Remembrances of Alice Lauper Brown

[Many events of Alice's life are also covered in the histories of her siblings.

At the end of this history is a poem, "To My Sister", by Viola Lauper Johnson.]

By Alice Lauper Brown and Viola Lauper Johnson

I, Alice Marie Lauper Brown, was born 25th of November, 1908, at Tremonton, Box Elder County Utah. My parents often told me how glad they were for me, their first daughter after four beautiful boy babies. My Dad, many times during my childhood would feign being cold, and would say: "I'll always remember that cold November”. Dad had a pet name for me, which sounded like “Lopoly”. It sounded musical as he said it and I liked it. I suppose it came from the French as that was his native tongue, and he spoke English only with an accent, which, I m sorry to say was an embarrassment to me as a young person growing up.

Alice, 1940
Alice, at the time of her mission, 1940

Mother and I were very close. I loved her and depended upon her for most of my life, it was she who took me, in imagination, along the path ways of her life ----her limited remembrance of the green meadows of Denmark; the voyage; to America; and then, the Moroni years where she grew up; including stories of her early married life. To me, at a young age, her life seemed a vast saga; but actually she was only thirty- five years when her tenth, and last, child was born. I was eight years old at that time.

Two significant events of my life happened --the first when I was eight years of age and the second when I was thirteen years.

The day after my eighth birthday, Mother gave birth to her tenth child, a boy, my brother, Ralph Julius. The baby was well and progressed satisfactorily but mamma never recovered her strength and continued to feel worse each day. With only my meager help, she tried to care for her family but it must have been beyond even my sympathetic and loving imagination to comprehend her misery and despair. Eventually she was taken to a hospi­tal and operated. The doctors reported she had a cancer of the rectum and was beyond their help. That night our father came home from the hospi­tal to his sad and bewildered children with the declaration, "If you want your mother to live, we will pray! So we prayed; and she lived------ yes, another fifty years. This experience began my understanding of faith and prayer; and a habit of prayer was thereby commenced, lasting through-out my life; not always as thoughtful, nor as often, nor as sincere or proper, but there came a sure means of comfort and guidance. After that family prayer that night, my prayers became more than just words. I desperately wanted mother to come home. I was desolate.

Another faith promoting experience came during my thirteenth year while I was attending a Seminary class under Brother Floyd C. Eyre. It was during my first year at Delta High School. It was with this fine teacher that I really became acquainted with Jesus Christ as my Creator, my Savior. And I, then, began to realize that I had and have a testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's true that, as a child, I was eager to participate in my Sunday School Classes. I enjoyed Primary and also belonged to one of the last of the so-called Religion Classes held as such. This was a course of instruction, which the Church used to sponsor in Utah, and consisted of a short period after school, once each week, where we sat at our desks and heard Gospel stories and said prayers. This was in Sugarville, Utah, and our teacher was Romulus Shields.

Further description of my family members: I truly loved each of our family although "mama" was always the all-important hub to the wheel. There were Papa and Mama, Serge, Ivan, John, Felix, Alice, my baby sister Elsie (who died at age one month), Marcel, Viola, Dennis and Ralph. I have always been thankful to have a sister, my "O & O" (one and only). Looking ahead to eternity, I am sometimes worried whether or not I will be worthy to have two sisters and seven wonderful brothers. Each of them has been kind and dear to me.

I could begin with Serge and tell of my feelings for him. Since earliest remembrance, his fine contributions to my life have been considerably important. He has held a unique and special place, as the oldest, and has always been represented as manly in the way he accepted and discharge the many responsibilities foisted upon his young shoulders since his earliest days.

Ivan was different, but just as dear and good. He's been so generous and thoughtful. I can remember so many times when he showed sensitivity to my needs and how he tried to mold and shape me into being someone I could live with and like. He put more effort, time, and money into helping me than any other; but for some reason, understood least of all by me, I was unable to respond in ways he hoped.

I could go on about the other boys, John and Felix, who died when I was 15 and 18 years of age. Their relationship with me was memorable. What a loss I felt at their going.

There are brothers, Marcel, Dennis, and Ralph. I always referred to them as my "little brothers", and early on my feeling was one of mothering them. As we've grown up, they have influenced my life in many ways and have done much to make my life rich and easier. I’ve loved, and do love, them each very much and could write many details of our experiences together

Viola has been a great joy, and next to Mother, always my dearest friend on earth. I have been greatly blessed by having these choice brothers and a sister. Their mates are all lovely people also, and valuable additions to the family. I sorrowed at the passing of Viola's Joe ---as much for a dear brother as for Viola's husband.

I've had many enjoyable times with all my sisters-in-law. They've each taught me worthwhile concepts and given of their friendship, making me feel that we are sisters, indeed. Joe was a good friend and always opened his home and heart for me and mine, and I loved him.

Looking back, I cannot help having some regrets at what I term futility in my life. I left Utah with Ivan after Felix's death, going to Los Angeles. I first found work in a garment factory, but was laid off. I worked a goodly while for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, inspecting auto tubes. The depression of 1929 ended that job for me; and as conditions in Los Angeles worsened, I joined my family who had now moved from Utah to Camarillo, California. "Little" Marcel, also seeking his fortune in Los Angeles at the same time, was yet not ready to accept defeat caused by the depression. He stayed on a while longer. Viola's fighting spirit was no match for those hard times; and young as she was, forced to leave Los Angeles earlier; but she never gave up.

In Camarillo, we packed tomatoes, inspected lima beans, worked on crating oranges. All these jobs we were thankful to have and earning about .40 per hour. Then I went to work at the H & S Cafe for Mertens, waiting tables, where I was eventually paid $16 (sixteen dollars) a week. While I was there F. D. Roosevelt was elected President; Charles Lindbergh's baby was kidnapped and killed; and the United States Gov­ernment began collecting its first Sales Tax. So, having nowhere to go but UP, the Lauper family survived the 1929 depression.

[The rest of the account is by Viola Lauper Johnson.]

The above writings were copied from scraps and notes found in Alice's drawers. She never did complete her thoughts. Most recent date seemed to be some notes in year 1977, but many thoughts were earlier.

At this time, April 1990, Alice is fully incapacitated, residing in Laguna Honda Hospital, San Francisco. A bit of her medical history leading up to this is as follows: Alice's health and activity was great throughout most of her life. She ran a good household, an excellent housekeeper and cook, taking good care of her husband and children. Because she had such a 'way' with children and so tender with them, she even took day care of a few other children of the Ward when called upon, which included the Halliday girls, and most particularly little Johnny Storheim from the time JoAnn Storheim had to return to work until the time of Uncle Bill's increasingly serious illness. This was much appreciated by his parents.

Bill and Alice Brown, 1942
Bill and Alice Brown, marriage, 1942

After Alice’s husband, Bill, passed in January 1971, Alice did not stay long in her home alone. She was most uncomfortable being alone, so she sold the 1222 - 44th Avenue property, going to Danville to live in one of the duplexes on Gary and Wilma Danielson's property. She settled in there quite comfortably, became an active member of the Danville Ward, and shared an extra generous portion of helping with the Danielson grand­children. This she enjoyed much. The rental to Gary and Wilma was adequately fair and reasonable, and she continued there until the sad breakup of the Danielson marriage, which devastated her. She could hardly wait until sister Viola’s retirement, at which time Alice asked to return to San Francisco and to live with Viola at 3030 Noriega. This proved to be a pleasant experience until Viola was needed in Salt Lake City to help with JoAnn's boys while JoAnn returned to the University, seeking to complete her degree, late in the year 1980. During June 1981, Alice slipped and fell, tripping over some obstacle. She dislocated her shoulder -- a most unusual happening for her.

My stay in Salt Lake City extended into about three years, but much before that Alice became disenchanted with being alone so she left 3030 Noriega and want up to Seattle where Dennis and Shirley-Ann were in need of some help with baby Barbara. Shirley-Ann had been working while Dennis was on short hours with his United Airline employment (the Air Industry was going thru some real shakeups and hardships at the time); so Alice settled in to taking care of the household and children, allowing the parents to work. Son Eric/Karen and family were then living directly across the street, so Alice could enjoy many of her family members along with helping them a great deal.

June 1984 began the unfortunate 'undoing' for poor l’il sister Alice. Early one morning, Alice was coming down the stairs from the bedrooms toward the kitchen and laundry areas to commence her daily routine. The toe of her shoe caught on the wear rail of one of the upper steps of the stairway, causing her to fall and bump down several steps. She was helped to bed, and a doctor summoned. His examination pronounced severely torn ligaments in her leg and hip. After several weeks of healing, Shirley-Ann assisted Alice to a nearby beauty shop. On the sloping entrance of the shop, Alice slipped and fell. She was taken immediately to the Overland Hospital in Bellevue, Washington. Her hip was badly broken. She went into surgery that nite for hip replacement and was hospitalized a good week. Alice sent word for me to come up, which I did --remaining with her at the hospital and in her room at Dennis' home for several weeks. Late in August, I brought Alice with me as I returned to 3030 Noriega. She was unable to walk, but we managed, as she did heal and became able to get about on a walker. We exercised and did therapy each day. Toward the end of that year, she moved over to be with Wilma again. Early on it was noticeably clear that Alice was less secure in her walking. She fell a few times, but she did not definitely relate this to weakness, despite a noticeable favoring of the repaired hip.

At the turn of the year, a doctor was seeing Alice in Danville, but he did not feel surgery should be done on the now-developed hernia at her groin. He did numerous tests, which tests eventually led to more and more, until at length she was being seen by a Neurology team, even hospitalized for some very sophisticated scanning and imaging tests. She grew more and more unsteady and suffered subsequent falls with injury. When Dennis and Shirley-Ann visited on her birthday of 1987, she asked to go home with them to be cared for there. This was unsatisfactory and soon after the first of year 1988, Alice returned to 3030 with me. She had been diagnosed to have "a little known nor understood degenerative disease of the muscles and nerves", and it was made clear there was no treatment, and that it was irreversible.

I cared for Alice as best I could, and by this time she was confined in total to a mechanical wheelchair. I was able to get her up and down stairs only by gripping, moving her legs, and hooking her one hand to the rails. There were rails and poles installed now throughout the house. By mid­year I had arranged for her to be picked up by van to go to a Day Health Care Center for about four hours per day where she received therapy at first but inasmuch as she was unable to respond with progress, that soon diminished. So the care amounted to her sitting and being cared for there while she visited with other patients. This was for three days per week during most weeks.

At Christmas time, 1988, I was away for the holidays by arrangements that Dennis and family come here during my absence. When I returned, the judg­ment had been made that Alice be admitted to Laguna Honda Hospital, permanently, if it could be arranged. (I had left her in a respite arrangement at Laguna Honda for the two weeks I was to be gone, and Dennis was to simply visit and watch over things with her). I was not quite ready, in my mind, to have Alice permanently hospitalized; but that is what it came to; and was inevitable in the upcoming time.

Since Jan 1st, 1989, Alice has been permanently hospitalized and the miseries continue increasingly. None of us can imagine the frustration and torture she has gone and is going thru: completely helpless, many ailments, and increasing weakness. To compound it all, her speech has completely deteriorated. No longer can she make words - only noises. I use an alphabet chart, trying to guide her one weak hand to spell a key word or two in order to communicate. What a pity: What a sorrow!

That is where Alice resides today. I visit each day; to feed her, help with toilet and personal needs, visit (sometimes read if she is able to con­centrate), drive her about in her mechanical cart, front for her with the nurses and administration; and in all ways do what I can; but how I wish that I could do more. The brothers visit also, usually at night mealtime in order to feed her. It is wrenching for all.

April 20, 1990, Viola Lauper Johnson

[After a slow and continued decline, Alice passed away on January, 8, 1993.]

To My Sister

by Viola Lauper Johnson, January 13, 1993

Alice was just one of those quiet, aged sisters Who touched our very souls with her smile. Slowly, unpretentiously, she moved about Keeping Commandments, Attending, Serving. She is Someone's daughter. Someone's sister. Someone' wife. Someone's mother. Then, a widow, But now Dead. And few notice her passing. There is no crowded chapel; No rippled shock of grief; Just a quiet, undecorated, Mildly-celebrated DEATH. Her obituary notice will fall Or has fallen In yesterday's trash. The flowers wilt and dry. But, in the Heart of Heaven, There are kisses are her cheek, Embraces. For a cherished spirit has returned, A prized daughter is crowned, GLORIFIED. And I suspect it has been such a quiet death Because we coannot hear the celebration. ARRIVAL.

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