A Frustrating Experience with the Car
This incident occurred New Years
Eve about 1963 or 64. Louise was coming to spend the night with
Janice so we went to La Canada to pick her up. Alan was parking
cars at the church to earn money for the Scout Troop. We must
have gone across the upper road to La Canada and returned the
lower route through Pasadena.
When we arrived in the very poorest section of Pasadena, one
which I was not very familiar with, our big old white Dodge with
fins ran out of gas. Remember, this was before cell phones. Alan
volunteered to help, but I "ordered" him to stay put.
While I was thinking about what to do, I noticed in the rear
view mirror the lights of a huge old Cadillac full of six big
black men. Now I was really scared.
Two of the men came to my window, which I rolled down two inches,
and asked if they could help. I told them my plight, and they
offered to get gas for me. I gave them Five Dollars. We sat and
waited, not really knowing that they would come back. They returned,
put the gas in the car, and we were on our way.
There were a couple of lessons for me. First, watch the gas gauge,
and I am still not very good at that. And yes, it always pays
to be cautious, especially with five kids in the car. But more
important, there are some wonderful people out there. Those guys
knew I was in desperate need, and they took care of it.
My First Paying Job
Baby sitting and tutoring were my first
jobs, but my first job working for a company was at the Pharmacy
in Belmont Shore. It was the summer before I started High School,
and I was 14 and 1/2. MJ had a job as a sales girl at the same
pharmacy selling cosmetics, cough drops, etc. They needed a soda
jerk, a job too demeaning for anyone who could get another. (This
was during the war years, so jobs were plentiful, and there was
no requirement that I be 16 years old.) Anyway, MJ volunteered
my name, and I got the job.
Pharmacies, then called Drug
Stores, always had a soda fountain which sold Ice Cream, Cokes,
etc. This pharmacy had a more extensive menu, and was a favorite
spot in Belmont Shore for breakfast or lunch. I learned to make
Coffee in the big urn, but someone else usually did it. They
said when I didn't taste it, I wasn't likely to get it right,
and they did not want to be selling bad coffee. We sold a lot.
I did make sandwiches from the trays of stuff already prepared,
plus the drinks to go with them. There was also a short order
cook, and I served up whatever he prepared. Yep, Grandma the
I can't remember what I was
paid an hour, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were only fifty
cents. I remember that MJ made about 25 cents an hour more than
I did, because she was older and had the more responsible position.
Belmont Shore is a suburb
of Long Beach which is along the beach, but as far east as where
we lived. Sometimes we walked to work, and sometimes Mom would
drive us. It was a long walk, but I don't remember ever minding
the walk. Transportation was not plentiful, and we were used
to walking everywhere.
MJ got me my next job too.
The following Christmas, she was a salesclerk at Spring's Formerly
Gumps. (Gumps was a very famous store in San Francisco, so they
wanted to use the name.) It was a leather goods store, and MJ
sold luggage, purses and wallets, etc. and I got to work at the
wrapping desk. It was a neat job, and a posh store. I especially
liked break time. Every afternoon, I went next door to Buffum's
Coffee Shop and ordered a piece of Chocolate Cream Pie and a
glass of milk. I'm not sure anything has ever tasted as good
as that did.
One of the other soda jerks was
an amateur diver. After High School, she went to the Olympics
and married her coach. I was able to follow her career for awhile,
until she faded into obscurity. It was fun to know someone who
made it that far in her field.
With respect to a memory of my
grandparents, I only had two grandparents instead of four. My
Grandfather Miner died in 1901 when my father was six years old,
so I could have no memory of him. My Grandmother Christensen
died of Cancer when I was 4 1/2, so even though I saw her, I
do not remember her.
Grandpa Christensen lived in Richfield, Utah. I remember going
to visit when he was a widower. Uncle Harve and family lived
with him, so it was not easy to get a feel of Grandpa, or his
home. He had a typical small town Utah home. It had a very small
living room, a large kitchen and a master bedroom on the first
floor. There were two bedrooms upstairs. The picture of my grandfather
with the volunteer beet, is taken on the front porch of that
My best memories of Grandpa are from his visits to California.
While he was a widower, he came every winter and spent a month
with us. My mother loved and respected her father very much,
and I learned from her to do the same. He was not as polished
a man as I was accustomed to, but he was kind. He spent his time
at our home going to the Pike (the amusement park) area where
the "Spit and Argue" Club had discussions every day.
Grandpa liked politics and liked to discuss the subject. He also
played solitaire in our living room.
My favorite memory of Grandpa was one day in the car. I was
sitting on his lap in the back seat. As I folded and unfolded
his fingers, I inquired about the yellow stain on his index fingers.
Grandpa smoked cigarettes, and he "rolled his own"
using tobacco from a cloth sack and cigarette papers. This effort
saved money, but it created the stain on his fingers. Grandpa
explained what the stain was from, and told me that smoking was
a filthy habit, and that I should never take it up. It was a
memorable confidence between us.
My paternal grandmother came from Richfield to live in Long
Beach in the early thirties. By the time I can remember, she
lived in one of the little houses on Gardenia Avenue. (Dad built
our first Long Beach home on Gardenia. Then he built two small
rental homes in front of that property.) Grandma lived there
with her youngest son, Theone, whom we called Chris. I remember
visiting her one day when she could not find her glasses. I told
her they were on the top of her head. We laughed. Yes, our memory
skills fade, as we age.
Sometime after Doug was married in the summer of 1935, Grandma
came to live with us, because she was not well. This is where
I really became acquainted with my Grandmother. Grandma and I
shared a room, and Barb and MJ shared a bedroom. Grandma was
also my sitter. When everyone else would go someplace, I was
left with Grandma. I suspect that MJ was sent to be with a friend,
so that Grandma did not have too much responsibility. Grandma
had a bad heart, and could not do very much. In the daytime,
she sat in her rocking chair in our living room and read her
Relief Society magazine. She used a large magnifying glass.
I have two great memories of the evenings with Grandma. We
usually played rummy when we were left alone. Grandma was not
competitive like I am. Before she would "go out" with
her last card, she would ask me if it was alright for her to
go out. She did not want to leave me with too many negative points.
I'm sure that my grandchildren know that I did not learn that
lesson very well. And Grandma knew that I did not learn the lesson
either. When I would "go out" and leave her with lots
of points, she would say "Oh, sh-sh-sh shugar." I was
grown, before I knew what sugar stood for.
It was during one of those evenings playing rummy that Grandma
told me that she had seen every prophet except Joseph Smith.
It was a very memorable moment for me. In a sense she was giving
me her testimony. Since Grandma was born in 1870, and Brigham
Young died in 1877 she had the opportunity to see him when she
was a young child. Heber J. Grant was the prophet when Grandma
died in January 1940.
As I write this at age 73, the difference in opportunity for
health is amazing. My grandmother died at age 70 from heart failure.
She could not read without a magnifying glass. Today, heart problems
are managed with diagnosis, medicines and surgery. Eye problems
are corrected as well. We have come a long way in extending the
quality of our physical life.
Winning &Losing December
Since last week's message alluded to competitiveness, I might
as well finish off that topic this week. How do I feel about
winning and losing? I am reminded of my favorite Brian story,
which was retold at Dad's birthday party.
We were visiting Alan and family in Oklahoma. One morning Brian
asked Dad to play water guns with him. They had a good session
out on the lawn. In the afternoon, Brian asked me if I would
play water guns with him. I explained that I was not as kind
as Grandpa. I always played to win. I was forewarning Brian,
so that he could decide whether or not he still wanted me to
play with him.
Brian understood the challenge well. He went and asked Julia
to assist him, figuring two against one would help. It didn't.
They both chased me around the yard, and everytime one of them
got close enough to shoot at me, I would turn and shoot water
in the middle of his or her forehead. They both got pretty wet.
Brian, the thinker, evidently mulled that one for awhile. In
the middle of dinner, out of the blue, Brian looked at Alan and
said: "You know Dad, Grandpa is not very good at water guns."
Thank goodness Reed is not as competitive as I am. Such a marriage
would be a disaster.
But I think it is also important to know how to lose.
My favorite game to play with the grandchildren has always been
"Memory". The reason I like it is because the children
have a natural advantage. Their memory is better than mine, and
they can win by their skill. It seems to me that type of winning
helps build a good self image. Remember how proud Alan and Jay
were when they finally beat me at Ping Pong?
The last bit of my philosophy on winning and losing comes from
practicing law. In Court there is always one winner and one loser.
Using the law of averages, we all should win contests 50% of
the time. So it is O.K. to lose, and it is important for other
people to win also.
My Father's Work December
In my childhood, my Dad was an Electrical Contractor. He worked
for one or two contractors when he first moved to Long Beach
in December 1919, and then started his own business. Dad was
not a big risk taker. He was happy with hard work and a steady
income. That was a big improvement over anything he had ever
known as a child.
Our second car was a Ford pick-up truck for Dad's work. In those
days, pick-ups were small compared to the trucks we now drive.
The truckbed was always filled with tools and "materials"
- boxes of rolled wire, ceramic tubes for insulation through
the wood, pipe, etc. We also had plenty of materials stored in
the garage on shelves, on the floor, and in the walkway to the
backyard. I enjoyed playing with all of that stuff, as well as
playing in his truck, when he was home. I would sit in front
of the steering wheel and pretend that I was driving. The rear
window was made of Isinglass. It had begun to crumble, and I
was fascinated by the way it came off in layers. I probably sped
up the demise of that window. (I just looked up how to spell
Isinglass. It was also called Mica, which I thought was a mineral.
The dictionary says it was made from gelatin from the bladder
of fish. Weird!!)
On the day that I was shot, Dad was home for lunch, and he had
pulled his truck into the driveway, but not all the way into
the garage. Therefore, my trip to the doctor's office was in
the truck. I can still remember my parent's tension as we drove.
Dad worked long hours, probably more than eight hours a day,
when there was work. During the depression, there was not always
work. Dad had a wonderful vegetable and flower garden behind
the house where he later built the Rumpus Room. He enjoyed the
gardening, and was very proud of the wonderful vegetables and
beautiful flowers that he cultivated. Needless to say, the veggies
were very important to our well-being. He also raised chickens
in a coop behind the garage. He had a chopping block near the
garden where he butchered a chicken from time to time. He brought
the eggs in every day and put them on the sink for Mom to put
away. We had brown hens and sometimes black hens.
Dad was also on the City Electrical Examining Board which gave
tests for the various levels of electricians, beginning with
men who wanted to be journeymen. He may have secured that position
through Uncle Jack Barton, who was on the City Council, but I
do not know that. I don't know whether he received any pay for
the work or not, but it did get us discount rates on the golf
course - 10 cents for me, instead of 25.
When work in the building industry became really scarce, because
of the war, Dad went to work at the Terminal Island Naval Base
as Assistant Electrical Superintendent for Jackson and Pollock
who were constructing the base. They invited him about a year
later to superintend the electrical work at the Port Hueneme
Naval Base up the coast. He lived up there during the week, and
came home most week-ends.
Dad was ripe for the post-war construction boom. He bid on a
contract for a housing area called Los Altos being developed
by Lloyd Whaley. (Alan may remember going to Doug's home in Los
Altos.) Whaley was so happy with Dad's work that he gave him
contracts for the rest of the areas he developed without competitive
bid. This was an interesting time between Dad and Doug, because
Doug was the innovative risk taker, and Dad the careful detail
man. Doug would talk Dad into some new designs, etc., and Dad
would make sure that they were feasible and economic. It has
always seemed a shame to me that they could not see that they
had great synergism. Instead, I think they only saw what the
other couldn't do.
Dad learned his "trade" in Utah working for Telluride
Power Company. His first job for them was patrolling and repairing
lines on skis. Then he wired new towns in Southern Utah, placing
the switch in the central office for a lightbulb in each home
to come on at dusk. He worked out of the office in Richfield
where he met Mom. The company offered him a more permanent job
in Gunnison, when the folks decided to move to Long Beach. I
have always appreciated the daring of that move, because it gave
me so many opportunities like fantastic schools and a good education.
Pot Pourri Sunday,
January 6, 2002
It is actually Wednesday morning, because I missed writing last
Sunday. This memory is precipitated by a conversation with Janice
last evening about Concord. Jan asked if Jay Markham were related
to Helen Markham. She has a patient who is a friend of Jay's.
Helen Miner Markham was the daughter of Albert Uriah Miner, the
brother of my grandfather Martin Miner. Helen and her husband
Don moved to Long Beach when Don finished Dental School at USC.
They lived on 6th Street across Park Avenue, which was west down
6th Street from our home. I baby-sat for them a lot for their
first two daughters, before they purchased a home and moved across
town. I felt very close to the family.
I am surprised that Jan remembered my talking about Helen, but
she did. Don had a brother, Ira Markham, whom I met when I first
went to Berkeley. The two brothers looked so much alike, that
I asked Ira if he were related to Don.
The first memory is of the wonderful 24th of July celebrations
at Concord High School. This is directly across the street from
where Jan's office is now on High School Avenue. In the early
50's Concord was not only a small town, but very rural. The High
School was all by itself, nothing around it. Ira Markham was
the principal, and he arranged for the Berkeley-Oakland Stake
to have the 24th celebrations there. (No big deal about church
& state then.) We had use of the swimming pool, tennis courts,
ball diamonds, etc. We picnicked on the great expanse of lawn.
We spent the whole day, and had an opportunity to do lots of
visiting with friends. I believe I took Alan one year, while
Reed stayed home to study.
That memory precipitated our telling Janice that our first date
was also to Concord. During Spring break in 1950, I had a term
paper to write, so I stayed in Berkeley instead of going home.
Joanne "Somebody" lived in Concord - out in the sticks.
She had a barbecue at her home for all the Institute kids that
were still in town. When she telephoned me, she suggested that
she get Reed Harker to bring me out to Concord. I said Reed was
committed to Margy Kimber. She told me that was off, and she
would arrange it.
So our first date was a not so blind, "blind date".
We went, and we conquered. I had been dating, among others, Doug
Ream. He was at the barbecue, and suggested that I dump Reed
and ride home with him. I declined. I knew where my preference
was. I had been attracted to Reed since my freshman year at BYU.
To complicate the story further, Doug Ream is the man who recently
married Dad's old girlfriend Anne Wood Widtfeldt. Some of you
will remember staying with the Widtfeldts in Pennsylvania on
our way to Europe to meet Alan. We left our car with them, and
they took us into the New York airport in a motorhome. And yes,
Anne's daughter Dorothy (Dof) is married to John Zackrison. Wow!
What a web we weave.
See you all soon. Love, Mom
I was looking for a light and easy topic today, but maybe this
won't be so light, and it may become long. I feel that my relationship
with boys was a big part of my education. I feel that I was very
lucky to have had so many good friends who were boys, while I
was growing up.
My first crush was on Bobby Webster. I was 7 or 8. He had black
hair and very brown eyes. He was my second cousin, (and a first
cousin to Mary Kasteler Zackrison). I thought he was the most
handsome boy I had ever seen. I have always wondered how much
his looks influenced my final choice.
Next came Donald DeWitt in the sixth grade. My friend, Joanne
Shanley liked his friend Dick Osborn, and we had a foursome.
Don took me to the movies once. His father sold Lincoln cars,
so they picked me up in a new one. His Dad dropped us at the
movies, and picked us up when it was over. It was a first class
date at a very early age. When my parents had their 25th wedding
anniversary, they had a night out at a night club for the family.
Mom called and made arrangements for Don to go with me. I don't
remember a thing about that night. I was too young for such a
In the 7th grade my boyfriend was Ray McCoy. He found me, because
I could play paddle tennis, and he wanted me for a partner. We
played p.t. after school, and he came to our home several times
- mostly when everyone else was gone.
In the 9th grade, I began to settle down a bit. Richard McNeeley
was a very fine person. We never had a date that year, but he
walked me home from school nearly every day. We talked. We learned
a lot from each other. He belonged to the Brethren Church, and
we had a lot of common values. His father transferred him to
Poly High the next year. I guess I was a threat. After the 12th
grade, Richard called and took me on our first and only date,
to play miniature golf. He wanted to say good bye. We did not
see each other again until the combined Wilson-Poly 40th reunion.
He came up to me, and said "I knew I would find you here."
I said - "Can I give you a hug." That occurred in front
of his wife and Dad. We were very lucky to have had such an unromantic
boy-girl friendship. He had become a Brethren minister.
In the 10th grade I found a Mormon. Dick Anderson came to town
with his Army officer father. He was in the 11th grade. We had
a wonderfully fun year together, lots of dates to movies, dances,
the beach - everywhere. I helped start a political party that
year, so that the Sororities and Fraternities could not capture
all of the student government offices. I recommended Dick for
Jr. class president, and he won. I got to go to the Jr/Sr prom
with him. The only thing wrong with Dick was our age. We broke
up sometime during my Jr. year, because I did not want to be
tied down. One of the guys who filled in after that was Robert
McVicar. Again, he was attracted to how much money he could win
when I was his golf partner. Janice Roudebush and Dick Alguire
filled out the foursome.
Let's see, I should not forget Merle Fahrens from Fort Collins,
Colorado. Virginia Price and I went to the Pike (amusement park)
and picked up two guys. (I always did things I would not otherwise
do, when I was with Virginia.) Merle (Lefty) was visiting his
sister for the summer. He was a nice guy, and we dated a lot,
and he was at our home a lot.
My senior year, there were a stream of servicemen. We had MIA
dances every Tuesday night, and the guys came and went. I was
never serious with any of them. Also Johnny Schoen came often
on week-ends to stay with his Uncle and Aunt next door. He called
me "funny face". We had fun. He was from Minnesota.
The summer after High School, I dated Virginia's brother, George.
I thought I was in love with him. He was 6 years older than I,
very good looking, and very charismatic. Fortunately for me,
my personality is not taken in by his type for very long. He
married a friend of mine from BYU, and she had a rough time.
Freshman year at BYU, I went back to the nice boys. Homer Jensen
from SLC was about like Richard McNeeley. I don't think we ever
had a date, but we talked together a lot. He was a good friend.
There were a stream of guys that were nice, but did not matter.
One day I had a date in the afternoon, and a date in the evening.
We went hiking in the afternoon, and did not get back. My evening
date picked us up in his car on 8th north and took us to the
dorm. How embarrassing! The Mat (matinee) dances were wonderful
for meeting guys.
It was that year that I first met Reed Harker. I saw him often
when he came to the dorm to visit Rhean, who lived across the
hall from me. I remember one time that Reed came to see Rhean
because she was sick. He was allowed to go to her room, if the
door was left open. I saw him sitting next to her bed talking
to her. I was impressed at his thoughful ways. I wished then
that I could date him, but I knew who the girls were that he
was dating. I considered him all booked up.
My sophomore year was memorable for two reasons. First, I took
a guy's ring. Howard Link was talented. He played the violin,
was very smart in math and science and fun. I was swept off my
feet. But he was unstable. I gave the ring back after 2 days.
Next, I started dating Jess Udall. That was a wonderful time.
He was a Viking, so we did all of the BYU social whirl. At the
same time, he was a very fine person. We did not have a sure
understanding before he left on his mission and I went to Berkeley,
but we both had inclinations toward a permanent relationship.
We wrote for a while and drifted apart. In my heart of hearts,
I believe I thought he was not smart enough for me. That is a
funny thing to say, when his cousins who were both Senators from
Arizona were very smart.
We had a great time at Berkeley. I dated at least half of the
guys at the LDS Institute at one time or another, and found a
few non-mormons to date too. My first year I spent a lot of time
with Jay Linderman. He was an engineer for an oil company refinery,
and studying law on the side. I can't remember how we drifted
apart, but he was in the San Marino Bishopric when Dad was Bishop
of Pasadena Ward. When Jay Harker was born and we were talking
about naming him Jay, Dad asked if we were naming him after Jay
Linderman or Jay Welch. My answer is obvious, or his name would
not be Jay.
It is significant to me that two of the Institute guys that I
dated for several months, tried to dissuade me from Reed. Emery
Ranker was a med student at Stanford, but lived near Moraga.
He told me that I should drop Reed because he would never be
wealthy. His reasoning was that Reed, like his father, was too
honest. I thought that was a very good recommendation for Reed.
The other guy was Doug Ream, who more recently has married Anne
Wood Widfeldt, and who suggested that Reed was not as much fun
as he (Doug). Obviously Doug did not know Reed very well.
Well, I think your mother is very clever (and lucky) - to have
chosen your father so carefully. He is good, he is smart, and
he is fun. I feel very, very lucky to have had such a wonderful
husband. Especially important to me has been his great patience
with me. He has allowed me the time and the space to grow up
and to develop into my own person.
Child Rearing Philosophy
When you kids were little, my stated philosophy was to support
you in anything you wanted to do. I am sure that I was not always
able to live up to that, but with hindsight I still think it
was a good plan.
My rationale was that each child was a unique individual with
his or her own ambitions, likes and dislikes. My generation was
reeling from fathers and mothers who wanted their children to
do the things that they wished they had done. My generation reacted
to that philosophy by letting children have more say in what
they were interested in. The reaction is probably too simplistic
also, because we certainly set up opportunities for you as well
as letting you choose.
After the fact, I think the greatest gift we as parents gave
to our children was the ability to problem-solve. I am not aware
of how we achieved that, nor were we aware of teaching it. But
each of you is very masterful at problem solving. It is a joy
to watch you. We are happy that each of you can adapt so well
to whatever life brings to you.