Life History of Viola Lauper Johnson

Chapter 11

World Outlook

Who was President of the United States when you were born? What do you know about him?

Woodrow Wilson was the Democratic nomination, having completed and run against Howard Taft, Republican and serving as 27th President - also against Theodore Roosevelt who was running on an Independent ticket. Woodrow Wilson won that campaign in the fall election of 1912, taking office early in the year 1913 as our 28th U.S. President. So Mr.Wilson was President when I was born and during my early girlhood, until the campaign of 1920. He was then unable to take an active role and was replaced by a Republican, Mr. Warren G. Harding.

Farming life, especially in that day, allowed for little spread of news. With no media, sparse contact with newspaper and magazines, and being quite young, I was not too "well posted" on current events. Because of what I have learned in my history studies, I would choose Mr. Wilson as my president during my childhood over the afore-mentioned Mr. Harding. However, I might disclose what little I remember of Mr. Harding's service, it being very, very short in terms of time. He was in office only 3 short years when he set out on a transcontinental tour, by train, to investigate some political trouble. He made a stopover here in San Francisco in an exhausted state, and died suddenly amid conflicting rumors regarding the cause of his death. He was succeeded by his Vice-president, Calvin Coolidge.

I choose to make a few additional comments regarding Pres. Woodrow Wilson. He was reported as being somewhat of an idealist. I would say he was persistent and inflexible, somewhat. It was he who led our country into World War I; and he also can be remembered as being passionate and the leading advocate of the League of Nations at the Paris Peace Conference. Germany began to spread war clouds in 1914. At the time, Wilson exerted efforts to protect our country as a neutral. A formal neutral agreement was agreed to by Germany, but with the sinking of the English liner with loss of thousands of lives including more than a hundred Americans, Wilson made serious threats. Each of Wilson's negotiations toward peace were frustrated by the German belligerence, so by April of 1918, our Congress agreed to a Declaration of War, even though the U. S. was ill prepared. The war was won before the end of year 1918, and Wilson was determined to go for the Peace Conference. But he was confronted with and frustrated by concessions that he was forced to make to other's demands. The Versailles Treaty was agreed to and signed, and then Wilson set out to gain ratification for the League. With all the strain of the conference etc. (it being a great toll on his health), he lacked the physical energy to gain the support he needed against some bitter reservations which had erupted in his disfavor. He was unable to gain ratification as well as to pursue office. He died in 1924.

(See also additional, unsavory, historical comments regarding Harding, as published in a San Francisco Chronicle retrospect in 1998. [The article will be linked once the original is found.])

What president do you remember most?

I assume that the question referred to US presidents. I do remember a good deal about Ronald Reagan. Perhaps I felt his election was so unbelievable: actor turned Governor and then President. He was a good guy though, and I could relate to many of his views, albeit, he had his troubles as well. But he did have a good philosophy and a fine voice and delivery. Certainly, I can remember our present president for nothing but sleaze, dishonesty, corruption, and evil. I cannot bear to hear Clinton's voice or see his face. Sadly, we live in s sick society today without decent leaders. Politics is full of corruption and it's difficult to find any heroes among our leadership.

Where were you and what were you doing the day President Kennedy was assassinated?

On November 23, 1963, I was employed by Cooper-Bessemer Corp., and at work in a building at 214 First Street in San Francisco. At my desk, I received a telephone call from a friend telling me that the President had been shot. I walked, unsteadily, into my boss's office, and in a shaky voice, told him of the news. He had a radio, and we soon learned of the President's death. My thoughts immediately reflected to my own husband's death just 3 months prior on that same date, August 23, 1963.

Do you have thoughts on the progress/expansion of technology in general?

Having lived many years, I've witnessed the continual replacement of primitive living by modern inventions, and find it very amazing to say the least. The high-tech of the 90's simply boggles my mind in many instances. My belief concerning the swift development and production of computer tools is that Heavenly Father had an extra hand in bringing it to widespread availability. This is His necessary means to make the genealogical program--research, processing, and Temple Ordinances--gain momentum and speed up the program. I see this miraculous instrument as a miracle of God; and I feel it will develop much further until we will receive more and more Church literature, directions, and news by this means. Also that, one day, we will be taught within our own homes by this system.

What is one invention that you could not live without and why?

I list some of my appliances as my best friends, such as sewing machine, automatic washer and dryer (I have lived almost half of my life without these laundry appliances), and my typewriter. This last item has been a close 'friend' and way of life during a major part of my existence. I wish I had not lost my agility and ability, and evidence of this loss is recognizable with these efforts at typing answers to these questions.

What do you think of the social situation/influence in the world today?

I am discouraged with our society today. Moral standards are so diminished that we scarcely have any. There is nothing forbidden. It appears there are no limits as to what can be seen, aired, talked about. I refer to this as a Sick Society. Our government and its leaders are involved in one scandal after another. Currently, our US President, Bill Clinton, is being investigated on moral charges and, moreover, might possibly be charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. It's a mess!

The entertainment and sports worlds have been corrupted in my opinion. All of them are over glamorized and grossly overpaid. Money has changed these individuals to the point of corruption. Media and movies indulge in too much sensationalism; there is nothing barred regarding sex, immorality of any kind, lewdness, crime horror and the like. Acceptable movies and moral stories are few and hard to find. Family life has been demoted.

What do you feel has been the most significant world event in your lifetime?

My first thought relates to our Latter-day Saints Church and its world-wide growth during the major part of the century in which I have lived. When I was born, there were about 400,000 members of the Church in some 60 stakes. The building of Temples came about slowly--the Salt Lake Temple completed after 40 years. In California, during the 1940's, there were no temples, making it necessary for us to travel to Salt Lake. I'm amazed at the growth that has occurred in what I deem this "temple-building era". The Lord is doing His part toward our salvation, leaving the responsibility to us as individuals. As I write in this year 1999, our present prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, has plans underway for the completion of 100 temples by the year 2000. When I think of my convert father, who left his beloved homeland of Switzerland for the Gospel's sake, I shed a tear for his loyalty to both his country as well as the Gospel. There has been a temple serving his people in Switzerland for the past several years. Today, the Church counts 2500 stakes, 330 missions, 25,550 wards, and a membership of 10,350,000+; also there are about 60,000 full-time missionaries serving in the missions throughout the world. Ah yes, I consider these events as very noteworthy!

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