I was born in Ephraim, Utah on March 25, 1912, the third child in a family of two boys and six girls. My brother just older than I wouldn’t look at the fifth girl when she was born because she wasn’t a boy. Finally Dad got him to look at her through the window. The last child was a boy but unfortunately my oldest brother died when the younger one was 2 years old so they didn’t have much time together.
My Dad was a timberman whose work was cutting logs in the mountains east of town and hauling them to the sawmill in Ephraim. We children would watch the canyon road for a sign of his beautiful teams of fat horses and the wagon load of logs.
When we were sure it was him, we ran up the road to meet him and ride on the big load of wood. That was really a treat, especially when there was some of his lunch left for us to eat. I have never understood why a bread and jam sandwich tasted so much better when it has spent a day in the canyon.
Our winter food supply always included 30 bushels of apples and 30 bushels potatoes. We kept them in a cellar along with smoked hams and bacon hanging from the ceiling. (No deep-freezers in those days.) Each night during the winter, Dad would go down into the cellar and get a pan of potatoes, slice them thin and put them in the oven to cook. Oh! what a treat this was. We called them “potato chips”.
My fondest childhood memory is of Christmas. My mother would order items from the catalog and when those packages arrived, they were locked in the dresser drawer; why, I never knew. Santa always brought those things free. The big event connected with Christmas was going to Grandma’s house for dinner. All of Grandma Sondrup’s thirteen children came home for Christmas dinner. She always fed the children first. There was a big Christmas tree with so many candles that it seemed we would never get them all lighted. When we were ready for Santa to come, a large lighted torch was placed at the front gate to signal Santa that we were ready for his visit. I was amazed at his ability to find a present under the tree for each child there, and he knew our names! When the party was over we walked home in one foot of snow (or more) that always was there for Christmas, so it seems. Dad would usually carry 2 children an his shoulders and the rest of us trailed along behind trying to step in his tracks in the deep snow. Home was so great at Christmas.
We all had our work to do at home. One of us would bring in a bucket of water from the outside tap. Another would get some chips to start a fire and chopped wood to feed the stove. Since there were no yard-lights or street lights, and the oil lamps did little more than make the inside room cheery, it was well to get your chores done early. I was really afraid of the dark, for which I received plenty of teasing from my brothers and sisters. Saturday night was bath-night (whether we needed it or not). That night a spot near the kitchen stove became the bathroom, complete with a round tub in the center of a circle of kitchen chairs for privacy. A little hot water from the tea kettle on the kitchen stove was added with each change in the bather. I’ve always wondered how my parents could take a bath in that small, round tub. But they did!
Most nights after our work was done, the neighbor’s kids and our kids would meet at the “light pole” and play “duck-on-a-rock” or “run-my-sheepie-run”. We also played some other fun games I can’t remember. I will say we had real fun, for we made our own entertainment. No TV for us in those days. The day I was baptized, five of my cousins rode with us to the Manti Temple in a surry. (I’m sure it must of had the fringe on top.) I can still remember how frightened I was. I’m sure if I could have found an escape door I would have run out, but my mother kept a light hold on my hand. I just knew I would drown. This fear of water in quantities larger than a bathtub has never left me. I can think of endless excuses to avoid getting into water.
When I was 16 my parents moved to Chester, Utah to run a big ranch. I stayed in Ephraim with a family to help tend the children and finish the school year. After school was out I went to Chester also. For a while I worked in a country store in Moroni. That was a really fun job and there was dancing three nights a week in Moroni. Also, my girl friend and I would ride to Moroni on horses which we tied up back of the store while we went to the movies. We raised sugar beets on the ranch in Chester and I was Dad’s best beet-topper. Unfortunately, as a beet-thinner I was a failure. Dad would fire me 10 times a day and would re-hire me before I could get out of the field. He made me stick to the job until the work was done. We kids were surely taught to work. I had many jobs but never made more than $1.00 per day. Of course, dollars were bigger in those days.
When I was 19 I had been going with a boy for 2 years. I thought that I was really in love with him. One day while I was topping beets with My Dad, he and his boy friend and my girl friend came to get me to accompany them to be a witness to my girl friend’s marriage to his boy friend. I had a hard time getting Dad to let me go but he was a super Dad and finally gave in. On our way, the bride and groom coaxed my boy friend and me to make it a double wedding. I jokingly agreed and when we reached the courthouse in Manti, they were married first and were surprised when I refused. I had a pretty mad boy friend but that was not the way I wanted to be married, so I walked out of the courthouse. My father and mother had taken all 8 of us children with them to the temple when they were sealed and we were sealed to them. It was so beautiful with everyone in white—it was like heaven! It was the kind of wedding I wanted.
I was 21 when I went to Salt Lake City where I found work in a doctor’s home. I was to help the mother and tend the children for $5.00 per week plus room and board. I was really rich! The first girl friend I made in Salt Lake encouraged me to come to her MIA classes and dances. I did and there is where I met my husband–to-be. I must say I wasn’t very impressed at the first meeting. He did ask me to dance and it turned out to be the waltz-contest dance of the evening. Guess who won? We did! Good thing I practiced in Moroni. As time went on I wasn’t sure I could win him. But I did and we were engaged on March 5, 1934 and married September 10, of the same year. It took that long to pay for the furnishings for an apartment. Of course, we were married in the Salt Lake temple with our parents and friends ac-companying us, all in white of course, and a sealing together for time and all eternity. Eleven months later Geraldine was born. What proud parents we were and she was a great joy to us. Harold (by the way, that’s my husband) traveled as a furniture salesman to stores in four western states. He was in Malad, Idaho when I called him home to be there when our firstborn came. Two years later, Deanne was born. We now had two darling daughters. Thirteen months later our first son (Harold) was born. He came pre-mature after many hours of hard labor during which time my husband was in the delivery room with me administering the ether because of a short-age of nurses. It was fortunate he was there. When the baby was finally born, the doctor layed him on a side table while he attended me and it was Harold who noticed the baby wasn’t breathing and called the doctor to enlist his aid. I felt something was wrong but no one would tell me as I was very ill. The following morning Harold came up and I could tell he hadn’t had much sleep for his eyes were red. He told me of our son’s condition and that the doctors had said he would last only a few more hours. Grandpa Hintze and Harold had come up in the night to administer to him and to give him a name. When I was told of his condition, a voice as plain as if Harold had spoken to me said, “Your baby will live.” I held to this promise and prayed very hard for 5 days before I could see him. What a thrill to see him for the first time! Dr. Spencer Snow was great. He stayed with him night and day. He always said it was the LORD who saved him not the doctors.
Three years later our twin boys were born. One child is a thrill–two are double thrills. I had a very easy time. Harold was out of town this time in Elko, Nevada. They were 12 hours old before he could get there by train. It was during the war and gas was rationed so he left the car home to save the gas for unreachable-by-train towns. Richard was the smallest but he started to grow from the start. Raymond, on the other hand, although larger, continued to lose weight. We were concerned about his chances for survival. One night while I was still in the hospital, Harold passed Harold B. Lee in the hallway and asked him if he had time to assist in blessing the sick baby and giving him a name. He was pleased to assist and the day after the blessing Raymond started to gain weight and was able to come home with me and the other twin to our now family of 5 children. When Fast Day came and it was time to bless the smallest twin, my husband, who was a member of the bishopric, took the first one up to the circle and stopped just before beginning the blessing and asked me which one he had. It got a chuckle from the audience to learn he couldn’t tell my children apart. Many more times we were not sure which was which until we refer-ed to indisputable evidence. I spanked the wrong one once and I don’t think they will ever let me forget that. We took our children on many of Harold’s business trips. We loaded the car with everything when we had but one child. As the number of children increased, we didn’t buy a bigger car, we just eliminated the less essential things and fared even better than at first. It was fun to be together. Harold says he was able to have more peace of mind while we were with him than to worry about us while we were home alone.
Three years after moving to Provo, when the twins were 5 years old (1943), our last child, Claudia, was born. She brought joy to us all. I recall that as soon as she would cry all the children would vie for the privilege of picking her up.
We are very proud of our children. All 3 boys went on missions. All six were married in the temple and all have lovely families. All families are active in the Church organizations. I feel not deserving of such a good husband and family. I didn’t have the kind of home life my husband had and it has been hard to adjust, but I try and hope someday I can feel really worthy of my great blessings.
Harold was made Bishop of the Provo 9th Ward. The children thought this was great for their dad to be bishop. I was very proud of him but we were alone a lot of the time. I know the children missed him as much as I did. I worked in the Primary, first as a teacher and later as a counselor in the presidency to Merlene Bailey. I enjoyed this calling because the children could go with me. When I came to prayer meeting the teachers would say, “Here comes Grace with her crying twins.” I would have to awaken them from their naps to get there on time. Later I was second counselor to Ethel Wilson in the Relief Society presidency. This was a very frightening experience for me as I never felt qualified for the position. After our ward was divided, Harold was released as bishop. While we were cleaning our apartment for new renters, Bishop Chauncey Riddle came to see me and asked me to be president of the Relief Society in our ward. This was such a shock to me I nearly died. I told him we were going on vacation the next morning and I’d have to let him know when I got back. Well, it seemed every car we passed was going to hit us if I didn’t say yes, so I called him two days later from Cody, Wyoming and accepted the calling. It was a very humbling experience for me. With my little children, I didn’t know how I was going to do it but my counselors, Ruth Miner and Vanda Fairchild, were great helpers. In two weeks we had visited every family in our new ward. I didn’t last long as president as I had to have my second back surgery and this time I had to go to Salt Lake City to the LDS hospital. I was in bed 4 months and the doctors had me ask for a release from my Church responsibilities.
While our children were growing up I felt I should help financially. I didn’t want to leave the house to work so I boarded 13 college boys. What a job that was. The children helped too. Dishes, Dishes, Dishes. I also tended 4 children in our home. One of them, Marty Moore, was Claudia’s age and they were like sisters.
Later I was a volunteer Pink Lady at Utah Valley Hospital. This was the most enjoyable thing I have ever done. Doing something for someone ill, to give a service to others, is really satisfying. I looked forward to Thursday night at the hospital—my night. I later became manager of the hospital snack bar. After seven years of volunteer service, I was made Director of Volunteers at the hospital. I was the first director ever to serve at this hospital. The administrator, John Zenger, was a great man. His wife, Leah, was also greatly loved at the hospital. Upon their retirement I stayed on as director for 11 more years and 5 years as manager of the snack bar. I retired after 17 years as a paid worker at the hospital in October 1975. Two weeks later I took a part-time job at Hickory Farms in University Mall. This is a fun job with people I enjoy. I am also director of tours at the cheese place.
We have (at this time) 32 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. We love them all and are very proud of them. I think we worry more about our grandchildren than we did about our own children. I guess it’s because we are older and wiser now.