Apostolic Brush

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rose and John Byrom

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom

I stumbled upon this picture the other day and thought maybe it was time to share it.  This picture has an interesting story behind it.

On the far right are John and Rosie Byrom.  Rosie is mostly in the shadow so it is difficult to make her out.  I served in the Runcord Ward from around December 1999 to around August 2000.  John served as Ward Mission Leader and Rosie as a Ward Missionary.  (The Byroms have since separated and divorced).  I served in the ward for a long time and they remained in their callings for the entire time, so we built a friendship which, I feign to believe, still exists to this day.

I returned home from my mission in December 2000.  It was not long into 2001 that I learned the Byroms were planning on visiting Utah.  Of course, I invited them to spend some time in Idaho.

During the majority of time I served in Runcorn I had a companion by the name of Brad Hales.  Also in our district was a senior sister companionship of Meriel Peterson and Patricia Kleinkopf.  We were all native Idahoans and were in close proximity of each other.  It was natural that the Byroms also wanted to visit each of them while they were in Idaho.

This particular day we drove to Oakley, Idaho to visit Sister Peterson.  We had an enjoyable breakfast and conversation.  Sister Peterson decided she wanted to give us the tour of Oakley because there were some architectural gems that she thought the Byroms would enjoy.  I grew up near Oakley so I was familiar with many of these local landmarks.

We all piled into my little Camry and away we drove.  We had not made it very far driving down some of the streets of Oakley when Sister Peterson announced, “Wait, David is home, he will want to meet you!”  She had me turn around and we pulled into a little home in Oakley.

I had no clue who David was and I was not familiar with the home we were now pulling into the driveway.  We all exited the car.  In the yard there was a man trimming his hedges with a large straw hat and a large set of sunglasses that you only see old people wear.

Since Sister Peterson indicated that David would want to meet the Byroms because they were from England, I remained at the front of my car in the driveway and leaned back against it in the hot, summer, morning sun.

I have to give a little bit of background on the month prior.  We are in the latter half of July 2001 at the point of this picture (I recollect it was the 21st, but may be wrong).  I had just spent considerable time in Hawaii with family at the beginning of the month.  During that time I picked myself up a shirt and a shell necklace among other items.  As you can see in the picture, I am wearing my red shirt (not the blatant Hawaiian design you regularly see).  For years I thought I was in a pair of board shorts too, but this picture corrects my memory on that tidbit.  But I had continuously wore my new puka shell necklace since the trip to Hawaii.

Back to the story, I am leaning on the front of my car watching the Byroms enter the back yard through the hedge and approach this old man in a large straw hat and holding an electric hedge trimmer.  The man stopped trimming and turned to greet his trespassers.  Curiously, after what was a short couple of moments, probably no more than 20 seconds of conversation, this man leaves the Byroms and Sister Peterson and headed my direction.

My first reaction was that I was doing something wrong so I looked around to see my misstep.  Alas, not seeing I had done anything wrong I approached the man and met him near his hedge.  He had set down his trimmer before arriving to me and he pulled his hand out of his glove to shake my hand.  I shook hands with him and he with his free hand reached up and took of his hat and glasses and asked me my name.

My first thought was something along these lines, “Boy, this David fellow sure looks familiar.”  He asked my name and I gave it.  He asked about my Ross name and whether or not it was Scottish.  I informed him it was my name but not the name of which my ancestors carried.  He then informed me that Ross was a common name in Scotland where he had served as a Mission President.

He then grew quiet and he sidled up closer to me and put the hand with the hat and glasses in the small of my back while still holding my other hand in a handshake.  He was now close enough that his face was in my shadow (and he was considerably shorter than me).  He then broke the handshake and with that hand reached up and touched my puka shell necklace.

“What is this?”

“My necklace?”

“I am disappointed that you have fallen from the principles of the gospel that we teach as missionaries.  We teach than men and women have separate and distinct roles and this is confusing the two.”

My first impression was, “How did you know I served a mission?”

This man then turned to walk away back to the Byroms and Sister Peterson.  As he walked away, the thought occurred, “You have just been rebuked by an Apostle.”

Then it dawned.  David was David B Haight, one of the twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This was an individual I recognized as a Priesthood Leader and on my first meeting with him, I had been rebuked.

I stood there reeling from what had just happened.  It stung.  David went to the back door of his house and summoned his wife Ruby.  Ruby appeared and they all stood 25 feet away from me chit chatting about England, Scotland, and whatever else they were talking about.

What seemed like an eternity was likely only a minute or so, if that.  I remember reaching up and taking the puka shell necklace off and holding it in my hand.  I dwelt on what was really an unintended and probably unwanted visit that was a bother to me and this old man.  Sister Peterson just commented he was home and a few lines of dialogue just ended up potentially effected my eternities.  According to him I was already on the path, so I guess it did not matter what he said except to correct my backsliding ways.

Next thing I knew, the distant conversation between the Haights and Byroms had stopped and this Apostle was returning to me.  He again held out his hand as if to invite another handshake. I held out my hand with the necklace in it and he cupped his hand to receive whatever I was offering.  I dropped the necklace into his hand and once he realized what it was he let it drop to the ground.

He held out his hand again inviting mine in a handshake and I clasped his.  He sidled up close to me again, put his other hand in the small of my back, and was close enough to be in my shadow and that I could smell the salt in his old man sweat, and he continued…

“Where did you serve your mission?”  (I remember thinking that was an ironic question since the Byroms were from England, Sister Peterson served in England, and he asked where the fourth member of the party served his mission?)

“England Manchester Mission”

“How long have you been home?”

(After a quick mental tally) “Nine months”

“Elder, you hold the Priesthood.  You have a duty to uphold that Priesthood.  You should have been married by now.”

He released my hand, pulled his hand from the small of my back, turned, and walked away.  Maybe 4 steps later he turned around and said, “When it happens, I want to know about it.”

He returned to a conversation with Ruby, Sister Peterson, and the Byroms.

I stood there while they chatted for a few more minutes.  I do not recall hearing anything of the conversation between them, even if I was close enough to have heard.

Rosie had a picture taken of the occasion.  Sister Peterson sacrificed herself in the moment to take the photo that now memorializes this occasion.

I shook hands again with Elder David Haight and Sister Ruby Haight and we headed on down the road to see some other homes.  I ended up driving many more hours that day to Boise, Idaho City, Stanley, and elsewhere chauffeuring the Byroms through some of the sights of Idaho.  Rosie Byrom teased me about the moment the rest of the time I was with them.  After all, it is not every day that you get rebuked by an Apostle.  I cannot recall if they overheard the conversation or if I told them about it.  I cannot imagine that they overheard the conversation due to the close proximity in which David and I spoke that day.

Oddly enough, it weighed on me for a long time.  It became the butt of jokes as time went on, especially as David continued to age.  He was already over 95 at the time of my meeting him.  Roommates and friends would indicate that I better hurry or else I would not fulfill the rest of my duty to let David know when it happened.  I will not lie, it became a great story to tell people.  People loved to hear about my rebuke by an Apostle.

I regularly tell the story to individuals I am close to and that wear a necklace.  Missionaries I worked with I regularly told the story, especially if they wore a necklace.  I admit, I never wore a necklace or bracelet of any type since that date.  I know a number of missionaries who have “fallen from the principles we teach as missionaries” and forsaken their evil ways.  Honestly, I do not know that the story is one that should be heeded by others.  But for the deep effect it had upon me at the time and the power in which he spoke to me, I recognize it was for me.  Others should be careful about applying revelation of others to themselves.  But I do believe there is a principle here that we can learn, I just don’t know that I can very clearly articulate it.  I know the principle clearly for me, but don’t know how narrow or general to make it in application to others.

I remember Rosie reminding me that if I properly repent, I would be married within another 9 months.  Boy if that did not apply a little pressure!

As a side, I did pick up my little puka shell necklace and ended up giving it to a friend when I returned to Missouri later in August.  I don’t believe she has any clue what that little necklace meant to me.

There is more to the story.

On the following Monday, I believe 23 July 2001, I was in Salt Lake City with the Byroms.  After an endowment session, Rosie announced we were to go to the Church Administration Building.  She did not tell us why and I thought she just wanted to see the sights from the Church Office Building.  We walked in the Church Office Building and after Rosie talked to the man at the desk, she said we were in the wrong building and we needed to go to the Church Administration Building.  I informed her that the Church Administration Building was not really open to the public.  Rosie announced that we had an appointment.

In light of my experience a few days before, I was not really thrilled about our appointment in the Church Administration Building.  We walked around to the front door of the Church Administration Building and walked in.  As we approached the man at the security desk he asked,

“Are you the Byroms?”

Rosie responded, “Yes.”

“We have been waiting for you.”  (Never a very heartwarming phrase, whether the morgue, jail, CIA, bank, or Church Administration Building)

The man then responded, “You will need to leave your bags here, take the elevator to the fourth floor, take a right, and it is the last door on the left.  I will let them know you are coming up.”

We entered the elevator and headed to the fourth floor.  Rosie then turned and commented to me, “John helped provide security and drive for Elder Ballard while he (Elder Ballard) was in England for the Preston Temple Dedication.  He told us that if we were ever in Utah to stop and pay him a visit.”

Suddenly the realization came to me that I was going to visit with my second Apostle in less than a week.  I am a fairly laid back guy but felt some apprehension after the experience just days before.  We turned the corner and there stood M Russell Ballard in the doorway.  He invited us in to his office, introduced us to his secretary, and then ushered us into his office.  Across from his desk, I think, there were two nice wing-backed chairs.  Another chair was already there for me, or we pulled up a chair.  Elder Ballard left the office for a moment and then reappeared pushing a little chair toward me.  We were already all seated and he asked,

“Where is your wife?”

“I am not married.”

“Oh, that is something you will have to fix.”

He turned to push the little chair back out the door.  I heard Rosie chuckle and comment, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses…”

Elder Ballard returned and took his seat and we had a nice conversation that probably did not take more than 15 minutes.  Once again, Rosie had a picture taken.

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, Elder Ballard

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, M Russell Ballard

That was the extent of the interaction and I felt some sting from the second witness of my duty to uphold the Priesthood.  But it was a pleasant experience.  Rosie reminded me often after that, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Well, time passed and eventually Elder David B Haight did pass from this veil of tears at the end of July 2004, three years after our encounter.  Fortunately, Elder Haight and I did have an opportunity to talk again regarding our first interaction that lessened the blow of the occasion.  Nevertheless, roommates and many friends called after Elder Haight’s passing to let me know how dire my situation was now that the revelator had passed and I had not fulfilled my duty.

Rosie commented to me that I could fulfill my duty by reporting my marriage to Elder Ballard when the time came.

Well, forward a few more years and I became enamored with a little red-headed girl from Kaysville, Utah.  She came to enjoy her time with me and after a while we would end our walks with a little dancing on the porch of the Alumni House at Utah State University.  It became a regular thing to end our walks and evenings out with a dance and closing conversation on the porch of the Alumni House.  I dare say we danced on the porch of that building more than 60 times.  It was on the porch of this little Alumni House that I made an unofficial proposal to Ms. Hemsley.  It just seemed like the right place.

Months later, Amanda and I returned to Logan under the guise of visiting some friends.  While on the campus I took her to that little porch of the Alumni House and there after midnight, now on 4 July 2005, I fell to my knee and proposed to her.  Of course she said yes and we danced and kissed there on the porch of the Alumni House.  Interestingly, before we left that night, I caught sight of a huge portrait hanging inside the doors that open to the porch that had become an important part of our courtship.  As I looked closer, I could see the familiar sight of a man whose face I knew.  As I got a little closer to see in the dark the portrait lit only by fire escape signs it dawned on me it was a portrait of David B Haight.

If that was not a little coincidental, and perhaps a little creepy, I do not know what is.  Elder Haight’s portrait had actually witnessed some of the most personal moments of my courtship.  The building I had only known as the Alumni House is properly named the David B Haight Alumni Center.  Somehow it seemed the whole experience had just came full circle.

We sent a wedding invitation to Elder M Russell Ballard with a short note explaining that due to Elder Haight’s passing I was sending the note and invitation to him to fulfill my duty.  He responded with a card thanking me for my note and invitation and suggested I consider my duty fulfilled.  He also apologized for not being able to attend our reception (which I am glad about, surely some further duty might have been laid upon me if he had!)

There is my story for the above photo with the Haights and Byroms.  Maybe some day I can tell my story about Elder Hales (the Apostle, not my missionary companion)…

Dentist Office #6

I don’t know why, but I thought I would share this only photo I have of the place I lived at Utah State from 2003 to 2005.  It is located on Darwin Avenue in Logan, Utah and is colloquially known as Dentist Office.  Aptly named from the dentist office that occupies the front of the building.  Anyhow, many memories here and just one, somewhat poor, photo.  Maybe someday I will return and get a better photo.

My bed was immediately below the top right window for the entire time I lived there.  I believe the address was something like 655 Darwin Avenue and we were in Apartment #6.

Dentist Office Apartments at Utah State University

A number of roommates lived there while I did.  Some of them are still close friends today.  Some of them include:

Samuel Allred

Lane Blake

Tyler Elison

Lucas Garcia

Matthew Geddes

Brad Hales

Mark Morris

Matthew Petersen

Justin Siebenhaar

Mike Staheli

Seth Warburton

Honorary Mentions:

John Catron

Matjaz Marincic

Joseph Sheppard

Ryan Werner

Taylor Willingham

Here are some pictures from the earlier groups.  I don’t have many of the later roomies, I guess we didn’t see the need to take pictures.

Back(l-r): ?, Sam Allred, Becky Nudd, Seth Warburton, Stephanie Adair, Jeana Stuart; Middle: Emily Sara, Paul Ross, Lynsi Lund, Colby ?; Front: Joe Sheppard, Matt Petersen, Mike Staheli, Brad Hales.

Starting from and working clockwise, Emily Sara, Joe Sheppard, Jeana Stuart, Mike Staheli, Colby ?, Matt Petersen, Lynsi Lund, Seth Warburton, Becky Nudd, Sam Allred, ?, John Catron, ?.

Back: Matt Petersen, Paul Ross, Mike Staheli, Jaime Nelson: Front: Sam Allred, Seth Warburton, Tina Stringham, Brad Hales. On other couch: Melissa Gregory.

Lane Blake, Matjaz Marincic, Brad Hales, Tyler Elison, Mark Morris, Sam Allred, Paul Ross

Taylor Willingham, Paul Ross, Patrick Neary, Greg ? at Bear Lake.

Patrick Neary, Greg ?, Mark Morris with buried Paul Ross at Bear Lake.

Matt Geddes, Lucas Garcia, Paul & Amanda Ross, Anna Badger, Brad Hales

Glacus Merrill’s Class

Back(l-r): Ira Hillyard, Unknown, Bob Johnson, Junior Petterborg, Irwin Jonas, Unknown, Unknown.  2nd from Back: Unknown, Ruth Rich, Kaye Funk, Anna Lawrence, Joyce Larsen, Ruth Hutchinson, Nadine Johnson, Darrel Smith.  Middle Row: Unknown, Unknown, Eva Kershaw, Lyle Wilding, Unknown, Afton Sorensen, Dorothy Nielson, Unknown, Norwood Jonas.  2nd from Front: Alvin Spackman, Bernice Frandsen, Unknown, Glacus Merrill, Joy Erickson, Unknown, Allen Spackman.  Front: Garr Christensen, Oral Ballam Jr, LaMar Carlson, Unknown, Gail Spackman, Ivan Anderson, Warren Hamp.

This is Glacus Merrill’s class from what I believe is 1936.  He taught class at Park School in Richmond, Cache, Utah.  Several individuals have assisted me to name the individuals I have so far.  There are too many unknowns that I hope to clarify in the future.  If anyone can help, I would certainly appreciate it.  My Grandfather, Norwood, and his brother, Irwin, are both in the photo.  Irwin died in World War II, and I assume some of the rest did as well.

I have listed all the individuals below with some limited information I could find on them.  At the very bottom is Glacus’ obituary.

Ira William Hillyard (1924-2009)

Unknown

Robert “Bob” Jay Johnson (1924-2009)

Junior “Pete” Lee Petterborg (1923-1990)

Irwin John Jonas (1921-1944)

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Ruth Rich

Norma Kaye Funk (1924-2002)

Anna May Lawrence (1924-1988)

Joyce Larsen

Ruth Hutchinson

Nadine Johnson (1924-2005)

Darrel Wilmot Smith (1924-2008)

Unknown

Unknown

Eva Kershaw

Lyle Wilding (1924-2002)

Unknown

Mary Afton Sorensen (1923-2008)

Dorothy Nielson

Unknown

Wilburn Norwood Jonas (1924-1975)

Alvin Chester Spackman (1923-1994)

Bernice Frandsen (1924-2002)

Unknown

Glacus Godfrey Merrill (1905-2002)

Joy Erickson (1924-2002)

Unknown

Allen Elijah Spackman (1923-1997)

Garr Dee Christensen (1923-2002)

Oral Ballam

Victor LaMar Carlson (1923-2008)

Unknown

Harold Gail Spackman (1924-1991)

Ivan Anderson

Warren Thomas Hamp (1924-2009)

Here is a copy of the obituary I found for Glacus.  Wow, I wish my school teachers had been this amazing.

LOGAN – Glacus G. Merrill, 96, died of causes incident to age in Logan, Utah on Saturday, February 9, 2002.  He was born May 27, 1905 in Richmond, Utah to Hyrum Willard and Bessie Cluff Merrill.  He is a grandson of Marriner W. Merrill, a pioneer prominent in the settling of Cache Valley, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the first president of the Logan LDS Temple.  He married Constance B. Bernhisel in 1925, and they were later divorced.  He married Marie B. Bailey, March 24, 1945 in Washington D.C.  Their marriage was later solemnized in the Logan LDS Temple.

While attending school, he participated in track and football at North Cache and Brigham Young College, where he graduated in 1925.  Glacus graduated from Utah State University in 1935 and also attended the University of Utah and Chico State College in California.  He is a graduate of the REI Radio Engineering School in Sarasota, Florida.  He was the principal of the Richmond Park School for 11 years and served in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War II.  He served an LDS mission to California from 1954-1955.  While living in the East, he served as President of the West Virginia Farm Bureau and the State Black Angus Association.  He is an honorary Kentucky Colonel.  He also served as President and District Governor of Lions Clubs in Utah and West Virginia, and was a member of the Lions Club for 42 years.  Glacus was Vice President of the West Virginia Broadcasters Association, and is a member of the USU Old Main Society.  He established a Scholarship Fund in the Communications Department at USU.  The Montpelier, Idaho Jaycees presented him with their outstanding Citizen’s Award.  He was also a member of the Montpelier Rotary Club, Utah Farm Bureau, VFW and American Legion.  He is a member of the “Around the World Club” having traveled around the world with his son, Gregory.  He and his wife, Marie traveled extensively.  Merrill was a popular Rodeo announcer in his early days.  He authored the book “Up From the Hills” which was finished in 1988 and is available in area libraries.

Honored by the Utah Broadcasters as a pioneer in Radio Broadcasting, Merrill started his broadcasting career in 1938 as part owner and Program Director at KVNU Radio in Logan.  After serving four years in the Navy, he built his first radio station Clarksburg, West Virginia.  He owned and operated 11 other stations in West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Idaho and Utah, including stations in Montpelier, Idaho and Logan, Utah.  He was well known for his frank and outspoken editorials, news and comments on KBLW in Logan.  He has given over 7,000 newscasts and editorials always ending them with the saying, “Have Good Day Neighbor.”  In 56 years of radio broadcasting, he trained several young broadcasters who are now making good.

As a hobby, wherever he lived, he operated a cattle ranch and farm.  He served in many civic and church activities including counselor in the LDS Stake MIA, counselor in the East Central Stake Mission Presidency, 5 years as a Branch President and 11 years as District President in West Virginia.  He also served as Deputy Scout Commissioner in Idaho and for 12 years taught the High Priest Class in the Logan 3rd Ward and served for several years as the High Priest Group Leader.  He was an avid supporter of many missionaries in the area.

His wife, Marie preceded him in death on April 22, 1993, as well as six brothers and one sister.  He is survived by his two daughters, Darla D. (Mrs. Dennis Clark) of Logan; Madge (Mrs. Melvin Meyer) of Smithfield; one son, G. Gregory (Joan) Merrill of Logan; nine grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.  Funeral services will be held at 12 Noon on Thursday, February 14, 2002, at the Logan 3rd Ward Chapel, 250 North 400 West, with Bishop Grant Carling conducting.  Friends and family may call Wednesday evening, February 13th, at the Nelson Funeral Home, 162 East 400 Norther, Logan from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Thursday at the church from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.  Interment will be in the Richmond City Cemetery.

Ode to Grandma Ross

Gladys and Maxine; ages 5 and 3 (1927)

Since Grandma would have been 90 today, I thought I would put together a couple of memories of her to commemorate her birthday.  Not so much a biography, just more of my personal memories and a couple of pictures through the decades of her life.  Gladys Maxine Donaldson was born 20 September 1921 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.  I have written of her parents, David and Dena Donaldson, previously.

1939

Grandma married Milo James Ross 4 April 1942 in Ogden.  I have written some of their history at the following link: Ross-Donaldson Wedding.  Milo and Gladys had three children; Milo in 1943 (my father), Judy in 1946, and Caroline in 1948.

Milo and Gladys, 1943

I think the following photo was taken on the steps of Grandma’s parent’s home on Wall Avenue in Ogden.  I believe this photograph was taken the day of Glady’s father’s funeral.  The little girls are Caroline (left) and Judy (right).

Caroline, Gladys, and Judy about 1953

Here is a picture of Grandpa and Grandma in front of their home (built by Grandpa in 1955).  If you look closely, you can see the back of them in the window.

1961

Here is a more formal photograph of Grandpa and Grandma.  I do not know the occasion.

Milo and Gladys in the 1960′s

Another one.

Abt 1976

I think this is the first photo I have with my Grandma.  I do not know exactly how old I am, but I am most likely under 2 years old.  Since I grew up in Idaho, I only got to see my Grandparents once or twice a year.  In this picture, I do not seem too sure of the lady on the bike!

Paul and Gladys, about 1981

I do not recall what the occasion was for this picture but we were dressed up for something.  I do not recognize the building.

Paul, Gladys, and Andra in 1985

In 1992 when I received my Eagle Scout, my mom refused to step into an LDS church where the Court of Honor was held.  Dad invited Grandma to stand in for my Mom.  Mom arrived around the time of this photo in her thermal overalls and was royally upset and offended not only that my Grandparents were there, but that Grandma took her place.  Either way, it was a great honour to my Grandparents, especially in light of the history between my Grandparents and Mom.

Paul, Gladys, Milo (Jr) in 1992

In 1997, I moved to Logan, Utah to attend Utah State University.  Since I lived so much closer, I made an effort to visit my Grandparents at least once a month or so.  Typically it was not hard as I could catch a ride with someone passing through to another location.  Grandma was always very kind and would repeatedly remind me how much she loved me and that there was always a bed for me to sleep in if I wished to spend the night.  As her mind started to slip after Aunt Judy’s death the next year, she would often repeat the same two phrases at least every 15 minutes.  While they were the repetitions of an old lady, I still recognized that they came from the heart of my Grandmother who dearly loved me.  She knew me, loved me, and only had two phrases in which to express that in her mental infirmity.  I now feel her love over and over again with the phrases, although at the time they were sometimes annoyances.

I have to share a quick story at this point.  I had just come home my mission in England in December 2000.  I had not been home very long when I visited Utah again with my friend Dustin McClellan.  I was given some gifts and homemade soap to drop off at Grandpa and Grandma’s in Plain City.  Dustin and I stopped and we were visiting when Grandma left the room announcing she would cut up some fudge and bring it out.  Grandma came into the room and I turned down the fudge (I try to avoid sweets).  Grandpa took a piece and Dustin took a healthy portion.  Dustin put most of it in his mouth and when Grandpa took a bite he exclaimed that the fudge was soap.  Grandma had cut up the soap we brought as a gift thinking it was fudge!  The look on Dustin’s face was clearly a man who had taken a mouth of fudge and was completely disgusted and deceived but did not want to let anyone know lest he offend my Grandma.  Grandpa had to take the soap from Grandma who was about to eat a piece despite the warning.  Dustin who was nearly foaming at the mouth from the soap excused himself to wash out his mouth.  We still laugh about this episode now, 10 years on.

Another episode occurred in 2001, probably around September.  I was driving through with a friend, Kevin Orton, for business and I convinced him to pay a stop on my Grandparents.  It was a fairly routine visit and Grandpa invited Kevin and me to go out back to visit his large garden.  Grandma walked with us and after a while we all retired to the back porch to sit a while.  Grandma went in to the house after offering us all a drink.  Grandpa went after her because she was so forgetful (to the point that he was concerned about her safety when cooking).  She opened the door, walked in, and Grandpa caught the screen door as it was closing.  Grandma turned and exclaimed, “Don’t touch my damn door!”  Grandpa jumped back, let the door close, and Grandma closed the door behind.  Right before she closed the door all the way though, she spoke softly, “I love you honey.”  She then closed the door and we heard it lock!  Kevin and I laughed and laughed about the whole scene.  Even years later he will randomly reference this experience.

Here is a great picture of Grandma at her 60th wedding anniversary.  She looked great but her memory was pretty much gone and I think she was lost half the time she was there.

2002

Jennie Britzman, Grandma’s first cousin, came to visit and this picture was snapped.  Grandpa was Grandma’s full-time caretaker by this point (Grandpa and Grandma were both about 82) and they rarely strayed far from home.

Jennie Britzman and Gladys, 2003

I believe this is the last photograph I have taken of Grandma before she passed away.  Grandpa looks younger and Grandma looks happy.

Grandpa and Grandma in 2004

Grandma died 25 August 2004 in the new McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.  Her funeral and burial took place in Plain City on 25 August 2004.  Happy Birthday Grandma, I look forward to seeing you again.

The Scotsman who doesn’t love the Thistle

Whenever I see this picture, I think of “The Scotsman” from Utah State University.  It is not the formal fight song, but has been used as a song from the university for over 90 years.

Show me the Scotsman who doesn’t love the thistle.
Show me the Englishman who doesn’t love the rose.
Show me the true blooded Aggie from Utah
Who doesn’t love the spot . . .
Where the sagebrush grows!

Here is a version of it caught by ESPN for your viewing pleasure.  You have to be patient to get to it as the broadcast proceeds: ESPN Scotsman. You can see some other videos of the Scotsman from this link.  Listening to it and remembering my experiences with the crowd still makes my hair stand on end.  Here are a couple of the other chants: Aggie Cheers.  This includes the Scotsman, I believe, and Winning Team/Losing Team.  The later two chants arose after I graduated in 2005 but show that Aggie spirit is still well and alive.

It was not until we arrived in Scotland that we saw the marvel that the Scottish Thistle really is!  Look at the size of this thistle compared to Amanda, who is 5’6″.  Growing up in Idaho we had what we call Canadian Thistle, but it rarely reached half this height.

Legend tells that the Scottish were protected by the thistle when conquerors came upon them at night and hoping to attack in stealth.  Unfortunately the conquerors were thwarted by the mighty thistle as it caused some of the men to shriek in pain and alerted the clansmen of the impending attack.  It has been used as a Scottish emblem since the 13th century.  I wonder if the English used the rose for the same reason?  I do not think the Aggie will find the sagebrush to be of the same value, unless it is the delayed response of the morning after when the ticks are discovered!

At any rate, when in Scotland, stop and smell the thistle (as you can see Amanda doing).  I can admit, I love the sagebrush, and I definitely love one of the spots where the sagebrush grows: Logan, Utah.

Timpooneke Trail

Here is a tribute to the first time I hiked the Timpooneke Trail with friends.  We celebrated Pioneer Day in 2003 (the day after) by hiking this trail with a phenomenal view of Utah Valley below.  The trail will take you to the triangulation station at the very peak of Mount Timpanogas located at 11,749 feet.  In the photo above, you can see the north face with a 1,500+ face.  (As always, click the photos to get a closer look)

Brad Hales, Marianne Hales, and Mark Morris and I started hiking around 6 A.M.  We made our way slowly through the day to the top.  We ended up taking about 7 hours to get to the very top.  It was quite the trail upward.  Other websites indicate the trail is 14 miles round trip and you gain 4,389 before descending.

The mountain is quite a fascinating climb if you like geology.  I had just completed my Geology class at BYU the year before and learned the appreciate the mountains near the Y.  By the time of this photo, I had repented of my ways and returned to USU, but still appreciated the geologic history so easily viewable on the way up (and down).

Here is a look back across the valley as you ascend the hill.  You start on the back side of the mountain and this is looking back (just like Lot’s wife).  You do not see Utah County until you are nearing the peak.

Here is a shot of Marianne, me, and Brad with Provo and Orem and Lake Utah in the background.  I was so exhausted at the top that I took a 30 minute kip in addition to lunch at the peak.

Here is a shot looking down at Emerald Lake below the peak.  We would ride our bags down the “glacier” that goes into the lake.  I have to admit, sitting at the top of the “glacier” looking down and the incline scared me to death.  Something about dropping a couple of thousand feet within a minute or two and the incline that scared me.

Here is a picture of me sliding on my bottom, probably around 3/4 of the way down.

If anyone needs a good trail to hike, I recommend this one.  Great views, good effort, and bring good company.  Do not forget a roll of TP in your backpack as the restrooms did not have any.

Prairie Home Companion

Well, I just put out a whole philosophical e-mail and thought I would take a moment to do an actual update on life.
I am sitting here listening to Prairie Home Companion enjoying a few good laughts.  Earlier I listened to Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The woman without a shadow) by Richard Strauss.  It was fascinating to listen to.  Made me want to learn my German.  Funny how music can take us other places.
I have just finished my second week at Bank of America.  Things are going very well.  I am learning many more things about mortgages and all the documentations that attend.  The lessons mostly center around learning the DOS-based system they use for processing all these loans.  I have to admit it is a very detailed system that handles thousands of people working on it at all times with large amounts of information.  Impressive as that it, they tell us it has only gone down once in the last 10 years!  They have replaced one or two systems with Windows applications and they crash regularly so they are not in any rush to be replacing the old DOS-based system.  Therefore, I have to learn the codes and names to navigate the system to check and update information.  They teach us how to check the documents and how to put it into the system.  We were done covering the documents within the first week.  I have found out the position I will be in is basically an assistant underwriter.  It has a whole host of names, but currently it is Home Servicing Specialist (HSS).
Last Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference.  I think it was the most powerful Stake Conference I have ever been to.  I have been to some very good ones.  Two were in the Logan Tabernacle (one for the Logan University 4th Stake the other for the Logan University 5th Stake), another in the Springfield Missouri South Stake Center, and the last I can think of was a Stake Conference for the Chester Stake in Wrexham, Wales.  The most impressive part in Missouri was the music and the unity I felt within the congregation.  The Chester Stake was powerful for the fact of some amazing talks given, one particularly by our mission president.  The one for the 5th Stake at USU was that it was basically turned into a stake testimony meeting.  That in and of itself changed the tenor of the meeting but all were invited by name by the Stake Presidency.  The last one for the 4th Stake, I can think of two conferences in particular.  One had Elder Burton, the Presiding Bishop and the other was all the Presidency’s remarks.  President Cherrington usually gave a great talk at all conferences.  So this conference is in good company.  It wasn’t the first conference I have been to with an apostle, but this one had an apostle acted as we expect them to.  Elder Holland gave some powerful comments.
In Priesthood he taught us about Satan binding our tongues, the difference between lips and hearts, and the difference between forms of power and the real thing.  He basically told us we are doing too many things without our hearts and without conviction.  Time to step up to act in the name of the priesthood like we are expected to do.  In Saturday evening, we were taught how we live in a broken world.  Whether you like it or not, things are not perfect.  He taught us about the Atonement and how all broken things will be restored to their proper order at the right time.  Then he pounded out the importance of not whining, not complaining, and going forward in our lives with faith.  He was very direct in those who complain or say something is wrong in life.  He said nobody has the right to complain or wallow in the misery when the Savior took care of them for us.  Time to walk in faith, get up, and be about doing good.  The Sunday session proved to be just as good.  He spoke about his personal experiences of President Hinckley and his prophetic calling.  It was fascinating to learn more about the personal life of a prophet.  He spoke to us about the importance of the gospel and the role of the church.  Again, the topic had to do with looking beyond ourselves and seeing the big picture.  He ended with the importance and the role of the Holy Ghost.  How as latter day saints we live below our privileges and don’t claim the rights that are ours.  We do not appreciate what has been given to us and need to wake up.
Even though I have heard similar talks, the basic point is the power by which he spoke, namely the Spirit of God.  It literally took the message directly to my heart.  I noticed at a couple of points how my bosom literally trembled at what it was he was speaking.  I recognize the power which he conveyed.
In other news, we have been looking for a second car.  With Amanda needing to travel long distances for school this fall, it isn’t going to work to have one car.  So we are looking for a nice little car under $5,000.  So far it has been a miserable failure.  There are very few cars that are below that limit and what we are finding feel like questionable deals.  We went to look at a little Audi A4 for $4,700 and he sold the car at noon.  So we took a little Passat for a drive that he said he would sell to us for $4,000.  It only has 103,000 miles on it.  We took it for a test drive and something about the transmission raised all sorts of red flags for me.  We will have to see if something else pops up.  I may be too picky.  I don’t want a car that smells of smoke or animals.  I would like one which runs well.  I would like one that isn’t completely ugly, like a stationwagon.  Most people take such bad care of cars.  Many have rips in the seats, big marks in the doors or dash, and more.  I keep waiting for someone to give us one so we don’t have to take on a little more debt, but that probably won’t happen soon.  We will have to keep you updated.
Well, I believe that is enough of an update for now.

Hiroshima

Another crazy weekend.  However, I am proud to announce I received 8 hours of sleep on Sunday!  It was the first time in what must have been months.  I woke up with a hang over though from something.  Perhaps the body was not used to having so much rest.  Who knows.  Made my way down to Richmond again on Friday night.  I took Erika to Twin Falls this time, rather than dropping her at Jerome or Burley.  I stopped in Logan to pick up some books I ordered online.  The autobiography of Burton K Wheeler and Huey P Long, also a biography of Frank Church.  I am looking forward to reading them, although the one stenches of BO.
Amanda was able to come up and meet me in Logan so we went out for some World Famous Aggie Ice Cream.  The line proved that there were plenty of people desiring ice cream that late at night.  It must have been 9:30 and the place was crammed full of people.  Then to top it off, this lady stood and chatted with everyone at the cash register.  I had partially eaten my toffee crunch ice cream cone before she finally departed the store.  If somebody wants to get rich, they should invent an ice cream scoop that puts the ice cream clear to the bottom of the cone.  Unless of course, you like your cooled air inside the cone, slightly condensed with diary moisture.
Out to Richmond, moved in for the nocturnal visit, and spent some quality time together.  The Lundgreen’s had already gone to bed!  I had to get to bed early so that I could rise and be ready for Brad to arrive at 6:15 for work.  It seems I didn’t even fall to sleep the night went by so quickly and the alarm clock was off.  Up, breakfast, and off we go to Preston.  Sprayed lawns in Malad again.  A great day.  Visited St Johns, Pleasantview, and Malad in our spraying adventures.  This lady up on the hill had a cool horse drawn buggy in her garage.  We sat and visited with her about Grass Valley, California for a while.  It was pretty interesting.
Now, I have to tell one of the highlights of the day.  Lunch at the Dude Ranch Restaurant, Main Street, Malad, Idaho.  By the look of things, it looked a bit dingy and run down, but good friendly hospitality  Brad and I took our seat in a booth which was probably one of the originals from 1945.  Definitely enjoyed the old bottle bottom glass separating the booths, which seems to have faded since the 70′s.  We ordered a bacon cheese burger and I added a nice pineapple shake to my order.  I had to get my fruit somehow and didn’t think the potatoes in the fries counted other than as a vegetable!  They hand cut their fries.  I had a curly fry that when I picked it up must have stretched out over a foot in length!  Oh, they were delicious.  The burger, home made patty, with everything freshly cut was so good.  Oh yes, I have a new favorite in dining.  Too bad it is so far off of my normal routes of travel.  Eddies in Smithfield, Utah has some pretty darn good fries too!  Not to mention their Bar-b-Que.  Anyhow, Brad and I departed happy individuals from a good down home meal.  Sometimes I get so darn tired of the other foods.
Made our way back to Preston discussing the problems of the world.  Faith, diligence, and decision making in our lives.  We discussed politics, Supreme Court, Presidential Appointment, Idaho, Franklin County, Utah, and the role of law.  It was interesting.  We discussed other things, but due to my age, have now slipped from memory.
In Richmond, I completed my online class, visited with the family for a bit, and headed out for the Jonas family reunion in small Mantua, Utah.  Pulled in, drove around in circles at the Fish Haven Campground, and finally settled the car on a nice piece of grass.  Thought to myself, “Self, visit a few, catch up, get some e-mails, and get the heck out of dodge.”  Well, I appeared and various people came up and said hi and next thing I knew everyone was asking about Amanda and the rest of the year.  I never knew I was in the loop with the Jonas clan.  I thought I was descendant of a long dead brother whose family had fallen from the planet.  Trying to gain some information and knowledge of the family had been difficult in the past.  Now somehow, I was the center of attention and did not even come prepared.  Well, I went and located my car (it was not where I swear I had just parked it!) and pulled out my computer.  Sat down at the picnic table and started showing photos of the beloved Amanda.  After two pictures, I caught them all by surprise by moving it to the Jonas and Coley pictures.  Yep, had them then within my grasp.  They were chatting and talking about old times.  Laughing and identifying people in the pictures which I had given up hope on finding out who they were.  After a good half hour of changing the subject from me to the Jonas pictures, I opened Personal Ancestral File and started showing what I had.  They oohed and awed and started lining up to make sure I had the information correct, and gave me more.  Well, by the end of my 4 hour stint, I had gathered the contact information for 8 separate families, and loaded into PAF 6 entire new families!  I was pretty excited.  So over the next months, via e-mail, those names and families will be fleshed out with dates and places.  It turned out to be more productive than I though.  I had thought the Jonas family was not interested in their genealogy and I was a lone sentinel trying to amass information.  Alas, they are already lining up for me to put together a book and have it at the family reunion next year.  The best part, the bond increased amongst us and for once, I felt a part of the extended Jonas Clan.
The moment arrived when I had to depart from Mantua.  Off to Tremonton, I met Brad Hales again and we headed up to the Kasota home of the Ross’.  We crashed the night there and Sunday morning arose for our final leg to Nampa.  Brad was kind enough to prepare me a bowl of rolled oats.  I love rolled oats, don’t get me wrong, but the amount of so much I could not place any milk into my already oversized bowl was a bit much.  I felt like I had eaten too much afterwards.  The honey in it was really good though!  Hey, I lowered my cholesterol today!
We then made the trek to Nampa, and then Kuna, Idaho.  On the route, we discussed Brigham Young, being led and inspired of heaven, recognizing that guidance, and Oliver Cowdery.  Interspersed with our personal adventures, experiences, and stories.  It was interesting.
Nampa we arrived at the Hales Homestead and enjoyed some quality family time.  Really good Jello, and seared chicken too!  Then off to church for the baby blessing, of which I was even invited to stand in!  That was exciting.  No relation whatsoever, but I got to stand in for the baby blessing.  A very good testimony meeting, and then it was good bye.  Brad and siblings all headed back to Utah, and I headed to Parma.  Oh, I must comment, Brad’s sister, Amy agreed to go to Eastern Germany with me sometime to travel and do family history work.  I am excited!  Now just have to find that buried box of money…
Parma, Idaho was an experience finding.  I thought it was just one of the next towns from Nampa.  Nope.  A few miles to Caldwell, then to Notus, then to Parma.  It was like 30+ miles.  Oh well, it was a beautiful Sunday drive.  I was tempted just to go to Nyssa, Oregon too, but decided against it later.  I found Parma, and took a stroll around the Roswell and Parma cemeteries for the Ross Clan.  I don’t have a direct link to them, probably don’t but feel so compelled to assemble their family history.  Hopefully the future will reveal why.  I found 4 in Roswell, and 10 in Parma, including Charles Benjamin Ross.  That I was excited about.  Took a good drive around the area.  They must be raising something like grapes or something.  I have never seen the vines growing like that.  The Roswell Cemetery was surrounded by them.  There were also plenty of onion fields.  I swear I could smell spearmint too, but never got out to go into the fields to see if I could find a field of spearmint.  I also never realized Parma was the home of Parma farming implement.  Learn something new every day!
Headed back to Eagle, and crashed for the rest of the afternoon.  Did some catching up on the family history from Mantua, and visited on the phone.
On a sad note, I found out my 3rd Grade teacher, Ella Suhr passed away in June.  I was hoping to at least write her and say thank you for the influence she had on my life.  I suppose I will have to wait a while now.
Well, I will close.  Hope it was not too long and tedious of an entry.  It was a fascinating weekend, even though I am exhausted.  The usual state I am in as of late.  It is all worth it though.  I only hope my body will endure it for a very long time.