At Alan’s request I force myself to write, a task not willingly undertaken. But converted by continual reminders of my Church leaders and with the bullet firmly locked by my teeth, I submit this lovely Sunday afternoon. One other circumstance as committed to my reformation and that is Grace and I spent yesterday afternoon in Millard County where my first real experiences with earth life occurred. I remember earlier ones on occasional flash-backs but not in narrative form as they occurred in Hinckley.
My first recollection was a Bueno Avenue flash of Eugene running down the sidewalk in his birthday suit. Perhaps this has been reinforced by retelling it from my mother’s list of crises during her early years as a mother. Also, I recall Dad riding a bicycle with Eugene and me as extras when we visited Mother and our brother, Wayne, in a maternity hospital near Liberty Park, and of singing from the high branches of a cherry tree at 2170 South 9th East. I was only singing for the school kids across the street and for Aunt Minnie (Vincent) who lived next door. It was from this location that the family moved to Hinckley in 1916. There we made our home for the first 15 or so months in a tent on the farm Northwest of town.
Mother and Dad did not rate the experience as enviable but Eugene, Wayne and I had a great time. There were quimps (gophers), rabbits and snakes plus horses and cows and chickens and pigs. You younger kids have heard how we had to break the mud balls from the chicken’s feet following each irrigation or rain storm. Mother and Dad must have suffered by the deprivation associated with that period but Eugene and I had a great time. It was in a canal in Hinckley that I was baptized on my 8th birthday.
Our exit from Millard County was also dramatic. Mother and Jane were already in Salt Lake where the influenza epidemic was in full swing. Dad and we three older boys were still in Hinckley. We were to catch a midnight train from Oasis and were dressed in our best at our neighbor’s waiting for train time. To guard against influenza, we had been eating for some weeks raisins powered with “graze”. We each were issued a ration to munch on during the evening. The lady who was tending us until train time suggested we sit on chairs surrounding the red-hot stove.. I backed up until I felt what I thought was the chair and then sat down in the bathtub. Now I was wet with no change of clothes available. I was now placed nearer the stove to dry my backside. All went well until I put my hand into my pocket for another raisin and the wet pocket clung to my hand and turned inside out, spilling the raisins onto the floor. I stooped to pick up the raisins and my backside touched the hot stove. “Psstt” Wet pants, blistered bottom, jittering train seat, and unwillingness to relate my stupedness to my father made what should have been an exciting train ride a night of torture. Needless to say, I survived with no scars visible from my point of view.
We lived in Holladay until we went to Elberta.
One summer before Elberta, Dad served as watermaster in Metropolis, Nevada. There Eugene got ahead of me. I had to have my tonsils removed, so Eugene went with Dad while I stayed with Mother in Holladay. After I was recovered, Mother, Wayne, Jane and I joined Dad and Eugene for the balance of the summer. Dad had a Ford truck to ride the canal and switch the water turns. He had taught Eugene how to drive and he was only 8 and I was 10. (Drive is used loosely. It consisted of sitting behind the wheel and keeping the car from running off either side of the road. Also included was a course in killing the engine, the accepted way of stopping the car.)
In Elberta, I made up for lost time. Dad and I moved there first. We arrived via “box car” with our animals, farming equipment and pre-fabricated two-room house and our furniture. Since most of the family are well informed about Elberta, I will say only that there we really took root. Our development as a family was accomplished there. Thanks to our parents, we maintained a standard of togetherness that has always been a source of strength to me. One-room schools, non-member friends, family strength, spiritual connections and proper instructions in personal standards were all responsible for our heritage. I went away for the 9th grade and lived with Uncle Royal and Aunt Jessie. I also lived with Uncles Leslie and Glenn and Aunt Mary while I attended the last two years of high school. Eugene went to the last two years of high school via the same route. I worked in the “Iron Blossom” mine for a while to earn tuition for a year at Henigers Business College in Salt Lake City. I lived that year with Aunt Mary and Uncle Glenn. From Henigers I went to work for Dinwoodeys and began a career in the furniture business which lasted 34 years, 8 years in Salt Lake, 26 years in Provo and concluded my working career at BYU with 11 years there.
Alan asked me to write about Eugene’s youth. I wish I could: He was my closest friend for 20 years. We were inseparable for most of those years. He could do some things better than I. (He could think like cows and horses) and he was stronger than I. I excelled in a few things but I have never had another friend like him. I admired him for his dependability. Always where he should be. I recall his attending a 4H Club training session in Logan. I also attended one. Eugene ran out of money and didn’t have money enough to phone us (we didn’t have a phone but the McDonalds store did). He came home early and with no one expecting him, he walked from Payson to Elberta. I have never forgotten that. His going on a mission meant almost as much to me as it did for him. He had offered to take my job at Dinwoodeys and would give most of his salary to keep me on a mission. Grace would have been willing to do the same for me but Mr. Dinwoodey refused to let me go and Eugene do my work because he thought missions were unnecessary. Grace and I did what we could to help Eugene. After the final payment on the furniture sent to Dad and Mother after the second fire, Grace and I planned to marry as soon as we had paid for the basics for our own apartment. Well, you know the rest. It will be 49 years next September 10th. That will also be Eugene’s birthday. I miss him.
Well, it is now September 18th and Alan has sent word that Eugene’s history has been submitted by the family who survive him. But I’d better finish my entry for no one has volunteered to do it for me.
I stayed with Dinwoodeys and became a fairly proficient furniture man. I did not know how good I was until I was called to Mr. Dinwoodey’s office and he told me how good I was – not in the skills I had learned in business college but as a salesman. He had observed when I was frequently asked to put my office work aside and entertain customers while their regular salesmen were busy. I had rather enjoyed the experiences but I had my goal set to become the office manager. I thanked him for his consideration but I specified my aim to become his office manager. “I can buy office managers for a dollar a dozen but you can’t buy a salesman,” was his reply. He then told me of some unannounced changes in his organization. The sales manager was being retired, the two wholesale salesmen were being replaced and I was his chosen new wholesale salesman to take the place of the two men who had previously represented Dinwoodeys in Southern Idaho, Western Wyoming, Eastern Nevada and all of Utah. Me, a traveling salesman? I could not imagine anything less likely to become my profession: He sent me home to consult with my wife. (He rather liked her.) Grace had no support for the change, especially since she had worked as a maid in the Ephraim Hotel and knew all about traveling salesmen. I reported her disdain for the promotion. A week later Mr. Dinwoodey again presented the proposition and I again declined. One week later I was summoned to his office where a much abbreviated presentation was made but with much more serious conclusion. Either I take the new job or lose the one I had. With the economy still not over the devastation of the depression, with Grace 6 months pregnant with our first child, and with jobs less numerous than those seeking work, our objections suddenly seemed less important. So I became a furniture salesman. My work was all new to me. I had seen a few traveling salesman who called on Dinwoodeys. I had talked with, or rather listened to, some of the partial presentations they had made to Mr. Dinwoodey. My work included the inventory control and I was familiar with the fast and slow selling items. I had been to Yellowstone Park and to Wells, Nevada and Evanston, Wyoming and only as far south as Ephraim, Utah. But I knew only one furniture store, “Dinwoodeys”. Grace helped me by telling me how “nice” some salesmen were but how “awful” most of them were. So we decided how I aught to be and how I wouldn’t be.
The first stop I made was in Evanston, Wyoming where my first call was greeted with the words, “So you’re the new drummer, that calls for a drink,” and I was led to the nearest saloon where I was properly introduced “Here’s a new salesman, he’ll buy drinks for everyone.” They all responded, including the girl “bar-fly” with “does that include me, honey?” Mr. Dinwoodey had prepared me with an expense account and advice on how to meet this situation by requesting a “gingerale” for me. He expected me to learn how to handle this problem when I met it. When my customer ordered the second round I declined. Needless to say I was very upset and felt ashamed. My customer patted me on the back, took me to his office where he listened to my presentation and gave me a fair-sized order (about $500.00). By nightfall I had about $1500.00 in orders (something from each call) and was in a hotel in Rock Springs, Wyoming. When I opened my suitcase I found a note from Grace telling me how she would miss me and expressed her confidence in me to handle the problems in my new work and still not sacrifice my standards. I wept and prayed for strength as I was far less sure than was Grace. I finished the weekend in Montpelier, Idaho and languished in the hotel all afternoon and evening. (I could not call home because Grace and I had no phone.) I stayed on the road eight years. I never was away from home another Sunday unless Grace and the babies were with me. And I never again was taken to a saloon. I parried the invitation for buying drinks by suggesting we finish our work first then I’d buy you the best dinner in town.
Those eight years turned out to be the best years financially. Grace and I were in our second home in Salt Lake when the offer to come to Provo was tendered me. We had already paid for the first home on 176 East 1700 South, Salt Lake, and I was a counselor in the McKinley Ward bishopric for 3 years. The twins are’ named after 2 members of the Teachers Quorum who adopted “widow Hintze” while her husband was out of town. They were the finest young men we’ve ever known. Raymond Bowers, who lived next door east, and Richard Burton, who lived on the corner west. These boys were daily visitors and helpers to “Sister Hintze”.
We moved to Provo in May 1943. The war had curtailed the quantity of furniture available. The automobile and paved roads had made the once distant major cities available for the furniture customers to get a wider selection in home furnishings and the war had made some of the smaller towns mushroom into medium-size cities. The steel mill built near Orem was the impetus for Provo’s growth. I came to Provo to participate in that growth. Because my family (brothers and sisters) recall those years, I shall refrain from detailing them.
It is now 1983. I am retired since September 1975. Dad, Mother and Eugene have joined my brother, Wendell, who died in infancy in 1926. At this ripe old age of 74, I seem to regard the absent ones more close to me than the living ones (brothers and sisters, I mean). This is probably caused because my interests are concentrated on my posterity and my brothers and sisters are so involved in the lives of their posterities there is a tendency to become so involved with the twigs, we are inclined to forget the roots.