JAMES CLARENCE (J.C.) NIELSON
(and Jens and Mary Halvorsen Peterson)
written by J.C. NIELSON,
typed by his granddaughter, JAN.,
|Grandma Mary Peterson, LaRea, J.C., Elda|
Fathers education consisted of six weeks of schooling. He was a great reader, and said he learned reading from the Desert News. He was also quite a mathematician of those days. Mother went to school three years and became a school teacher. How long she taught , I do not know. This is a short introduction of my father and mother. From here on I will I will tell you some things of their lives as I remember them as they were told to us.
They took over running the Fountain Green Co-op store. When they had run it two years, they found themselves in debt $40. That was a lot of money in those days and they had one awful time getting that $40 paid.
They moved over to Huntington, Utah. Their first home was a hole in the side of a deep wash. Their granary was a wagon box in this hole. A flood ran them out. They built a log cabin with two rooms. Their bedroom was in the attic. The entrance was a pole ladder that went to a small door in the end of the gables. When Father and I went down there to put a stone on Katherine's grave, that being the year of 1923, he took me to their old home. His remark was, "There has not been a pole on the fence or anything changed since we lived there forty years ago." There is a garage on the premises now where the old house stood. The first year that they lived in Huntington, Mother said they lived on boiled wheat and venison. There were a great number of deer in the mountains. When they would get short of meat, they would take the wagon, go into the hills and kill several deer and bring them to town and butcher them. Mother said she had to feed the men five times a day. Uncle Pete wasn't married then, but was farming with Father and helping and trying to get a start for himself.
I'll have to go back a ways because I forgot to tell you that Father was one of the first county commissioners down in Emery County.
Uncle Ras Beck, that's Mother's brother, he lived in Colorado, the San Luis Valley. He wrote and told the folks how much grain he had harvested that fall, and it was more than the whole town of Huntington had produced. So father and a man named Sanford pulled stakes and started for Colorado. Mother had to drive the team, and Father drove the stock. When they got out to just this side of the Colorado River, just as your entering that little wide spot where they turn-off to go to the Arches Monument, their road came to an abrupt end. They were on a cliff, and it was very steep down. So, they took the horses down, but they had to take all of there provisions and wagons and let them down over the side of the cliff, The wagons were taken apart so they could let over the cliff by a rope, there being a post set in the rocky flat where there being a post set in the rocky flat where the wagon was. The trail from there down was or is to this day visible, only wide enough for one horse. In 1936 I was working on A job out in that area, so I did a little research work, so I found some of those old timers out there where this was. So I stopped one day and examined it, and that post was still standing there with rope burns on it embedded down into the post three quarters of an inch showing how many things had been let over this cliff. The new road has cut into this cliff now until the post is gone and that old land mark is almost done away with. From there on they went down to the Colorado River. The Colorado River is floating quick sand all the time. They had to keep testing it to see if the stock could go over it. They stayed there until they found the quicksand was cleared away, so they drove across the river and started towards Colorado. They traveled a full day, When night time came. No water so they had to take the stock back to water them. Mother was there alone with the children, and a cougar was up on the hillside letting out screams. She had never handled a gun in her life, so she picked up the gun and got up in the wagon, sat on the spring seat got the children with her and had this gun across her knees when Father got back with the stock. Being a courageous woman as Mother was, I believe she would have used the gun on that cougar if he had come near.
Father used to torment Mother about Mexicans starting to talk to her in Spanish. Mother had black hair, and she was sunburned to beat the band. This Mexican started to talk to her in Spanish. She shook her head and said, "I don't understand you." Father used to kid her about the Mexican saying, "Ah, you can'ta foola me. You a Mexican. So am I."
They first located in Richfield, that's were Sadie was born. Then they moved to Sanford. His main mission was to locate another town. The town of Ephraim was breaking up, so he and Sanford located this town of Sanford, Colorado. "Father surveyed all the ditches that came into Sanford. The instrument that he used was a board which he had made a groove in. He would set that up on the ground and get it as level as he could, and then he would pour water in the groove, keep adjusting it until the groove would fill with water, and then he would lay a couple of sticks across the top of this board and site over them and do the surveying that way.
|LeRoy, Elda, Mary|
My earliest recollection was the family pictures. I was about five years old. We spent quite a little time getting everybody all dressed up, looking fine. We had to walk up four blocks in the middle of the town,, and this photographer was a traveling photographer. He had a big tent pitched in the public square. The whole family was on that picture with the exception of Earnest. He was not born yet. And of course Katie. Marcellus was in baby clothes. As I remember it, that was the first suit of clothes that I ever had, and was I a proud little boy.
"I can't remember every having toys like the boys have today. We would get willows and make sticks about three feet long and call them stick horses. We would run races with those stick horses, and oh, were we happy having fun with those sticks. We spent many an hour racing and maneuvering, handling those sticks in one hand and running like furry. And then we would play hockey, but we would use tin cans for the puck and any stick we could pick up for the club. We'd choose up sides, and we would play hard and have the great time of our lives. Those were the things that made life worth while. We had to produce our own play things, produce our own games, and it developed us very much I think.
Our Easter day, we would hide eggs. We'd gather eggs and hide them around the barn and the place, and if I could find somebody's eggs, I would steal them and hide them someplace else. We would try to see who could bring in the most eggs on Easter Morn. That lasted just about one week before Easter Sunday. Then we would have our colored eggs and our Easter Day.
Another game we used to play quite a bit was baseball. Now we didn't have bought bats. Sometimes we didn't even have a mask for the catcher, so we would save our nickels and dimes and finally we bought one. Then we would make our bats from a piece of round pole, and our balls were made from yarn. We would wind them just as tight as we could. Then we got quite expert at putting covers on them. We would sew leather covers and put on these baseballs. Then we would play in the street. We didn't have coaches like they have today. Nobody had the time. They were to busy trying to feed their families, but we children had an awfully lot of fun playing baseball. Later, as we got a little older, we would go to Manassa and La Jara and Richfield and play the teams from over there. During this time, I got to be what we thought was a pretty good picture, and I pitched a good many games in the neighboring towns and at home. In Manassa one time, we were playing and Jack Dempsey, the great fighter of all time, was up to bat. I miss-threw the ball and made him dodge it. He threw his bat down and said, "Don't you dare do that again." I deliberately threw the ball at him. He came out to meet me, and I went in to meet him. Before we got together, there were some grown people there who stopped us. There were no licks struck. So, I knew Jack as a boy. It seemed that he would rather fight than eat. He loved to fight. That is one reason, I guess, that he became a world champion.
Then on holiday, a fellow by the name of Walt Gilling would put up a lemonade stand. That's about the only stand we had. We had two stores in town. They'd sell candy and nuts. We'd have games and races and what not. Oh, we just had a great time. then on the 24th of July we usually had a sham battle. They'd have an immigrant train come in from some direction into the center of town, the public square, and make a circle and the Indians would attack. Well, when I was a boy, it scared me every time I went to the 24th celebration. Later, as I got older, I participated in these as an Indian. We sure had a lot of fun in those. And you know, the people from all over the valley would come and see that sham battle. It was something great, and to this day, the 24th of July is called "Mormon Day" out there in the San Luis Valley. Sanford puts it on one day, and Manassa the next day. You can hardly get standing room in those little towns to see what's going on because they just turn themselves loose. Everybody helps put it on.
What I started to tell you was the money we had for our holidays. Many a 4th and 24th I got 25 cents. That had to do me. My folks just didn't have any money. Money was scarce in those days. There wasn't any circulating around, but we worked hard. Father always kept meat on hand, flour on hand, and we had milk. We never went hungry. But there was no money to spend.
Our programs on these holidays were held in what we called the Old Bowery. It consisted of some poles set in the ground, some more poles slung across and then some willows cut and put on top for a shade. The Church hadn't been finished yet, so we'd get in this Bowery and get what we thought was an awfully good program. I remember one song that was sung. A fellow by the name of Steve Taylor composed it. I don't remember who sung it, but it went something like this; I can only remember part of it. "A is for Anthon Nielson, the school trustee, B is for Bishop Bertelson, as big as can be, C is for Chris Block," That's all I can remember.
The San Luis Valley has an elevation of about 7500 feet, and it is very cold, and we had very good skating. That was our Winter recreation in those days. We had a pond right close to Sanford. We'd go down there and build us a fire and skate in the evening. Sometimes we'd have a hay rack ride, and we'd go down on the river bed. It was a couple of miles from town. And we'd flood a piece of ground. The farmers didn't care. We'd just flood that ground. We'd wear out that out and then go flood another piece. We got so we were pretty good skaters. We played pom-pom-pull-away and all kinds of games, and we had a lot of fun. Now my brother Melvin, was about the best skater we had out there. He never took his feet of the ice. He just weaved his body. Sometimes he would be the last man caught, and it would take the whole bunch of us to get him because he'd just dodge all around us. I once saw him out run a horse on the bank.
Everybody in this part of the valley were farmers or cattlemen or sheepmen. There was no industry, not even a dairy. We had to milk our own cows. We couldn't sell any. The only thing we could sell was to make it into butter. We would get 15 cents a pound for the butter. Nearly everybody had chickens and eggs. We'd buy those eggs. They'd get 10 cents a dozen for those eggs at that time. We were happy, just as happy as we could be. But I don't want those times to come back. When we children would get about eight years old, Father would start us working. Our first job was to help shock hay. Now to shook hay, it is mowed into a swath. Then the rake comes along and rakes it up. Then it dumps it and makes wind rows. Then we would come along with our pitch fork and put five of these swaths in one pile, and we'd call it a shock of hay. Then when we got ready to haul the hay, we would line them up so we could drive down between them, and we could load up very readily. It was all done in a systematic manner. That was the way we usually started to work. Then our next job would be to rake hay. We had what we called a self dump. We just touched a lever, and it would dump the hay out from the rake, and then it would come down and you'd go on and you'd rake some more. (The rake lifted the hay from the wagon to the stack or barn)
That was quite an industry at that time. We put up stacks and stacks of hay every Summer. It seemed to me like we worked at it all Summer long. We had a number of acres of our own hay. Then we went out on a ranch and put up hay on shares. We had about a hundred acres of Lucerne on this ranch that we put up on shares, and then a couple of hundred of wild hay that we put up on shares. I don't know what shares we got, but anyway, it was a way of making a living in those days. We'd have to camp away from home for a whole week.
As I got older, I got playing ball with the Sanford baseball team. By this time , I had a pony. I'll tell you about that pony later on. Father would tell me about 11 o'clock on a Saturday, "Well, you get to Sanford and help play that game."
About this time in my life, I went up in the mountains with my father to look after the cattle. We had to ride fence. It took us one day on one half of it and another day on the other half of the fence. Father was cutting a load of poles, and I was riding the fence. I got half way around and was coming to camp. I was coming down a draw and there was a service berry bush leaning over the trail. So, I leaned sideways on my horse to keep from being brushed pretty heavily, and as I raised up, there stood a black bear on his hind legs eating service berries. The horse turned and ran back. If he turned the other way I couldn't have stayed on, but he turned the way I was leaning. When I got down where Father was, I told him about it. He got his gun, and we went up there and looked over the situation. I don't know which tore up the ground the worst, the bear or the horse. I know we both got out of there in a great hurry. That is the closest I've ever had with a bear, getting with in a few feet of him. I have seen several in the hills, but that's the closest one I ever ran into.
My schooling wasn't very good. I'm not happy with what I had. My first teacher was an eighth grade student. I never got any phonics. I was quite a reader at the time, but I don't think I got to much out of it. We had to memorize the words, not by phonics. I did all right for the first few years and got into the fourth grade. Then I was kept out of school at intervals in the fall until work was practically done, then taken out early in the Spring. I didn't get out of the fourth grade for quite some time. I think it was three years. Then the Church started an academy. I went through the sixth and seventh grades that Spring. The next year I went to the academy again, and passed the eighth grade. Then I went one more year. I got very good grades in the first year of high school, but for the life of me, I don't see how I could have gotten very good grades in history and English, but I got them anyway.
During the year that I went to the eighth grade, we organized a basket ball team in the school. There were five of us that made it. There was Melvin, my brother, myself, Archi Smith, Dice Biniger, and John Brady, and for our substitute we had George Spresterback. We had no indoor field, so we played outdoors most of the time. We played Alamosa school outdoors, and we beat them. So they made a challenge that if we came up and would get on their floor, they would beat the life out of us. We went up and played them on their floor, but during the meantime, while we were getting ready to go, we would have to clean the assembly hall and put the benches away, then get in there and play on the floor. During the game, I was a guard. A smaller forward was playing against me. I went up and took the ball away from the basket. It made him mad, and as I came down, he hit me in the eye. It almost caused a free-for-all. I called for time to get the tears out of my eyes. I saw what was going on, and I motioned our boys back, and I washed my eyes out and went ahead to play. After a few minutes of playing this time, (we had a coach that learned us all kinds of good plays and lots of dirty plays). I started working those dirty plays on him, and he was on the floor the biggest part of the time. Finally he came up and apologized and said, "I'll never tackle you again. Please lets play ball." When we got to the dressing room that night, there were some people from the East that watched it. One of them came in, and said he had never seen team work like we had. We had an old Pittsburgh player that coached us for these games, and we sure appreciated having him. We traveled all over the valley in different places. We played that year and the next year, and we never lost a game, never even came near losing a game. I was very happy to think that I made the team because there were quite a few working for it, and it helped me out when I came to Utah because we started a club in Mapleton, and played there some.
Now I'll go back to my baseball games. At about fifteen years of age, I played with the main team of Sanford. On Saturdays only, about 11 o'clock when we were on the ranch, my father would send me down to play my game. I played with Sanford, I think it was three years. In baseball I was third baseman.
When I turned 20, I went to Denver for the Winter. I wanted to get some experience in the carpenter trade. I'll tell you how I started in that later on. I went to Denver with a fellow by the name of Earl Spencer and lived with him and his wife. I worked there all Winter, and of course being a country boy was quite a rube. The boys that I ran around with didn't bother me much. They helped me out all they could. I worked all Winter, and I learned quite a little bit about the business. Along toward Spring I began getting homesick, so I went back to Sanford, and went to work with Lorin again. Lorin was responsible for me learning the carpentry trade. I shall endeavor to tell you how it happened. It was quite late one Fall, just before I turned 16, and I didn't want to go to school that late. I was complaining. Lorin said, "Why don't you get some manual training?, I'll help you out." He'd been to school and knew what to teach me. Well, he bought me some tools and some lumber. We went and saw Uncle Pete. He had a two room log cabin. He let us use that free gratis, and we put up a stove. I went in there, and I made joints, all different kinds. After awhile Lorin said, "I think it's about time for you to make something." Mother said, "Make a wash stand." Lorin designed it, and I went to work on it, and Orin, my youngest son, has that wash stand up in his basement now. I don't know whether any of the rest of the children want it or not. It isn't the best job, but I was quite proud of it, I'll tell you, when I was 16 years old. I worked with Lorin around there for some time. We built a house or two, a few houses.
I remember one house we were on was down on the Hagard ranch. Ernest was a small boy. He wanted a burro. So, I bought two burros from Mr. Hagard. He wouldn't sell just one of them, so I had to buy two. Two dollars a piece. We bought them and took them up home, and Raymond Kirby bought one of them. Well, Ernest took that burro and trained it. He couldn't ride it with anything but a bridle on it. Father was running a store by this time. He'd ride it over to the store and tie it up with the halter, take the bridle and take it in the store. Kids around town would go to get on that burro, and it'd buck them off. Ernest would come out and put the bridle on him and get on him and ride away. It's funny how you can train a burro. They're a mighty smart animal.
I went to work for a contractor in La Jara, and I got some quite good experience from him. He took quite a liking to me, and he and his wife wanted to go back East. He had his foreman, but he had me run the books and write out checks. (he was not very well educated, but his wife was) When they came back she came, and we went over the books. She said, "You're not a very good bookkeeper, but you kept them so we can tell that you haven't taken any money." That was quite an experience for me.
I went to Antonito to work. I got in a shop with a fellow by the name of Mr. Schupe. During the time that I was working in Antonito, the folks moved here to Utah. That was in 1911. I stayed there because I had a pretty good job. During the time that I was in his shop, we had a sanding machine that didn't gather dust like they do now. It just flew all over the room, and we wore a nose muzzle. That dust got into my nostrils. It was bothering me very much. I went to the doctor, and he told me to get out of there for awhile. I got out of there, and I went back down to Sanford.
A fellow by the name of Bill Spencer was getting ready to go and freight to a reservoir up on the Rio Grande river. So, I went and drove a four-horse team for him freighting cement and reinforcing steel. It took us three days to make the trip, so we made what we called our half way camp. It'd take us two days to go from the camp down to Creed and back. Then It'd take us one day to go from the camp to the reservoir and back. One day we got up, and turned our horses loose. The grass was knee high. It was my turn to go get the horses. Mr. Spencer, at that time was a U.S. Marshall, and he was also a game warden. His pistol was laying on the table, and I asked him if I could take it. He said, "Go ahead." I went around the first little hill. It was quite a high hill, but I wasn't up on it very far. Something jumped out from under a tree. It scared the deer down. The deer came down a trail that went angling up this cliff. I had to step back to keep her from running over me. She had her head back, looking back. As she passed me, I wondered why I didn't shoot her. About that time she dropped dead. I went and dressed it. When I got into camp, Mr. Spencer said, "Where have you been?" I said, "Well the horses were over the second canyon." He said, "Oh." My breakfast was sitting on the table, and I said, "What would you do with a fellow if he killed a deer?" He said, "I'd help him eat it." So we left the horse unharnessed and his boy and I went out and got the deer. That's the first deer I ever killed. I never even knew I shot it. I guess I was to excited.
There was a little stream that we were camped on. We had fish all the time. We'd take a fishing pole with two fly hooks on it, and you'd drop it in this little stream. It was probably six feet across. You'd get one fish on, and then you'd let him pull the other hook around until another one got on. You didn't take them out for one fish. You always got two everytime you took fish off. Maybe that's the reason I don't like fish so well today.
It was while we were in this camp that our last load was to be gotten. We only had one load to get. Mr. Spencer went to Creed after it. His son, Marvin, and I stayed and hunted deer. We didn't have any luck at all. We saw a few, but we never got a deer. During the night we had an awful rainstorm, and our tent was pitched right by a big cliff right next to it. When we woke up in the morning, we had the nicest spring right between our beds that you ever saw. We talked it over and decided that we would have to go down and help Mr. Spencer with that last load because he was going to have trouble with as much rain as there was. It was muddy, and it would be hard pulling for his four head of horses. So, we each took our four head, got our chains and dragged our double trees with us. We met him about 5 to 10 miles from camp. We hitched twelve head of horses on that one load. We found places that needed everything that those twelve head of horses had. We were sometimes pushing mud with the axle. That was quite an experience for me to be in such a rainstorm as that was. Then to cap it all. All the wagon bridges, all the railroad bridges, the telegraph lines and all the telephone lines were all knocked out. Of course, we were way up in the mountains above Creed, a full day's drive, and there were no lines up there, but we got word. When we took this load up to the reservoir (we were tied up there until they got the bridge built again) the contracting outfit wanted us to cut some timber at a sawmill. We moved our camp over to the sawmill, and we sawed logs into lumber for a week, maybe two. When we got down in Sanford, my folks had written to everyone in the county except me. When I got home, the first thing I did was send word that I was all right. Of course, they didn't know. My mother was quite a worrier about her children. We had quite an experience during that storm.
I went back up to Antonita and went to work in the shop again. Then I got playing ball with the Antonita team. We had a baseball league there in the valley, and Antonita and Del Norte were the winners, so they had to play off for the championship during the county fair. We went up to Alamosa (that's where the county fair was) and the two main pitchers got to many drinks under their belt, and the manager wouldn't let them pitch. Me, being a substitute pitcher, he put me in the box. I threw twelve innings, and there wasn't a score made until the twelfth inning, not on either side. The Del Norte manager came up to me after I was through with four innings, and said, "Lad, you'd better quit pitching. You're going to through your arm away the way you're throwing." The catcher was signaling for a spitball all the time, and that's hard to handle. But, how they made that score, they knocked the ball into the right field, and a dog picked it up and ran off with it. Well, they let the batter make the circle, and I asked the umpire why he let that go by. He said, "Oh, we've got to finish this game some way." So, that finished the game for the championship of the San Luis Valley League at that time, and I have never been able to get my arm into shape. I tried after I came to Utah to get it in shape so I could pitch ball for Springville. But, It just wouldn't work. I would throw several evenings lightly then when I would turn loose, it would feel like my shoulder was unjointing and flopping back together. Boy, it would hurt. I'm sorry I didn't take his advice because I would have liked to play ball here in Utah.
After being raised in that open country out there in Colorado, this country seemed so close and tight. I didn't feel that I had room to expand or even move around. There were only six hundred people in Mapleton and 3,200 in Springville, but I still felt awfully crowded.
They were building the Mapleton amusement hall when I came here. They finished it that Winter. I went over to the committee and asked them if I could come and donate them some work. They asked me if I had any stock or paid any money on it, and I told them, "No." They said, "You can't work." I went back home, and Father said, "What did they tell you?" I told him. Bert Whitting was there. Bert went over to the committee and talked to them, and pretty soon here came one of the committee and wanted me to come over and work. There were four or five men working on the East side on the windows, casing them and installing them. I took the West side. I finished it before that bunch did. Then I went over to the inside entrance doors and set my jamb. I went up on the stage after my casing. A carpenter by the name of Willis Johnson said it looked out of plumb, so he crowded the bottom i a half an inch. I cased it, and when I went to hang the door, I found this discrepancy. I hit the ceiling and asked who'd been monkeying with it. He told me he did. He and I had quite a word row right there about leaving my work alone.
I was to be partners in on the Oak Spring Farm; Rastus, Father and I. We called a meeting and would be discussing things. When I would say anything, Father would say, "What do you know?. I got so that I didn't take any active part in the meetings from then on. He put me to raising the damn. I hauled dirt in on the damn for the little reservoir there and I raised it a couple of feet. He decided that it was high enough so he sent me down to prune some trees. I had pruned a few trees with Charlie Whitting, who was considered a very good man on pruning trees. I went to pruning them just as Charlie was, and Father came down. I had five or six of them all done. Boy, did he tell me off, and he ran me right out of there, and he told me never to prune another tree.
Well, that was enough for me so I left the farm and hunted me a job, but I looked like a kid. I was 21 years old, but I still looked awfully young to be hunting carpentry work. L. J. Whitting turned me down flat. I finally found that they were building a Spanish Fork High School. A contractor by the name of Henry Evanson was the man. I kept tantalizing him for a job until one day he said, "Well, I guess I'll have to hire you and fire you to get rid of you." I said, "Well that will be fine. Will you try it?" He took me down in the basement and gave me a room to do, and he gave me $18 for finishing the room. As he went out, he mumbled these words, "This room doesn't need to be finished to good." The next time he came down, he examined my work, looked it all over, congratulated me on it, and said, "Will you finish the office?" I said, "Yes, I'll be happy to finish the office." I was only in this room three days. That gave me six dollars a day for my work. The carpenters wages then were three dollars and twenty cents at that time. The next day he came down, and said, "You can't afford to finish that room for three dollars and twenty cents. I'm going to get Harvey Whitney to do it for me. I'm going to give you class rooms to finish." Well, we got $40 for finishing a class room, and I could knock them out so I got $6 a day right along. After all the other men had left, there was Victor Lafferson, a young fellow about my age or a little younger, and I who stayed and picked up the odds and ends for wages. We were there a couple of months after school started.
About this time a bunch of us got together and decided that we would organize an athletic club at Mapleton. We organized that club, and in that the main thing was basketball. They appointed me as head of this organization. Bishop William T. Tew came to see me and asked if we couldn't make it a Mutual basketball team and the requirements would be that they would have to have a certain percentage of attendance to Mutual before they could play. I agreed with him, and we talked it over and decided that's what we would do. Well, as far as I know, that was the first Mutual basketball team in the Church. The second one was from Salem. We played Salem several times. Then Nephi got one and it spread from there, but some fellow from Salt Lake got all the credit for organizing our Mutual basketball team. In, fact it started in Mapleton.
About this time I met Elda Peterson, this being a dance on 10 January, 1915. I saw her across the hall. She had on a beautiful black dress. I asked a friend who she was. He told me. I went over and asked her for a dance and she danced with me. She knew who I was. There was a fellow trying to get out with her that night, and she was afraid of him, so she asked me if I would dance the medley with her. "I said, "You bet, I'd be glad to." The next change was the medley, so we went into step and danced the medley. I led her over to the cloak room. She went after her coat, and I went over to our cloak room and got my coat. I waited in line, and when she came along I froze on her. When she got outside, she said, "I didn't mean this." I said, "Well, but I do. I'm going to see you safely home tonight. "That was the beginning of a courtship and a mighty find life for me."
That Summer I went out to Goshen Gap and worked for L.J. Whitney on a strawberry ditch. It was cemented all the way. We got through with that ditch early in the Fall, that is , quite early. There were no cars out there to get in to see my girl very often. I owned a buggy and a horse by this time, but it was left up on Father's and Rastus' farm. When I came in, I had a horse and buggy to take her out with.
When we got through out there, I came home and worked around Mapleton and Springville that Fall. I courted Elda, and I had to beat Horace Fuller's time because she was engaged to him. I finally did. We became engaged, and I got the size of her finger and went over to Provo to buy the engagement ring. Well the ring I picked out was a little to small for her finger so they had to cut it into and build in a piece. The next morning Lorin had the midwife up there. Ferl was the baby, and that midwife told me how big a piece had to be put in the ring, how much I paid for it. I don't remember seeing anybody that I knew from the time I left Mapleton 'till I got back.
At this time, Father wanted me to go back to Colorado with him. He had to go out and make some collections, and he thought it would be nice for me to go with him. He knew I had a little money saved. I said, "No" I'm going to get married." He said to me. "Who to?' I said, "Elda Peterson." He said "No. You're not." I said, "What's the matter, Father, isn't she good enough for me?" He said, "That's just the trouble. You're not good enough for her." Well, I said, "I have her parents consent, and I don't have to have yours." So, we're going to get married." We got married on 12 January 1916, just one year and two days from the time I met her. You know, all during our courtship, and all this time, I never felt that Elda was ever a stranger to me. I felt that I'd known her all her life.
We had a little experience at the temple that was unusual. I think I ought to say something about it. When we came out of the temple into the breezeway, I had taken off my shoes and tied a certain knot in them, tied them together. I thought, "Well, this will identify my shoes when I come out." Lo and behold, everybody that was in the temple had the same style shoe and they tied them together the same way I did. I finally wound up by finding a pair of shoes that fit me, and I went out. I don't know whether I got my own shoes or somebody else's. We went over to get something to eat not far from the temple, and we saw a nice wedding cake decoration. We were supposed to pick one up, so we bought it. She said, "You'll have to put that in your suitcase because mine is plumb full. When we got home, she never even had a handkerchief, not even a pair of stockings in her suitcase. She had to write up to the temple, and she got everything back in fine shape. I guess we were both a little bit flustered.
Cel and a bunch from Mapleton decided that they would take us off the Orem train and have a lot of fun with us that night. Well, Ernest was going to school over in Provo so he came down to the Orem train and met us. He got on the train and told us we'd better be careful. So we got off at fourth North and went two blocks West, then walked over to where Erik Boreman's home is now, and there was a livery stable there. We hired a livery rig and driver to take us home. We went right down through town and saw this big bunch waiting around town to create some fun with us. Well, I don't know how we got by them, but we did. Ernest called Lorin, and Lorin had gone down and told Roy Peterson he was to meet us on fourth North. Well, he got excited, and he came out on eighth South, waiting there for us to come. Roy didn't find us. We kidded him a lot about not knowing North from South. Grandpa Peterson and Grandma Peterson and Lorin and my Mother gave us a nice reception at the Peterson's. Father wasn't there. I think the present that we appreciated about as much as any was the present that Bert and Aunt Sadie fetched us. It was a big box of groceries, mostly things that he'd raised on his own farm such as hams, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, what ever he had off his farm. Sadie and Bert were having quite a hard time financially at that particular time, but we sure appreciated that box of vegetables.
We stayed at the Peterson's until we could find a place and buy what furniture we would need. Elda worked at house work for $3.50 and $4 a week, and she earned enough money to buy our first bed, springs and mattress. We rented two rooms of a house that Leonard Stone now owns. We paid $3.50 a month for that place. We didn't have any electricity in Mapleton at that time, we had coal oil.
|Elda, & LeRoy Peterson|
Elda went to town one day to buy some hardware for a small cabinet. Father saw her writing out a check, he came in from Colorado. He beat her to me, and he said, "Do you think it's business for a woman to write out a check?" I said, "When I married Elda, we were partners, and we're going to stay that way." "I don't think that's good business." Later on in this narrative, we will show you how Father changed.
I went to work for L.J. Whitney on houses that Spring. One night when I came home, Elda shoved a letter in my face and said, "What does this mean?" I read the letter, and it was from the Spanish Fork sexton inviting me to come down and pay for the burial of my baby. Elda was hurt, and I didn't blame her. I said, "Well, let's go down and see what this is about." I hadn't unhitched the horse yet, so we got in the buggy and went down there and hunted him up. When I handed him the letter, he looked at me and said, "Oh, you're not the fellow. You're not the guy. I beg your pardon." Elda felt a whole lot better, and so did I.
Sometime early that Spring Chris Larsen got us to move into his home and keep house with him free of rent and he furnished most of the groceries, just to have somebody moved in with him. After we'd been there a little while, he wanted to know if I wouldn't go in with him on his farm. He had a nice 40 acre farm, and he said, "I think you ought to buy you a nice piece of ground. I'll help you by backing you up." We located a piece of 8 acre ground and paid $1,900 for it. Chris helped me borrow the money. About that time, Father decided that he would come and help me, so he came and signed the mortgage. Only a couple of years later, I stepped into the bank, and they said, "Now listen, you can have Chris and your father off of that note if you want them." I said, "I'd sure like to stand on my own two feet if I can." And they let me do it.
We stayed with Chris Larsen for some time. He was a widower, and he started chasing a woman down in Spanish Fork that worried him to beat the band, and he just tormented Elda about talking and telling her his troubles. He even got so bad that he took his valuable papers and rolled them under the rug in the middle of the floor because he was afraid that she was just trying to take him for what he had. I don't think so. We were very well acquainted with her. She seemed to be a very nice woman.
We got the farm work done, and I went down to the Spanish Fork sugar factory and went to work. I worked there for quite some time. During this time we decided that I would run my farm and he would run his. After I worked there for quite some time, they had to lay off some men. I' being one of the younger men, was laid off. So, I went to work with L.J. Whitney out on the government ditch again around the point of the mountain from Lincoln Beach. While I worked on that sugar factory, I was getting rich, I thought. I was getting 50 cents an hour. We worked 10 hours a day. That'd give me $30 a week. We were sure getting ahead at that time, but it played out.
After I went out to on the West Mountain, they came back after me to come back. Here's what they wanted. They had an engineer there. They were going to send him on another job and make a carpenter foreman the engineer, and they wanted me to be the carpenter foreman. I said, "Well, I have a very good job. I believe I will stay with it." What made me make that decision was that I was supposed to follow them up in the Northwest where they were going to build another factory. So, I turned the job down.
About this time the ICS correspondence school sent word to me that they had a job in Salt Lake for me. They only offered me $15 a week. I couldn't live on that in Salt Lake, and I didn't know anywhere else to go, so I had to turn that down. I asked Father if he could help me out while I worked my apprenticeship in Salt Lake, and he was in no financial condition to do it at that time. I had to give it up and go to work at my trade.
So, I went out west of Lincoln Beach on the ditch project. We also took a tent, and Elda went with us. She cooked for Lorin and Melvin, two brothers of mine, and her brother Roy. While I was there, I built my first boat. We fished, hunted ducks, and took rides, and finally the boat was stolen. A fellow asked me one day if he could borrow it to just take a little ride. He went clear across the lake we found out latter, and that's the last we saw of the boat. He just left it and walked into Eureka or somewhere.
About that's time I became what they called in those days, a walking boss. Now it is classed as a general foreman. When it became cold, Elda went to her mother's. I was the foreman, and when Grant was born, I came in. Mr. Whitney got so mad he fired me. I got Ernest Strong to take it over until I could get back, but evidently that did not suit Mr. Whitney. So, he fired me for not staying out there. He went out there and put in another man, a total stranger, as foreman. He sat in the tent all Winter long drinking his liquor. The next Spring Mr. Whitney came after me to go out there and help him finish the job. By this time, I had gotten some work on my own. Just a few days after Grant was born Sam Fullmer got me to build on to his house. That is the starting of my going for myself. From then on I picked up on job after an other, and I made a very good name for myself. I worked for Whitney at times and other times and other times when I didn't have something to do. Mr. Whitney always underbid everybody. He was a fine man, but sometimes his judgment wasn't the best in the world. When he wanted me to go back and finish that job, that was the next Spring. By now I had all the work that I could take care of.
My first contract was with Mark Perry, and I only made a dollar and 65 cents a day on that job. When I got all finished, he was harvesting his hay, and he said, "By grab, James you didn't make any money on my job, so you get you a team and a wagon and hay rack, and come up and get the biggest load of hay you can put on," He said, "I know you didn't make even wages." He was right, and I had a very good relationship with Mr. Perry after that. It will come a little later, but you will find that Mr. Perry was one of the finest men that I ever knew.
My second contract was with the city of Mapleton on the city hall. We also built two cells in the city hall for the jail. That was my introduction, and I had learned something from Mr. Perry's job. I decided that I was figuring too low on the labor, and I did fairly well on this job, but not to good.
From there I went down to Carbon County and worked on the Carbon County mines camp. They were new mines in those days. I worked building homes, hotels, post offices, what not. I went with Ernest Strong. He was the foreman for a Salt Lake contractor. During the time we were there, this Salt Lake contractor took sick, and he told Ernest that we would have to contract to work by piece work. There was Ernest Strong, Elias Strong and myself there, and we took contracts on them. I think we were working for around $7 a day by this time if I remember right. We took contracts for these cottages to finish them, and when we got through, we added up our earnings, and we made $14 a day. Boy was I happy. About this time World War I was on. I was registered and put in a group that was back quite a ways. They kept building up towards me, and just in time the armistice was signed, I got notice that I would be in the next draft. The Armistice was signed on 11 November, 1918, so I did not get in the army at all. I don't believe i missed anything.
About this time, they began selling bonds to put the war over, and they made the bonds with a coupon on them. When the interest came due, you could clip that coupon and send it in and get your interest. About the time that coupon was due for interest collection, they would float another bond and they would have a committee come around and sell you bonds. If you didn't buy the bonds, they would say, ""Well, we will report you as unpatriotic," so we would buy the bonds and have to sell the other bonds we had in order to buy these new bonds. We would take them to the bank and sell them at a discount, and the money people would but these bonds, clip the coupon, and get interest plus the discount, but they didn't pull that in the second world war. Due to the fact I lost so much money on those bonds, I started working sixteen hours a day around Mapleton. I remember going to work early in the morning, working eight hours before noon. Elda would come and get me and transfer me to another job. I would eat my lunch on the road. Then she would come and get me when my sixteen hours were up. I worked that way for a long while. In November I think it was, I just couldn't get out of bed, so we got Dr. John Anderson up there. He said I was just completely worn out and he made me stay in bed for a certain length of time. I wouldn't advise anybody to work that way. It's not good. You're not supposed to work that long. My posterity, I hope, will take this heading and not try to work that way.
Mapleton hired me to go up Hobble Creek canyon and cement a ditch for them. A cable broke on the a mixer, and I couldn't get a cable in this county so I got on the Orem (train) and went to Salt Lake. On this Orem was H.T. Reynolds. He was one of the leading men in Springville. He was a banker, a Merchant, a contractor, and we considered him very wealthy. He was a very fine man, and we got to talking about our lives, and this, that, and the other. In our conversation, I told him about having the opportunity of going to Salt Lake and studying architecture under Waren Staganza. He said, "Why in the world didn't you come to me?" I would have lent you all the money you needed to live on, then after you got through your schooling and you served your apprenticeship and went into business for yourself, you could have paid me back." That is not all that Mr. Reynolds did for me. When I was doing subcontracting for these contractors, I would go in and talk to him about the job that was offered to me, and he, being a contractor had figured all these jobs, and I would tell him what I was being offered, and he would either say , "Go ahead. I believe you can make a little money," or "You better leave it alone." I never failed to take his advice. If he told me to go ahead, I knew that I could have all the money that I needed to put that job over. I have had some of the finest acquaintances in this world. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Perry are two men that will always be in my heart.
I am going to dwell on your mother's folks lives a little bit, and I am very sorry I don't know more about them, but I'll tell it as it was told to me as I remember it. Grandfather Peterson and also Grandmother Peterson were born in Denmark. They came to this country as immigrants and converts of the Church. They met and were married. They had two children by this marriage. Grandfather was a very hard-working, industrious man. He got a job on the railroad between Thistle and Fairview, and he earned quite a piece of money for those days. When he came home, his father took the money away from him, and wouldn't even give him enough to go to a circus in a day or two. His father was kind of an old Danish, domineering man. After Grandma and Grandpa got married, he went out and sheered sheep for a living in sheep shearing time. During those times, there weren't any laws to make bosses furnish them good, pure water and a nice place to live. They went out to Thompson, Utah, and Grandfather got poisoned in that water out there. He had to come home. It settled in his leg, and it was amputated. He bought him an artificial leg. He tried awful hard to wear that leg, but he could not. The pressure on the leg in the socket would work the bone right through the flesh. So, he had to give it up. After I was married into the family, we got to talking one day. I said, "Lets go over and talk to that doctor and see what's wrong." So, we did. He said, "Oh, I just experimented on you. I cut the bone straight off. I never trimmed the edges." He said, "We'll have to do it again." I said, it'll be a free job this time?" The doctor said, "Oh, by all means, no.!" Grandfather said, "Well then, we won't have it done." So, he wore a peg leg from then on. He made his own peg leg. He would double up his knee, put it into kind of a notch in a black willow tree. One day he broke that off, broke the bottom part off. He asked me if I could fix it. I took a log and bored a hole up through it. Then I took a piece of oak, and shaped it to fit that, and we fastened it in. He wore that the rest of his days.
Grandmother was a very beautiful woman in her younger days.
They had two children. Your mother was the oldest, her name was Elda. She was born 5 December, 1895. Roy was born a few years later. I don't know just when. Those were the only two children that they had. Their first home was out by the Olsen's sheep feeding coral on South Mapleton only across the street. The house is torn down, and there is a shed or a machine shed built in the same place. The home was out of old ties gathered up from the railroad.
In the early days of your mother's life, they had a school house on South Mapleton. She went to that. Silvester Allen lived in it after they quite using it for a school house and centralized their school. They tell me they had three schools--one on the north, one in the center, and one on the south. I don't remember the one on the north.
As I told you before, when Father and I were walking from the Mapleton depot coming from Colorado, I saw your mother playing out in the yard. She was only about sixteen years old then, a beautiful girl. She had not been very healthy. About this time in her young life, her health began to improve. She blossomed into the most beautiful woman that I believe that I ever could imagine. The first time that I was ever at their home, we were cleaning ditch one Spring. That was before people knew me, and I had to pick up anything I could find to work. We went into their surface well and got us a drink of water. Brother Peterson came out and talked to me, and he called me Professor Nielson. Now, that came about because Bishop Tew called me professor one night in Mutual because I was a full-fledged carpenter and so young. He said to the boss of the crew, "Can I take Mr. Nielson here for a few minutes?" I need some information, and I know he can give it to me." So, we went into the house, and he asked me the questions that he wanted and I answered them and even showed him how to do some of the things. Even with his handicap, on that peg leg, he built that whole home and plastered it and painted it and got it all ready for living in. And he did a very good job, I would say. He made his living by being a janitor of the Church and of our school building up there.
After Elda and I were married, we could see him go to the school house , and we could almost set our clock by the time he went. He had a white horse that he rode, and in good weather, he would call by and pick up Grant when Grant got to be old enough and take him with him. Oh, did Grant enjoy his grandfather. I don't believe Earl remembers very much about him because he was pretty young when Grandfather died.
There is a picture of Elda somewhere when she was a queen in a celebration in Mapleton. It's enlarged. I had it enlarged, and it is in the family somewhere. I don't know just where it is. You can see from that, if you get to see the picture, what a beautiful woman she was.
I didn't tell you how he got his foot hurt. He was hauling a load of lumber, and he was sitting on the front of it with his feet hanging over the front. He pulled down into a creek, and one of his horses balked and threw himself back, and he hit one of Grandpa's feet and mashed it. That is one of the reasons that he had lost that foot. When he drank this poison water and got himself in bad shape over the water, it settled in his foot. That is the reason he had to have it amputated.
Grandfather had two and a half acres, and he farmed that on the side and raised chickens and pigs and tried to get along the best he could. His wages at the school house were very meager and were very meager at the Church, so he had to accept some of the Church welfare during this period of hard times for him. But they were very thrifty. One day they decided to buy a new stove. I remember your mother telling me about it. She wondered where the money was coming from to go buy a new stove. It would cost $80 dollars. Grandfather went and pushed the dresser out, took the back card off the mirror, and there the money was. They had been stashing this away for quite some time to get them this stove. I think that Grandmother used that stove just as long as she lived in that old home of theirs in Mapleton. If I remember, the name of the stove was Home Comfort. It burned either wood or coal. In the Winter time when Grandpa would be out and come in, he would take his peg leg off, pull the door of the oven down, and sit there with his peg leg up in there to get it warm. There was not good circulation in his leg, but you never heard a complaint out of him.
Sometime after we were married, we were living over on our little eight-acre farm. They decided they wanted a china cupboard. They didn't feel like they had enough money to buy one, I had no work in the winter time, so I said, "If you'll furnish the material, I'll come over and build it." I moved my bench and saw horses and tools over in their living room because I had no place else to work, and I built the China Closet, and Hollis has it up in his home today.
Earl was born on 3 December 1919. When we got our notification that he was on his way, Elda would not let me get the doctor or her Mother to come over and help. She just staved me off, didn't think it was right, but finally I went and got her Mother. Then her mother and I decided we would call the doctor. The doctor didn't get there any to soon. He just came off another case. In those days they delivered the babies at home, and he carried the equipment along with him. We had to sterilize everything after he got there. In those days they kept the woman in bed ten days after childbirth. We had an Evans girl, and she stayed with us ten days. When we got Elda out of bed she left us. That was to early, so she started doing her own work. Earl got the colic, he was sure a hard baby to take care of for awhile. So we hired another girl by the name of Wilson. She got to stealing things, and one night I came home from work, and found out we didn't have any girl. Elda wouldn't let me hire another one. She did the work herself, and got along very well. You know, after a person lies in bed for ten days, they're not very strong. It was just to much on Elda to do her own housework and take care of the two children. We had quite a time for some little time. Finally I got another girl, and she stayed with us and got Elda on her feet. At the time of Earl's birth, we were living on an eight-acre piece of ground that we owned in Mapleton. I began getting a lot of work and had several men working for me this year. I didn't have much time to spend on the farm and with my family. I was quite busy.
During this time one evening, we were just finishing supper, the lightning struck the electric pole right out in front of our place, followed the wires right into the house, Kicked our telephone to pieces, burned all the wires up to a crisp in the whole system, but it didn't set our house afire. We didn't have any lamp in the house at that time. I had my carpenter overalls, so I cut off a button with quite a lot of cloth and took some lard and put it into a dish, and put the button down and lit the cloth. In olden days, they called that a bitch. That was our light for that night. Of course, the next day we rustled a lamp. I had to rewire that whole house. Every foot of that wire had to be taken out because the insulation was burned, and you would just touch it and it would fall off. I had Grant in my arms, and Elda was still feeding Earl when the lightning struck. Grant and I were over by the kitchen range. Elda said, it looked like a spear of fire came out of that telephone towards the stove, and the first thing I heard was, "Are you alright?" I said, "Yes, are you?" I'll tell you it was quite an experience. From then on, whenever a lightning storm came up, and I was working in Springville, believe me, I had to take off for Mapleton. Elda was sure frightened of lightning and very nervous abut it.
I believe this is the Summer that I built the duplex for Deeles over on second north and second east, right on the corner. The building still stands. Lou Whitney was the architect. He put the rafters 32 inches apart, and I was afraid that we would have trouble with it. I went and asked him if he wouldn't allow me enough to put the rafters the right distance apart. I would do the work free if they would pay for the material. He said, "I've designed it, and you build it it." I had an awfully lot of trouble with that roof, and Mrs. Deele called Me up on day and told me she was going to sue me. I said, "Have you got your plans?" She said, "Yes." I went over and showed her what was wrong with that roof. So, she went down and jumped on Mr. Whitney. When he got hold of me, he said, "Now, I don't approve of you turning me in like that." I said, "Well, you were making a fool out of me, and I had to protect myself someway. She threatened to sue." That's the last I heard of that roof.
I bought my first mixer during that time I was building that Place and other places in town. I did some hundred thousand dollars worth of business that year, and it was a very good year for me. I make some money, but not what a person is entitled to for taking all those chances. Everybody seemed to be wanting to figure jobs, and too many were never prepared to figure a job. I had to figure very low, but I watched my jobs very carefully, and I came out alright.
The first day of that year of 1920 I bought my first automobile which was a rag top. We were invited to Andrew Halverson's for dinner that day. We pulled into the yard. Then, when we went to leave, Grant and I got into the car. Of course, I had to back up to turn around. The Model T had pedals, and you pushed a pedal down and it reversed it, a certain pedal. Well, that caught on the floor board and held and I backed into a great big ash tree and cave the back of that car in. It broke the tail lights off which were coal oil. I pushed that back out, and I had to remodel the back bow on my car. That was my experience with my first automobile on the very first day that I owned it. I will never forget the expression on grant's face when he looked up at me and smiled. He didn't know whether to smile or cry or what, but he did make a smile. Earl was only two months old then, so he wasn't in the car with me. Every place I went in that car, Grant had to go. That new automobile cost me $618. I remember that so well. Six hundred and eighteen dollars was a mighty hard piece of change to get.
I believe it was the next year that most of these carpenters that worked for me decided that they just as well go contracting too. I had too much opposition, and I didn't get very much work that year, so I went to work where I could find work by the day. One job that I took up was the asylum on the building on the right hand side as you're approaching the old building that's in the center of the street. I worked there for quite sometime.
Grandpa Peterson was very sick. Each morning as I went up to work, I would stop and see how Grandpa was . One morning he was so very low that I stayed right with him. I didn't even go back over and tell Elda how her father was. About this time, Earl was just big enough to follow his mother around. Grandpa was lying in bed, and I was sitting there at the side of him. He said to me, "What time is it?" and I told him. He looked at me, and he said, "Well I haven't long to wait." It wasn't just a few minutes, maybe a half hour until he passed away very peacefully. Then I went over to tell Elda about her father, and I found Earl and Grant tagging their mother out into the wash house. Of course it was quite a shock to her mother. She expected it, but we're never ready for those things to come.
Grandpa had the deed of the home in his own name, so I got a deed made out to Grandma. I got Earnest (he was a notary public) to come down. Grandpa signed it, and Earnest notarized it. I went over and had it recorded. That cost me 75 cents. Then they had several hundred dollars in the bank. I went to the bank to see what I could do to get that in her name. Ray Maycock said to me, "James, we know you well. If you'll give us a bond for $1800, we will change it over." So, that's what I did. I gave them the bond, and we changed it over, so Grandma had the money. I straightened up their whole estate simply because there was no strife amongst the children. Neither one of them wanted any part of it. They wanted their mother to have it. I got that straightened up for 75 cents. Grandpa Peterson died, 7 September, 1921, age 50
We will go on to the time of La Rea's birth. Several months before she was born, Elda got despondent. She would sit there and plan what I was to do with the child if it was a boy, and if it was a girl, I was to do certain other thinks. She got so despondent I went to Dr. John Anderson. I asked him what he thought I ought to do. He said, "Can you afford her an automobile?" I made the statement, "If buying an automobile would help, I would buy it." I went and bought a Model T Ford Coupe. I would leave that with her at Mapleton, and I would go down with the other car to work. We had a girl working for us by the name of Mabel Warren. Purposely she would set the lunch bucket away so I was supposed to walk away and leave it. In order to get your mother out, we did that several times. Then your mother would have to get in that car and drive down and fetch me my lunch. It being a very hot Summer and we had a nice cellar under the wash house, we decided we would put the bed down there and let her be there where it was cool. Rhea was born in our little cellar under the wash house in Mapleton. They kept the women in bed still ten days. Of course she thought it was awfully hot down there in that cool cellar. When we got her up, and I fetched upstairs, she saw how hot it was upstairs, so she wanted to stay down in the cellar. The 24th of July (1923) was the day that Rhea was born quite early in the morning. Grandma came over and stayed with Elda, and they insisted that I take the two boys and go up to the celebration in Mapleton. We got in that little coupe car, and we went up, and they had a little celebration during the day.
During this time that she was in bed, Father had a daughter buried down in Huntington. He wanted to put a marker up, and he had it ordered, and it was ready. Everybody seemed to be busy. It didn't mater whether I was busy or not but every seemed to busy. So I voluntarily said, "We'll put it in my truck, and we'll go down, but we will have to hurry because I've got to get back." Well, we left early in that morning, got down there, and got the monument set by noon, and of course, I wanted to come back. Father wanted to visit. He had some old friends there. We stayed over night. We came back the next day, and right at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, we had a cloudburst. A mudslide came down and buried a car or two part way, and it was about three feet deep on the highway. We began pushing cars across. We would take one way and fetch another back. They all got after Father to go and get in the car. He was not to well at the time, but he caught a cold. I don't think he saw a well day from then on. He passed away in January.
I had a considerable amount of work this Summer. One house that you might be interested in that I built was Ray Burraston's over in Goshen. They came over and had me build that house over there. Hilda Burraston boarded us. We slept in the house after we got it so we could make our bunks down on the floor. We stayed right there. We didn't travel like we do now. The roads weren't good. We built that house for Ray on a wage proposition. They seemed to be very well pleased with their home, and they're still living in it today.
During this Summer I bought a lot on Center Street. I only paid $500 for the lot. The next Spring I started to build. I built the house, and I didn't quite get finished, but we lived in it and were very happy there until we got it far enough ahead so that I had it finished. We put a furnace in a year or two later. We had it with only a cook stove. I'll tell you, it was cold.
Sometime before La Rhea was born, Father was the mayor of Mapleton. His health was failing him. He decided resign. Leo Harmer, being a member of the council, was appointed mayor. This left a vacancy, and I was to take Mr. Harmer's place. I served almost three years. I was asked to take another term, but we, Elda and I, decided it would be best for us to move to Springville. We had purchased the lot on Center and 300 East the Summer before. We were hopping to build on that lot the next Spring. I asked to be excused.
I had a lot of experience that was educational. One of my suggestions was (in South Mapleton the highway crossed the railroad twice) that we see the landowners East of the railroad about a right of way. I, being appointed a committee of one, went to see them. Every one was willing to donate the land which was a surprise to most of the council. I went back and got their signatures to that effect and presented it to the county commissioner. That is the present road east of the railroad from just south of Olsen's feed yard to where the Spanish Fork road joins it. I feel proud of accomplishing that when only one member of the board had faith in it being accomplished.
One Christmas we went over to Burroston's to spend Christmas with them. Thirty four below zero. We made a bed in the back of the truck, a little Chevrolet truck by this time. Elda and I sat up front, and we had the kids covered up in the back. We like to froze to death coming home. When I got home, the water was frozen. I had to borrow a blow torch and go and heat out the pipes to get the water flowing. Reed Bird's family let my family go over and stay with them while I thawed it out.
The next year it seemed like all the men that worked for me went to contracting. So, it was almost impossible for me to get a house or two in Springville, so I bid on a school house up in Dividend, and I got it. I went up there and built that school house, and during the time I was there, Uncle Ernest asked me if I didn't want to invest $600 on stock up there. There was also a deep hole man who encouraged me to buy stock. I didn't do it. But, you know, during the time that I was building that school house, if I had spent $600 on stock during that time, that stock went up to $1800. It tripled itself. That was the only school house I built. I remodeled several. I worked on several churches, but I never had the opportunity of supervising a church.
I'm going back a spell. My first mixer was a home made one. We had to put it in a buggy and haul it around. It was made out of a barrel, hand turned, and I'll tell you, we thought we had something there. We didn't have to mix the concrete with a shovel. That mixer went all over Mapleton and mixed sidewalks, cellars. what not, and it helped out quite a little bit.
I built a home for a fellow by the name of Jess Groesbeck down on second west. It was a Beneficial loan. When we got through, the loaning company representative came and asked me to sign a lien right of way. I said, "Well, that's hardly right." He said, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. If you sign it, I'll see that your name is on the check when it comes for the balance of the loan," which was $2800. Well, he didn't do it. Mr. Groesbeck got the money. He found out that I owed some money to Kolob Lumber Co. It was Reynolds Lumber at that time. He goes in and pays my bill there. that leaves owing me $1400 and something. I don't remember the exact amount. H.T. Reynolds told me he had the money. I went and called him up and asked him when I was going to get it. He said, "Well, you were such a doggone fool to let me in this house before I got it paid for that you can't touch me, so I'm not going to let you have it. I'm not going to pay you." The law in Utah was as follows; While the keys of a house are in the contractors possession, it is his property. But, if the contractor gives the keys to the owner, that makes the property his homestead. Well, then I went to Mr. Reynolds. I walked the floor that night. The next day I asked him if he could help me out, give me some advice. This is the H.T. Reynolds that I spoke of before. He said, "Now, let me talk to him. I think I have a little influence with him." So, he went and talked to him, and he got the second mortgage out of him." It was only for thirty days. We were just about ready to close him out when the sugar factory ( there where Grant's office is now) was running. A fellow by the name of Jones was the superintendent. He came to me and said, "Will you hold that up for awhile?" We're going to raise the money for Jess." I said, "Sure, I'll hold it up." It went on for a little while, and one day he came to the house, Mr. Jones I mean, and he was red in the face and mad as a hornet. He said, "Take that home away from that fellow. He will not accept the money we got for him." So, I started the procedures. I got the deed in my name. Of course I had to make the first mortgage good, but they were very good to me. I went and told them the condition that the thing was in, and they never even sent me a statement for several months, I don't remember just how many, before I got it sold. I sold it to a man by the name of Packard. When I got through with that deal, I was $972 short. If you can manage to go to court, do it, because you'll lose out if you win.
This summer that I had trouble with Mr. Groesbeck, Jim Sumsion and Wilford Clyde were starting out as contractors. They got a job between Miton and Antelope. There was one bridge on there, and they gave me the contract of putting in that bridge and several box culverts. We went out to work, but I had to furnish my own cook house. Your mother, Elda, went out to cook for us. Rhea was very small at the time. She had never been away from a toilet. We had to camp out around Strawberry that night. Elda put a big diaper on her. When we got out and pitched camp of course we built an outside toilet. Roy did the work on it. He cut a small hole in the seat. Rhea was standing there, and when he got that out, he said, "Now, this is the place where your going to sit." She patted it and said, "Toity, toity."
There's one other thing that I want to tell while it's on my mind. We were digging holes for the piers. Some of them were 20 feet deep. Our camp was right close to the bridge site. I was on the other side of the wide creek channel. LaRhea came toddling out there. I looked up and she was getting too close to one of these holes. A carpenter by the name of Johny Jones was working for me, and he had a very nice, slick-haired pointer dog. I hollered at her to stay away from that hole. That dog got out from under the shade and got between her and the hole and nudged her back a ways. I tried to buy that dog from Johny on that account and he wouldn't sell him.
We had a lot of fun shooting ducks and one thing and another out there during that time. Another thing that was quite interesting to me was when Bryon Diamond, who was working for me, went out with my gun shooting rabbits. He kicked up a little dirt. Saw sand under it, so he got down and smoothed around with his hands a little bit. We were having a terrible time finding sand. He came and got me and we went over and looked at it. I took the crew over, and we uncovered it to see how big it was. I sent a sample into Salt Lake. They had never seen sand out in country like that, so they sent the head material man out to investigate to see what kind of a liar I was. He came out and said, "I'm sent out here to see what kind of a liar you are. There's no such kind of sand as that in this whole country." I said, "Well, would you just walk over here with me a few hundred yards?" We went over, and we had it all uncovered. He examined it. We dug a hole for him to see how deep it was. He patted me on the back and said, "You go ahead and use that sand. "You don't even have to wash it." Oh, that was a god-send for me. I believe when I got through with the concrete for that job, if I had another ten yards, I don't believe I could have gathered up enough to put it in.
We worked quite late that Fall. When we came in, I had a Model T Ford truck with a ruckel axle in it. I'm not going to explain what a ruckel axle is because it would take to long. We started home with that loaded, came over Indian Summit down into helper, and I had to have bands put in. Well, we had the bands put in there at Helper, and couldn't get a check cashed over there to save my soul. It took nearly all the money I had, so we had to pert near starve coming home. I watched the gasoline. Well, we started up Price Canyon. We got part way (the job was a very poor job) and it started slipping again. I had to find a wide place in the road and do the work over myself. We built a big fire out of some logs that were there. I put the family to bed, and worked on that, got the bands all fixed up again, and the next morning we came home, clear home without anything to eat. We didn't travel like we do now. It took quite a while to come from there home. But, boy was it good to get home and find that we could get in where it was warm. That is my starting of road work. From then on, for sixteen years, it was one job after another. Sometimes I would contract, and other times, I would supervise. Most of the time I was contracting, though. Quite often the contractor would board us, or we would be close to town where we could find board, and I wouldn't want to put up a camp.
I think I ought to say something about when Oran was born. We were living in Springville on Center Street. Dr. George Anderson was our doctor by this time. Everything just went fine. Oran was a good, healthy baby. He was born on the seventh day of April. During that month I was doing a job in Provo Canyon. I went to work one morning, and I got a little nervous. That old seventh sense said, "You better get home." So, I took Byron Diamond (he was kind of a foreman for me) and told him what to do. I came home, and I hadn't been in the house a few minutes when things started working. He was born that evening. I sometimes think we don't pay enough attention to our seventh senses. That gave us our full family, four children.
It might be interesting for me to tell you about the job that we got up in Park City. I had to put up a camp there. Your mother wanted to go up and cook. Oran was just a baby, just a baby, just a little bit of a fellow. I was afraid they were going to overdo it. Finally I said, "If you'll get a flunky, I'll let you go." She went up the street to the Martin's, just a few doors, and hired a girl to go up and flunky for her. Our agreement was, I would give her so much a meal, and she could run the boarding house and have the profit. I did pretty well on the job. She did pretty well. She could run that boarding house and make money when somebody else would spend money and lose it. Grant was around ten years old, maybe eleven. We had to pump our water quite a little bit. I got a pump and put a wheel on the side of this Chevrolet truck I had, and we ran it with that. He ran the pump. Then he and Earl got to clipping wires to tie steel. They would cut them about six inches long, and then we would get them in bundles. I gave them so much an hour for clipping those. We had a very fine Summer that year. When we went to move on this end of that project, a fellow by the name of Creer had that contract. They called it the Wasatch Grading Company. Well, Lynn Creer was the superintendent. I went and asked him if he would hold up shooting the hill off until we could get by. We were with in 100 yards of that when he shot it up. We had to by-pass and go around. It took us nearly all day to get over to where we wanted to camp. That is the last job I ever did under Mr. Creer. I couldn't depend on him. He didn't care whether I made money or whether I went broke or what. I just didn't take any more jobs from Mr. Creer.
By this time Grandma Peterson had married a fellow by the name of John Beckstrom, and they were living in Spanish Fork. Shortly after we came back from Park City, he got mad at her and kicked her out. So, she came over to our place. It was the only place that she could go to live. Her place was rented. He went over to an attorney and wanted to sue Elda and I for ten thousand dollars for coaxing his wife away from him. The attorney, he knew Mr. Beckstrom pretty well, called us up. I answered the phone. He said, "Are you coaxing Mrs. Beckstrom to leave Mr. Beckstrom?" I said, "No, we're not." I said he kicked her out. She came over here because this is her only daughter." And I said, "I'm just not going to put her out on the street." He said, "That's all I wanted to know." He said, "Do you know what? He's over here and wants to sue you and your wife for ten thousand dollars." So, when he came back, he stopped there at our house and started raising cain, Marching up and down the room, swinging his arms and hollering at the top of his voice. I watched him for a few times across the room and told him to sit down. He didn't do it. So, I raised up, walked over to him, put my hands on his shoulders and put him down in his seat, and said, "You sit there. And don't make any more assertions like that because we don't have that kind of family. We don't allow that in our midst. Now you shut up!" Well, he sat there with his head down for a little while. He said, "Can I take my wife in the other room and have a talk with her?" I said, That's up to you folks." So, when they came out, they decided that they would try to make a go of it, and she left with him. It wasn't to long after this that Mr. Beckstrom died. Then she came over, and she lived with us awhile and then with Roy awhile. Finally, she made her home with Roy permanently. Then she went to keeping house for Dr. Otteson's father down in Palmyra. But, the Beckstroms came to her and asked how much she wanted out of their father's estate. She decided what she wanted, and one day I took her over to Spanish Fork on a celebration day. When we drove up and parked the car, Mr. Beckstrom (this was Will Beckstrom) came over and asked her if she decided. She said, "Yes, I have." He said, "Would you mind telling me what you want?" So, she told him. He turned to me and asked if that was alright. I said, "She's making the decision." So, he said, "We'll have to borrow the money before we can give it to you. Then we'll have to take you over to court when we get it into court to straighten up the estate because we'll have to have a statement from you." She didn't think much about that until she got a subpoena. Then, she was going to jail. She just knew she was going to jail because they subpoenaed her to court. Well, I took her over. All in the world they wanted her to do was to get up on the stand, swear to an oath, and tell the judge that she had been settled with and had no claim on Mr. Beckstrom's estate. When she came back out of the witness stand, she sat down and said, "That wasn't a bit hard was it?" I said, "No, we've been telling you that all the time." Those things worry some people that haven't had any experience at all. Everything was fine, and the Beckstrom family treated her just as nice as they could as long as she lived. About this time she went down to Palmyra to keep house for Dr. Otteson's father. He had a nice home down there, and he was good to her, and he paid her what she asked. We used to go down there to parties and one thing or another. We got very well acquainted with Mr. Otteson. It went on for some time and he died, so she moved up to Uncle Roy's. Roy had a trailer house and she moved in there. We helped support her. She had no ready cash.
While I'm telling you about your grandmother Peterson, I just as well go a little bit farther along. After I lost your mother, she still was down to Otteson's. She would call me up very often on a Saturday evening. She would say, "I want to come up and cook you some dinner tomorrow." Slam! The receiver would go down. I wouldn't get a chance to tell her whether I would be down after her or not. She just knew that I would come. I knew the food that she liked and the food that she didn't have down there, so I would go down to the store and get it. When I would go down and get her Sunday morning, we would walk in the house, she would open the refrigerator door. "Oh my, but you do have a lot to eat." She would lie down to rest, sleep for maybe an hour or two. Then she would cook dinner. I sure enjoyed Grandma. She was one wonderful woman. After I got so well acquainted with her, the last few years of her life, I could see why Elda was such a wonderful woman. After Mr. Otteson died, she moved up to Roy's in this trailer house and stayed there. Well, it wasn't fair for Roy to buy all her groceries, so I would buy groceries once a week and take them up there. I don't know whether I bought the right things for her or not, but she was always so appreciative.
She lived up to Roy's a few years, then she became sick. She had a fellow by the name of Dr. King, who was a physician, doctoring her. He didn't know what was wrong with her. He couldn't work in the hospitals here. So, he suggested we get her into the hospitals here. So, we got an ambulance and took her over to Payson. Dr. Biesinger was just making a start then. So, we turned the case over to him. When he got over to Payson and looked at her, he called me off to one side, and he said, "That woman is plumb full of cancer." He didn't have to make any tests. He could see it all over her. He said, "We're going to keep her just as comfortable as we can." She was of a disposition that made friends, and they would take her down to give her a bath or different things down the hall and she would always sing them a song. All the nurses just loved her. One morning they went in and washed her and gave her hair combing and went back to get her breakfast, and when they came back with her breakfast, she had passed away. It was not a severe passing away of Grandma with cancer as might be thought. She passed away very peaceable.
Grandma Peterson died, 11 May, 1947, age 72.
Shortly after I moved to Springville, they put me in the Sunday School superintendency. Then I got going on these road jobs, and I wasn't here very often. when I was here, I wanted to help out. One Sunday the superintendent asked me if I would take charge of the three lower classes. There were three girls, teaching these classes, so I went and visited them. I asked them if they were satisfied where they were. We could have shifted them and each girl could have been where they wanted to be, where they felt more capable. Well, I said, "I will have to take this up with the superintendent, and I think we'll take care of it." So, I did. I took it up with the superintendent, and he said, "We'll take care of that next Sunday." All the time I was in the superintendency he never had a superintendents meeting. He made all the decisions. So, when we got into Sunday School this next Sunday, he got up and dismissed these three girls and took their classes away from me. He put in three other girls. When he sat down to the side of me, I said, "I don't like this." He said, "Well, lump it then." I got up and walked out to the Bishop, who was his brother, and said, Will you recognize my resignation verbally or should I write it out?" He got up, and followed me outside, and he said, "What's wrong?" I said, "I'll tell you sometime." I was pretty badly hurt. I went on home. That's the mistake I made. I quit going to Church. I'm the loser. I'm the one that wasn't big enough to take the rebuttal of some senseless fellow that worked his way up into the superintendency. I would advise anybody that hears my voice, if their feelings are hurt, to swallow it. Go right on. Attend your church because when you stay out of church for a certain length of time, it's mighty hard to get back in there, mighty hard to get into the routine of wanting to go. I am 78 years old now, and I still have that hard time. I hope to overcome it in the future. I beg of all you grandchildren and all my in-laws and all my children to forget about staying out of church because when they get older they will see how much they have lost. It is true, since I have retired at the age of 65, I have gone to school, I have studied books, I have a great testimony that we have the right church, and I will bare my testimony right here before you now.
When I was a young man ( I have told you of this before) I went to Denver. My brother, Ras, administered to Aunt Laura Nielson. I'm going to repeat it. We were walking down the street after the operation which the doctor said that she could not walk another step, and 30 days was the longest she could live. In the prayer Rastus promised her that she should live to raise her family. While we were walking down the street to his hotel, there in Denver, his head was looking down. He never said a word for quite some time. He said, "Jim, I was only a voice in that. I know that she will live." And she did! She lived for four years if I remember correctly. She raised her family. The doctor, he heard that she was still alive. He got on the train and came down there which was 265 miles, rented a livery rig and came out to see her, went in the house, so she was going to sit down. "No, no, no. I want you to keep moving around." He said, "I never thought that you would walk another step. There is some power which is much higher than our science that we have today." That is quite a testimony to me. I Know I didn't keep in touch, in harmony with our Lord. So, it was quite a while before I got another testimony. One day we were cleaning house. That's after your mother died. I was dusting the mantle, dusting the pictures that were on the mantle. There were quite a few on there. Grant was right in the heat of World War II. I picked up his picture and started dusting. My arms froze. I didn't seem to be able to move them. It was just as plain as could be as if a voice spoke over my shoulder, my right shoulder. It said, You will see that boy before the leaves are all on the trees this Spring." In a short while I got word from him that he had been wounded. Well, I had to go back to Georgia to see him. That was another testimony. Your mother wasn't with me she was in Heaven. I have often wondered if she wasn't responsible for that message that I had. Someday if I am good enough, keep myself clean enough, I will be with her and she can tell me whether she gave me that message or not.
The next incident was when Van almost drowned out here in the swimming pool. His mother called me and told me what had happened. They were over to the hospital. Rose and I got in the Car, and we rode over there. I went into the intensive care room where he was. They had him on his stomach, his head about a foot, maybe two feet, lower than his feet. I spoke to him, and he didn't seem to pay any attention to me. I stood there a few minutes. It came over me that we ought to administer to him. I went and asked his mother and father if we hadn't ought to administer to him. They both sanctioned it. We got Bishop Childs and his father and I went in. His father anointed him. Bishop Childs was the mouth for the prayer. All the time my hands were on the boy's head, it was just like an electric shock going through my fingers. When I came out, I was the first one out of the room, LaRhea was across the hall from the entrance of that room. She started crying. I went over and put my arms around her. I said, "your boy's going to be all right." She said, "I knew it, Dad, just as soon as I saw your face." Wendell came out just beaming, put his arms around his wife's shoulders, and said, "Our boy is going to be all right." In just a few minutes he turned over on his back. He asked the nurses if he could see his mother. That was the first thing he was rational at. She went on in and talked to him, and he was quite rational. They had quite a conversation.
Now, if that is not a very good testimony that there is a deity and that the priesthood has power, I just don't know what it could be other than that.
This goes back several years, in fact back to 1935. At this time I got a telegram from Nevada. Work was awfully scarce and Dodge Brothers wanted me to come down and be a concrete foreman. I didn't ask any questions. I got in my car and took off. When I got down there and reported to the superintendent (his name was Oje), he put me to work the next day. In a couple of days he came out on the job and said, "Say, what do you expect a month?' I said, "Well, you set the price." He set the price at $150 a month and my board. That wasn't enough. I could have gotten more, I guess, If I had hung out for it. But, I was to anxious to support my family. They had been trying to put in headwalls. The men they had there didn't understand it. I began having them excavate ahead, and I was setting forms. Mr. Oje came out, and I hadn't poured any yet. This was on the second morning. He said, "When are you going to pour concrete?" I said, "When I get things lined out here and get organized." He said, "Well, you ought to be pouring." I said, "We'll pour this afternoon or tomorrow." When he came out the next time, he said, "How many you got poured today?" I told him. He said, "Well, I guess I had better leave you alone. You know what you are doing." I had those boys organized so that when we got the head walls poured, we were only just a few minutes 'till we were on the truck moving to the next one. Things worked out very fine, and he asked me what I was going to stick them for wages, and they set the price. We got the concrete all in, but I want to tell a little bit of experience on what I had there. There was a box culvert we were putting in. It was only four feet high. I built a runway up on top. The engineer wouldn't let me drop the concrete down four feet. He made me run the concrete in wheel barrows right down underneath that runway. The steel was bent over. They had to just stoop right over and almost crawl. He made me mix the concrete so stiff that we tried to tromp it down in the steel. The steel was five inches apart each way. I remember that so well. I would go to him and say, "We're not covering the steel. It's got to be porous." And he said, "Oh, your doing fine." After a while I went to him and said, "Just let me put one quart more of water per batch." The measuring devise was on top of the mixer. I said, "Let me put just one quart of water in there after it dumps the tank up on top." "Oh well," he said, "One batch won't hurt us." So I put one quart of water in and it made quite a difference in the handling of that concrete. So, I made a sample. He let me have a paste board tube about 12 inches long. I made one , and he made one out of stiff concrete. We had a round tub that was full of water, so when they sat over night, we submerged them in that and let them cure. He sent them to Carson City. One day he came back with a smile on his face, and he said, "You know, you learned me something." I said, "Have I?" He said, "Yes. My concrete only stood 2,000 pounds per square inch and yours went 6,000 pounds per square inch out of the same material." He said, "I'm not going to bother you any more. You pour this concrete the way you please." So we got along fine after that.
That is my job that I had my first experience of finishing a grade, hand finishing. It didn't seem like they could get a foreman on that job that could satisfy the engineer, so they asked me if I would try. I was out there with the crew waiting for the engineer to come along. When he came along, he was a Jew, I asked him if he would show me just what he wanted. He got out of his truck, and took a template out, an adjustable template, and he showed me just what he wanted. He wanted the slopes to be rounding on the top. We were supposed to use that and round it according to this template of the steepness of it. I just put one man ahead of everybody else with this template, and he would scratch it out until it fit, then they would pull down even to that. I finished that 17 miles of roadway.
Then they sent me over to Austin. That's the first experience I had of building a grade. I was over there before the hand work was ready. The superintendent over there asked me if I had ever built a grade, I said, "No." He said, "Well, we've got some good cat skinners out there." The cats were just coming in then. And he said, "You go out there and help them out." Well, I bought me one of these little hand levels that you pack around in a little leather case. I went out there and I would take willows and tie them together, stick them up in the ground and get them so high, whatever the fill said. Then as they were building it, I could stand on the slope, look over that with this little hand level and stand there and give those cat skinners a signal. We agreed on a signal. They were very cooperative with me. They knew that I knew nothing about it. I built two miles of road, and some of the fills were pretty high, and some were cuts. When the engineers came along to put the red tops in, they fooled around there about a half day and finally they came down to me and said, "Put the grader on that. We're not going to red top that. You've got it so close, you just go ahead and put the grader on that." The red tops were the pegs for the finished grade. That was my first job ever building a grade.
My regular job was to do the hand work. So, they got ready for the curb and gutter through Austin. The gutter was made out of flat stone and the curb was made out of redwood timbers. Then we had to build entrances into the storm system. We had quite a lot of trouble getting the concrete in the form made for it. But, don't ever let yourself think because you're a carpenter, some other tradesman can't show you something. I was sitting there trying to design a form. The holes were about four feet deep, and only about 18 inches square. To make those forms and get them out and reuse them, I was working on something to do. There was an old miner sitting there, and watched me make some designs, that is free hand sketches. Finally he said, "I've seen this done this way." And he told me about it, so I designed it. I put the carpenters on them to make them. And you know, all we had to take out was two bolts on each side of them and slip out a wedge. Those forms would come right out. My superintendent, he said to make forms for each individual. I said, "Nope, I'm not going to. I'm going to make them so I can move them." When he saw what I had, he thought I was pretty good.
When we finished there, I moved over to Winnemucca. They called me into their home office, that being Fallen, Nevada, the Dodge Brothers did, and they wanted me to play politics. They almost controlled the Republican party in Nevada. Silver State Construction Company was on the rocks, and they took it over. They transferred me from this job over to Winnemucca where the Silver State was working. They wanted me to be a Democrat and them know that bullets and I helped put it over. (?) They wanted me to move down there, fetch my family down there. I said, "No, I don't like the environment down here, and I won't fetch my family down." Well, they took me out and they showed me how many churches they had there in Fallen, showed me all the good things. And I said, "Yes, you've got 1700 people here, you've got 17 saloons, and you have some other subversive things here that I don't like." Well, I wouldn't move my family down, so I went over to Winnemucca. The superintendent took a dislike to me. I think he found out what they wanted me to do. He made the job awfully miserable for me. I worked there about a week. I took it for almost a week. Then I went into Winnemucca and called up Mr. Dodge, and he came over and met me. I told him the conditions. He said, "Well, maybe it would be better for you to take a little vacation and go back Springville." So, I went to Springville, and as I drove into my driveway, Ace Thorn followed me. He said, "I've got to have a a cement man up to Logan, and I have not been able to find one." He said, "Will you go up there for awhile? Will you go up there and do the job?" And I said, "I've got to go back to Dodge Brothers just as quickly as they call me." I said, "They told me it wouldn't be over three weeks." Well, they left me on the payroll while I was in. Ace talked me into going up, promising me that he would keep me on the job if he kept any man. Just before Christmas, we finished the job in Logan, and he was moving his men into Idaho on a job. After making me that promise, I had finished most of this job there, that is the sloping down, cleaning up, and I did too good a job to suit Paul. Of course when Christmas came, they sent me home. I was the only man laid off--the only key man.
When I got home, they were finishing the Forth Ward Chapel, and I hadn't paid my assessment yet, so Wilford Clyde came and asked me if I didn't want to come and work on it. I told him I would. So, I went over and worked on the church there. During this time, Ace Thorn came over and wanted me to take a day off and go south with him and look over a bridge job and help him figure it. He wanted to put me on it. I said, "Nope. You fired me up there. You didn't keep your word with me, so I'm not going to go." And I stayed with the church. So, they went and got the fellow that was my inspector in Logan. He had been trying to get me off the job for quite some time, telling them I was building the forms wrong, I was doing this wrong, I was doing that wrong. They went and got him. The job was a little over $30,000. Well, he goes down there and spends almost the total amount of that money getting the footings in. Well, they fired him. Then they came back after me to go down there and take the job over. I said, "No, I'm working for Wilfred now. I'm going to go out to Moab and work for him." So, I worked for Wilfred for quite a little while. That was my experience with Ace Thorn. There will be just a little bit more about him later on.
I often wanted to build a very fine home for somebody. Dr. Don Merrill's job came up. I decided to bid on it. Well, I was successful in the bidding. It was on eighth north and University Avenue. I had some difficulty in satisfying them. There was a neighbor lady right close that had built one home. She was quite a politician, and of course, she knew more about building than anyone in the whole world. I finally had to have her notified that she couldn't come on the premises, she caused so much trouble. I talked to the architect about it, and he said, "Well, why don't you have an attorney write her a letter to stay off." Her husband was an attorney and quite a prominent attorney in Provo then. I went down to his office and asked him to if he would write a letter for me. He got his pencil out and said, "Give me the address of the lady and tell me what your difficulties are." So, I told him the difficulties before I gave him the address of the lady. When I told him who it was, he just dropped his pencil on the desk, and he said, "You won't need a letter for that." That was the last of that lady on the job.
That was the nicest homes that I have ever built. It was three stories, basement, first story and second story. The bedrooms were up stairs. During this period of time, the clothes chute from the upstairs bathroom was to small to let the clothes down. So, I went to the architect and asked him if he couldn't give me a little more room to make a bigger chute. He said, "I've designed it. You build it" So, I put the clothes chute in and lined it with tin. It was 13 inches one way and three inches the other way. Several years later I went to Dr. Don Merrill for an examination. We sat and talked about one thing and another for some little time. He told me that he had taken out the old cupboards and put in new ones in the kitchen, and that was the only remodeling he had done. Then I asked him about the clothes chute from upstairs. He said, "We got a sheet in it, and we've never been able to get that up or down, so that's never been used." My relations with Dr. Merrill were very nice, but that lady that lived right next door didn't give me a very good time.
It was during this period that they came to me and wanted me to teach school. They were trying to get a vocational school started. That is what they called it then. It is now the Industrial School, and is located in north Provo. I understand that its out there on that location. So, they bought a big piece of ground out in Orem. They're going to build a bunch more buildings so that they can accommodate more students. It has proven way beyond our expectations. In order to get that started, they had one teacher in American Fork that taught carpentry, one in Provo, and I taught in Spanish Fork. I believe welding and those other things were taught in those other towns, and welding was taught in Spanish.
During this time we were teaching, we had to visit other schools. In Salt Lake we went up there and visited. Our high school asked if I wouldn't come over and give a lecture on the steel square. So, I went over to the high school in Springville and give a lecture on the steel square. It passed on from there that I understood the steel square very well, so I gave lectures all the way from Salt Lake City clear down to Nephi. I remember one time in Salt Lake, there were two gray-headed men in the audience, and they looked very intelligent. When I got through giving my demonstrations and lecture on the steel square, they came up to me and asked what college I went to. I said, "Well, I'm sorry to say that my college experiences are hard knocks. I only had two years of high school, but I have studied all my life." They said, "You have sure done well in your vocation. We've got to congratulate you." Then they introduced them selves to me, and they were retired doctors. The reason they were going to this vocational school was to do wood work for a hobby. That made me feel very well when doctors would compliment me on what I had accomplished without too much schooling. I taught school over in Spanish Fork for three years, nights, just one night a week.
Then they decided to put the school over in Provo and centralize it. The coordinator's name was W.E. Johnson. He wanted me to be a teacher over there and it would be a full-time job. Well, there was opposition. Some of my supposedly friends decided that they wanted their husband to teach that school. Now, I had learned the trade. So, he started working in Provo at the private clubs and influential people, building up the argument that it ought to be done by a Provo man. So, they put pressure on Mr. Johnson so he had to give in to them. I didn't get to teach on a permanent, full-time basis which was less money than I could make on my trade, but it was educational. I sure wish I had that experience for a few years. It would have helped out very much in my speech and in my English because I had to study those things in order to teach the teachings that I was required to teach.
We didn't have any particular textbooks at the time. I choose the textbooks we used in Spanish Fork. John Tolman chose them in Provo, and the fellow in American Fork chose them over there. But we didn't have much choice. Some of the successful contractors of today were my students. One of them was Steve Miller of Springville. One of them was Dick Miller from American Fork. Another was a Stevenson from Payson which went into cabinet building, and he was a very good cabinet man and did very well at it. And Clark Elmer. He had some success in contracting, but then he got to playing politics. He left the building trade and went into politics and I don't know just what he is doing now. I understand he was put in the state road commission.
The boys worked with me on this Dr. Merrill home. During this period, Grant decided he wanted to go selling. He had a chance to go selling for Utah Tailors. I let him have my car for three months to try out to see if he was a salesman. He did very well. When he came back at the end of these three months, he bought himself a car. And from that time on, he kept his mother dressed about as nice as any woman in Springville. He changed his samples so many times a year. Each time he would come in, open up his sample case, and say, "Mother, take your choice. Have what you want." Many of the dresses were very expensive and she was dressed very nicely. In his travel, she would take a map, and when we would hear from him, she would mark down where he was and trace from the last place we would hear from him. So, she knew just exactly where that boy was all the time. I never saw a woman watch anybody closer than she did Grant while he was back East selling.
Earl stayed with me until the job was done or else until school started. We had to dip shingles, and Oran was just a small boy, so I gave him the job of dipping the shingles. We built a trough with wires across it, and he dipped the shingles in the paint and hung them up in this trough and let them drain. The next few years weren't very eventful. We just built a few houses and worked and did what we could. Shortly after this, a few years after this, I think it was 1942, Grant was sent to the army. It wasn't long until Earl was sent. Then in 1942, shortly after Grant was drafted into the army, they kept calling me from the Union Hall, wanting me to go over to Geneva. They needed key men over there. I kept putting them off and finally they said, "Well, your no better to be drafted than the boys are, so we will just have to draft you." I said, "Give me two weeks, and I'll be over." So, I went over and Earl went with me, and we went in and signed up, gave a history of where we had worked and what we had done. They sent us out where they were building a temporary hospital, and they had the foundation in and the joists on. The foreman asked me to be scratch man. Earl was helping me scratch. We worked there for some little time, then they transferred us up to another job. But I'm getting ahead of myself. They asked me to take a crew. They sent a laborer out to talk to me. The foreman of this outfit that I went to work for didn't know anything about carpenter work. He didn't know anything about how to handle men. He was just a big-headed dunce. He sent this laborer out to ask me to take a crew. I sent word back, "No." I wasn't going to take a crew. Finally he came back, and said, "Well, they say you got to take a crew." I said, "You go back and tell them I will not take a crew." So, the carpenter foreman came out and said, "Why won't you take a crew." I said, "I want to find out what kind of an outfit I'm working for before I get tied up to strong on them." He got quite angry at me, but I would not take a crew. Finally I got acquainted with a general foreman by the name of Jones, a very fine fellow. So, he got me transferred over to his area. They were building barracks. He asked me if I wouldn't take the night general foreman. So, I took the swing shift general foreman, and we built barracks there for sometime.
Before long, I had a run-in with my first boss. They were going to put me in as general foreman over the blast furnaces. They were just starting them then. I hadn't been notified of it. The man that was supposed to come out and tell me didn't tell me, so he came down and told me, "There's something going wrong down in the country." I said, "That doesn't bother me any. That's none of my business." He called me quite a name. I laid my glasses on a pile of lumber and made for him. He got out of there. So, then he jumped the fellow that was supposed to have told me. And I quit that night. I just wouldn't work any more for that guy. I decided I just wouldn't work for him any more. He got after those fellows, and they gave him quite a bad talking to, and he fired all three of them. The group was a blue printing expert, the general foreman, and, I don't know what the other fellows title was. But there were three of them, they were fired for insubordination. I came home from that shift at mid-night after notifying them that I wouldn't be back anymore.
The next morning I was sitting out on the porch reading a paper. Another company sent a man over to see if I wouldn't come and work for them. They had heard that I quit. So, I went over to work for them the next day. I worked on the power house. I worked there for some time, they chose me as general foreman in what they called the Eleven. That was the number of that unit. In this we had quite a number of substations. We had one big building, production and laboratory office building. The last job we had was gatehouse number three. That is the gatehouse that goes up over the railroad tracks and through the checking house right on top of a creek or a big ditch which was up about 20 feet above the ditch. That was my last job. When we got through with that, they told us that was all. So, I came home. This Mr. Jones that I worked for before came over and wanted me to take a couple of more buildings. I was so tired that I just didn't want to go back over there. I rested a little while and then, of course, I began working around town here.
During the Time I was general foreman, I lost your mother. One Monday evening when I came home from work, she said, "How would you like to go and watch an operation tomorrow." We'll it surprised me, and I knew that she had a lump under her left breast. I said to her, "What is it?" And she told me that she had found another lump under her arm as she was bathing Saturday. So, Monday she went down to the doctor, and he wanted to take them off and have them analyzed. I said, "Well, I will be right with you." The next morning when we got up, she was fixing me a little breakfast. We had to be in Payson by seven o'clock, so I called my superintendent and told him what was going on. He said, "You go and stay with her and don't worry about the job. We'll take care of it." They gave her a local, and when they started to take the second lump, she flinched. So, they gave her another local, and it blocked one half of her heart. It wouldn't pump the blood out of her lungs. They worked with her--Dr. Orton and he got a doctor from Spanish Fork to help him. They worked just as hard as if they were digging a ditch. The sweat just poured off of them, but they could not get that heart working. Along about 4:30 the next morning, I had got my folks there and my children that were home and Grandma and Uncle Roy were there, I asked to have her administered to. Lorin anointed her. Bert was mouth. Bert didn't administer to her. He administered to me. I didn't realize that we were going to lose her until after he got through administering. I turned to Sadie, and I said, "Bert didn't administer to Elda, he administered to me." She said, That's right." He also administered to her to rest in ease which she passed away very quietly. That is the first of my knowledge that I was going to lose her.
This is the time that I found out who my friends were and how many friends we had. Mrs. Alleman came over and said; "Now, I'll go through the Red Cross and notify your boy's." Both Grant and Earl were in the service across seas. So, she took that over and they were notified without any effort on my part. I am awfully thankful for my daughter, LaRhea, and my son, Oran, for being with me. They were so much comfort during this time. When we had her service, I don't know that there has been a service since, it was in the Fourth Ward Chapel. They opened the large doors in the back in the west end of the chapel, put seats clear across the amusement hall, and there weren't near all the people could get into the service. We chose Jerry Bybie and Ernest Strong for our speakers. Mrs. Ella Reynolds paid the tribute. The services paid very high tribute to her. I don't know whether we had the speeches recorded or not. We had them all short handed, but I don't know whether we ever had them transcribed. We will have to look that up and see. (She died on the 21st of April, 1943 at the age of forty-eight.)
I want to say more about your mother and grandmother. At one time she raised flowers and could tell you the care each one should have. When Decoration Day came, she gathered flowers and gave them away. The pleasure of giving was her reward. A flower club was organized. Elda became president. The Kiwanis Club asked her to talk on flowers. She accepted. I accompanied her. Her talk was so good that other clubs began calling her. I was at all of her lectures. I was so proud of her, it's impossible for me to describe. One time here at Springville, she took the subject of beautification of the city. The creek from Center Street to fourth east was a jungle of willows. Her suggestion was to build a rock wall on each side of the creek. It has been accomplished. Every time I see that wall, memories come back, very happy ones.
Well, I was a mighty lonesome man for some time. Mr. Tolman, My superintendent, sent word by Lorin. He was working for him. And he came over to the funeral. He got me off to one side, and he said, "Now, I want you to stay home for a week." And I thanked him for it. He put his arm around me. "James," he said, "I know how to sympathize with you. I lost my first wife." That's the first time I heard him say anything about that.
I stayed home about a week then went back to work. I went into the office, and said, "John, what do you want me to do today?" Shall I take my tools." And he said, "no sir, you look over the job today. I have Steve Miller and Don Watts looking after the job. I've devided it up between those two boys." I went out and began looking around. After awhile I ran into Steven. He was looking after part of it. He said, "Shall I take my crew back?" And I said, "John said not today. After awhile, I ran into Don, and I told him the same thing. They were in the office and talked it over with John. The next morning I took over. Of course, I didn't feel capable of doing it and I told John. He said, "You come into the office any time you want to and sit down and unburden yourself, and I will go out and help you straighten up this job." I'm telling you this to show you what kind of friends I have made. I think that I have been fortunate in accumulating the friends I have.
I won't dwell on the details any more on what went on out there only to say when we got the gate house number three finished, it was the last of my work there. I have never gone through the steel plant. I have had several chances, but I have never gone through and I'm sorry. There is a friend of mine here that is off because of heart surgery. He says he is going to get a pass for both he and I , and we will take an afternoon and go over there and look through and see the whole works of it. He says, "I have worked over there ever since it was built, and there is a lot I haven't seen yet." I hope that will be accomplished.
Well, I went to work around town. The first thing I knew, I had a quite a bunch of carpenters working for me down in town. I remodeled several buildings down on Main Street and designed the soft water building, designed where the cleaning establishment west of the bank was. I didn't build that one, but I did build the soft water. I remodeled quite a number of other buildings along Main Street that Summer. I would go home after work and sit and draw plans for people until I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer.
By this time, LaRhea had gotten married, she said, "Dad, I have nobody but you to give me a reception, so I think I would like to have one in the Hotel Utah. So, we just invited the two families and her very close friends. After they came out of the Temple, we had dinner there at the Hotel Utah, and then she and Wendell moved down into California.
Oran was the only one left here with me. That house was mighty empty. Six of us used to live in it. There were only two of us there. Oran kept begging me to let him go in the service, and I kept putting him off. Finally, he got old enough so that he could volunteer. He was so light due to his eating habits that he couldn't make the weight. So, he got him a bunch of silver dollars and drank a quart of milk. He did everything he could to get more weight on him, and he passed. Well, he was in the navy. It wasn't long until I got word that he was going overseas. They went down through the Panama Canal and across the seas. He got over to Guam, I think it was. But, I'm not going to try to tell his life in the navy because I don't know much about it. When he came back, in fact when all three boys came back out of the service, they weren't the boys I sent into the service. They had changed so much. I don't know They have developed and I am proud of the boys and of my daughter.
I was mighty lonesome during this time. I would go home and work, as I said before, until I just almost dropped to sleep. I allowed myself one night a week to go to a show. I would go down and take in the show. The rest of the time I was home. During this time is when Grandma would call up from Palmyra and say, "I'm coming up to cook you dinner." I sure enjoyed that sweet old lady. She slept about two thirds of the time when she came up. When I would get her in the house, she would lie down and take a nap. Then when she would wake up, she would cook me a dinner and get the biggest kick out of it. It happened quite often on Sundays. I sure appreciated it.
One evening after your mother had been gone almost three years, Sadie and Bert came down to spend the evening with me. I sat there and talked to them, of course, and tried to treat them civil. But, all the time they were there, I was wishing to hell they would leave. When they left, I got to thinking the way I felt towards everybody. I wanted to be alone. I decided that I had to get out and associate with people. About this time, they organized the Lions Club, and I was invited to join, so I joined them. I stayed in that club for a good many years. You know, I believe that was my salvation at that period of time. I started going out and enjoying people. Then we got to having parties where you had to have a partner, so I took one lady, and I guess I was kind of lonesome. Anyway, we got kind of friendly. Marcellus, he thought he was doing something by getting me a girlfriend. He called me up one night and wanted me to take her out, and I told him I didn't want him monkeying around with it. Anyway, they wanted us to go to the show, and we went to the show. When we got home, she got out, and I had to take her home. I took her out several times. Her oldest boy, Carl, and her oldest girl, Margaret, came over to the house and visited me one evening. They both told me that they didn't think we could get along, that their mother was too hard to get along with. I thought, "What kind of kids are those?" But, still I went with her, and finally we got married. We weren't meant for one another. That's all I'm going to say about it. We stayed married two years, the got a divorce. I got to mingling with people and enjoying myself very much. When I lost your mother, I made up my mind that I was going to quit smoking, so I started working on myself to hating cigarettes. Thirteen years later, after I lost her, I was put in a hospital. Oran came over and wanted to know where my ash tray was. I told him I didn't have one. He said, "What have you done quit?" I said, "I don't know." He said, "I'll tell you, Dad, I'll quit smoking if you will." I said, "Put your cigarettes away because I have quit." He quit for two weeks, then started again. I have never had a cigarette since that day. That was in 1953. Am I glad that I don't smoke cigarettes today. I can see fellows my age that still smoke and I can see how much more unhealthy they are than I. I am so thankful that I do not smoke those cigarettes.
After our divorce, six or eight months later, I started taking a lady out. I went with her for almost three years. I was just a little bit afraid of her daughter. We didn't get married. She was a very fine lady. We split up after about three years. Then I chased around alone for a little while. I ran into Rose, Rose Curtis, one night at a dance. I danced with her. I've known her ever since I came here from Colorado. I knew her husband. I knew her children. I knew she was a very fine lady. I figured the next Tuesday night I would pick her up and ask her for a date, but she wasn't out. So, the next Monday, that would be two weeks after I met her, I called her up and asked her if she would go to the dance with me on Tuesday. I thought she was going to choke taking her breath. Finally she said, "Yes, I'll go." Well, we started going together, and when we got home after the dance, we decided that neither one of us wanted to ever have a partner again, so we were going to keep company. In about six months we got married. I think you children are pretty well acquainted with the life that Rose and I have had together. It has been very pleasant. We took many trips together as long as her health would last. She had one eye operated on for a cataract and was just about ready to have the other one operated on when we discovered she had a lump in her breast. I insisted that we have that taken. I lost your mother with cancer. We went over and had that taken, and it was malignant. They went all over her body hunting the fibers and one thing and another with that cancer. And it looks like they got it 100%. It's over five years now, and they claim that if she's free from it for five years, they got it all. But, her vitality has not been very good since then, and she can't take trips. Oh, we go to Salt Lake or Park City. Last Summer we went out to Meeker, Colorado. We took two days to go out there which is only sixty miles. But, we came back in one day. I got her to getting out of the car when she began getting tired and feeling under the weather. She would walk down the road a ways then motion for me to come and pick her up when she walked far enough. But, we made it clear home in one day. That is the longest trip that Rose has had since her cancer operation.
She has a fine family of six children. The oldest is Elmo Curtis, Sylvia King, Carl Curtis, Merl Brown, Velma Coltron, Vernon Curtis, and Kenneth Curtis. Kenneth is the youngest in the family. And I believe I have the respect of all those children. I know I respect every one of them. I think a lot of them. My experience in this family has been very good. The Curtis family is very closely knit together. They have parties for everybody that has a birthday. They're together several times a year for a little lunch and get-together of one kind or another. At the present time, Elmo is engaged with the gas company. He is the field man in this area. Carl is the streets and walks man in Springville. Kenneth works over in Geneva. Vernon has a very good job down in California with an ink company. Sylvia has lost her first husband, Mr. Allen. She has remarried, we call him Bill King. She's living in American Fork. She is a very competent woman. Merl has a heart as big as a cow, one of the best cooks in this county. Velma is employed at the Utah Valley Hospital. She is doing a very fine job over there and is a wonderful girl. I could go on and talk about the Curtis Family for quite some time, but I believe I've said enough.
I this period of time Grant and I bought in on a lumber yard with Ross Bradford. It is located up here on fourth east and fourth south. After operating that for some years, Grant and I bought Ross out. We each had a third of the stock. Ross was trying to make trouble between Grant and I. He would go to Grant and talk about me, then he'd come to me and tell about Grant, what Grant was doing wrong. Finally, I talked Grant into the notion of us buying Ross out and us owning it alone. One decoration day Grant and I were together, and I was talking pretty hard to have us buy it out. He said, "The bank won't go along with us." I said, "Let's go down and see." So, we went down and talked to the bankers at their home, and they told us that if we would buy Ross out, they would go farther with us than they would with the three of us. So, we traded Ross out of his share. We had property scattered out here, there, and other places, so we picked out a bunch of that stuff, and we traded him property for his stock. Monday we went into the bank, and the bank congratulated us for being the first men that ever out-traded Ross Bradford. Well we got rid of Ross. We had a very satisfactory operation from then on until we decided that I should retire, and he wanted to go into the building game alone. I believe this is about the finish of my work at this time.
I would like to make a few comparisons of prices of around 1914 and the price today. We will take the Model T Ford. I bought my first one in 1920, the first day in 1920. The wages then for carpenter work was $3.50 a day. To buy that Model T Ford, I had to work 176 days, which was quite a bit of work. Now we'll take the Fairlane, the one I drive today. It is $2400. Carpenter wages are $36 per day less some estimated taxes, $8, leaving $28 per day. 85 days' pay buys the Fairlane car. I would say that there is four times, maybe five times, as much car in the fairlane as there was in the Model T. I am very well satisfied with my present-day automobile. Now, let's take a pair of shoes. They cost from $5 to $7. At wages of $3.50 per day, to buy a pair of shoes for $7 would take two days' work. Twenty eight dollars a day for carpenter work means, 80/100 of one day's pay for a pair of shoes. That's quite a difference in time to buy a pair of shoes by labor, but not by dollar. I will only mention the prices of a few items, and you folks know what the prices is today. Take a work shirt. We used to pay 70 cents for them. A pair of Levi overalls, we would pay around 90 cents. A pair of socks, 15 cents. A hat, $1.50. A loaf of bread, 5 cents. A quart of Milk, 5 cents. Sugar, $10 per 100. Silent picture shows, 15 cents.
Now, while I'm talking about these things, I might mention the first trip we took with the Model T. Earl was a baby. Grandpa and Grandma Peterson went with us. We took a camp outfit, sleeping Quarters, sleeping apparel, and we got as far as the West Portal the first night. It cost me $17 to buy gasoline to go out to Uncle Chris Jenson's. That is twelve miles north of Roosevelt. It took us a day and a half to go out, and a day and a half to come back. The last time I took your mother out, we had a Dictator, Studebaker, quite a big car with a small motor. It held 20 gallons of gas. We left quite early in the morning. Instead of taking a day and a half to go out, we got there and ate breakfast with Uncle Chris and Aunt Teeny, and I didn't buy any more gas till we got back to Springville. We had no mileage gauge on the Model T, so we don't know how many mile we drove or how many miles per gallon. All we did was pull the ear down (that's what we call the hand lever for the gas that was on top of the steering wheel) and try to get all the mileage we could.
I was quite a big boy when I saw my first telephone. They ran it into Sanford. Of course, not many people put them in the home. There were only about two telephones in town and that was in the two stores. Finally, people began putting them in quite sometime later. I remember the first time that I talked over the telephone. I hollered like I was talking to somebody a couple of hundred yards away. It was to Sadie. She was working on a ranch that had a telephone. She said, "You don't have to holler like that. Talk natural." To get a long distance call through was quite a job. When I was in Denver in 1910, Mother wouldn't talk over the telephone, and I thought by me writing and telling her to be over to the store where the telephone was, that I could get her to come to the phone by me calling her. You know, it took me three hours and a half or four hours to get that line through from Denver down to the valley. Mother wouldn't come to the phone. She just stood across the outside of the counter and told Sadie what to say. The telephone was hanging on the wall back of the counter. I don't believe Mother started talking on the telephone until after they came to Utah. I'm not right positive of that, but they put a telephone in and I remember calling and talking to her after they moved here.
The first electric light that I had any experience with was in Alamosa. I was playing basketball for the San Luis Stake Academy. I remember so well. We had a fellow sleeping in the room that I was sleeping in by the name of Melvin Morgan. We all hurried and got in bed and asked him to blow the light out. You should have seen the maneuvers he made. We finally turned it out for him. No electric switch, just a drop from the middle of the ceiling. That's all the electricity that was in that room. No wash basin or running water. They fetched us a pitcher of water, and we had a wash bowl. No inside toilets. They usually had one outside or what we called a thunder mug under the bed.
Living conditions have sure changed for the better, very much for the better. I can remember when they were coming out in the paper, telling about Mr. Bell talking over the telephone for quite some ways. After awhile, it got spreading out, and they made fast developments, and it got to be nation wide before I was too of a boy.
The first Automobile that I can remember seeing was a very small automobile. It had a one-
cylinder motor that sat under the seat. You cranked it from the side. It had a counter shaft with an idler on the belt. there was some kind of a dog in the middle of this counter shaft, so when they turned, it would slip. There was a sprocket on each end of the counter shaft and a chain that ran from this sprocket on each end of the counter shaft and a chain that ran from this sprocket to the hind wheels of the automobile. And it rattled to beat the band. You could here a car coming for miles. Whenever we would meet horses, we would have to get out and hold them or take them to a fence and tie them up. They were scared to death of that rig. Dr. Skenk owned this car. He was a doctor in La Jara. He did quite a bit of practicing in Sanford. He's the man that got that automobile. The first time he fetched it to Sanford, the folks were having a party. We heard him coming, us children. We got on the shed and saw it coming down the country. We went and told them. All of those people came out to see that automobile go by. We were right on the main thoroughfare for Sanford's main street. The farmers worried quite a bit about the coming of the automobile. They were afraid that it would take the horses away and they wouldn't be able to sell there crops. Most of our feed that we raised on the farm in those days went to feed the animals. They were quite worried about that. It worked out entirely different than what they had figured as.
I can remember when the Wrights made their first flight. It was only a few feet. People made quite a fuss over it. They didn't think they would make a success of it. But, they kept fooling with it, and then more money or bigger factories took a hold of it. They finally got to making an airplane that was made out of pipe. The pilot sat right behind the propeller. The wind just about blew his skin off him. When I was in Denver, a plane, such as I described, flew across the country. It happened to come over pretty close to the place I was staying in. We understood that it was coming by that way, so we got up and waited for it. When it flew over, that was quite a sight for us. To see that man sitting up there. He must have had some pretty good clothes to have ridden that plane clear into Salt Lake. They developed them. After a while, they began carrying the mail. I was here in Utah when this happened, but a small plane carried a bag across the United States. He made quite a record. It was quite a feat. Now they cross the whole United States in about three and a half hours. But it used to take a couple of days. I haven't ridden on very many large planes. But, I rode from St. Paul Minnesota to Salt Lake in what we call a turbo-jet. We flew over 20,000 feet high. When we got over Fort Bridger, Wyoming, he announced that we were over Fort Bridger and that we were starting to descend to make the landing in Salt Lake in 10 or 12 minutes. Then I went back to Chicago on a jet. It took longer to go from Springville, to get our reservations straightened out, to get prepared to go that it did to fly from Salt Lake to Chicago, and of course, it made a round about trip. It took us nearly as long to go from the airport to Chicago as it did to go from Salt Lake to Chicago. We learned that if there were three of us, we could do it just a little bit cheaper than on the bus by getting a taxi to take us out. It didn't take us so long this time. Early in the morning the freeway we were on was quite empty. All the cars were coming into town. I never saw so many cars in 30 miles in al my life. I don't remember how many lanes there were, but all those lanes were filled up with automobiles.
Now, of course, we have radio and television which we never heard of. I remember my father reading some of the scriptures. Someplace it said that the gospel would be preached from the housetops. We didn't have any idea how it was going to be done other than a man getting up on a housetop and preaching it. But, you see, the antennas on the houses now, and we know just what the prophet meant when he said that the gospel would be preached from the housetops.
Radio came in first. I can remember when we first got a radio here in town. A fellow by the name of Bill Grooms fetched it out to Kiwanis one night. I was a member at that time. He tried to give us a program, but the reception was terrible. We just couldn't get any reception. It wasn't long until everybody had radios. Then television came in, the scientists have fixed it learn how to take a picture in England or Germany or Japan, anyplace in the world and send it right into our television set here at home.
The progress that has been made in my life time is tremendous, and I have wondered for quite some time what I did to be chosen or be allowed to be on this earth at this period of history. I'm sure I didn't help the scientists any. Maybe I did something that made it so that they could do what they did. Of course, our tax money has made it possible. I sometimes wonder if we aren't going to far. That we don't know yet.
I would like to say something to my posterity, but I just don't know how to do it. I am going to say love Christ. Be faithful to his commandments. Attend his church. Do what your Bishop tells you to do or the party that's in charge of the branch that your in. If you revolt and stop going to church, you will regret it as long as you live. You will see the effect of it , not only in yourself but in other people. It's one of the hardest things in the world to get started in. You go for awhile, and it's so easy, so awfully easy, to back out and stay home. I will say this to all my posterity, please love your church and pay attention to the authorities and abide by their teachings. You shall be blessed for doing it and be much wiser than the ones that don't heed to those teachings.
I had a little experience with my grandsons today. Grant sent two of his boys over to help me get some stumps out. They sure treated me swell. They sure did a fine job, and I am so awfully proud of them. The I went over to Spanish Fork where Earl was working. When I went to leave. I had a flat tire. Mike looked up and saw that I was getting ready to change the tire. He didn't walk over to me. He just came running over as fast as he could. He said, "Get out of the road, Grandpa, I want to change this tire for you." He just took over, and he changed the tire for me. I don't know. Those are the things that I don't think that I'll ever forget. Those good things that my grandchildren do for me. They may seen little to them, but they're great to me. It is the spirit that they do them in. I want to say something about Jan. She has typed this whole thing for me. I don't know whether she has any idea how much I appreciate this. It has been the greatest pleasure for me to put this on tape and for her to work so hard to type it and correct it. Then she's going to retype it for me. We want to have it as good as we can because I don't know whether you'll appreciate it as much as I have putting it out, but I hope that you do.
Now, remember, Satan is turned loose. One of the prophets told us that he would be turned loose for a spell. And I am sure he is loosed today with all his aids. If he gets hold of you and gets the influence on you, you're a goner. Be on your guard. Fight against him. Pray to the lord not to let him get hold of you. Keep it in mind in every walk of your day. This is my prayer this thirtieth day of June, 1969, your grandfather and father, J.C. Nielson.
I want to say a few things about your Mother and Grandmother that will give you an inkling of what kind of a character she was and what a great help mate she was to me all through our married life. One thing I can well remember. I had a my drawing table down in the basement. I would work all day and the work on my drawings at night for buildings. I had a sheet already for tracing on a linen cloth with ink, and it was quite a slow process of work, and it was pretty easy to smear this ink that we used. We used Indian Ink. Everything was there. I had the tracing over the drawings. She stopped and looked at it and studied awhile and thought, "Well, I'm going to see if I can't do that." When I got home that night, she had that whole sheet traced. It was beautiful work. It was the first work she had done, and it was just beautiful. She did a lot of tracing from then on and even learned enough so that she would give me a lot of advice, and her ideas proved to be very good on the designing of a home.
When I worked for wages, I always turned my earnings over to her, and she paid the bills, and she could always make the money go farther than I could. I believe the economical training that she had at home because of the conditions that her father was in made it very useful during our life together.
One summer, I had quite a few men working for me, and I was working really to hard. I was on the job all day, drawing plans and keeping the books at night. I asked Elda if she wouldn't like to help me out and keep the books. I would fetch the things home, label them, and she would know where they would go and also the payroll. I would keep the time on the job, fetch the payroll, and turn it over to her Friday evening. Saturday morning she would make out the checks, pay the men up until Friday night, and when I would come in for lunch, I would take the checks and deliver them that afternoon.
One particular time I had a painter. He was contracting, and I thought he deserved some money, so I told her to make Max Kless a check for a certain amount. Well, when I handed him the check, he looked at me funny and he said, "Are you preparing to take out bankruptcy?" I said what's wrong? What is the idea?" Well, he said, "You have got your wife sighting these checks, and it looks to me like you turned your accounts over to her." I said, "Max look at that check. It has both our names on it." It was joint account. That didn't make any difference to him. He razzed me nearly all that week. He never got any more checks signed by her. I saw that I paid him from then on. I didn't want any story going out that we were going broke or taking out bankruptcy.
I never found a time but what she had an encouraging word for me if I was down at the mouth, blue, thinking I was a failure.
When George Anderson and I had our difficulties, that was quite a financial reverse to us, and I was as blue as anybody could be. I felt like I was a failure, had no business trying to support a family. It went until after dinner was over. She came down and sat to the side of me and put her arms around me, started encouraging me, telling me that I was not a failure, that I could do this. I don't know just what she said. I don't remember, but anyhow, when we went to bed, I felt like I could go out and like the world. The next morning I left home in the car and by 10 o'clock, I was back and announced that I had a job to take the outfit on. I don't think I would have had enough nerve to have tried that if she hadn't given me that encouragement. It is a saying a woman can make a man or break a him. Your mother and Grandmother was the type that would make a man instead of breaking him.
Elda and I had 27 years and three months together, and she passed away. I went for several years as a widower. On night over at a dance (I started going to dances) I saw Rose. I just saw her face sticking between two women. I went over and asked her for a dance. If you remember, I came to Utah in 1911. Well, she was one of the first girls that I met after I came here, but she was engaged to Jim Curtis who she married and raised a very fine family. During the week, it was on my mind, why shouldn't I take Rose out. I thought, "Well, I'll go to the dance Tuesday night, and I'll try to make a date with her." But when I went to the dance Tuesday night, she wasn't there. It went on 'till the next Monday. I called her up. I believe I mentioned this somewhere else, but, I'm going to tell it again here. When I asked her if she would go to the dance with me, I thought she would choke taking her breath. Anyway we went to the dance. We decided we didn't want to get married, but anyway we went together for about six months. Then we got married. Rose and I , as far as I'm concerned, have had a very lovely life together. Rose has been a wonderful help-mate. We have had lots of good times together. I am much better off by having her as my companion for the rest of this life. I know each one of my children thinks the world of Rose because they never neglect her. It is one thing that is awfully dear in my mind to think that they have accepted her and she has accepted them as true, good friends and children.
Rose Curtis Nielson said, "Yes, J.C. and I have had 17 years together and have made several wonderful trips, had nice family parties, associated with all of our families. We have eleven families to visit and associate with, so it keeps us really busy. In all these families there is love and appreciation for each other and love for their families, and we appreciate that. It is hard to mention all these thinks, but I have written a sort of a history of my life, and J.C. is writing his, and I think that it will be very interesting to hear what he has said. Due to my health problem, we have not been doing much traveling the last few years, but I sure miss those nice trips we used to take.
J.C. also married and later divorced Mary Margaret Poltroon. J. C. died in Payson Hospital June 6, 1978 and was buried in t he Evergreen Cemetery in Springville. He was 88 years old.