Our Family Legacy
I just finished the book, Memories of My Father Bent Rolfsen Larsen written by my grandfather, Bent Franklin Larsen about his father. I was touched by the writings of my Grandfather. Since my own father, Rex Bent Larsen, recently passed away I feel I should try to put down my memories of my own father.
I shall use the format used by my grandfather in his writings; that is, I will just write down different memories I have. I will try to organize them somewhat by subject but I may jump around a lot from memory to memory.
The purpose of this paper is not to be a history of my father or to give genealogical data. Instead I will try to convey to the reader some of my personal memories about him.
At my father's funeral my oldest sister, Carolyn, gave a talk on life in our family with Dad. After the funeral my youngest sister, Mary Ann, came to me and asked if I had the same memories of our home as Carolyn. Of course I had not, it seemed Mary Ann and I had been raised in a different family from Carolyn. This makes sense when you realize my father was 43 when I was born and 27 when Carolyn was born. By the time I came around he had a good job and a home. I guess being the baby I was spoiled and got a lot of things the older kids didn't get.
Anyway, these are my memories. They may not all be factually perfect but they are correct as far as my memory is right. As I get older my memory gets foggier and foggier so I guess itís a good thing Iím writing this now before I forget everything. Of course if I wait the stories I tell may even get better.
DESCRIPTIONS OF MY FATHER.
I don't think first impressions would tell you too much about my dad. He was short and a little over weight. There was nothing special or different about his appearance. He did gray young like all Larsens. From all outward appearances he was just a normal human being. Once you got to know him you soon found he was an extraordinary person.
When I was just a little guy my dad seemed very big. He was all of about 5í 6Ē. I also thought he had a big tummy but since I have grown up I have changed my mind about that. He had gray hair that was thinning on the top but not too much. He combed it straight back and used hair grease which as a teenager I thought was totally un-cool. If he hadn't combed it back you probably wouldn't have noticed his receding hairline.
I always remember him being stronger than an ox. Even after my mission I donít think I could have beaten him in an arm wrestle. I remember he could also spank pretty hard. He had little idiosyncrasies that used to bug me like he would chew on his tongue when he was thinking or working. Now I do that too so I don't think it is so strange.
He wore work clothes for the most part and boots with soft white rubber soles. He worked animal fat into them to make them water-proof and soft. He carried a lot of pencils and pens in a pocket protector. After Dad died, I got his pocket protector from his drawer. It still has the same old pens I remember. Along with various pens and pencils there is a big felt tipped pen that he would refill, he didn't waste anything. There was also a probe that would not conduct electricity he used at work. I'm sure he hadn't used either of these things for years but they were still in his pocket protector.
Dad Never Swore
I only remember Dad swearing one time. I was playing with the drill press. There was a small bit in it. I was pushing the press up and down against a piece of wood trying to see how far I could go into the wood without the drill running. Well, I pressed too hard and the drill bit snapped. Dad was working at the other end of the bench and said, ďOh damn it.Ē He was so embarrassed about swearing that all he could do was apologize. He then took the bit and resharpened it so it would still work even though it was a little smaller. He never wasted anything either.
I Never Saw My Dad Laugh
I remember reading in my Grandfather's book that his father never laughed. At first I thought that was odd, then I realized I had never heard my father laugh either. He would smile, and do all kinds of funny tricks. He was humorous and would sometimes kind of fake laugh when he did something funny but I don't remember his actually laughing.
Dad Liked Gadgets
When some new electronic thing would come out Dad would get it if he could. He would put together weird switches and cables and all kinds of strange neat stuff.
When tape recorders were first invented he bought one. It was a nice stereo reel to reel player. He got all kinds of extra wires and speakers to use on it. He would put together elaborate timers so it would automatically turn on and off so he could record conference. In his room are still several years of conference.
He had a PA system he used for church parties or whatever. It was two huge speaker boxes that would snap together. Inside of them he would keep all the microphones and extra wires he would need. There was also an old record player in the box. He had four springs that the record player could sit on so it wouldnít bet bumped. I remember going to ward parties at the park and Dad would set the PA up so we could have a nice program.
If Dad were young now, he would have the biggest fastest computer around. He would build it from the ground up. There would be parts and peripherals all over the place. Heíd have it talking and understanding him. I think he lived too early but Iím glad he did so he could be my Dad.
Dad Didn't Play Games
We played a lot of games in our family, Especially cards. We played hearts, canasta, pinochle, and whatever else you could think. My dad never played with us. Many times we would play way into the night and he would go to bed. Every so often he would yell at us to quite down or come tell Mom to come to sleep.
There is one exception. Every New Year's Eve Brother and Sister Baker would come over and Dad and Mom would play 500 with them until way past midnight. I don't have any idea how you play the game, they never played it any other time.
Dad also didn't watch or play sports of any kind. That was strange because my Mom was a sports fanatic. I remember going to BYU games or watching Kenneth wrestle with Mom, not Dad. I think Dad did come watch me play baseball a few times.
We never watched professional football or basketball in our home. He did watch boxing every so often on Saturday nights but I think that was just to make Mom mad.
Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller
We kids watched a lot of TV, from the time we got home from school until Mom and Dad would make us turn it off. Dad didn't really watch it too much. The only shows he really watched were Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller. I probably remember these because we kids hated them. I think he watched them just to bug us.
He would also watch old sessions of conference on KBYU when it was on. He used to tape the conference sessions and he would sit in his room and listen to it instead of melting his mind watching TV like the rest of us.
We ate pretty normal around our home. Mom was a very good cook and none of us kids grew up underweight. Dad did some things with his food that I thought were weird. Here are a few of them.
He would eat very very soft boiled eggs for breakfast. I wasn't even sure if they were all the way warm.
He would pour milk on his pancakes and soak it all up with them. He also put milk on his cake, or should I say cake in his milk. Actually I tried this one and it's pretty good. He would get a glass of milk and put his piece of cake in it. Then he would eat it with a spoon.
When we were hungry and it wasn't time for a meal Dad would tell us to eat bread and milk. I think this is a poor take off from his cake and milk. Mom didn't normally cook on Sunday night so we would all eat bread and milk with Dad.
He also ate a lot of ice cream. I remember he liked chocolate the best. Even when he got old and had to watch what he ate he still had a bowl of chocolate ice cream every night.
Dad took pills and medicines for everything. Every time someone discovered a new sickness, Dad would get it. He ate this stuff from a can that looked like sawdust and I think tasted a lot like it. He ate pills for his ulcers that I always thought were peppermint candy until I snuck one. It tasted like chalk.
He had a sore throat for years and I remember going to the clinic with him where they made him his own medicine from a culture they got from him. I think it was a placebo.
I don't remember him ever missing work or church over being ill. He was always strong enough to do things. He just had to have his medicines to get by.
When we would go on trips we would take a small suitcase for his pills. We were a traveling pharmacy.
As he got older he just got more and more pills. I think when he died several drug companies nearly went out of business.
Our family life was far from the norm. There were seven kids and two parents in a small three bedroom home with one bathroom. There was a room off the living room that was converted into a bedroom from time to time. Dad didn't make over $1,000 a month until after he was 60. Mom went to work when I started school to help out.
We never suffered financially or went hungry since I was born. I never knew we didn't have as much money as everyone else. We always seemed to do what we wanted and have what we needed. The following are a few stories to give an idea what family life was like around the Larsen home.
We used to go up the canyon and play a lot. I remember every Easter we went somewhere with Bakers. They were our families best friends. They had kids most of the same ages although their youngest was four years older than me and to make things worse she was a girl. I think Brother Baker was Dadís best friend. Dad acted more like a kid with him. He and Brother Baker would fish and play horse shoes and tell stupid stories that we had all heard several times.
Learning to Drive
When it came time for me to learn to drive, Dad didnít want much to do with it. He only took me driving a couple of times. Most of the time they made Ron, Mary Annís husband, take me. When Dad went with me he would make me so nervous I would kill the car. One time I killed it right in the middle of an intersection. I started it up again and killed it again. I did this about three or four times. Dad was yelling all the time and I was scared to death. I think that was the last time I drove with him for several years.
When I ran Away
When I was about nine I ran away. My friend and I just wanted to go to the woods for a few days. We left a note telling our parents we would be back and not to come looking for us.
We went to the woods to a place we thought only we knew about. We took food for one meal. We were going to live off the land.
I guess Mom was very worried and upset. Dad wanted to just leave us alone and let us come back on our own. Mom was afraid something would happen to her little boy so Dad agreed to go find us. We were in the first place he looked.
He was going to go get a sleeping bag and sleep just up the hill from us to make sure we were all right. While he was watching us I was playing on a rope swing and the rope broke and I got hurt. He came down to make sure I was OK. I was glad to see him. We were already hungry since a dog had eaten our food. There wasn't too much to live off the land on unless you wanted to eat grass. I decided running away wasn't too good an idea.
It did impress me how cool headed my Dad was during this time. He could have come right down and made me go home. Then I probably would have run away again. Instead he wanted to let me learn on my own that running away wasnít that great. He also talked to me about being prepared when you go on an overnight hike. Not only were we out of food, we hadnít taken anything to sleep on that night.
When I was born our family had a dog named Bozo. I guess she was Kennethís dog but I loved her just the same. She had been my companion from the day I was born.
After Kenneth went on his mission she was completely my dog. She would go everywhere with me. When I was twelve she finally died of old age. I remember waking up in the morning and seeing her lying on the floor. I knew she was dead because she had been sick the night before.
I was heartbroken. It was a Sunday morning. I remember my dad coming down and wrapping her in a blanket and putting her in the garage so we could go to priesthood meeting. When we got back, he went out and dug her grave. It was raining very hard but he did it anyway. Afterward he helped me plant a flower there that Grandma gave me.
My dad didnít always show feelings well but at times like this I knew he cared. He was a loving father in his own way and would do anything for us.
Mary Annís Cat
My Dad wouldn't let us have any pets. We could have little things like fish and lizards and mice but we couldnít have any pets like dogs and cats. Of course we had a dog and or a cat around most of my life but when they died it was very hard to get another one. Mary Ann had a boyfriend who gave her a cat named Nick. She thought if a boy gave it to her, Dad couldn't make her give it back. It worked and she got to keep Nick. I used this same technique years later to get a dog. I added a twist to it. Sherri gave me a dog, Tatchem, just before she went home to California. That way he couldn't make me take it back unless he wanted to send me to California. Anyway, I'm drifting from the story.
Dad always had to pretend he didnít like the pet. Of course he did but he had to act like he didnít. I remember he used to take Tatchem on walks at night so no one would see him with it. Again I ramble, back to the cat. He would always say what a pain the cat was and how much better we would be without it. He would threaten to take the cat for a long one way trip.
This cat had a fatal flaw. He liked to chase car tires. He didn't chase them from the side, but straight on. A couple of times when we would drive in the driveway the cat would come running at the car. We would stop the car and the cat would literally run into the tire. Well one time we were all sitting in the front room and Dad came in and told Mary Ann he thought he had killed her cat with the car. I guess that was a good bet since the cat was smashed flat as a door mat. Chances were pretty good the cat was dead.
Dad felt awful and was always worried that Mary Ann would think he killed Nick on purpose. He took the cat out back and buried it by Bozo.
My Dad was always giving his time and talent in service to someone or something. He dedicated most of his life to the Boy Scouts at great personal expense. He was always there when someone in the neighborhood needed a hand or when the Church needed help with whatever. The following are just a few of the hundreds of examples that could be given of my father offering service for others. I have separated his church callings and his scouting experiences into their own section.
Church Wiring System
My Dad did a lot of work at the Church. Our chapel was completed just before I was born so all my memories about his work on building it are pre-natal. I do remember him doing a lot of repair there. Whenever something was wrong with the PA system or lights, Dad would fix it.
I remember one time especially when we went over on a Saturday and worked several hours on the wiring. I think we were putting jacks for the traveling microphones in the middle of the chapel so the deacons could pass a mike around during fast and testimony meeting. We had to go under the church in the crawl space. I thought it was great. He showed me all kinds of Ďsecretí passageways down there. He showed me where all the wires and pipes went. I guess he put in a lot of them.
He also took me in the sacrament preparation room where the electrical box was for the PA system. He took me up above the sacrament room where there was a big empty room for the organ to echo in. I guess that made it more like a pipe organ. I thought I was pretty neat having a dad that knew that much about our church.
Recording Missionary Meetings
Ever since I can remember my Father recorded every missionaryís farewell and welcome home meeting. Before they invented tape recorders he had a wire recorder. It would record on a long thin metal thread. I really do mean long. It was at least several thousand feet long.
He would go about a half hour before sacrament meeting started and set up. We would sit on the very front row with the recorder. He would string wires all over and tape them down to the floor. He put a microphone on the pulpit that was bigger than the normal mike. He would have to tape it down too or it would slide down the pulpit.
The wire recorder would only record one hour. Since sacrament meeting was an hour and a half, and missionary meetings went over frequently, Dad had to be careful what he recorded. He would cut out the announcements and ward business. He would also cut out some of the verses to the songs. He had a big clock that would keep track of the time spent. It was like a stop watch but it was a big clock. I donít think stop watches had been invented yet. When I was little it was my job to start and stop the clock when he recorded.
After tape recorders came along things were much easier. Dad would record them on slow and put both the farewell and welcome home on the same tape. I remember after the meetings we would be the last to leave. They used to have the missionary and his family go in the foyer. Everyone would pass by and congratulate them like a wedding line. We would go through last and Dad would give them their tape, or wire as the case may be.
I donít have any idea how this started or if they were ever called to do this. I know Dad would go and record meetings special for other wards when someone would ask him. I donít believe Dad ever got paid even for the price of the tape. It was just something he did for others.
Wiring Carterís Home
Dad used to do a lot of odd electrical jobs for people, some time for money, and most of the time not. If it was a friend who needed the help he would do it free. I remember when Brother Carter was building a new home. Dad went to wire it for him. It took us an entire day to do it. Brother Carter wanted to pay Dad for it but Dad would not take anything for it. He wanted to at least pay me for my time but Dad said I didnít want any money either. He said I didnít have any use for it. I thought he was wrong.
On the way home I asked him why he didnít take any money from Brother Carter. He was a retired military officer and was working for the church and made a lot more than Dad did. He had a big new house and the electrical work would have cost him a lot of money. My dad told me that his talent to fix things was from Heavenly Father and he didnít feel right taking money from his friends for using this talent. Then Dad took me out for a hamburger and malt. He said I could have anything I wanted. I guess he knew that I did want something for my work. I learned a valuable lesson that day in service.
We went on lots of camping trips as a family, with scouts, and also just Dad and me alone. I will not try to write about all the camping trips we went on. Iíll just hit a few highlights.
Many of our family vacations could be considered camping trips since we usually camped out.
When I was small my Dad was the scoutmaster. I guess he had been for a long time but I donít remember too much of it since I was so little. He was never my scoutmaster but I used to go on some scout activities with him.
I remember specifically going to Camp Maple Dell with him three or four times. I would have been very little, five or six when this started. Parents night was Friday night when all the parents would come and the boys could show off what they learned. Dad would let me stay over Friday night with him and come home Saturday with the troop. I really thought I was big to be with the big scouts.
I was also impressed the way the boys worshipped him. That helped me to see Dad in a new light. He was a born leader of boys and the boys would follow him anywhere.
The camping trip that stands out most in my mind from my entire life is a three day trip up Mt. Baldly. This is a peak in the Uintas. It is called Baldly because the top is above the tree line and is a big smooth rock dome like a bald head.
I was very little, probably around ten. We hiked in two or three miles to a lake to make our base camp. We fished and hiked all day. One day we went to the top of the mountain. From there you could see hundred of small lakes.
We caught a lot of fish and ate them right there. He taught me about cooking in high altitude. I guess this is the longest period of time I ever spent alone with my Father and it is one of my fondest memories.
When I was about ten my dad took four or five of my friends and me to Aspen Grove for an overnight. The next morning we hiked up the trail to about half way to Emerald Lake.
Dad said he was too old to go all the way up so we stopped there. I think we were more tired than he was and were glad to stop.
This was a very enjoyable camp. I donít ever remember any of the other boyís dads ever taking us camping.
Dad felt bad because he wasnít young enough to take me camping and hiking as much as he did the other boys. Because of this he bought a tote goat. That may have just been an excuse but it worked. Mom let him get it.
A tote goat was a little scooter that was made to go up hills. Its top speed was about twenty-five miles per hour but it could go almost straight up.
We spent a lot of hours on it. At first I was too little to drive so I just rode on the back. We werenít too good at first. Going up steep hills we would tip over backwards. After a few times out we learned how to lean together, and the spills were less often. Several evenings after work we would load the tote goat on the back of the car and go to the Y. Of course Dad made a special mount for the tote goat on the car. It was pretty nice and held it very securely.
Another favorite place we would go was up Rock Canyon. We went up all the way to the camp ground several times. I enjoyed this a lot because we had to ford the stream in several places.
One Saturday morning we got up real early and rode the tote goat to the top of West Mountain to in time to see the sun rise over the valley.
Several of our fishing expeditions were done on the back of the tote goat. Without it we wouldnít have had those times together.
As I got older, Dad let me drive a little. I remember he took me to the west side of Utah Lake and let me just ride through the sage brush. I hit a big rock and flew over the handle bars. I looked up and saw Dad running as fast as he could toward me. The Tote goat was making a terrible noise but he ran to me to see if I was OK. When he was sure I was OK, he went to the tote goat. I guess I was surprised he was more concerned about me than the tote goat.
Probably if Dad could change one thing about me he would have made me like fishing more. When I was young he would take me a lot and called me ďHis little fishing buddy.Ē As I got older I would rather chase lizards on the bank than sit in a boat and drown worms.
I do; however, have several fond memories of fishing trips with my Dad. Here are a few.
Our Family used to go to Deer Creek Reservoir and fish for perch. We would literally catch buckets of them. Dad would spend most of his time tying hooks, putting on worms, and taking off fish for us kids. Sometimes he would cast way out with a lure and reel it in slow. The lure was too big for the small perch but it would bring them in so they would take our hooks.
At the end of the day we would throw all the fish away. There were barrels there for the perch. I guess thatís why they call them trash fish. I always wanted to take them home and eat them. I guess there wasnít enough meat on them to make it worth the fuss.
My Big Cat Fish
When I was very young, about five or six I guess, My dad would take me fishing on Provo River. I think it was down by the mouth of the river but Iím not sure -- I was just a little guy. We would get up early and go fish for about an hour before he went to work.
We caught mainly cat fish. Most mornings we would catch two or three fish, Dad caught most of them. My mom wouldnít let us bring them home. She didnít like to cook catfish. She said she didnít want to cook anything that would flap around in the frying pan even after it had been cleaned and skinned.
One morning I caught a big fish. I donít have any idea how big it really was but it was the biggest one we ever caught there. It probably wasnít much over three pounds but it seemed like a whale to me. Dad was so proud of me. He took the fish to show to all the other fishermen there. We took it home and he asked Grandma to cook it for me. Mom probably would have but Dad knew she didnít like to.
After that for several times fishing Dad would still tell other fishermen we would see about the big cat fish I caught.
Dad and Mom used to enjoy going to Strawberry Reservoir and fish from a boat. They would catch a lot of nice trout there. Dad even bought an old Johnson five horse power boat motor. He mounted it on a saw horse in the garage and would lay it in the trunk of the car on an old blanket to take to Strawberry. Then he would rent a row boat and put his motor on it. I donít think he saved much money over just renting a boat with a motor. I think he just liked having his own motor.
This was about the time I lost interest in fishing. I remember one time we were catching beautiful fish quite often. Each of us caught our limit of fish. Most of the time I complained that there was nothing to do. I wanted to just drive the boat around. Dad couldnít believe I was bored when we were catching so many fish. I couldnít see sitting in a hot boat all day doing nothing. Now, sitting around doing nothing all day doesnít sound bad.
I think Dad really enjoyed stream fishing the most. He was very good at it One time he took me up Hobble Creek on the tote goat. We took a lunch and hoped to supplement it with fish. We drove as far as we could in the car. Then we parked it and drove several miles further on the tote goat. We would come to a water hole and Dad would stop. He would tell me right where to put the pole to catch a fish. I really enjoyed this. It was both fishing and hiking. It always amazed me how Dad would know where a fish would be. Sometimes he would tell me there were two fish in the same hole, and he was always right.
We came to a little pond in the stream. He had me crawl up to a place above the bank where I could watch. He said it was important to be very quiet and not spook the fish. Then he cast his line in the pond where he knew a fish would be and I could watch the fish in the water go to his hook and take it.
We spent all day working the stream. We ate a lot of fish and just enjoyed being together. At the time I didnít realize my Dad was trying to spend some quality time with me. I was just having fun. I think he was too. That was probably my favorite fishing trip of all time.
I have to include one more fishing trip. We found a lake on the back of Timpanogos Mountain called Silver Lake. There was a trail that went several miles but we could ride the tote goat almost all the way. There was a big hill at the very end we would have to walk up.
The lake was surrounded by ice and snow on three sides. A big water fall fed it from under the ice on the mountain side of the lake. It really looked like a post card. Both times we went we only saw a few hikers now and then.
This is where Dad tried to teach me how to fly fish. He used to tie his own flies. I was interested in it so he bought me a fly tying outfit of my own. I made hundreds and hundreds of flies.
Dad got my line and pole all set and showed me how to fly fish. I watched him pull in several fish. It looked pretty easy. The fish were biting well. I soon found it was not as easy as it looked. I could get the fly out there all right and the fish would bite it but I could not set the hook. Dad would just laugh and tell me it takes practice. I donít remember if I ever caught one. At least the fish would strike at my flies even if I couldnít catch them.
The church was always important to my dad. I donít ever remember him missing a Sunday. He lived his religion all week as well and was always a good example. Much of the section on service could be included under this heading as well.
Most of the time I remember Dad had a calling in scouting. I have lumped all this together under its own heading.
Dad attended the temple regularly for as long as I can remember. He was my escort on my first trip to the temple. After they finished the Provo temple he would go to the temple five to ten times per week. When I came home from my mission I tried to keep up with them. We would all go several times per week. On every Wednesday night he and Mom were scheduled to do a sealing session. They did this for several years.
Dad retired before Mom. Soon after he retired he was called as a temple worker. He served as a veil worker for many years.
Dad was my first Home Teaching companion. We were together for five years until I went on my mission. We took care of four or five families down the street from our home. We took turns giving the lesson.
I wasnít always enthusiastic about going but he would always get me to go. Dad liked to go early but I would usually make excuses about doing something so it normally ended up the end of the month. Dad would get upset because he was always worried something would come up and we wouldnít be able to go.
I donít think we ever missed a family during those five years Dad and I were together.
In Seventies Presidency
I think Dad was a seventy when I was born. At least he was since I can remember. For several years he served as one of the seven presidents of the seventy in our stake.
I remember the day he was set apart. As a little kid I learned the church was Heavenly Fatherís house. I asked where he lived in the chapel but Mom said he didnít live there. For stake conference we went to the Provo tabernacle. I figured Heavenly Father must live there. There was a door on the main floor on the left of the stage. I figured that was the room where Heavenly Father lived.
They set Dad apart as one of the seven presidents after Stake Conference one Sunday. By this time I was old enough to realize Heavenly Father didnít live in the tabernacle but I was very surprised because that was the room they set him apart in. I was still young enough to be impressed by the room. I think it made me realize how important this calling was.
High Priest Group Leader
I donít remember when they made Dad a High Priest. It was some time between my baptism and becoming a deacon. I do remember him being made the High Priest group Leader.
I have been in a lot of high priest groups and I have never been in one with a president like Dad. He showed his organizational skills here. I remember he and his counselors would get together all the time. They would go to the temple regularly with their wives.
Baptized & Ordained Me
Dad did all my ordinances for me, from blessing, baptism, confirmation, and priesthood ordinations through elder. When I was made a high priest I wanted him to do it but I was then in Illinois and my Stake President wanted to do it immediately.
I liked my priesthood line of authority under Dad. It was very short. It went from me to Dad, to Grandpa Larsen, to David O. McKay, to Brigham Young, to the three witnesses and Joseph Smith, to Peter, James, and John, to Jesus. It was so short I felt I was closer to Jesus. I memorized it almost immediately. My new line is a lot longer. I still donít have it memorized.
I remember one time I was working in the yard. I was hot and not having a very good time. Grandma came over and talked to me for a while. She said I reminded her of my dad when he was young. She said he loved to work. I donít think she was too observant because I was not loving what I did. Anyway I thought about what she said -- he loved to work. That was really true. Dad was always working on something or other. He always had projects going on. He built our house, our garage, and most of the things in our home. I wasnít born when he did these things. Here are a few things I remember about my dad at work.
Work in Yard
Our yard was a nice yard. It seemed huge to me then. As I go back and look at what is left of our yard I see it wasnít that big but it seemed that way when I was small.
Most of the back was surrounded by bushes. Behind that was what was called the new lawn. behind that was the garden. The new lawn used to be garden but as the older kids left we didnít have the need for such a big garden so Dad leveled it and planted lawn.
Dad kept the yard up well. He made sure we kept it mowed and watered. He never really let us kids water much because we didnít do a careful enough job. He had a double sprinkler he made himself.
Sometimes in the fall he would trim the bushes around the yard so far back I didnít think they would ever grow back but they did.
Our gardens always had lots of good vegetables. Since that time I have tried to grow a garden several times but I could never get them to grow like they did at the old house with Dad. I spent many hours irrigating and weeding the garden with Dad. Also every couple of years we would edge the entire back lawn. Dad would go with a shovel and shape the edge and loosen the bad grass. Then I would have to come behind and shake the dirt out of the grass. This is what I was doing when Grandma told me Dad loved to work. I figured I would like work too if I got to handle the shovel and he had to shake the dirt out of the cut grass.
Sometimes Dad would turn the irrigation water loose on the back lawn and completely flood it. He would tell us kids he was going to do it so we could play in it. We would go out and play in the water for a couple of hours.
My fatherís room was a virtual fantasyland for boys. It was in the basement right across my bedroom. There was a lock on the door that was always kept locked -- even when all of us were grown. When I was small I remember him working in there and not being able to go in because I might get hurt. There were strange sounds coming out of the room and I could just imagine what was going on in there.
When I was finally able to go in, it was even better than I dreamed. He had more tools than Sears. They were not ordinary tools. These were strange specialized tools. Of course he had the normal screw drivers, pliers, wrenches, and hammers; but there was a lot more. All of his smaller tools were organized on two of the walls on peg board. Dad didnít go buy the wire hooks and things to hang his tools on. He made them. He made hangers out of welding rod and soldered them together to hold his different tools. He made each one special to hold a specific tool. Most of the tools were not supposed to be touched by us kids. I didnít know what to do with them anyway. Of course I did use them and left them out a lot. I would get in trouble and always promised to put away his tools in the future. Of course I would soon forget and leave them out again.
If Dad really wanted to punish us he would lock us out of his room. We could figure a way to get in but then it was always possible to get caught. Of course this made it more fun. Let me mention just a few of the ways I got in.
First, were the windows. If you rattled the windows for a while the latch would work itself loose and you were in easily. Dad put nails on the latches so this wouldnít work but whenever I would go in legally I would pull them out. Then I could get in through the window until he noticed the nails were out. The next option was to find a key. He put it sometimes by the sugar bowl in the kitchen. Also it might be on top of his dresser. He always kept his key with him but there were several copies. The easiest way to have a key was to make your own copy once Dad let you have a key for a while. Then when he took the key away you had your own.
Another method was to crawl in through the top of the wall. This was not as easy as it sounds. At the top of the inside wall was about a six inch gap because he didnít fill the spaces between the floor beams (his room was in the basement). From the downstairs hall you could squeeze in this way. The only problem was there was nothing to stand on in the hall. When you did start through there was nothing on the other side to stand on. There was just a bunch of shelves with a lot of stuff on them. Also you were coming in head first upside down. I would always knock stuff down and then Iíd have to replace it exactly as it was so no one would know I came in. I donít know if Dad ever knew we came in that way. You had to be pretty little to do it.
I remember taking a board off the door once but Dad noticed that and I got in trouble.
The last time I remember breaking in the room I was about sixteen. Dad and Mom had left me alone for a weekend -- without a key. I took the hinges off the door and had full access to the room all week.
Let me explain what was in the room so you will understand why it was so important to get in. First off, his normal tools were not normal. I donít think he ever had a new tool in the room. I didnít find out until many years later that his good new tools were at work. We got all the rejects. He had an unbelievable assortment of screw drivers and hammers. He had a hammer with yellow plastic ends. He had one that was real skinny for doing tacks. One side of it was magnetic to hold the tacks so you wouldnít hurt your thumb. I could never hit a nail with it since it was so skinny. He had a wood handled nut driver set that I donít think anyone ever used. He had two of the oldest drills in history. There was a jig saw and grinder and two vices that were all fairly normal tools. His drill press was a table top model with the pulleys exposed. I got my fingers caught in them changing the speeds but never when it was running. His table saw was home made. He could also take it apart and put a disk sander or polisher on it but almost never did. This was the most feared tool in the room. Of course there was so much stuff on the floor and around it that you couldnít cut anything longer than a couple of feet.
He also had a torch that served no useful purpose I could see except he did make fishing sinkers with it. Later Kenneth used it to make slugs for his pistols. I mainly used it to do stupid stuff like melt lead with it or bend glass tubing. We would melt lead and drop water in it to see it steam. Sometimes it would explode and was really neat. No one was ever badly burned as I remember. The torch had an air compressor on it that would also drive a paint gun he used occasionally. He also had assorted pipe wrenches and a huge tap and die set. Of course he had a small set too but the big one was for doing big pipe. It turned out that I did used this a lot.
He had an old cobbler's shoe stand so we could repair our own shoes. He had a fly tying kit to make his own flies for fishing. There were also a lot of strange things that werenít tools. For example he had a barometer he made himself. It had a pint jar half filled with mercury and a long glass tube going up with mercury in it. There was a ruler along the side of it showing how many inches of mercury there was. He had an old projector that you could put small pictures in it and it would project on the wall.
Around the inside walls were shelves and cabinets filled with stuff like feathers for fly tying, boy scout books, puzzles, marionettes, and just about anything else that was Dadís. Under his work bench were a bunch of drawers going the full length of the room. These held screws and nails, pipe fittings, glues, smaller tools, electric tools. I remember he had a box with about thirty colors of nylon thread.
Also on the outside wall was a bunch of electrical stuff. He had switches that controlled the outside sockets so he could turn the outside Christmas lights on and off from the inside. He had an old mercury switch he put together that would serve as a timer so he could turn them on and off automatically. There were also hundreds of jumper wires to configure all kinds of electrical experiments. You could light up lights or make buzzers ring. Again I donít know what useful purpose this served but it was sure neat.
The floor was covered with piles of cardboard boxes filled with junk. I almost never looked in them because I didnít think there was much of value there. To give you an idea of what was in them, when we went through his stuff after he died there was a box filled with four old broken Geiger counters. They didnít work. Dad picked them up somewhere cause he thought they were neat.
From his ceiling hung coils of wire, rope, and extension cords. He also had three or four bows, several dozen arrows, and about thousand fishing poles, hung between the rafters. We would shoot arrows in the back yard with Dad for hours.
I think off all the things I miss the most about the old house since Mom and Dad moved was Dadís room. Many times when I need to fix something I wish I could do it there. You could fix anything in that room.
Dad could fix anything
Dad not only had all those tools and neat stuff in his room, he knew how to use them. He was the ultimate handy man -- he could fix anything. If our shoes came apart he had special glue for them. If a toy broke, heíd fix it. He repaired all our appliances if they needed it. I remember taking all the tubes from our TV to the shop once to test them.
A lot of the time he would make some kind of rig to hold his part just right so he could fix the piece. Sometimes a thing wouldnít be broken but he would make them better or stronger. He almost never threw anything away. If it could be fixed he would nail, screw, glue, or tie it together. It didnít always look like new, but it was stronger than new.
Our old Kaiser was getting old and needed to be painted. Dad decided to paint it himself. He sanded it all down, put masking tape on the parts he didnít want painted, and spray painted the whole thing. He used an air paint gun and his old compressor from his room. When he was done it didnít look like a professional job because the paint wasnít shined and polished, but it was well covered and nothing that wasnít supposed to be painted was. I remember him and Joe working on this project for hours. All I thought about it was the color was icky.
We had an old piano that was looking pretty bad. Dad decided to paint it too. He took it completely apart and laid all the pieces in a nice order so he could put it back together. He sanded all the exterior parts and painted it with the same compressor and air gun he used to paint the car. This color was even worse than the car, although icky green would probably look worse on the piano. The color he used was kind of a light brownish reddish yeck. I didnít think the piano looked much better after he finished.
Put Keys on Piano
When I was small I remember flipping the ivory off the piano keys. The ivory was getting old and was already off about half the keys. Dad wanted to fix the piano and make it look nice. I guess it cost to much to have new ivory put on so he decided to do it himself.
The ivory came in little rectangles just a little bigger than each piece needed. He had to cut the ivory to fit each piece. He made a rig that would hold the ivory down on the piece overnight while the glue set. It had to hold the little end piece as well as the top of the key.
His rig held several at once so he did about six or seven at a time. He had them all numbered and precut before he started gluing. When he was done, the keys looked new. We couldnít pop the ivory off anymore. Where ever that piano is now, probably some piano heaven, I bet the ivory is still stuck to the keys.
School PA System
After Dad graduated from college he had trouble finding a job. It was right in the middle of the depression. One of the jobs he got that he held for quite a while was janitor for the Timpanogos Grade School. He also taught a shop class there. I think he was there when they built a new school by the old one and he helped a lot with it. That was all long before I came along but the principal was still there and he remembers Dad.
They decided to put in a PA system in the school. Of course the principal called Dad to see if he could do it. He took me with him on the last day to help him test it. It was really fun going into the school classrooms and talking with him over the PA system from each room.
He took me down in the basement of the school and showed me where he taught the shop class. Also he showed me a neat old tunnel from the furnace room where he taught the class to a janitorís closet on the first floor. When I went to school there I had band in the same room. I remember sneaking around with some friends there and showing them this secret tunnel.
The principal never forgot my dad. When I was in sixth grade he made me the student operator of the PA system. I would handle it for all the morning announcements and any other special things they needed. My dad told me some neat things the system could do which I showed the principal. I also remember the principal figured I could fix anything also since I was my dadís son. Once the school TV was broken and he called me out of the class to fix it. Another time a record player was broken and he got me out of class to fix it. Because of all the wiring I had done with my dad I was able to figure out the problem both times and fix them.
Hereís just a bunch of stuff that didnít seem to fit anywhere else in these writings.
Dadís thoughts on Corporal Punishment.
This is an easy one, he was in favor of it and my bottom can attest to it. He didnít ever hit us with a belt or a wooden spoon, just his hand, but that was enough. A spanking was a major production. Normally we would go into his room to talk about it for a while. Then he would sit on the bed and put us over his knee.
I remember once I almost got it with a willow. It would have been the last time I was spanked except I didn't get spanked. It was the maddest I ever saw my Dad.
I was about twelve or thirteen and was innocently playing at my friend's house. There was a call for me to come home right now. I came home not expecting anything. When I got there, Dad wanted an explanation of why my initials were burnt in the lawn. That wasn't a very easy thing to explain. We, Kenneth and I, had put gasoline on the lawn in the shape of a big BL and lit it on fire. I don't know how we ever thought we would get away with that one. Anyway in the explaining I didnít want to mention the gasoline because that was bad by itself and I didnít know if he knew about it or not. Well, he did. He had already talked to Kenneth about it.
He was really mad. He gave me his pocket knife and told me to go cut a good strong willow so he could whip me with it. He said if the willow broke I would have to go get another one. I knew he was serious so I was trying to pick one just the right size, not to big but big enough that it wouldn't break.
About that time Kenneth showed up and he was mad that I just got a whipping. He wanted to be whipped and have it over with. It seemed that he didnít get to use the tote goat or car for about six weeks. Dad said that he was too big to get a whipping. Then he decided I was too big also and that a whipping was too easy. I was glad about that until I found out what my punishment was. I had to do all kinds of jobs for the next two months. He didnít forget in a few days either. I worked the entire two months.
Dad Never Lied
I donít have any cute stories about this. It is enough to say that in the forty-three years I knew my father I never heard him tell a lie or even imply something that wasnít true.
Toys and Gadgets
For Christmas we didnít get Dad ties or other such stuff. We got him toys and puzzles. He had a whole shelf of puzzles he had collected from all over. He also had lots of toys that he would put around the Christmas tree each year. We werenít supposed to play with them. Because of this most of them still work today. A couple of special ones come to mind.
One would be his Charley Weaver bartender. Charley Weaver would shake a drink, pour it, and drink it. Then his face would go all red and smoke would pour out his ears. Another toy he had was a big monkey that would hold his hands up to his eyes, then his ears, and then his mouth. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. I remember when we got that for Dad I wondered why he got all the best toys.
When ever we went anywhere, Dad would take his camera. He had a big case with all kinds of filters and stuff for his camera. For years he only had a small 35 mm camera but he still filled his camera case with stuff. About the time I went on a mission he bought a nice new single lens reflex Cannon camera. He bought several lenses that would fit on it. One of them looked liked a telescope it was so long.
Dad took pictures of all our trips, birthdays, Christmas, or when ever he felt like it. After the brothers and sisters got married he would take pictures of all of the grandkids when they came to visit. He would line them up one at a time and get their picture.
We used go get together as a family after a vacation and sit in the front room and look at pictures. This was always a fun time for us kids. After we saw the slides of the most recent trip we would ask to see more and more. Still when we all go home we normally set up the slide projector and look at old home slides.
He taught me a lot about how to take pictures. On my mission I bought a camera just like his so I could use his lenses. At the end of my mission he and Mom came to get me. As we traveled home he and I took hundreds of pictures together. My camera has since broken but I wonít throw it away because itís just like my dadís camera. Maybe someday Iíll get it fixed so I can use some of his lenses he gave me.
In his home now there is a room with a set of shelves that go from floor to ceiling on two walls which are almost completely filled with slides Dad took.
My Dad had his own single-sheet printing press. It was a black shallow box with a heavy lid. You would carve whatever you wanted to print on a block of wood covered with linoleum on the top. Then you put the block centered in the bottom of the press. The lid had a place to put a sheet of paper. He had all kinds of blocks and wedges to center the block and hold it tight. Then you shut the lid and pull this other board over it and press it down hard. That would put the impression on your paper.
He had all kinds of different colored inks for it. There was also a roller to apply the ink to the block.
Dad used this press more than you would think. We made everything from program covers, to Cub Scout Pow Wow neckerchiefs, to imprinted tee-shirts. When I ran for student body president in junior high, Dad helped me make my campaign posters.
I remember working late in the night with him making several hundred Pow Wow neckerchiefs and programs. Dad applied the ink and put the finished cloths aside to dry. I would load the press and press it. I was just heavy enough to press the board down on the press. I would put my whole weight on it. I donít know of anyone else that had their own printing press.
I stopped going to MIA
When I was about sixteen, I stopped going to MIA. Dad was not too happy about that. He always wanted me to go to all my meetings, especially scouts and church. I told him all they were doing was playing basketball. He still felt I should go to support them. One day I showed him my Indian dancing schedule. I would dance five or six times a week, usually for at least two scout meetings in various places in the county. When he found out I was attending that many scout meetings he was much happier about me not attending my own. I remember this because it was one of the times I remember my Dad really being pleased with me. That was always a good feeling.
Being the youngest in the family, I got to go on lots of trips with Mom and Dad. They visited all fifty states in their lives and I went to most of them with them. I did get to Hawaii before them so I made all fifty first.
I have included here the major trips we went on. There was normally a big trip each summer. We also went on countless small trips to the parks in Southern Utah, Yellowstone, or the Uintas.
We went on lots of trips in the car. Dad and Mom would take turns driving in the front and I would be in the back seat. For some of the trips Mary Ann went too but she got tired of going places so I was alone a lot of the time.
After Dad had thirty years at the steel plant they gave him a thirteen week vacation. A couple of years later they decided to give it to everyone who had twenty-five years, so Dad got to go again. On one of these trips we went across the United States, on the other we went to Alaska.
On the trip across the United States we went to places like the museums in Detroit, Niagara Falls, the Hill Comorah pageant, the New York Worlds Fair, Washington DC, and Joeís house in South Carolina. One thing that stands out on this trip was our visit to Chicago. Dad hated big cities. He would make us drive way around them. We were coming into Chicago and Dad was asleep. Mom and I wanted to see downtown Chicago so we drove right into the middle of it. Dad woke up in downtown Chicago and was very nervous. He thought we would get in a wreck for sure.
At the Hill Comorah we camped in a little farm a few miles away. When we drove up the lady wanted to know where our trailer was or what we were going to sleep in. We didnít have a trailer or anything on top of the car. Dad had everything packed tightly in the trunk. There was a tent, sleeping bags, a large table, chairs, a stove, lantern, and whatever else we needed all in the trunk. The lady there was amazed at all the stuff we had in the car.
On the trip to Alaska we drove to Seattle, then ferried across onto Vancouver Island. We then drove all the way up British Columbia to the north west corner of it. We took a passenger ferry into Alaska. Then we drove down through Alberta. Dad really loved this trip. It was in the out of doors all the way. We camped most of the time and really enjoyed ourselves. Dad also got in a little fishing but it was not as good as we had hoped. He had heard a lot of wonderful things about fishing in Canada but most of the places we visited were pretty commercial and fished out. We did watch the Indians pull out giant salmon with big gigs but we couldnít catch a thing with a rod and reel.
After my mission in Italy, Mom and Dad came to Europe to travel home with me. They spent a few weeks in England first to do a little genealogy.
They picked me up in Milan and we took a train to Switzerland where we rented a car. We went there because the gas was so much cheaper if we had a car rented outside of Italy.
We toured for two or three weeks. Dad probably took two or three hundred pictures. He was always playing with his various lenses. He also really liked the food there. I remember when we got to Switzerland we went to a dairy store. My companion and I started grabbing lots and lots of yogurt. Mom and Dad didnít want us to get so much because they didnít think we could eat it. They said they each only wanted one.
Mom didnít like it at all but then she doesnít like any milk but the next time we stopped for yogurt Dad was grabbing all he could carry too. We lived on yogurt, cheese, and chocolate.
There was a cholera epidemic in Italy so we werenít suppose to eat anything that would hold the virus. Ice cream was one of those things. We came by a very nice ice cream shop. My companion and I decided it was worth the risk. As soon as Dad realized we were going to eat some he had to have it too. He likes his ice cream and had heard us rant and rave about how good the ice cream was in Italy.
We were cramped in a small Volkswagen the whole time we were on the continent. Dad was in the back seat. We also had junk piled in the very back so the back seat wouldnít go all the way back. After several days of this Dadís back got very sore. He got grumpy until we figured out that his back probably was hurt and put him in the front seat.
I was very happy to have my father travel with me to see some of the people I had taught the gospel too. I was proud to let them meet my father and I was proud to let him see the people whose lives I had touched.
Canada and South Dakota (Church)
Whenever we traveled Dad always tried to honor the Sabbath day. We normally camped as much as we could but on Saturday night he would find a motel. This would allow us to shower and be somewhat presentable for Sunday. We would normally not travel on Sunday but would go to church and rest the rest of the day.
We have gone to church in some pretty out of the way places. I remember in Canada we went in some businessí basement. When we went to priesthood there was only two other men there. Another time at Mt. Rushmore we found a small Sunday School group that met in the living room of one of the Rangerís.
I also remember after my mission we went on a few family camping trips with all the family, including in-laws and grandkids. There would be lots and lots of us there. On Sunday Dad would get permission to have our own sacrament meeting. Those Sunday services were some of the most special I remember.
If I had to describe my dad in just one word it would be ĎScouterí. He was in boy scouts forever. I believe he had over fifty years of continuous registration. I think it appropriate that the Boy Scouts of America was organized just one year after his birth. The boy scouts grew and matured right along with my father.
Dad had just every badge you could earn. He received his eagle with Joe and Kenneth, he didnít get it as a boy because he couldnít swim. He earned the explorer ranger award which was the equivalent to the boy scout eagle. Then they replaced the ranger with the silver award and he earned that. He also was a silver beaver from way back. He earned his Provo Peak award, the Provo District award for scouters. He also served as president of the Provo Peakers for a few years with Mom as his secretary. He made a board with many of his scout awards on it. He had way too many to fit. He could have covered his walls with badges and awards he earned as a scout and scouter.
He was scout master, then explorer advisor, then scout master again for many years. That was all before I was old enough to be a scout. Dad was never one of my leaders. By the time I came along he was involved in leading the scout leaders. I still had the opportunity to work with him a lot in scouting. Here are a few examples.
Dad had his Scouterís Key award as well as the Scout Masterís Key. Mom had been Den Mother for a few years and wanted to earn the Den Motherís Key. One of the requirements was to participate in a Cub Scout Pow Wow. Our council never had them so she couldnít get the award. One time they were asking someone at the scout office about when they would ever had a Pow Wow. Well the answer was simple, there would be one soon and Dad and Mom would be the co-chairmen.
Dad never did anything half way. They soon had various committees set up for each of the classes and events for the Pow Wow. There were several planning meetings I remember in my front room. I liked to see this kind of stuff because it made me proud to see how well respected my father was and how well he could organize things.
We made neckerchiefs and programs for all the participants. The covers for the programs and patches for the neckerchiefs were printed on Dadís printing press. The programs were assembled on our two ping pong tables by us kids.
When it came time for the Pow Wow it went off without a hitch. For the banquet that night our cub scout pack got to put on a program. We marched and sang Itís a Grand Old Flag. I also was a runner for Dad and Mom all day.
They did such a good job, they were asked to do it again the next year. Again it was a very professional job.
We went to Philmont Scout Ranch two times, once for cub scouts leader training and once for commissioner training. The first time I was a boy scout and so met with the scouts while Dad went to meetings. The next time it was a session for cub scout leaders so both Dad and Mom had meetings all day. That time I got to go on the Philmont trek. It was a great experience for me and a great vacation for us. The second time it was just Dad, Mom, and me. The first time Mary Ann and Loretta Luce went.
I remember Dad bragged about my Indian dancing and set it up so I could do the hoop dance when I got off the trail. He drummed for me. I think that was the only time he ever did.
I donít remember much about when Dad was neighborhood commissioner. He went to a lot of meetings. The only reason I bring it up is to show how Dad performed his callings. This function is normally performed in a stake by the high councilman over young men. They are supposed to make sure the scouting program is running in the stake.
Normally the person doesnít really do much with this calling. They may organize a training meeting or two. In all the time I was scout master, I have only been visited by someone from the stake once. My Dad would go to individual ward scout meetings at least two times per week. He was always off planing adult training meetings and junior leader training seminars. I attended several of them. Again they were well planned. He could organize and motivate men as well as boys.
Dad was a brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow. He was not all that active in the OA. He spent his time with other scout groups. I was very excited about the OA and very active from about age 13. I was the lodge chief of our council the year before my mission. I received my Vigil Honor Award when I was seventeen. It is an award given to a few people, kids and adults, by the council. There are only a few selected each year.
The year I was Lodge Chief, I was on the selection committee to select candidates for the vigil honor. We were to submit the names of three or four boys to our leader. He said he would choose the men. On the day we presented him with the boy names he showed us the adult names. Then we were to discuss them and choose the candidates as a group. He proposed my dad as one of the two adult candidates that year. I was surprized he would choose Dad because he didnít do that much in the OA. Our leader reminded me that the Vigil was for OA members who had shown extrodinary service to scouting. He said no one deserved one more than my dad.
The Vigil ceremony lasts all night. The candidate remains by himself for most of the night to meditate. I was his guide that night. I led him to his Vigil site and checked up on him regularly during the night. That was one of the proudest moments of my life, to be able to present my own father with this award. I will never forget being the first to ask him if he had kept the vigil, and then fastening that sash over his shoulder and shaking hands with him using the vigil hand shake.
After the dedication of his grave, all the members of the Order of the Arrow from his family came up and sang the OA song in his honor.
Itís been well over a year since I started this work. For the most part I finished it just before my mom died last fall. I hope this has been at least half as enjoyable for you, the reader as it has been for me to write this. As I have gone through this, many happy memories flood my mind. There are countless other things I could relate to you in this book.
My purpose in writing this book is to try to give my own children and family an idea of what kind of a man my father was. If I had to sum Dad up in one line, Iíd say he was a Man of God. He is as great as any of his pioneer ancestors. He has been an example to his family and all who knew him.
I thank God, I have the opportunity to be the son of my father, and hope I can live up to the great responsibility that comes with being the child of such a great person.
feel free to contact
me with any questions or comments.