|Grandma Sarah Sariah Grandpa Jack Smith|
Old Farm Memories of the Past
By William Rowe Smith
For several days a gnawing urge haunted my mind to visit the “Old Farm” and the area where is spent my youth. Old Farm is located in the north-east corner of Utah’s Uinta basin. Duchesne is the County Seat, Roosevelt is the largest town, Myton is where Grandpa Yokum and the four boys fount the whisky still in my story “The Old West Never Dies. The farm is twelve miles upriver from Myton. The graves of my parents and a brother are in the Roosevelt cemetery. The graves of my two sisters are in a tiny cemetery four miles up road from the old farm.Last Friday our eldest son, Steve, and I drove through Daniels Canyon on the way to the Old Farm. Twenty five years have passed since I used to drive Daniel’s Canyon weekly, to inspect my schools under construction. It’s a darn lot longer than that, since I left the Old Farm.
We left Salt Lake just as the morning sun was starting to warm the valley. It was a quarter to nine when we entered Daniel’s Canyon. Sunbeams were dancing off the mountain to our west, ticking the bright yellow autumn leaves of the Aspin. A slight breeze though to sparkling leaves tinkled them like chimes. Leaves of Cadmium Yellow blended into Ochre then Orange as the sun rays accentuated the red leaves of the Scrub Oak. I closed my eyes tight to register and frame that beautiful autumn scene in my mind. The God of my heart is female, her name is Mother Nature. Heaven is right here this morning.
We turned off the highway, down into Tabby Valley, where years ago I hunted deer, and where I put my gun away, never to hunt again. On that hunt, my seven-year-old son and a friend walked into a large patch of willows by a small trickling stream. From across the valley I heard someone yell, “There’s a deer in there I saw it move.” A rifle shot echoed like thunder wall to wall as the sound raced up the canyon.
I screamed. “There are people in there.” Two more shot rang out from across the valley, then a third. The third came from my rifle, as the bullet ricocheted off a rock and whined through the air. It got the attention of the idiots. Our boys came running out of the willows. That was my last deer hunt and the last gun I ever fired.
This memory faded as we approached the farm where my Abplanalp grandparents spent more than half their life. Nothing was there, no log cabin so precious in my memory bank, no corals, just nothing. The fields were there, but not a think to tweak my memory.
From there we stopped in Duchesne and spent an enjoyable hour visiting mu Aunt Helen. Her husband my Uncle Tom is gone now and the last ten children. On, down the river, to “Old Farm”. On the way we stopped for a time at the cemetery where my sisters, Deon who died at the age of seven, and one year old Barbara are buried. A small stone nearby marked the grave of my Uncle Lynn. As we drove down the road I could see Old Farm across the large reservoir of water. My God, I thought, what has happened to the beautiful row of giant cottonwood trees along the ditch bank, in front of the house. I remember they reached the sky. And the great willow tree that I recall as the largest, most beautiful tree in the whole world. So many years have passed since I swung in the tire swing of that old willow tree. Where has it gone?
I was driving at the time. As we circled the reservoir and started down the narrow dirt tracks atop the dike there was a heavy feeling of emptiness in my heart. I kept going slower and slower not realizing what I was doing until the car the car chugged and stalled. We sat there for a few moments. I could not believe what I was seeing. Steven had not said a word, he started to say something and choked back his words. So many years have passed for me; Steven was recalling even more years since he had spent many summers with Grandpa and Grandma Smith on Old Farm. (Jack and Sara Sariah)
|William and Barbara Abplanap|
I had forgotten about the old farmhouse burning down years ago. An ugly stucco box like thing has the audacity to occupy the very spot, where the simple frame farmhouse, held us in its arms. The old granary is still there, leaning like it was ready to give up and collapse. It’s the only thing from Old Farm. No corrals, nothing but dead limbs and stumps of the once handsome cottonwoods. The orchard that fed us well, for many years, is now only dead stumps and dry limbs reaching out like praying for rain. The final shock was the willow tree reaching out with a thousand bony arms begging me to remember how I loved and cherished the cool shade I would lie under, after a hard day’s work in the hot sun. We did not wander around the fields as I had intended. I was not even sad or disappointed. My emotions were as empty as the as the alkali flat where our haystack and corrals once stood. Come back again to the Old Farm? No way, never again! It lives now, only in memory.
From Old Farm we drove twelve miles downriver to Myton. Grandpa Yokum is long gone as the old bank where he and the boys discovered the whisky still.
On to Roosevelt, we stopped at the cemetery and stood a while at my parents, and brother’s graves. Fresh again in my mind was the February day I stood at the flower covered grave of my mother. I thought again, as I thought before, those dry bones in the vault below are only the worldly vehicle that carried those beautiful souls as they treaded down the path of life. One day, as it is with everyone, my footprints in the dust of that path will slowly fade and end.
We had lunch in Roosevelt and then drove the back road to the mountains to Altamont. My niece and husband have an Elk hunting lodge there, called “LC Ranch. A crew there was filming a so-called “Hunt” for a television show that will air next June. Steve and I were driven along a six and a half fence that encloses fifteen hundred acres of Cedar trees where the elk run, to see and hear all about the operation. It is a serious business but I have to say that with a bit of tongue in cheek. Well-healed hunters they call “Shooters” pay up to twenty nine thousand dollars for the chance to shoot one of those beautiful Bull Elk.
That evening we were invited to have dinner with the film crew. The crew; an elk ranch promoter, a camera man, a “shooter” who shot with a muzzle loading gun and two “shooters” introduced as an attorney and wife from Texas. The camera man hooked the camera to a television set and showed us two kills he filmed that day. Once upon a time I hunted deer and on occasion elk. I never even saw an elk, during two long days of tramping through the brush, “Hunting”. The film left me sorry for the elk that trusted the people who raised and fed them. They stood broadside on the horizon looking down at those strange people in fatigue clothes, lying prone on stomachs, resting their great powerful guns across a flat rock. BANG!!
Next morning we returned to Salt Lake. Really, no Old Farm memories occupying our minds, our minds were filled with the beautiful trusting Elk and the “BANG” still fresh, still haunting.