Autobiography of Constance Irene Lund
I, Constance Irene Lund, was born on February 17, 1923 at 677 West Capitol Street, being the sixth child and fifth girl of my parents. All of the other children reported that I sounded like a little chicken being hatched and have had a weak little voice ever since. Most of my mother's babies were delivered in our home on West Capitol Street. The children slept on a sleeping porch adjoining the kitchen and all of the commotion could be heard through the open window.
To my remembrance the most vivid memories were involving accidents and a first spanking. When learning to crawl, I ventured into the kitchen and obtained a large cocoa can. With the desire of making a drink from the little cocoa remaining in the can, I after long procedure reached the front yard hose. Wishing to receive compliments for my accomplishments, I ascended the back porch stairs with the can between my hands. For balance it was necessary that I lean my face against the edge of the can. A bad cut resulted almost injuring my right eye. I also acquired a scar from an accident that occurred at our neighbor's home. I fell against a red hot coal range which badly burned my left arm. It did not take long for me to have forgotten all about it because I was showered with so many gifts and attention.
When I was about four years old, I started looking for a little excitement. This particular night I stood watching my father use an atomizer. I became very engrossed in what he was doing. I stood and watched him and ached to try it myself. Luck was with me at the time for the telephone rang. As soon as he left the room, I picked the sprayer up in my hands and tried my best to perform the operation I had been witnessing. Luck wasn't with me this time; the sprayer slipped out of my hands into the bathtub and smashed in a myriad of pieces. The first thing I did was to hide behind the bathroom door. When Daddy discovered what had taken place, he looked all over for me. My dress probably gave me away because before I knew it, I was looking into Daddy's angry face. Then and there occurred my first spanking.
At the age of five my first playmate, Maxine Holbrook, and I attended the kindergarten of the Wasatch School. The first day everything seemed very new to us and we were a little frightened, but we soon became accustomed to it; I fell asleep over my first drawing of a red brick house.
A year later in 1929 our family moved to 266 Douglas Street where a new house had just been built. It was a charming house and my sisters felt that this would bring them more prestige than the house on West Capitol Street. I think it was their urgings that convinced Mother and Dad to move, although we had one of the better homes in the neighborhood. We attended the University Ward. The first night spent in our new home was very exciting, including my bath which had to be taken in an old-fashioned washtub because the new one was occupied with plaster of paris. The next morning after gathering my clothes, I played with my doll in our backyard, and here I met my first new friend, Afton Paul. After introducing ourselves, I invited her for tea in our new basement. It wasn't long before I was acquainted with all of the girls in the neighborhood.
In September when school opened it was necessary that I be separated from my newly-acquired playmates and attend the Wasatch School because the former school was too crowded for additional students. It wasn't long before I met Rowena Love, who became my dearest school companion. We walked to and from school together every day. The teacher at the Wasatch School was very frightening to me. She slapped children's hands if they lost their pencil. I had my turn at this cruel punishment.
In the same year after leaving Rowena's home, which was located on 13th East between 3rd and 4th South, I was crossing the street as a car came speeding along in the opposite direction from where I was looking. The car hit me before I had gotten out of its reach. God must have been watching over me for the only injuries were a few cuts and bruises when I could have been injured seriously or killed.
In 1930 I was able to attend the second grade of the Wm M. Stewart Training School located on the University of Utah campus. It was an excellent school and I had many advantages attending it. I was quite a daydreamer in my earlier years but became quite a serious student as I progressed along and enjoyed getting the attention of the teacher by raising my hand to answer any and all questions.
On March 28, 1931 I was baptized by Golden Hansen and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints March 29, 1931 by Elder John W. Walker.
In August of 1935 I had the privilege of traveling to Yellowstone National Park with our family. We started our journey on a Saturday afternoon with eight of us in a sedan driven by my sister, Temmie. My father and mother never did own a car until after all of the children left home. Gordon, my brother, and I had to make the best of the pillows and blankets in the back for a seat. We visited many of the geysers and stopped at Old Faithful Inn, where we rented two cabins. After spending a few days seeing Old Faithful Geyser and other surrounding sights and being visited by all sorts of bears, we drove through the park to see all of the beautiful views. Our next lodging was Fishing Bridge. Father agreed later that the name should be changed. My brother caught a fish with a bamboo pole and safety pin. Daddy sat from opening until late in the afternoon watching the educated fish keep a good yard away from the bait. He was thoroughly disgusted with fishing. Why should the man right next to him be reeling them in by the dozen? I guess Daddy was no fisherman. But he wasn't empty-handed and he had one for a picture pose. In our travels, I encountered a bear when I, covered in a fur coat, was going to one of the outside johns. The bear thought I was one of his crowd and when approaching me lost sight of me but quick. After spending a few days at Fishing Bridge we drove to the Fish Aquarium and visited Yellowstone Lake. My most memorable experience of the whole trip was the way we had to cuddle so many of us on one bed at night.
Because of my love for music, I started taking piano lessons July 1939 from Mrs. Frank Page Stewart. I was very happy because I had the opportunity of taking lessons. My sister, LaVon, had instructed prior to this time and I had learned much from her. My girlfriend, Jean Paul, played the piano very beautifully and I used to sit and listen to her play and wish that I could play like her someday. I used to practice hour on end loving every minute of it. Now and forever nothing delights me more than to hear beautiful music.
The fondest memories I have of my childhood are days of sewing doll clothes for my friends. I was rather in demand in the neighborhood as a seamstress. I would design and sew them all by hand. Summers were spent running a lemonade stand, eating cherries from our neighbor's tree, playing farm at the Paul's, where they had a playhouse and gravel driveway that made excellent chicken feed. We had a bench with a hole which made a pretty productive cow when a hose was inserted in it.
During one of the lemonade sales, I was tempted to steal a nickel from the profits. I ran down to 12th East to the grocery store and purchased all-day suckers which I hid under a flowerpot. I'll never forget the remorse I felt as I sat on my sister Vonnie's knee and confessed sins. Never had the tears flowed so freely.
LaRene Fishburn, Ann Adams, Irene and Helen Jean Covey, Jean and Afton Paul, Alan and Norma Toronto were all my dear friends at this time. We spent many hours dressing up in the old fashioned clothes the Torontos had in a huge trunk in their attic.
Every Summer I was invited to the Paul's cabin in Lamb's Canyon for a few weeks. What a haven for children: giant swings, meadows of flowers to romp in, crooks and crannies to explore, goodies and the smell of food cooking in the crisp air on their sunporch. I will be eternally grateful to the Pauls for these fond memories in my childhood. We were always producing plays. The Pauls had a velvet curtain that made a perfect stage when pulled for many a can-can dance and entrée act. Jean played the music for these productions. We produced many plays that never seemed to materialize into final performances. In the Fall, leaf houses were the attractions with many rooms in which to play. We had clubs of various kinds. The dance club for Junior High age in our neighborhood was a good opportunity for wholesome boy and girl relationships. I was very proud to be the winner of a dance contest. My partner was Jordan Stevens. Barry Rudine was my crush at this time. I used to walk down to the end of the block for the least available excuse to talk and flirt with him.
My Junior High days were atypical. I was very slow in maturing. I wouldn't wear make-up like my friends and still wore girlish dresses. My friends thought I was some sort of freak and rather abandoned me at this time. I became very studious and received my pleasures in academic pursuits. I was the literary editor for the yearbook in Ninth Grade. This love of learning proved to be a way of life for many years to come and the pursuit of good grades was my main goal at this time.
My sisters, trying to prepare me for the onslaught with the male species, lectured me and cautioned me so thoroughly about boys that I withdrew from them entirely. I became very studious and would even avoid them on the streets. However, meeting many good boys in High School, I had my faith gradually restored, but I was still very shy and rather than pass the mass of boys eyeing the girls in the upper hall, I would use the basement hall as a getaway to go home. I finally did have a date - the graduation dance-with Paul Romney whom I met on the tennis courts at East High School. He was a very nice boy, but not being accustomed to boys, I proved to be a very silent partner; the whole evening I was very uneasy.
I registered at the University of Utah with the intention of graduating in elementary education. While attending a mutual dance with my brother, Aubrey, I met Fenn Nelson, who was the date of Helen Kerr, my Stewart School friend. We were attracted to each other and he claimed it was love at first sight. He was a very kind, gentle boy studying pre-dentistry at the U. of U. We dated for the two years he attended the U. and he proposed to me, but I wanted to finish college before marriage.
In the meantime, I attended mutual at the University Ward, dancing every Tuesday night and meeting different boys. Mrs. Etta Toronto was my Gleaner teacher who really built my testimony. I attained the Golden Gleaner award. I remember reading the Book of Mormon several times and reporting on it and decorating my bedroom as my greatest achievement at the time. Alvin Pack was my Sunday School teacher whose unique, stimulating lessons greatly influenced me. Bonnie and Sally Stagg were my dearest friends at this time. I later taught Sunday School under Miss Rose, who was the Junior Sunday School Coordinator. She taught me many beautiful techniques with children on how to involve them in the lesson. Later, I was asked to be the Junior Sunday School Coordinator and this worked well with the education training I was getting at the U. I remember the countless aids I used to introduce songs to the children (I was the coordinator and the chorister).
I graduated from the U. of U. in 1944 having worked my way through college, running elevators, selling aluminum cookware, carhopping in the summers. I was fortunate enough to be a member of Psi Chi, a psychological honor sorority, and Lambda Delta Sigma, an L.D.S. sorority. I was rushed by several social sororities, but they didn't interest me. I couldn't see the genuine purpose in them that Lambda Delta had - helping the Primary Children's Hospital, etc.
Right after graduation, Fenn Nelson had been writing to me while he attended the University of Southern California and constantly implied that he was still interested in marrying me, and so when he started practicing in Panguitch, Utah, I told him by phone that I was going to San Francisco to work for the government. I had been so studious so long that it was sort of a rebellion to do something completely foreign to book-learning. He asked me to come down and he planned on taking me on a tour of the southern canyons. I realized in seeing him again that he didn't feel the same and I thought there should be an understanding. He then told me he had never loved me and never could. This was a jolt to me and in the same breath he said I was so quiet. He wanted me to continue writing. I disagreed and boarded a bus for Salt Lake the next morning. My mother was waiting at the bus station when I arrived, not having been notified I would be coming home so soon. This was been a constant wonderment to me-how my mother's intuition could direct her to me that day.
Feeling that my whole world had crumbled, I went to San Francisco with my subconscious constantly urging me that I must talk, talk, talk or I wouldn't be liked. I realize now that this experience was good because it made me want to strive to improve my personality and my inner self. I worked as a typist at the Presidio of San Francisco and stayed with my sister, Vonnie. I enjoyed my stay at my sister's home. And she and her family became very dear to me. I especially enjoyed the wonderful dinners we ate at the officers' club. Her husband, Dell, was a lieutenant at the time. I met a lot of servicemen during my stay, being a hostess at the U.S.O. Many times I would bring boy friends home with me, only to have Vonnie ending up talking to them the rest of the evening because, according to Vonnie, I froze them out.
I came back to Utah in 1946 and started working at the Tribune Information Library as a typist and information operator. Later, I started taking dictation for the manager. Realizing at last that teaching was the most lucrative work, I decided to apply for a teaching job through a teaching agency. The manager offered me a raise if I would stay, but the Superintendant of South Summit School District won me over with offers of free show tickets. When I started for Kamas and passed through all of the little towns, I wasn't very impressed with them. Kamas looked like a metropolis by the time I arrived. I taught first grade there three months and summer kindergarten and was ready to return to Salt Lake but the Superintendant wouldn't release me from my contract, so I was obligated to return in the Fall. I felt that this was a fortunate turn of fate because I met Robert Neel, my future husband, by doing so.
As I resided longer in Kamas and became more involved in the life there, I learned to love and appreciate the town and people. I roomed at the George Padfield's with La Ree Lamb, a returned missionary. Louise roomed with Elizabeth Peterson at the Holts. We were all new teachers in the valley and enjoyed each other's company immensely. We planned many a party, picnic, hunting party and attended mutual, high school dances, etc. Louise played the violin and I was privileged to accompany her on the piano several times. We were rather popular with the boys of the town and surrounding area-I guess it was just the challenge of dating a schoolteacher.
I met Robert Neel the last Sunday in December 1948. I was to teach school the following Monday. I had returned to Kamas after the holidays. He spoke in Sacrament meeting, a welcome home from his North Central States Mission. I enjoyed his talk, but not wearing my glasses as I vainly did so often, I couldn't appreciate his appearance. I met him going out the door and smiled at him at a fireside later that night, but I was not overly impressed. I was interested at the time in John Carlisle, a new graduate of the U. of U. and Don Juan of the valley. I dated Don Juan and Bob dated Louise. The more I got to know John, the more my interest waned. Bob had a date with Louise to the Senior Prom and in the interim became interested in me. He introduced Louise to Albert Wagstaff, a newly-returned missionary friend. They immediately became interested in each other-so the problem of the Senior Prom date was solved. La Ree Lamb, my roommate started dating Alvin Gibbons, a next door neighbor. Three out of five of the new teachers that year found their husbands in the little valley of Kamas - Louise, La Ree, and I.
I found Bob Neel so refreshing; a genuine, wholesome, thoughtful person interested in me as a person. He respected me and we immediately felt very comfortable with each other. Bob's line was on the same as Padfield's so we could keep track of each other's activities and dates. The night Bob told me that he loved me, "even though I didn't make sense sometimes" (my old talk-talk-talk drive), I started feeling a sense of security and confidence. I could finally be myself and be loved. When I told him about Fenn and what he had said when we broke up, Bob said, "I'd love you if you never said another word." I felt that he had an everlasting love for me.
When Bob proposed to me, I still wasn't too interested in marriage. I had been hurt so deeply I wanted to be doubly sure that Bob was all I wanted in a husband. I made my decision, making it a matter of prayer. I returned to Salt Lake the following school year and Bob attended the U. of U. I taught first grade at Holladay Elementary in 1949, first grade at Monroe Elementary in 1950, Whittier Elementary kindergarten in the summer and first grade at Blaine Elementary in 1951.
Bob and I had a two year courtship, but I know I was directed by my Heavenly Father to choose Bob as a mate for time and all eternity. We were married August 13, 1951 in the Salt Lake Temple. We had a wedding breakfast at the Beau Brummel and a wedding reception at the Art Barn. My brother, Gordon, was best man, Joyce, his wife, matron of honor, Bonnie and Sally Stagg and Elaine Scoville, bridesmaids, Loralee Tucker, flower girl (Elaine Scoville had been a dear friend all throughout our courtship and ended up going with a boy I dated before Bob came along. Elaine let us use her apartment for courting because my parents had not approved of Bob because he was younger and an undergraduate). We all wore white. I made my wedding dress, nylon trimmed in rosettes of imported lace and pearls. My bridesmaids dresses were of organdy with eyelet embroidery with chartreuse, peach, lavender and yellow sashes and shoes. They all wore gloves and carried tinted daisies to match their sashes and shoes. Right after the reception, we knelt in prayer before our departure and prayed that our union would be blessed with children. We honeymooned at Mirror Lake. We were ousted by the bed bugs there, went on to Evanston, Wyoming where we stayed in a motel, went to a show and saw the town. We returned sooner than expected because we were anxious to return to our darling little two room home with basement that we had repainted, repapered, reroofed and redecorated.
I have always believed that the following quotation should be our creed: "I know that God will bless your union with this deep and everlasting love if you keep His commandments, marry in His Holy Temple, pray constantly for guidance in your marriage and keep actively engaged in His work. God is love. Keep close to God and your love for your husband, children and all will grow."
I served as a Sunday School teacher the first years of our marriage in the old East Millcreek Chapel. We were blessed with six beautiful children: Robert Clair Neel Jr born on October 12, 1952; Stuart Dee Neel, born on December 8, 1953; Valerie Irene, born September 11, 1955; Peggy Dawn, born January 1, 1959; Stanley Trent, born September 17, 1960; and Elizabeth Marie, born March 22, 1964.
Robert C. Jr was born while Bob was attending the University of Utah. He was a beautiful baby and I treasured every moment with him. I had to teach school when he was two months old because Bob was going to graduate in June of that year and we were financially in need at this time. Bob had been just working part time at ZCMI in the wrapping department. I taught at the East Millcreek School from January to May of 1953. Caroline Fehr tended Bob. I was so miserable leaving him and felt I was torn between teaching second grade and caring for my beautiful baby. He was a picture of health and nurses at the hospital had called him "muscles" because he was such a man (8 lbs. 14 oz.).
Stuart Dee Neel was born weighing 6 lbs. 4 oz. - a ray of sunshine. At the hospital, I decided along with the other girls in my ward to put our babies pictures in the Deseret News for their first birthday. My husband said, "not this baby's picture." He had yellow jaundice and was rather scrawny, but in one year's time he was as cute as any of them in the news.
After Bob graduated he took care of chinchillas for Frank Stillman as a part time job along with his teaching. His salary at that time was $2600 a year. On September 11, 1955, we had our first girl, Valerie Irene. She was a round, plump little cherub weighing 8 lbs. 11 oz. Dr. Davis asked what tribe she belonged to because she was so ruddy and plump. Daddy was so thrilled with her arrival that he announced it to all the neighbors. After having two boys, we took great delight in making her appear feminine.
In 1957 I taught half a day of private kindergarten at the Rosecrest Ward. The guilt and unhappiness I felt leaving my children to be tended prompted me to think of opening a private kindergarten of my own. We started making plans to add on to our two-room house, and to use the garage and utility room area for our school.
In July of 1958 construction started on our new home. My sister, Temmie, paid off the balance of our mortgage so we could finance the construction. The rooms that were kitchen, front room and bath became a spacious kitchen. We added on a front room 1 x 28, family room same size underneath, a garage and utility room with three bedrooms and a bath above. When our home was completed, we couldn't believe that our plans had materialized into such a huge area. It looked much too spacious for a struggling school teacher.
The Playmate Kindergarten opened up as scheduled in September 1958. At least the garage and utility area with adjoining bathroom was finished completely at that time. I was the teacher, supervisor principal. We had contracts drawn up and all legal arrangements made. I had samples of all the materials from my experiences with the private kindergarten at Rosecrest Ward. We had to live in this area as well as hold our school until the rest of the house was completed.
Peggy Dawn was born January 1, 1959 with her finger in her mouth. I had LaFawn Hold substitute for me a couple of weeks and then I was back teaching again. Mae Evans, a neighbor, watched my new baby a few hours each day. That summer I took classes at the University to renew my kindergarten certificate.
Our kindergarten was a great success and in 1960 we had two sessions, Carol Morrison being my other teacher. We had two programs each year for parents which involved major productions with the children preparing sugar cookies with fancy decorations for refreshments. This became a tradition at Christmas for our family from then on. Many hours were spent making individual costumes for all of the children.On September 17, 1960, Stanley Trent was born, weighing 8 lbs. 11 oz., finally a brown-eyed boy, so precious and sweet I could hardly find a name good enough for him. This year I hired two teachers to teach for me so I could thoroughly devote my time to my new son. Carol Morrison and Janice Parker taught and I just supervised our kindergarten. In 1962 Mary Wilkinson and Carol Morrison taught for me. We found that we could live very substantially on Bob's teaching salary and the profits from our kindergarten.
In 1963 I taught in the afternoon and Carol Morrison taught in the mornings. Stanley had his naps in the afternoon and this worked out fairly well. On March 21, 1964, Elizabeth Marie was born - Elizabeth after her fraternal grandmother and Marie after her maternal grandmother. I couldn't see such a sophisticated name for such a tiny, dainty girl, only 7 lbs. so I stayed awake half of the night trying to dream up a name suitable for her and finally came up with the nickname of "Betsy." I couldn't believe I was lucky enough to have 3 boys and 3 girls. Betsy was so petite and darling - one nurse wanted to keep her. I was isolated with a staff infection in my breast and of course no visitors were allowed, including the vital statistician who never made out a birth certificate for Elizabeth. We didn't realize this lack of evidence of her birth until Betsy attended kindergarten in public school.
Carol Morrison substituted for me while I had my baby and I taught after Betsy was down for her nap. Caroline Fehr tended her in the morning while I taught. Stanley attended kindergarten with me so he had an early education.
The following Fall, kindergartens were introduced in Granite School District and Playmate School closed its doors. With its closing, Family Press was born. Our garage and utility room now became a printing business. I started tending children in my home to help out. Rodney and Randy and then Kelly White, same age as Betsy, became her fast friends. Then we added Don Youngberg, Scotty Nelson, Stephanie Shea, regular children and then many others by the hour. With this many children under my care, I tried to conduct a few hours of nursery school with them each day.
I taught first and second grade at the Crestview School in 1969 so Bob could attend the U. of U. to obtain his Master's Degree in audio-visual education. Elizabeth was now old enough to attend morning kindergarten and Bob took her with him in the afternoons to his U classes. We felt the increase in salary that Bob would attain we may not have to be involved in additional work, but the printing business continued to grow and as soon as our boy, "Rob" got his call to go on a mission to England in November, 1971, our business doubled. We were a little doubtful as to how we could meet all our financial obligations and support our son on his mission but we know now the Lord will provide a means to further his work here on the earth. What a glorious blessing this mission was - not only for our son but for all of us to share his experiences through his letters. As soon as Rob returned, Stuart left on a mission to Germany in 1974.
In November 1977 we purchased a beauty business, calling it the "Hair-Um." Our daughter, Peggy, had graduated from beauty college and had been working at this shop when she learned that it was going to be sold. She talked her father into buying the business and then we were involved in another sideline. I tried to clean and maintain the shop for Peggy, while she was the manager. This was a real education for Peggy. Later, I took over the management of the shop and continued to clean and maintain it.
Stanley served a mission in Taiwan in 1979, serving an honorable mission, as did our two other boys. The printing business seemed to prosper to support our missionaries. I tried to help as much as I could with the financial end of the business. Most of my time was devoted to tending my grandchildren, Shauni and Jenifer for Valerie, while her husband, Scott attended the University of Utah to pursue his studies in pharmacy.
I held many varied positions in the church during the years: sunday school teacher, primary teacher, inservice leader for our ward and the East Millcreek Stake Primary with Aletha Barr, Mary Mendenhall, Beth Gonzalos and Gloria Crump; then 2nd counselor to Aletha Barr in 1967 and 1st counselor in 1968. I was a junior Sunday school chorister from 1969-1970, a librarian for the Sunday School in June, 1971, giving me time for temple work and religion classes at the Institute of Religion, and a Librarian in the primary in 1972. I then taught the sunbeams and the CTR classes.
In 1975 I was a Merrie Miss B teacher and held this position until 1979 when I taught the Nursery for the Relief Society. I was called to be a Relief Society Education Counselor in 1980 and served with Carol Barth, Faye Olson, Janice Margetts. All of my positions have been rewarding. I have developed so much from accepting these callings. I know of a surety that the Lord will bless you with the talents you need to execute your assignments. Anything is possible with the Lord as your partner. I do love the Lord so much and feel that I will always accept any call that I am asked to do. I could never repay the Lord in time, talents or substance for all He has done for me in sacrificing his life and time in showing us the way.