Our Family Legacy
Our mother, Barbara Handy Samuelson Bristow, was born on State Street in Boise, Idaho on July 20, 1917. She was delivered by her father, Dr. George Handy, in their home across the street from the State Capitol. The family later moved to another home which was a greater distance from the Capitol, on 1717 State Street. Mother lived there with her parents George and Julia (Samuelson), here brothers George, Verne, Claire and her sister Katherine. This was per permanent home in Boise until the family moved to California a when she was in the second grade.
Grandfather and Grandmother Handy settled in Boise after Grandfather completed his education at the Los Angeles Osteopathic College. Grandmother ran a boarding house, while there, to support the family during that time. Upon graduation, the family returned to Boise where Grandfather established his ne practice in Boise’s downtown center.
Mother clearly remembers the strong dedication Grandfather had for all of his patients and how hard he worked to keep them well. She talks about how “he lost none of his patients during the terrible 1918 Big Flu Epidemic.” She attributes this to his unending “visits to his patients’ homes and a eucalyptus formula he created for back and chest rubs which brought blood to the skin’s surface to further promote healing.”
Grandmother was not idle herself. Besides raising five active, bright children, she was abundantly involved in church work, which included carrying out the many activities and services related to her position as president of the Relief Societ which served the community’s needy members.
Mother really enjoys sharing her family memories. With giggles, she has told me about how her parents had wanted her to become a musician by giving her piano lessons—however, she somehow didn’t connect with this ambition and was soon allowed to follow other pursuits. “Papa had his own orchestra as a young man and played the trumpet and violin. “I guess his talent skipped me completely!” Another memory she has shared was that of how her brother, George, cut off his toe on a tin can in the vacant lot next door and Grandfather found it and sewed it back on. “Uncle George wore that toe for the rest of his life!”
Mother has talked about so many other memories during the summertime around her home….picking the black walnuts from the front yard tree and shucking them with stained fingers before cracking them open to reveal their tasty meat. Undoubtedly, these delicious nuts were better digested with the left over ice chips the children scooped up and ate as the ice man chipped off a large hunk of ice for the family’s refrigeration needs during the upcoming week. The family also had a pie cherry tree next to their garage that the children climbed, picked and indulged in. Besides the “food fun” Mother enjoyed swimming at the city’s Natatorium and going on the amusement rides there. Mother has also talked about her visits with a veteran of World War 1 who lived next door. She called him “her man.”
Community memories are happy ones as well. Church activities were regular with total family involvement. Mother has shared stories about family picnics at Camel’s Back Hill north of town, such as Easter morning breakfasts and egg hunts. She and her cousins even played night games there, especially “hide-and-seek” and “run-sheep-run”, as well as sliding down a cliff called “Devils Slide” on boards and garbage lids. Another favorite family picnic place was at “Julia Davis Park”, where peacocks and other tame animals ran loose.
Life was not all play, however. The children were able to earn extra money by picking prunes at Labrum’s Farm which was owned by close family friends. During the school year, Mother attended Park Avenue Grammar School and she remembers walking to school with snow drifts towering far above her head.
Not only was Boise rich with close family and fun, but Mothers life was surrounded by many aunts, uncles and cousins in nearby communities where her family visited frequently. One of her most cherished memories are during her family’s visits to her mother’s sister and her husband, Aunt Florence and Uncle John. They lived on their farm in Collister, Idaho, which is about 15 miles west of Boise. This big highlight in Mother’s life included playing with many cousins, picking strawberries, romping in the hay and straw stacks and dropping fresh-picked watermelons in order to break them open for scooping out the delicious hearts. Mother still remembers the hearty and tasty steak and potato meals with milk gravy that Aunt Florence and her cousins would cook up daily for the farm hands.
One of the surviving cousins, Pauline, has stopped in to see Mother when she has to visit Orem. Her favorite memory on this farm was the day her “Papa” baptized her in the farm’s irrigation ditch on July 20, 1925—her eighth birthday.
Another frequent visit was to Franklin, Idaho where Grandfather Handy’s parents settled, after being sent by Brigham Young to coloize the town (Mother is not sure of her memory of this). Mother remembers going to the exciting fairs there during the summers. Even better, she “really enjoyed the sodas, ice cream, licorice and sundaes at the fountain in my Unclae Sam’s drugstore where he was a pharmacist. The soda parlor’s atmosphere included old-style wire tables and chairs.” All of this fun was shared with her many playful cousins during these visits.
Because Grandfather Handy was so “dedicated to his patients and worked so very hard, summer trips came as a welcome relief when the family could go on side-adventures at will. The usual journey was taken in Pap’s seven-passenger Packard touring car with a removable canvas top and many glass sides. This auto was grandfather’s “pride and joy.” Surely not unnoticed by those passing by was grandmother’s featherbed topping off this moving showcase!” Although the main plan was to travel from Boise through Portland Oregon (where they visited even more relatives) and down the Oregon and California coast while camping all the way, these were the only plans they made. The rest of the trip was “play as you go” and full of fun!
During some summers the family would travel through Franklin, Idaho, Salt Lake and Orem (where mother lives now) on our trips across the desert to Long Beach, California. “When we made our return trip to Boise from Long Beach, it was always a great thrill to arrive at Orem and Utah Lake as we then knew that Salt Lake was less than 50 miles away. A welcome thought after 500 desert miles at 20 to 40 miles per hour”. The family stayed overnight at many homes of relatives and friends in Utah and Idaho. Mother’s Papa would always treat any illnesses and five medical advices to the relatives and friends at each stop.
Much of the road between Salt Lake aqnd Long Beach across the desert was dirt, with deep ruts where the wheels of the car would track. Often the center between the ruts was so high that the oil pan would drag and they would have to ride along with the wheels rolling on the center between the ruts and the side of the road. Although the automobiles the family had “were always nearly new and the apple of my father’s eye, he would often have to stop and tinker with the engine to keep it running. One time we were stalled in the desert with the radiator completely boiled dry. “After sitting in the deset heat until the engine cooled completely, Papa took a can and went over a nearby hill and returned with enough liquid to put in the radiator to get us to the next little stream.”
Mother remembers how Papa stored a homemade, fold-down table and a food storage box along the entire length of the car’s running board, “making it necessary to climb over it to get out of the car on the passenger side as the car doors could not open. We would stop to swim whenever we saw a good swimming hole, to fish at will along the way, and camped when we were ready at any green shady spot that attracted us. These adventures were the one thing we could not do in Boise when we camped and played on the pristine west coast beaches.”
Mother recalls one frightening event that happened while they were camping on the beach and “the car got stuck in the sand when the tide was coming in. “Papa frantically threw blankets and coats under the wheels as everyone pushed with their might trying to save the car from the incoming waves, but to no avail! Finally, Verne went off to himself and knelt in prayer to ask for help. On arising, he found a board which was placed under a wheel and the car was successfully moved in time to save it from a salty grave.”
When ever the right fishing spot was found, “Papa and the older kids always broke out the fishing poles and fish became a big part of our diet on all the vacations. I never go comfortable with the smell of fish and that may be why, to this day, I eat very little fish. But Papa was a fanatic fisherman and all of his children grew up loving to fish—even I did although I was the youngest and too little to get in on all the fun.”
Mother talked about how her Mama was a great cook and “could prepare a feast for us out of almost nothing. She created miracle meals from the running board pantry and table. We lived out of the car and a tent for most of our two to three month summer vacations. She was always willing for any adventure as long as she had her featherbed to sleep on at night.
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