important factor to use Sunday to get the program ready. It was most always printed in the early morning hours on Monday.
Do you remember any special feelings you had as a child? Or fears, fantasies, etc.?
I guess I had the usual fears of all children. Being away from mother and dad; not being warm in winter or not having enough to eat. You have to remember the time that I grew up. I was born right at before the great depression. When the depression hit, things got pretty scary for everyone. Dads were out of work; there was not enough money to buy much. We lived in tents or cabins, had no automobiles to chase around, clothing was usually hand me downs, etc. If this were not enough, there was much alcoholism with everyone that our family associated with. The church was not a factor in our life. Because of the lack of jobs, dad worked where he could get jobs. Most of these jobs were in the timber industry. So we moved to the mountains in the summer and to the winter timber camp in the valley or wherever. We had very little in material things of life but dad and mother gave us what they could. I don't remember having the opportunity to attend any church meetings during the summer months. In the winter, I was too busy rabbit hunting, sled riding, ice skating, etc to attend. Mother encouraged us but other things seemed more important.. I guess my greatest fear was dad not coming home from work at night. His mother passed away when he was 10 years old. His dad was a very hard old farmer that ruled with an iron hand. Dad had to work hard on the farm. He never completed high school; actually quitting school after the eighth grade. He started drinking with his friends and this carried on most of his life. Mother was a good woman who tried to teach us right and wrong. Her life was difficult because of the times. I am sure that given a different place, a different time, or maybe a different husband, her life would have been easier. She did love dad and was very happy with him most of the time. I was concerned about her safety and happiness most of the time. Because of living in the timber camps, we children were mostly alone with each other and we drew close as a family. We fought among ourselves, but always drew close together during difficult times. We still love each other and miss those who have passed away. My brothers and sisters have become very close friends, as we have gotten older. Glen is my buddy in a lot of things we do. I wish church were included in that activity. We do talk about church and he is getting better about not swearing around me and his jokes have gotten a lot cleaner. Our only entertainment included only those things we could think up. Childhood games were played all the time. Kick-the-can, tag, teasing, fighting, and going swimming in the mountain streams was our favorite play. Fishing was always an option when everything else slowed down. We had a few other children in the camps that we could play with and we were together quiet often. During the day, I enjoyed watching the workmen in the timber camp. They taught me much about work plus a lot of swear words. The evening past time was spent reading magazines, playing cards for the adults after the children were in bed or visiting with other families in the camp. Dad and mother taught me to play cards with them. "Rummy 500" was their favorite game. They needed three to play and so I stayed up after the others were in bed and had a very great time with them. You have to recall that in these days there was no such thing as TV, video games, movies to attend while in the timber camps, no vacations; we had to make our own fun times. Dad and mother spent a lot of time reading "dime westerns." Paperback magazines that cost a dime were affordable. By the time I was ready to start school, I was reading these books, Zane Gray was one of my favorite authors. There were others but his books were the ones that were available to us. This love of reading still continues to this day. For many years, dad and mother did not have a car. We stayed pretty close to the place we lived. When we did have a car, it was used to visit relatives in Kamas, Park City, or maybe we would make Provo sometimes. Most of mother's family lived close around in Kamas. Dad's family lived in Peoa, about 8 miles away from Kamas, in Park City, and a brother in Provo. These family members came to visit dad and mother often.
Describe your favorite outfit/dress as a youngster, youth or whenever.
As a boy growing up, bib overalls were the dress most of the time. Shoes were gym type things. We had to wear them until they were worn out and this meant our toes were usually sticking out the end before we got new ones. Sometimes these were hand me downs from some other family and maybe they fit and maybe they didn't but they were shoes. If we were really lucky, in the winter, we got rubber boots we could wear in the winter. In high school, the dress was pants and a shirt much like I wear today. As I started into my teens, I started working on a farm and was able to help buy my clothes. They were pretty much the same kind of clothes as before because that's what was available. I had my first suit when I went into the service - it was a navy suit. I completed my time in the service. A mission called followed a few months later and I had to buy some more suits. From that time on things were pretty good for the whole family. The other boys had started working away from home and helping buy things so the family progressed. When I have to wear ties and suits now, I think of the old days when things were comfortable and fun to go play in.
Describe a trip downtown as a youngster
As a young person, my trip to town was down around the corner to the company store. I never remember mother being able to shop any place else. This store belonged to the Broadhead Timber Company where dad worked. Once they got you hooked shopping there, you seemed to be always in debt to the company store. Summer times, our order for food and things we needed was delivered by the truck that hauled the timber and lumber to the company's location in the valley. When our parents moved to the timber in the summer, we never saw town until fall when we moved back so we could begin school.
After dad located his family in Kamas, the trip downtown was just walking distance from home. Mother would take one or two of us with her. We had a small wagon we took with us to haul the things she bought back home. During those years, dad hunted and fished for most of our meat. We always seem to have a small piece of meat hanging in the cellar. As we boys got older, we did a lot of fishing and this helped feed all of us. When dad did have transportation, we did a lot of shopping at the Marchant Store in Peoa. This was about eight miles from were we lived in Kamas. Del Marchant grew up with dad in Peoa and they were very close friends. We children loved it when mother went shopping there because Del would always put in a sack of candy for the children. For years, as I remember, mother had only had two stores she shopped at, the Marchant store, and the Hoyt store in Kamas. The Hoyt brothers were good friends of mother and they always treated her with great respect. I am sure they gave her a lot of credit that was never paid back. I will always appreciate their kindness to our family as well as Del Marchant and what he did for mother and Dad.
What special things did you do with your father?
In my youth, we did not have the choice of activities that are available today. When dad had time to be away from his work, he used his time to either fish, hunt, or drink. I was with him on many of these occasions. I started fishing with him when I was about four years old. A trip from Broadhead over to the Duchesne River was quite a walk but that is where I first started fishing. I have never lost my love for this experience. I spent hours hunting rabbits, deer, etc. with him. This is one activity that he planned for all year. Many years we didn't wait for the "season" but brought deer meat to the family through out the year. Dad and mother never wasted any of the meat. It was all used.
I remember going trapping with him in the winter. The hides of animals brought a small price and this was always needed. One time we found a skunk in our trap. It was awful. The smell was beyond belief. We had to let it soak in the steam for several days before dad skinned it out. I can still remember that smell. When my little sister, Virginia, was born, dad took off with some buddies on a little celebration. I happen to be in the car. It was three days before they brought this five-year-old child back home. I remember being at the zoo in Salt Lake City. One of the things that really impressed me about the trip was seeing an automobile in a car lot, going around in circles with no driver. They