Today - January 14, 2014 - is my Mom's birthday.
She passed away on July 26, 2013, so this is her first birthday we've had without her.
In remembrance of her 93 1/2 years here on earth, I'm going to share some of her life story.
Here are the first ten years of her life ... in her own words.
She wanted to include a little history of happenings in the world for each year of her life, so they are at the beginning of each year.
The pictures didn't copy, so I'm figuring out how to get them into the "blank boxes."
Mom was always sad that her Mom and Dad didn't get any photos of her when she was a baby.
The first photo they have of her is when she was about 5 years old, and I don't know if I even
have a copy of that.
Here is a photo of great-granddaughter, Jacee Peterson, reading to Grama A from her life story during the last two years of Verna's life when she lived with Julie & John and family in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Her eyesight had failed so much that she couldn't read anymore, and she loved to hear her life story read to her.
Thanks, Jacee, for making your Great-Grama A so happy!
Here's Janice with her on her 92nd birthday.
Here's David & Julie's family with her on that same birthday.
And here's the family in 1962...Verna age 42.
Here she is at age 17...1937 just a couple weeks before
she and Arnold eloped.
V E R N A
An Idaho Girl
The Life Story
Verna Beth Huffaker Albertson
Finished Edition with Photos - 2003
New Year’s Resolution for 2000:
“Write my life story this year.”
As told to her daughters, Eileen Albertson Petersen
and Janice Albertson Robertson
This Idaho girl,
was born January 14, 1920.
The 1920s came to be called
“The Jazz Age.”
Farming was done the “old-fashioned” way with horses when I was growing up. I have fond memories of living and working on the farm.
Dad was a hard worker. He worked from dawn till dark.
Since world events affected me, I want to put a little
summary of what happened each year of my life…
…they will be little scraps of history.
1920 Woodrow Wilson , President of U.S.A.
Prohibition Amendment to U.S. Constitution goes into effect
National Football League organizes in Canton, Ohio
Radio is a new phenomenon
1921--Warren G. Harding, President USA
First Miss America crowned
1922--“Reader’s Digest” founded
King Tutankhamen’s tomb opened in Egypt.
Lincoln Memorial dedicated in Washington, D.C.
1923--Pres. Harding dies; Calvin Coolidge becomes President
Popular songs “Tea for Two,” “Yes, We Have No Bananas”
1924--Ford Motor Company produces 10 millionth car
[The historic references are from www.storypreservation.com
and a few from the Church Almanac as cited.]
And a little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...
1920--President Heber J. Grant, 3rd year as LDS Prophet
Membership of Church 525,987 in 83 stakes, 24 missions; 889 missionaries set apart this year
1921--The M-Men and Gleaner departments in the MIA (Mutual Improvement Association)
were introduced Church wide to serve the special needs of young people from ages 17 to 23.
1922--The Primary Children’s Hospital opened in Salt Lake City.
1923--President Grant dedicated the Alberta Temple after construction for nearly a decade
1924--A First Presidency statement answered criticism of unauthorized plural marriages
by once again confirming the Church’s policy against the practice.
Polygamists within the Church were excommunicated when discovered.
Radio broadcast of general conference began on KSL.
[The Church references are from Deseret News
1999-2000 Church Almanac.]
In 1920 when I was born Dad and Mother lived in a small log house out of Rigby, Idaho, on a dry farm that Dad had cleared of sagebrush after they were married on May 29, 1913.
I was born Wednesday, January 14 in that house. I think my spirit got frostbitten on its way to earth because I’m always cold.
When I was one year old my parents moved to Wendell, Idaho, in the middle of winter. “The Magic Valley area has a milder temperature, with shorter winters and longer summers than the Idaho Falls area. The fruit harvest is better and you can get three cuttings of hay instead of just two,” some friends told them.
Mother and Dad and our neighbors, the Newman’s and the Tinkers, all moved at
the same time. The first place my folks rented was called the Andrew place, which we also called the Andrus place. I am drawing a map of the farm and a sketch of the house.
The Tinkers rented a place about three miles east of the folks and the Newman’s settled ten miles away in Jerome.
The folks stayed on the Andrew place for a short time then we moved to what we still call the Amdahl place about a mile west of the Andrew place. This place had an L-shaped porch, kitchen and my bedroom on the east.
My first memory of childhood is of pulling a red wagon up the walk and going through the porch to the kitchen door. I was wearing new coveralls of blue chambray edged in red with peg pockets and I was very proud of them.
I also have an early memory of when Morris, 8, and I, 4, were out in the field when Morris took a long stick and lifted the lid off a beehive. He got many bee stings but I don’t remember being stung myself. After we ran home, Mother used the tweezers to pull the stingers from his head.
Another day, David, Morris and I had been out watching Dad burn weeds by taking burning pails of one pile and setting another pile on fire with it. I guess David and Morris thought that looked like fun and when we came back to the house they tried it on the rose bushes around the foundation of the house.
Mother, who had been to a garden club meeting, got home just in time to avert the house from being burned down. All three of us got sent to bed without supper. I remember Mother had cooked rice. I didn’t even like rice but I thought it sure would have tasted good that night.
Mother belonged to the Hill ‘n Dale Club in the neighborhood and I can remember her curling her hair for it by putting the curling iron in the chimney of the coal oil lamp to heat it. The club that day was being held at the Holbrook house, which was about a fourth of a mile south of us. Other neighbors were the Jerry Renfrows and the Forests.
I remember our kitchen linoleum was blue with a white design. Our kitchen stove was gray enamel with chrome trim. I remember David throwing one of my black patent leather shoes up on the roof and Dad had to retrieve it the next Sunday so I could go to church. It seems like David was always pestering me.
Another vivid memory is when I went with Dad to plant grain. The old grain planter had big wheels with about a 5-foot wide box in between. Two horses were hitched to the tongue to pull it. There were spouts (like funnels) that matched the rows and it could plant ten or twelve rows at a time. Dad let me sit on this box that held the grain. The wheat went from the box through the spouts into the ground. The opening was big enough to let a little stream of wheat flow out into it. There were cogs at the bottom of the box that kept the grain going into the spouts.
I was letting the grain run down my fingers as it fell into the spouts. I got my finger too close to one of the cogs and it cut the tip of my index finger off. I was afraid to tell Dad so I said I wanted to go to the house.
He stopped the horses, I got down and ran to the house. Mother put a bandage on my finger. When Dad came in and saw it, he put my hand over the wood box and took his razor to trim off the skin that was holding the tip of my finger.
Instead of being punished as I thought I would be, Dad said I was a plucky little girl not to have cried and not telling him why I wanted to go to the house.
The next day when he went to town he got me a box of Poll Parrot candy all for me. Poll Parrot candy was one of our favorites. It was hard round candy sticks about the size of a drinking straw and about three inches long with different flavors of orange, lemon, grape, cinnamon, cherry–twenty to a package. We would suck them to a sharp point. I wish they still made them.
I don’t think I shared much of my box of Poll Parrot candy with my two brothers.
There was quite a few Mormon families in Wendell at that time–the Bleaks, Golds, Prescotts, Collins, Tinkers, McClures and Hansens. Mother worked in the primary so we went to primary, which was held in the building called the Odeon.
“Verna, if you do that one more time I’m going to go right through the ceiling,” Mother told me after I kept swiping the frosting with my finger to get tastes.
“Oh, good, then I can eat all of the frosting,” was my first thought. Then I got the giggles as I pictured my mother going right up through the ceiling.
(I want to explain about the round No.10 tub we used for bathing. I have a picture of a girl sitting by one of these old-fashioned tubs with her mother pouring warm water in.)
“We don’t want to play with you because you’re a girl,” Morris and David said to me. I ran into the house crying and told Mother about it.
“Here, take my hand and we’ll walk down the lane to the mailbox and see if the mail has come yet,” said Mother. This is the only time I ever remember her holding my hand and being sympathetic. She was not affectionate. She especially did not show any public affection to Dad while us kids was around.
1925 - Age 5 - Moved to the Hansen Place
1925--Calvin Coolidge--3rd year as U.S. President
“In the famous ‘Scopes Monkey Trial,” John Scopes, a Tennessee school
teacher, was found guilty of teaching evolution in a public school.”
quoted from: Deseret News 1999-2000 Church Almanac, p. 499
Water skis patented
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “The Great Gatsby”
Charleston is fashionable dance
1925--President Heber J. Grant--8th year as LDS Prophet
Elder Melvin J. Ballard established a mission in South America with headquarters
in Buenos Aires, Argentina, opening the Church’s official work in South America
In 1925 my parents moved again and rented the farm on the Hansen place. On this farm was a two-story house and, in my memory, the most fun place to live. There was a big red barn with a hay loft. I remember sweeping it out and playing up there when it was empty. It seems like Dad didn’t put hay up there until late summer.
The pump house was between the house and the barn. There was a pump in the east end and a forge on the west end with a cement walk between them with a door on both the north and south end of the walk.
The barn yard had a granary and a chicken coop. The lawn around the house was all fenced in with a 2x4 railing along the top. There was a porch along the front of the house that ran across the full width of the house. I used to play school on it with chairs and dolls. In the back yard between the house and pump house was a whirly gig made out of a buggy wheel and set on an axle driven into the ground. What fun it was.
There was several big trees all around the house. The one in the back yard held a good swing. I loved to swing up and watch the neighbors across the road. They were the Barretts--Mrs. Barrett, sons Harold and Dale and daughter Alice. At that time Harold was courting his wife and we watched them being lovey dovey. Alice took a trip to Italy and we have a picture of her feeding pigeons in Venice.
Just at the start of that summer my sister, Lorraine, was born on June 25. I was five and a half years old, so I would have been old enough to help hold the new baby.
I liked having a little sister.
THRESHING – BIG EVENT OF THE SUMMER
The big event of the summer was when it was time to harvest the wheat. First the cutting and binding of the wheat sheaves was done by the binders.
I loved the way the field looked with all those shocks of wheat standing up in their piles.
I remember the big canvases that were on the binding machines. Dad would bring the torn ones in for Mother to sew up on the machine. He would have to hold the end out while Mother put the torn part through the sewing machine to mend.
We always looked forward to when the threshers and the hay men came because Mother always made a big dinner and apple or coconut cream pie for dessert.
When I was older I realized it was funny how she made coffee for these men. She didn’t know how to make coffee because we didn’t drink it at our house. She just made it for the hired men during harvest time.
She’d put a pan of water on the stove. I learned later it’s usually made by a drip method by putting your coffee in a thing and then there’s a thing you put your hot water in and it drips down through the coffee into the pot. But Mother didn’t have a coffee pot so she just put coffee and some water together on the stove and got it hot. She didn’t know how much coffee to put in or that it needed to be steeped.
I bet it was so strong that it about ate those threshers’ stomachs out. But I don’t remember anybody complaining about it.
After I got married and Arnold liked coffee, he taught me how to make it. I thought about how Mother had made it and it was sure different.
Threshing time was a fun time. After dinner everyone helped clean up the kitchen. Then in the afternoon, before we were old enough--about 10 or 11--to work in the fields ourselves, we’d go out and stand in the trucks when the grain was coming down and let it run over our hands.
After the threshing was over we always had that great big straw stack to play on. Then we’d take clean straw and put it in our mattresses so we’d each have a new clean straw mattress.
Straw mattresses had big, thick ticking, they called it. We smoothed it out and mashed it down. The mattresses got uneven and lumpy after the straw was old. They got schusy and flat so it was fun to have a fluffy one again. It was nice every threshing season after we washed the old ticking to refill the mattresses with the fresh straw.
I have pleasant memories as a child and teenager of going to church in the Odeon.
They had that great big black stove on the stage. There were two Majestic cook stoves at the back of the stage because the regular kitchen didn’t get built until 1950. On the main room, they had a great, big brown stove to heat the chapel/recreation hall.
When I was a little kid I can remember they had those wood folding chairs and for the dances they would fold them, then pile them up in one corner. On this big stack of chairs people would lay their coats on top. I can remember when I was about five or six years old, laying up there on those coats during the dances. Dad would come and wake me up to go home. Other people would also lay their little kids up there to sleep.
Just before I started first grade Wendell was made a ward from a branch and my Dad was called as the first counselor to Bishop John F. Dixon. Mother and Dad had made the long, dusty 150-mile round trip to Stake Conference in Carey driving the Model T. It was then that the Blaine Stake was made by being divided from the Carey Stake.
As a fund raising project for the ward budget, the bishopric brought in movies every Friday night, and for $1.00 the whole family could see the movie. The first motion picture theater had opened in 1902 in Los Angeles. It would be many years before the town of Wendell had a real movie theater called the “Ace”, but we saw movies every Friday night in our “Odeon.” Then I would have fun dressing up in Mother’s dresses and shoes and pretend I was a movie star like in the movies.
GRADE SCHOOL YEARS IN WENDELL
1926-27 - First Grade, Age 6-7
1926--Calvin Coolidge--4th year as U.S. President
Germany admitted to League of Nations
Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim English Channel
A.A. Milne’s book, Winnie-the-Pooh, makes debut
Popular song: “I Found a Million-Dollar Baby
in the Five-and-Ten Cent Store”
1926--President Heber J. Grant--9th year as LDS Prophet
Weekday religious education is expanded to include college students with the
building of the first institute of religion adjacent to the University of Idaho at Moscow.
I started to school a year after moving to the Hansen place. Mother took me the first day. It was kind of scary but I saw my friend Norma McClure, who had started the year before, standing on the cement block on the side of the steps and that made me feel better. The McClures were good friends of our family from church.
My first grade teacher was Miss Velma Andrus from Firth, Idaho. She put her arm around my waist and talked to me. She made me feel special and I loved her forever. I think everyone in first grade felt the same way about her.
A large alphabet was posted above the black board. On that first day she had us each go up and stand by the letter that our name began with. I finally found the “V” near the end.
What fun first grade was. One day Miss Andrus had a card with the word ‘ain’t’ on it. She put it in a shoe box and had us all go out by the steps and bury ‘Mr. Ain’t’. We learned never to use that word. What fun to learn. We were reading very quickly and learning to print words.
On the last day of school that year she told us she was going back to Firth and wouldn’t be with us any more. She cried and we all cried, too.
Our school bus was a big truck with a wooden box with wood seats. Mr. Russell was our bus driver. Later he had a newer bus.
When the school bus got to our house Mr. Russell had already picked up the Rutherfords, the Brevicks and Lorraine Anderson. I think Hebe and John Prescott rode the bus three or four times and then they must have moved into town because I don’t remember that Jane, Dean, Tom or Tess Prescott ever rode on our bus.
After Mr. Russell picked us up he picked up the Zollingers, Wards, Wickershams, and Arlene Purdy. Arlene could roller-skate like a pro and how we envied her.
The friends I remember from first grade are Margaret Hawkes who was my best friend, Lorraine Anderson, Uva Yates, Norma McClure and Lucille Williams. The next year, when Tess Prescott started school, she became a good friend, also.
The boys I remember include Warren Weinberg, who sat across the aisle from me and tattled on me for working on my braiding square. I had to go out and stand in the coat hall. Mr. Downing, the principal, walked by and I was really afraid. I tried to hide back in the coats so he couldn’t see me. He didn’t do anything.
I also remember a boy, Buddy Pollard, who had blond hair. When he died that year I could not comprehend death. I was affected by his dying and knowing we would never see him again. It was hard on me that he had just vanished.
We had many fun games on the school yard. I was fascinated by the slippery slide. I would run as fast as I could at recess to slide down and run around to stand in line to slide down again and again. Sometimes we played hopscotch on the cement walk in front of the school house.
The school yard was divided. The boys played on the east side and the girls on the west side. When the bell rang, the boys went in the east entrance and used the east stairs, the girls went in the west entrance and went up the west stairs.
Inside the school house, the first, second, third, fourth and fifth grades were on the first floor which was ten steps up from the entrance. The sixth, seventh, and eighth grades and principal’s office were on the second floor. There were two pedestals on each side of the principal’s office. One had a large, white bust of George Washington and the other had one of Abraham Lincoln. I think that must have started my love of our country and the presidents and I am still very patriotic about our United States.
There were two big heat registers, one on the east side and one on the west. I used to stand on the one on the west side almost every morning in the winter because I was about frozen from walking to school the one and one-half miles when we lived on the Dean place when I was in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
(I want to make a diagram of the school and school yard.)
Between the ages of 7 and 10, (after that I started working with the horses running the derrick) in the summertime and after classes during the school year, sometimes I brought the cows in. Dad or the boys usually got the cows but once in a while I was asked to do it. This meant I walked about a half-mile out to the pasture where they ate during the day. It took me 20-25 minutes to walk out there to get our 7 or 8 cows. I liked to do it, to me it was fun. Each of our cows had a name. Some I remember are Blackie, Maude, Dolly, Spot, and Nellie. And then there was Clara whose bag was twice as big as the other cows. She gave twice as much milk. I felt sorry for her because her teats dragged on the ground sometimes. PHOTO OF GIRL BRINGING THE COWS IN
Another interesting thing that happened with the cows was years later in the fall of 1941 while I was staying a short time with the folks. Lorraine was 16 and playing clarinet in the high school band. Sometimes she would go out on the front porch to practice and all the cows would come from wherever in the field they were and line up by the fence close to the house. It seemed that they thought Lorraine was putting on a concert just for them. Mother always got such a big kick out of this. We all did.
The names of our work horses were Bess and Queen, who were Dad’s favorite team. We also had Nance and Bawly.
Bawly was the horse we would ride bareback. He was mean and would turn around and bite at us. However, I think he got that way because David was mean to him. David was such a tease and I don’t know if he was just teasing Bawly but sometimes he would just slug Bawly in the nose with his fist.
David told me once he didn’t remember having a dog, but in Mom’s photo album there is a picture of David at about age 10 with a Collie whose name was Tippy.
When I got the cows I had to open some gates but that was nothing because when I went to Rozella’s house to play I had to climb under the fence. Her Mom and Dad, Niels and Ingeborg Petersen, [Note added later: Niels was Andrew Petersen's brother. Andrew is Walt Petersen's grandfather] were about the most wonderful people I had ever known. They were so friendly and nice to me when I went to their house. They had four daughters. Rozella was a year younger than I was, so when they moved to Wendell from Roseworth when I was in second grade, she was in first grade. I liked her three older sisters, too: Ruth, 14, Esther, 12, and Oda, 9.
One Christmas their Dad made them each a doll house. And to my surprise he made one for me, too. I was just thrilled. One of my favorite things to do was to arrange the furniture in the doll house and make the house all pretty. I am so sad that I don’t know what happened to this wonderful doll house Brother Petersen built for me.
Their mother, Ingeborg or “Inga” as people called her, always kept their house so clean and taught her daughters to help. She always had their long hair fixed beautifully. I was sad when they moved to Eugene, Oregon, in 1932 when I was 12. Rozella told me that her mother had discovered on a trip to Oregon that her severe asthma and hay fever did much better in the climate there. Sister Petersen had another baby daughter a year before they moved. Her name was Betty Jean. Rozella and her sisters were excited over their new baby sister. I loved to hear their mother’s Danish accent.
Little did I know that way in the future, after I had a grown-up daughter, she would marry the grandson of their uncle, Andrew Petersen.
1927-28 - Second Grade, Ages 7-8 School year September to May
1927--Calvin Coolidge--5th year as U.S. President
“Charles Lindberg aboard his ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ monoplane completes the first transatlantic solo
flight from New York City to Paris, a distance of 3,610 miles in 33 1/2 hours.” CA, p. 500
First talkie movie, “The Jazz Singer”
Sonja Henie, Olympic ice-skating champion
Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs for the Yankees
Sept. 7, 1927, a young Latter-day Saint inventor, Philo T. Farnsworth, produced
his first television picture—a single horizontal line.
The world’s first general public demonstration of television came 7 years later, August 25, 1934.
1927 President Heber J. Grant--10th year as LDS Prophet
President Grant dedicates the Arizona Temple at Mesa,
completing a project begun six years before.
In second grade my teacher was Mrs. Crutchfield.
Morris had been in the first grade two years and now was repeating the second grade. So he was in the same class I was in.
“I think Morris can’t hear,” Mrs. Crutchfield said to my parents. “If I stand by his desk and give the assignment, he does it. But if I give the assignment from the front of the room, he doesn’t do it.’”
Mother and Dad had him checked and discovered that he did have a hearing problem. Mother remembered that when he was a baby he had such a high fever one time when he had the flu they thought they were going to lose him. They don’t know if this is what may have caused his deafness or if it was caused by an accident he had on the Andrus place when a wagon ran over him. Morris remembers it went over his shoulders.
When Morris was 9 my parents decided to send him to the state school in Gooding for the deaf and blind. He went to school there for ten years.
“Mother and Dad just took me to Gooding and dumped me off,” Morris said when he was sharing his feelings with me after he became an adult. “I didn’t know sign language and the deaf kids couldn’t hear or understand me. I didn’t know what to do,” Morris continued. “The teachers didn’t know where to put me. I could hear a little and talk. They didn’t know what to do with me. I wasn’t happy there at all.”
Mother and Dad didn’t realize that Morris didn’t understand why they were leaving him there and that he felt abandoned.
He didn’t even get to come home on weekends, just once in a while. He came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and for summer vacation.
When I asked him if he went to church there, he said they did have a church at the school. I asked him what church it was and he told me, “Seventh Day Adventist.” That is the church that he and Hazel go to now.
He also told me that when they took him to the canal to be baptized, Mother and Dad didn’t know that Morris had not heard them when they had explained what they were going to do. He had no idea why he was being dunked in the water and he fought them. He thought they were trying to drown him.
We should have all learned sign language so we could communicate with him. Mother didn’t want him to sign in public because it embarrassed her.
He’s had a sad life. [Eileen's note: My Mom helped her deaf brother in many ways--financially, physically by helping clean and paint their houses, and cooking food many times for him and his deaf wife, Hazel.]
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Crutchfield was a good teacher. I sat across the aisle from Wayne Carlson and one day there was a puddle under his desk. I guess I must have been snickering because Mrs. Crutchfield asked me what was the matter and I said, “There is a puddle of water under Wayne’s desk.”
She replied, “Well, never you mind, get back to your studies.”
That year, Homer Inlow was in our class and his mother, who was also a teacher, took him out of school to tutor him herself. I remember feeling glad because we thought Homer was a really dumb boy. We didn’t realize that he was retarded.
In second grade I got fascinated with penmanship and liked to practice it a lot when I wasn’t busy. It was fun to see if I could make my spirals look like you could run a pen through them.
“Let Verna write it, she has the prettiest hand writing,” my classmates still say if something needs to be written at our class reunions.
When I was in second grade, I turned 8 in January, and I was baptized in February. My Dad baptized me in Jerome at the stake center where they had a baptismal font. My friends who were baptized the same day were __________________________________
I Know It Was the Holy Ghost Telling Me “It Is True”
It was Easter Sunday of this year that I received my life-long testimony that the Church is true. It happened this way. Sister Bessie Kassins was our Sunday School teacher. Most of the time our class met on the stage but this day was warm enough that she had us go outside for our lesson. The guys and most of the girls sat on the grass. I didn’t want to get my Easter dress dirty, so I kinda leaned down on my knees. I can remember being by the bush that had red berries on it.
The lesson was about The First Vision when Joseph Smith was 14 years old and went to the grove of trees near his farm house to pray because he had read in James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Joseph’s mother and brother had just joined a church and Joseph wanted to know if it was the right one for him to join.
I will quote five verses of his story from the Joseph Smith History as Sister Kassins taught it to us that day, and tell the effect it had on me.
Joseph Smith explained “...I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
“But exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction--not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being--just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-- This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)--and which I should join.
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’
“He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home...”
Our whole class was listening intently. Sister Kassins had a spirit about her that made us want to listen.
In the part when she was telling about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ coming down, something said to my mind, “That’s true!” And I have never doubted it since. I know it was the Holy Ghost telling me it was true.
It’s a good thing that I got that testimony then because to the group of kids my age, Church wasn’t all that important as they got older. The boys in my primary and Sunday School classes didn’t have a desire to go on a mission. It wasn’t even a consideration to go on a mission to them when they were twenty--which was the necessary age. Ray Christensen is the only one I remember who went on a mission. I never heard my brothers and their friends even talk about going on a mission.
We went to Church because that is what our parents wanted us to do. We didn’t have manuals for lessons, and the kids didn’t read their scriptures like my grandkids do now-a-days. We were raised to be quiet. If the teacher was good, we’d pay attention in class. But if not, when we were teenagers, we’d talk to our friends about who went to the Saturday night dance. It was more a social time than a spiritual time for us. It’s a wonder Marie and I stayed in the Church when most of the other girls our age stopped going.
It seemed like the older kids in the ward were more religious than my age group of friends. The ones I remember were Farren Chandler, Tom Prescott, Merlin Christensen, Evan Willard, Alvin Chandler, Clifford Hawkes, Hilbert Dille, Cleo Prince, along with Rosanna Anderson, and Ivy Christensen.
It seems like sometime between the ages of 7 and 8 I realized the truth about Santa Claus. We had gone to town with Dad and he left us in the car while he went shopping. He came and put some sacks in the car and went to shop for a few more things. I looked in the sacks and saw some nuts and candy. Those were only things that we got in our sock that we hung up for Santa. We didn’t get them any other time of the year.
Also at age 8 I remember having a beautiful red wool dress with black buttons that my Mother made for me.
1928 - Third Grade - Age 8
1928— Herbert Hoover, President of the United States
First Mickey Mouse films
First regularly scheduled television programs began in New York
[but no one in Idaho had television sets until the 1950’s]
Popular songs: “Am I Blue,” “Makin’ Whoopee”
Richard Byrd flies over South Pole
Ernest Hemmingway wrote “A Farewell to Arms”
1928--President Heber J. Grant--11th year as LDS Prophet
Purchase of Hill Cumorah completed
Missionaries began proselytizing in Brazil.
The YMMIA introduced a Vanguard program for 15- and 16-year-old boys.
After the National Boy Scout organization created the Explorer program in 1933,
patterned in part after the Vanguards, the Church adopted Explorer Scouting.
Miss Helen Gifford was our teacher in third grade. Our room was on the northeast corner of the first floor. I remember her reading the Bible every morning, having prayer and then the pledge of allegiance to the flag. She also read a chapter of a book each day. The only book I can remember her reading was Billy Goat _______(not Billy Goat Gruff). It was about the goat eating everything and getting into everything.
We also had a music teacher come in to teach music. Her name was Miss (or Mrs.) Farris. We went down to the basement to the lunch room for music class. The large lunch room was where we ate the lunches we brought from home. It was next to the restrooms which had four or five toilets and wash basins. Since we only had an outdoor toilet at the homes I lived in when I was growing up, it was wonderful to use the indoor school restrooms.
We all received a Weekly Reader in school. I remember reading about Charles Lindbergh’s flying across the ocean from New York to Paris [May20-21, 1927]. I wish I had kept some of those weekly readers.
Our favorite recess activities seemed to change each year, in first grade it was the slippery slide, in second grade it was the teeter totter, in third grade the giant strides. Somewhere along the way we started liking to play house in the roots of the huge cotton-wood trees that lined the playground all along the north side. We pretended one section of roots divided the living room from the kitchen and so forth. It’s interesting that twenty years later, my daughter, Eileen, came home from that same school and told me that one of her favorite things to do at recess was to play house in those big roots of the cottonwood trees at school.
On primary day we would walk from the school to the church, then go home with mother when primary was over. I can’t remember for sure which day of the week it was--maybe Tuesday. There were several of us girls that went to primary together including Lorraine Anderson, Margaret Hawkes, Lucille Williams, Roma Ormond, Elma Jean Nielson, Tess Prescott, Norma McClure and me.
At school we still liked to go down the slippery slide but we also liked to teeter totter. There were only two teeter totters so only four of us could go at one time. We had to take turns every little while. We still liked to skip rope and it would take up the whole recess time.
On October 1st my brother, Don, was born. It was fun having a baby brother, but it was not fun to change diapers and rinse them out in a bucket of water, or go out to the ditch and rinse them out.
Don was such a cute little boy. I really liked having him for my little brother.
David and Morris played pretty good together. They would wrestle. Dad would let them wrestle in the house. They got along good when they were kids. We didn’t realize there was anything different about Morris then. We didn’t even know he couldn’t hear. I think that sometimes we probably talked loud enough so he could hear us well enough to blend in.
They had a lot of socials at the church in those days. Seems like they had some kind of a social once or twice a month, like dances, dinners or the bazaars where home-made articles were sold to earn money for the ward budget.
Later on the Willard Brothers--Chancy, Stern and Evan--would bring their record players and amplifiers to play the music when they would call the squares for square dancing every Saturday night.
I can remember sitting there and admiring Ada Hawkes, Rosanna Anderson (Prince), Jane Prescott (Petersen), and all those girls who were teenagers when I was a little kid. When you’re about seven or eight you can’t wait to be that age so you can dance and do those fun things. They were icons, those gals--especially Arta Dixon was a movie-star pretty. She was. She was just beautiful. She was the prettiest girl in the ward, in the whole town.
They always had a great big celebration on the 24th of July. In one part of the field that we cut through to go to town they had some bleachers because they’d have baseball games there. On the 24th of July that year, Arta was the queen, and they put her on the front of the car and drove her around.
That day they had a two-wing airplane that did stunts. We sit there in the bleachers and watched. One man even walked on the wing.
Then they had the royalty ride around in their ball gowns. I remember Arta looking so beautiful. She was our bishop’s daughter. She was a sister to Villis, John, Forest, Virgie, and Harkness. Harkness was attractive, too, but nothing like Arta.
Arta knew she was beautiful. I guess so many people had told her that she couldn’t help but know. She was nice, she wasn’t stuck up but she was a little prissy. My friends and I thought she was a movie star almost.
She didn’t marry a member of the Church and people said she wasn’t really happy in her marriage. She had some kind of a tragedy after she got married. In her later years she wasn’t beautiful like she had been as a teenager. I have her obituary in one of my scrapbooks.
Ada Hawkes was my icon, my ideal. That was Margaret’s older sister. She was pretty, too. She was our teacher when we were junior girls in mutual. When I was younger she was mother’s hired girl for a while.
Then a little later Ada worked at the C.C. Anderson store in Wendell. She was a clerk. I loved to go in there and have her wait on me. She was as pretty as Arta in a different way. Arta was dark, Arta was like Dorothy Lamour or Ava Gardner--that type of brunette beauty. Ada was more like Maureen O’Hara and Olivia DeHaviland. She married an LDS boy. Later in life she got Parkinson’s disease.
1929-1930 - Fourth Grade, Ages 9-10
1929--Oct. 29 “U.S. Stock Market collapses in frantic trading,
a dramatic beginning of The Great Depression”
quoted from: Church Almanac 1999-2000, p. 500
First Academy Awards presented to Emil Jannings, Janet Gaynor and Wings
Popular songs: “Stardust,” “Singing in the Rain”
1929--President Heber J. Grant--12th year as LDS Prophet
The Tabernacle Choir started a weekly network radio broadcast
When I was in fourth grade we had moved to the Simonton place, about three miles east and a little south of Wendell. Our teacher was Miss Aberdeen. Her room was on the northwest side of the first floor. Eleanor Culp was a good friend that year. She had naturally curly hair and was the envy of all the girls. This year Lola Anderson was in our class. She had been going to the McBurney country school but her father had died and her mother moved into town. I remember thinking how awful that would be to have your father die. I felt sorry for her.
I liked Miss Aberdeen and felt like I was one of her pets but one day she sent me up to the principal’s office for writing a note to Ricky Anderson. He sat right in front of me on the outside row of seats on the east side of the room. He sat in the second seat from the front and I sat in the third seat. He was a cute kid who had just moved to Wendell that year. He was stuck on Eleanor but when she and her family went to California for a couple of weeks, I became Ricky’s special girl.
Eleanor’s seat was in the third row and to the back of the room. When she got back from California, Ricky kept twisting around to look at her until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I wrote a note and passed it to him that said “If you love Eleanor so much, why don’t you go back and sit with her.”
Miss Aberdeen saw me and said, “All right, Verna, go up to the office and I’ll be up soon.”
I went up but Mr. Downey, the principal, was not in his office so I sat down in his chair. Pretty soon Miss Aberdeen came in. She was so mad. She grabbed me by the hair and pushed my head back so I was looking up into her face. I can’t remember what she said but she sure must have been frustrated that day to get so worked up over something like that. The worst part was going back down to class and sitting in my seat. I didn’t really like her very much after that.
I still liked Eleanor, though. I went out to her place one night and stayed overnight with her. The next morning her mother made waffles with an iron she heated on the kitchen wood-burning stove. That was the first time I had ever had waffles and I thought they were so wonderful.
The winter this year was really cold and there was lots of snow. One morning in January the bus which was driven by a Mr. Crouse got stuck on the north-south road coming out of Wendell just a few feet from the corner and told all of us on the bus we better get out and walk to school. It would have been at least a mile or more from there to the school.
I did not have gloves on. Mother had given David money to get me some at noon. I was walking along with Ila Stevens. I was carrying my book and lunch but my hands got so cold that the books fell to the ground. Ila picked them up and saw that my hands were white. She and the other girl took me in to a house close by. The people’s name was Modlin.
The other kids left me there and went on to school. The Modlins were so nice to me. They put my hands in lukewarm water and a warm washcloth on my nose. After about an hour, they had me thawed out and by then the snowplow had cleared the road. The Modlins took me on in to school in their car.
I think the bus had gotten unstuck and had picked up the other kids down the road a ways so they didn’t have to walk all the way to school. We later learned that that was the coldest day of the whole winter.
I was about an hour or so late but I was surely grateful to them. I think the folks stopped by later and told them how much they appreciated what they did for me. My hands and my nose still get cold quickly in cold weather. David had gone downtown at noon and bought me some gloves. They were the brown jersey kind we can still buy.
On the Dr. Simonton place, I slept with Lorraine. It’s out east of Wendell near where Mike and Shirley Albertson live now, which is about two miles east and a mile south of Wendell.
I guess we were kinda poor but we kids didn’t know it. I remember Mother saying she wanted to get just rich enough so she could have a glass of orange juice for breakfast every morning. I’m happy that in her later life she was able to have orange juice whenever she wanted it.
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