memories of Marty Bagley Halverson
|Dee took this picture|
We knew we would arrive home to $00.00 so the timing was yet to be decided, and I knew that until he gave me a ring, he wouldn't consider us engaged. I had considered us engaged since his first "I love you," but thought it wiser not to announce it, even to him.
We went on a chaste group honeymoon to Budapest on April 30 to celebrate. Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain, and we had to have visas and official guides to go. We were told that the border was strictly guarded and we were not permitted under any circumstances to take photos as we crossed.
The guard towers were all around us, and soldiers with machine guns were watching every vehicle carefully. As we passed one of them, Dee took a picture out the window of the bus. I was shocked at his blatant indifference to the rules; I've since discovered that Dee never thinks rules apply to him. A few minutes later some soldiers on motorcycles pulled up next to us and waved us over. We stopped and the officers boarded our bus.
The driver was Czech and the communication was awkward between our German and English, and these new foreign tongues. Of course it didn't take a linguist to figure out what they wanted. They had seen someone on our bus take a picture and they wanted to confiscate all our cameras.
Dee, realizing it was time to step up, volunteered that he was the criminal and they didn't need to take everyone's camera; they could have his. After a little negotiation, the soldiers said he could just give up his film.
|MAY Day Parade|
May Day had special significance because there was a giant Communist Parade. I was clueless, and pictured floats and costumes. It turned out to be thousands of factory workers carrying Communist flags, marching past the government officials. Dee said he wanted to take a picture and left me in the stands. He didn't come back. After the events of the day before, I was worried that he'd been arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The atmosphere at the parade was not comfortable for us Americans, and I could feel the oppression of the people.
|Dee with FLAG and friends|
I could hardly wait to get out of this country!
That night we went to a quaint restaurant, decorated with brightly colored embroidered linens and hand painted pottery. There were gypsy musicians wearing tall, black hats, puffy shirts and baggy pants tucked into boots. Playing their violins, they wandered from table to table while we ate Chicken Paprikas and Palatshinken. As we were eating, some girls at the next table began
talking about candle
Back in the dorms there would frequently be a sign on the door announcing a special ceremony that night.
Everyone would gather in anticipation, wondering who. Standing in a circle, with crossed arms, holding hands, we sang love songs while a candle decorated with flowers and ribbons was passed from girl to girl.
Sitting on the candle was a diamond engagement ring. There were sighs, and whispers and a few warbles.
♫ They say there's a tree in the meadow,
a tree that will give you a sign . . .
♫ Come along with me, to the Sweetheart Tree,
♫ Come and carve your name next to mine . . . ♫
a tree that will give you a sign . . .
♫ Come along with me, to the Sweetheart Tree,
♫ Come and carve your name next to mine . . . ♫
After the candle had gone around the circle once, (or twice to add to the suspense,) the lucky girl blew out the candle and put her ring on. Squeals, hugs and tears would follow.
That night in Budapest someone started passing a candle. It went around one table and then another before it came to our table.
I was sitting next to my true love, the gypsies were playing, everyone was watching, and when it came to me, I blew out the candle.
Our engagement was official.
It must have been a trick candle,
because after forty-eight years, the light is still bright.
because after forty-eight years, the light is still bright.
Marty’s Love Story
Chapter 3: February 14, 1969
It was barely light when I peeked outside that morning. The aroma of fresh bread and hot chocolate warmed my chilly room and I followed it downstairs for Früstuck. Salzburg breakfasts are worth getting up for. Baskets of crusty Semmeln (rolls) chewy and soft, frosted with unsalted butter and raspberry jam; white teapots filled with cocoa—sleepy students perked up, and the dining room awakened to quiet chatter.
Valentine's Day, 1969, started as usual. After breakfast I skipped upstairs to get ready for class, and there on my table was a little bouquet of daffodils. A blue piece of airmail stationery was folded and propped up with a note that said
"Zu die Marty für Valentine's." I remembered my solicitation for flowers and knew Dee was the delivery boy.
My roommates came in and the news traveled quickly around the hotel. I was a celebrity . . . a very minor celebrity, but we didn't have any others that day, so it was exciting.
Dee met me on the stairs, and I asked quietly, "Was it you?" He nodded, I gushed and blushed and we walked to class. At lunchtime there was an incident. A guy in our group, (who wore bright turquoise Levis, by the way) was offended that someone had singled me out. He said we should be careful not to pair off; we should just be a big, happy family during our semester abroad. He didn't want anyone to feel left out, so he had a big bouquet of flowers with a card that said, "To all the girls, from all the boys." There may have been a few who were touched by this gesture, but I privately thought it was lame. Besides, I liked being singled out.
That night at dinner I looked around anxiously, having planned all day how I would casually sit down by Dee and flirt a little. He didn't come. Maybe he was embarrassed by all the notoriety.
The next day was Saturday and I went with my friends to tour Salzburg. We walked up Getreidegässe and bought gloves, scarves and hats, took pictures of the horse baths, and looked inside a few churches. I was distracted—shivery, weary and queasy. I hadn't received any mail from home yet, and suddenly six months seemed like forever. The novelty was past, washing my clothes in the basin was a pain, my bed was lumpy and I wanted my mom. Homesickness was new to me and it was awful. My heart started racing, I felt dizzy and like I was going to throw up.
Looking back, I think I had a panic attack. Realizing that I couldn't call, or get in touch with anyone I loved, thinking that someone could die while I was gone . . . all the emotions of being far from home for the first time overwhelmed me. Plus, I figured I'd blown the whole daffodil surprise completely out of proportion. Obviously Dee wasn't even going to talk to me again. It was a pretty miserable day.
Dee was having his own miserable day. Anxious to go skiing in the Austrian alps (but unable to afford it) he'd put together a ski trip for 25 of our students, arranged for ski rentals, buses, and lift passes, all so he could get a discount on his own. He acted as the translator while all the girls got their boots fitted (the clerk couldn't get over how big the American girls' feet were!) and finally they left for Kleinarl.
After they got to the ski area, Dee made sure everyone could get along OK, and then took his first ride up the lift. At the top he saw our buddy (the turquoise Levi boy) laying in the snow, bleeding profusely. Getting off the ski lift, he'd stabbed himself in the leg with his ski pole.
Dee got the ski patrol and then stayed to translate, skiing down with the stretcher. He ended up riding in the ambulance back to Salzburg. It was his only experience on mountain curves at high speeds—his ski day was over.
The next afternoon, I was studying when Dee knocked on my door. He suggested walking down the hall to a little office. When we got there, he said he'd been anxious to apologize to me. He was afraid the daffodils had offended me! I quickly assured him that I was thrilled to get them, and we started talking. I told him about being homesick, and how I missed my family, and all about them. I thought later what a great conversationalist he was . . . he just listened and let me talk about myself for two hours! How cool can a guy be?
There was a poem on a calendar on the wall, and I asked Dee to translate it.
"You are mine, I am thine. This must you always remember. You are locked inside my heart, and the tiny key is lost. You must stay inside forever."
Our hearts were opening to each other. We were getting ready to invite each other in, and we were completely unaware of what that would mean . . . forever.
Marty’s Love Story Chapter 10:
"Bis aufs Wiedersehn." Salzburg, 1969
It was time to wake up: the Salzburg Dream was over. Our semester abroad ended, the 14 final days touring Europe rolled into each other, and we flew home June 12th. Towards the end of our long flight, all 65 girls changed into our new dirndls, so we could greet our parents looking like a giant von Trapp Family. (The boys kept their dignity, with normal attire.) When the wheels of the plane touched down, the whole group cheered and some of us cried. We arrived very late, after midnight, and our families had been waiting for several hours. Dee's parents had already gone home to Provo.
|Marty & Dee--von Trapp family|
His mother had received a diagnosis of MS earlier that day, which must have been extremely upsetting. I can't remember who gave us that information, but we'd heard it by the time we found my parents. I assured Dee he could stay with us.
I had feared the big meeting with Dee and my parents, since our airmail correspondence had been so negative. I was excited to be home, and anxious for everyone to like each other.
I flew into my dad's arms, and hugged my mom, and then introduced them to Dee. It was cordial, but stiff. Then I informed them that I had invited Dee to stay at our house since his folks had left. Their polite faces started slipping, and I suddenly felt defensive. In later years my mother would become very hospitable in this kind of situation, but it was the first time a stranger (to her) had ever stayed overnight. It was also the first time I had announced such an intention without asking first. We hadn't interacted like this before. Since I was the oldest child, it was new for our family, and a little awkward. I felt like I was walking into a stiff wind, but it worked out OK. It was great to see my family and sleep in my own bed.
Dee slept on the family room floor.
Did you see Father of the Bride? It was so reminiscent of our experience. My dad was very suspicious of the new man in my life, and my mom was restrained. Emotionally, I had become a woman and they still saw me as a little girl. (It had only been 6 months ... ) I'm sure they assumed I would come home and everything would be the same, that I would be the same. I wasn't. I had allowed an intruder to become the biggest part of my life, leaving my family on the sidelines. None of us knew how to interact.
This was a side of him I hadn't seen before and it made me nervous. My parents were not showing off very well, either, and I felt extremely tense and uncomfortable. Halfway through dinner something happened that I have never forgotten.
My Grama leaned over the table and whispered (in a Grama whisper that everyone could hear) "Marty, he's real quality." I appreciated her so much at that moment! I needed approval and encouragement from someone I loved, and she had given the thumbs up.
So now reality set in. Although Dee lived only an hour away, it was as if we were on different planets. We were back in our parent's homes, without a car between us. Telephoning long distance was expensive and reserved for emergency 3-minute calls, so we had to write letters. After spending all day, every day, together, this was a shock and we were miserable. We had no income, work, or savings, and according to my dad, no future. My folks figured if they ignored the situation, it would go away. I had no one to talk to, or dream with. It felt like our whole romance had been imagined.
Dee immediately got 2 jobs, and I went back to work in my dad's Optometrist's office. Two weeks later, Dee surprised me at work, arriving in his
New (used '67) light blue VW bug. He asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I got very grudging permission from my boss, and we strolled around downtown SLC to the Assembly Hall. It was the middle of the afternoon, we were all alone in a beautiful room, and Dee told me he hated for us to be apart. He thought he had a solution to our difficult situation. He pulled a box from his pocket and there was a beautiful, antiqued diamond engagement ring. He figured we could get married in 2 months. "By then we'll be rich." (We've been using this line now for 48 years ... it's a good line.) I was overjoyed! It was for real.
We went back to my dad's office, but he'd left for the golf course. Dee drove me home and we just happened to pass my Grampa driving on the freeway! We pulled up close to him, honked and waved and I pointed to my new ring. He honked back, making cheering signs, grinning from ear to ear.
We got to my house, anxious to announce our news. Nobody was home. We talked and planned and waited. Finally, I heard my dad getting out of the neighbor's car. I ran out, flashing my diamond, squealing with delight. Dad took a look, opened the trunk to get out his clubs and went into the garage without a word. Mr. Glazier hugged me, shook Dee's hand, and congratulated us with exuberance. Dad walked into the house and got in the shower.
When Mom came home, she reacted with surprise and reluctant acceptance. Over the next few days she got excited about planning a wedding with all the trimmings. That was ironic, because I didn't want a wedding. I wanted a small dinner. I had always thought it would be silly to spend the biggest night of my life shaking hands with my mom's friends, and my dad's business associates. But, whatever ... I was getting married!! Let mom plan her wedding and invite her friends. I was getting married!!!
Dad wouldn't talk about it for 3 days, and then he started suggesting that we wait a year, or at least until December. He said he couldn't afford a wedding so soon. (Why wasn't anyone listening to me??) By then, mom was talking dresses and florists, photographers and invitations, and eventually Dad realized it was happening with or without his approval. It actually took another year and the birth of our first baby for Dad to accept my marriage.
For the first several months when we visited my folks, Dee sat downstairs and read National Geographic because nobody would talk to him!
We went to a movie afterwards, and as cheesy as it sounds,
the movie was Sound of Music!
Our obsession and loyalty to all things Austrian can be traced to our beginnings. Our semester abroad in Salzburg was more than either of us had expected. While living in central Germany for 2 years, Dee had planned to return to Bavaria to study. As a sophomore in high school, I had a student teacher who introduced the idea of going to school in Salzburg. In our separate worlds we had both worked and saved until the perfect time and opportunity presented itself.
It started as a dream and it became a dream come true.
Marty Celebrating Dee-Day!
Dee is a War Baby, born 9 months (plus a few hours) after his WWII soldier dad returned to his waiting wife, 71 years ago today. A true Boomer.
You could not meet a more interesting guy. That's a direct result of the fact that he's interested . . . in EVERYTHING. By the time I met Dee when he was 22 he was already an expert in European History, World Geography, the British Military, photography, German philosophy, politics and US current events. He collected coins and stamps, knew diverse things about music, Rommel, Hubert Humphrey and art. I was fascinated.
He'd worked in a pizza place, hoed sugar beets, stocked fabric bolts, and managed a pro-shop at a golf course, saving for college from the time he was 13. He'd lived in Germany, met Bobby Kennedy, been a boy scout, worked at Grand Canyon, skinny-dipped in the river, hunted pheasants, and made fires to roast grasshoppers for a picnic. He'd tracked trains, then put nails and coins on the tracks to watch them get flattened. He had a Tom Sawyer type childhood, a hard-working, studious youth, and was smarter than anyone I'd ever met.
After receiving a triple degree in German, European Studies and History from BYU, Dee had planned to go into Foreign Service, the CIA or the Intelligence field. But with the reality of a wife and two kids already, he found a job in real estate as a developer and builder. He built about 50 homes, a subdivision, some condos, office buildings and a business park and was involved in the politics of water rights, irrigation feuds, and building permits. He arbitrated, negotiated, and stagnated. It was time to move on.
After reinventing himself with a year at The King's Manor in York, England he received another degree in Architectural History and Preservation. Dee's first business venture after returning home was to sponsor a three-day, world-wide conference on retro-fitting historic buildings with hydraulic springs to prevent damage during an earthquake. The SL City and County Building was the first building to benefit from the new technology. The conference was well-attended by architects from all over the world who wanted to observe and learn firsthand.
He began writing books on historic buildings, and architectural styles and features, which led to books about towns, individuals, businesses and families. He's now written over 75 books. He becomes an expert on each new topic, spending months, even years, studying the various subjects.
It's fun to watch Dee immerse himself in a new interest. When he wrote a book about a Jewish Rabbi in Seattle, it led him to 1860's silver mines in Colorado and the beginnings of a rabbinical school in Cincinnati. The story of a San Francisco bridge building company took us to an ancestral winery in Germany, as well as a study of the construction of the Chunnel.
Early logging in Ontario's rivers, and the establishment of Quaker Meetings in Pennsylvania, pirates settling Newfoundland and ghost towns in Southern Utah have become a few areas of expertise for Dee.
He loves to dig out the stories behind the stories and he becomes well acquainted with people long gone. He knows people's businesses and ancestors better than they do themselves, and he appreciates the hard work and sacrifice of unknown heroes. His research skills are superb. He can find everything that's been written about anything, consolidate and unify the information, add to it, and then condense it to a form that's factual and entertaining. He would find the history of dirt intriguing, and you would, too, when he wrote it down!
Dee has an incredible memory for dates and places involving anyone else, and when he gets going on a little historic recitation he's thorough to the point of, well . . . thoroughness. Right now he's writing his own history, which is a great thing. Looking back on life is a wonderful way to count your blessings!
Some memories get lost in the giant library of his mind.
We got married 48 years ago, in September, and a few weeks later on his birthday I baked him a cake. He came home from school, saw it on the table and was overcome. "I've never had a birthday cake before," he told me emotionally. He hadn't??? Where was his mother??? What kind of deprived childhood had he come from??? I vowed to make it all up to him. I'd give him memorable celebrations that would overwhelm his past disappointments.
The next year, true to my promise, I baked him a triple decker. When he walked in, his eyes misted over and he whispered tremulously,
"Oh, my gosh, Dear. I've never had a birthday cake before."
Like I said, he's an interesting guy. The best part is that he's interested in me!
Happy Birthday, Dear!
Ich hab dich immer noch ganz Lieb! (I still love you!)
"Just send us to Switzerland and perch us on an alp with a drop-dead view. You don't have to visit us or worry about us. We'll be supremely happy and when it's time we'll just keel over into eternal bliss."
Nobody has taken us seriously. By that I mean nobody has bought us tickets yet. But we didn't count on God overhearing our request. When God overhears a request, He always grants it, but with His own little twist. "You want to spend your last years on a mountain top?? Great idea! I'll help you get there!!"
The past two weeks we've been on a rocky road. Dee had a hip replacement, which turned into a fractured femur, which turned into a short miserable stint in rehab before he was sent back for a long miserable stint in the hospital. It has seemed like we wouldn't have the option of a mountain view. But good nurses, doctors, aides, physical therapists, friends, family, and the good Lord blessed Dee in a variety of ways and yesterday a big strong man took hold of Dee, placed him in a wheelchair and took him off to Rocky Mountain rehab. I watched Dee turn the corner. It was awesome!
Then we saw what was around the corner. The mountain! Heavenly Father must have smiled when He thought, "I'll give them their drop-dead view. But they have to want it enough to make the climb!"
So now we're at the trailhead, lots of experienced climbers all around with good advice, ropes, pulleys, and encouragement. Plenty of time to get to the top, and assurances that the climb itself will be a great adventure with fabulous views and lots of good company. Except its very scary for me, knowing either of us could fall or get discouraged and just sit down and wait to keel over. But why would Heavenly Father promise such a glorious view if He isn't going to help us get there? I know we can get there. I've learned some things since that first discussion about our demise, and one of them is there's not much to discuss.
We're not in charge. Deciding how our life will be at 70, when we're 40, is like deciding how our life will be at 40 when we're 10. We just don't know! Life will surprise us. Assuming we'll know how and when we'll want "to go" is a folly of youthful thinking. Our definitions of "a full life" and "quality of life" and "reason for life" change and surprise us. We grieve, then adjust to changes in our physical abilities, and rejoice in the changes in our spiritual abilities. We have gained more precious ground than we've lost in these so-called declining years. Getting old is full of unexpected blessings!
Dee used to say, "When it's hopeless, just pull my plug." Well, there is no plug. Which is lucky because there are a lot of times when it seems hopeless, but hope is just around the corner. With mountains to climb.
Feeling scared, with all their eyes upon me, reminds me why I have to be brave! Twenty-four sets of eyes unknowingly watch an example of how we react in tough times. They are my incentive to dig deep until I strike courage. The example the grandkids give me is "Live with Joy." I can do that!
Sixty-eight years ago today my mom and dad got married. At the wedding breakfast my grampa gave a tribute to his new daughter-in-law. He said he had a special wedding present for her, something that had been in the family for years
a diamond clip.
a dime and clip.
Funny things happen on April Fool's Day!
Marty Bagley Halverson’s MOM story
My biggest fear as a little girl was that I'd die before I had kids—I could hardly wait to be a mom. My dream came true July 11, 1970.
Gabi was whisked away to an incubator right after she was born (breach) and I didn't get to see her until she was four hours old. When the nurse’s wheeled six infants into the hospital ward (babies stayed in the nursery in those days) mine was the only one crying. The other five mothers were skilled at cuddling and nursing, and I imagined their criticism as I tried to quiet my newborn's wails. It was stressful, feeding did not go well, and I was exhausted and relieved when they took her away.
Nowadays new moms jump out of bed and go home hours after delivery, but forty-seven years ago we were wimps. We stayed in the hospital three or four days, and a nurse had to walk us to the bathroom or the sitzbath down the hall. Every four hours they brought my hysterical child; I began to dread it. Motherhood was much harder than I'd imagined. Then we had to go home.
On my own, I panicked. I wondered why anyone thought I could be left alone with a baby—I didn't know what to do! Wasn't inexperience a form of child abuse? Gabi cried all the time and so did I. When she was a week old I realized I'd never even said a prayer to be thankful for her, and (I'll admit it now) I wasn't sure I was. The whole thing was so overwhelming, so demanding and so constant.
When I told this story to a friend years later, she asked, "How old were you?" "Twenty," I said. "No wonder," she said. "I felt the same way and I was almost thirty." She went on, "I should have waited a few more years. I just wasn't ready."
I'm so glad I didn't wait until I was ready! How would I get ready anyway? It would be like taking swimming lessons without any water: treading water was just a concept until the day I was in the pool and couldn't touch the bottom. Panic was my first reaction, and I floundered and went under. But then I came back up and discovered I could stay afloat. I learned to relax, and little by little the constant movement of my arms and legs felt natural and routine. That's how motherhood happened for me, too. I needed to be in the experience.
Even as it was happening, I could see that Gabi was teaching me how to be a mother. Now, in retrospect, I am convinced that's the way it was meant to happen. If I'd waited until I was ready, I'd still be waiting. Happily, it didn't occur to me to wait for anybody, in fact I could hardly wait for them to arrive. They were already my life's work.
I chose motherhood as my career. It was never something I fit in around the edges of my life—it was my life. Like with any career, my early days on the job were daunting, and I wondered if I could really do it. Like with any career, there were times when I felt overworked and undervalued. I got tired of the uniform, the cafeteria and the people I worked with. Who doesn't? But thirty years later I retired with competence, experience and full benefits.
My life now is full of benefits—I have fun times with 38 kids and grandkids, and appreciate their love and encouragement more than ever before. Dee supported my career choice, worked hard to make it possible and buoyed me up in sinking moments.
This is what I believe: I believe I knew this group in heaven before I was born and had to leave them behind when I came to earth. The yearning I felt to be a mom was because I missed being with them, so I was compelled to get them all here as fast as I could. In that respect, I was totally ready.
I'm offering a prayer of thanksgiving now. I'm so thankful to be a mother!
Forty-eight years ago we started an experiment in happiness. A family is the perfect laboratory for testing philosophies on religion, education, health, relationships, finances . . . actually every philosophy is tested in a family. Living right in the Mother 'hood, I could observe, analyze and evaluate what creates joy.
My first discovery: being married is much more than getting married. There were lots of crazy ideas about love floating around in 1969. "Love means never having to say you're sorry" turned out to be a bad one. I thought love meant being patient with Dee until he realized I was right. That wasn't any good either. My experiment in happiness has taught me about marriage.
I think sex keeps a newly married couple in a state of frenzy long enough for them to start developing some relationship skills (communication, empathy, understanding, and patience) to add to the romance of it all. It takes some humility to realize you need those qualities, and some effort to gain them.
With practice, good relationship skills can mature into dependability, responsibility, trust and commitment; eventually the goal is charity, or pure love. The miracle is not falling in love, it's staying in love. Like Neil Diamond sings, "Love is not about you, it's not about me. Love is all about we."
Psychiatrists, therapists, ministers, teachers—think of all the experts who are trying to figure out marriage. A blessing of my happiness project is that I have studied it in depth and I'm beginning to get it.
Kids were the natural result of the frenzied years. We wanted them, but we weren't sure why. They turned out to be a combination of adorable, frustrating, entertaining, challenging and always there. That was the hardest part of living in the 'hood: the constancy. Love took on a whole new dimension, with no place to hide from anxiety, worry and stress. Crisis management and split-second decisions became daily events. There was no escaping it, so I learned to cope.
Again, think of all the seminars, discussion groups and drills designed to prepare folks to deal with emergencies. I gained those skills on the job. I can think fast, multi-task, create calm from chaos, and take charge. It's a blessing to know I would be a leader in difficult circumstances.
The blessing I cherish most is the relationship with our kids. Besides loving them, I like them. They're funny, smart, kind, caring, helpful, creative . . . they're my best friends.
People ask what we did to raise such a great group. I always answer that they came good. But there was some work involved: I read a zillion books on kids and tried all the trendy theories.
In the end, though, we subscribed to the best child-raising philosophy around.
The scriptures say:
"And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness."
Nephi 5:27 (Book of Mormon)
So we looked into it. King Benjamin's advice became our standard:
"And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they fight and quarrel one with another . . . But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another."
Our other motto was:
"And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord."
—Doctrine and Covenants 68:28
I've had a lifelong Happiness Project.
And, I have to say, it's worked.
Got the job ... got the dress ... got the shoes ... got the boss.
He was my dad. I'm sure I was hired mainly to give my mother a break. I was 13, and I was dang good at it: I argued, I burst into tears, I swore, I slammed my bedroom door. It was time for Dad to take over and teach me what life was all about.
On the first day of summer, at 8:15 am, we were out the door. Dad had fixed me his standard breakfast— an eggnog. He poured milk and orange juice into the blender, added a little sugar, vanilla, a couple of raw eggs and some ice, and whipped it into a froth that was delicious. (Years later Orange Julius became famous for the same concoction.)
My hair was still wet; I put it up in curlers and hung my head out the window as we drove downtown so it would be dry and poufy. Using the rear-view mirror, I lined my eyes with a black pencil, fluffed on some turquoise eyeshadow and perfected my pout with white, frosty lipstick. I had to look professional.
Dad was an optometrist. He had an office and appointments, with real patients paying good money for glasses and contact lenses. It took several weeks for that to sink in. Although my job was to dust the frame display cases, change the toilet paper roll and straighten the magazines in the waiting room, I was usually on line 3, chatting with Sherrie.
Apparently my boss found that inappropriate. We had a few discussions about it in the back room. There was no Human Resource Department where either of us could lodge our complaints, so in the end he gave me a written job description that hung on the bathroom door. Soon I got into the morning routine of emptying the waste baskets, and cleaning the toilet. Dad taught me how to vacuum (the wheel follows the inside path of the last vacuum track so there aren't small areas that never get cleaned. And did you know it's supposed to take two hours to thoroughly vacuum an office?)
Running errands was the duty I enjoyed most. My white-soled nurse's shoes skipped along the sparkly, granite sidewalk as I ran to the bank, the post-office, the pharmacy and the laundry. Twice a day I went up the street to the Stock Exchange where there was a soft-drink machine that sold little green bottles of icy-cold Coca Cola. I would love to visit a summer afternoon when we took a break, chugged our cokes and chatted like friends, while Dad laughed and teased, and taught me.
Gradually I got promotions. I learned to file, answer the phone, make appointments, write checks and balance the check book. Oh, there were still days when the boss caught me reading Ingenue or painting my nails. (Why hasn't someone invented odorless fingernail polish?) When he left early, the vacuum tracks were very far apart and the task took me less than five minutes. But I kept my job for several years. I even got regular raises.
Isn't that just like a dad? He paid me to learn what only he could teach. I thought I'd learned it all, so I grew up. Over the years, as I spouted all my wisdom and inspiration to my own kids, I vaguely recognized my expressions. They were the same ones I'd heard my boss use all those summers ago.
Vacuuming, organizing, balancing a check book and chugging a coke were important life skills to acquire. I also learned to laugh, hope, love and work from my first boss. He's been gone for eighteen years, but those lessons and memories are forever in my heart.
My father had a great deal of trouble with me. But I think he enjoyed it.
---paraphrased from Mark Twain
Back in the day when babies chose their own birthday, the doctor told my mom to expect me August 9th. I waited for September. For 68 years now I’ve been waiting for September. It’s the quintessential month. Even more than January for me, it’s a time to begin again. Maybe it’s because that’s when I first began. I love September!
September has a personality; still colorful, it’s muted. No longer lime, aquamarine, firecracker red, the world looks loden, navy and crimson. Autumn moves us from glaring to glowing, a bit of subtlety that’s calming. The air is even different, like a luxurious perfume after the vibrant top notes have worn off, and there’s a deeper, richer fragrance to revel in.
Being a September child has influenced me. There are only 30 days in September and I always need 31. I plan and organize my schedule to the nth degree; I use every second right up until the last second, and then realize I’ve overdone it, so I’m almost always late. Not too late: just enough that I tumble in a minute or two after things are under way, embarrassed to look slapdash when I was so structured an hour before.
School starts for me every September. After high school I went to BYU for a couple of years before I decided on a full-time career as an Intentional Mother. (That’s my own name for myself, rather than Just a Mother. It was 1970, and I often had to defend my choice to stay home and have babies.) Before my first baby was born I read a book called How to Give Your Child a Superior Mind. (I just looked and it’s on Amazon for $299.99!) I created a curriculum and when Gabi was two months old I was deep into home-schooling. I tied helium balloons to her feet so she’d watch them as she kicked, I blew colored bubbles on the floor to guide where she crawled, we finger painted with pudding and I talked to her in rhyme. She was born with a superior mind, but these exercises taught me a ton about how babies develop. Without realizing it, I’d started a self-education program, studying parenting, child psychology, early childhood education ... I listed topics I wanted to explore in my journal, and consistently acquired information. Over the years I studied a lot of history and geography; I’ve got five bookshelves dedicated to books on writing! I retired from full-time motherhood after thirty-one years in 2001, and for the first time my year didn’t start in September and end in May. But I followed the habits of a lifetime, and every August I still list subjects I want to study, and outline assignments for myself. Right now I’m focused on ukulele, photo editing, teaching skills and religion. In September I love to jump-start learning.
My climate, like September, is mostly mild. I can get heated and very occasionally frosty, but my temperature is usually warm, sunny and comfortable. My temperament is fairly consistent and tranquil. Because September and remember sit together in my vocabulary list, I’m scrupulously sentimental. Saving memories for my old age has been a lifelong hobby and I love rummaging through the drawers of my mind and reframing pictures of people and places. Sifting through things I learned back then and inserting them into the outline of things I’m learning now is my ideal study guide.
Yes, I love to remember Septembers. I got married in September, had two of my babies in September, three precious grandkids were born in September. It’s a month of joy, and happily here we are again! All year I wait for September!
Marty and Dee Halverson’s homework assignment today.
I loved his reply.
Can you describe what it means to be living in America? This story can be a past or present story but one that represents the different stories/perspectives of people living in America.
If you can't do an Audio recording my teacher will probably be alright.
Thanks for the opportunity to help with your school project. When I read the topic of what it means to live in America, four distinct thoughts came to mind.
1) I pictured my ancestors leaving their Danish and British homelands to come to America to enjoy more freedom. I know that they must have been inspired by the poetic words of Emma Lazarus written on the base of the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming short. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
I admire the courage and determination of these forefathers who sacrificed much to make freedom more available to their posterity.
2) When I was 19 years old, I traveled to Germany where I lived for two years. It had only been twenty years since the end of World War II, and the German people were still struggling to recover from the massive devastation that war had brought upon them. As I talked to the people, I was amazed at the terrible cost they suffered under the totalitarian Nazi dictatorship. I soon realized what it was like for them to live without any personal freedom. It made me appreciate the freedoms that I had taken for granted as an American.
Freedom to vote in free elections, choose from among many education options, and choose my own career-path took on a whole new meaning to me.
3) As a college student living in Europe, I had an opportunity to visit the Communist country of Hungary. During my stay I experienced the propaganda and pageantry of their May Day parade. This was their most attended celebration, since the government dictated that everyone in the city of Budapest would attend to show the world how happy and prosperous they were under the Communist dictatorship.
After the parade was over we met with a group of Hungarian students, who explained to us in perfect English the merits of Marx and Lenin. As we got to know them a little more, they were dying to know about the freedoms of expression, music, and clothing style they had heard about in the West.
I was impressed that these students were just like me in so many ways in terms of their hopes and dreams for the future. Sadly, they lived in a totalitarian state where their choices were extremely limited, and where their own personal freedoms were non-existent.
4) Years later, when living with my wife and seven children in England, I experienced at first-hand another culture with limited freedoms. I was surprised at the British system of education which dictates that all students must pass certain exams at the age of 14 in order to move on to higher education. These test scores determined whether a student would go on to college, attend trade school, or take an apprenticeship in the labor force.
I then realized how fortunate I was, despite my mental readiness at age 14, to have opportunities to get as much education as I wanted. The freedom to choose my own career path was a great lesson that I do not take for granted.
Jake, is it any wonder that even today waves of immigrants want to come to America to enjoy these freedoms? We are a nation of immigrants and are strengthened by their own courage and determination.
Watching the stars come out on my porch tonight
I found myself in a favorite memory
Marty Bagley Halverson
"Sing The Teddy Bear Song!" we coaxed Dad and Uncle Mel.
It was a warm summer night, and the moon was out. I was about nine, lazing on one of grama's quilts with all my little cousins around me, looking up at the stars, while Aunt Ree strummed her ukulele, and the moths buzzed around the porch light. Family picnics always ended this way.
Grampa's fresh peaches had been cranked into ice-cream. In the cellar under the back porch, the freezer with the rock salt and ice were covered with newspapers and left to finish the process. Corn-on-the-cob dripped with butter, cucumbers brined in vinegar, and sweet onions scented the air. Raspberries were eaten right off the bushes, and very sour, green apples begged for salt.
There was a big brick stove at the back of the yard where hamburgers sizzled, waiting to be dressed with homegrown tomatoes. Watermelon rind pickles, and chili sauce were on the table along with an empty dish of olives. We kids scampered around the yard, with a black olive stuck on every finger. We almost fell into the goldfish pond, hid behind the hollyhock bushes, and rolled down the sloping lawn, while our moms hustled the food outside and in, and our dads re-hashed the ballgame. Almost heaven.
The best part was after it started to get dark. Grama and Grampa harmonized as they sang Shine on Harvest Moon, and we all joined in on Are You From Dixie (for some reason I thought I was from Dixie when we sang that song!) Our sing-a-long was a crazy variety, including Little Grass Shack, Edelweiss, When the Saints Go Marching In, and Bill Groggan's Goat.
The favorites, however, were totally ours. My dad and his brother used to combine lines from lots of songs and create medleys. The Teddy-Bear Song started out with "Honey won't you look into your baby's eyes..." rolled into "Sweet Adeline was singing down in Dixieland..."
and somewhere in the middle ran into this ditty:
"Well, I had a little teddy bear that had no tail,
Just a little patch of hair.
The sun came out and burnt the hair away,
And left the little teddy bear."
"Mister Mo-on, bright and shiny moon,
Please shine down on,
Talk about your shinin',
Please shine down on me."
Babies and toddlers fell asleep as we crooned to that moon. As the oldest grandchild I prided myself on staying awake 'til the very last song. I even knew all the words.
Nothing calms my soul like counting blessings under the stars on a summer night.
Marty Bagley Halverson
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth ...
... I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Marty Bagley Halverson
There are different kinds of Road Trips.
Sometimes a person is the road we take: a bundled baby, a challenged child, a sick spouse, a depressed boss, a lonely grandma. We reach the end of that road as a different traveler, with more refined character traits. We've discovered varying caches of patience, tolerance, and kindness hidden along the roadside, inhaled huge breaths of dependability and consistency. That road leads to new roads, with opportunities to use our new skills.
Other times we trek along unfamiliar roads with strangers who become beloved friends as we discover the way together. We trip over stones, sweat up steep hills, ache 'til we cry, laugh 'til we ache. We share stories 'til we can tell each other’s stories with creative new twists! Generous expressions of trust, love and encouragement make a difference in our capacities. The journey is more valuable than the destination.
Once in a while we get the chance to travel a road with the noble intention of actually making a difference to the people we meet. Usually this starts as a solo journey, with a promise that God will chart the course, and place people in the path to influence you, or be influenced by you, in positive, uplifting and lasting ways.
I watched Jake today as we pulled into his Road to Make a Difference. His smile spread from his forehead to the dimple by his eye, across his cheeks, adding sparkle to his baby blues, a newly perfected smile seemed to stretch ear to ear. He leaped from the car, heaved his giant suitcases to the ground. He took no time to ponder his direction: that had been decided long ago. He was ready to get ready to make a difference. A quick hug for the Opi's and he was already in the yellow wood, stepping onto his road.
Traffic patterns around here are changing, I can get lost on a round-about, and disoriented by lane lines. Roads are diverging and directions seem confusing. It's time to decide where I want to end up, look down a road as far as I can, and see if it will take me to where I want to go. Then I'll try to make the best choice. That will make all the difference.
Marty Bagley Halverson
is with Dee Halverson.
Not the photo I want to post! I wish it was a picture of us on a train to Brienz or Getreidegasse in Salzburg. Those are memories I'm so grateful we have tucked away in our hearts. I'll always remember hearing a Prophet of God counsel us to make good memories because there would come a time we would live on those memories. The time has come for us.
Dee is in the Neurology Critical Care Unit of U of U Hospital right now, while wonderful doctors study his body to see why a crippling paralysis is robbing him of strength. His legs have been weakening, his balance is compromised, and now his arms and neck have been effected. The past few weeks he has had intense physical therapy, but in spite of that, he has gone from a cane, to a walker, to a wheelchair, to a hospital bed this summer.
We're experiencing many emotions: increased love for each other; appreciation and gratitude for our seven devoted kids and their families; love and dependence on extended family and dear, dear friends. Grief reminds us that many wonderful times will never happen again, but there's anticipation for unexpected new
Challenges. In the Bible, Caleb, age 85, was given the challenge to fight in a land inhabited by giants. His response was "Give me this mountain!" (Joshua 14:12) I like that attitude. I want to exhibit that courage.
Early in our courtship 49 years ago, we found that if we allowed God to be part of our friendship and then our marriage, there was a power we could not achieve as just a couple. We are so blessed to know that we are not going through this alone, that the Savior will literally save us from ultimate despair, that He will remind us of our temple covenants and the promises of an eternal family, that He will temper the forces that otherwise would knock us down.
I may not be able to respond quickly and graciously to your expressions of kindness, but they are so precious to us. I feel like we are nestled in a cocoon of love. But now, I have a mountain ahead of me!
Wells Dee Halverson, a true baby boomer, was born in Provo, Utah on October 5, 1946. He died in Salt Lake City at the age of 71 on August 2, 2018.
Dee lived a Tom Sawyer-like childhood filled with adventures. With hard work, Dee became a renaissance man. Dee was an LDS missionary in post-war Germany. It was there that he fell in love with the European culture. He received degrees in German and History, graduating from BYU. Dee met the love of his life, Martha Ann (Bagley) "Marty", on a semester abroad in Salzburg, Austria. Dee and Marty were instantly inseparable and together they changed the definition of "happily married". In short order, they raised seven children, traveled the world, and read a library of books.
After a brief career in real estate, Dee moved his wife and seven children to York, England to study Historic Preservation at York University. Dee then began his life's work in history. He authored 78 books and biographies. He had encyclopedic knowledge of world events. He would become engrossed in the details of his subject matter and would routinely retell these stories as if he was a participant.
Dee was an active member of the LDS Church. His favorite calling was as a Sunday school teacher where he brought the scriptures to life.
Dee was one of a kind. He collected books, coins, stamps, guns and his children's baby teeth! Each year, he awarded a friend with the "George Bailey Award" which was inspired by his favorite film, "It's a Wonderful Life." Winners demonstrated unique friendship during the past year. Dee loved this film and lived a truly wonderful life.
He battled health issues bravely his whole life. He knew he was living on borrowed time and lived his life accordingly.
Dee is survived by his wife Marty, his children Gabriele (Brad Larson), Joshua (Christie), Micah (Candice), Amy (Scott Robinson), Heidi (Jacque Ballou), Peter (Anna) and Marta (Dan Dansie), 24 grandchildren, his sister Sharon (Lehmburg) and his brother Michael.
love Dee Halverson. He was imperfect enough to make him lovable and perfect enough to make him livable. We had the normal ups and downs, but we laughed a lot and we had fun. "How sweet it is to love someone ... and all the memories we share." I am so grateful he is mine.