The Story of My Life
By Mabel Law Atkinson
- 1 Birth and Preschool
- 2 Early Schooling
- 3 Baptism
- 4 Logan
- 5 Dayton, Idaho
- 6 Erline, Melvin, Joyce
- 7 More Education at Brigham Young College, Logan
- 8 Earl's Mission to California
- 9 Genealogical Research
- 10 Sherwin
- 11 Life in Dayton
- 12 Woodcroft Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado
- 13 Challenges
- 14 Frances' Winning Essay
- 15 Logan
- 16 Vacation to Washington State
- 17 Christmas 1956
- 18 Writing and Me
- 19 My Philosophy
Birth and Preschool
I was born at 3:30 in the afternoon of Tuesday, November 17, at Avon, Cache County, Utah. I was the sixth in a family of ten children. My twin sister, Myrtle, was born three and one half hours before I was. She weighed six and one half pounds while I weighed eight. When I was born I was apparently lifeless, but Mother knew I would live, for when she was blessed in the Temple she was promised that her increase would live. Mother noticed that the word increase and not child was used, yet it never entered her mind she would have twins. In those times if a woman approaching motherhood desired and was worthy, she could be washed and anointed and blessed by women set apart for that work in the Temple. Father anointed me with holy consecrated oil, then sealed the anointing. As he was administering to me, he felt impressed to run the oil along my spine and did so. In the administration he promised me by the power of the Priesthood that I should live and be a Mother in Israel. That promise has been fulfilled, for I am now a mother of five, two boys and three girls.
I was blessed and given a name when eight days old at home by my father, Francis Joseph Law, and again in Fast and Testimony Meeting in the Avon Ward meeting house, where Father again gave the promise that I should be a mother in Israel.
I do not remember much that happened during the next few years. But I do remember I felt secure and wanted and loved by my family. I remember how tickled I was over every new baby that came to our home. Whenever we children saw Mrs. Gibbs coming to our home we knew a new baby was sure to come soon, for she was the midwife who assisted at the birth of most of us. She would stay in our home for a few days, taking care of Mother and the baby. I distinctly remember the day the last of us ten was born. The midwife and Father were upstairs with Mother, the older girls were washing--on the board--and Myrtle and I were playing catch ball back of the house. We improvised a song as we threw and caught the ball, giving an extra skip and jump in between to release a little of the joy that we felt bottled up inside us. We were wearing black and white checked gingham dresses I recall, getting plenty short on us, for we were long-legged girls of ten. How we laughed for sheer joy as we wondered which one of us the new baby would like best. When the little sister, for such she proved to be, preferred Myrtle I felt badly indeed. I never could understand how such a tiny (10 lbs.) little red-faced mite of humanity could tell the difference. When she would cry at night, I would get up quietly so as not to wake Myrtle, and get the baby and walk the floor with her, but she would not quit crying until she was in Myrtle's arms. To compensate, I babied Orville, the next to the baby, a husky cure little boy of past two.
I also remember having beautiful little new dresses for every Fourth of July, and generally a new Christmas dress also, all made by Mother with the inside looking almost as neat as the outside. I can never forget the wonderful little green coats which Mother gave to another set of twin girls when we outgrew them, and of having the most wonderful little red shoes and stockings, and getting coal oil on them on Sunday morning by being disobedient. I remember each birthday, a gift would be by our plates at the table, Father's usually being a quarter hidden under the plates, which were turned over when the table was set in those days.
My schooling commenced at Avon, Utah, September 1903, when I was nearly six years old. School was held in the meeting house, and one teacher taught all eight grades. A Mr. Seamons was my first teacher--in the Beginners Grade. I remember I liked school always, and liked every teacher. Much credit for this was due to home influence. I can still remember reading, "Kitty, Kitty, Come Kitty, Come and see Ben," etc., so fast that the teacher laughed. I recall how important I felt the day I wore a new red percale or calico dress to school. Myrtle was ill and at home. I happened to be a little late and thought all eyes were centered on me and my new dress when I entered and walked down the aisle to my seat. That is one of the few times I actually felt my ego. With all eight grades, we first graders or Beginners I should say, were idle much of the time. I remember sitting with my chin cupped in my hands, elbows on desk, sort of lazily daydreaming--a vague discontent felt even then. My twin and I always led the class. Our marks excelled, due to our hereditary powers and the help and encouragement we received at home, I suppose. I remember the chagrin I felt when the teacher put our arithmetic problem on the board--three rows of 1's, three in a row--and asked us to go to the board and solve it. I walked up very sure of myself and drew a line beneath them ready to add. Below the first row of 1's to the left I put a 3; below the second row another 3, and below the third row, another three: Proudly I walked to my seat to find Myrtle giggling. (We had double desks, and we sat together.) The teacher asked her to solve the problem. She ran up, took the ruler, pointed to each 1, and as she did said aloud, "1, 2, 3," (then went to the next row) "4, 5, 6," (then to the next row) "7,8,9--The answer is nine." "Correct" said the teacher, Mr. Seamons. The sting was taken from my defeat when the teacher remarked I was ahead of the class and adding by columns, which he hadn't taken up. Mother had had me doing different things at home even before school started. We would have pencil and paper at the table while she was making pie or cookies, and she would help us do anything we desired to do. She used to teach my shall ones the same way, and how delightful a pleasure it was to them!
I well remember how inferior I felt the time I saw Myrtle's name in print, in the paper, with the statement that she had the best marks of any pupil in the Avon school. She had only beat me a very little, but I resolved right then and there, that I would beat her sometime--and I did by the same infinitesimal margin. Always my twin has been and is a beacon light leading me upward to my best endeavor, even when discouraged.
I was baptized Tuesday, November 21, 1905, when I was eight years, four days old. I was baptized with my twin in the Logan Temple by William Seamons and confirmed by Thomas Morgan (both of us baptized by the same and confirmed likewise). We were always together and always dressed alike, and had toys alike, only sometimes perhaps our dolls' hair would be different color. Our hair was always combed alike, and we wore the same kinds of ribbons, always slept together and sat side by side at the table.
Father and Mother had all their children baptized in the Temple as near their birthdays as possible.
The morning of the 21st was snowy and blizzardy. I can still see the snow falling in thick flakes as we started out for Logan. Mother couldn't be persuaded to stay home, for she said she felt all would be well and that it was too important a day to be put off. She understood the gospel and taught it to her children. I remember how she explained to us that after we were eight years old, we must be baptized to be members of the Church. The Sunday before we were baptized she instructed us not to take the sacrament because in a way we were non-members. How glad we were to be baptized so we could partake of the bread and water again. (This is not emphasized today as then, at least we do not hear much about it.) So the horse was hitched to the little black-topped buggy, and Mama, Myrtle, Reuben and I started out for Logan. Reuben was the baby only two, and was to be blessed for his health in the Temple. (More of this in "Faith Promoting Experiences.") We had fifteen miles to go. Stella, my sister, carried Reuben to the buggy and said, "Mama, it's wicked to take a baby out in a storm like this." But Mother was not to be daunted, so we started. One of us (I can't remember which) was sitting on the little red chair in front of the seat, with other one and Reuben in the seat with Mother, with the lap robe fastened up to the buggy to keep the snow off all of us but Mother, and she was driving. The storm continued for a little while, but by the time we reached Paradise, three miles away, the snow quit falling, the sun came out, and the day was calm, clear and lovely.
My sister Nomah, the oldest of the children, was attending the Brigham Young College in Logan, and I remember when we got to her room, we found new dolls waiting for us as her birthday present--dolls with curly golden hair, eyes that would go to sleep, and wearing new blue print dresses with little ruffles which she herself had made. Was there ever such a memorable birthday!
Myrtle and I were baptized in beautiful new white dresses made especially for the occasion--made with revers around the round yoke made with insertion and pin tucks, lace edging the revere, and the long full sleeves gathered above the wrist. In memory I can still see those little dresses, and remember the feeling I had that I must be as beautiful as possible, inside and out, have a clean beautiful spirit or soul clothed beautifully. That dress was my next summer's dress, and each time I wore it I thought of the beautiful Temple with its white font and golden oxen. I recall the men in the Temple asked us why we were being baptized and we told them. This was at the font just before we were baptized. We had been taught this at home, and our baptism was a wonderful, sacred blessing to make us members of the only true Church and forgive us of our sins. From then on we would have to answer for whatever sins we committed. The love of God was so implanted in our young hearts that it has never seemed a task but a privilege to serve Him.
The fall before I was thirteen, Papa (we always called him that, sometimes even after we were married, but tried to change to Father then) bought a home in Logan in order to better educate his children. So after that we spent each winter in Logan and returned to the ranch in Avon for the summer. Our Avon home close to the school house was sold to Edward Knowles in order to get money to purchase the Logan home. I enjoyed my school work in Logan after I got used to the routine the first year, but was always glad to get back to the ranch in the spring. Myrtle and I even enjoyed cleaning the house before Mother and the rest came back. Darling, understanding Mother! How she would praise her twin girls when she saw each shining room! No other place can be to me quite what that loved old ranch was: welcoming red brick house, trees, orchard, mountains, river, fields of grain and hay, meadows, cows, baby calves, horses, colts, chickens, pigs, cats, a dog, birds, sunsets, flowers, beauty everywhere! The very happiest memories of my youth and young womanhood are woven about our ranch home. Dear old unselfish Father! He stayed alone at the ranch in winters to milk the cows and feed the animals, chickens, etc., so that Mother could be with us children while we were attending high school and college. We children were the first ones to go to high school and college from Avon. Some told Father he was very foolish to sacrifice so much, but he always smiled and said the knew what he was doing, that he wanted his children to get the education denied him. Mother felt the same way. Father usually came over to be with us on Sundays, and Mother sent bread and other food she had prepared back with him as well as clean clothes. I remember the loaves of bread she used to bake and pies! It was hard for Mother too to have the care of the children alone in winter, but she had the companionship of her boys and girls and neighbors, while Father had only himself (very good company to be in I am sure, but rather lonely) and memories and hopes. This sacrifice was all unselfishly given for us his children. Surely we should honor him and hold him in loving remembrance, and we do.
We younger children attended the Woodruff School in Logan. It was not long until Myrtle and I were given a special promotion from Seventh B to Seventh A. A Mr. Sorenson was our teacher.
We graduated from the Eighth Grade in January 1912, but did not receive our diplomas until the exercises the next spring. We were among those who, having the best marks, tried out for the valedictory. We were not as good in delivery as Ruby Osmond, who won out in the contest, which consisted of reading a short selection before all the teachers of the school. I recall the first words of that selection yet:
His mother named him William and she named him better than she knew. He was just such a boy as one would expect to see bearing a heroic name. He had wide wondering eyes and ears, and freckles, such a great blotch of them across the bridge of his snub nose that the boys called him mealy; and Mealy Jones he was to the end.
I was so frightened I found it hard to do my best. Our graduation dresses were made by our sister Stella and Mother from beautiful wide Swiss embroidery, hemmed and hemstitched below the embroidery, which reached almost the entire width of the skirt. Myrtle and I sang alto in the songs at our graduation exercises, and the next summer in Avon we sang one of the songs as a duet, Myrtle singing the alto and I the soprano. How I wish I had a recording of our song! It would be something to build my ego about my singing I am sure.
The next September we commenced our high school work at the Brigham Young College in Logan, taking a Normal course as we intended to be school teachers. We graduated from the Preparatory Normal Course of the Brigham Young College June 1, 1916. At the same time Joseph received his diploma from the Advanced Normal Course. We had our pictures taken together.
At the B.Y.C. the faculty said Myrtle and I were very brilliant students. In fact, some members of the faculty said we were the smartest students that had ever attended the school. (I am not saying this in a boastful way, but with a feeling of humility and thankfulness to God and my progenitors for my inheritance.) I was valedictorian of the class of 1916. Myrtle's and my term grades were the same (we both had 55 A's and 5 B's in our high school grades), so the professors had to go to our monthly reports to find any difference. The only difference they found was that Myrtle got a B plus one month in Physics and I received an A-. I must confess I was happy to know I had evened up the score with her for placing above me those years before. Myrtle was as thrilled as could be that I was to give the valedictory and not one bit jealous. I decided to give a talk on "The Greatest of All Is the Servant of All." Karl Wood and Prof. Hickman helped me with my material, then Mrs. Hinckley of the English Department went through it, and last of all I was trained in delivery under Prof. Robinson for over two weeks. That short time of intensive training did me more good than my entire year of elocution under him. And today when I have a reading or talk to give, I go over that speech and receive help. My love for poetry was evidenced in my paper, for I quoted several parts of poems. Prof. Robinson's help in interpreting them and his insistence that I get even the shades of meaning in my voice as I gave them increased my love for the beauty of the poetic art.
I received my Patriarchal blessing December 27, 1916. I received a dollar for my present--one of them--and spent it for this blessing, or perhaps I should say gave it as a donation to the Patriarch. Myrtle got hers at the same time.
In June 1917 I ended one year of college work at the B.Y.C. I was class debater for our college class. On February 14, we debated the Fourth years, Everett Hancey, Wallace McBride, and I, for the championship of the school and we won. Then I was chosen as a College debater to debate against other schools. On Saturday night, March 17, 1917, LeRoy Hansen (now a doctor in Logan) and I debated Weber Stake Academy and won by a two to one decision. On Friday night, May 25, 1917, at an awards dance, I received a gold medal as did other debaters, and others.
During this college year in Psychology Lab., Prof. Hickman tested the mentality of all his students in a series of tests. Myrtle and I came at the top of the list. He said we were wonders, practically 100 per centers, and could accomplish almost anything in life.
Myrtle and I were on the college Class basketball team. I was tallest of those in the team, so I was center. Myrtle and I were exceptionally good guards. Our class took second place in the championship of the school.
During this year at school we helped in the Physics Laboratory and corrected the Manuals and Experiments for Prof. Hinckley, who paid us twenty-five cents an hour. We made our spending money for necessities as well as frivolities this way.
This college year was a joyous year of fun and frolic as well as study and real accomplishments, with the usual school romances and parties with different sorts of dates. There was the date where we drew partners, and I had to almost run down a certain shy young man to get to tell him I had his name. There was also the somewhat older man with whom I fell in love or at least thought I did. He likewise thought a lot of me, but when he returned from the service he found me married with one little daughter and very much in love with my husband. College is a lovely, gay, and rewarding experience. Friendships of those days last forever to bless and be a source of never-ending delight--in meeting friends plumped and grayed and worn by time but with wisdom's mellowed etchings.
In May 1917 Myrtle was promised a school at Treasureton, Idaho at seventy-five dollars a month, and I signed up in Cache for fifty dollars. Later I received an offer to teach in Dayton, Idaho for sixty-five dollars, and Supt. Larsen was courteous in letting me out of my contract in Cache County, so I promised to teach in Dayton. On Saturday, the 26th of May, Mr. Nathan Barlow whom I knew at the B.Y.C. brought D. W. Buttars, a trustee of Dayton, down to see me. He had been to the college and received my recommendation. Prof. Hickman had told him that my mental body was two inches higher than my physical body, and when Mr. Buttars saw me he seemed satisfied, for I was over 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches tall then.
On June 2, Myrtle and I left Logan for Albion, Idaho to attend summer school at Albion State Normal. We enjoyed our summer at the school and had some very fine teachers, the woman teachers being very sweet and motherly if most of them were unmarried. They truly took an interest in the students. Here at Albion I first saw Harold B. Lee, who later became an apostle. I distinctly remember two of my teachers, Miss Truman and Miss Jeffrys on account of what they said to us. Miss Truman was teacher in School Management. The Friday before school closed, just before exam, Miss Truman said, "You girls mustn't go in that room because the questions are on the board, and I know you'd look them up because I would myself. I asked her if the questions were hard. She answered, "No, not for brilliant people like you girls." Then in the room after the examination she was saying she wished she knew the summer students better. Then she turned to us, smiled and said, "Of course I know these girls. When two big brilliant twins enter a class one has to notice them." When we bade Miss Jeffrys goodbye (she was our teacher in Primary Reading and Phonics) she tried to get us to promise to go on in educational work. She said, "You are mental marvels. Go on in education. Don't get married. Any woman can get married and be mothers and keep house, but you are needed as teachers. The educational world needs you; all children need the results of your efforts, not just a few of your own." I felt like telling her that motherhood was my nighest ambition, because it was and still is, and intelligent and wise motherhood calls for a high degree of mentality; that my teaching voice would perhaps be several times multiplied, for I desired a large family.
On September 7, 1917, I went to Dayton. D.W. Buttars met me at Preston and took me to Dayton in his Ford. It so happened that his mother-in-law, Mrs. Agnes Shumway, whom I talked with on the Interurban, was expecting him to meet her also. Mr. Buttars took me to Grandma Phillips' home, where I was to board for twenty dollars a month. Miss Susie Alder, now Mrs. Archibald, boarded at the same place and taught school with me with a Mr. Bean as our principal.
Sunday the 9th of September, 1917 I first met Earl Atkinson. Sunday morning Emma Phillips, a daughter of Grandma (Sarah) Phillips, said, "Miss Law, do you like beaus?" I replied that fellows didn't interest me at all any more. She continued, "I'm going to ask Earl Atkinson, the swellest fellow in Dayton, to dinner." I replied, "You do that," and she did. At Sunday School I met most everyone, all but Mr. Atkinson. After services Mr. Buttars took me to trustee Perkins' place and to the school house. When I returned to my boarding place, Mr. Atkinson was there seated in the rocker on the east of the stove just in front of the door. I can see him clearly as can be still, how he smiled and turned his head the way he always does; how he stood up, still smiling, and I remember how glad I was to find he was about my height. We were together all afternoon. I found his ideas were so much like mine. I showed him all the pictures I had with me, and he invariably picked out Myrtle for me.
Monday, September 10th, I began my career as school teacher. I certainly did not like teaching then, but it was because I was so terribly homesick for the folks at home and Myrtle. I never knew before homesickness could be such an experience and so devastating. I had never been away from my twin before. My health was not up to par, and I became very nervous. I quit teaching after two and one half months, went home, rested up, was cashier in the Golden Rule store for a while (E.W. Elliots), then finished out the year teaching in Bear River City, Utah. I had gone to Bear River to work for my brother and wife, Joe and Cerella, after the birth of Dorothy, their first child. While I was there Vernon Bitters, fifth grade teacher, was called to the service and I took his place. I rather enjoyed my teaching in Bear River.
Leaving Dayton did not break up my friendship with Mr. Atkinson, or Earl as I called him by then. It was not long till he came to Logan to see me. On December 2, in our home in Logan, he told me of his love and that he thought there was a purpose in my going to Dayton. That night before I got into bed at a little after midnight, I woke Mother to whisper to her, "Mama, he likes me better than any other girl." Then I kissed her goodnight and gave here a hug, releasing some of the happiness and wonder in my soul.
The evening of July 2nd at the ranch house in Avon, in our large kitchen and dining room combined, Earl gave my diamond set high tiffany style in yellow gold. By this time we were very much in love with each other. I was proud as could be to wear my ring and let people know Earl was to be mine, and that I was to be his wife. A little while after he had given me my ring, we read his Patriarchal blessing, which he had just received. I remember the feeling of gratitude that came over me when I read he should return in safety from serving his country, for he was soon to enter the service in World War I. We decided to get married before he left, for no matter what happened, whether he came back or not, I knew I wanted to be his wife, and I prayed I might be a mother of at least one of his children. Later I found out Earl wanted a child too, and a wife to come back to, and if not to come back to, he wanted to know he left a wife and child on this earth to have in eternity.
We were married a little after three-thirty, Thursday afternoon, August 1st, 1918, by Elder Mathews in the Logan Court House. The Temples were all closed, the first time in the history of the church that such had happened, so a court marriage was all we could get, but Elder Mathews used the ceremony and married us as an Elder in the Mormon Church. Earl had his recommend to go to the Temple, for his Bishop thought the Manti Temple was open. When I went to see about getting mine from Bishop Rice in Logan Sixth Ward, he told me all Temples were closed, and advised me to get married for time if I knew I wanted Earl, because if he should be killed I could have our sealings performed. Father gave his consent, providing we would go through the Temple at our earliest opportunity. But now, after learning more about Temple marriage and God's will, etc., I believe if I had to do over, I would wait to get married until I could be married for time and all eternity in the Temple. I believe I would have faith enough to wait and trust the Lord's purposes to work out.
But Earl did not have to go to war. I didn't get the chance to be a soldier's wife. Earl was placed in Class B due to a flat foot (he was to have left August 7th), and when his time was close, the Armistice was signed. So there I was with a husband on my hands!!! We went through the Temple and received our endowments and were sealed September 11, by William A. Noble. Myrtle was married to Alfred Cole the next day, September 12. She wanted me to wait and go through with her so we could both be sealed the same day, but I said "no" because I had given my promise to Father to go through the earliest opportunity. I tried to get Myrtle to put her wedding a day ahead, but she could not because Alf could not get there in time. I sometimes think that had I been able to talk with Father (he was at the ranch, and the folks were in Logan), he would have said for me to wait one day, but as it was, I could not. Myrtle was getting married because Alf was to leave for the service soon, but the signing of the Armistice solved her problem of being a soldier's wife too. I still feel badly every time I look at Myrtle's marriage certificate she received in the Temple, then at mine. I am not proud as I should be, for some way mine does not have a feeling of sacredness accompany it.
Erline, Melvin, Joyce
Our first child, Erline, was born at Grandma Law's home in Logan, June 11, 1919. Minerva was with me, and Earl, who was working in Dayton, arrived just six minutes before she was born. I see him yet rushing into the room with a suitcase in each hand. What a beautiful little girl God gave us! Her proud Daddy wrote his brother Frank that he had the prettiest little girlie in all Logan City. She slept most of the time for the first few weeks. She was a plump little darling weighing 8 pounds. She thrived and did well right from the start. We named her Erline, after her Daddy, my choice. James Callan blessed her in the Dayton Ward chapel. She walked alone at one year, but did not have a tooth till she was thirteen months old. And what a little smiler she was!
Our next child, a son, was born May 27, 1921, Friday at 9:23 a.m., at Logan, Utah, in Mrs. Petra Johnson's "little brown house," as we called it, where we lived for some time. Mother was with me, and Earl's mother came afterward to help us. This baby was long and thin, but weighed 9 pounds. He was pretty as could be with a cute little mouth and dark brown hair and close-fitting ears that always looked nice, but how thin he seemed, and kept losing weight until at five months he weighed less than when he was born. When I weaned him and put him on a formula as a baby specialist suggested, he gained 7 ounces the first week and kept on gaining and was soon a happy, beautiful little boy. We named him after Apostle Ballard. Grandpa Law blessed him and gave him the name of Melvin Boyd in the Logan Sixth Ward. His dark hair soon changed to a beautiful creamy gold and was curly. I used to keep it in short ringlets with bangs. I can still see how cute he looked in his little rompers, then suits and hats I made him, can still see his deep-blue laughing eyes.
Our third child, another beautiful little daughter, was born January 9, 1925, at Grandma Law's home in Logan. The two children and I had been there a mohth before she came. She was so plump and adorable with her dark brown hair, her blue eyes, her "cute little ears" as the nurse said. I felt so near Heaven after her birth as I lay there with her on my arm. Grandpa Law picked out her name. I had about decided on Shirley, when Father said, "Why there's a name in this story I'm reading I like better than that." When he told me it was Joyce I took a fancy to the name at once, and I'm still glad Joyce is her name, for it seems to fit her, my girl whose smiles ever since she was little have cheered me. Joyce weighed 9 1/2 pounds. She, to, didn't do well until put under the doctor's care and on the bottle, when she began gaining, and was soon plump and darling as could be. Her hair was a pretty yellow, creamy yellow, which went well with her little heart-shaped face and blue eyes. LeRoy Archibald named her in the Dayton Chapel.
More Education at Brigham Young College, Logan
Perhaps I should bring in here that on May 27, 1923, Myrtle and I graduated from the Advanced Normal Course at the Brigham Young College. Melvin was two then and Erline was four. We finished by correspondence. Again we had the privilege of having a brother graduate with us, Reuben. We all three received our diplomas and had our pictures taken together. Myrtle and I wore dresses alike: brown satin with long side panels worked. We each had red roses pinned at our waists.
I had taught school one year before I received this diploma from the BYC, that is during 1922-23 in Dayton. Grandma Atkinson stayed with my two. We were living in part of her home. I taught first and second grades that year. The next year, 1923-24, I taught 5th and 6th grades. Mrs. James A. Cragun was my principal both years. Then I quit for two years and had Joyce.
Earl's Mission to California
When I had my three, Earl received a call to go on a short-term mission to California. I was grateful and glad to have him go. The same fall--of 1926--the Democratic party asked me to run for the office of County Superintendent of Schools. Earl urged me to do so, but I couldn't decide whether it would be right to or not. The day I had to give my decision, President Nelson talked to Earl and me about a mission for Earl, and he said a two-year mission. That decided me to run for the office, for I would receive a larger salary to help with our expenses, and would be for two years, the same time as Earl would be a missionary--so I reasoned--and intended not to run again for a second term. So I ran, and had some enjoyable and valuable experiences, but lost by a small margin to J. Clifford Forsgreen. Since I have come to know it was best I did not win, for the added strain and work would have been too much. So I taught school again, the first and second grades during 1926-27 under Arthur Walgreen.
Earl left for his mission December 2, 1926. His call came but for a short term mission. When he was released I went to Los Angeles to meet him and had a month's vacation among the saints in his mission and at his sister's home in Los Angeles. I had a privilege of speaking in his ward at Fullerton and was asked to bear my testimony at the conference at Long Beach. I saw my first street meeting, and had the opportunity to pass out tracts to the crowd that stopped to listen. Never shall I forget how I felt to see no one gathered on the corner, yet have the elders begin a meeting and hear those lady missionaries speak to their full lung capacity.l It took faith and courage and humility. But a large crowd soon gathered.
I was President of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association while Earl was away, and had been since May 12, 1924. Joyce was my MIA baby, for she was born while I was president.
Myrtle took care of my three children at her home for the month I was away to California. I can truthfully say those months while Earl was on his mission were the happiest months of my married life. True I had responsibility and more work than I was able to do without tiring (milking two cows, feeding and carrying water to the animals, my school teaching, Church work, taking care of my children [they had chicken pox and German measles during those months, and Joyce came near choking with the croup], cutting kindling, making fires, etc., etc.) and I was lonely, but God was with us and His spirit in abundance and real happiness that comes from serving Him.
I taught the next year also, 1927-28, 5th and 6th grades with Arthur Wallgren as principal. I was released from Y.L.M.I.A. November 29, 1927, and became a teacher in the Sunday School, Adult class leader in Mutual, and Literature teacher in the Relief Society. I've also served as Gleaner Leader in M.I.A.; on Recreation Committee in Relief Society (I remember the bake sales we had at ball games, etc.); Religion and Seminary teacher; Gospel Doctrine Teacher in Sunday School; Missionary Class teacher in S.S.; Junior Genealogical leader; Adult Genealogical leader; and a member of Oneida Stake Genealogical Board. I have taught Sunday School classes at different times.
I have received three certificates for my genealogical work as follows: "Genealogical Student" (for completing lessons and assignments of First Year Course on Our Lineage)--April 27, 1934; "Qualified Committeeman" (for completing lessons and assignments of Third Year Course in Church Service on Genealogical Committees--May 6, 1936; Qualified Genealogical Researcher"--May 6, 1936 (for completing lessons and assignments of Second Year Course in Methods of Genealogical Research (written August 28, 1932).
Our fourth child, a beautiful curly-haired baby boy weighing ten pounds, was born Sunday morning on Mother's Day, May 12, 1929. He was so cute, the first glimpse I got of him with his little forehead wrinkled as he lifted his eyes, blinking them as he looked at me when I raised up in bed to get a peek at him before the doctor pushed me back down because of the seriousness of my condition (hemorrhage) and his little body was plump and dimpled. His dark brown hair had a reddish tint--like mine. Now we had two boys as well as two girls. A wonderful Mother's Day gift he was and ever has been! I recall I tried to get Earl to get me a present for my day, all that Sunday, making my suggestive gift smaller and smaller till I had it down to a five-cent candy bar (just to be remembered) but all he would say was, "No! I've given you one gift today, and that is enough." Surely it was an extra special gift, but it seemed to me it was my gift to him.
Sherwin Joseph we had him named by his father in the Dayton Ward chapel. Before he was born I saw the name of Sherwin at the end of a story, Caroline Sherwin Bailey, I believe it was who was the author. I immediately took to the name and had a name of Sherwin leading my list of boy's names, so Sherwin his name came to be, with the Joseph after his father, grandfather and two uncles--Earl Joseph Atkinson, Francis Joseph Law, F. Joseph Law (my brother) and Joseph Rasmussen (my brother-in-law).
I recall an evening before he was born, quite some time before, as clearly as if the event occurred but yesterday. My three were in their nighties ready for bed, and I had told them their bedtime story, and stood in the door leading from the kitchen into the hall which led to the bedrooms. As each child passed by I reached out and caressed each little head lovingly. This was a bedtime ritual with us. After I had touched the third little head, I put out my hand to caress a fourth but felt nothing, and was rather surprised that such was so, for I knew another little child was in the room, the one who was to come. A holy joy filled my being. This manifestation was a great comfort to me later and has been through the years, for the birth of this child and the one following, my last, seemed to take a very vital part of me away, never to return, and it was good to know these spirits were to come through me. (More about my last child later.)
As I said I could not regain my strength for some time, and then only a part of it. The baby did not thrive either, but lost in weight until put on the bottle with a special formula the doctor prescribed. When he did begin thriving, he grew and grew until when a young man in his teens we wondered if he would ever stop growing, but I'm proud of every inch of his over six feet, three and one-half inches of clean manhood. About the height of Abraham Lincoln, I often say proudly. He was a most beautiful baby with his golden curls which I let grow till he was past two before I cut them. It seemed a shame to shear off those ringlets which I made on my finger. Even Grandpa Law looked at him just before I cut them off and said, "It's a shame, my girl, to cut off those beautiful curls." He, Little Brother, as we often called him, was standing in front of Father for him to see him before I shingled his hair. I was soon to take the bus for Dayton and had promised Earl if he would let me go visit my folks in Logan, I would bring 'the boy' back with his hair cut. So I cut off those ringlets and have them still. As long as I left his hair cut not too short, it remained curly, but as soon as I really shingled him like a boy, the curl left never to return. I have never been able to figure out why hair so curly, that a curl pulled out would spring back to his head when let go could change to completely straight hair. I keep him dressed in cute little "boy dresses" for everyday and in the darlingest rompers for Sunday, all gay colors that he loved. Folks always called him a little girl. He was beautiful enough to be.
Life in Dayton
My health partially improved and I entered the school room again. I knew I really should not have done so, but there were so many bills to meet, and a growing family took quite a bit. I did not mind at all helping out in the making of a living, and Grandma Atkinson was able to watch over my children even if she did not do my work, only set dinner on that I had prepared. I did my own washing and ironing, bottling of fruit, etc., etc. Ita Britenbeker and Lucetta Archibald cared for my own when Grandma was in California for a time. I taught for two years this time, 1930-31 and 1931-32, teaching the Fifth and Sixth grades under LeRoy Archibald as principal. During these two years, at the advice of Father, I saved all I possibly could toward a home. He could see I was grieving over having to move so many times and live in such small inconvenient rooms or places, and over no prospects of ever having a home, as I thought.
While I was teaching this last year--1931-32--Melvin came near leaving us. He had had his left leg broken while chasing the horses around the hay stacks in the field while riding one horse. He had gotten too close and one horse had kicked his leg with a compound fracture resulting. For six weeks his leg was in a cast above his knee, and I carried him from room to room, and outdoors, to the car, in to the doctor every day--from the car--etc. He was a big boy, and although it was a labor of love, I suffered irreparable damage. I didn't realize such might result, but thought only of the boy's needs. He was in my room, fifth grade, and kept up with his work at home. Shortly after he reentered school, he took the flu and was on the verge of pneumonia before we realized it, due to his low resistance (more in Faith Promoting Experiences), but finally the sun shone fully again on a thankful family. Gratitude still fills my heart that God spared his life to us for another eleven years.
I was so weary mentally as well as physically that I refused to teach again the next year, even when the trustees (Hyrum Page and others) insisted, saying it was my duty to do so when I had the talent of understanding and inspiring youth to do its best.
The spring of 1932, shortly after I quit teaching, we moved from Grandma Atkinson's house, where we had lived for years, to the Mickelson home across the street. We enjoyed living there for one year (I paid the rent in advance when I received my last check for teaching), where I converted the bare dirty rooms into a home of beauty. I bought a new circulator heater, a radio, and a linoleum rug, redid the walls, etc., etc. It seemed like home to us, set among the great pines (planted years and years before) and hedges.
While we were living here, Joyce became eight years of age, and we had her baptized in the Logan Temple in a completely new little outfit, white muslin dress made with a large scalloped collar and a circular skirt and butterfly sash in back, with her yellow gold hair curled under at the ends. I can see her yet, standing there smiling beside the font waiting her turn. She was so angelic and beautiful I could not keep back the tears of joyous gratitude that she was mine, and that same gratitude is with me today as I write this story.
Our First Home
The spring of 1933 we moved into our very own home--our first home--a little two-roomed house (12 x 24 ft.) we had moved onto our acre of sage brush land, where the old tithing storehouse had been built years before, but had been taken down before we bought the land. Earl paid the Church twelve and one-half collars for that dry acre with an old creek bed running through the back half of it. The children have always felt a special interest in that first little home, the four of them, even later when a larger house was moved and joined to it and it became their bedrooms, because they paid the greater part of the $100 which it cost by drawing out their savings for college from the bank. The remainder we paid at the rate of $10 per month.
The first morning we were in our new home with its "sage brush trees," as Little Brother called them, and I stepped out of the back door, I saw a robin's nest with blue green eggs in a large sage near the door. Right then I named our acre "Beauty Farm," a name which stuck and which soon became true indeed, for it was not many seasons until it was a place of Beauty. That spring we planted four Norway Maples along the front ditch just inside the fence. It was not long till we had all the sage grubbed and a vegetable garden planted, and "city water" on our place: a hydrant, or rather two, one by the house and one at the yard. Later we bought one share of canal water, so had all the water we needed for our growing lawns, orchard, flower beds as well as large vegetable garden. It was not many years till we had our own plums, prunes, apples and raspberries. It is a beautiful place now, an unsophisticated country home with its old lilacs, yellow roses, high bush cranberry, Rose Azalias, Sorbrarias, Bridal Wreath, French lilacs, Hanson Bush Cranberries, Wild plum, pfitzer junipers, its Hopi crabs, apple trees, Black Willow trees, Green Ash, Norway Maples, its many clumps of peonies (that came from those Grandma Law gave us) our rose garden, Iris gardens, Lavender and Old Lace, Madonna Lilies, delphiniums, Bleeding Hearts, Phlox, Low Double Daisies, Shasta Daisies, Hyacinths, tulips, Sweet Alyssum, Columbines, Shamrock, Pink and white peonies as well as the red from Mother's garden, Lemon Lilies, Golden Glow, Acanetium, Chrysanthemums, Narcissus, Painted Daisy, Dwarf Hyacinths, Pink poppies red poppies, Michaelmas daisies, Corn Lilies, Marigolds and chives. We love its paths of stepping stones (we couldn't afford cement walks, so simply dug holes--even oblongs--in the turf and poured in cement, Sherwin and I doing the task while Joyce was on her mission to surprise her. We also painted the house, five rooms by that time, painted it white. Sherwin made bird houses later, and I painted them white with delphinium blue roofs, four of them.
In September of that year (1933) I bought a three roomed home from the Sugar Company at Amalga, three rooms and a bath and clothes closet, front and back porch--back porch a screen one. Plumbing fixtures were all in and the kitchen was cabineted, all for $300. Reuben took me to look at the houses, and before we left I had bought one and paid $100 on it, which he gave me a check for. I paid him later from my savings account. It cost me $175 to get the house moved, and $90 for the contractor to make the house in as good a condition as it was on its foundation at Amalga. After I bought the house, before it was moved, someone stole the sink, so I had to buy a new one. I am a conservative, but I've always been glad that sink was taken, for $18 purchased me a much nicer one that I am still proud of after 24 years has elapsed. We were able to move in this home before winter set in, but did not get the two houses joined and a basement under the two little rooms till later on, another season. But at last we had a home of our own! Our own Home! I repeated it over and over many times day after day, and was proud as a queen in a palace.
That first winter in our home, I taught Emergency Nursery School every afternoon for a few months and surely appreciated the $16 check I received every two weeks. Recalling those school days, I still see my own 4-year-old's bright dancing blue-gray eyes among the pairs of black, brown, blue and gray ones before me; see him sitting in his little red chair, just smiling but not taking part till I told him if he didn't help out at school, I would have to leave him home. It was like a shock of electricity. He was the most active of them all after that. So many joyous days!
Between my last two children I had three miscarriages, one of which demanded an operation as infection was setting in. The doctor advised no more babies, said he did not think I would ever carry through. But oh, how I wanted one more, a little girl. He advised me that if I did get pregnant, I would have to go right to bed and stay for the first months, six at least, if I expected to carry through. That is what happened. I did have to spend most of the entire time in bed, being up part time the latter months. I was even more ill than usual at such times, but at last was rewarded, for on Tuesday, December 31st, 1935 at 2:30 a.m. the child I longed for arrived, a darling fat baby weighing 11 pounds, with dark brown hair and quite a bit of it. But she did not thrive, kept losing weight for months until she was down to less than 9 pounds. Because of her not doing well, Earl blessed her and gave her a name at home, the name being Frances Myrtle, Frances after my father, who left us for Heaven two and one-half months before she was born, and Myrtle, my twin sister, two of my precious loved ones. Later she was named and blessed in the church house in Fast and Sacrament meeting by her father also.
I remember with joy the summer months before Sherwin started school. He was all eagerness about going, but said he would not leave without a baby to stay with me, for I would be too lonesome. He prayed every night and morning for a baby so he could go to school. It took quite a bit of logical reasoning for me to convince him to start in September before baby came. I assured him I would not be lonely because I really had a baby with me under my heart. (I had explained life and birth to him beautifully when he asked me about such things when he was four and had watched our cat have her first kittens. He thought the plan was simply wonderful.) He never dallied a moment after school, but would run home every noon and night to find me smiling no matter how I felt. He was the perfect little scholar. All my children were good in school. I remember one night in November before Frances came, I heard Sherwin crying lustily after I had tucked him in bed. Inquiring the cause, I found he had forgotten to pray for a baby when he said his prayers. What relief came on his face when I told him to get out of bed and kneel down and pray again! I recall the radiance of his countenance the morning he first saw a new little sister. He looked at her for some time, then smiled all over and with perfect faith in the efficacy of prayer asked, "Aren't you glad I prayed for her?"
Before Frances was born I had an experience similar to the one I experienced before Sherwin came. One evening while the four children and I were in our kitchen I suddenly knew there were five children there in my group, and a great joy filled my soul. This happened before I had felt life. I knew another spirit was there in the room. Again it was borne in to my soul that I was ordained to have these children, especially or without doubt the last two who took almost my very life from me, for never since have I experienced the joy of vibrant health. I recall when Joyce was six months old, I could sing for the very joy of being alive, and felt young in health and vital. After Sherwin, I was always tired, and after Frances it seemed I could hardly keep existing, yet always I have been grateful for her along with the rest. She is ample reward for my loss of health and nerve power. All of my children I regard as priceless gifts.
After Frances' birth existence was one hard struggle. I didn't sleep for days and even weeks. Rozella was with me for a while, then Mrs. Mortensen took care of me and baby, and when she found I was so bad, she slept with me for over two weeks. Each night Brother Mortensen would come and administer to me before he went to bed. I could feel the power of death, and felt I was going to leave my children. I remember the night I passed the crisis. Mrs. Mortensen did not get in bed but sat by me all night. At different times she would ask me if I felt someone in the room. The next morning the feeling of death left me, for it seemed during the night that Father came and told me I was not wanted yet on the other side. He let me know this very clearly. So I burned the paper of instructions I had under the mattress, telling whom I wanted to take my children, outlining my funeral services, etc., etc. But what a long slow climb I had to leave the darkened valley and reach the mount of hope, years and years it took, and I still have to fight to keep seeing the dawn of hope at times.
When Frances was past two and one-half, on August 18, 1938, in the LDS Hospital, Salt Lake, I had my toxic goiter removed by Dr. Robbins. Before this I was administered to by Walter Beutler at his home, with Earl assisting, and he blessed me that I might be able to go through the ordeal I would be required to within the next few days. And his blessing was fulfilled. My inward toxic goiter was much worse than expected, and fastened to my spinal cord. Much longer was required for the operation than anticipated, my heart commenced acting up, and I had to be revived without having the needed female operation as planned. My nerves have never built sufficiently to have this done. Dr. Allan Cutler, before his death, explained to me that even though my nerves would never be right unless this were done, I better go along the best I can as I am, for I cannot take another operation.
For weeks and weeks after my goiter was removed my life was one nightmare. I haven't words to explain how I felt. Death would have been sweet. In fact, for over a year I prayed to die. Each day of horror crawled by at a snail's pace. I knew God had the power to heal me and prayed that He would do so. Dr. Robbins gave me tablets (phenobarbital) to take for a while to calm my nerves. Still I slept very little and could not revive. I vividly remember the night the two Beutler Brothers came to our home to administer to me, along with Earl. Ernest Beutler anointed and Walter sealed the anointing. Crystal-clear yet are his words: "Through the power of the Priesthood I promise you a peaceful night's rest and say that a marvelous manifestation will come to you this night." Joyce, who was 13, was in the room, and she remembered the very words also. Peace filled my bosom. There was no doubt in my mind of the fulfillment of those words. When I retired for the night, I felt there was no need to take the usual tablet with the promise I had received. I went to bed but not to sleep. I lay there at rest, but still sleep would not come. I got up and looked at the clock at 12 midnight. I went back to bed and lay there wondering why I had not been able to go to sleep. Then I remembered I had not been promised sleep but a peaceful night's rest. I was at peace as I lay wondering if God were going to miraculously heal my body, even have my spirit leave if necessary while Heavenly beings operated on my body and made it whole. I was wondering just what the marvelous manifestation would be, but there was no doubt but that I would receive it. Then it came: As I lay in the darkness mellowed by the moon and the street light which shone through the window, from the right side of my bed (to my right but to east of the room) about where my knees were in distance from me, came a voice, almost a whisper, still and calm, yet powerful as a mighty wind. Never have I heard such before or since, a voice of peace and mighty power that spoke distinctly and clearly. With reverence and with deep humility, my faith touched knowledge as I heard, "Thinkest thou I wouldst do it for thee? Knowest thou not thou shouldst do it for thyself?" Immediately I thought of Oliver Cowdery, who had supposed the gift of translating would come to him without effort on his part. Then I knew I must do all in my power and make use of doctors with their scientific skill to regain my health in whole or in part. Then I made certain correct decisions: to see Dr. Cutler about continuing the use of phenobarbital, and knew I should have taken the tablet to calm me if I wished sleep, so did so; I came to know I must accept the aid the Church had offered but which I had refused, believing that since I had always paid an honest tithing and my offerings, that I would never need or accept help; I came to know that such money-aid was the fulfillment of the promise made to tithe payers that they would never lack for bread, etc., and that because I had been honest in my dealings with the Lord, I was eligible to receive the means I so badly needed to buy the blood builder, shots for my nerves, vitamins, etc., my body must have to function properly and allow my mind to be restored to its former vigor. What peace and gratitude filled my being. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God lives and watches over his faithful children. I knew it for myself as my Patriarchal Blessing promised when I was but 16. As the years pass I can see more and more the reason for this truth being given me, and it becomes more marvelous.
From then on I began to very slowly, almost imperceptibly mend. I had to learn to walk again almost. I would have to stand so long and will to move my legs before I could take a step. When I went outside I was to always take someone with me to hold to. I began taking two or three steps from the porch, then back, the next day a step or two more and so on. Sherwin used to go along with me cheerfully as concerned for my welfare. I feel the earnest prayers of my children did much toward my recovery. When I went to the doctor as I was impressed to do, he told me to cease taking the phenobarbital tablets because they were habit forming and to take sodium bromide tablets, which would not do so. I also wrote to the Salt Lake doctors (which impression came to me also that wondrous night), and after they read my letter as to my condition, they had me begin taking large doses of calcium and phosphorus, which proved most beneficial, and which I still take due to the minerals drawing out of my bones, which X-rays show to be the case. I suffered many setbacks due to tensions, worries, illnesses, etc., but looking back now I can see I was not forsaken, that God was guiding my craft slowly and gently but surely into waters of fulfillment, and I again found life beautiful and knew that Earth can be Heaven. I can see that my children, who took so much from me, in reality gave life back to me and purpose and the will to dare. They returned life to me enriched and perhaps more beautiful than it ever might have been had I not known illness. Such is the joy and blessing of good children who have grown up with a love of God and man in their hearts. Today as I sit at the feet of my children to be taught by them--even as they used to sit at mine--I know joy unspeakable.
I well remember the Stake Conference Joyce made arrangements and took me to Preston to be administered to by Assistant to the Twelve, Marion G. Romney, after conference on a Sunday afternoon. Earl was in San Francisco. Joyce, Sherwin and Frances went with me. The Stake Presidency and Elder Romney administered to me. Among other things, Elder Romney told me that there was a purpose in my illness, that it was not because of any fault of mine, and that when I was able to sit back and say, "Thy will be done," then I would begin to see the purposes of God working out. He gave me no promise of health, but prayed that I might have peace. Afterward he talked to me for some time and told me I had been using too much faith, that it was wrong to do so and try and force the Lord. He was filled with compassion as he advised me to work for calmness and not try to do too much, but to sit back and wait upon the Lord, and again told me that I must try to be willing for His will to be done. Pres. Forsgren told me also that he felt I was still overdoing even though I seemed to accomplish little. I shall never forget the tears in Elder Romney's eyes and in those of the Presidency--nor of the blessed relief that flooded my soul to know I did not lack faith. (Elder Romney's words among others were, "Your illness is not through any lack of faith on your part but that God's purposes might work out," etc.) My husband had accused me several times of lacking faith to be healed, telling me that God would not be mocked. He truly believed such was the case. Other good men had indicated my illness continued perhaps because of lack of faith, so the words I received that day brought solace to my soul, and increased my love of God and convinced me of His love for His children. I can still see the tears in my children's eyes that blessed afternoon. So many lovely memories are mine, lovely and precious!
Erline Moves Out
Erline graduated from the Weston High School (Her graduation dress was a pink taffeta formal Lou Peterson told us about in the Foss'. It was beautiful and reasonable in price.), then went to Logan to work that she might attend college, which she did for a time, and graduated from the Institute. She stayed at Mother's and worked first at Astle's doing house work, then at Logan Garment, where she became very proficient in cutting and sewing, even doing coats. She modeled for the company also.
On May 22, we took her to Logan with us the day we had Sherwin baptized in the Temple. I had made him new white flannelette pajamas, and he looked sweet and clean as could be in them while waiting by the font. All of our family watched his baptism, Frances in Erline's arms in a little pink silk crepe dress and pink organdie bonnet she had made for yer, Melvin in his maroon suit, straight as could be, Joyce looking her prettiest, and Dad proud of them all, while I was the thankful mother whose heart was brimming with gratitude to God for blessings bestowed. When we returned, home seemed robbed for a time, but our laughing pretty Erline came home rather often on weekends, bringing treats for us, and at Christmas time bringing amazing lovely gifts. I still recall the wonderful Christmas when she gave Sherwin a new suit, Joyce a new dress, Frances a large doll and doll bed, Sherwin a bicycle, me a lovely bathrobe among other things; Melvin new cords and a shirt and tie. I remember now the bicycle was given Sherwin the year Melvin left us, a few months after his death.
Many experiences have made a hallowed place of our loved home. It came to have a soul and a place in our hearts, that is fast making it a shrine to return to in thought and fact.
Melvin's Death in Fort Ord
It was in this home I always found a laughing, dancing-eyed little boy, often in a red sweater shirt, waiting at the door to welcome me when I returned home from the Temple or a day in town or from my church work. It was at this home that a smiling duo of girlies, one a blond, the other darker, Joyce and Erline smiled their welcome after I had been away. I still recall their smiles as they saw the new dresses I had made while they were at school lying on their bed. To this home dear, dear Melvin used to bring new starts of flowers and roses for our outdoor garden and shamrocks and Baby Tears for our windows. And wandering Jew. But his favorite was Baby Tears. Here the sure and determined fingers of a little girl, Joyce, converted one of her coats into a sheepskin by using a lining from Melvin's old sheepskin, and what a masterpiece the coat was when finished. No matter that the stitches were rather large, for they held. How she would smile as she put it on and went outside in the cold to play with Melvin, making her strides equal his although she was four years younger. To this home Erline brought her friends, boys as well as girls, and we watched her little by little develop into a sweet beautiful young lady. It was in this home our Frances was born. This home knew the joy of Melvin's graduation from the Eighth Grade, and from high school in Weston. What a fine looking man he was in his nice suit wearing a carnation! His hair had retained its ability to curl and was just wavy enough to look nice. He combed it straight back from his forehead. I saw his leadership ability at different times during these years. He had small hands for a man, artistic hands. He could draw well, loved to do painting, and handicraft articles, even sewing and crocheting, and he could write poetry. I recall how he would shyly place one of his poems on a scrap of paper in my hand, then smile as he blushed and walked away. His home he left to go to California to work the fall he was twenty. To this home he was returned in death's sleep the next June when he had just turned 21. He had been working in the shipyards, and had persuaded his father to go to San Francisco also that April. The two had worked at the same shipyards and lived together for six weeks before he was killed in a car accident at Fort Ord, the morning of June 7th, 1942. His funeral services were held June 14, and he was buried in the Dayton Cemetery. His services were all one could ask, and the house was packed as never before. (More of this in another story.) It was at this loved home the night he was brought home that we were privileged to know his spirit was there in the room with us, that our family circle was not broken as we knelt in prayer beside the casket which held the chrysalis his spirit had worn before life had departed. I loved to look at his loved body, our creation. He looked so sweet and peaceful as he lay there as if asleep and at rest.
To this home we welcomed our first son-in-law, LeGrand Whipple, and have loved him as our own ever since. To this home Joyce returned after her mission to the Southern States in 1949 and Sherwin returned after his mission to the Central Atlantic States in both getting honorable releases after filling worthy missions. This home has welcomed at different times, four adorable and intelligent little grandsons, and is waiting now to welcome another little soul that is cradled beneath our Erline's heart. So many many blessed events has this home experienced! So many happy dream-fulfilling hours!
This home knew the joy of Frances' baptism in the baptismal font in Preston, Idaho. Sherwin and I went with her in the Hulets' car, Cleo Hulet being baptized the same day. She looked like a golden haired angel in her new white dress, new hair ribbon on her hair, which I had curled in ringlets on my finger, new stockings and new everything. This was on March 4, 1944, Grandma Law's birthday in Heaven where she had resided since April 14, 1943, when she passed peacefully away while I alone was with her. We had intended having Frances baptized in the Temple, but Bishop Smart said such was not done any more.
This home experienced the having of two sets of graduates. Twice two graduated at the same time: Melvin graduated from High School and Joyce from the Eighth Grade the same spring. I took their picture, the two together, Melvin holding the rose he had received and his diploma, and Joyce in her beautiful feminine pink georgette crepe graduating dress Erline had given her, and also holding her diploma. Joyce surely looked sweet and beautiful the night of her graduation. I was unable to attend, but Mrs. Griffeth told me later she was the prettiest graduate there and looked more like a sweet girl graduate in her beautiful dress than any of the others. Four years later Joyce graduated from high school and Sherwin graduated from the Eighth Grade at the same time, and I gook their pictures, Joyce in her new graduating navy blue suite, and Sherwin in a suite he had which was still good as new. I took the pictures of both sets at our home outdoors. Joyce would have received four medals had the school been able to get them that year.
To this home we returned, the three children and I, in the fall of 1944 after a summer in San Francisco, where Sherwin and I had been most miserable: I could not take the noise and the dampness, and Sherwin had to spend so much time resting on his camp cot in our upstairs apartment on account of his heart. After a bad siege of flu, his heart had developed in an incurable leak which doctors said would never heal. This necessitated long periods of rest each day. We all were homesick for a "bit of land" to call our own and enjoy. So city-weary and flea-bitten, we returned to our loved home and community in the fall in time for school. (The fall of 1944.) But good came from the San Francisco stay, for there at the hospital, the physiotherapist began the work of loosening my frozen shoulder. The trouble began with bursitis in my right arm and shoulder due to overwork, which was so painful I could not move my arm of its own power and kept it in a sling almost useless for a year and a half. I learned to write letters, etc., with my left hand. Before I or the doctors really realized what was happening, my shoulder became frozen, and it took over a year to get it loosened as much as it is now. After we returned home, Joyce manipulated my arm as the physiotherapists had taught her. She, unselfish as she always has been, gave up college that winter to stay with me. I could not convince her she should go. She told me she was staying home so it would do no good for me to protest. It was a blessing to me she was home, for I was so very miserable in so many ways. The next year she attended college in Logan.
To this home we brought Erline with her two small sons, Walter and William, with William a tiny baby, when LeGrand was in Japan. William was born while she was alone in Logan. Joyce stayed at the same place. Erline's health gave way shortly after her baby's birth. We worked through the Red Cross (Bishop Schwartz and others helping) to get LeGrand home to lift the burden from Erline's shoulders. To our home he came first. (Joyce had quit school to take care of Erline and her boys.) LeGrand was as tickled as a boy at the thought of being home and seeing his new baby and his wife and Walter again. What joy our home knew to later have Erline come with the old joy in her eyes and her step, and know she was on the road to perfect health again.
This home knew the same joy it had experienced three times previously when Sherwin graduated from high school at Clifton, Idaho. (The high school at Weston had burned down, and school was held at Clifton.) He looked plenty handsome in his cap and gown and his lovely dark brown suit, which had been Melvin's, bought shortly before his death. It also knew the happiness of having Frances, a beautiful young lady, graduate from the Eighth grade in her lovely, lovely dress of palest pink nylon with raised daisy sprays in black and a black sash, the skirt falling rather long as girls wore them at that time. I was unable to attend any of these graduation exercises, but when Frances graduated from high school (West Side High School--the new modern white brick high school in Dayton), I attended her exercises. and how grateful I was to see her in the March of the graduates in her new box suit of navy and clear light blue (Navy skirt and light blue jacket, Erline made) with her corsage. She was beautiful with beauty more than skin deep, beauty of soul shining through her clear blue eyes. Tall and stately, she bade one look again.
Woodcroft Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado
It was to this humble yet glorious home that I returned after being at Woodcroft Hospital at Pueblo, Colorado, for two and one-half months in the forepart of 1948 (January-March 19th). Joyce was on her mission at the time, and Sherwin was staying with Erline in Logan, attending the U.S.A.C. Frances stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Beutler, Dayton, part of the time and with her Dad and Erline and LeGrand in Logan. My brothers and folks helped with finance, and Vernon drove me to Pueblo, he and Winona and Earl. From inquiries made, it was thought that my nerves would improve rapidly at the hospital due to the expert doctors in that line. But Woodcroft Hospital under its management was not as indicated, and my nervous condition was made worse, much worse. I was given more dope than I had ever taken before. I got access to the books and found out exactly what I was being given, and other patients also. The hospital was a money making scheme at that particular time. (Had been good and is creditable again now--changed hands shortly after I left.) Reuben came for me with Earl March 19th. But my body so stiffened I had not been able to get in and out of my tub for months, through soaking eight hours a day at first, then four hours in a huge tub of warm water in a canvas hammock, was limbered up until I was able to move about much easier, get in and out of the tub myself, etc., etc. I have continued those soaks ever since, one hour a day as a rule. So I learned the value of water therapy. I shall always feel it was in the plan of Providence that I go to this hospital, for here I began my writing, my work as a writer. A little French lady, Johnnie we called her, was a writer of children's books, being published in New York. She sent off two or three manuscripts while I was at the hospital. She would ask my opinion on things, and one child's poem I wrote gave her the inspiration for one story. At her encouragement I decided to make a book of Jingles for Walter and Willie. She would squeal with delight at my verses and illustrations. All the patients and even Dr. Houchins were impressed by my talents. My ego developed a little, and even there I was able to pass the time with my efforts at writing and helping the old old ladies. I found joy in helping a delicate, dainty old Lady, a Mrs. Birch, who was confined to a wheel chair. She came to love me and depended upon me to get her in bed at night. She would always ask to see what I had drawn that day. The little 4-foot dwarf was all open-mouthed wonder at my pretty art work. So even a hard experience had its compensations, and one far-reaching one in that it challenged me to become a writer. This work has never failed me once. Always it gives continuous employment and joy--the sesame which enables me to rise above my constant excruciating pain and my otherwise unbearable nervous condition, due to arthritis, neuritis, anemia, toxic goiter, etc., etc. At the age of 50 I wondered how I could go on living for even the next few minutes, but now at 59, the days aren't long enough to get all I desire done. A whole new world opened up to me, a whole new world of delightful friends who, with my dear old ones, bless and beautify each day. At present I count one brochure and two books of poetry published among my achievements in writing, as well as published articles and stories, and the winning of local as well as national contests.
Sherwin's Heart Murmur
What rejoicing there was in our home when we knew Sherwin's heart had healed and was normal, and that he could have his mission. For his heart was miraculously healed. Of this there is no doubt. He had been spoken to concerning a mission, and had taken a physical examination. The results were such that the Church would not take the risk of sending him out as a missionary. Three doctors, Dr. Wilford G. Hale, Dr. Orvid Cutler and Dr. Preston, had all tested his heart and said the leak could never mend. When Joyce came from her mission she reported to LeGrand Richards and told him of Sherwin's condition and of how he desired a mission. He turned to her without any hesitation and said, "You go home and tell that boy to take care of his health and pray to be healed, and he will receive his mission." He surely did as Elder Richards advised. We all prayed and fasted with him. It seemed he sometimes spent almost an hour in his room on his knees in prayer. Shortly after this, Apostle Benson, when he was up for Stake Conference, advised the boy to go to the Salt Lake Clinic and get a thorough physical examination, then let his case rest on their verdict, and take their findings as final. In due time, not over three months from the time of Joyce's return, Bishop Bingham accompanied my son to the Clinic, and they gave the verdict his heart was practically normal, perhaps a slight murmur, but that he could take a mission without any reservations whatever. From that day to this his heart has given no trouble, and just recently, when hospitalized with virus flu, his heart was still perfect. Truly the day of miracles is not over. Truly His day is not done. I have talked with two of the doctors who cared for him when his heart leaked so badly it swished so anyone could hear it through the stethoscope, and they both say it can only be accounted for by believing in a miracle. To quote Dr. Hale: "When Sherwin came to me after his examination at the Salt Lake Clinic and told me his heart was normal, I thought he had suddenly gone berserk. When I examined his heart--listened to it--I thought I had gone berserk myself. I don't account for it. No doctor can. It is a miracle!"
There was sorrow but no bitterness or despair in our home when my twin sister, Myrtle, was taken back to God, February 4, 1939, after an illness of some time. Death was caused by a cerebral hemorrhage caused by hitting her head on the bathtub in Reuben's home in Provo. She evidently had taken a dizzy spell and fell. Her husband has never remarried. It is a lonely life for him, for they had no children. Myrtle fulfilled a short-term mission after her marriage. Sorrow was also experienced at my father's and mother's and Grandma Atkinson's passing, as well as when our own loved son and brother left us, and other dear relatives and friends. But always we have recognized the had of God. I remember in my blessing, the Patriarch told me "Other blessings will be unfolded to you as you are able to comprehend them." This was literally fulfilled when Myrtle and Melvin died. I saw very clearly as in a flash how their blessings would be fulfilled in the life beyond, so could not grieve too deeply knowing God's will had been done.
More Ill Health
My nervous condition became worse again after Sherwin's return from his mission. However, I was in better health when he returned than when he left. When Joyce received her call, I didn't dare look ahead, for I could not see how I was going to get along without her, but to say "No" was unthinkable. She had saved every penny she could from her year's teaching at Winder, and this with the amount I received from Mother's estate, and the generous donation of the ward and relatives, financed her mission, with Erline and LeGrand helping out a little at the last. It was while Joyce was on her mission that I was at Woodcroft. I improved from then on--after I got back to my home and began taking medication and treatments from Dr. Wilford Hale in Logan. Erline and LeGrand helped me to get these. I improved sufficiently to meed Joyce at the bus when she returned and attend her welcome home party. I had been unable to attend her farewell. I remember my arms were rather bad again at the time due to overwork. I have always loved to work, and I find it hard to know when I have done enough, there is such an urge within me.
We managed very well with finance for Sherwin's mission. Earl sent money regularly, and so did Joyce and LeGrand and Erline, a family affair. He also received a large contribution from ward members and relatives. What a joy it was to be able to attend his farewell and hear him bear his testimony that he knew beyond a doubt that the Gospel was true. I felt he would fill an honorable mission, and he did, baptizing six of his own converts. He had a siege of malaria, but was wonderfully blessed, and accomplished his best missionary work after his recovery. While he was ill from the ravages of the disease was when the blessing he had been given by Elder Sonne before he left for the field came in good stead. When I was sick with dread lest he might have to come home, I remembered that blessing as Sherwin had written it to me, one sentence which read, "Nothing shall prevent you from fulfilling this mission," and was comforted. Later Mrs. Myrtle Lynch, who was like a mother to Sherwin in the mission field, wrote me, saying that for quite some time before he came down with malaria he kept getting thinner and thinner and did not feel well (at first he gained in weight, gained 20 pounds), but that when she asked him if he had told me how he felt, he had said, no that he did not want me to worry. She did all she could in every way to make his mission pleasurable and successful. After he came home and took his physical at Fort Douglas, he was placed in class 4F on account of having had malaria, which still showed in his blood. He never had any attacks after coming home, so I feel it is out of his system now. And he did not have to enter the Service.
I was given added power to endure, and better health while we had missionaries in the field. I well remember the day a short while before Sherwin's return, I told Frances I felt a certain power of health leave me and the old nervousness return. Later I found that was the day Sherwin received his release as a missionary, for his labors were completed. I, to, had shared in the power of God given to his missionaries. It was and is a testimony to me that God asks nothing of us we are not able to accomplish with His help.
In the winter of 1954, I became so nervous I could not keep from crying many times, and hardly knew what to do with myself. Then the cause was discovered: My goiter had grown back and was as toxic as ever before. Dr. Cutler had five tests taken before he would accept the fact, but each BMR proved the fact of a toxic goiter. Since then I've taken tablets to keep it under control as much as possible, which entails a BMR every few weeks as yet and the tablets regulated accordingly. My nerves will take no more removals, and science is coming away from the knife it seems.
When we were at San Francisco, the fact of the minerals drawing out of my bones as Dr. Allan Cutler had discovered was reiterated by other X-rays. At this hospital was discovered the fact that I had a form of neuritis not caused by a germ (so could not be cured), but by parathyroid and other gland trouble, that every nerve was inflamed. This accounted for my all-over soreness and my bruising so easily. Here I learned again that I was not a neurotic, that my physical condition caused my nervousness. The expert psychiatrist at the hospital said she could do nothing for me, that I did not need her help. I quote: "You are an intelligent woman. It is as though you stand in a corner and watch yourself go by. You know what to do but are powerless to do it because of your physical condition. Better days are bound to come to such as you."
Frances' Winning Essay
Among its cherished memories our loved home has stored away to bring forth time and time again, is the winning of first prize $2000 in the Disabled American Veteran's Nationwide Essay Contest on What the American Flag Means to Me by our Frances. I shall never forget the sacredness of the moment when she came from the post office with the news. She and I were alone, yet she whispered as she touched my arm, "I won!" "You did?" I asked in an equally hushed voice, "Which place?" "First," she breathed. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I said, "Isn't the Lord good?" We clung to each other crying for a few minutes. We were so reverently grateful feeling God had inspired the writing of the essay, and was guiding our destiny so Frances could obtain a college education, as well as give to the world an essay which many feel sure will live. It has been published in over 2000 newspapers and in many periodicals and is written into the Congressional Record. Then came delights undreamed of for Frances--and for all of us through her: A trip to Salt Lake City; to Chicago where she appeared on Welcome Travelers and received a wrist watch and many prizes including a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., where she gave her essay at a convention; received a large American flag from Senator Dworshak and had many never-to-be-forgotten experiences. She saw President Eisenhower also. She has been invited to give her essay many times at different places and at different functions. She is now a junior at the University of Utah, still using her money along with what she can make. This winning helped Joyce to get another year of college work, and Sherwin to finish his work for a degree. The two are now returning the money for Frances as her needs require. So all in all it has been a blessing to our family, money-poor yet rich as we are.
Never shall I forget the joyous winter I spent in Logan 1954-55 when Frances, Joyce and I stayed together in a comfortable apartment (with Mr. and Mrs. John as neighbors in the other apartment--delightful people) and Sherwin ate dinner with us--with once in a while another meal also. He had a room at Minerva's in North Logan. We "girls" called ourselves "The Three Musketeers" and enjoyed life to the brim, going to church and Institute, dramas, ballets, musicals, etc., etc. I spent part of the time in Salt Lake with Earl and felt I was keeping the family together.
That June Joyce graduated from Institute, and Sherwin received his degree in Agriculture: Poultry Science and Dairying. The next year found us separated, Joyce teaching in Firth, Idaho; Sherwin employed as Research Assistant at the Western Extension Division of Washington State College at Puyallup, Washington; and Frances and I in Salt Lake City, where Frances attended the University of Utah, where she is now a junior. Earl is janitor of the Library building at the University, where he has been employed since 194?. Frances and I have returned to our home in the summer and have enjoyed its beauty of home, well-kept lawns and gardens even more due to having lived in an apartment, upstairs ...
Vacation to Washington State
Last spring we enjoyed our very first vacation as a family, leaving in our "new" used Plymouth, Dad, Joyce, Frances and I, for Puyallup, Washington, to see Sherwin. We shall ever treasure the memories of the delightful time we enjoyed traveling through lush green country that prophesied of an abundant harvest, through forests of pines, through cities new to us and beautiful, and finally seeing Sherwin through his kitchen window eating his supper. How nice he looked, manly and dignified and handsome! Then came the delights of his cottage lined with knotty pine, with a fireplace in which we roasted wieners one night, its cabineted modern kitchen and its bathroom and wood room in which he had split logs cut in lengths for the fireplace; meeting the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Cushing, owners of this cottage located just back of theirs; of driving to different places of interest, to Seattle and Tacoma Airport, to the towns themselves, and to Olympia, visiting his plant, famous bridges, going up Mt. Rainier and running into a snow storm, etc., etc., etc.--six joy-packed days. We enjoyed going to Church with him on Sunday, to Sunday School and Fast Meeting where I bore my testimony, and Sherwin also, of meeting the people and perhaps best of all finding that all held Sherwin in high regard and appreciated having him in their ward. We were given a warm welcome by all we met, and by those who bore their testimonies. After the meeting at night we went to the Ferwerda home where we spent an enjoyable hour or more chatting, having refreshments, etc. I was thrilled, deeply thrilled when, just before we began eating our tray lunch, Mrs. Ferwerda said, "Father, will you give thanks, please?" and her husband did so. I shall ever remember us all, the Ferwerda family (father and mother and two queenly daughters) and two lady missionaries and us Atkinsons standing in their large kitchen with our trays in our hands, listening to the blessing before we moved into the living room to sit down. I liked the delightful informality in their home with an undercurrent of true religion; of Joyce and I sleeping in Cushing's guest room, Dad and Sherwin in his cottage, and Frances in a sleeping bag on a cot on the patio just outside Joyce's and my window. Then came the return trip to our home, down the Columbia, through tall pines, fields and meadows again, then stopping at Twin Falls to visit with Aunt Mae Perkins at her Auto Court, then home to Dayton, where our little white gate looked more welcoming than ever. In fact, no country looked as inviting to the girls and me as did our own valley. Our home seemed dearer than ever, with the little stream rippling its welcome as it tripped by the four Norway Maples, then ran gaily down the north fence by our Bridal Wreath, lilacs, apple trees and prunes.
The joy of the last Christmas season, December 1956, in our loved home will ever linger as a benediction to all who shared in its peace and contentment at the Holy time. Recalling the happiness within its walls, the deep joys and the little trivial delightful moments, even after so short a time, I am warmed and fed and reverently offer thanks. This Christmas at home was Sherwin's special gift to us. "We must make this a wonderful Christmas in the home we love," he had written when he told us he intended to fly in for the holidays. He sent $60 in all to pay all expenses for coal, oil, lights, water, "a tree that will touch the ceiling," our trips to Dayton and back to meet his plane, etc. There was no resisting him or his sweet generous spirit. It will ever bless and comfort my days, even after I am alone and my children are all away where the "world" has called them. Our home was beautiful, decorated simply in keeping with the sacred season, but the outstanding thing was the spirit of love and good will which was within its walls. All of us felt its peace and the joy and true meaning of Christmas; Dad and I, Joyce, Sherwin, Frances and her Rulon Moss. I think home had a greater attraction than ever before knowing it was the last Christmas Frances would be with us as Frances Atkinson. Our lovely, happiness-spreading and sunshiny Frances, "Little Sister" would be married in June! I recall with gratitude how we all felt we could accept him, her Rulon, and be proud to do so, into our family. Sherwin liked him instantly, and he seemed to like all of us. Christmas Eve was a memorable occasion with our usual program of the Christmas story from St. Luke, the singing of Christmas carols, and the playing of the records of Dicken's Christmas Carol before hanging up our stockings (great big wool knee length socks of Sherwin's) by all of us. The events of this Holy Season, another Christmas! of wholesome and palatable meals, of blessings on the food and prayers in keeping with the reverence and gladness of the time, another Christmas Eve, outstandingly a success, another Christmas morning of opening gifts ... all to treasure, forever, in memory to make a shrine of our dear old Dayton home to which we shall often return, if only in memory, for the strength we need along our way.
[Editor's note: Frances didn't marry Rulon Moss in 1957. She married Henry Berghout in November 1962.]
Then came sadness, which came to be a sweet sorrow because it linked us together even closer as a family. It was a shock to learn that Sherwin, who had smilingly left us at the airport in Salt Lake City to board his plane to return to his work, was hospitalized in Puyallup--virus flu that had settled in his joints and muscles. He had been in the hospital to better fight the "bug" before holidays, but we never dreamed he would have further trouble. He was very ill, and asked us to put his name in the Temples, for he could not take another recurrence. For a time he did not know what the outcome would be, but soon, after being administered to, he felt he would recover. His name was put in the Salt Lake, Logan and Idaho Falls Temples. When he was able to leave the hospital, the Ferwerda family took him to their home to care for him till he was able to go back to work. When we called up and finally located Sherwin at their home, and heard what they had done, I thought, "How simply yet how effectively God works. What wonderful people! What a blessed Gospel! Sherwin assured me he was being well cared for and there was no need of my coming, that he would be all right. He is regaining his health and is back at work. The Ferwerdas will ever be held in loving remembrance by us all.
Writing and Me
Perhaps I should say a little more about my writing. Always I have loved to make rhyme. As a child I wrote poems and had a few published in the Juvenile in "The Children's Budget Box," for which I received book prizes. When college students, Myrtle and I were encouraged to write. I remember a Prof. N. L. Nelson, under whom we took Ethics by correspondence, wrote on our papers we handed in at different times that we should write for our Church publications, that we had a clear, concise and interesting way of expressing our views which were in line with our Gospel teachings. He offered to help us in any way he could. But our lives were too filled to find time for writing. We had all we could handle with our teaching in school and Church, keeping up our homes, and I had my children. Myrtle taught school and church more than I because she had no children. Always we were going to write "some day" and travel to Denmark (perhaps), and to Springville, etc., after my children were grown--we would go together. But Myrtle was taken at 39, and my health broke completely at the birth of Frances. I lived for the day I could be active again, for I lived to work with the youth. When I finally came to know that in all probability I could never lead an active social life again (the removal of my goiter in 1938 increased my life expectancy from two years to a ripe old age if I lived quietly, obeying the laws of nature, etc.), I knew I could not rust out. There was an urge within me that could not be denied. I must do something now and in thefuture not be a has been and rust out. My spirit could not take defeat even if my body must. Then I began my work as a poet, inspired to the effort at Woodcroft as I have stated before. Mildred Nye Dewey opened the door to a whole new world to me. She and Margarette Ball Dickson helped me with my first poems by criticizing or revising them, 5 poems for a dollar. Allison Nichols Johnn-St. Johnn helped me free for a short time, then began my work under Snow Longley Housh, who for years has helped me with my poems out of the graciousness of her soul. Not one penny has she taken for my work. She has inspired me to work at developing the talent I have. She still helps me. I have taken two courses from Lilith Lorraine, founder-director of Avalon. This was a real challenge, for Lilith was merciless at times in her criticism, but lavish with her praise also, and I graduated with honors from both courses. For some time I stayed with poetry, many poetry journals publishing my poems, as well as our Church magazines. I was truly thrilled when I placed third in the Eliza Roxey Snow Memorial Contest in 1953. I branched out in writing articles and wrote feature stories for two papers and reported to another. Being encouraged to do so, I began writing short stories and have had several published; Radio Programs intrigued me, so I began writing them and to date KPST, Preston, Idaho, has presented 24 of them. I have also written pageants for Sunday School (Mother's Day), Primary, schools, etc.
Since I began publishing in 1950, and entering contests, I have received 136 awards for my poems: 34 firsts; 24 seconds; 14 thirds; 2 fourths; 3 fifths; 1 sixth; 1 twelfth; 41 Honorable Mentions; 11 reader vote awards; 1 Etta Josephean Murfey Award; 2 citations of merit; and 1 cover poem award.
I have also placed in contests with my stories and articles and Radio Scripts: 3rd in Principles of Poetry Contest; 1 first and 4 honorable mentions in National Woman's Christian Temperance Union's contest in stories on temperance; 1 first place tie (with Frances) and 1 honorable mention in short story contest sponsored by the National Thanksgiving Association (I have been Idaho State Chairman for the past two years); 1 first place and 3 honorable mentions for "Juvenile Story," 1 fist and 1 second and 1 honorable mention in "Radio Script" and 1st honorable mention in "Articles," all in the annual contests of the Idaho Writers' League.
An authority once said that no life story was complete unless it included the philosophy of the person whose life was written or told. It is hard for me to put my philosophy or what I live by in words, but I will state a few of the beliefs or things I hold as a part of the inner me. With the poet Browning I believe it is better to wear out than rust out; that all of life, not just the first or youthful part, is to be lived and enjoyed. I believe one should stand mind-tall and squarely face the present and future knowing God is directing the affairs, the ultimate affairs of His creations. With implicit faith one should be able to way with Browning:
Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be
The last of life for which the first was made
Our times are in His hand
Who sayeth, "A whole I planned
Youth shows but half
Trust God, see all nor be afraid."
I believe that hardships and sorrow and trials have the alchemy to bring out the best within us if we accept them without bitterness and dare to conquer all of them we have any power over. I believe mind can be master, and no matter what conditions we may find ourselves in, we can keep the "eden of the mind inviolate." That now is part of eternity, and that the mellowed years can be the perfect prelude to immortality. That the little things we do or do not do each day will determine (as well as the major things) whether or not we attain to the sphere we seek to inhabit forever, where we can live and associate with God, the Father, Elohim, in His Celestial Kingdom.
I have done no heroic things. I never expect to, but I do try to give my kind, appreciative words to people, my flowers, while they are alive and can enjoy them. One little thing I have always remembered to do when I have been so nervous I wondered what to do, and that has been to "do something for somebody, quick." And it has worked, no matter whether it was writing a letter to Mother or some other loved one, making a batch of cookies for the children, weeding a row of garden to surprise and delight Little Brother or Sister, making a doll dress, mixing lemonade for thirsty throats, etc., etc. For always I have been able to get through a hard situation as the fact I am still living proves.
In my life I have tried to make no compromises where the principles of the Gospel are concerned, but have been lenient and tolerant always with all people, and have tried to remember it is high to be a judge. Forgiveness is in my heart always, and I crave forgiveness, for at times I fall far short of being what I desire to be. I desire to so live that the following can be said of me:
One who never turns his back but marches breast forward; Never doubts that clouds will break; Never dreams though right is worsted, wrong will triumph. Holds, we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better.
In concluding my philosophy I will say that I believe this is a beautiful, wonderful world filled with gracious people, that life is good, and earth can be Heaven here and now.
(Taken from the Book of Remembrance of Mabel Law Atkinson)