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.