Visit from Grands

This week brought some happy differences from the mundane run.  Not at all to give the impression that life is mundane though.  The longer I live, the more I realize it is just like beauty, all in the life of the beholder.  There are those people wandering their lives thinking they are a nobody and with nothing great in their character or soul.  Then there are those people who find fascination, excitement, and life in all there is about them.  They are a different breed.

Somehow, I feel like in Richmond, I walk through a load of people with no excitement in their lives.  Life is a labyrinth for them to wander and walk.  There are so few who are in it for the game, and the experience.

The great Samuel Clemens, a fascinating man.  One who watched the every move of those about him with great detail.  Their every movement captured their personality for him.  That is one of the things that made him such a great writer.  He was able to take those little details and wind them into a story and make the characters that much more real. 

Suppose it would be the experience of the riverboat pilot which would teach you even more closely to watch the details of the water.  The slightest quiver could mean life or death.  Just his assumed name of Mark Twain shows a certain yearning.

Earlier this week I was able to pick the brain of a man who I found to be very fascinating.  A silent man in the past, but who gave voice this week.  I wanted to hear his story.  So I started to inquire and found some wonderful stories.

Having William Borah fresh on my mind, I was thinking of the honour of the President of the United States coming to visit you in your home state.  Senator Borah toured with him and introduced him to all audiences that he was presented before.  For some reason this has really lingered with me the past weeks.  President Roosevelt paying one of the greatest honours to a man of the opposite party.  President Franklin Roosevelt went to Republican Idaho and toured with its Senator.  It also showed the distinction of Senator Borah.  This really has hit home with the latest election.

So it was with greatest delight that I wandered through the mind and history of Mel Thompson.  Learning he moved with his family to Nyssa, Oregon in the mid 30’s.  They moved up there and basically homesteaded a new territory.  Knowing many of my own family would move to that same area within the next 10 years I really sought to pick his brain. 

Family history and my delving into history met ironically in the mind of Mel.  He told of the experience when he was still in school that the President of the United States came to town.  Yes sir, little Nyssa, Oregon welcomed the President.  I knew who one of the men was who traveled with him, the same Senator Borah.

These stories come to life for me when I can go to the places these events happened.  But they come so much more alive when I know a person and can learn from firsthand experience.  Like sitting on the porch of the Price home in Malad, Idaho where Senator Borah visited with Helen Daniels Price’s father.

Having been to Nyssa several times in my life, the latest just in 2005 when I traveled out there with a visit to Parma.  The Amalgamated Sugar Factory, with which Dad was closely tied for a good 25 years.  Cannot forget the Sharp family members who moved, and some of which still live in Malheur County.  The Fort Boise replica is not far away either.  Oh, and the elusive Rhoda Christensen Davenport Pappas Halan who wrote letters from there, but that is the end of the story.  I have found no more.

All truth can be circumscribed into one great whole.  That truth certainly extends beyond the theoretical.  That truth engulfs us into it as well.  Funny thought, to consider ourselves the truth, but in essence all things are truth.  Whether we like or live it or not; even our lying is in truth and will be treated as such.  Our lives mingle, intertwine, and are very much related to each other.  How could one ever conceive that their actions don’t affect another?  President Roosevelt, Senator Borah, and in the school yard where the children were let out from class to go out to the street to see the President’s motorcade prove that point.  One of those children had a face, had a personality, and had the name of Melvin J Thompson.

Last weekend, we went to Washington to attend the temple, to see Amanda’s grandparents, and to witness of a baby blessing.  It was a great weekend, but turned even better when Amanda’s grandparents came to stay with us for an evening.  An honour I would be willing to give a lifetime to do with one of my sets of grandparents.  (I suppose I am giving a lifetime to do so!)  It will yet come to pass and I will cherish that day.

We attended the Washington Temple Saturday morning.  Amanda and I were asked to be the witness couple for the session.  That was our second time.  Shanna just thought that was something else.  I wish I could have done an endowment with any of my grandparents, living I mean.  It bothers me even still today my Grandfather, my only living grandparents, chose not to come to our sealing.  For what reason I do not know, and probably prefer not to know.  There again, how woven our lives are together.  That the mere presence, or absence thereof, would so affect me.  What if Mel Thompson had not been in the audience that day?  Who would ever have known?  Nobody would have known, but now I do.  Somehow it rings a siren to my soul and brings back me back to the reality of the past.  It seems so far distant sometimes.  But now that nameless face has altered my life some 70 years later.  Even further, all those who read this will be altered to one degree or another, by this events significance.  That says nothing of all the other individuals present that day.  How many of them told that experience later in life, how many wrote it down, how many family members recall that event today.  I would venture that at least one somewhere, somehow, even if from a recorded record.

Our families were tied a little more closely that day in Washington and the following convo.  The drive back to Richmond brought out the stories of childhood in Pingree, Idaho; Nyssa, Oregon; and Ogden, Utah.  The stories included excursions to the Pacific and World War II and running into Mel’s brother at Pearl Harbor from Air Craft Carrier #77 to his training at Farragut in northern Idaho.  His missing attendance at the Laie, Hawaii Temple by one day was told followed by his bouts in learning telegraphy for the railroad.  Even those appear to be the most ordinary have a life to tell.  Sadly, it is in the eye of the storyteller that plays just as much of a role as that of the listener.  The listener has to seek and find connections, living what is true empathy.  In return, the speaker has to give of himself in such a way for the other to experience it. 

Is it any wonder the gospel works the way it does?  Not only does one have to be prepared to receive, but the giver has to be prepared to give.  Otherwise neither will give nor receive and both will most certainly not be edified.  One side operating just doesn’t work.  It falls on deaf ears, or is droned out before even arriving at the other party.

Too often there are those who are giving for the wrong reasons make it strained.  Those who seek it for the wrong reasons ruin the experience.

Anyhow, it was a fascinating lesson, and I was able to come and grasp some more of the 60’s.  I have really struggled coming to understand the 70’s and 70’s.  I just cannot tell why.  Even though I was born in the late 70’s, there seems to have been some type of disconnect.I have been fully engulfed in Richmond, Utah in 1961 and 1962 through the eyes of Lillian Coley Jonas Bowcutt.  The lifestyle of a lady in her 60’s though just does not seem to portray the era.  Especially this is true in a community which was still very rural and in some ways behind the times.  I just cannot seem to get the culture of the time.  50’s, 40’s, 30’s, I feel like I have a very good grasp, like experiencing through proxy.  In stepping backwards farther, I struggle to back further and feel it is due to the 60’s and 70’s.  Honestly though, I have not much desire for that time.  I don’t know why.  So I push further back into the 20’s and 1800’s without it. 

Anyhow, I never really got to pick Shanna’s brain much.  I got Mel on such a roll that he was not about to give up his shine.  We both were so enjoying it while the others just slept, knitted, or did something else.  So I regret not picking apart Shanna’s past, which I am sure holds many interesting experiences and stories.  Perhaps another day, with the right experiences will open that book.

They spent the night, and we had breakfast together before Amanda went to school and I went to work.  Mel, Shanna, Dennis, and Gwen toured the Museum of the Confederacy and St. John’s Church.  We invited them for dinner, of which they accepted.  We made white chili for their dinner.  They loved it, we put it over rice with corn.  In the end, games and conversation were out as Dennis seemed not very desirous to stay.  So we bid them adieu and wished them well on their drive home.

It was an experience I will not soon forget.  It is a rare thing such experiences happen.  So much has to align for such events to occur.  A man I had viewed as so quiet proved to be very perceptive, keen, and wise.

I don’t like the tone of this little blog, so I think I will be leaving.  I feel like I am condescending or portraying some type of sage.  Which I am not attempting, but failing.  I am so weak at words it is frustration.  What I would not give to have the power and verse of Mark Twain or Hugh Nibley.

Spraying the world

This past Saturday and Sunday was another log of interesting acquaintances and thoughts.  At least for me.
Saturday found me in Malad again.  I had to leave really early in order to get out of there at a decent time to head to Salt Lake City.  I left about 6:30 from Preston, and started spraying about 7:30 AM.  I am getting used to this early thing.  That does not mean I like it though.
One of the first jobs I did was for a Price family.  I caught my arm on the chain link fence and took a large chunk out of my forearm.  It was a great way to start the day.  I think I might be allergic to silk worm silk.  I walked under a tree with loads and I sneezed pretty regularly for the next hour or two.  I thought my poor lungs would give out by the time I was done.
There was this one lawn I was spraying.  Tim Burnett had this really cool recreation of an old time fueling station, like 1930’s.  He had created it out of all local materials.  Some of the signs were very interesting.  He came up and asked me some questions, then another neighbor, Don Hess, joined us.  Before long we were talking politics in Malad.  I am so dismayed that people go to such great lengths to do what they do.  They passed a bond (what a fitting term, let’s enslave the people) for a new jail.  Now, I have no qualms with a new jail, but what in the world does Malad need a 64 person jail for?  What is more, I am sure they will have somebody from outside design it and it will ruin the downtown spirit of Malad.  From the 20 or so neighbors who ended up weighing in on the street, either joining us, or just catching the conversation walking by, not one liked the idea.  I am not sure how they passed the bond if this is the sentiment.  What was even more disgusting, is that the person who was behind it had much to gain by the building of the jail.  As Tim was commenting, feathering his own nest at the expense of the community.  Whoever the guy, apparently also a policeman, gets to sell his land for the building of it.  Another neighbor commented how odd it is that the water line for the new jail is already being built (the street where we were talking was tore up) yet he still doesn’t have enough water pressure at his home to adequately water his lawn (we spray his lawn as well).  I have to admit,
I am really disgusted sometimes what happens in politics.
Larry drove over in my car to relieve me and finish what I did not finish spraying.  I headed quickly to Kaysville.  There I showered and changed, then Amanda and I headed to Salt Lake.  We found a great little parking spot and headed to Abravanel Hall for A Prairie Home Companion.  It was not his best show, I will admit.  In fact, some of the show was quite the letdown.  Usually they do a really interesting background on the areas that they go to.  There was nothing of that sort in this show.  Plus the news from Lake Wobegon actually was telling a story that he had already told, just with a different setup.  There was some of it which was a really good laugh.  Especially the Coffee Council.  I did enjoy lives of the cowboys as well.  I enjoyed the music the
most.  It was a surprise that Amanda did not know any of the songs.  The classic Americana songs which I remember singing at the county fair or other places, especially the sing songs in England, she did not know one of them.  The ones I thought were well known like Good Night Ladies, and In the Good Ole Summertime.
We finished the show and headed to Kaysville. There, we changed and got ready to attend the temple.  Amanda’s parents were finally able to join us for one.  We drove up to Ogden together.  I enjoyed the session.  I learned some good things this time.  Lately it seems I have been so tired I could not be in tune.  We finished and headed home, happy to have completed our goal of attending all the temples in Utah before leaving for Virginia.
Sunday arrived far too early for me.  We drove up to Tremonton for Jami Rupp’s farewell.  She is a sweet girl.  We then headed south to Brigham City for Jeanette Smoot’s farewell.  We had some time, so we tried to pay a visit to Lenard and Donna Bruderer, but we could not find their house and they were not answering their phone.  We went to the cemetery and walked around.  Of mention was the grave of Lorenzo Snow.  We then went down to the Box Elder Tabernacle with the intent of taking a nap on the lawn under a tree.  However, I wanted to walk around and the building ended up being open.  We watched a movie, took a tour, and the guy asked if we played organ.  I ended up playing the organ for an hour.  I was a bit rusty, but it came back.  One guy who came in for a tour even said he was honoured to hear me play.  (He must not go to church, they play better there!).
We headed to the farewell.  It was good to see everybody, most of which we saw also at Jami’s.  Jeanette gave a good talk as well.  Afterward we headed to the VFW Building for a little luncheon.  It was fun.  I enjoy good company.  It was good food too.
We had to leave to meet Nathan and Holly Wayment.  We were meeting them to sign the rental contract for their home in Glen Allen, Virginia.  We met them at the old Perry Tabernacle, now the Heritage Theatre.  We had a good visit with them.
We paid a visit to Grandpa in Plain City.  He was in a good mood, however he was headed to a viewing for another friend.  He said he liked the photos we gave to him.  We talked some about Hobart Day and I told him about meeting Carma Preece in Vernal.  He seemed interesting to know how she was doing.
Hobart Day was Grandpa’s half brother.  His father, John William Ross, had married a May Day (doomed marriage?) before my Great Grandmother.  He had a son who lived in West Virginia.  He was a preacher and married a Edna Montgomery.  He was knocked blind when he was 21.  Somebody threw something at him and hit him in the head.  He was blind from that point on.  He came out to visit Grandpa three times in his life.  The first two times he brought his wife.  Grandpa was telling me how he used to call him Big Brother.  They took him all over.  The last time he came out to visit, he came alone.  Grandpa was telling me that before he put him on the bus to send him home Hobart day made a few comments.  Something like, “I have been to Utah, been to a Mormon Sacrament, visited with a Mormon Bishop, now I can go home and die.”  Three days later he was dead.  Grandpa said he got a letter or two from Edna afterward she had dictated to someone to write for her.  But he did not know where they were and did not expect Edna to be around anymore.  Hobart died in 1983.
Before leaving we asked Grandpa if he knew Amanda’s Great Grandpa, Walter Wayment Hansen.  He said he did, he even helped him add onto his house.  Amanda found that interesting.
Grandpa had to go and we went to visit Glynn and Chyrrl Wayment.  Nate and Holly arrived right before us.  Glynn and Chyrrl both showed up shortly afterward.  Nate wanted us to stop and visit with his parents so we did.  They obviously knew Amanda’s Great Grandparents, they only lived a stone throw away.  I asked if Glynn knew Grandpa and he pointed to the white house to the south that he owns and said that Grandpa and Floyd Neilson built that house.  He said of course he knew him.  He had nothing but good to say about Grandpa.  The same for Amanda’s Great Grandfather.
We left and drove past her Great Grandparents home there in Warren.  I called Jennie Britzman and asked if she was going to be around.  She said she was.  We headed over.  Richard was there as well.  We were there for several hours.  We visited about life, Virginia, school, and I asked questions for family history.  Jennie’s mother was the sister to my Great Grandmother, Berendena (Dena) Van Leeuwen (married name Donaldson).  Jennie said that many people thought her mother Jane (Jantje in the Dutch) were twins.  She said that she liked Aunt Dena and Uncle Dave.
She told me that her mother used to have premonitions.  She knew of things before they happened.  When they were growing up in California she knew when the earthquakes were coming and would prepare for them.  One time she knew a big one was coming and told her husband, William Frederick Bremer.  He had become pretty edgy about her premonitions and did not want to hear of them.  He would tell her to not speak of them and that he did not want to hear them.  The same was on this occasion.  But she knew a big one was coming so she hired somebody to put guards on the shelves in the pantry to keep the bottles on the shelves.  But the time it took to get her husband to agree and for the work, he was only half done by the time the earthquake hit.  This was in the 1930’s in Los Angeles.  They lost half of everything in the pantry because it was not all guarded.
She knew when my Great Grandmother was going to have her accident.  She tried to convince Dena not to go where she was going.  But she went anyway, and got in the accident that eventually would take her life.
Jennie was telling me about a time when she was going to run to the store.  Her mother said that she saw Jennie flying through the air in an intersection.  But the ambulance was in the way so she could not see how her state was.  She plead with Jennie not to go but she did anyway.  She made it to the store alright, but on the way back she was t-boned by a semi that ran a stop sign.  Just like her mother said, the car was hit, the door flew open, and she flew across the intersection.  She was obviously knocked silly and did not remember any of it.  But it happened.  When they called her mother, she responded to those on the phone, “I know what happened, how hurt is she?”
Amanda commented that my family all have strange gifts.  I thought that was a funny comment.  But I suppose it is true.
Jennie (who turns 90 this year) told me that Uncle Dave (my Great Grandpa) was deathly afraid of earthquakes.  During the 1930’s when he was working in the area as a plumber he did some work in their house, especially after the earthquake.  When an aftershock would hit he would flee from house.  He would always run from the house when anything started to shake.  He commented to her once that he did not want to be in a basement and stuck down there if something happened.  Jennie said she used to like to tease him.  They would go to the window for the room Uncle Dave was in and then start shaking the window or screen.  They used to laugh and laugh to see a man as big as him jump and run outside.  She did not say if he ever knew it was them, but I don’t think he did.  I enjoyed this story.
We headed back to Amanda’s parents.  Mel and Shanna Thompson were there, Amanda’s grandparents.  We had a good little visit.  They were working on family history.  It was good to see them.  I did not know that Mel was born in Pingree, Idaho.
I headed home to Provo for work on Monday morning.  They have given me one last job to finish before I leave.  It is a good little job and will keep me busy.  It is to paint the walls in the crystal department.  I have been working on it since.
Last night I went up and met Amanda and her family at the Bountiful Temple.  We then went up Mueller Park with Rick for family photos.  It was fun.  I don’t know if I will like any of the photos, but it was fun.  Amanda’s cousin Sherise was there to keep us entertained.  We went out to eat Mexican at El Matidor (something like that).  I way overate.  It was very good food.
Anyhow, today we are packing to move to Virgina.  Moving day is fast approaching.  Looking forward to the trip!