This is a personal history of Homer Burt Reeder written at the request of my children. I address my account of some of my experiences and impressions to my descendents for reading at their leisure.
The records show that I was born on 3 March 1919, at 9:00 a.m. at my parent’s home in Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah; the fifth of the six children of Joseph Martin Reeder and Lula Isabell Burt. I weighed 10 pounds at birth, the same as the rest of the family.
The records also show that I was blessed by my father on 4 May, 1919 in the Mormon Third Ward in Brigham. My father was a farmer as was his father, George Balls Reeder. Mother’s father, David Patterson Burt, was a carpenter. My parents were also born in Brigham. Grandpa Reeder came from England and his wife, Caroline Madsen, from Denmark. Grandpa Burt was born in Salt Lake City and his wife, Hanna Louise Wrighton, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Grandpa Burt’s parents came from Scotland and Grandma Burt’s parents came from England. This make me a genuine American with English, Scotch and Danish Ancestry.
Obviously, I can’t verify the above from my memory but the remainder of this epistle is written from my memory with a little help from records regarding specific dates.
The family home is located at 631 North Main Street, Brigham (the street number was changed from 617 N. Main St.). It is a beautiful two story brick home presently occupied by my younger brother, Spencer, and his family. I have always been proud of that home and enjoyed the memory of my life there. It is my understanding that it was a three room house when purchased by my parents and they added on later. To me, as a kid, it was the ultimate in security, I was sure it would last forever.
Other members of our family, in order of seniority, are: Louise, Amy, Joseph Rex, Karl David, myself and Spencer Ross Reeder.
While contemplating writing this personal history it has been interesting to sort out memories and identify the earliest time of my life I can recall from my own memory, not an event someone told me about, then add memories which followed that first experience.
The first experience I can recall relates to my dad’s last illness. I can establish a date for the experience from the recorded date of his death and figure my age at the time. I was 4 years, 5 months & 5 or 6 days old at the time of the first experience of my life which I can remember.
There was a typhoid fever epidemic in Brigham during the summer of 1923. My dad and his youngest brother, Howard C., were stricken. Dad was in the “boy’s” bedroom. I can remember going into the bedroom and him being in bed but I can’t remember of him saying anything.
On this particular day, 8 or 9 August, 1923 by the record, some uncles (I think they were Jess and Uncle Mart) talked to mother on the back screen porch, they didn’t come in the house. Uncle Howard had died and they wanted to tell my dad. Mother didn’t want them to tell him but they thought they should so they went to the window of his bedroom. I remember someone called out “Joe, Howard is gone.” If dad answered I don’t know what he said. Mother was very upset. Dad died 13 Aug 1923, very early in the morning according to Louise. I remember Amy telling me he was gone as we were walking to Aunt Bessie’s next door south from our home.
My next memory is the day of dad’s funeral. I don’t remember any of our family being around except mother and myself. The casket was at home for the customary viewing. It was located against the north wall of the parlor and many people were there. A man, (uncle Dolph, I think) picked me up, walked over to the casket and said “This is the last time you will see your papa”. Then there was quite a fuss about Mother doing something, I guess she was supposed to kiss the body because I remember her trying to lean over the casket. Finally she picked up a hand and kissed it then they closed the casket. Being only about 4 ft. 8 in. tall and expecting a baby soon she apparently just couldn’t reach to follow what apparently was the custom of the time.
I was taken to Aunt Bessie’s during the funeral instead of to the funeral. That’s all I can remember of my father.
The next experience I remember is Spencer’s birth 25 August, 1923. I recall being in the front yard and seeing the doctor (Cooley, I think) leave our house with his black satchel. I then went in the front door and into Mother’s bedroom. I don’t know where Spencer was but he was bawling. Mother was, of course, in bed. She was eating from a tray so I helped her – I ate her cake. It was light cake, not too thick with lots of chocolate frosting, DELICIOUS! Legend has it that our family needed Spencer to come along because I was such a good little tyke that my dad wanted another like me. I’ve never disputed the legend.
When reflecting on my parents, I have always been impressed with their reputation for character, neighborliness, generosity, industriousness and integrity. My dad was never well to-do. He lived at a time when farming was tough and not very profitable. Most farms and homes were mortgaged to the hilt. Most farmers had to talk to their bankers before they could do anything. When dad died at age 54 his home and farm were clear. There never was a mortgage, he always paid cash. Mother kept everything debt free even through the great depression. I don’t think she ever bought anything on credit. I admire them for that record.
As I was growing up and working on the farm many men who knew and worked with dad told me what a good man he was, kept the fields clean, worked hard and long, especially early in the mornings, took good care of his horses and other animals, used the water wisely and was always fair and honest about his water turn. They put him up on a pedestal as a man, neighbor and farmer. For example, on day while I was irrigating on the farm a neighbor farmer thought I had taken the water from him a few minutes early, before his turn was over. He scolded me and said “Your father would never do a thing like that”. He then spent some time telling me what a great guy my dad was and said I ought to try to be like him.
I’m told that late each summer the Indians from Washakie came to our place. Dad let them camp on the back lot and pick the choke-cherries. He also gave them fruit and vegetables. They kept coming a few years after “brother Joe” died. It was fun playing with the Indian kids.
After dad died Mother worked as a steno-secretary. She was very good at shorthand, typing, accounting and office business. She worked many years for S. N. Lee, our Stake President, in his insurance and real estate business then launched her political career. She also recorded and typed Patriarchal Blessings.
I don’t know much about Mother’s political philosophy other than that she was for the little guy and ran on the Democratic ticket for the office of Brigham City treasurer. Dad was a democrat, some of his brothers were democrats and one, that I know of, was a republican.
The usual pattern was for each party to have widows with a family running for two office on their ticket. One office was Treasurer and I think the other was called recorder. The campaigning was very clean on both sides for those offices, even though the offices were tow of only a few full time elected city jobs.
Mother was a quiet person and almost a bashful campaigner. She was hesitant about even running because she had a job, but the pay was low. She won the first time she ran and was re-elected several times.
My part in the campaign was to pass out campaign flyers all over town which plugged the whole Democratic ticket, not just Mother. The only time I was enthusiastic for the rest of the ticket was when my favorite school teacher, Mr. Law, ran for mayor and he won. Besides walking the town with flyers I button-holed the kids at school to get their parents to vote for Mother.
One campaign was hard for me because the mother of one of my high school friends was Mother’s opponent for treasurer.
Mother won again but felt very sad for the other lady. I remember her saying she wished Sister _______ had ran for the office of recorder. Mother’s one and only election loss came after I moved to California. Her abilities and reputation were well know and highly respected in local circles. I understand she was sort of the unofficial reference authority on a non-political city affairs for many years. She was soon hired by the Box Elder County Clerk in the Court House, which was also in Brigham, and continued to work there until she retired. I think hers was a very successful, non-political, political career.
The farm was leased to my cousin, Ralph Reeder, after dad died & until we boys were big enough to run it, expect for the pasture, cows, pigs & chickens.
My assignments those days were to drive the cows to the pasture in the morning and get them back at nite, during the summer; feed the cows, clean the stables during winter; feed the pigs and chickens and clean the chicken coop (yuk). When I was older and the herd bigger I also milked. When we took over the farm from Ralph (I was 9 years old) I grew into my turn at all the chores and farming jobs including the two that never seemed to be done – irrigating and weeding.
Our chicken coop was located between our house and the barn. When I was about 6 we had a big mean red rooster that chased me. I dreaded the walk between the house and the barn when that dirty bird was loose in the yard. I was afraid of him. One time he sneaked up on me and before I knew he was there he spurred me on my fanny. It really hurt and I turned around and stomped him. The next day when he charged, instead of running, I surprised him with a good kick. He landed in the tomato hotbed and never chased me again.
From that experience I learned that it is best not to run from things that chase you, better to attack them. I soon learned from additional personal experiences that attacking works with mean dogs, cows, bulls, horses, and pigs. I’m not sure yet about hornets. (Oh, well, win some-lose some.) It applies to all life’s problems, attack the problems, don’t run from them.
I don’t think Joe and Karl had much regard for the laws prohibiting child labor but in the “game” to see who could stick the other with the most chores I held my own pretty well except with Spencer. I was a genius at sticking him with chores I didn’t want to do. He is a better man today for all that experience I gave him. My earliest memory of church is when Spencer was blessed. Uncle Wilford gave him the blessing. The worst part of being a little kid then was that you had to wear those dumb short pants and long stockings to church. The pants came down just about to the knees and the stockings came above the knees, just like the girls, elastic garters included. How I hated those knee pants and stockings. My pants were too short so when I sat down they were above my knees. During one Fast meeting I sat between Joe and Burt Vincent. My bare legs showed between the top of my stockings, above my knees, and the bottom of my pants. What shame I suffered. Joe and Burt each held a song book to cover my bare skin during the service. It was awful.
A more pleasant memory of church as a youth is the coal chute. While marching from the chapel downstairs to our Sunday School class room I learned it was possible, if careful, to duck out of the marching line and into the coal room, crawl up the coal chute, which opened to the outside in back of the building, then home free. One Sunday I let a friend in on my plan. He went out the chute first but them that devil shut the chute door from the outside and I had to go back. The teacher was waiting in the coal room while I crawled down the coal chute and that’s when the pleasant memory ends. I wound up in the bishop’s office and heard a lot about repentance. I was in big trouble.
Another pleasant memory is Sunday School song practice. Our chorister, Brother Woffingden (probably mis-spelled) could really belt out a song, and he always did. He thought there was only one way to sing: with gusto. He would get the people perked up then add his own voice and your could almost feel the building shake. I loved to listen. I also like the stained glass window in that Third Ward Chapel. Everyone should see it with no lights in the chapel and a bright summer morning sun shining on it.
One more pleasant memory is our cold winter day baths. After playing all day in the snow, frozen and wet to the skin, to jump into that round metal tub in the kitchen (because there was no heat in the bathroom) filled with nice warm water then put on those snuggly long john winter underwear which were warm from hanging by the kitchen stove, then to Mother’s good supper, that was good winter living, for a kid.
There was no kindergarten then so I started school in the first grade, at 6 years of age, in Lincoln Elementary School. I hated it. Mother was working every day and after school I sometimes stopped at Aunt Bessie’s. She and cousin LaPriel were always very good to me. Somehow the school managed to improve and we tolerated each other for the first year.
In the third grade they put some of us in the same room with the fourth graders. It wasn’t a promotion or advanced class. We third graders were on one side of the room and the 4th on the other with Miss Baty taking turns talking to both of us. She did very well but it was difficult for her. I recall being baptized a Mormon on 6 March 1927 at 8 years of age by Grant Nelson.
I remember the years before we boys took over the farm as being care free, fun times. The work activities consisted of taking care of the cows, pigs & chickens, weeding and irrigating the garden and orchard on the 1¼ acre lot where we lived, walking to the ice plant with my old iron wheel coaster wagon in the summer to get ice for the old icebox; killing chickens and helping Uncle Less slaughter pigs and calves. With four boys in the family those chores left plenty of time for playing. School didn’t bother me very much.
The “living it up” activities included: walk in the mountains and fields; (I bought a 22 rifle for $2.00 and hunted squirrels, rabbits, birds, snakes, tin cans, etc.) walk and hitch hike out to the cement plant to swim or to fish in Bear River; ride sleighs & skis off the roof of our house and barn; [;ay football & basketball; play rook & pit; swim in the big mud hole in our pasture and in the irrigation ditches; ice skate on the lake north of town and on the flooded fields west of town; etc., etc. The greatest trip I recall as a kid was to Lagoon, a resort at Kaysville. The rolling barrels, spinning floor and slides in the fun-house, and the slides into the pool, I was sure, were the most fun anyone could possibly have.
Almost all awake time was spent outdoors playing until exhausted. Every winter Saturday and all thru the Christmas holidays a group of us would walk out along the railroad tracks to the north lake and skate & play ice hockey from about 8:00 a.m. to around 3:00 p.m. I’d come home frozen, dead tired and get something to eat then lay down behind the kitchen or dining room stove and take a nap. One time I was all broken out with measles when I woke up.
I believe I was quite healthy but had the usual colds, measles, mumps, whooping cough & chicken pox; had my tonsils out when I was 5 or 6, my first anesthetic. My worst misery was a lot of painful ear aches. Also had scarlet fever I’m told but don’t remember it. The doctors have said my ear problems probably started with scarlet fever and worsened by too much swimming. I had no broken bones or operations as a child or youth. Dr. Valentine, our Bishop’s wife, was out dentist. She tried to be gentle but used no pain killers. Her drill was an experience never to be forgotten. We tried to avoid going to the dentist but had several cavities and toothaches.
The fun holiday activities were: gather with Mother’s sisters, usually Bessie, Lil & Daisy and their families, plus Grandma Burt (until she died), on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving Days for dinner, and the kids played games. Those were some dinners, Mother was the best cook. Peach Days in September, right after Labor Day, was THE big summer holiday with carnival, shows, rodeo and races. Logan and Ogden had their big celebrations on July 4 and July 24 but we didn’t have a car so I didn’t get out of town much as a kid.
Louise worked as hired girl for Uncle Dave Reeder cooking and taking care of his invalid wife. She moved to Salt Lake in Nov. 1928, when I was 9, to go to Business school then she got a job there. It was a big event for me when Louise came home for an occasional week-end. Amy took care of the house, cooked and tried to look after us boys while Mother was a t work. Amy is a good cook and gave us far better than we deserved. Her job in the house was tougher than our farm jobs. She was very patient with us.
Maybe all the outdoor activity I had as a kid is the reason I haven’t had much interest in hunting and fishing in adulthood; I got that out of my system as a kid but didn’t read much. I’ve been much more for books as an adult but still like to go where the fish are although there is no thrill in catching them.
In the summer, as kids, we boys didn’t even come in the house at nite, we slept in the barn on the hay. It was really a big step with big brothers would let little brother join the barn sleepers. When that day came I was a grown up, a man at last, at about 7 or 8 yrs. of age. Grandpa Reeder died before I was born but I remember Grandma Reeder very well. She lived with us for a while. She was small, quiet and kind to me but couldn’t remember very well. I remember Grandma Burt well but can’t remember much about
Grandpa Burt except going there and watching him build something in his basement. We were quarantined when he died. I remember someone coming and talking to Mother thru the screen door, they couldn’t come in the house. She came in the kitchen and told me Grandpa was gone then she sat down and cried. It was one of the two times I ever saw mother cry. I can’t remember of her ever losing her temper.
The summer jobs (hired kid) in my early years were: Ride derrick horses, irrigate for Aunt Bessie, Aunt Lil and Grandma Burt. Grandma Burt was the big spender. One time she paid me a quarter and Mother told me I shouldn’t have accepted it. Right then I decided to quit telling people about my income.
Another job was riding the cultivating horse for Uncle Less, Uncle Jess and occasionally for Uncle Willard. A horse that was good for pulling a hand cultivator was a prized possession on a farm. If the horse was good the man holding the cultivator could guide the horse with lines to the bridle and there was no need for a kid on the horse. Uncle Wilford’s old Jack was almost that good. I had the good life of riding Jack for Uncle Wilford to cultivate his farm out on the bank of the Bear River. Uncle Less and Uncle Jess had the stubbornest, dumbest, laziest horses that ever drew the breath of life. They liked to wander all over the field, couldn’t walk straight, stepped on their harness, the cultivator, the tomato & corn plants, stumbled over their own feed and always walked too fast or too slow. (We purchased Jack when Uncle Wilford when on one of his many missions.)
Riding the cultivator horse was a job for a kid that was too little to do much but big enough to sit straddle the horse and not fall off as he pulled on the horse’s reins. I was never able to pawn that job off on Spencer because my uncles knew he was too little. I dreamed getting out of bed when I knew I was going to have to climb on one of those beasts and spend the day pulling my arms almost off tugging on the reins while sitting on that skinny, sweaty back bone. When the day was over my behind was so sore I sat in the irrigation ditch before I walked home.
A good hired kid job was peddling fruit for Mr. Winkler. I had to be at his place at 6:00 a.m. We drove to the farms in Brigham and Perry, loaded his old truck with fruit until it would barely go, then drove 26 miles to Logan and the surrounding towns by way of Box Elder Canyon and Sardine Canyon. I sold cantaloupes, watermelons, cherries, peaches, apricots and tomatoes. He stayed in the truck driving along the street while I walked door to door making the sales pitch. It was tiring but quite fun. The faster I sold the load the earlier we went home. One day I ate so many cherries I became ill on the way home. I was one sick kid. Finally Mr. Winkler stopped and we laid under a tree until I was better. Another job was a paper route, the Deseret News. I saved up $5.00 and bought my first bike, a used wreck, which I fixed up and got this older kid from up town to let me take part of his route. That job didn’t last long. Some time later I left the bike lying in some weeds in the cherry orchard while I changed the water. I hid it so well Joe didn’t see it and ran over it with the truck.
Still another job (un-paid) was being Mr. Bott’s helper on our building project. Mother hired him to build three bedrooms in our attic. I was his official helper. He had only one arm and a short stump. He kept me busy holding things and fetching things. It was un-believable the things he could do with that one arm. He was a good man and we worked hard.
Some of the nicest memories of my youth are of food. Mother was a great cook. We had our own poultry, pork, milk, eggs, flour, corn, grapes, potatoes, rhubarb, beets, tomatoes, turnips, pears, peas, beans, radishes, carrots, cantaloupes, watermelon, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, apricots and prunes. Everything was ripened “on the vine” and I haven’t tasted flavor in food as good as that of Utah home grown garden produce, harvesting and eating each one as it ripened. We had home-made ice cream a lot, especially in the winter when there was snow to freeze it. We also made candy, usually taffy, and popcorn.
The only less that great season for me was the early spring thaw, usually Feb., March or April, when there was not enough snow for fun and it was too cold to swim. Late spring, summer, fall and winter were super seasons as far as I was concerned. During the thaw I hiked, played a lot of marbles, horse shoes, ground hockey and practiced with the 22 rifle.
Our families first car was purchased for $45.00 in about 1930. It was a very much used 1924 model T Ford, hand crank, pick-up truck. Joe let me drive it in our yard. The first time I drove I couldn’t stop and ran into the hay stack – no harm done. We later upgraded to a used model A Ford pick-up with a self starter. Those were the only motor driven machines the family owned while [I] was still at home which was until September 1937 when I was 18 years old.
The big household technological advances which occurred in our family while I was home were when Mother purchased a used electric refrigerator to replace the old ice box. It kept everything much colder and improved the taste of milk unbelievably. It also eliminated my two mile walks to the ice plant during the summers. The other great advance was when Louise bought and gave the family a brand new floor model Philco radio. It pretty much eliminated the use of the little portable record player we had. I really enjoyed that radio. On the subject of technology, we always had electric lights, indoor plumbing and wood/coal cooking and heating stoves, but the bedrooms and bathrooms were never heated.
We took over the operation of the farm, instead of leasing it to Ralph, when Joe was 14 years old (Louise & Karl’s estimate). Karl was 11 or 12, I was 9 and Spencer 5. That meant buying a team of horses, a used mower and a used hay rake. We still had dad’s hand cultivator, hand plow, Iron tire wagon and hay rack. One of the team was a bay named Bill. He wasn’t big but was strong and a good work horse. The other was dark brown with a funny roman nose (don’t know why they called it a “roman” nose, it was more round than other noses). He was a stupid, lazy horse.
The big advances in farm equipment for us was when we bought a used rubber tire wagon and a used manure spreader. The iron tire wagon with no springs would almost shake your teeth out when the team trotted on the bumpy gravel roads. Those two items really improved work life for me.
Our taking over the farm brought an end to the “live it up” summers, also to my “hired kid” career and income. Joe had hired out quite a lot on man sized farm work, Karl too, so they made a good work team for two man jobs like pitching hay, etc. They had to break me in on helper type jobs like tromping hay, clean ditches, weed, drive cows to Uncle Jess’ bull for breeding and irrigate, irrigate, irrigate. The irrigating work wasn’t hard after the ditches were prepared. I could rest between changes but it was tiresome. It seemed there was no end to irrigating, sometimes 3 days and 2 nights in one week. The nites seemed long, especially when the mosquitoes were bad. The biggest improvement that occurred in irrigating was when we bought the truck and I could nap on the seat instead of the rocky ground.
Spencer wasn’t good for much in those days until I took him under my wing and taught him a few things. I’ve wondered if he appreciated my generosity in sharing my work with him. It was good for both of us as proven by what a fine man he turned out to be and by the ease with which I made to adjustment from worker to supervisor at Lockheed.
Another of my jobs was to handle what I thought was the important “business” part of farming, sell the sweet corn and early potatoes to the Brigham grocery stores. I’d go to the stores and get their orders. (The first trip I took samples.) Then I picked the produce, delivered it to the stores and collected the money. I started with the little outlying stores then expanded to include all the big stores up town. After I became acquainted with them I telephoned the owners and managers to take their orders. I thought I was a big operator.
One thing about that experience always bugged me, the grocery men (the middle men) always decided the price they would pay me. They didn’t ask me to bid or ask me how much it cost to grow the stuff.
The work on the farm was hard the first couple of years after we took it over from Ralph. The eager anticipation of school letting out in May for a long summer vacation was replaced by thoughts of those long work days: get up early, milk & take care of animals, have breakfast and start the day’s work. The cows had to be milked again at nite, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Sometimes after supper there was irrigating for part or all of the nite.
When I was a little older and could do more work, and do it better, it became easier, less like drudgery and much more interesting, even fun. It was very gratifying to work hard, get things done and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, a great feeling. I still think farming would be a great hobby but not an occupation, for me.
Joe went on his mission to Tahiti in 1934 when I was 15 so Karl, Spencer and I ran the farm. Karl bought a saddle and horse named Duke which we all enjoyed riding.
My buddies all lived in the north end of Brigham. In addition to several cousins they were: Howard & Lloyd Bott, Red Snow, Jack Rockwook, Shirley Holst, Jack Forsgren, Clarence Rice, Sarge Rice, Lud Nielson, & George Kidman. The group usually grew by adding brothers for games like football and hockey. It was pretty much the same guys throughout my youth, people didn’t move in and out much then.
The Nielsen’s, Rice’s and Kidman’s weren’t natives in the neighborhood but it seems like they were always there.
Two of the guys often talked about running away from home and wanted me to joint hem. I thought they were nuts but they eventually did it. They rode freight trains to central California where one of them was shot in the foot.
During my sophomore year of school an event not of my making occurred which was destined to upset my tranquility and eventually to scuttle my comfortable bachelorhood. The Forsgren’s moved and the Williams girls move into their house, almost directly across the street from our house.
There were a couple of girls in our neighborhood when I was young but they soon played by themselves, mostly in their houses. There was no church counsel, to my knowledge, about waiting to age 16 to date and as far as I was concerned there was no need for such counsel, I wasn’t interested in girls.
Besides the parents the new family consisted of three Williams sisters still living at home: Thella, one year ahead of me in school; Alice, one year behind me in school; and Mae about 3 years younger than Alice. After the arrival of the Williams girls the old neighborhood was never the same.
I had gotten along just fine without girls and the situation didn’t change very fast after the Williams’ arrival on the scene. I don’t recall an actual introduction. It was a nod or “hi” or maybe “hello” in passing and that was about the extent of it until Jack Rockwood’s mother gave a birthday party for Jack. I was invited. So was Alice, and several others. It was the first birthday party I had ever attended. We had some activities at Rockwood’s house and after refreshments it was decided that the whole group would walk out to Harper Ward, on the north string, and explore the old “haunted” schoolhouse. It was just an old empty building but all the kids called it haunted.
I walked part of the way with Alice. She was both pretty and nice. We got a little better acquainted than we were before. The outing was fun except Alice fell thru a hole in the floor and was hurt, but not badly. I pulled her out.
A few weeks (or days) later I asked her for a date. She surprised me and said yes. We double dated with Lud and Thella, I don’t remember where we went. We doubled with Lud and Thella a lot as well as going by ourselves and had many fun times. Lud subsequently bought a car and I could get our truck some of the time.
There wasn’t much money so our dates were plain but fun. Some of the things we did were: go to church, roller skate, walk, irrigate, ice skate, go to dances, picture shows, football games, basketball games, buggy ride, play in the snow, & make candy. One nite Alice and I decided to roller skate out the “north string” (hi-way). It was almost dark when we left. Our skates were the old type you clamp on your shoes and the oiled road was rough.
We wanted to see how far we could go so we kept moving along. We arrived at Harper Ward, about a mile, in good time so I suggested we go to Call’s Fort. (It’s just a monument but I didn’t know how far it was.) Alice had never heard of it so I embellished my description of it a little. She agreed and on we went.
We skated and skated, always thinking it would be just around the next bend in the road. It was soon dark and we had to get off the road every time a car came by. That slowed us down but we finally arrived a the fort. We rested by the monument a few minutes then headed back to Brigham. Returning home was slower and we thought we had really accomplished something to go that far. Our feet were numb from the rough road. A couple of years ago I measured the distance on the car gage, it was over 12 miles around trip. I doubt anyone before us or since had endured that trip on roller skates.
One nice spring nite we were with Lud and Thella and we decided to go buggy riding. We didn’t have a buggy but knew uncle Dave Squires had one so we all went to see if we could borrow it before getting our horse. We found the buggy in his yard but one front wheel was missing. Lud and I assumed that was the end of the buggy ride but Alice and Thella griped and insisted we had promised them a buddy ride. We discussed other possibilities and tried logic and reason but they wouldn’t listen. Finally, without asking Uncle Dave we put the girls on the buggy seats. I carried the axel where the wheel was missing, Lud became the horse and those giggly girls had their buddy ride. The next day Uncle Dave said he saw and enjoyed the whole show. It didn’t last long.
We doubled with Howard Bott and Marie Bunderson, Alice’s school friend, on winter nite. I think we went to a show or school dance then on the walk home decided to go sliding on the small lake south of town, not far from Marie’s home. Howard and I, the big show-offs, made our big run to the edge of the ice and slid out smoothly and very gracefully. About 15 yards out we slid too close together. The ice broke and down we went, up over our knees in freezing water. We headed in different directions and I was lucky to get back on top of the ice in a couple of steps. Howard was heavier and the ice broke each time he tried to climb out. He had to plop, plop, plop, all the way out of the lake. Our wet pants froze solid very quickly. We walked to Marie’s place and sat around the stove to dry out. I gave Alice a little hug. It was fun so I did it again. She didn’t say anything.
Some of our big dates were to Ogden on Pioneer Days, to Crystal Spring in Honeyville swimming, to Bear Lake swimming & rowing, to Salt Lake to watch our team win the state football championship and stay over nite at Alice’s dad’s home, to McCammon, Idaho, on the train for 2 days at Christmas at Alice’s older sister Lilly’s place. They were just finishing their house so we helped work on it. That trip was the greatest distance and longest time I had ever been away from home. It was great fun ice skating by the river. In church activity as a youth I was about average. I attended religion class (now Primary) one day a week after elementary school, attended Sunday services and graduated from seminary. My lowest activity was in Mutual. The scouts sis nothing but tell stories when I attended. Mutual started before milking was done but I’m sure I could have attended if I had really tried.
I was ordained a deacon 15 March, 1931, by uncle Will Burt, and was secretary of the Deacon’s Quorum; ordained a Teacher 13 March 1934 by Bishop J. Frank Bowring; and ordained a Priest 28 Feb. 1937 by Orval E. Sackett.
I enjoyed lots of my high school classes and my grades were pretty good. My favorite teacher was Mr. Law. He taught govt., history, civics, current events, etc. The fun classes were phys. Ed., swimming, shop (I made a stool, magazine rack, end table and skis, the only pair of skis I ever owned other than barrel slats), cooking for boys and English.
My high school years coincided with some of the first attempts at modernizing and liberalizing education. We still had to meet strict requirements to graduate in our major (mine was college preparation) but we had some choices. The new policy affected two of my classes: Boys with a good grade average where permitted to enroll in “Cooking For Boys” as seniors, for one semester, in lieu of a study period. I did and the class was all fun and games. The other was English Grammar which I obviously needed. The class wasn’t supposed to be bun and games, like cooking, but the teacher was young with modern ideas. She said grammar should be fun so she sort of turned the class over to us. We had a ball but ran the class right down the drain.
My athletic achievements were horse shoe pitching co-champion of the 5th grade and back stroke swim winner of my class in high school. Our school’s first pool was finished just in time for me. Most schools didn’t have a pool so there was no inter-school or even inter-class competition. Out school didn’t have Jr. varsity or “B” football or basketball teams, just varsity. I loved football. I was sure I could play end even if I was a little small at 110 lbs. I convinced one of my “runt” friends to join with me and apply to try out for the football team. The coach didn’t say no but he issued us pants that came from our arms to our ankles, we couldn’t walk much less run. We got the coaches; message.
While enrolled as a college prep major in high school I didn’t have any college prospects or plans. None of the family had an allowance or personal income from the farm. My assets consisted of a couple of pigs I was raising. I knew Mother was financially drained from sending Joe on a mission. I thought I’d have to stay on the farm but wasn’t excited about the prospects, I knew that the farm wasn’t big enough to support even one family and Joe had top seniority.
My high school and seminary graduations were in May, 1937. Louise and Don were married in June 1937. Don had been living in Glendale, Calif. And working at Lockheed in Burbank. He was optimistic about the aircraft business and invited me to come to Glendale in the fall, live with them, go to aircraft trade school then try to get a job in one of the aircraft factories.
I don’t recall any motivation by teachers, administrators or Bishop or anyone during my school years to encourage us to go to college. My friends whose parents had a business or big farm were going into the family’s business. Those whose parents were affluent were going to college. The discussion about future plans among the rest of us seniors was not about selecting our career but about where to find a job, any job. The job prospects in Brigham were practically nil so when Don made his offer I jumped at the chance. In retrospect I’m sure Mother was also very grateful for the offer.
That summer, after graduating, was spent working on the farm (Joe was home from his mission but he was out of shape), having a lot of fun dating Alice, and contemplating my move to Glendale.
Peach Day, September, 1937, I packed my clothes and celebrated with Alice, Lud & Thella, then on the bus in late afternoon headed for Los Angeles. It was a long hot ride. I thought we would never get past the Calif. Desert. The orange groves around Riverside were a welcome sight. I arrived in Los Angeles 26 hrs. after leaving Brigham and arrived at Louise and Don’s apartment in Glendale that evening.
My pigs brought about $70 and Mother paid the rest of my tuition and board and room which Louise and Don gave me at a very low rate. Having enrolled by mail I was able to start with the first class of a new trade school called Aero Industries Technical Institute (AITI) located west of the railroad on San Fernando Road near the Broadway Intersection in Glendale. The school buildings were all new and it was well equipped. Six months later in early April I had earned my certificate as a master mechanic. Each student spent several weeks in each shop department (wood, fabric, sheet metal, welding, foundry, instruments, machining & engines). It was all very new, exciting and interesting.
The Glendale Ward, which I attended, was just over the back fence from the apartment. I arrived just in time to help put the finishing work on the building which was dedicated on 8 Jan 1939 by Pres. Heber J. Grant. I was there. I was ordained an Elder there on 25 June 1939, by Niels E. Larsen. If any of you have been curious as to why I didn’t go on a mission for the church as a young man, I also have wondered about it. The answer is: I don’t know. My bishops in Brigham and Glendale didn’t once mention a mission to me. Possibly they assumed I didn’t have the money to go. If so, they were right. I’ve never felt guilty about not going, just curious that no one ever discussed the subject with me. From my observations there was less emphasis then about going on missions that there is now.
Don and Louise were great to me and very patient. They took me along with them to shows, the beach, mountains and we went on lots of evening car rides. We all drove to Brigham for a visit on Thanksgiving, 1937 and Alice looked better than ever.
One of my buddies at AITI school lived in Eagle Rock and had a car. I rode to school with him some of the time, the rest I walked. He was still working at Lockheed as an inspector when I retired.
One day it was raining so hard they closed school early. By the time I rode the bus to Chevy Chase & E. Broadway, the end of the line, Chevy Chase was flooded above the curb and the water was running so fast you couldn’t wade in it. Cars couldn’t drive across. One guy in a Model A Ford had an idea so I jumped in with him. He headed his car into the water diagonally downstream, turned off the motor and let the current push it downstream. He just steered so that one block downstream at Harvard we were across the flooded street. He charged me 25 cents.
After I finished school about 15 March, 1938 I started hunting for a job in the aircraft factories. Many factories were laying off and non were advertising for help. The job hunting custom was to pick the plant you thought might be hiring and stand in line at their gate early in the mornings. Rumors were the only source of guidance as to which might be hiring. The personnel people had the attitude that the people who wanted a job badly enough to get up early and stand in line would be the best employees. I spent 2 months standing in lines at Douglas in Santa Monica, North American & Vultee in Inglewood, Consolidated & Ryan in San Diego and, most of the time, at Lockheed in Burbank because I could ride with Don and be in line at 6:30 a.m.
The only offer I had was when Lockheed said I could come back in 3 days and take their test. I did and started to work on Friday nite, 17 May 1938 as an apprentice in the Wing and Empenage Assembly Dept. at 45 cents per hour with a 3 cents per hour bonus for working swing shift. I was excited.
We were building Models 10 & 12, one of which Howard Hughes later flew around the world. The union was just getting their foot in the door, there were no seniority rights. When the first layoff occurred, shortly after I was hired in, several men with more seniority were laid off and I stayed. I continued to work for Lockheed 35 years, 10½ months. We were cut to a 4 day week at one time in 1939 but in all the Lockheed ups and downs I was never laid off, cut in pay or demoted. I continued on the swing shift 1½ years and on day shift the rest.
Louise, Don & I moved to a house on the rear of the lot at 112 No. Everett after a few months and I bought my first car, and old Stutz coupe for $35.00. Several months later I sold it to a woman in exchange for a deed giving me the oil rights to 5 acres of land in Texas. I had already bought a used green 1937 Plymouth couple, a beauty with long graceful lines. In May, 1939 we moved from Everett Street to 323 Langley (now the Ralph’s market parking lot) where Louise & Don’s new house had been built for them. About that time a few of us who came from AITI had a chance to work for an Airline in Hawaii but I passed it up.
Alice and I corresponded and she made a trip down with Amy, one by herself, that’s when I gave her an engagement ring, then one with Wixoms, her employer in Brigham. I had my Plymouth car then and it was great showing them around the great southland, Hollywood, the beaches – the whole works.
After working two years my pay rate was up to 60 cents per hour and I had earned 1 week vacation. Louise rode with Kieth & me to Brigham for our wedding which was set for 8 May 1940. Alice’s Mother was caring for her Mother in Malad and Alice was living with Thella and Lud in Brigham.
I did a lot of thinking about marriage, whether or not I was ready. Was I ready to assume the responsibility of a family? Could we live on my income, etc. etc.? The usual bachelor’s jitters.
I also felt flattered and fortunate that Alice had accepted my proposal. I care for her very much, wanted to make her happy and believed I could make her happy. We went to the Court House in Brigham, where Mother worked, to get our marriage license. Mother helped us and was as excited as we were.
Joe rode with Alice and me in my Plymouth to Salt Lake, Mother and Amy rode with Thella & Lud. We all went thru the evening Temple session together then were married, with just out group in attendance, buy the Temple President, Nicholas G. Smith, who was later called as one of the original group of Assistants To The Twelve. I don’t remember what Pres. Smith said but I was very impressed by the simple beauty of the ceremony. Joe seemed about as nervous as I was, his wedding date being only about a month away. From the Temple our group went to Alice’s dad’s home for a good supper. We stayed in the Temple Square Hotel that nite and the next morning drove to Brigham and on to Malad that evening where the Williams and Jones gave us and my family a delicious wedding supper at Lester’s home. We went on to Lilly’s home in McCammon that nite and the next day Lilly & George took us on an outing to American Falls. We stayed that nite with Alice’s mother in Malad and I had a stomach ache from too much ice cream at the picnic.
Next nite we were at Mother’s home where the Reeder and Burt families gave us a wedding reception. The following day we drove to Glendale arriving late at nite and stayed at the Glendale Hotel. The following morning, honeymoon over, we went apartment hunting.
We soon found a place in a small court at 1305 C. East Harvard. It was cozy. The bath tub was barely large enough to sit down in. Out next door neighbors in the court were a young couple, Bruce & Norma McIntire. He worked as an artist for Disney, good people. We moved in on _____ and I went back to work on Monday. A big week.
One Sunday morning, several weeks later, we found Jennie, Louise & Don’s landlady on Everett, sitting on our front porch when we woke up. She wanted us to move into the house on Everett, where they had lived, at about the same rent we were then paying. The house had a lot more room and a private back yard so we took it.
We were still in the Glendale Ward and I was the Elder’s Quorum representative on the Ward Genealogy Committee.
I don’t recall any time when I wasn’t sure of God’s existence, the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine authorization of the mission of Joseph Smith. I had heard it taught in Church services and in seminary. A ninth grade school teacher, Mr. Prisby, strengthened my testimony in a history class when he impartially presented both sides, the pro-Mormon and anti-Mormon viewpoints, when covering early church history, the persecutions, etc., in his class on the history of Utah.
To me the gospel makes sense, it is logical, reasonable and understandable. The Church teaching support and agree with those of the Bible when viewed in total. That was my personal conviction when I accepted the Priesthood and that first church calling of my adult life. I have never set out on a personal campaign to search, investigate, etc., to find out if the church is true or to “gain a testimony”. I can’t point to an event or a time and say that until this point I wasn’t sure but after this point I was sure.
I have had and do have unanswered questions but they don’t diminish my faith. Answers usually come slowly.
All of the experiences I’ve lived, all the studying and listening I’ve done, in and out of the church, everything I’ve observed about nature and about people since that first call have added to the conviction I had at that time. God is real, He lives, He is the literal father of Jesus, born of Mary; Jesus Christ is our brother and savior; all humankind existed as spirits before birth here; we will continue in a combined physical and spiritual existence as individuals after this life; and the Church is true.
We continued to live on Everett from July, 1940, to July 1941. We had saved to buy a house and found one at 1321 Thompson Ave. which we bought for $4750.00, $300.00 down payment. It was an older house, 2 bedrooms, 1 batch, 50’ x 165’ lot on a nice street and we thought it was a mansion.
Our furniture consisted of a bed springs & mattress, refrigerator and one easy chair. We bough an old high oven gas stove and used orange crates, etc., to fill the rest of our furniture needs, then added an item at a time as we could afford it.
By that time I had learned and progressed at Lockheed thru four shop classifications to lead man (unofficial). I was recruited by a Tool Design Department supervisor to transfer into that department, which I did at $1.03 per hour.
It was good news and a big thrill in the summer of 1942 when Alice went to Dr. Marshall and he confirmed that we were going to have a baby. I felt the same elation on knowing that our other three children were coming. They have all given me much happiness. The thrill has been the same with each of our grand children. My family related experiences are additional weighty evidence that the gospel is true.
Our move to Thompson Avenue put us in the Burbank Ward. I was called on a Stake Mission and served from 15 July, 1942 to 19 July, 1944. My first companion was Loy Jensen who also worked at Lockheed and whose wife Mona was expecting. We tried holding street meetings in Burbank without success so tracted door to door the rest of the time. We had a lot of acceptance but not many baptisms. Most people just wanted to visit and talk. We baptized one young couple, the Rings, who lived at the corner of Bel Air & Winchester. The last I heard he was a bishop somewhere up in Washington. Lockheed was making Hudson bombers for England before Pearl Harbor then also started making the P-38 fighter. We were very busy and my whole life at Lockheed continued to be very busy. I was promoted to my first full time supervisory position, on salary instead of hourly wage, on 16 Oct., 1942. My title was Section Leader, leading a group of tooling liaison people.
Everything was fine at home when I left for work at 6:00 a.m. on 18 March 1943, but Alice called me and I rushed her to the Glendale Memorial Hospital where Jeanne was born very quickly, a few weeks earlier than the doctor had predicted. They let me see her then put her in an incubator. Dr. Marshall said she would be fine and to make sure he called in a specialist, Dr. Baus, and Alice was fine. The experience was thrilling, frightening and exciting. She has two names because we hadn’t decided on one yet. Alice liked Lois and I like Jeanne so she got both and we called her Jeanne from the start. I went in to see Alice, she was out cold so I went back to work. The boss told me to go home and I telephoned the news all over.
Jeanne couldn’t nurse so they pumped Alice and fed her milk to Jeanne so we had to pump Alice and I took the milk to the hospital each day. Alice had lots and I took in a big bottle the first nite. Those nursery nurses made a fuss about how much milk I brought and said to keep bringing it all because other babies needed it. When I arrived on the maternity floor with my big bottle the next nite one loud-mouth nurse bellowed out “here comes the Reeder dairy”. I sheepishly trudged the length of the floor with my bottle and some of the new mothers, probably the dry ones, applauded as I passed their rooms.
The next day I had my bottle all wrapped up but didn’t fool anyone, they were ready. The welcome started on the stairs and I had a nurse escort (the loud one) up the stairs and down that long hall to the nursery. There was no back door to sneak in the nursery so from then on I just soaked up the attention.
With that good Reeder dairy mild Jeanne progressed fast and we brought her home in about a week. Dr. Baus told us that as far as Jeanne’s future progress and health was concerned we should forget that she was born early.
One day I was in the back yard practicing my golf swing by knocking cloth balls against the garage. Jeanne wasn’t quite big enough to sit up so I had her propped up in her high chair outside with me to get some fresh air and sun. She watched me without expression for a while but the first time I missed the ball she burst out laughing like I’d never heard her before. The next swing I missed again (on purpose) and I though Jeanne would split a rib laughing.
It started with Jeanne but all our children liked to lay their head on my shoulder and listen to music while I bounced and weaved gracefully around the room as though we were dancing. I sort of liked it too. I also enjoyed taking each of our children on long walks in their stroller when they were little.
World War II was going full blast at that time. We all had to register for rationing. Everyone was issued stamps which we had to have to buy gasoline and most food items. As we registered we declared the amount of food we had on hand, including home canned, and that was deducted from the amount of stamps we received. I also declared two new tires I had bought on sale but hadn’t put on the car.
There was a lot of talk about black markets but I didn’t encounter any other than being approached at work by people being willing to sell their gas stamps.
Some things like sugar, butter, meat & candy were hard to find even if we had the stamps. Food stamps were plentiful but food wasn’t. When scarce items came into the stores word spread fast and long lines quickly formed to buy. They would be sold out quickly. Gasoline was the opposite, there was plenty available if we had the stamps and money. I rode a bike to work to save gas.
We had to cover all our windows so no lite would show at nite in case of an air raid. All Lockheed buildings were camouflaged and concrete air raid shelters built nearby. We had drills and alerts but I recall only twice when the air raid alarm actually sounded. All the lights in the area, including cars, were turned off and the search lights beamed up into the sky. They didn’t find anything to shoot at.
I didn’t hear about the Japanese nationals being moved from this area until after it happened. There was a squadron of P-38s based at Glendale airport. They were very noisy as they took off to patrol the coast.
The first military draft registration was October, 1940. Married men were deferred in the first rounds of the draft but that didn’t last long. From then on thru the end of the war my status seemed to be in an almost continual tug of war between the draft board, the military, Lockheed and myself. I was alternatively pushing then pulling. When I decided I might as well go into the service the draft board and military said no. At one time I tried to enlist in a class to prepare to be a radar technician but couldn’t get in, they said stay at Lockheed.
I didn’t have a big desire to go in military service. The thought of that much outside control of my life was revolting (still is). On the other hand I wanted to do my share to win the war and always assumed that at some time I would be in the army. It was very clear to me at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and considerably thereafter, that what I was doing at Lockheed was more important to the war effort than my being in the army. Mine was a responsible job in a vital technical part of Lockheed and our products obviously essential to our country’s war effort. All metal aircraft were new. There weren’t older men around who could do what I was doing at work. The draft board agreed with Lockheed and I was given a 6 month occupational deferment.
The issue came up every 6 months or less and it was a hassle each time. The deferments kept coming later in the process. Becoming resigned and mentally prepared to go, then not going, became tiresome after a few rounds of the “battle of draft board number 185”.
In the fall of 1943 the process progressed to the point of the physical exam which I passed again easily (the hearing test was no test at all). As we finished we were told “If you want to sign up for the Navy today he tint his line. You will have a month before you report and you will have all the advantages of being an enlistee instead of being a draftee in the Army.” I got in the line and the Navy recruiter asked where I worked. When I told him he said “Go back to work, we’ll call you when we want you”. The draft board deferred me again.
March, 1944 brought another notice of reclassification and physical exam. Lockheed made the usual request for deferment and the draft board said no. The national draft policy by then was no deferment for physically qualified men in my age group. My induction notice came and we decided to sell the house, We couldn’t keep up the payments our of army pay. Mother offered to let Alice & Jeanne live in part of her house in Brigham and we accepted. Spencer was very kind to come down to help us pack and move. We put the house up for sale, obtained gas stamps and drove to Brigham.
On 25 April, 1944 a telegram came in Brigham from Lockheed saying I had been deferred and on 27 April a confirming wire from the board. It was a 60 day deferment so Alice & Jeanne stayed at Mother’s. I drove back to Glendale, rented a room on Rosedale and resumed my Stake Mission duties. There was a buyer for the house but I could have cancelled out. I didn’t (a big mistake as it turned out) because I assumed we would be going through the entire business again in a few weeks. The sale went thru for $7000.00.
Then the draft board extended my deferment six months without any explanation. I had a chance to rent a furnished house at 930 No. Geneva for the summer school vacation, which I did. Alice and Jeanne flew back here; HAPPY DAYS WERE HERE AGAIN!
Our new location put us in Glendale West Ward. My Stake Mission was complete and I was called to be Priest Quorum Advisor. In late August, 1944, we were lucky to find a house at 405 W. Wilson which we shared with an elderly woman, Mrs. Craig. She had one bedroom, we had a bedroom and the living room, and we shared the kitchen and bathroom. Jeanne liked Craigy and she was nuts about Jeanne.
About May or June, 1945, the landlady (Jennie from Everett St.) wanted her house so we went hunting again. Renting was impossible. We bought a house at 1806 Glenwood Rd. for $6950.00. It had a small house in back to rent out and help make the payments when I was in the army.
Even with all the turmoil about the draft and housing I was very thrilled and excited about having another child, hardly daring to hope it would be a son.
Adding to the turmoil, the tenants living in the house we bought on Glenwood refused to move and I received an induction notice for July, 1945. I didn’t want to go until the baby arrived, which was supposed to be about mid-August, and I had my family moved into the house. I filed my first and only appeal of the draft. The appeal gave me an automatic 30 day postponement of induction. Of course, they turned the appeal down so my induction was scheduled for 15 Aug 1945, about the same time the baby was due, and no further chances to appeal.
We had double cause for elation on Aug. 14; the announcement of Japan’s surrender and the draft board cancelled all inductions as of that day.
Life during the war was hectic and full of turmoil but mine was much better than the men who were separated from their families or shooting & being shot at. I have never felt guilty about not being in the military service during the war. I believe it was a just war and I think I served where I could do the most good and did my share. It would have been nice to get those G.I. education benefits, though.
Our second child was born the next day, 15 Aug., 1945. I had a son, he was OK, Alice was OK, the war was over and all the world looked very rosey. It was Alice’s turn to select the baby’s name and she picked Lynn. There was just one problem – no job. Lockheed closed on VJ day but I was back to work in a day or so.
We had to get a lawyer and go to court but finally obtained possession of our house in Sept. 1945. The place was filthy, it looked like they had been working on cars on the living room floor. The roof leaked in the rear house and the ceiling fell in.
After sanding the floor and cleaning up the front house we moved in then fixed up the rear house. We rented it for about $21.00 a month to a young couple we met at church, Merrill & Francis Bickmore. Our families have always bee good friends since then. He was an officer in Sunday School and Francis rode to church with us so much that people called her Sister Reeder. Our next big news came when Dr. Marshall confirmed that we would have another baby around the end of 1946.
I didn’t have a preference for a boy or girls. Except for lots of leg pain from varicose veins Alice had a normal pregnancy. I stirred up some excitement to go with the coming big event by accidentally cutting off the tip of my left index finger in my garage workshop on Christmas Day, 1946. The doctor was willing to sew it on but after consulting with Dr. Marshall, who happened to walk by the hospital emergency room, I told them to leave it off because the joint was destroyed and I didn’t want a long stiff finger. All of our children and grandchildren have enjoined explaining and contemplating my short finger.
The accident didn’t dampen my joy when our third child was born, another husky son, 0n 30 Dec. 1946. It was my turn to select the name and I picked Mike. (For the record it had to be Michael.) Its been great having two sons only 16 months apart. I’ve always been very proud of them and had lots of fun with them as kids and as adults.
We were cozy with the three children in our two bedroom, one bath home and it became cozier when Alice’s dad, Ed, his wife Billie, and their baby daughter Theo, moved in with us temporarily while waiting to get possession of the house they bought in Montebello. It was nice having them and it gave me a chance to be better acquainted with them. We all got along fine, only one little problem: Ed loved to tease kids but he quit doing it when I talked with him about it.
Alice and I had made it a practice to try and get away by ourselves for a day occasionally. We called it “our day off”. We left the children with a baby sitter and went away for the whole day, usually a leisurely drive to Santa Barbara or San Diego. It gave Alice a small rest from the routines of housekeeping and gave us a good chance to talk. Besides riding we stopped to play tennis, window shop, cook a barbecue, climb the hills and walk on the beach. It was always quite fun.
When Ed & Billie were with us we made it a “days off” outing and took a three day trip to San Diego, El Centro, Tucson, Phoenix and Palm Springs. The highlight of that trip was walking all over the sand dunes east of El Centro. We had never seen anything like that before.
The family’s annual vacation most years was a trip to visit our relatives in Utah and Idaho. We made our headquarters at Mother’s and Spencer’s place in Brigham then spent a nite or two with other brothers and sisters. Everyone went all out to see that we had a good time. The big attractions for the kids were Spencer’s Model A Ford which Jeanne bashed into Rockwood’s garage, the horses and cows, George’s tractor and everyone’s great meals.
The Glenwood house was small for us so we sold it in Sept., 1949, for $9000.00 and bought a two story, 3 bedroom, 1½ baths house at 1347 Sonora for $11,000.00. We didn’t care for two stories so we modernized the fireplace mantle, tore out a wall between the kitchen and breakfast room, painted it inside and out and, in August, 1950, sold it for $13,950.00. We then bought the house on 1172 Ruberta for $12,000.00. At last we had a mortgage free home and had enough money left to trade in our black 1939 Chevy sedan and buy a 1950 Plymouth sedan, our first new car. We stayed in the same neighborhood during all these moves to avoid having the children change schools. After two years as Priest Quorum Advisor I served as Aaronic Priesthood advisor for about 3 yrs., counselor in the MIA Superintendency for a year, President of the Elders quorum for 2 yrs and then Ward Clerk for about 7 years. While I was ward clerk I was ordained a High Priest on 25 June, 1956 by A. James Martin.
The Glendale West Ward purchased a building lot for a new chapel at Dryden & Central in Glendale. We were then meeting in the old Masonic Temple on South Brand. We removed the old house, cleaned off the lot and built the new building. It seemed a long hard task raising the money and constructing the building which required many hours working evenings and Saturdays. Everyone was happy to have it built, paid for and dedicated by President George Albert Smith on 26 Feb. 1950, I was there.
I enjoyed our kids very much and wished for another girl. I was both happy and worried (about Alice’s varicose vein problem) when Dr. Tarr confirmed that we were going to have another baby. The pregnancy was normal except for the pain in Alice’s legs, she really hurt. I quit fretting about the baby being a girl, I just wanted it to be well and have Alice get over the leg pain.
Dr. Jorgenson, the vein specialist, tried to keep Alice comfortable with injections but she had to keep off her feed and finally have her legs operated on. It was a big relief when the operation was over and the baby was born; and, besides the relief, we had another girl. I thought I was the most blessed person in the whole world. I still think so. We named her Joyce.
I took a lot of nite school courses during the war, and for many years after, all of them to help me at work. In November, 1945, I got a part time job Friday nites and Saturdays selling power tools and hardware at Sears in Glendale to help with Santa Claus type expenses and kept it until June, 1953.
One of our most enjoyable vacations was when Joyce was about 8 or 9 yrs. old. We loaded the car rack and trunk with skads of tents, sleeping bags, etc., and went on a 3 week camping trip around Calif. Our first stop was Yosemite, we rode air mattresses down the river. Alice tried to wade and we thought the current had her but she climbed out. The road from Yosemite to Tuolumne Meadows wasn’t much more than a train. We had the car so loaded and the hills were so steep the car stalled. Everyone but me had to get out & push. We camped at Tuolumne (nearly froze), proceeded over Tioga Pass to Virginia City, Carson City and camped at Lake Tahoe. After a few days swimming at Tahoe we drove to Sacramento and saw the state capitol and Sutter’s Fort, then north to Redding. The nite we stayed in a motel, the only bad nite of the trip and the only one spent in a motel, all the other nites we camped. I still prefer camping to motels when traveling. Our next stop was at Patrick’s Point on the northern California coast. It was misty and damp but beautiful. The trees & foliage were so thick we couldn’t even see the nearest camp to us which was only about 50 feet away. We then camped in and explored the giant redwoods. One tree is so large they cut the road thru it. As we were about to drive thru, just in the nick of time, Jeanne reminded me that we had the rack on top of the car so we drove around it, then backed in & took a picture as though we came thru the tree.
We camped on the Russian River, then drove on across the Golden Gate and saw the sights of San Francisco, then back across the bridge to Stinson Beach on the coast to camp. After the kids were in bed Alice and I drove back to San Francisco for dinner & to see China Town at nite. At about 10:00 p.m. the fog closed in on the whole area north of the Golden Gate. We had to drive thru the mountains very slowly, following the white line on the road, all the way back to camp. It was the thickest fog I’ve ever seen. Alice was sure we wouldn’t make it. She had us “lost at sea” several times.
One nite at Stinson Beach was enough so went to Samuel P. Taylor State Park where we had the best spot I’ve seen in a campground. There were many beautiful big trees and a nice stream just below. We then drove to Monterey, down Hiway 1 to Hearst’s castle and camped at Gaviota. We thought the wind would blow us into the ocean during the nite so we moved down to El Capitan Beach. That was the first season El Capitan was open.
On our trips, Mike collected post cards and banners and Lynn was co-pilot, he always stayed awake and helped me by watching for signs, etc., when all the others were sleeping.
Other favorite vacations, in addition to the trips to Utah & Idaho were camping at Oceanside (our tent was on the sand, almost in the surf), Doheny Beach, Refugio Beach, and 3 summers at Bass Lake. The big accomplishments at Bass Lake were Jeanne swimming across the lake (she was about 12 yrs old) and all of us except Joyce mastered the water skis. Alice had a hard time learning and humble Homer made it on the first day. Joyce missed the first two summers at Bass Lake because she was too young. She stayed with Louise. The last summer she went along with the rest and when I arrived one week later on an airplane she informed me I could call her sassafras (a nickname I had given her) if I wanted to.
Lynn, Mike and I went on stag vacations on two occasions. The first, when they were about 11 or 12, we went camping in King’s Canyon. We fished, swam, went boating and hiked. They used the cooking and camping skills they learned in their early scouting activities. The cooking could have been better but it was fun. The second, the winter after Mike returned from his mission, we three took a trip through Mike’s mission area in the Indian country of northern Arizona, also fun and very interesting. Alice and I traveled through parts of Lynn’s mission area on two trips and hope to have him along as our guide there some day.
I enjoyed the memories of our children at home and on our vacations. I’m grateful we had the opportunity and went on those trips with the children. They grew “up and away” very quickly.
On 13 April, 1958 I was released as Ward Clerk and sustained as 2nd counselor to Bishop Reed E. Callister, a very kind and generous man, and set apart by Apostle LeGrand Richards. I continued in that assignment for three years and made many friends.
Jan. 23, 1961 I was promoted at Lockheed from the position of Supervisor of the Manufacturing Standards and Standard Tool Design Group, a group of approx. 25 designers and engineers in the Tool Design Dept., to the position of manager of the Standard Tool Control Dept., a department of approx. 130 technicians, clerks and mechanics. In my prior promotions I had been promoted from the ranks; I had been part of the group, knew the functions and responsibilities from personal experience and was well acquainted with the people I was appointed to lead.
The promotion to department manager was different. I had not worked in the dept. and had only casual acquaintance with some of the people. We got along just fine and in three years my salary was raised from the bottom to the top of that salary grade. The work was more business oriented than technical. That same year, 26 April, 1961, I was sustained bishop of The Glendale West Ward, Glendale Stake and was ordained a Bishop by Apostle Spencer W. Kimball on 4 June, 1961. Elder Kimball was attending our stake conference and re-organizing the stake presidency.
On Saturday, 3 June each Bishop and High Councilor was called in individually by Elder Kimball and asked for our recommendations for Stake President. On learning that I had recently been sustained as bishop but not yet ordained he told me he would ordain me on Sunday, then spent considerable time counseling me about the office of bishop.
One item of counsel rather surprised me, coming from a general authority of the church. He told me not to take my church work home with me, leave it at the church office, be diligent in doing the Lord’s work and see that it gets done then go home and leave it behind; don’t discuss it with your wife, family or friends; “I don’t take my church work home with me and you shouldn’t either”. I followed that advice to the extent telephone calls would permit.
He cautioned me not to violate peoples free agency.
He also told me not to steal from my employer, not to rationalize that because it was the Lord’s work it was all right to divert my time or attention or any materials from what I owed my employer and use them to do church work, to do so would be a violation of the Lord’s commandment against stealing.
Another subject he covered was the importance of respecting confidences. I was impressed by his emphasis on this subject. He told me there is absolutely, positively, not ever, any justification for divulging or in any way violating a confidence; not to my counselors, the stake president, a general authority, my wife or anyone; if I ever felt I must discuss a confidential matter with someone I should go to the Lord with the matter. He explained, almost prophetically in my case, that when people learn that they can trust you not to divulge their confidences they will confide in you and seek your counsel and then you will have the opportunity to guide and bless their lives, “That is what the office of Bishop is for”. He further emphasized his point by saying that people who come with problems or confessions are like little children coming to their father; to betray their confidence is a great offense. (Matt 18:6)
Shortly after that interview we re-organized the presidency of one of the ward auxiliaries and as the new names were being present in Sacrament Meeting a friend sitting with Alice in the congregation chided Alice for not disclosing the changes to her in advance. The friend was disbelieving when Alice told her she didn’t know about the change until that moment (which Alice didn’t).
Bill Slight and Roger Hawley, two very good men, were my counselors and we became good friends. We stayed together for the six years I was bishop and they worked hard. I spent a lot of time, which Bill and Roger didn’t know about, listening to people. At first I was concerned about accidentally or unintentionally discussing a confidence but soon learned that if I would do my part, and try to forget, the Lord would bless me to be able to forget confidential matters, just as Elder Kimball had promised.
The office of bishop is a challenging, interesting, educational, humbling and inspirational experience. Among my most education and interesting church experience was attending the early Sunday morning special meetings at stake conferences for nearly 20 years. We had a visiting general authority at most stake conferences at that time who usually talked to the priesthood leaders about 2 hours in these special meetings. They didn’t talk specifically about doctrine but rather about operation of the church. Naturally, principles and doctrine were reflected in the instructions they gave. It is my opinion that it is always best, always results in the most joy for us, to follow and live in accordance with principles of the gospel and the instructions from Church leaders, even when we lack full understanding of the reasons or feel some disagreement. It is often surprising how much increase in understanding comes after a period of conformance. In the 20 years of attending these special meetings, I didn’t hear any advice or instruction which was counter to the scriptures. If incorrect counsel ever did come from a general authority, while we were living our own lives in conformance to the gospel, I’m sure we would recognize it very quickly.
My work at Lockheed didn’t require much traveling. I made several trips to San Diego, Sunnyvale and Sacramento; one to Miami, New York, Dallas and Washington D.C. While on a trip to Lockheed’s Sunnyvale plant I received word that Mother had died. It was 16 Jan., 1962. she was over 80 years old and had been active, a hard worker all her life. While I was living at home, she worked late into the nite, every day after coming home from the office, doing housework. Saturdays and Sundays were the same except I remember a few occasions after the Sunday dinner dishes were done she sat sown to read but she always fell right to sleep in the chair.
I was glad when Spencer and Verna bought the family home from Mother. She lived with them and a few years later Spencer and Joe build her a new house on part of her original lot next door to her old house. She was still at home yet newer household features. It was gratifying to visit there on our vacation trips and see how pleased, really tickled, Mother was with that hew house. She lived there the rest of her life.
My next promotion at work, 2 Nov. 1964, was to Supervisor of Manufacturing Research. Again, I was promoted outside instead of from the ranks. The group’s function was something like a think tank except we implemented the results of our research into applications in the factory. We had some very capable people in the group including Engineers with master and doctor degrees from some of the country’s top universities.
On 14 Feb., 1966 I was promoted to Manager of the Test Equipment Engineering and Assembly Dept. Our functions were to write functional test procedures, design and manufacture test equipment, and make and sell equipment to outside customers. This department is unique at Lockheed in that many functions were assigned to one department including engineering, planning, technical writing, maintenance, bidding, procurement, manufacturing, scheduling and control.
Once again, I was the outsider coming in at the top of the Department instead of from within the ranks. I knew only a few of the approx. 150 people in the dept. Some of them felt strongly that the position of manager should have been filled from the ranks. Another challenge was that the major portion of the departments’ work was in the electronic field where I’m like a fish out of water, my training and experience were in the mechanical field. It all worked out just fine.
If asked to identify my strength or major ability I believe it is the ability to deal with and get along with people, to organize and motivate them to do their best. I enjoyed supervision and management, not for the power but for the people relationships. Math and science classes in school were interesting but difficult. I was successful in management of engineering functions because I could influence people to apply themselves and could apply technical logic to engineering matters sufficient to enable me to make sound analysis and judgment.
In January, 1967, I was assigned to a special task force at work which required long hours at work every day, seven days a week. The assignment was supposed to last 4 to 6 weeks. After three months I could see that the task would last at least 3 more months. I wrote a letter to the Stake President recommending that the bishopric be reorganized and explaining my assignment at work; that I felt obliged to stay with it since I had been spared such assignments for 29 years and felt I should take my turn; also hat since I had been in the bishopric for nine years it would be selfish of me to deprive others of having that opportunity. The presidency agreed and we were released from the bishopric on 7 May, 1967.
While on my trip to Washington D.C. for Lockheed, the Stake President telephoned and asked me to serve on the Glendale Stake High Council. I had been teaching the family relations class in Sunday School for approx. 1½ years following completion of the special task force assignment at Lockheed. I was sustained as a high councilman 23 March, 1969 and served until released 25 March, 1973, then taught the college age Sunday School Class until called to be the AP-MIA President 28 April, 1974.
The history would be too much if it covered our children’s experiences during their teens and later. That history properly belongs in their own records including their education, marriage, the arrival of their children, etc., even though those years and events are among my proudest and happiest memories. A few examples of memories which give me a lot of pride in our children will suffice here.
As each of our children became legally eligible to learn to drive a car I took them to the parking lot of Brand Park and started their instruction. When they received their license to drive each was given their own set of keys to our cars. We had the understanding that they would ask permission to use the cars, obey the driving laws and they could use a car when they needed it. None ever violated that trust.
The boys earned and saved enough money to pay close to half their mission costs. They all paid a large share of their college costs. Each of our children are quite different from the others and each is intelligent in their own right; yet they have been very teachable.
Each was worthy to be married in the Temple and all are happily married. I believe they, in their generation are better than I in mine. I think that is as it should be and it makes me feel successful and grateful. I hope that continues thru all our generations.
In Sept., 1969, Alice and I drove Joyce to Provo for her first year at BYU, then on to Rome, New York, to visit Jeanne & Charles and their family. It was a good visit and we also visited the Church history sites at Nauvoo, Palmyra, Kirtland, Manchester, Fayette, Carthage, Cumorah, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Independence, Liberty and Far West. We came home by way of Boston, New York City, Gettysburg and Washington D.C.
On 31 March, 1974 I became eligible for early retirement from Lockheed. When I gave my boss thirty days notice that I planned to do so he flattered me by asking what was my price to stay on. I told him he couldn’t give me what I wanted, which was time for doing other things than work at Lockheed. He then asked me to stay two years to train my replacement and I told him I had two capable replacements already trained.
Since retiring I have enjoyed much more time with my family and grandchildren, puttering in the garage workshop (wood working), doing more church work, playing golf and getting more exercise bicycling & walking. A lot of time has been spent as a volunteer political campaign worker and in futile (so far) attempts to strengthen our democracy by improving our political campaign process so that citizens can be better informed when they vote.
We have done more traveling to visit family and have taken a few major trips. In December & January, 1974-75 we went on a BYU sponsored tour of Rome, Italy, and the Holy Land. In Oct.-Nov. 1975 we drove to the home of my niece, Joan Reeder, in Richmond, Kentucky, and with her home as headquarters toured that area, the most comfortable touring trip I’ve ever had and in country of great beauty. I was appointed to represent the California 22nd Congressional District as a delegate to the National Congress on Volunteerism and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., Nov. 19-22, 1976 and Alice and I drove across the country again on an enjoyable trip.
The nice thing about my retirement is not just resting or loafing around, I don’t want that, it is having the opportunity, the flexibility, to choose between available alternatives as to how I will spend my time. I have been busy and believe I have the initiative and ingenuity to always keep myself usefully and interestingly occupied.
In reading over this epistle (writing in random thinking style as memories came to mind between Dec. 23, 1976 and Jan. 10, 1977) I perceive that it is too long, especially in view of the fact that it covers less than half my anticipated life span. My children can abridge it for their children as they see fit.