Life History of Viola Lauper Johnson

Chapter 3

Growing Up

What do you know of your birth and beginnings? How was your name chosen?

I was the 8th child and 3rd daughter born to my parents. Sister Alice, the only sister I knew, was born four and one-half years before; and a second daughter, Elsie Geneva arrived only one and one-half years after Alice. Elsie, succumbed to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) within a month after her birth. I feel certain that my parents rejoiced at my arrival - to help replace the little daughter they had lost. My birthplace was always referred to as "the Barton place" because the house we lived in was owned by a man by that name. This home was in a little farming community known as Elwood, Box Elder County, Utah.

It was about 1850 when the stagecoach went from Corinne, Utah, to Montana. The road passed through a tract of land that was covered with an abundance of bunch grass that was favorable for grazing. Herds of cattle and bands of sheep grazed there in the summertime. The first permanent settlement was made in the year 1868 when a Mr. Davidsen and his family took up what was known as "Squatter Rights" on a tract of land on the bank of the Malad River. Other settlers came as homesteaders, and they began the task of building homes, farms and families. Another man, Anders P. Andersen, and his four brothers planted and harvested the first 20 acres of dryland grain in the state. From this beginning, the great dryland industry was developed in the West. The land, under cultivation, later became sugar beet cropping. In 1918, a branch railroad was built from the U & I Sugar Factory to Elwood. In 1922-23, the Elwood Drainage District tilled a large portion of the land and brought even more ground under cultivation. But my family had moved on from the area some years before.

It was in 1900 that a ward of the Latter-day Saints Church was established there, and called the Manila Ward; however, it was changed in 1904 to the Elwood Ward so that it would have the same name as the post office which had been established in 1898. During the years around 1913 - the year that I was born - activity in this community was somewhat as follows: In spring, summer, and fall the ground was cultivated, planted and harvested. In the winter, wagons and sleighs were used to harvest ducks and geese. Nothing was wasted - the meat was eaten, and the feathers made pillows and mattresses. Livestock was tended, cows milked, and eggs gathered on a regular daily basis. There was always much work to be done, but friends and neighbors gathered together often. The ladies "quilting bees" not only produced warm quilts, but proved an enjoyable social occasion. A band of music furnished much entertainment for dances etc., and it was headed by a. Mr. K. H. Fridal on his violin. Incidentally, his wife was the only community doctor, and was well known by my parents. She, no doubt, appeared at some time during delivery or the early period of my life.

As to my chosen name, Viola. Emma - My mother was born in a Danish town called Vejle, Vejle County, Denmark. She, as well as all immigrants that I've known, was seriously proud of and loyal to her native country. It has been my belief, born out by some indefinite remarks, that inasmuch as those siblings who preceded me were given names of ancestors or names related to my parent's native countries, that a name bearing close resemblance to my mother's place of birth, followed by her own given name, was chosen for me.

How did you like your position in the family?

My 'position' in the family line-up was not all that significant. I was number 8 --- one little girl out of three in a family of 10 children - 7 brothers. I've always felt that we each had an important place, even though we were a houseful; but I am assured that we were wanted and welcomed. Only one of my sisters, Alice, survived infancy, so we were special in being a female minority. Alice was always a close friend to my mother and father. Serge, being the oldest, was regarded as 'the man' and much was always expected from him. Ralph, the #10 child, was Mother's 'baby'. Each of the rest of us felt much love and a great deal of nurturing, especially from Mother. We were sources of much pride and gratitude from our father.

Were you taught as a child to share? What are your thoughts on sharing in a family etc.?

Sharing was an indelible lesson in the lives of us children. It was a MUST. Inasmuch as we had so very little, it was ever necessary to make things go around. Our mother was extremely fair and did her best to 'even' things in all situations; but very often, the only way for all of us to be included was to SHARE. This trait has been imbedded as part of my nature; and I sincerely believe the lesson could and should be applied in all our contacts and situations i.e. church and world.

Describe your favorite childhood games.

An early rag doll (sock stuffed and crafted by my mother) was replaced when I was about 9 or 10 years old by my first beloved doll which I lovingly enjoyed and kept 'forever'. I also loved to play paper dolls by cutting pictures of people from catalog and then fashioning clothing by cutting clothes from other pictures. Indoor games were Mill (played with buttons), Hide the Thimble and Guessing games. Later, when we acquired a game board, we played Checkers and all games associated with the board. Outdoor games included Tag, Races, Farmer in the Dell, Dare Base, and Run Sheep Run. Later I learned to play baseball and with a hard ball. My fingers suffered sprains and injuries which have lasted throughout the years. Simple made-up games were common; and brother Marc and I did a lot of day dreaming, especially while out in the woodsy areas herding the cows.

Did you have a favorite toy as a child? What memories are connected with this toy?

Mother managed to make rag dolls for my sister Alice and me, which we loved until a time when we each obtained a really nice doll. We each name and placed tender care with our dolls. They became even more special when our mother managed to stay up to a late hour in order to sew some doll clothes for us. We really made a project of playing dolls.

Between ages five and ten, what was your favorite activity?

This might be a repeat of an earlier statement where I told of my problems with severe eczema, which lasted until almost age six. It had been necessary to shave my head in order to adequately medicate my bald head along with my entire body. I had a rag doll made from a stocking, stuffed and crafted by my mother. At age six, my hair was growing back into thick, blonde tresses, with a strong tendency for curl. I was a little first grader and walked to school with my brother Marc who was one and one-half years older. The winter of my first school year, 1919, was very severe. We had almost three miles to walk. The drifts were as high as the tops of the fence posts. We walked on top of these, trudging along as best we could. On one occasion, I suffered gravely frozen hands, almost losing some of my fingers. Through prayer, a miracle saved them, with deformity to some, more particularly my thumbs. Being a school girl, I learned the popular games played at recess in every school, which was a favored activity. I learned additional games and folk dances while attending Primary (church) after school. But always, there was home play with my siblings and occasionally a neighbor friend. To play with the farm animals was fun, to say nothing of our pony rides.

Tell about any pets you had as a child.

We always had a dog, as well as cats, on the farm. These were outdoor animals and were essential, yet loved by us youngsters. Collie was a favorite dog who lived a long life and was beloved by all. She was smart and served us in many ways. The families of kittens were always prolific, and we made the most of the little kits as long as we were allowed to keep them. One sweet little one was following me as I entered the house through a screen door which had a strong spring to close the door swiftly. I was not watching, and the kitten got only its little head inside before the door closed. A broken neck resulted, along with a broken heart in this little girl. A similar accident occurred with a little chick ( a pet biddie of Alice's). Its little body was also caught in a swift closing screen door. We never had pets inside the house.

What was your favorite book as a child?

It would have to be the story of Heidi and her travails with her sweet grandfather, with Clara who was suffering a fatal illness, and with the little goatherder, Peter. A very sweet story.

Describe a smell from your childhood. What and where? What does it bring to mind?

I think of the smell of ripe alfalfa growing in the fields. This smell struck a note of terror, fearing that some or one of my cows, from those I was commissioned to herd day in and day out, was into trouble. If the cows got whiffs of the wonderful hay, they could easily be tempted to stray and eat - causing them to become bloated, a condition that most often was fatal.

The smell of freshly baked bread was a welcome fragrance all throughout childhood. It brought home, Mother, comfort, nourishment and love to mind.

I also have a vivid recall of the smell of sauerkraut and salt pork cooking. My father would have preserved these items and Mother would cook them as our sustenance for the day. I would be walking the several miles from the bus stop towards home ( the bus having brought us from Delta High School). Hungry, cold, and weary, that fragrance was welcome (even though I confess that I was no champion for those foods and, since having left those surroundings, seldom eat them).

Moving from Northern to Central Utah (additional memories from 2005)

Our father had been attracted to announcements of successful production and sale of sugar beets in Millard County area of Utah. [In 1917] He sold our homestead property in Penrose, Box Elder county, Utah, to invest in a rather large acreage of farm land in the small farming community of Sugarville [north of Delta]. We eventually suffered foreclosure there due to a serious alkalinization of the soil brought on by irrigation problems, together with blight (a disease of plants), and later, repeated early frosts which froze our promising crops of seed alfalfa; one surprising failure after another.

Did it snow where you grew up? Tell how you remember it.

Northern Utah is known for very frigid, icy, and snowy winters. I grew up knowing full well the appearance of seasons. Starting in 1918 and continuing into the 1920's, there were a series of unusually snowy winters. We were living at Sugarville in Millard County when the snow drifts piled twice my height and did not thaw for weeks, even months. That was the year [1919] my hands were frozen. (See Frozen on way to School) Later, during World War II, when we were transferred to Chicago, Illinois, I experienced more serious winters. I can still fell that icy atmosphere, making it difficult to breathe; and the dangerous ice and snow underfoot. The seasons were extremely harsh.

Tell about a favorite dress or outfit that you had as a child.

I was about eight years old. My parents were sometimes able to outfit us with something new for the 24th of July celebration. That year, my dress was a light blue print voile, the white collar had a blue ribbon threaded to eyelets, and I had a ribbon pom-pom arrangement for my head and hair. The pom-poms fit over each ear with a wide band of ribbon between and across my upper brow, elastic at the back under my hair.

Did you participate in Scouts, Campfire or similar organizations?

There was no opportunity for such as these. I did enjoy my Church Primary associations and the sweet motherly teachers who spent time with me there. When in the last years as a Primary girl, I was asked to direct the group singing of our organization. My close friend, Bessie Gledhill, could play the piano somewhat. We were quite a team!

Tell of a favorite friend and some things you did together.

I have already referred to Bessie Gledhill with whom I was very close up until her family moved from the area sometime about our sixth grade period. Previous to her, there was Ada Remington, whose farm life background very closely resembled mine. During the ages of six to eight, the only neighbors who had children and to whom we had access was Ada's family. There were children in that large family whose ages almost corresponded with those in my family. Ada was nearest to my age, and we would get together when opportunity permitted to make 'mud pies' and other items resembling food. Then we would leave these 'food items' in the hot sun to dry out and become cake-like. We even pretended to play store, using these dirt objects which we'd made. We also went wading in the irrigation ditches, holding high our gingham dresses to keep from getting wet (however, to go about with the hems dripping was no big thing). We would take turns visiting at each others home on Sundays, but I preferred her to come to my home, often telling my mother to refuse my request to go to other homes. Ours was a very primitive and downright poor home, but I loved being there, close to our mother, the best of all. When I did go to her home, I recall that a 'treat' we would receive was a slice of bread on a plate with some thin syrup poured over it. Her mom would just boil some sugar in water for a short time and pour it over the slice. Mmmm. Ada's father was killed in an industrial accident, and her mother had to move, taking her brood of young urchins, to another Utah area to be near a brother and his family.

What was your Saturday activity as a child?

Helping Mother with the household chores i.e. carrying water in and out, gathering wood chips, along with larger pieces for the fire, sorting clothing for Sunday wear, cleaning and polishing all shoes were my Saturday chores. I also had to endure my shampoo and probably rags put in my hair for curls.

Other Family Chores and Activities (additional memories written in 2005)
Before we had an artesian well, I had to pump water. (See Water).
Another chore was to release the cows each day for grazing---really searching for food wherever. I took the herd of cows each day and stayed with them in remote areas. On rare occasions, when my brother Marc was allowed away from more heavy farm jobs, he would accompany me. At rare and opportune times, we were able to have a little respite if we could find a sage brush bush large enough to provide some shade. We would sit or lie for a brief time where Marc would relate his intentions to someday leave the farm to become a successful merchant, and to drive a purple vehicle. Marc was a soul mate to me and he really "taught me to Dream". We enjoyed a wonderful relationship throughout our lives together. Fortunately, some of Marc's dreams really materialized. He did become a successful merchant with much work, hardship, and failures. He did have a Cadillac car (although not purple); he did have a very suitable vehicle during his mature life.

Several of my brothers engaged in wild animal trapping as a way to make a little money. They sold the pelts/skins to traders who would come by. There were times when each of the brothers were needed for farm chores and unable to "check" on their traps. I was engaged to do that on too many occasions. I would ride a pony, with directions to each trap, where I was to note if the trap had caught a wild animal (mostly coyotes, although sometimes badgers, rabbits, or even skunks were caught. I was to report if the trap had been disturbed in anyway. I thought this was an odd experience for a little girl, but I did as I was told. I became a very good horseback rider, even riding bareback most of the time.

Did you have a bicycle as a child?

No, I did not; however, one Christmas, with major help from the older brothers who were now working away from home, it was arranged that a shining Sears Roebuck bicycle would arrive for my brother Marcel. What a thrill!! He had diligently prayed for it. He was so proud to own and ride it. He let me learn, which I did with little difficulty, and I was able to use it for much of my enjoyment as well as he. It lasted a good while.

Where and how did your family shop for clothes, groceries, etc.?

While living on the farm, there was only one country store for food, hardware, elementary essentials. We often exchanged our dairy products, i.e. cream, butter and eggs to pay for foodstuffs. Other sources might include quantities of flour, sugar, and grain products which Father would bring from the mills, sometimes in exchange for his harvest (when there was one). Also, Father and the boys would make long treks into fruit-growing areas, when appropriate, to buy bushels of apples, potatoes, and such to be stored in a homemade pit, which provided storage for such. Fresh fruits were sometimes peddled by growers coming in from the areas where they were produced.

Clothing came from the Sears Roebuck catalog, and hand-me-downs wherever and whenever such was available. Mother would sew some articles (staying up all night to do so) when and if she could obtain some yardage. [See also: Sewing]

Did just you ever go shopping with your father? Tell about the experience.

We lived on a farm, ten long miles from the nearest town of Delta, which was a small community itself with perhaps one mercantile store. Travel was difficult, and I was never there for "shopping" at all. The most I could say was an experience of going to our country store for bare provisions or trade with some of our produce or eggs. Those were primitive circumstances - we were very poor. None of you could really relate!

Did you help with yard work as a child?

Indeed I did. There was a necessity for all of us to share responsibility for hoeing, weeding, watering, et al. A garden, a large one, was a needed item, requiring work both during the planting, growing season and the harvesting periods.

What kind of sports did you play, did you watch, did you like when younger? And now?

As a girl, I was fairly good at baseball and liked it very much. Ironically, we had only a hard baseball to play with - even us girls ( no nice large soft ball). Consequently, I have lived my life with several distorted fingers. First, because my fingers were frozen as a 6-year-old and then the repeated injuries to my fingers as I would catch hard balls (bumping hard on the end of fingers). During marriage, I became an enthusiastic sports fan of various sports. My husband was a participant in many. I am, to this day, very fond of watching TV football, basketball, tennis and golf and always the Olympic Games, as well as horse racing. Sports are good company for me. I can listen when not sitting & watching.

Tell the words of a song from your childhood. What memories does it bring?

During my early elementary school years, I was fortunate in having good teachers - one was a gifted lady by the name of Defa Neeley. She imparted some valuable training regarding music, composers, and, with the use of her Victorola and records, even included some of the classics. She would write the words to songs on the blackboard, one being "Santa Lucia", which I can still recall.

As for songs I learned in Primary, they all were appreciated and fun for me. Too many are still choice and rich in my memory. "Give Said the Little Stream" and "Onward Christian Soldiers" are two that come to my memory easily.

Any experiences with outhouses?

Oh, you can be certain of that. I grew up on a farm as just one of a large, poor family. We knew of no household conveniences. I often reflect on the miracles that I have seen: the developments made, the inventions born, and wonderful conveniences that have come into my life. Our house holding included no rugs on the floor (only bare, sometimes slivery wood), much of the time no window curtains, no electricity (only coal oil lamps), and eventually, a wonderful gas/air lamp which burned mantles. There was a wood burning cook stove, also a wood and sagebrush-burning heater which heated only a small radius of the one living room, nothing to the bedroom. There was no washing machine - NO appliances of any kind. Most important and most unforgettable, there was NO INDOOR PLUMBING of any kind, NO WATER except to carry it from a distance until Father had an artesian well dug to produce cold, clear water. This water was so delicious that I can never forget it. (See Water.) He and the brothers created a board sign which hung over the barn. It read "BONNE EAU" Ranch. Those are French words for Good Water Ranch, and indeed it was.

One word about our outhouses. Usually, Father would build a two-holer, which helped somewhat while we were young children; these two-holers also induced "sociability".

What is your attitude about Halloween?

As children, we had no participation in events on October 31. Some of the grownups played pranks in and around the farming communities, some of which were somewhat bizarre. As to celebrations today, I go along with any safe, sane, and innocent pleasure for the children; however, I feel that Halloween has reached outrageous proportions - much as many other holidays have become.

Do you have a special Thanksgiving memory?

Fall was a time of year when we still had provisions from our harvest. There would be apples, root vegetables, some melons and squash still holding up in the storage 'pit' (an improvised cooler place preserving such foods). The poultry yard would usually produce a turkey, or at least some chickens, so the fact is, there was usually more food to be had than later when the storage produced not much more than pork in a salt barrel, cabbage reduced to sauerkraut, no fruit and no veggies. But Thanksgiving was a true feast day--even in our home; and Momma would make wonderful pumpkin and apples pies, along with the other usual good fare. We made it last as long as possible.

Describe getting a Christmas tree with your family as a child.

Some one of my brothers would go alone, or with my father, into the cedar area many miles to the north of our farm to cut posts for selling; and near Christmas time, some of them would select a pine tree among the working area and bring for our holiday enjoyment. I remember it was always fresh, ever so green, and the fragrance was so wonderful. We had a few was candles which we'd burn for a limited time each year so as to make them last. They were pretty in different colors, about six inches long, about as thick as a marking pen, or two pencils together in size of circumference. They would be inserted in some very old fashioned candle holders made of tin with a spring, resembling a clothes pin, making them possible to clamp on to a limb and hold the candle upright. At an appointed time, we would gather 'round to watch the lit candles for a thrilling moment or two; but they would have to be extinguished soon for there was no way they could be placed on the tree in a manner to make them fire-safe. Always a twig would draw near the flame. The only other decor would be popcorn popped in such a primitive way that it's difficult to describe. The presents for our large group were extremely hard to come by; but we were happy, enjoying a small portion of hard candy and hard shelled nuts.

Describe a childhood Christmas.

I feel that I have already done this, but one thing of which you can be sure, ours was a very special but different Christmas in my early years. It meant some scrambling, skimping and juggling for my parents to apportion a few dollars toward an order from the Sears Roebuck catalog which might include something for each of us--many times a toy to be shared by two or three of us - such as a steam engine set to be shared by my three brothers: Marc, Dennis & Ralph. But that was OK. The steam engines were grand and a magic toy. So was the Sandy Andy set another year--a combination for several of us. A doll was a 'life-time' item for each of Alice and me. Mother would also sit up most of the night during the days before holidays, doing her best to construct a stuffed animal--usually a horse for the boys--and a new doll dress for Alice and me. On Christmas eve, after the chores were finished, the boys gathered heavy tools from the shop outside. Normally we owned but one hammer, so any heavy wrench or tool was brought, for there needed to be something for each individual to crack the very few nuts-in-a-shell that Mother had apportioned around the table along with a few counted out pieces of hard candy. These were real treats, and we laughed and sang and felt rich. For we WERE!!

Describe a childhood birthday.

Our mother never let any of our birthdays pass unnoticed. That is not to say that there were parties or gifts or celebrations as the next generations would know. But, as I've mentioned before, she always mixed up a batch of her special sugar cookies. At least five of us would be gathered around the table with a lump of dough - our very own - to be rolled out as best we could with a bottle in place of a rolling pin. She hoarded a few cookie cutters of children variety, and these were passed among us as we took turn cutting figures, using every smidgen of dough possible. Placed on the baking pan, we each carefully noted our own boundaries so that when baked, we could identify which ones were ours. How we learned to treasure and make these goodies last into the days that followed. What fun!! That was a hallowed cookie dough recipe, as well as the experience. [See also: 90th Birthday]

Describe any anniversaries, celebrations, gifts, trips, etc. you experienced as a child.

Celebrations during my childhood were uncommon. We enjoyed very humble and 'homespun' Christmas celebrations (but with much LOVE and caring among us all). Likewise, the 24h of July was observed in primitive ways. Being free of daily work on the farm and with only limited chores required, we were able to' enjoy playing house, having homemade root beer, and maybe homemade ice cream as special treats. Our birthdays were always remembered. Our mother would manage to make a lump of her sugar cookie dough, then divide the lump among us five younger children, to roll and cut out our own cookies. She would bake them for us and manage to keep our few cookies separate. These we hoarded, savored, and enjoyed. We each looked forward to birthdays!

There were no trips. Gifts were minimal or unexpected. Now in my latter days, I receive so many gifts, tokens and luxurious gifts that I can scarcely enjoy for feeling inadequate or somewhat guilty - remembering my early days and life with my parents.

Did your family have unique celebrations? Upon what occasions?

Pioneer Day, July 24th, was an annual holiday always observed by my family - and one on which no field labor was required. Only the minimum necessary barnyard chores had to be done. Father seemed to always be able to come up with a small amount of spending money for each, albeit for us smaller ones, it might be only 50 cents. There was always an organized, well-planned, all-day celebration at the bowery, a makeshift shaded place with seats and tables and certain comforts, arranged on the Church lot near the Chapel. A committee arranged for booths to sell chances on games, foods were sold, and a rodeo along with races took place. It was a fun day, looked forward to each year.

Another important occasion, which was inaugurated and annually observed, but only since my Father's death, is Little Christmas Eve. Traditionally, in mother's land of Denmark, a Little Christmas Eve is observed on December 23rd, its purpose is for Family togetherness, with absence of any public or commercial doings. For years, to honor our mother and for pure enjoyment, we've made an effort to gather on this night. We rotate hostessing among the families, making it a feast, program, great visiting and always including a fully dressed-up Santa Claus. There has also been many occasions of celebrations on either of my parent's birthdays.

For the past thirty years plus, we have gathered each summer, on July 4th or thereabouts, for a LAUPER FAMILY REUNION. Here again, the responsibility for choosing location and hosting is rotated among the family members. Descendants of the original first generation are now the ones to do the arranging.

Tell about some of your neighbors as a child or adult.

During some early years on the farm at Sugarville, Millard County, there was a young couple on a nearby farm, close enough that as a six year old I could walk to their home. During the summer, the young woman was to deliver a child, and I had been asked to go daily for a short, or sometimes more lengthy, period to watch over her first-born, a toddler. I felt somewhat like a 'career girl' as I wandered over to her place and chased after and guarded the little boy. She, in her final stages of pregnancy, was very miserable. One day I came from outside to hear her groaning and crying in a panic way. She called me to bring a pan, and she delivered that infant right there in the kitchen - with all the mess etc. I was so startled and afraid. Of course, I was told to run for her husband in the fields. I got him, and I was promptly dismissed to go home, to be replaced by my mother who went to render aid as best she could.

Do you recall any singular event or happening in your neighborhood while growing up?

The first event that comes to mind is that I attended my first-ever funeral when but a child of about 10 or 11 years. I went to the Ward chapel with my father and sat completely mystified by the goings on; i.e. the grieving family will forever remain a picture in my mind, that which was said in the sermons, the gravity of it all. This incident was one involving a young teen-age boy who had been thrown from his horse, the stirrup of his saddle held fast to one of his shoes, and he was dragged to his death. A very say loss and waste of youth.

Another incident involves our quarantine during an epidemic of whooping cough, and later measles. A sign was put on our door and we were isolated from the Relief Society sisters who attempted to make a goodwill call. We 5 younger children were all very ill and all at once. Even our dear mother developed a serious "pink eye" infection during this time.

Tell about some of the most notable people in your home town.

First, I will select from my childhood days. Heaven smiled on us 'peasant-type-people' in sending us, for the most part, people who were dedicated and reasonably qualified teachers. My school teachers were each and all notable in some way; but outstanding was a married couple who came to my small country school located in the farming area called Sugarville in Millard County, Utah. The small school building consisted of two rooms - one room where classes for grades 1 through 4 were conducted. The other room was designated for grades 5 through 8, at which time the students were graduated from this elementary school and were on their own to find ways to proceed to a high school, the nearest being Delta High, some ten miles distant.

While in the upper grades, I was most fortunate in having the husband of this married couple who came to serve in both rooms. Mr. Neeley was inspired, I felt, to be able to relate to each of us urchins. He was strict but patient while he emphasized a vast variety of fundamental truths. He also taught us ethics, good sportsmanship and team work on the primitive ball ground--among other interesting vital items of learning. Mrs. Neeley taught the lower grades, but collaborated with her husband in spending sufficient time with the older grades to bring an abundance of culture through music by phonograph records, singing, and even dancing. I have never forgotten the music of some of the classics exposed to us through records along with the names of their composers and their histories. These things, along with bits and pieces of folk dancing--ah, those are choice memories of choice people.

(See also Notables in current hometown.)

Did you live with other family members (Aunts, grandparents, etc.) while growing up?

No, I did not; however, during married life, we frequently--and at times for lengthy stints--had family members living with us. My mother's permanent home was with us; and fortunately, my good husband always accepted her and made her welcome. My sister Alice, and children, were with us when her husband was assigned to lengthy job stints overseas and distant states. Brother Ralph and family moved in with us for a period during a time of transition for them. And other members of the Johnson family came occasionally, for weeks and months at a time--sometimes brought about by military service--or looking for work, or changing jobs and the like. As I look back, I cannot visualize how we often crowded in so many, but we were used to it then. Now we would feel much different about it all. We've all grown used to having more space. But Families are important!!

Tell about your first automobile.

During the late 20's, on one of my brother Ivan's trips home to the farm, he purchased a Model T Ford, which he used for the length of time that he remained home, and then left it for the use of the family. I learned to drive at age 11 years, not that I had much opportunity to drive about. This vehicle was used until it literally fell apart, piece by piece, undergoing many major and smaller repairs. Without tires, it was sometimes driven on the rim. Yet, it carried some of us on our trek when we moved to California in the year of 1929.

The first auto of my own was a Chevrolet in the year 1943.

Tell about your early romances.

My first thought includes a young man by the name of Searle Johnson (no less). He was semi­active in the Ventura Branch, were I was active. I was fond of him, but his indifference toward the branch's activities was disappointing. At the same time, I did spend all too much time with fellow workers of the Hickey Brothers establishment where I worked as bookkeeper. They were all non-members and worldly, which brought much concern at home and especially to my mother.

I overlooked an earlier relationship with a non-member young man, Jimmy, who brought gifts and showed too much attention. It was he with whom I had a date on the night of my graduation from high school. As we sat in a small eatery to enjoy chit chat (I was leaving the next day for Los Angeles to begin my college career), he managed to spill coffee which splashed upon my treasured new blue dress. Neither the dress nor the relationship amounted to much following that event.

I'll end by stating that the only REAL romance I had was with my Joe. (See Spouse and Family

Come Again!

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