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Frank Leslie Hickman, prison photo in anaglyphic 3D
This detailed autobiography was written by the youngest child of George Washington and Lucy Ann Haws Hickman while he was a prisoner at the Idaho State Penitentiary. His life had taken a sudden plummet from prosperity to poverty, so he wrote this account so that his children would know his side of the story. Links have been provided to other pages on the Hickman website to help you in understanding some topics which might need further clarification.
The English language has changed since Frank wrote this, so some things he wrote are probably not actually as explicit as they might seem to today's reader. These memoirs were made available to me by Pat Richardson Fullmer, and provide interesting insights into the history of the Hickman family, and the story of a good man who when he found himself in a difficult situation, made choices that he regretted for the rest of his life.
Memoirs of F.L. Hickman
“Born in a mansion”, was the term mother used when she spoke of me. This was because twelve other brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, and I was born in our new brick home.
I was blessed with a healthy body, given me through the lineage of two fine physical parents; who had faced the hardships of pioneer life in the early settlement of Utah. My father was born in Missouri in the year 1824. He was one of thirteen children, ten brothers and two sisters. Yet his parents, with this big family were able to send him through college and later to medical school, where he graduated with honors. He had a very keen blue eye, dark hair and a perfect physical body. He was what the keen observer would call, a handsome man, with finely chiseled features with a full prominent forehead. He was highly respected for his courage, honesty, and kindly mean. He was always gentle and kind to all, and a great lover of children. My mother was born in Potawatamee County, Illinois, of goodly parents on October 3rd, 1838. Her father, Elijah Haws was a cooper by trade. Her mother Lydia Peas Haws was a real genuine mother, kind and loving and generous to a fault. Her family joined the Mormon Church in Illinois in 1851 and migrated with the early saints to Utah in 1852. My mother was then fourteen years old. For lack of adequate transportation my mother was compelled to walk nearly all the way across the plains; suffering all the hardships and privations that the early pioneers were compelled to suffer. These hardships, however, did much to build a strong healthy and beautiful body, all of which later enabled her to carry on through life. She was medium tall and graceful, with large soulful black eyes, black hair, and refined artistic features; gentle of manners, and with a very attractive personality. It was at the age of twenty she first fell in love, although she had seen many good men, yet none that suited till she met my father, who at that time was practicing medicine in Utah Valley. After some months of courtship they married at her home in Salem, which at that time was called Pondtown. At first they stayed with her parents, but only for a short time. They decided to take up some land and move to themselves, so they selected a hundred sixty acres northeast of Payson about three miles, which was later called Benjamin. They lived in and about this section the rest of their lives. Because the people were poor, father's medical services brought in but very little income. Most of his services were gratis. In order for him to make ends meet he taught school and farmed, although he was not a very good farmer. Yet with all his ability as a teacher and doctor, it was very hard to make a living for the family which was growing very rapidly. However mother was very versatile and turned to making buckskin gloves which she sold to workers on the new railroad that was being built through the valley. She also made all the shoes that the children wore, wove all the cloth and made their clothes. She wove carpet for her own use and to sell to others. Yet with all this she always kept a very immaculate house. Thus it was that life dragged on with meager existence, fraught with all the hardships of pioneer life. Father became interested in mining and was away for long periods of time at a stretch. He and others were developing claims in the Mercur district, which afterwards became the finest mining district in the territory. Father once owned one of the best mines in the camp, but was defrauded out of it.
During these periods of absence, sickness had taken the life of four of the children: Ella, Thomas Jefferson, William Wallace and Mardicia. All died in their second or third years. Yet mother never weakened, through grief or work or poverty. She carried on. Being so far from schools mother had to teach the children at home. Each day she gathered them about her and taught them to read, write and spell. This was the extent of her education, for in early days they only taught girls these three subjects. Yet she felt that her children should have all the advantages that it was possible for her to give them. As a result of her untiring desire to see them get ahead, that made it possible for her to have them reading in the fifth reader and writing and spelling accordingly before they went to their first school. Can you imagine how much energy she must have possessed to be able to carry on day by day with such a heavy load of work? I have heard my older sister say that she would work till way into the night in order to complete some task of weaving or making clothes for the children that she could not do during the daytime, because of so many family duties. The reason I have gone so much into detail about mother and father is to give a clear background to the reader of my parentage and also to preserve the history for my posterity.
At the time I came into the world, the older children were able to help while father was away. At one time mother laid her plans of a new house before them and got a very enthusiastic response and assurance of their help in building it. Why I am saying mother, is because father was a southerner and did not have forethought and desire of beautifying the home conditions, while father was away on one of his trips she had the boys haul the rock and brick and make the adobes for the inside walls. Then she hired the masons and the new house went up like magic. By the time father returned home there was a two story brick house with four large rooms all completed. You can imagine his surprise when he did return. All he said was "Good woman (for that was the way he addressed mother), what does all this mean? How did you do it?" and mother came back with the statement that "Where there is a will, there is a way." Since mother had the will she made the way. The next day father went to Provo and mother and the children moved everything into the new house, notwithstanding the walls were still damp. She was in a hurry to get moved in. The reason for the hurry was quite apparent as her thirteenth child was due to arrive within a day or so and she was determined that her last child should be born in this new home. They had no sooner moved in than the alarm was sounded, and the midwife summoned to assist in the christening of the new home, and the ushering in of the seventh son and the thirteenth child of Dr. George Washington Hickman and Lucy Ann Haws. That day of all days for mother and me was the 7th of April 1880.
From the accounts that I have heard, you should have seen the look on father's face when he came home that night and saw the new son in mother's arms. He exclaimed in a very agitated voice, "Good woman, you will die!" Mother only replied, "I will die happy, as my dreams of happiness have really come true, for my last child has been born in a MANSION." Father's worry was that she was in that house with those wet walls. He sat up all night keeping a roaring fire in order to dry the walls as fast as possible and keep the room at an even temperature so that she would not take cold. Thus it was that I came into the world to gladden the heart of a forty-two year old mother, and a fifty-six year old father and three brothers and five sisters, all that were alive at that time. They christened me Frank Leslie, under the hands of my father and the elders of the church. The christening took place in a small adobe building which was used for both church and school purposes. As a baby they said that I was really good looking, but I have doubted that. I had brown eyes and light hair and round chubby face.
Since I have no knowledge of my baby life I presume that it was as uneventful as any other child. My first remembrances of life were at four years of age. One of the vivid pictures that I have in my mind now was our trip to Logan. As was the custom in the religious faith of our church, the parents that had not been married in the temple, would go and take their children with them and have them sealed to the parents for all eternity. Thus under the covenant of this marriage the man and wife would carry on through eternity and the father would be the patriarch of his family through the eons of ages. Logan was one hundred sixty miles from home and with a team and wagon it took several days of travel to reach there. Though as I said I was only four years old, yet I can remember many things that happened on the trip. I can remember the inside arrangement of the temple and those little green aprons. I remember the long benches where we took off our shoes, and the sealing room. I remember the day I fell into the creek at Uncle Nathaniel Haws'. I had on my new velvet suit that mother had made me. This I knew would make mother feel very badly so I climbed on a straw stack and lay in the sun till my clothes were dry. I can also remember the day we arrived home. Jane Bills who had taken care of our place while we were away took me out into our apple orchard and got me some large ripe sweet apples.
At six I was sent to school in what we called the old mud temple, a one-room adobe building located on the bank of the slough about one-half a mile south of our home. We had but one teacher for all grades and my first and only teacher till I was ten was our bishop, A.J.B. Stewart. He was one who would apply the rod freely lest he should spoil the child. I attended this school till I completed the sixth grade.
We had a farm and my summers were always occupied in helping. We had cattle and the cows required herding in the summertime as we had no meadow land. Charlie and I were in charge of the town herd for many summers. We had to take them about two miles out of town and herd them in the greasewood flats. The fall that I turned ten Charlie and Laura went to Fillmore to stay with J.E. and attend school at the Millard Stake Academy, of which J.E. was principal. That left just father and mother and I at home. Father was getting to be quite old and he contracted erysipelas and it settled in his arms and face, it rendered him quite helpless. It took all of mother's time to wait on him. That put all the burden of feeding twenty cows, ten horses, and milking seven cows on me. This I did for over two months and went to school. When I now look back at and think of children of my age, I am inclined to think it out of the question for me to have done it, yet as I think of it now I recall no feelings that I did anything out of the ordinary. When I now look at children of ten I immediately say that they could not have done it. It seemed I had grown by experience to accept this as a part of my life. I have often heard mother say since I was grown that, "She often looks back and wonders how I did it, yet then she thought nothing of it."
When I was thirteen mother decided that Charles and I should go to Provo to school. The only way that it could be done was for mother to go with us and take boarders to help pay expenses, so they loaded a hay-rack on which had been placed a small quantity of hay to protect the furniture, then loaded a quantity of household necessities on until it reached high into the air. After roping and binding well I was put on the load alone and stared for Provo, twenty miles away. I did not arrive there till nearly midnight, yet I felt no concern. Now I wonder what a thirteen year old lad would do under the same circumstances. It all goes to show that if you put responsibility on the child early in life he will respond to it and take his place in life much earlier than he would otherwise do. Education does not all come out of books--we learn to do by doing.
Father had stayed on the farm while we were at Provo with my brother Francis, who was then teaching school at Lake Shore, and living in the old home. Father had suffered a broken leg while getting out wood about six weeks before and was just getting around on crutches. During his recovering he took a cold which settled on his lungs and turned to pneumonia, he was not sick only four days and on the 30th of November, 1893 he died. This was a great shock and a tragedy in my life. However, mother with her keen insight did not give up. She said that if Charlie and I got an education she must provide it, and to do so she would have to rent the farm and stay in Provo and take boarders. This she did for four years, until Charlie got married and wanted to quit school and run the farm. We then moved back to Benjamin in the spring of ninety-seven.
That summer I got a job on a sawmill up Spanish Fork Canyon, seven miles northeast of Soldier Summit on White River. Thomas E. Daniels, the husband of my sister Anna, owned and ran it. After six weeks I found out I was getting so little out of it that I quit and took a job of cooking for a surveying outfit. This I stayed with till fall. We surveyed all that territory between Heber and Park City. It was a government project and Andrew Stewart was in charge. He said to mother "Aunt Lucy Ann (for that was what everyone called her), Leslie is one of the best cooks we have ever had and yet so young, how did you train him?" Mother only smiled and said that I was her baby and wanted to help, so she taught me. I have always thanked God that I did live to help and that I had a mother who would help me. We were very near and confidential with each other. Mother was a great psychologist and always got results by suggestion and not compulsion. Her wish was my command. I could sit all day, at time sewing with her and talking as mother and daughter. Her council and advice were always so inspiring that I, to this day, wish her with me to guide me.
I resolved, when I saw mother so weary and tired leaning over the wash tub, that when I became a man that my wife would never have do to it if I could help it. I can only say now that very little washing was ever done in my own home, though I am safe in saying that I got very little thanks or words of appreciation for it.
The fall of 1897 I went to Preston Idaho to school, J.E. was president of the Oneida Stake Academy and he persuaded mother to let me come and live with him and go to school. He was a great teacher and a very good man. It was a wonderful privilege for me to come under his influence in my adolescent age. No matter what class he taught, he had a way of inspiring the highest ideals in his students. This being my second year of high school, he persuaded me to take a teachers training course, by spring he had me so far along that he recommended me to go to the school board of Dempsey (now Lava Hot Springs in Idaho) and I got the job, which paid fifty dollars a month. This looked a big sum to me at that time. Before school was out and on the strength of my job and the confidence they imposed in me through J.E. I was able to buy a bicycle on time, to be paid for out of teaching money. This investment was a profitable one as I rode it home that spring, over two hundred miles, then back up to Pocatello to summer school and on to Blackfoot for teacher’s examination, which I passed with flying colors. I rode it back home 325 miles, then again in the fall I rode it back to Dempsey, thus saving over one thousand miles of train fare.
They say that a lad of eighteen is just venturing from adolescence to manhood and that it is a very dangerous and lovesick age. Well, I could not pass until I told a little of how the bug affected me. Although school occupied a very great part of my time, yet youth must have some recreation. Dancing was all of it up there. It all happened at one of these dances. She was a city girl with all the looks and manners that would attract a lad. A shapely lithe body, dark eyes, rosy cheeks and winning ways with a smile that was infectious, besides being a very lovely dancer. She came up to spend the winter with her mother and step-father. We were at once attracted to each other as a fly is attracted to honey. By spring we were so much in love that we thought that we could not live without each other. So we pledged ourselves to the marriage vow. Of course no date was set because her mother felt we were too young, and we left the matter that way.
On account of money matters, the school district had to close school the first of April. However, J.E. had arranged for me to go over in Gentile Valley to Cleveland and take their school for three months as their teacher was a failure. When I look back now over that year, I wonder how I could have succeeded so well, being so young and having only three years of high school training. Yet I now know I did a real job and have no regrets. The love affair however died out before the end of summer.
When I got back home there was nothing to do so I went up to Eureka where my sister Josephine and her husband Fred Finlayson lived, to visit them and try and get work in the mines. The first day I walked down the street I saw a sign in the hotel window saying they wanted a dishwasher, so in I went and to my surprise was given the job. I was only there a few days till they put me to waiting tables. This I held down till the Bullion Beck mine offered me a job which paid much higher wages. I worked there for nine months, and during that time I had done nearly everything there was to do in a mine. In the spring I took a job with a carpenter, who was building a school house. While at Provo I took shop work and had learned to do good carpentering work, so this was a chance to learn the building game and I took it. This job I held till I got my call to go on a mission. I left May the 17th, 1900. I was called from the Benjamin ward. I was given the privilege to go to any field of labor, so I chose the Southern States Mission. I thought that I wanted to go to Germany, but Francis talked me out of that, as he had spent three years there and he said that it was hard for him to talk in the English language after learning all his scripture in German. Now I know that it was the will of the Lord that I was to go to the Southern States. I got this testimony while there. It was this way: one earnest seeker after the truth saw us three years before coming to his door, and when first he saw us he bowed down and said, "Whatever that is welcome servants of the Lord, for I saw you three years ago and have been waiting for you ever since." This salutation out of a clear sky, with no explanation, made us both feel rather funny. Later we got the whole story, which was that he had been praying earnestly for God to show him which church to join, and God had answered him in a very vivid dream that told him he was to join none, but that in due time those ministers he saw in the picture would call on him and give him the true gospel. He claimed that he had never forgotten the looks of those servants of God that were to come and that when he saw us he knew us at once. We stayed at his house and held two meetings a day for a week and by that time we had converted a goodly number and baptized six. Through the power of the priesthood we performed some wonderful healings. We restored one man's eyesight and a girl that had a large tumor was cured. This was at Sunset, Alabama and Georgia. I had only been in the field six weeks when President Elton chose me to be one of his councilors. In four months I was mad a senior elder and from then on my work was one continuous round of pleasure, because I loved the work and the Lord had blessed me with the power of speech and a desire to work. I had the record of selling more books, holding more meetings and distributing more tracts than any elder in the South. I had several debates with ministers in open forums and by the help of the Lord I vanquished them. I could quote over seven hundred passages of scripture and give chapter and verse. After I had been out about a year I was sent to Columbia South Carolina to take charge of that conference. It made some wonderful converts and did a work that I have always been proud of. When President Rich sent me down there he said "You are going into a conference that is doing the poorest work in the south, and I want you to resurrect them." I had eight pair of elders to work with but within two months we were leading the entire south in meetings held, books sold, and tracts distributed, notwithstanding we were the smallest conference. We held this record till I was released in June of 1902. While I was introducing my successor to the work, I came down with typhoid fever, and President Rich had me brought to Chattanooga to the hospital. I was there six weeks before I was strong enough to go home. I was so thin that I only weighed 137 pounds. Laura came to St. Louis to meet me and we went out and visited the World's Fair grounds, though the Fair did not open till a year later.
Naturally I was happy to get home, but I was confronted with a lot of obligations and had to get to work. So I decided that I would go back into the teaching business; to do this I had to go to summer school training course which was given at the B.Y.U. I was successful in my work and passed for a teacher's certificate. J.L. Brown the county superintendent sent me up to Clinton, which is located six miles south of Thistle Junction, to take charge of that school. He gave me a very discouraging picture of what I was up against, that they had run out three teachers before me and that I had parents to fight as well as the school. Brown said from the record that J.E. and G.F. had made that he thought I was the one to send. It was a small school with only one other teacher besides me. That gave us four grades each.
In my department I had several boys past twenty and one or two as tough as they come. One of them prided himself as being the Brombones of the valley. One day he came to school making his brags that he was going to take the teacher to a cleaning. The clash came just after noon and the big boy was so humiliated and beaten that he left school for good. After that we had a most successful school one could ask for. One of the boys that I graduated that year is now president of Cedar City Branch of the A.C. Henry Oberhansley was his name.
Up till Christmas time I had very little time to run around with the ladies, but during the holidays I met Irene Colvin (click here for picture), who lived and taught school at Payson, her father Bishop Colvin lived near my sister Josephine's home and the two families were good friends. Irene and Lisle were very good friends and naturally I was thrown in the company of Irene, since I was at sister's spending most of the holidays there. She was a very interesting woman and I might say that it was love at first sight. She was vivacious, full of fun, with the most expressive big brown eyes, golden brown hair and a finely modeled graceful body. Your own imagination will suffice to see that a lonely boy just back from a mission would be lost in her meshes of love making, at which she was an artist. By the time the holidays were over I was so completely gone that I could not content myself to wait till Friday so I could meet her again. By spring we were going strong, and by fall when I had to go back to school we were engaged to be married.
That summer I attended summer school at Provo. While there I signed a contract with the Hinckley school district for the following winter. This took me a hundred miles south, and before spring Irene and I had drifted apart, very much to the surprise of all of our friends, and we never did make up again. Later she lost her life when the Titanic went down. She had been over in England studying and was on her way home. When school was called at Hinckley I found that I had nearly two hundred students and three assistant teachers. Our school house accommodations were very poor but we had a most enjoyable year. I made a lot of very warm friends and received some very fine complements from the state superintendent of schools. Like all itinerant school teachers, I was not content to stay any longer than the one year. The Benjamin school trustees offered me that school and as I could be home with mother and close to Provo where I could do special work, and still teach. I felt that I could not pass this opportunity up. Besides, the wages were larger and the school year longer. To be near mother meant an awful lot to me. Again I attended summer school at Provo and outlined for myself a course to study for winter work as I would go over each week and get special help from the professors. I bought me a horse and buggy so that I would have pleasure as well as transportation. I was very proud of myself by this time for I felt I was no longer a novice in the school work and was fast getting ahead in learning for I studied hard. That winter I sent to Laura, who was then in Chicago going to school, to buy me a piano, and she got me a fine Kimball. Along with the rest of my work I took music lessons each week while I was at Provo. It was while at home that I started to go with Jennie Dixon of Payson. She was the daughter of John Dixon and Eliza Jane Jones, two of the grandest people that you could find in a day's journey. Jennie was not as big as a pint of soup, as she only weighed 95 pounds, but she was one of the most cheerful persons in the world. She was always laughing and full of fun. She had pretty blue eyes that twinkled all the time, a lovely complexion that required but little attention and a lithe supple body with grace and poise. Her dark tresses with a touch of gold set her off. She was a graduate of University of Utah and played the piano with skill. A more perfect hostess you never care to meet. Her sunny disposition had won her a host of wonderful friends. Although she was the only child, she was not spoiled for she had been raised by parents who never allowed a cross word to pass their lips. For two years I taught at Benjamin and kept company with her.
During these two years we never spoke of marriage. We had an agreement that we would go together as friends and if either of us wanted to go out with somebody else we had that privilege without making excuses to the other. I will say that we both took advantage of the arrangement. Bessie Goodmanson and Cora Allen played a good second fiddle in my life till mother would say that if I was not careful I "would go through the woods and take up with a crooked stick." However, when the time came for a choice it resolved itself down very quickly to only one girl, and that was Jennie. We became engaged to be married at Christmas time 1905 and were married the following June.
As all boys in love they want to do everything for everybody. I was the same way. As soon as school was out that spring I set to work remodeling mother's house. I tore out the old steep stairs and put in a real set, built some partitions and painted everything up. I finished the day before I was to go to get married, which was the 20th of June. We were married in the Salt Lake Temple and came back to Payson to one of the most wonderful receptions. Dixon had rented the removable dancing floor from the opera house and had it laid on one end of the lawn and had hired an orchestra to play for the dinner and dance. The whole lawn was strung with lights and Chinese lanterns, till the place smacked with glamor. There were over a hundred guests and hundreds of on-lookers from the streets. After the serving of a wonderful lunch the dance started and for the rest of the night there was real rejoicing. Everyone had a glorious time. We received over five hundred dollars’ worth of wonderful presents, among which was a 50 piece Havalin china dinner set and a full solid silver serving set and a number of cut glass pieces and sets. We were really very happy and appreciative of all that was done for us. Mother had made us some wonderful quilts and gave us a down bed. I will admit that for a country boy I felt very highly honored to be a member of such a fine family as the Dixons were. He was president of the bank and had a large ranch with hundreds of cattle and a beautiful red sandstone house. Jennie being the only child and as I have said unspoiled, was gracious and attentive to all of my needs and pleasures.
Shortly after the wedding I went to Salt Lake to summer school, as I was after my life certificate to teach in the grammar school as I was then compelled to pass examinations each year. In order to get it I had to go to summer school to complete certain courses that I had not completed. In six weeks I had completed my course and got my life certificate, of which I was very proud. Two certificates in one summer were enough to make me feel that I was getting to be a real man. As I have stated I taught two years in Benjamin with much success and got a lot of publicity for my school work that I was doing. So when my old friends at Hinckley heard all the success I was having they got after the school board to get me back. When they came after me with a very flattering offer as to salary, Jennie and I decided to take the offer, as we said it was not going to be for long. So in September we moved down to Hinckley. We rented two rooms of John Hutchinson which were nicely furnished and with my piano added to what they had, it made us very comfortable. School started off with a bang as we were all acquainted and the children were well advised as to the kind of a teacher I was. We had only been there a short time when Mr. Hutchinson was called on a mission and as he had no one to run his farm, he made me a proposition to take it and pay for it out of the returns of the farm. The outcome of the deal was that I was to get a new three room house and a lot in town and forty acres all under cultivation for one thousand dollars, which was to be paid for at the rate of three hundred dollars a year. The house was not quite finished so I set to work at once finishing it. I added another room also. With the work that I could do, the whole cost of the improvements only set me back two hundred dollars. We then had to furnish it, which we did with new furniture, and when we moved in it was quite a dream house for us in that country. In the spring I put in a lawn and built a nice fence around it, sent up to Payson and had some rose bushes sent down and by summer we had a real pretty home. In fact we had the nicest house in Hinckley, the first lawn and the first roses. Being an alkali country the people did not think that roses would grow there, but the fact was that now you can see all kinds of flowering bushes down there.
William N. Gardner who was one of my teachers and I decided that we would put in a brickyard so that we would have a job in the summer as well as the winter. As a lad I had worked on a brickyard in Benjamin and knew quite a bit about it. I went to Provo and got an old brick maker to come down and get us started. Before the summer was over we had a real up-to-date yard and were turning out a nice quality of brick. If today you should go to Hinckley you would find two fine school houses and a great number of fine dwellings made of our brick. Each one of the brick has a little of my energy pent up in it. Delta has a large hotel, some stores and some homes that are made of our brick. We shipped many car loads to Milford also. In fact the bank at Milford is built of our brick. We ran this year for five years. It had a capacity of about seven thousand a day. In the spring of 1907 father Dixon sent me down fifty-five white face Hereford cows and a registered bull. He did not say anything to me about it till they arrived in front of my place. You can imagine my surprise when I was called out of school and asked what I wanted done with them. I did not have any place to put them nor was I prepared to take care of them in any way. The only thing that I could do was to shut them up in one of the neighbor's corrals till after school was out. We then took them out to the ranch, but the field was the only place I could put them as I had no corrals out there. I did not have any hay and therefore had to buy hay for them till it was time to turn them out on the range. I think that I was out about six hundred dollars before I had a place to take care of them. However in two years I had over a hundred twenty-five heard of the nicest Herefords there was in the country. I took a bit of pleasure in tending them, after I got fixed for it.
The great day in every young couple's life after marriage is the arrival of their first child. We had looked forward to this event with the fondest expectation. We knew that it was due in June some time, so I sent Jennie up to Payson to be confined, as all girls like to be with their mother at such a time. Mr. Gardner was also newly married and the girls were running a race for first honors, but we lost out. Their baby arrived about two weeks ahead of ours. Ferrin was born on the 30th of June at about ten o' clock in the morning, 1907. If you ever saw two happier kids than we were, you would have to go a long way to find them. He was a fine healthy chap of eight pounds with big blue eyes and dark hair.
As I told you, we were in the brick business and I could not spend much time in Payson. I had to leave Jennie there with her mother while I rushed back to the new job, the farm and the cattle. As I remember it, it was about a month before I had time to go up after them. The man of affairs sure had his hands full. Jennie was a wonderful mother and the loveliest companion one could ever find. There were never any unpleasant words ever spoken between us. We were as supremely happy as we could be. When I look back now and see how happy we really were I become so despondent that I can hardly stand it.
I told you we had a fine rubber tired buggy and one of the nicest driving horses, as well as one of the best riding horses one could wish to own. A beautiful little four-roomed house, one fine milk cow, besides the herd and everybody was our friends. What could one ask for that we did not have? Along with all the other things I had to do I kept a close watch on the new school building that we were building in Hinckley. The board held me responsible for they said that I had persuaded the taxpayers to build it and therefore I should help to look after it. This I was proud to do, for we sure needed a new building. This one was a large two story building with eight rooms, spacious halls, and a nice office for me and a small library room. We furnished all the brick for the building.
In the fall I bought a large field of six hundred acres of green oat straw for the cattle. I then went out and rustled up three hundred more cattle to winter for a consideration, this paid all the expenses of mine and enough more o pay for the hired men that looked after them. From then on I made the cattle pay well. In the spring of 1908 father Dixon sent us down a fine black mare to match old Dick. They made a fine team. They could do the mile together in less than three minutes. In the summer Jennie and I drove them to Payson, over ninety miles in eleven hours. The reason I am going into such detail is because many of my children have never known the facts about my work and our life in Hinckley.
I was able to pay off all I owed on the farm and the brick business by the end of the year 1909. This was a happy moment for us both. Although we decided when we went down to Hinckley that we would not stay more than a year, yet here we were three years after and no prospects of being out for some time. Our second child was expected in August of 1909 and again I took Jennie to Payson for confinement. On the eleventh came the beautiful blue-eyed girl. She was sure the picture of health. It seemed that Hinckley agreed with Jennie for she got quite stout. She was up to 130 pounds and looked the picture of health. She had plenty of nurse for the babies and they grew and were never sick or seldom ever cried. I never came home but what Jennie met me at the door with a smile and a loving kiss. Talk about happiness, I was in my seventh heaven.
Being of an athletic nature, I fell in with all the town sports. Baseball was a great activity and the small towns prided themselves in trying to support the best team. There was great rivalry between them. My tact and skill as a player was the thing that put me in as the captain and manager of the team. For four years I was there, I managed the team and played third base. Each year we won the county pennant. Once we competed at Beaver with the main teams of southern Utah. We were four days and won every game. The top prize of three hundred dollars we won. I attributed our success to the fact that the boys would obey orders and practiced consistently.
I loved hunting and did a great deal of it. Millard County had so many small lakes that it made a natural bird haven. There were great quantities of ducks and geese. All we had to do to get a goose was to go down to the farm about daylight and wait for them to come to feed. If the wind was blowing from the north they would fly so low that you could see the whites of their eyes. It was not hard to get what we wanted. We never lacked for wild meat in season. If we wanted a deer all we had to do was to drive to the hills east of us, twenty miles and we could get all we wanted in short time. Fishing was not so good, we had no trout.
The church decided to give Millard County an Academy, and of course there was a great deal of rivalry as to where it would be placed. Since our school was the leading school in the county and we were doing more in civic pride, Hinckley was selected for the location of the school. This naturally pleased me for I could furnish the brick for it, which we did. It brought more students to town and they had to have homes, so that started a building boom. The school building was started in 1909, but not finished till 1910. It was a beautiful building for that country. I was very proud of my part in its building. I contributed over a thousand dollars to its fund, but the two hundred thousand bricks that went into it made it easy for me to pay. Like all church buildings it was necessary for the people to contribute half of the cost. We but on a big bazaar in Hinckley to raise our share and when we counted up we had over $2,000.
It seemed that it was not long to be that I was to enjoy the completely happy life that I was then enjoying for long, as God had other plans. He required of me to give up the sunshine of my soul and the happiness of our home. It all started in May of 1910 when Jennie developed a terrible pain in the back of her head, which would cause vomiting each time it appeared or came on. The doctor down there could not do anything for her, so I took her to Payson. It seemed that she was getting better, but one day she had a real bad spell and the doctors advised us to take her to Salt Lake, which we did, but before we left President Page and councilors administered to her and President Page and I had received assurance that she would be made well. We both told of our feelings in her behalf, to give comfort to the family. In Salt Lake I had ten of the best doctors examine her and hold council as to what they thought the trouble was. While they were there in council she went off into a convulsion and never regained consciousness. The doctors relaxed her muscles with hot blankets and made a muscular test, to try and locate the seat of trouble. After locating it they pronounced it cerebrum meningitis, but they could do nothing to help her. They were as helpless as children. That was when I lost all confidence in doctors. She died while they were all present. Although I was a strong healthy man yet my grief was so terrible that I lost all control of myself and went into convulsive cramps and it took the doctors some time to bring me out of it, and not then till the Lord had caused a sweet peaceful influence to come over me, which took away all the grief and heartache. This was proof that the Lord had a definite work for her to perform over there and that I was to know it was His will. The doctors wanted to operate on her to make sure that they were right in their deductions as at that time they did not know very much about cerebrum meningitis. However we could not give them the privilege. We shipped her back to Payson for burial. She died about nine P.M. o'clock May the 22nd and was buried the 25th.
I must take time here to give you a picture of the funeral. As I have said her family was a wonderful family and they had a world of friends and she herself had been the stake president of the young ladies organization in the Utah Stake for a number of years and had the love and respect of everybody. Therefore when the funeral took place you never saw such a wealth of flowers. We could not get them in the same large room where she was in state. The funeral was held in the large stake tabernacle and yet there was no room for more than half of the people that came. I have often wished that I had kept a transcript of the wonderful things that were said at her funeral. It would be a great inspiration to Ferrin and Florence and for that matter to anyone that read it. There could not be more beautiful things said about anyone, and the grandest part of all was that everything that was said was true and not affected by the speakers. This has been a source of great pleasure and inspiration to me. The funeral cortege was over twelve blocks long. It reached from the tabernacle to the cemetery. She was put in a vault in the Dixon lot, where afterwards her mother and father were buried. They now sleep side by side and will all come forth in the first resurrection.
For weeks I was in a trance. I could not make myself take hold of my work again. While I went back to Hinckley and looked after the business, yet I could not content myself, so to get away from everything I decided to go to school. I sold my farm home, cattle, and entered the University at Provo. It was this mental diversion that brought me out of my stupor. I felt that the sun could never shine again. Grandma Dixon took the two babies and did a wonderful part by them. They seemed to fill the gap in her life and gave her something to keep her grief appeased. One night while Florence was fretting and worrying with the measles, Jennie came to her and sat in the window, and grandma saw her and thought that it was a sign that she had come for the baby. However, it proved to me that Jennie was still interested in the children and she had been privileged to come back to prove it and to show that she had been and would be watching over them through life. Before closing the story of our lives I must correct the impression that her christened name was not Jennie, but Mary Jane, however everyone called her Jennie, and she had been called that all her life. I did not know any difference till we went to get our certificate to get married.
The only thing I retained at Hinckley was the brickyard, as that was a good job for me during the summer while I was attending school. It helped me to pay expenses. I retained this interest till 1913, at which time I sold out my share to Mr. Gardner. I entered school at the B.Y.U. in the fall of 1910. As I said before I had only completed three years of high school when I started to teach, but summer schools and extension courses that I had taken gave me plenty of credits for college entrance and a lot to spare. I figured that I could get through in three years if I worked hard. However, it only took me two years. I sure had to work long hours. I didn't think I could have done it, but the school gave me credit for a course in Bible History, because of my mission experience and work. Then they passed a resolution that music was to be accredited in the same as any other art course, based of course on the time put in, so between the two I was able to muster up enough credits to pass me in two years.
I took vocal under Prof. Lund and that included choir, chorus, and opera. I sang in the beggar Student, Boccaccio and the Bohemian Girl. The school gave lots of concerts, both in town and out of town. It was on one of these out of town concert trips that I met Ida Olive Nixon, who afterwards became the mother of five of my children, three girls and two boys. On this trip we were scheduled to sing in Pleasant Grove one night but because of a terrible storm, which left the roads almost impassable, we failed to get there in time for the concert. We loafed about a drug store for some time and there I got acquainted with Olive. Going home we sat in the back seat of the car with Prof. Lund and Mable Borg and by the time we arrived back home we were well acquainted.
A few days after that I was out riding with my fine pacing horse, a big sorrel that was one of the finest lookers you ever laid eyes on, and the new rubber tired buggy did the finishing touches to make a real attractive outfit. Who should I meet that afternoon, but Ida Olive. She accepted an invitation to take a drive and thus began a courtship that lasted through two school years and finally ended in marriage.
Ida Olive was only twenty at that time, but she had some very charming ways and lots of good looks, small dark close set eyes, dark hair, and a physique although on the stout order was well proportioned. We were thrown together often in our work and finally we started to keep company regularly. We had not gone together long till mother Nixon heard that her favorite daughter was going with a widower who had two children and she came from Huntington to investigate. The day she arrived Prof. Alexander Hineman, the great singer was to sing in town, so I invited Olive and her mother to have dinner with me at the Roberts Hotel after which we would go to the concert. Mother Nixon being very mercenary and liking a big show, fell for the set-up. She was rather cold and indifferent at first, but finally warmed up to it. The next day I called around, took her for a nice ride, and when Old Milt (that was what I called my horse) got through showing off, I had her fully sold on the new set-up. From then on she was for me and not against my keeping company with her daughter, although she was sure I would not last long for I was ten years older than Olive. We felt quite sure that she could influence Olive to see how impossible the whole situation would be for her to go second best.
Though I worked night and day yet I found time toward the last of the year to spend some very pleasant evenings with her. She had been raised very strictly and had been taught that a girl should never kiss till she was engaged. It was a long time before I was able to break down and overcome that resistance. Finally when I did she did not co-operate with any enthusiasm. One night she asked me if I ever got tired of kissing. Well, that put me in my place. The reason I tell this incident is so the children will see how much more guarded were the young people then than now in love making.
We both sang in the Bohemian Girl Opera that Prof. Lund put on in school. We both had special parts, though not leads, yet important parts. Olive was invited by the Payson High School to sing the leading role in Percilla Opera. When the final day came to put it on I drove over to Payson and the Dixons had us down for supper. This was the first time they had met Olive. They were so grand and gave her such a wonderful welcome that I have never forgotten it. It takes a big person to see another woman come into their home to take the place of their daughter. Yet they did it so gracefully that it made me feel quite free to continue on in our love making. In fact they tried to get me to marry her that spring. This I could not have done though she had been willing.
When school was out I went back to Hinckley and she to Huntington, to help her folks in the store. I made one trip out there in July to visit her. In fact I helped her and Levi Harmon give a concert in Price and Sunnyside. On the 4th of July we were invited by the committee to sing some solos and duets for the celebration. This we did. That fall saw us back in school. Mother Nixon had decided to come and live with the children and take care often. She was very strict on one point and that was in keeping good hours. Eleven o'clock on any other night but dance night, and that was one. We very seldom violated these rules. It was a good thing for we both needed the rest for our school work, while we have never adhered to these rules in my own family. I still think that it was a virtue and a blessing to hold to for the sake of the children.
In two years I passed off over eighty hours and received my Bachelor of Arts degree in June 1912. It is needless to say that I was very happy for this achievement. I had worked hard for it and made some very important sacrifices to do it. All my schooling after I was seventeen that I got, I had to pay for myself and one under those circumstances appreciates it more than those who get it much easier.
Because of the teaching experience and my degree the state of Utah granted me a life High School certificate which meant I could teach in the state of Utah at any time without another examination.
American Fork was in need of a principal and when the board asked the B.Y.U. to recommend a man they sent in my name. President Brimhall was well acquainted with my school work and teaching ability and he felt that I was just the man for the position. They came to me and asked me for some references and when I sent them to State Superintendent A.C. Nelson he also told them that I was just the man and if they could get me to waste no time. The result of it all was that I signed up for the job at $1,759 for the year.
Things had then shaped themselves favorably, also in my love making. Our wedding date was set for June 5th, just two days after school closed. You can guess we were all very busy. The Nixons had bought the big home on the corner west of the Roberts Hotel and they had planned a big wedding reception for us. There was an enormous amount of work and planning to do. We had arranged to be married in the S.L. Temple in the morning of the fifth and be back at the wedding reception that night. There was a very large crowd going through that day and we did not get back to Provo till late in the afternoon. By the time that we did get back we had very little time to get ready. The wedding was a very beautiful affair and there were over a hundred guests. Olive was dressed very attractively in white and looked like a million dollars. I will say this for mother Nixon: she always dresses Olive very elegantly. You could be assured that I never was ashamed to take her anyplace, for I knew that she would measure up with any of them in dress. Vanity is a virtue at times, but it can be made the downfall of one if carried to extreme. Our wedding presents were very beautiful and expensive. The luncheon that was served was very elaborate. The lawn was strung with a profusion of lights and made very attractive. Everybody seemed to be over anxious to wish us well. I can say that I was exceedingly fortunate in having had two of the most spectacular weddings.
The Nixons were anxious to get back to Huntington to their store, and therefore, the next two days found us head-over-heels in work, getting everything packed and ready. Olive and I were going to Hinckley and we had to pack those things that we were to take. All in all we were nearly dead by the time we got off to the train. In looking at it now I wonder how we ever managed it. The memory of it all is the only thing that I have now to comfort me. How one could have so much and in a few years sit alone with nothing but his thoughts and with no friends to cheer him up?
That is my plight while I am writing these memoirs.
We spent the summer at Hinckley. We rented some furnished rooms in the hotel and kept house. While we did not have a glorious honeymoon yet we did have a pleasant time. Everybody was very kind to us and tried to make us have a good time. The summer went off in a quiet way, but we got a great amount of pleasure from our horse and buggy rides, hunting, baseball and dancing, which were the only kind of amusements that the country had.
We came back early enough in the fall to get settled in American Fork. I was fortunate in getting a nice home all furnished right near the school and not far from town. The school board was building a new school building for the High School and it was not completed. We had to open in temporary quarters till Christmas time, and they were not very satisfactory. We were delighted to get in our new quarters. It was a fine building and modern in every way. With a faculty of ten high school teachers we were able to do some fine work. Although I was principal yet I had to teach several classes, two English and two history classes. We had three hundred and twenty-five students. To say the least I was in the height of my glory, for it had been a great wish of mine to be one of the principals in Utah county high schools. I thought that if I got to be principal I was as far along as I cared to go in the school teaching business. When I had gained that honor, I seemed to have lost all interest in teaching any longer. All I could see was forlorn old age with nothing accumulated. I then began to chafe under the thought and I figured that any good business would pay better. What the business was to be I did not know, till one day Pres. Clarke asked me to join him in his real estate work. He had a good business and needed a man that could go out of the office and get listings. Since he was so well liked by so many people and could command respect of all the people, I could see that I would have no trouble in getting the listings, so when school was out I went to work with him. I thought by fall I could make up my mind as to whether I would stay with it or continue on with the school. The board had offered me the school back for the ensuing year with a substantial raise. Right off the reel we turned a good deal and it gave us a nice commission of nearly five hundred dollars apiece and it looked so easy that I decided to quit school and stay with the real estate. The rest of the summer did not go so well and the year did not measure up in commissions as much as the school job would have paid, yet I was not discouraged. I felt that there was a real future to the real estate business. The next year was much better. As I remember it, we cleared over three thousand dollars apiece.
It was something to look forward to; when Olive announced that we were going to have a new arrival in the family. Yes, it was September the ninth, that the towhead arrived, blue eyes and a plump body and full of life. We christened him Leslie Dean. To our dismay he did not continue to do well and at last we had to take him to a specialist to find out that Olive did not have the right kind of nurse for him. She had to wean him and put him on the bottle. We nearly ruined his stomach before we found out how to feed him.
That same summer I made my first adventure in the car game. It was only a second hand ford, yet we thought it was a wonderful car. Dean was only three weeks old when I loaded Olive in the car and we set out for Huntington to see her folks. As I think of it now I wonder how he stood the trip. We took Laura and J.E. with us to visit Francis who then lived in Castledale. I left Olive with her folks and Laura and J.E. and I set out for San Juan County where J.E. had some land and where he wanted me to invest. We set out down an old abandoned road that a wagon would have a hard time to negotiate, let alone a car. We got along quite well till we were nearly to Green River when the trouble came. We had a steep hill to negotiate and Laura and J.E. got out and I gave the car all the power to help her up the hill, but I had only gone part way up when Lizzie decided to jump the road and head for the edge of the dug way, which she succeeded in reaching and as she stuck her head over I made ready to leap. As the top was down I left her in mid-air and just missed being crushed to death, as she lit bottom side up. With the help of some roadmen that were near, we righted the car, but she would not run on her own power. We had to hire one of the roadmen to haul us to Green River. At that time garages were few and far between with no one who knew very much about cars, so I had to ship my car back to Provo to have it fixed.
In 1914 I bought a dry farm of 160 acres in Cedar Valley and had one hundred acres planted to wheat. This was one of the things that I thought would make me more independent, and something to look forward to in helping me over the humps in lean years. I was to receive a disappointment in this, for in the spring it looked like that I would have a fine crop of wheat, but in May when it was in the boot a three day hot wind burned it all up. That fall I traded it to a Mr. Parkinson of Salt Lake for his interest in the Keith Apartments. He owned the furniture and had a four year lease on the sixty room apartment. This looked to me as being a good deal for us, as we could be together and attend to it ourselves. It was just at this time that Erma was born and we could not leave to take charge till she was strong again. Erma was as dark as Dean was light and just the picture of her mother. She was born June 24th, 1915.
We stayed with the apartment house business till the spring of 1916. It was not making us any money and gave us lots of grief, so I sold it for some Salt Lake City property, consisting of a house and lot across S.W. from the city park. At present there is a service station and store on that lot. I figured that I got about seven thousand dollars in trade for the apartment.
After I gave up possession we moved to Provo and there I opened a real estate office. I called it the "Provo Realty Company". Later I took John Prows in as a partner and we did well, so well that the Garden City Realty Company proposed that we consolidate. Since they were a well-established firm and had a great number of listings, we decided it to be a good idea. The new organization was effected in 1917 and we called it the "Consolidated Real Estate Company." From that time on we made real money. I was elected President of the company and Harry Heal secretary and treasurer. This arrangement lasted till I sold out to Prows in 1918. The reason for my selling was that the Inter-Mountain Life Insurance Company offered me one hundred fifty dollars a month to supervise their sales work in southern Utah and all commissions on sales that I made. The first six months I made over six thousand dollars. From then on I was sold on the insurance game. I had invested in a Dodge car which was a great improvement over the Ford. The insurance was work that I had been looking for, at least it proved so.
On the eleventh of February our black eyed boy came into the world, he was a rogue from the beginning and as full of life as an egg is full of meat. We named him June René, but everybody was calling him June, which still is his title. I had rented the nice home on seventh north and University Avenue, just across from the home that I had built for mother. I had neglected to tell you that I had sold mother's farm and home for her at Benjamin and had used the money to build her a lovely home in Provo. Then a year later I had built another house on the same lot, which was for renting purposes. The big home had a full basement and she rented it and between the two she had a nice income to live on. I sure enjoyed living by her and taking care of her affairs. She always looked to me to do all that for her, as I had always done it for her. The other children were not around to do it, not that they would not have been glad to do it for her if they had been there.
The next year I made over ten thousand dollars out of my insurance and we invested in a fine home on Center Street. I had hardwood floors put in it and repainted and spent over two thousand dollars to completely furnish it. We moved in it in September of 1910 [1919?]. To say that we were happy is putting it mildly; for once we felt that we were on the top of the heap. My work went along nicely and kept getting more lucrative. We turned the old Dodge in on a new Dodge sedan which cost me $2,000. In the spring of 1920 after driving the Dodge sedan over 2,000 miles, I turned it in for just what I gave for it on a new seven passenger Paige Sedan. I paid the difference of $2,200 dollars as the price of the Paige was forty-two hundred. I was making so much money at that time that I thought that I could afford this luxury. As one thing calls for another we decided that we would take our honey-moon and go down to California to show this wonderful car off. John Fuller and his wife went with us. They were merchants from Cedar City and agreed to pay us five cents a mile for taking them. They were very nice and agreeable company. We were gone six weeks on this trip. We first went to Los Angeles and from there to San Diego and old Mexico, back up the coast to San Francisco and then to Portland. Then into the state of Washington, back to Portland and then up the Columbia River drive, which was one of the most wonderful sights that we had seen. We did not arrive home till in the middle of June.
You may ask what we did with the children, and to make this a complete story I should tell you now. I had also failed to tell you that on the 30th of November 1919 there came to our house a beautiful blue-eyed girl, that we named Elaine. Well sir, she was only six months old when we decided to go and since it would be too hard a trip for her and the mother, we decided to get Mrs. George Nixon to come and look after all the children, but not to do the work, as we had a girl who had been with us over a year and she knew all about feeding the baby. As I told you before that Olive did not have any nurse for her babies, therefore she could arrange nicely to leave the baby. Each day we received a telegram from Aunt Becky telling us how everything was at home. This information made us feel much more contented than we otherwise would have been. When we returned Aunt Becky did not want to leave. She had become so attached to the children that she cried like a baby when she left. Bless her heart; she was one of the loveliest women that I ever knew. She will always have my deepest love and affection. My heart ached when I visited her in Provo last summer (1939) and saw how she was suffering. She put her arms around me and said in such a loving tone that she wanted me to know that she would always say that I was one of the best men to his family that she ever knew, and that she felt that Olive was to blame for the whole mess, and that she was put up to it by her mother. She also said that Olive never appreciated what I had done for her, that her vanity had led her to do it. The only reason I put this in now is that I am going to refer to it later on in my story, so as to leave the children a picture of my side of this whole trouble that has disrupted our lives and for which I got all the blame.
It was impossible to use the big car to do my business in so I had to make another investment. I bought a Studebaker touring car for my work; though it was a second-hand car it was a very good one. Due to the war it cost me thirteen hundred dollars. I at once sent down in Wayne County and in one day sold over eighty thousand of insurance to the Kings, Hiskeys, and Brinkerhoffs. The result of the deal [was] I made over $2,500 dollars in commissions. It seemed that I was being over blessed in my work. I never failed to thank the Lord for all that he was doing for me. I have always been a very simple lover of our faith and put a full trust in the Lord. I never complained at any reverse for I felt that they were a punishment for something that I had done. You will never know how thankful I was for the success I was attaining in my work. I led all the agents in production and in earnings. Besides, I was running an agency force in southern Utah that took a lot of my time. G.F. and J.E. joined me in the insurance work and also Eugene and J.W. Nixon after he sold his store. We were selling an enormous amount of insurance. We had at this time bought the big grand piano from Taylor Brothers for $1,700 dollars and that completed the furnishings of our home. We were very proud of our home and its contents.
I was very conscious of the hard life that most mothers had in raising a family and I thought that I would save Olive that hardship if I could by furnishing her hired help. This gave her freedom to go and come as she desired. From 1918 on we were never without a girl in our home. I figured up once and found that I had paid out over five thousand dollars for hired help without counting the board. Each morning when I was at home I insisted that she take her rest and I would get up and supervise breakfast, or get it; in fact I got it most of the time. I did not think at the time that I was doing an injustice to her that I was to regret later on. Instead of hear appreciating it and responding as one should, it went to her head and she got to the point that she would throw it up to me that, "It was my duty," and from then on she kept assuming this attitude of officiousness until it grew into a menace. She got heady and high minded society struck. She seemed to take delight in showing off. This grieved me very much and yet it seemed that I could do very little about it, only tolerate it and hope for the best. As soon as she had this fine wonderful car and could strut her feathers, it got worse. We were living in a rich neighborhood and she felt that she wanted to keep up with them. Naturally I was of a proud disposition and it made me happy to think that I could give my family as good as the best had. Yet I was never one to put on and try to outdo my neighbors, or lord it over anyone and it grieved me to see Olive take that attitude. I could, perhaps, have excused her for this weakness if she had not carried it farther into showing discontent, complaining of this and that without cause as I could see. Being a person that could stand word battles, I would acquiesce to her demands to save trouble and pretty soon it was going from bad to worse. I am leaving this part of our affairs till later in this story as it belongs there rather than here, yet I wanted to insert a part of it in here as it formed a nucleus of what culminated into a tragedy later on in our lives.
My work kept growing into more success. My agency was putting more business on the books of the Inter-Mountain Life than all of the rest of their agents put together. In 1923 we put on over two and one half million dollars’ worth of insurance on the books of the company and my overwriting’s of my agency was $5,600 dollars and with my own commissions I had to report to the government on over eighteen thousand dollars of income that year. This seems now a great deal, but at that time I was and had been doing so well that I thought nothing of it. I was investing very heavily in real estate in Millard county at this time and I needed all that I was making. This is perhaps a good time to tell all about my investments, as the rest of the story for the next few years is significantly associated with them.
I had started my investments down there as far back as 1918. At that time Delta was booming and it looked to me that there was a chance to make some real money. As land at that time was the best investment that anyone could put his money into and it was safety that I was looking for. Property at that time was going up by leaps and bounds and I could see no reason why I could not clean up a lot of money. If only I was careful to get the right kind of property, I could sell it and get out with a nice profit. This was only one of those things that worked well on paper but not so well in the actual. I had acquired by 1921 several nice farms, one hundred sixty acres northeast of Hinckley that I had given twenty five thousand dollars for and had paid ten thousand down on and put over four thousand dollars’ worth of improvements on, ninety acres in Sugarville that I had paid six thousand dollars down on, eighty acres at McCormick that I had put in over forty-five hundred dollars, a half interest in six hundred forty acres at Holden, which was a dry farm and nearly all under cultivation, besides a three hundred twenty [acres] northwest of Hinckley. Besides all this land I had gone into the drug store business in Delta and had over seven thousand dollars tied up in that. Then to cap it all I had bought a half interest in eleven hundred colonies of bees at Cedar City. The outcome of this investment was that when the slump came I was holding the bag on all this property and most of it had a big mortgage on it.
Before I was aware of what was happening I discovered that I was holding the bag and all of my cherished profits were gone and that I was twenty-eight thousand dollars worse than broke. The drug store boys that were working for me stole over three thousand dollars out of the store before I discovered it, and then the whole thing burned down two days after the insurance ran out. They had neglected to renew the policy. My investment was all wiped out in this deal. I lost, finally, all of my farms, as I could not keep up over two thousand dollars in taxes and pay off the mortgages. Really, the bees were the only thing that paid. In '25 I had to take bankruptcy to save our home and what personal property I had accumulated. In 1922 I figured I was worth over one hundred thousand dollars, over and above what I owed, in fact that was the showing on my financial statement that I filed with the bank. This all happened just after we moved to Salt Lake. For the time being I am going to leave this business statement and get back to some of the things that were transpiring in our lives aside from farming and investments.
In the spring of 1924 the Inter-Mountain Life refused to renew the contract that I had held for seven years. They wanted the men to have agency contracts of their own and that I was no longer to get an overwriting on them, therefore I quit them and went with the Bankers Reserve Life of Omaha, Nebraska. I signed the contract with them in February. They had heard that I was leaving my company and as they did not have a man in this territory and wanted one earnestly, they sent me a telegram saying, they wanted me to come to Omaha at their expense and talk over a contract with them. This I did and they kept me there for two weeks showing me the most wonderful time. The upshot was that before I left I had signed a contract to supervise Utah, Nevada and Eastern Idaho with expenses paid and an office furnished with a stenographer to look after the correspondence while I was away. They were sure a wonderful company to work for, as proved in the years that followed. The contract provided that I was to move to Salt Lake to live. This I could not do at the time for the children were all in school and we were expecting a new arrival in the home. So I had to go to Salt Lake and stay at the Utah Hotel till such time as we could move. I came home almost every weekend.
The trying thing was to give up our home. We felt that we had the finest neighborhood in the world to raise our family in and that to move meant a great loss to us. Then there was the problem of selling the home. We were more than fortunate in this. Henry King from Wayne County bought it and paid us twelve thousand five hundred dollars for it, but we had to leave it furnished with the exception of our pictures and the piano. We were glad for this as the furniture problem was solved. We knew that in all probability that it would not fit into the home that we should get in Salt Lake. Our home in Provo had four big rooms and required a different type of furnishings than a smaller house. We had one large morocco set that I paid six hundred dollars for, that would not fit into a small living room to any advantage. That is why I said that we were fortunate getting the chance to sell it with the home. It was just what the Kings wanted for they did not have any furniture to put in a house of that size. We made the sale in August and had to give possession by the 13th of September and to do this meant that we had to get busy and find us a house in Salt Lake. There were many difficulties to this. Ruth had come to gladden our home on the 30th of July and Olive was not strong enough to be hunting homes, for as everyone knows this is a very tiring job. We had to wait till in September to do this. After three days we found what we wanted; only it was a new house under construction and we could not take possession till sometime in October. It was a nine room house located at 1426 Gilmer Drive in one of the newly built sections. The price of it was $9500, on which I paid $2,500 down and the rest at the rate of one thousand dollars a year. This seemed easy for me, as I had sold our house on very much the same plan. The new house was nearly completed and the builder gave us the privilege of storing our furniture in the garage till such time as he could give us possession. This arrangement made it so we could give up possession of our house to the Kings. As I told you we were sick about leaving Provo, but in no time at all we found that our new neighborhood was far better for children, and church conditions were much superior. We soon became acclimated to our new surroundings and were very happy in the change.
Though we were starting anew, the same old grief that I found in Provo I found in Salt Lake, and that was Olive wanted to put on a big show. To do this she felt that we had to have a new car, although as I said I had paid $4,200 dollars for the one she had, yet it was four years old and she did not think that we could afford to be driving such an old car. Yet I had just gotten it out of the paint shop and it looked as good as new. She made such a fuss that at last I had to give in to save a row. By this time she had grown so contentious that no matter what I did it did not please her. The upshot of the whole thing was that I bought a big seven passenger Willys-Knight, that cost me $8,800 dollars. The reason as I have said that I tell these things about Olive is not to belittle her before the children but to make clear my side of the trouble that brought on our wrecked home. I am writing this from my own point of view and if you are just you will know that there are two sides to every question and each has a right to be heard. No matter what your personal feelings are, still you must give me the benefit of at least defending myself and telling it as I saw it. God being my witness, I wished the things had been different and I had prayed long and much for a change, but it did not come or make any difference in our harmony.
While at Provo, Olive had started to take courses under Mrs. Jensen, and as she was giving a class in Salt Lake also, Olive continued on in the class. This pleased me for she had not had any college training and I felt that anything that would help her would be in keeping with good social customs and perhaps give her something that would change her ego to something worthwhile. I was greatly surprised how it reached on her; as the old saying goes, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," was true with her, for at once she took to assuming a very superior attitude and dictated what I should and what everyone else should do. She even went so far as to try to run her own family affairs. I mean her folk's affairs. To me it was so offensive that I could not stand it and told her so, but as in the past it only started a row, so to keep from a word battle I again shut up and made the best of it. You children that are older know that I am telling only what you knew to be a fact. You could not know how it was affecting me or what sorrow I was suffering. Being a very sensitive person and proud of my learning in comparison to hers,
I could not but resent her officiousness in the attitude that she assumed. My will would not let me bow to her demands, therefore while I let her have her own way to keep peace while we were together, yet I followed my own course when I was away. The result was that while I was away I found myself in terrible word battles with her. I might be driving a car going somewhere and all at once I would find us in mental combat. It was all so futile and obvious that we were not to find anything in common to work with. It did not help me in my work as I found myself doing mental gymnastics to keep from having trouble.
Again I come back to the history of events. By this time I had been with the Bankers Reserve for eight months and the work was going real well. In fact I was doing much better than I had hoped to do with an out of state company. Idaho was my best money making territory, as I had made some fine banking connections that really helped me to get business. In June of 1925, at Malad and Ashtown, I wrote two hundred and seventy five thousand of insurance and the bank had taken the notes without recourse. I had made over five thousand dollars clear. This was my biggest month in the insurance work. In the spring I had taken bankruptcy and had to list all of my obligations so that my creditors would know what I owed and what I had. After it was all cleared up I had the home and our personal belongings left. This left me free to use all the money I made thereafter for our own use, but I felt that I had listed some debts that should be paid, so I set to work to clear them up. In the next three years I paid off over $14,000 of these debts that I did not have to pay unless I chose to do so. It gave me a lot of pleasure to do this and I felt better morally, bet it did not help me with the credit world. In fact I discovered that there is nothing that a man can do to re-establish himself after he has taken bankruptcy. If I had done what the general run of men did, and paid nothing, then the money that I put into the old obligations could have gone on paying for the home. At least the house was newly built, it did not have any outside improvements and by the time that I got through with buying trees and shrubs and leveling up and planting lawn, I had spent over four hundred dollars. Much of this could have been avoided if I had known that things were going to turn out as they did later on. It's a strange thing that people while they are doing well think that it will always be the same. I had come to the conclusion that I could go out any time and sell insurance and make a lot of money. After ten years of success one has a right to feel that way or at least I did, whether I had a right or not. When you have been running an expense over years of about six hundred dollars a month and paying the bills and thinking nothing of it, you get careless. At this time I was doing my banking with Sugar Banking Company and they were handling all of my notes and advancing sixty percent of them and it made it so that I could get money to run on at all times. For seven years this worked out very nicely till the bank went broke and I got stuck for a lot of bad paper. I was helping agents out by endorsing their paper and I had to pay a lot of their bad bills.
_______ owes me over five hundred dollars. Francis owes me over seventeen hundred dollars that I advanced to him when he first came from California. I bought his car, paid all of his expenses while he was learning the insurance business, and when he did get started I took his notes to the bank and got money on them for him. When he first bought his home in Provo I signed notes for him at the Bank of Spanish Fork, which afterwards I had to pay. To this day I have not had a cent on this obligation. Because he had signed a contract with the company like other agents under my supervision, that entitled me to an over-writing. He claims that I should have given him this and that if I had done so that he would have paid me up. This sophistry of argument was so manifestly out of reason that in order to save any trouble with a brother I forgot the whole thing. The facts of the over-writings, even if I granted them to him, would not have amounted to enough to have paid the interest on the obligation. It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote him to that effect. The only reason that I bring it up at this late date was in answer to a letter of his wherein he said that I was looking for sympathy. Naturally I called his attention to the fact that it was not sympathy that I asked, but a return of what I thought that he owed me for what I did for him, while he was down and out. I have not heard a word from him since, and what's more, I never expect to hear. Ingratitude I have met in so many people that I have helped in the past and have turned a deaf ear since I have been down and out, that I was not surprised to find him doing the same thing. It seems that my life has been filled with so much ingratitude, first starting at home and radiating outward, that I have come to think that there is no such thing as gratitude. Even while here in this institution I have been compelled to suffer the humiliation of having my own children refuse to write to me. Not all, thank God, but those that I had done the most for. It comes back to the old adage that "the more that you do for a person the less he cares for you." Real love, said God, was in giving and not receiving, and I am more and more being convinced of this axiom.
In the five years that I was with Bankers Reserve Life I had the honor of having produced more personal business in that length of time than any other agent in the company. I had a greater renewal of business than anyone and I had built one of the finest agencies. I had a certificate at home that the company gave me to this effect, but to my disgust, Olive let this get destroyed as she did all of my personal files and the checks that I had written for the last fifteen years, all of which I had in my filing cabinet, together with all my bank statements, accounts payable, and company pamphlets that showed my standing with the companies, a record which I thought would be nice to have for reference in years to come. I was proud of these things and thought that you children would delight to look back on them and see that your father was a real producer, and to produce, you had to be a worker. If I do say it, there was no one that did a better job and worked more consistently than I did.
It was at this time that the new company called the Pacific National Life was organized in Utah, and it had for its personnel some of the finest and most influential people in the state and some of them were people that I had written insurance for years past. It was natural that they should select me for the job of agency manager, since I also enjoyed the distinction of being one of the biggest producers in the inter-mountain region. So the manager of the new company waited on me and offered a wonderful layout if I would leave the Bankers Reserve Life and come with them. I took the matter under advisement and went into details with them on it. After a month of dickering I had a contact with an overwriting on all agents. That contract was a non-cancellable contract for fifteen years. It was just at this time that the Bankers Reserve was holding their convention at Omaha, and I had won a trip for Olive and me with all expenses paid, and I took it for two reasons, the one to talk the matter of contract over with the company that had been so nice to me, and the other was to give Olive a trip east. However, this was her second trip back to Omaha with me. The result of the trip was the company said that I could not afford to overlook an opportunity of this kind, although they hated to lose me. They were so very nice about it that I nearly decided to stay with them, but I paid them off and left with a heavy heart. I now know what that heavy heart meant, as it was a definite warning to me not to do it. All the way home I had that same feeling, and after I got home I nearly sent the company a telegram that I had changed my mind, but I didn't, for which I have always been sorry. On our way home we visited Kansas City and Denver, spending a day or two in each city. At Denver Fred Davies and his wife met us and showed us a wonderful time. He was an old Provo boy and had married a cousin of Jennie's. He was manager of the J.C. Penney store there in Denver. I will never forget what fine wonderful friends they turned out to be. I hoped that sometime I will have the privilege of returning their kindness.
My work with the Pacific National started off with a bang and the company had fitted up a fine office for me. I had persuaded Nixon, J.E., Francis, Eugene and Othello to come into the new company together with nearly all of my agents from the Bankers Reserve Life. The first year my agency produced over three and a half million dollars’ worth of insurance. It goes without saying that the company was very well pleased with the result. I personally had led all of the agents in production, besides the work and the time I put in supervising the agency force. I was made the president of the first Million Dollar Club that the company held, and again made it the second year. In 1931 there was to come into my program a very bad turn of affairs. The contract that they had given me was not in harmony with good insurance practices and when the company tried to go into other states they found that the states would not let them in till they had gotten rid of my contract. How to do it without loss to themselves was the sticker and on a few flimsy charges of re-bating they proceeded to cancel it. I at once decided to sue them and try and recover damages when through some crooked work on the part of the attorneys the contract got lost and I had nothing to sue on. I should have had at least twenty five thousand dollars out of it and I got nothing.
This came just at the time of the Depression and that meant a lot of re-adjustments at a very inopportune time. There was nothing for me to do, only contact another company, which I did, and finally went with the Mutual Health and Accident of Omaha. Mr. Walker was in charge at that time, but the agency was owned by a man in Phoenix, Arizona, and they did not give me a written contract with the company, but a working contract with them, which was verbal. I found that they were not to be depended upon, for when I got to checking up on my credits I found that they were not doing as they agreed, and I was not getting as much commission as they had agreed to give me. However, I stayed with them, thinking that something would turn up soon that would give me another chance to get an agency of my own.
During the Depression it was too hard to try and start an agency force to work, as they could not make good, and therefore the work would be all in vain as far as I was concerned, so I did not make any change and tried to make a living until things did change.
With times as hard as they were and accident business being only a small commission business, naturally my earnings fell off to such an extent that we were forced to cut down on all of our expenditures in every way that we could. In fact we lost our car. Erma had wrecked it and as it was not all paid for and I did not have enough to fix it up and pay the installment that was due on it, the company took it back. This was a blow that I could not overcome, for one cannot do anything in the insurance without a car. Things were getting very embarrassing for us and this did not help in our home relationship for Olive was always saying that we had to have this and that, and I knew that we could not get them, and this caused all kinds of hell. She complained that it was my fault, that I was not working hard enough, and that I knew I could do better if I would get out of town, but this I could not do without a car. She threw it up to me that I had always been able to produce and that I should do it now if I wanted to, and I knew that it was impossible under the circumstances. Naturally, worry will undermine a man even if everything else is running smoothly. The more that she complained the more I worried and the less I wanted to hear it. I would stay downtown to avoid it and that would make matters worse. Some nights she has run off at the mouth till three and four o'clock in the morning. She got so that she could not get out of bed in the morning without starting to make trouble and complain. I stood it as long as I could and once in a while I would tell her to go back to bed--if she could not get up and be pleasant. This would touch her off and she would say that I was belittling her before her children. Yet she never thought of the times that she was telling me what I was and what I had to do, until I fairly groaned under the tirade of abuse. At last I had stood it as long as I could and I picked up and went down to the hotel to live. I stayed at the Kenyon Hotel for over a month, then I finally went back home and took a room by myself. By this time I had my neck bowed and intended to bring her to her senses and make her see what a fool she was making of herself. The vanity she had built up would not let her come to me and acknowledge that she perhaps was doing the wrong thing, but no, she would not do that, and for a year I waited for her to come to me as I was determined she should do, and show some kind of repentance for the trouble she was making. Heretofore I had been the one that made all the overtures that were made to keep harmony, and this time I was determined not to do it. When she went on a tirade I tried my hand at it too and gave her back as good as she sent, till one day I asked her how long she could stand such punishment, and to my surprise she turned it back on me and made a martyr of herself, that she was the one that had suffered all the humiliation and insults and no amount of talk could make her acknowledge her faults.
It seemed that there was not consistency anywhere. In fact, consistency is just a symbol of all the little things a woman can't bear to think her husband is getting any happiness except what she dictates. It gives her vanity a nice wop to think that she alone can dispense his pleasures or his pain. She loved her own pet conception of me, the idea of having me in her power, of possessing me, and dominating ownership. When she failed to keep me--which she thought she had--under perfect control her vanity was hurt and she immediately tried to overcome this by starting a word battle. She never loved me apart from her as an individual all by myself. This confusion made her lose her temper. She expected me to live where she wanted to live, have the friends she selected, eat, drink, get up, go to bed, be at home at the time she thought that I should, think and feel and say and behave according to her specifications and all in all in the name of love and good companionship. I had been doing this and when I refused to do it any longer she could not adjust herself. For over a year we lived apart as man and wife. Any ordinary woman would have let this situation last only a day or two, but she never did give in.
Up to this time I had been true to the covenants that we had taken in our marriage vows, and although I had all kinds of inducement, yet I refused to give way, thinking that sooner or later she would come to her senses and we could go on as we should. At last one day I told her that unless she changed and started to be a wife to me and make things pleasant and happy that I was going to seek my pleasures elsewhere. [I said] that I was a normal individual and I was entitled to homeopathic attentions, and the sooner that she found it out the better it would be for her. It did not make any change in her attitude or bring her to any statement that she was sorry and would like to know what she could do to bring things to a happy conclusion. She always came back that it was the man's duty to do and therefore she was going to demand her rights. You can understand how I was compelled to seek other friendships and company. I would get so overwrought that I could not stand it. That brought me into the clubs and card dens, as they furnished me quite a bit of amusement without friction, and as I thought ineffective pastime. In my early life I did not ever frequent these places and even had to learn to play cards. Yet I preferred this to being under that domineering influence and informal bickerings and badgerings. May I say here that if I had been able to have supplied her wants she could have knuckled down and accepted my ultimatum? Her pride was hurt and all the time she was throwing up to me what this woman had bought new car that and it only humiliated me and nettled me. Naturally I preferred to stay away than to suffer this humiliation. God knows that I would have given her everything as I had been doing for twenty years, but I could not do it, and that was all there was to it.
In 1934, a few months after I had lost my car, I sold a policy to a man in Richfield as a first payment on a new Plymouth car and after that I did a little better. I started to make money, but not so much as I had made before. I succeeded in paying for the car and we lived as best we could, which was not like we had lived in the past, yet we got by if we were careful. The demands of her pride were a constant menace. Whatever she wanted she would say that "We have got to have it." She never said that if we could afford to do so I think that it would be nice to have it. If I said that we could not afford it she would give no other answer, only that "we have to have it." To prevent a row I would try and provide it even though I was getting head over heels in debt. The Walker Hiner agency was kind to me and allowed my balance to grow to a very large amount just in order to help me. Of course, the balance would not have been very high if they had been giving me what they had agreed to give me when I started to work. It was in 1934 that I won a trip to Omaha from the company and it just happened to be at a time when the Tabernacle Choir was invited to go back to Chicago to sing at the World's Fair, and as Olive was a full-fledged member she had her fair and expenses paid by the church and I had mine paid by my company, so we took that trip. We had a very splendid time for two weeks. We were given our entrance to the fair and to all the exhibits free, which was a great saving to us. We came back by way of St. Louis and saw the Lindbergh trophies which the city had on exhibition at the big city park. It took a whole building to hold them. We next came to Kansas City where we gave a concert in the big tabernacle of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They sure treated us wonderfully and were appreciative of what we did. They gave us a big banquet and made us feel that they would like to be friends from now on. The prophet's son and President Grant pledged mutual friendship for the two organizations. We saw the site where the new Jackson County temple is to be built. I hope that I will live to see it completed, for then will be the great gathering of the Saints back to that section.
It was in 1935 that I traded my Plymouth car off for a Terraplane. Again I sold a nice policy to help pay the difference. It was a fine car and I really felt that things were going to get better for us in a financial way, but at home things kept getting worse. Love or duty or family welfare could not break down the vanity complex that Olive had, nor make her see the necessity for relenting in dominating attitude. I was as determined to maintain my rights which were mine by divine right to rule as head of the family and by virtue of the priesthood which I held and which God said was "the emblem of authority from Him in all things." She could not hear His council and command, that women "should be subject to the man and abide his council." This inferior complex had gotten into her vanity strain and she could not throw it off without her giving in to my wishes. I am quite sure that things would not have gone to the breaking point had not her mother kept dinging at her to break up this attempt of incompatibility and a bad marriage as she called it and get a divorce. It makes no difference what denials that are made to this statement; I have her letters--in fact two--wherein she urges Olive to get a divorce. As I have said before, her mother was very mercenary and proud and haughty and wanted her children to have the best of everything. As long as I could flatter her pride by giving Olive all of the things to make a show with, she held her tongue, but as soon as things changed she began to play on Olive's pride and was telling her that she was "young and beautiful and could make another successful marriage." She played on the thought that I was not a fit example for my children and that the sooner that I would get out the better it would be for the children. Well, you know how it is when one's own mother gives advice, we are inclined to listen and follow it--especially if it fits our pride and interest. The thing that was so damnable was the fact that they--I mean Olive and her family--were so senssientious and religiously insane on certain points that they could not see that they were going against the most sacred thing that God had given to the world as a law of life, and that was the covenant of marriage, which was an eternal institution and was to last through the ages.
Where the man was to be the patriarch of his offspring and descendants throughout eternity, yet this meant nothing to them religiously. That is why I say they were fanatically religious. They could not see that all the things that I did was not a drop in the bucket to the crime of breaking up the home of our children and throwing them into disgrace by the separation of their parents, saying nothing of the injury that would come to them by reason of a broken home. God being my witness, I will put up my sins of omission and commission against their false ignorant superstition and vanity committed through the ego of conceit. I am not telling anything new when I say that her mother was one of the most deceitful and underhanded humans that I ever knew. All the years I knew her she deceived her husband and took money from the store and put it to her own credit in the bank and would lie to him about anything that suited her plans and on any pretext tell him the most damnable lies to further her cause. Olive and I knew those things and I have told Olive many times that if she ever resorted to such underhanded methods that I would leave her. You can readily see that I was not greatly surprised when I found some of her letters that she had written to Olive and found the statements that I referred to above in them. As a culmination of the things that were going on her father and mother decided to take a trip back east to see Jescco and Grace and wanted Olive to go with them. I tried to tell her that it was out of the question, that we would not be able to afford it, but as in all other things in the past, she was the more determined. She had just gotten back from a trip with the Tabernacle Choir to the San Diego Fair where she had been for ten days, and the family needed her at home, as I was away and the children were running at loose ends. To her, home and family duties never played a very important factor, if she could get to go somewhere. She always played on the sympathies of the family that she worked so hard and needed the rest and the change, and never said that she owed them anything, but carried the idea that the family always owed her so much. Therefore, my protest went by the wind. The next day after she got back from California they set out. This was about the middle of July. When I came home from my trip south on the 23rd she was gone and the children were alone. I was never so disgusted in my life to think that a mother could be so inhuman as to put her own pleasures ahead of that of her children. My business was such that I had to be on the road to make a living. The only thing I could do was to get Laura to come and stay with them. They were gone on this trip till the 18th of September, over two months, and during that time I never received as much as a post card from her and the children only two or three. If you can find an equal to this I would like to know where you could find it. Bless my soul; I was beside myself to know what to do.
Is it any wonder that I forgot all of my good resolutions and covenants and started to step out with someone else? Not for the evil that it entailed but for the companionship that it afforded. I admit that I took girls to dances and went riding with them on various occasions, but as for committing any social sin, I did not. Whatever the inference may have been to the contrary, these are the facts. In these memoirs I am going to hold to the truth even if it hurts me and casts a bad stain on my family name. If anyone had told me that the time would ever come that I would be guilty of doing such a thing I would have told them that they were all wet. Be that as it may, I still say that till Olive applied for a divorce that I did not bow to any sin of sex. I know what was reported and who reported it to her and with what intent that it was reported. However the facts were not at all as reported in the family circle: the fact that her own father was guilty of the very thing that they accused me of, yet they were not as generous with me as they were with him. Just because he said it was not so, that was enough, yet to many who knew that he lied about it, it was a passing joke. When it came to my denial they did not want to accept it as mother Nixon's case would not have resulted in what she wanted, or what Nina fought so hard for. There were loyal friends in her own family that told me the whole thing and from whence came the information. Thank God that there are some in the family that did not agree with Olive or her mother.
It all happened the next day after she got back from the trip. She arrived on the nineteenth of September and the papers for divorce were made out on the twentieth, under the direction of her parents. At this time I was at Cedar City and did not know that she was back in the state till I had the papers served on me at Cedar City. You can guess how mad and disgusted that I would be when I read that she wanted a separate maintenance for herself and asked the court to force me to give her $250 a month so that she could keep up with the Jones' and I could sing the swan song of give and give and receive nothing. She could have at least done me the courtesy of calling me in and talking with me about what she intended to do and ask me what suggestions I might have to offer. No, she heralded to the world that she wanted the courts to force me to give her this money. What a travesty on common decency--for one who had lived like a queen for twenty years or more and had spent money like a drunken soldier all these years and when things were at such a state that over half of the nation was on relief, she had the unmitigated gall to try and force or have the court force me to do the absolute impossible. You can guess what was running through my mind: at least it would not sound very good on paper; therefore I will leave you to guess. I jumped in my car and the way I went for Salt Lake. I will admit now that the things I said would not be good Sunday School language, but it at least was in keeping with my feelings and not in keeping with good judgment.
The one thing I have always regretted is that I let the children hear me tell her what kind of a woman she had turned out to be. In no unmistakable words I gave her a picture of what a selfish, unappreciative individual that she was and how her vanity had been the ruination of her. [I added] that God would hold her accountable before high heaven for the step that she was taking and I am still convinced of that statement.
She knew that I could not pay any such fee as she asked and I told her that she was to change her plea from separate maintenance to a divorce as I would never live with her under any consideration, that I was through and wished to be free to love whomever I chose. This was a surprise to her for she said that when I proved myself worthy, I could come back and claim my family. She really thought I would naturally fall in line to her wishes as I had done so many times in the past, and when she found that I was determined to see that a final divorce was to be the only thing that I would listen to I think she was quite surprised and would have turned back if it had not been for the family who was forcing her hand. I very definitely told her that I would not pay her over a hundred dollars a month. You should have heard the protest that she put up. She said that they could not keep up the house on that. Then I had my chance to tell her that I did not intend that she should, that she could sell what she didn't want and go rent a small house on the west side, as that was her funeral from then on as to how she lived, that I had always taken pride in giving them a fine home, and that she had elected to kick me out and that she could do the next best. This as I said was an outburst of my feelings and I have been sorry ever since, that the children had to hear me say it. I had no right to leave in the minds of the children such a picture of their mother and myself. No doubt God will hold me accountable for what I said, yet I cannot help it now. When the old hypocrite of mother Nixon came and planted her big ass in a chair, saying that she "was going to see that her daughter was treated right," I came near to kicking her out of the house, for I knew that she was to blame for the whole setup. However, I did not do as I felt; I only picked up my hat and started off for town. June soon followed and said that she had gone. I have often wished that I had kicked her out for it would have served her right. While she had many qualities that were admirable and generous, yet her deceit and underhanded maliciousness out-weighed all that she had done, as far as I am concerned. After this I never went back to the house, nor have I entered it since. I was so outraged that I did not care what became of me and I started to hell cross-lots. I got to smoking and drinking and chasing out with women and getting my pleasure wherever I could find it. This of course was the wrong thing for me to have done, and I have regretted it a thousand times since I have had time to think things over in an intelligent way. Naturally my business did not prosper for I could not keep my mind on it. I was whipped and humiliated till I did not have anything to fight for. Whenever you take out of your life LOVE, you have taken the biggest factor of force and success there is. No man ever succeeds so well without love as with it. Love begets confidence and confidence begets courage or action, which is the final analysis in spelling success. I was no exception to the rule and I lost all interest in everything. I felt that if I got away maybe I would change things, so in the fifth of January, 1936 I got into my car and started for Oregon, where Von Hickman, Francis' son was working in the insurance business. This again was the wrong thing for me to do, as I was leaving the field where I could call thirty thousand people by name, and where I had a world of friends. Over there I was a total stranger and I could not fit in as I thought I could. While I worked long hours I could not seem to get anywhere. Von and his wife were wonderful to me and gave me a fine home and did everything for me to help me get on. At last I accepted the offer from the Occidental Life Insurance Company to go to Salem, the capitol of Oregon to take charge of their work there. They gave enough advance money to pay my expenses, which was the only way that I could have gone. Before this I had lost my car, since I was not able to make the payments on it. In March I turned it back to them. This was a great loss to me for I had over five hundred dollars in it. I tried to sell it to advantage, but I was unable to do this. However the work that I was to do in Salem was all in the city and I really did not need the car. I worked hard and long hours and yet the same thing that held me up in Albany I found holding me up in Salem--that was lack of personal friends. I did some business, but not enough to hardly pay expenses. By this time I really was getting discouraged, for I felt that the Lord was pouring out his judgment on us. When I say us I mean Olive and me, for I had agreed to send her one hundred dollars a month to take care of the family and I could not do it, because of the way the things turned out. I felt ashamed and disgusted, and therefore did not write for I would not write and offer any excuses. Then I knew that her folks would not let her starve, and in fact it rather appeased my pride to think that they who had been the instrument of breaking up our home should have to dig down into their pockets to make good for their ignorance and meddling. All they could see when they were so much in favor of it was the two hundred and fifty dollars that they were going to force out of me, and their daughter living in luxury while I was sweating drops of blood to make the payments.
When at last I was able to sell a nice policy to a garage man and could get me another car I was happy. It was a ten thousand dollar policy with a commission of over three hundred dollars. The car that I bought was a Hudson eight coup. It was a wonderful buy and it gave me a bit more confidence. Yet after three months I decided that I was coming back into my old territory where I was acquainted, so on July the fourth I left Salem and drove through to Boise where the headquarters of the Occidental Life was located. I met Paul McBride who set me to work in eastern Idaho where I had done so much nice business for the Bankers and the Pacific National. At once I started to take applications and it gave me renewed courage that had so far waned, that I felt that I was about a wreck. Yet my bad luck was still following me. While at St. Anthony for the 24th celebration I had my car window broken and all I had was stolen from the car. This included two suits of good clothes, my overcoat, my bag and all of its contents, two lap-robes, one beautiful Navajo rug, my chamois skin jacket, all of my ties and shirts--in fact everything that I had, but what I stood up in. They also took my leather or rather my pigskin brief case with all my supplies. I was in what you call a hell of a mess, for I did not have enough money to re-equip myself and it took me several months to overcome this loss. Then Ferrin came up and had to have work, so I took him in and taught him the work and divided the commissions with him. I had to pay all of the expenses for both [of us] as he was broke and needed it. It was not charity, for I owed him money for what he let me have to pay on the house. Twice he came to my rescue and saved our home for us when the mortgage company was threatening to foreclose. In fact, to show my appreciation for what he did I deeded the home over to him for security, but he did not ask it, though I wanted him to have it for security for the two thousand dollars that he had let us have. As I say it was not charity, but real pleasure that I took, first to have him with me, and second to help him as he helped me when I was in distress. It was just at this time that his wife was trying to get a divorce and he had to do something for her in order to save a separation. Having just experienced the tragedy of what it meant, I was more than anxious to help him avoid this misfortune. We worked together for about eight or nine months. I succeeded in buying him a second hand car, which helped him to work by himself, as he had developed into a fine salesman and it gave him a chance to do himself a lot of good. While neither of us did a lot of good for ourselves, yet I did succeed in paying for my car and helping a little at home. Nothing like I wanted to do and should have done, but it was too apparent that conditions were against me. I know what was being said and what criticism I was getting by everybody at home because I was not doing more, but I could not help that. I was doing all that was humanly possible. The reason that I put this in, is to help you to see the inside of a picture that you have had in your mind, but for which you did not have an answer, for the criticism of me and you felt that I had forsaken you and lost interest in you. You can be assured that I longed for you and wept over you as no one will ever know. God being my witness I can truthfully say that I prayed for means to do for and the more I prayed the more it seemed that the Lord answered my prayers with misfortune, maybe for punishment. While Ferrin and I were on a trip to the Dam where we were getting a bit of our business, we had the misfortune of rolling the car down the bank. We escaped injury, yet we caused a hundred fifty dollars damage to the car, a tragedy. Two weeks after I got it out of the shop I was coming from Idaho Falls one night in a blinding snowstorm, and ran off the grade and rolled over. This caused me another garage bill of over a hundred dollars. Broken springs and garage bills kept me always in straighten circumstances. As I said the harder I worked and the more that I made, the more I had to pay out in expenses, till I was nearly beside myself.
It was during these things that caused me to lose all interest in everything and I started to gamble. This is and of itself was enough to keep me from doing my best work, for I could not get my mind off the cards long enough to work as I should have done. It was on one of these nights that I had some fortune and won a bunch of money and one of the fellows gave me his check for $1630, which I cashed at the gambling house. He was a foreman on a dam contract and everybody thought him a responsible man. So as it happened, that the next day I set out for California where I expected to work for the winter and did, till I got picked up in Bakersfield, the cause of which was this check. The fellow did not have enough to cover it, and when he found that I had left for California, he saw a chance to say that he did not give the check, while the men at the gaming house knew that he did, for it was the talk of the crowd.
But for him to get his money, I mean the man that cashed it he had to bring me back, and to do this, he had to swear out a complaint. The terrible thing that faced me when I did get back there was I had to stand trial, and to do this I had to wait for October court, and this was the first of April. I either had to put up $2,500 dollar cash bond for appearance or stay in jail till October. The attorney took me before the judge, and when I told him the whole story he advised me to agree to return the money to the man that cashed the check, and if I would do that, he would give me a sentence and parole me, and give me plenty of time to pay this amount back. This I thought I had better do than stay in jail and fight it out, with the chance that he may bring pledged witnesses in to testify that he did not give it. After the attorney and I talked it over we decided that it would be the best to plead guilty and agree to return the money. If I had it to do over again I would never do it, as I found that when one puts himself on record as confessing to a forgery he is in the eyes of the law more guilty than the man who is tried and found by the court to be guilty. Yet I was so anxious to get out of that mess and feeling so sure that I could soon repay that money that I could not see anything wrong in the arrangement. The attorney did not tell me the consequences. I was to find however that the return of the money was an impossible task. The record of the confessed forgery stood against me and the company canceled my contract. I was unable to get another contract, and without it I was not able to earn enough to pay for my room, and I was put out of it, and my things held for the back room rent. Many things that I valued highly were in the things and went with the rest. Discouraged, that was only a mild name for it. I was too proud to go to the relief board to ask for help, and instead I sponged on Francis and Eunice till I decided to end it all. Life had become so sordid and useless that I said to myself that I would get money by any hook or crook that I could, and the easiest way was to write myself into trouble. For if I did get into trouble I was going to bump myself off. The money I used for a good time, and I was at the end when L.C. Dunn came along and offered me a job selling books, and we went to work together. We made some money, but not enough to pay expenses and pay back the money that I had gotten through these bad checks. Then, when Dunn could no longer keep his car and had to give it up, I took what little money I did have and set out for San Francisco where the headquarters was of the company we were working for. There, I was put to work, and from the beginning it looked good to me. Yet I did not make hardly enough to pay expenses. I did manage to pay back about thirty dollars’ worth of those checks and would have paid them all back, but the little three dollar and seventy five cent check that I gave the Ephraim Creamery was my downfall. I was brought back and tried, but through friends and the good work of Francis and N.H. Tanner I got a suspended sentence. However, the fact that I could not pay back the amount of money that I had agreed to in Idaho, and getting into this trouble, the judge at Idaho Falls requested me to be brought back to Idaho as a parole violator. He passed sentence that I must serve from one to fourteen years in the state pen, and here I am at this writing, which I may tell more about at a later date, but for now I am going back to tell you some inter-locking facts that are necessary to this picture.
As I referred to the discouragement that had taken hold of me and the mental state of mind that I was in, gave me nothing to live for. I will try to explain them in these few lines of a sonnet:
The heart once broken is a heart no more, And is absolved from all a heart must be; All that it signed or chartered heretofore, Is cancelled now, the bankrupt heart is free; Of shards and dust, this and no more of Pain, This and no more hope, remorse, desire, The heart once broken needs support again. How simple 'tis and what a little sound It makes when all is lost the world attest; We struggle and we fail; the world goes round, And the moon follows it all is lost. The world's forgotten well, if the world only knew.
I had been in the hospital for nearly three weeks and not a person came to see me. Erma was in Salt Lake and did not come to see me. It seemed that since I had no one that cared for me, why should I continue to be humiliated and fight under such a handicap? I longed to drop out of existence, by some method that would be the least conspicuous, but what it should be I had not really made up my mind. At last I got acquainted with Mrs. [Grace] Tuttle and she gave me many things to think about. She was one of the most understanding persons, and so full of sympathy that she would not let me think of the things that I had in my mind to do. She inspired me to try and do something worthwhile as a challenge to those who had so mistreated me and for the good of the children, to show them that their father was not a quitter or a piker. It was she that turned me from the thing that I had made up my mind to do and encouraged me to still seek some kind of employment. So when the chance of working with Dunn came I was really happy, and so was she. I went at it with a heart to make good. Many was the time that she took me in and fed me and even gave me a room to sleep in. She and her sister lived at the Jensen Apartments and spent their time working. When I did not have any other place to go I would go up there and spend the evening. She was never one to suggest going places where it would cost money, but would arrange house parties and card socials that were pleasing and entertaining, without cost. She was a wonderful cook and real artist in tinting pictures. Bless her heart; there was so much about her that was fine and wholesome, that I could not help loving her. Now I wish for the time to come when I can make her my wife. When the real trouble came and she got to hear about it, she went to the men that held the checks and did all that she could to get them to give me time to clear them up. Nearly every day I had a letter telling me the lay of the things at home and what she was doing and begged me not to do anything rash, but to rush her money as fast as I could to take up the checks. She knew that I had said that I would not be taken alive, if Idaho ever called for me, and that she kept telling me it was the most cowardly and would be the worst thing I could do. At last I told her that I would face the situation and do my best to make good in repayment of the confidence she had imposed in me. It was remarkable what strength that one can have when there is someone that has an interest in you, loves you, and takes a kindly interest in you when all the others have failed you.
When I landed in Salt Lake she was the one that came to see me and bring me good things to eat and offer words of encouragement. Every visiting day she was there, though I knew it was very humiliating for her. My own children did not have as much interest in me as she did, as they did not come at all. I was there three weeks and not one came to see me. Neither of my sisters, and only Francis came and Judge Tanner did me the honor, as well as helping me to get released. Francis went to bat for me with all the power and influence that he had, but he was so sick that he could not get out much. I do appreciate all that was done for me while there.
Again, as soon as I got to St. Anthony, there came a nice box of gum, candy, stationery, jellies, and cakes from Grace, and letters that made me feel that I had something to live for. Even now I look forward to the time that I can have the satisfaction of telling her that I have made good because she had demanded and inspired it in me and gave me the will to do it. As I have said, you will never know what that means to have someone that cares for you, give you a glad hand and an encouraging word. I know now why it is that so many people kill themselves. It is not done without a lot of thinking, and behind it all there is some motivating factor that is lacking in human kindness. Now when I look back and think how foolish I was I can't help but wonder how one's mind can get so far off the track. I know this, that if the time ever comes that I can repay Grace for what she did for me I will be very happy, yet one cannot pay such a debt, as there is no monetary value that can be put upon it. The one thing that I have regretted since I have been here is that the rules of the institution would not let me communicate with her or anyone that is not a member of the family. Yet she has in some way gotten remembrances to me at Christmas and Easter time.
The one great disappointment of my life is the fact that Ferrin or Dean have never answered one of my letters, and when I wrote them that I was going on the board asking for a pardon and that I had to have some money to pay for the expense of the advertising and stamps, they never as much as said that they were sorry that they did not have the money or I could have it. No, they let me stay here for three months longer because they were so selfish that they could and would not spare me five dollars. The chagrin of it has mortified me till I cannot bear to think of it. May God help them to see what they did and help them never to be placed in the same position of seeing their children turn against them. Nothing in my life would have made me believe that I had raised children that would turn out to be such selfish individuals. Common decency would at least demand that they should answer a letter. I asked Dean to go to the company for which I worked while in California and ask them for some of the deferred commissions that were coming to me, as I had to have the money to go on the board with, and he never as much as answered it. He did not remember that when he was up against it in California and wrote me at Rexburg for money that I did not wait to send it by letter, but I had gone to the expense of telegraphing it to him. Yet now when it meant three months in this institution he failed to even go a few blocks out of his was to get a report for me and send it to me, or offer to loan me enough to get on the board. I shall not forget these things, and I hope that some time that I will have the chance of seeing him repent of his ways and ask my forgiveness. It all sums itself up in the life of one selfish individual who had showed his ingratitude and lack of appreciation. It seems that the transmitted tendency has been carried on to this generation. As I have said that I was looked upon as the hen or goose that laid the golden egg and when the goose failed to produce the egg, and needed feeding, she was given a rock.
Life has a long road, and in that course, there are many turns, and sooner or later the turns bring back the things that have happened in your life to dampen the life of someone else, and when we meet it later on we find that it is more severe than the thing that we did to others. The words of the prophet are verily true, that "if we cast our bread upon the water it will come back to us in many days." If we would all bear this in mind we will see that what we do is good and wholesome, we will find that it will be done to our credit in some way in the future. While I am speaking of treatment I must say that Florence has her share of my criticism. After I had made up my mind to change and do the right and correct my errors, I went to her and asked her to help me out with a loan to pay these things off, as I was threatened with a term in prison, and she declined me the loan. If she had not been in a position to make the loan, that would have been different, but when she preferred to be disgraced by having the public point her father out as a jail bird and to tell her children that their grandpa was a criminal, it makes me think that there was no love and respect left in the world. If it had been Bob's father in the same condition he would have turned over the whole town to have helped him. Some time she will see how foolish and selfish she was and will, I hope, pray God to forgive her the insult that she heaped upon me. I know of no way that a person can ever forgive themselves of such ingratitude.
You may wonder why I bring all these things up in this memoir. This is the reason and I think it a worthy one: Memory is a treacherous thing and in a few years all will be forgotten, but here in this story will be a picture that will never be erased from the pages of our lives as long as this document lasts, and I will see that it will last for you. It may be a stumbling stone in your life, but it will serve to call to mind that you will have to meet these things. You may have the experience of seeing them re-enacted in your own life, which I hope for your sake will never happen. Yet as I said the road of life is long, and has many turns, and it may turn the wrong way to suit you, as it had for me.
"The evil that men do lives after them, and the good is often interred with their bones," stands as a monument to the lives of all, and I hold that honesty and love, charity and well doing are the good that will live after, and the evil should be forgotten. I am trying to forget the evil that has followed me, and from whom, and may God help me to forgive all the injustices that have been done. All my life I have tried to see the good in individuals and react to that part of their being, and till I have been forced to discard them as useless and not worthy of my friendship have I turned against them. There is too much backbiting and fault finding in the world, and the little good that we can do here will be a joy to us in future years and in eternity. We cannot be entirely happy as long as we know that we have done someone an injustice. Especially is this true if that someone is closely connected with you in the family. Whoever reads this and sees that I have depicted the truth in it, and does not make amends will forever carry with them the knowledge that they are not honest with themselves or their conscience. I trust that all of you will be able to acknowledge these weaknesses and make restitution.
What the world holds for me when I get out of here I know not, but I am sure of one thing, that I will never put too much dependence in any help or assistance from any of the family, unless it would be June, and I am sure grateful for the attitude he has shown since he came home. It goes to show that he had the spirit of the Lord with him, and the spirit of forgiveness. At this particular writing I have only four weeks left in here, and then I will be back in circulation to try and regain my self-respect and financial standing in the world. God being my helper I hope to be able to pay every dollar that I owe and spend the rest of my life in preaching his gospel to the world. I have thoroughly repented of all my wrongs and made my peace with God. I am sure he will help me.
EULOGY OF OLIVE
Having lost all that I had in life, my family and home, and all that I had worked so hard for and was so proud of, I now sit, heartsick, thinking and trying to imagine what was the cause of all this failure, after the sacrifice, humility, and charity I had given with love that had the right to be open and free and wonderful without being censured. A love like that was not good enough; it had to be destroyed because of vanity and ingratitude. Everybody knows that love has to be worked for and pampered, not coerced. It had to be watered by the generosity and tenderness of both. It had to be fed by judgment and sacrifice, instead of being seared by the hot blasts of temper. Not an attitude that our children must not work for anything; that everything must be given them, no matter the heartbreak of cost to others. This is what I had been up against for years, and now it is a thing of the past, yet as I reflect on it all, I still can see the wonderful virtues that Olive possessed and the character that was hers. I am not loathe to exhibit them for I have no desire to detract or keep from her that which rightfully belongs to her and what she is justly entitled to have, as an offset for the weaknesses that I have exhibited. No person was ever perfect, and while we all have imperfections and lack in many respects, the essential things that spell happiness for us, yet we all have virtues. For one to speak of the weaknesses without saying a word about the virtue would be manifestly unfair, and I do not wish to appear in that light in this history. While I have said some very unkind things, yet they have been said not from malice, so much, as to give a true picture of the whys and wherefores of events, and the reason for later conditions that came into my life, for which I am blamed.
As a mother, she gave birth to five of the loveliest children for me. All are strong, healthy and beautiful and agile as the nymphs. God gave her the strength to guide aright these tiny feet that came to us from the Eleusinian shores. She had a deep abiding faith in the right for virtue and honesty and the will to imprint the faith and conduct to her children. She was always zealous in seeing that they attended to their church duties and gave heed to the council of those who were in authority over them, while she herself worked untiringly in the work to make a better condition for the children, and set an example of devotion for them to follow. She was always careful to see that we had a well regulated and orderly house to come home to, that it was neat and clean. She was an excellent cook and gave us meals that would do credit to anyone. She had a talent to sing and gave freely of it to all those who sought her. She spent an unreasonable amount of time with it in directing church activities. She always kept her mind out of the gutter filth and maintained a high and noble attitude for clean wholesome thoughts. What more could a child ask than to have such a mother for a guide? I have always said that the raising of the children and the guidance of their lives was her mission and that she had all of it to do, as I was away from home so much of the time that all I could do was to visit with them when I came and cater to their desires, until the children only looked upon me as the goose that laid the golden egg and furnished the amusements and the good clothes. Therefore, I give her all the credit for the good job that was done in raising the children to be fine men and women, with noble clean thoughts and actions. If I do say it, I am proud of every one of them. I think that I am safe in giving this final tribute to her tender and loving thoughts.
Give me the strength to guide aright, These tiny feet that follow me; As deep, abiding, inner, sight When chubby hands cling trustingly, That I may choose the pathway sure And free from strife and deadly sin, Give me a faith that's true and pure, A sacred flame to burn within. Then keep my hand in Thine, O Lord; Let love and wisdom come from Thee above.
God bless her memory for good to you my children and may we have joy in the thoughts that we all be one happy family on the other shore, where bickerings, vanity and contentions are a thing of the past.
This history would not be complete unless I gave an account of sojourn in the State Home for the Weak, so here in short is the description of it. I hope that the telling might be some inspiration to you to so conduct your lives as to never be guilty of an offence that will bring you to the same embarrassment as it has me, while the treatment is not as important as the mental anguish and the stain that society puts upon you. I entered on the second of October, 1939, and was assigned to cell with a Mr. Claude Harris, from Boise. He was a very nice and agreeable man to be with and one that had been a fine citizen, but had, like myself, made a misstep, and for it had to pay the price that society demanded that he should pay. He also had one year as his bottom, I mean the minimum time that he should spend in here.
The institution had a school provided for those that cared to take up any subjects of learning. They asked me to teach in the school and I was glad to do it as it helped me to do my time in a nicer way. I was given two classes in English and one in public speaking. I took typewriting and did some practicing on the piano. However, that was not very satisfactory, for I did not have any music to work with. I did what I had longed to do, and that was to learn the keyboard of the typewriter where blanks were used so that we could not refer to the letter by sight. We had to use the correct finger for each letter so that we could develop speed. This required a lot of concentration and a careful execution to get so that the keys would work automatic with sight. Even at this date after nine months I find that my fingers will not tract correctly, as you will notice as you read this message, as it was all written on a machine that did not have the visible keyboard. I got so that I could write about fifty words a minute, but my work was never free from mistakes, nor could I get every stroke in rhythm.
At first I thought that I had to be as common as the rest of the inmates and use tobacco, which was furnished to us, but later on I found that I was not doing myself any good, and decided to quit. To do this in the presence of so much vice is no small job. Out of the four hundred inmates that are here, there are only five or six that do not use tobacco in some form. When I decided to quit I also saw that if I made a good job of it I would have to have the Lord on my side, so I held a four day fast and asked Him to help me, then I fasted again for two days, and in fact I kept fasting and praying till at last the Lord did answer my prayers and made known to me that he accepted my devotion.
You may ask how he showed this to me. I have at times in the past received through dreams some wonderful manifestations of facts that were to come. As an example, when I was a lad of fifteen He showed me the inside of the Salt Lake Temple and with it an assurance of its divinity. Many times since, he has given me council. Especially was this true when I started to go on the wrong path. My mother came to me often, and every time she was so sorrowful that I knew that it was for the purpose of impressing me. Yet I did not heed, and kept on in the same way, till at last she did not come to me anymore. In fact, it had been nearly a year since the last time she came to me. This time, after the fast she came and she was happy and ran to me and threw her arms around me, and patted me on the back and said, "Oh, my dear boy, you have come at last to me!" As I looked away I saw Jennie and my black eyed wife sitting on the shore of eternity and they seemed to be so happy that I invited them into the house to have dinner. As they came forward, I put my arms around Jennie and kissed her, while the others put their arms around me and loved me. As I say, all this was so very real that I knew it was in answer to my prayers. Since then I have not tasted tobacco, or coffee, or tea, and have been doing all that I could to keep my thoughts clean and wholesome. I assure you that it is all that one can do. The devil then started to fight me and at once my watch, fountain pen, and every other day, things were stolen out my cell. When I would report it to the warden, it would only make them that much worse. Even some of . . . .
NOTE: It is to be noted at this point one complete page is missing from this memoir by F.L. Hickman.
. . . for the evil that I have done in the past. It has been my prayer night and morning to Him to give me strength to do these things. As the days go past I feel much stronger and nearer to Him.
When I started to tell you of this institution I failed to complete my description of it and therefore I will return to it; that you may have a correct picture of what constitutes a place of detention, called a State Penitentiary. I am quite sure that there is only a very few that have any idea what it is like. I know that I did not, and I have seen very few that did. I really was surprised to find that one has so much liberty and freedom and chances for development. If the average individual who comes here would take advantage of the chances he could go into an office and do good work. Yet unfortunately there are very few that have any ambition for knowledge that comes here. I have talked to many a young fellow and tried to show him what a mistake he was making for not trying to learn something useful, instead of wasting so much time, but it seems that if one is not naturally gifted to take interest in better things, that all the talking in the world will not make them see it. Hour after hour and day after day goes by and they sit around doing nothing. Some of them have been here for years and have not read a book or done a thing to better themselves. To me this would be a real hell if I had to do my time that way. As it is, I have not wasted but a very few hours since I came in here and they were spent playing dominoes or checkers as a pastime rester. I have read over two hundred books since I came in here and all the magazines that I could get hold of. The institution provides a quantity of all kinds of magazines and papers for us to read. Then, many of the boys order home papers and personal magazines and these in time get circulating and sometimes we all get a chance to read them. They may be months old, yet they are new to us and the stories are as good as if they had just come off the press. We all have a Bible in the cell and can read at leisure the words of the Lord. I took a great delight in reading the new history of the Bible written by Alexander Bowie. He treats it from a different angle than any author that I have ever read after. He treats his subject from the standpoint of the Bible in connection with modern science. He has given me the best answer to much of the criticism that I have ever had. He was not one to tear down, but to show the great moving events as they took place, and how the many things of error crept into it. That there were none of the old books written till hundreds of years, and sometimes thousands of years after the things actually took place. He defended the Bible and its teachings in such a way that I could see a much bigger and broader view of its moving force, and God's hand dealing with His children.
We were turned out of our cells at seven thirty in the morning into the yard, which was large and spacious, in fact large enough for a ball diamond. Inside of the enclosure there were eight buildings, and around these were beautiful lawns with some of the most wonderful flowers I have ever seen. These lawns were underlain with steam pipes, and the lawns were green all winter. There was not a week all winter that [the lawns] did not have to be cut. So aside from the thoughts that I was in such a place, conditions were not at all bad. In fact I have rather been contented with my stay here. At least I had no complaint. The most of the time I only ate two meals. Time has gone at a very rapid rate. When we go in at four thirty I start to read and the first thing I know it is nine thirty when the lights are turned out. It is only a little while till morning and we start all over again. They say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but there is enough play to make things interesting. I take exercises every day and have been in better health since I have been here than I was before. I haven't even had a cold since I came. Once a week we have the radio in the cell house, so we can listen to the main fights going on in the country and three hours of good musical programs. We have a radio in the dining room, and our meal time is just right to near all the news broadcasts. Our meals are prepared in a way to be very palatable. I have not had a complaint of our eats since I came. On holidays and Sundays we have exceptionally good meals and are given a privilege to take a nice lunch to our cells to eat later. We have a hospital in connection with the institution, and a special doctor and dentist to look after the needs of the men. We have a barber shop where we get a shave twice a week and a haircut as often as we need it. However, there are some that pay fifty cents a month and get shaved twice extra per week. We are privileged to have any comforts that we can buy, such as a pillow, sheets, personal towels, candies, and all kinds of good things to eat. These we order once a month. We are allowed to buy fifty cents worth of stamps a month and are privileged to write two letters a week to relatives only, but they must be no longer than two pages of double spacing. The only thing that was at all disagreeable was the fact that I did not have anyone that cared enough about me to write, and I suffered the humiliation of being forgotten.
If it had not been for June after he came back off his mission, I think that I would have gone nuts. Erma wrote two letters, Francis two, and outside of one from Eunice I was an outcast. Yet, Ruth and Elaine wrote me three or four times. Thank God that there will coma a time I am sure that they will regret what they have done. It is a long road that has no turn and the evil wind that blows no one any good. When Dean and Ferrin refused to answer my appeal for help to go on the board and forced me to remain here an extra three months, because of five dollars that it would have taken to have paid for the advertising and making out of the papers, and the stamps, it showed how selfish and forgetful my own children, for whom I had done so much, had or would turn against me, I would have told them that it was impossible. I have read all my life of children turning against their own parents and putting them in the poor house and turning them out of their homes, but I did not expect to live to see my own children do worse. May God forgive them, and though I forgive them, I will never be able to forget the insult and injury. They can be assured that if I was starving in the street that I would never ask them to help me. Even Erma, to whom I sent my fifteen dollars that I had to her while she was in California going to school and I was on my way to Idaho, yet when I told her I needed five dollars to go on the board with and if I did not get it by a certain date I would have to stay here another three months, she ignored my appeal and did not answer my letter, but to make it more tragic [she] sent me a card of good wishes for Father's Day as if wishes could do me any good at such a time. Somebody--I don't know who it was--sent me the money, but it was in the form of an express money order made out to the warden, and I was not able to find out who sent it. I now only have three weeks to stay here, and if the Lord is willing and will help me when I get out, I will never have to ask any of them for help again.
When God said for you to honor thy father and we profess to be so religious that we have to turn up our nose at some minor evil and sometimes brooking one of the first commandments, it seems a little sacreligious to me. Stop and think about it, and you will come to the same conclusion. In the years to come and you have children of your own, and you sit alone and wonder why they do not write you, or care to your needs, you will look back to this message and will say to yourselves that you now know what father suffered, and will wish that you could turn the wheels of time back and undo the hurt that you caused him. May God grant that you will escape it, for I do not wish anyone that feeling that has been mine to suffer?
To love's low voice she lent a careless ear;
Her hand within my trembling fingers lay,
A chilling weight. She could not turn or hear;
But with averted face went on her way.
Yet when pale death, all featureless and grim,
Lifted his bony hand and beckoning;
Held out his cypress wreath, she followed him,
And love was left forlorn and wondering.
Cold and heartless, in tortured cramping pain,
I wreathed in agony of mind and frame;
Till God in mercy touched my burnished lids,
Quelling my sodden fear, confirmed His bid;
He claimed my earthly tender loving flower;
I see her now an angel on His shiny tower,
Beck'ing to me with fervid tender smile;
I hear dear heart; give strength to bear my trials.