“An Arizona-Yankee” - this title may seem strange to give to a person who claims Arizona as “home,” yet when one considers that Dean lived twenty-six years in Arizona and thirty-seven years in New England a considerable Yankee influence must have rubbed off! A quarter of Dean’s ancestors came from Yankee stock. He married a Yankee wife and accepted and cherished her Yankee heritage besides finding common ancestry with her in New England. Not only are we cousins several times but one of my ministerial ancestors performed the marriage ceremony for two of Dean’s direct line. We had “rubbed shoulders” for generations!
It has been interesting to note how similar our own lives have been although we lived in almost opposite corners of our land. Our ideals, values, traditions, and customs are comparable rather than contrasting. Of course, weather, climate, and location contribute to some differences. While Dean swam in irrigation ditches in January in Arizona, I was sledding on crusty snow in Maine!
For years I have been collecting stories of Dean’s youth hoping he would compile them into his own autobiography. Now that he expects me to do this, I am glad I have these anecdotes to jog his memory.
We have discussed from what point of view Dean’s life’s story should be written. Since it is being written under Dean’s direction but not by him directly, it seemed logical to use the third person in referring to Dean.
Another major consideration was the physical organization of material. The stories Dean had related over the years were significant to him so it seemed logical and natural to record them. The over-all organization is chronological. However, some continuing activities and life periods, such as Scouting, etc., have been grouped into a sequence of continuing events rather than interspersing fragments among disassociated activities. Thereby, it was hoped to achieve greater continuity of understanding and to enliven the narrative.
The names “Glenn Dean” had not appeared in family records before 1914. Dean is uncertain as to the origin of his given names but he vaguely recalls hearing it said his Mother read a story with a character by the name of “Glenn Dean” and she liked the names. Today his son, two grandsons, a nephew, two cousins, and three grand-nephews bear one or the other of his given names in his honor.
Although Dean may be an Arizona-Yankee, I have taken this account only to the point of his New England exposure. Beyond that, it becomes the story of our lives shared together.
Betsey E. Williams 29 October 1991
(With apologies to Golde - “Fiddler on the roof”) Do I love you? For forty-eight years (nearly) I’ve washed your clothes, Cooked your meals, cleaned your house, Given you children, kept my vow, After forty-eight years let’s talk of love right now. For forty-eight years (nearly) I’ve lived with you, Walked with you, talked with you, Forty-eight years (nearly) our bed it is, If that’s not love, what is? Do I love you? You are my beloved companion and husband.
A Father’s Day Tribute to Her Dad
Sacrament Meeting 17 June 1990 by Linnette T. Webster
Last week in my Merrie Miss class we were talking about old people - how they were young like us and how each one of us will, also, take a turn being old. One of the girls shook her head vehemently as if to say that could never possibly happen to her - and I suppose I felt much the same way at 10! It seems as though it requires about 40 years to mature enough to realize that Mom and Dad aren’t really that much older than you are, that you are right behind following them closely through life. In my case, I am still trying to live up to their example and teachings, and still rely on their advice and help, and consider them to be my best friends. From them I have learned much. Many of us, particularly of the younger people, may think they have learned all by themselves. Heidi is an example. I asked her the other day how she managed to count all the way to 30 at age 4. She said, “Oh, I just learned it by myself!” Then I explained how she had learned little by little from her parents, and then counting in the teens and twenties from the tutorage of brothers and sisters. Effort from many had gone into that accomplishment! Parents’ teaching is the foundation of all learning.
When I was 10, autograph books were very much in vogue. I asked my Dad to write in mine. This is what he wrote: “If you stay as sweet as you are at 10, you will be worth all the trouble you have been.” Certainly, I was not aware of any trouble I had been, but now, looking back, I understand the great spiritual, physical, and mental effort, planning, and sacrifice that brought me into the world and raised me up. I appreciate the many sacrifices of my Dad, the depth of his love for me, and the myriad of teachings he left to guide and inspire me.
Sigrid Undset penned this thought: “A (Father’s) heart is scored with memories of his child, memories of thought for his child from the time it was unborn, and from all the years a child remembers nothing of, memories of fears and hopes and dreams, that children never know have been dreamed for them, until their own time comes to fear and hope and dream in secret…”
Growing up, I didn’t spend much time with my paternal relatives since they lived so far away from us. We lived in Massachusetts and they lived in Arizona - but even so, we did visit every two or three years. We visited numberless aunts and uncles and cousins - once removed. Even though most of these folks were strangers to me, I yet learned and, though I didn’t know I was learning, I learned the importance of an extended family through my Dad’s love and respect for his kin and their return appreciation of our visits. His love for his and my relatives extended, also, to his kindred dead - those in his family he didn’t even know. He has done genealogical research since I can remember. Vacation trips included stops at county court houses, and cemeteries. At home he copied antique tin types and aged photographs so that we would have a visual record of the generations. As a child these things were only of passing interest but as an adult, I am very grateful to know where I have come from and to be able to teach my children of their ancestors through the example of my Dad. What did impact my childish interests were the family stories he would tell. He told of the sacrifices his Mother made in order for him to go on a mission, about the accidental shooting of his 18-year old brother, Phildon, with whom he was very close. There were faith-promoting stories of his Father who played professional baseball and how he overcame his cigarette habit to join the church. The many experiences of my father and his family are a rich legacy to me and to my children.
My Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was good and I think that is the best that can be said of anyone! Certain principles of living he taught me are just as true today as the day Moses was found in the bullrushes.
He grew up on a farm and had to work from the time he was six doing farm chores. At age eight he was driving teams in the field. He taught this same work ethic to us. We were taught to work at many things but one project was the building of a stone wall across the back of our immediate yard creating a backdrop for my Mother’s flower garden and a barrier in front of the vegetable garden. There is one thing that Massachusetts has more of than trees - and that is rocks! The melting glaciers of ages past left massive deposits of rocks and boulders. Just to give you an idea of the quantity of rocks: to create our almost rock-free vegetable garden, the rocks removed from it lowered the garden surface about 8? from the surrounding ground level. A huge mountain of rocks sat beside the garden for years in addition to a few stray boulders. The job that was required of my brother, sister, and me was to dig a three-foot wide, one-foot deep trench as a foundation for the wall, removing earth and roots which we then refilled with the rocks that were in the great pile. Without such a foundation, the frozen winter earth would eventually heave the stone wall apart.
When I was ten I really wanted a bicycle. My parents said I would need to earn the money. My Mama and Daddy dug carrots from our garden. I scrubbed and trimmed the carrots, weighed them, bagged them, and sold them door-to-door for the local grocery store price. My Mother recorded that on my first day of selling I sold 12 bunches at 17 cents a bunch for a total earning of $4.00! The bike took me two years to earn and cost about $40.00. I took that bike to college with me.
My Mother wrote this: “We tried to teach you that first must come a responsibility for tasks that needed to be done before you could realize the joys of accomplishment. Sometimes we may have appeared to be hard tack masters expecting much from you physically, mentally, and spiritually, but generally we tried to work side-by-side with you. The basic principles of work and self-reliance needed to be taught again and again.”
As they say, some values are caught, not taught. Time and again I watched my Daddy’s approach to problems or difficulties. He didn’t fly off the handle, get angry, or raise his voice when things didn’t go well. He consistently, patiently sought answers and worked to solve problems sometimes requiring multiple attempts to achieve his goal. I am sure his patience and stick-to-it-iveness was part of his talent and part training as an innovative engineer. Over the years, he perfected silhouette photography including the printing of it to create many special effects. He experimented and recorded the details of each attempt until he was well satisfied. (This was just one of his many, many hobbies and interests.)
In helping me over the rough spots in my math classes, he never lost his patience, raised his voice, or got irritated with my lack of comprehension. Instead, he tried new and different approaches until FINALLY my understanding was clear. I try to remember this working with my own children, perhaps not doing quite as well at times.
Daddy has always given of himself to others. He went the extra mile! While we visited an aunt, he replaced counters and fixed plumbing. He insulated my Uncle’s house so it would be warmer in the cold Connecticut winters. He designed an elderly aunt’s house. We spent a vacation painting a house. His service I could not begin to number. Most of his trips to Florida have been to help us build or repair our home and he has instructed us through the steps of the electrical wiring which he had planned and done!
In our community he served as Cub Master of the Cub Scouts for several years. The pack included all the Cub Scout of our town, of all different sponsorships - probably 8 to 10 dens altogether - so there was quite a little planning entailed to make an evening of so many involved run smoothly, be interesting, and fun for those attending.
My Dad, also, served as President of our high school Band Boosters organization for years. They didn’t want him to quit, he had been so effective in raising desired funds.
Daddy always had time for me! He took pains to answer my questions carefully. He created wonderful memories by doing things with us - playing on the living room floor, going sledding, ice skating, kite flying, collecting maple sap from our sugar maple trees, hiking, camping, travelling. This is what Mama and Daddy said about vacations: “We loved vacations when we could give freely of ourselves to you. We tried to create always an atmosphere of learning, an appreciation of the finer things of life, a respect for beauty and truth, and a love of our Father in Heaven. We tried to expose you to varied experiences that would be for your growth and enrichment.”
Daddy kissed us good-night and kissed us good-by. He always took great interest in all of our activities. Daddy, with a little of our help, put together a wonderful 25 x 50? skating rink that was the center of neighborhood activity for many winters. Daddy helped me build a fabulous tree house when I was a teenager teaching me the use of many tools and techniques that have been useful in my grown years. The most valuable part of that experience, however, was side-by-side, soul-to-soul time we spent building not a tree house but a relationship. We spent many an evening after Dad came home from work out in the trees under the floodlight working. (The plate!)
Dad was always a faithful member of the church. I never remember his missing a meeting. Daddy served a mission, served as Branch President for years, contributed much money toward the building fund for our chapel as well as tremendous amount of scarcely, available time in helping to construct it. Then our family helped to clean the building. I grew up in the days when member families were assigned custodial duties.
All these things taught me love and reverence for Heavenly Father. We always had family prayer in the morning before we left for school kneeling at our chairs around the breakfast table. We had family prayer together at night. We had weekly family home evenings long before there was ever such a formal church program. We played games, read Scriptures, showed slides, etc. Daddy (and Mama) truly believed and lived by the philosophy that a family who works, plays, and prays together stays together.
If I were to lump together everything I have said about things my Father taught me, I would have to say he taught me about love - love of extended family, love of mankind (through his services), love for me, love for our family, love for Heavenly Father, love of the beautiful world Heavenly Father has given to us. Our home was a normal home with its own varieties of problems, challenges and contention. We struggled and overcame many as others took their place in our lives. But through all of that, the enduring things - the things that really count for the eternities were there. I am sure there are as many good ways of transmitting these same values as there are good Dads. Our Ward is filled with good Dads. I am thankful I was blessed with such a good Dad who instinctively knew the great value of small and simple things.
To the children who are old enough to understand and to the young adults I would say - Love your Dad. He will serve you happily. Honor your Dad and the promise is given that your life shall be long upon the earth. Live up to the great potential that you have inherited and your father will continue to bless your life all your days.
May the Lord bless each of you Dads in the God-given Fatherhood role. (D&C 64:33)
Biography – G. Dean Williams
Having had two sons already, one can imagine that Dean’s Mother, who loved to sew, was dreaming of frills and laces as she anticipated the arrival of her third child. Dean, in describing the moment of his birth, has said, “I was a disappointment to my Mother.” Visions of buttons and bows and pretty dresses were suddenly shattered to be replaced by still more buttons and shirts and pajamas. His Mother had hoped for a girl but as soon as she held her new-born babe one can imagine that only love filled her heart as she cradled her third son in her arms. Throughout her life Dean could never have been a disappointment -honoring his Mother as an honest, industrious, caring, faithful, and loving son.
Perhaps in this third son his Father saw another man following in his footsteps on the baseball diamond for it was on Dean’s birthday that his Father hit an home run as he played a winning game for the Mesa Gems in Mesa against the Phoenix Solons. Father passed out cigars at the afternoon game in honor of his new son. He told people he was getting his own ball team!
Home for Dean and his brothers, Phildon and Ned, was a red brick house with porches around three sides on East First Avenue, Mesa, Arizona. The house was near the future site of the Mesa LDS Temple (1922) and just in back of the Franklin School. In those days very few women went to the hospital to have their babies. Most of them had their babies at home and the doctor went to the house for delivery. Dr. B. B. Moeur and Aunt Helen Dana were present when Dean was born at about 8:30 AM, Sunday, 28 June 1914.
When Dean was about three months old the family moved to a small frame house Father built on the Alma Millett, Jr. ranch. (The source of this house is questionable. It may have been a small house for the hired help already on the lot.) Since their marriage, Father had farmed several ranches renting land on contract. He farmed Grandfather Williams’ ranch at Lehi. In addition, Mother and Father planted the 160 acres that belonged to Aunt Mary in Queen Creek beyond Gilbert. This was desert area with no irrigation. They depended on rain and overflow from the creek to water the crops. After the Williams ranch was planted, all the farming equipment had to be moved from Lehi. Mother baked all the food she could that would keep and on a Monday morning they packed the little children in the hayrack, along with sacks of grain for the horses, to make the fifteen- to twenty-mile trek to Queen Creek. During planting Mother drove the horses hitched to the hayrack while Father stood in back sowing the grain. At noon Mother prepared dinner while Father watered and fed the horses, rested a bit, and was back at work again. They worked from dawn to dusk. Probably they slept in a tent at night. Life was hard.
The crops at Lehi were good that year. Every crop was harvested and sold before the storm came. The grain on the 160 acres in Queen Creek was getting ripe with beautiful large heads and ready to harvest. The combine harvester had promised to come in and cut the grain the week before. The harvester finally arrived and made three rounds before dark. Clouds were hanging dark and heavy during the night. About dusk a heavy rain came pouring down and continued for a day or so. It laid the grain flat to the ground and then the muddy waters from the over-flowing Queen Creek ran over it until you could never tell there had been grain there. The few sacks of wheat that were there were rotted before they could get them out. They had to start at the bottom again financially.
Father and Mother still had four good work horses they had bought from Grandfather Millett. There was Snip - a large black horse, Ted - a large sorrel, Bud - a bay, and Chief - a dapple grey and half-brother to Ted. Father sold the old Studebaker car and they went back to horse-and-buggy days.
Dean was just beginning to walk. He toddled out to the irrigation ditch at Grandfather Millett’s and fell into the water (probably about two feet deep). Father saw him from inside the house and ran and caught him up just before he reached a long culvert. He never would have survived that ordeal!
By November 1914 when the family was living on the ranch in Lehi, there was a terrible rain. Roosevelt Dam reservoir filled and ran over the spillway flooding the lower Lehi valley. The house was in danger. Grandfather Millett and Mother’s brothers came in the middle of the night to warn them and to take them home. They collected a few clothes and valuables and left. Mother and the children stayed for several days with her parents until all danger was past. Fortunately, their property suffered very little damage. The neighboring farm to the east was flooded and hogs and chickens were lost in the rushing muddy waters. At another time the Salt River flooded. Walter B. Williams, Father’s half-brother, was living with them. Again the family left the house to go to Grandfather Millett’s. Walter stayed at the house. He said the water came up over the floor.
About 1915 Uncle Alma Davis bought Aunt Mary a gasoline-driven Maytag washing machine. So wash day became a family affair with Aunt Helen, Dean’s Mother, Aunt Hazel, Aunt Neoma all coming to Aunt Mary’s to wash together. Up to this time they all had washed by hand scrubbing clothes on the wash board. All of the children had a wonderful time playing together. Gasoline for the washing machine was stored in a glass soda pop bottle. Little Dean, thinking it was something to drink, tipped the bottle up and drank some of the gasoline. He was rushed to the hospital and his stomach pumped. Meanwhile, family prayers were said for his recovery. Also, on the same day, Cousin Eugene, who was about twelve years old at the time, was playing with the boys at the canal. As he jumped off the bridge into the canal he held his tongue between his teeth. The shock of the jump caused him to bite his tongue nearly in two. He, too, was rushed to the hospital. According to Lapreel Huber, this was the first and last day of family gatherings for washday!. There were too many children!
The family had moved to Grandfather Williams’ “town house” on South Morris Street in Mesa. Dean was about two years old. It was during planting season that their little fox terrier dog was bitten by an old mother skunk as the dog crawled under the house to sleep. The little dog acted strangely coming out only for water. When Ned and Dean tried to play with him, the dog bit them both. The little dog died shortly thereafter. Mother called the doctor and told him all that had happened. He advised Mother to cut off the dog’s head and bring it to the laboratory. Examination showed it had rabies. The doctor phoned to Los Angeles for serum to be sent by the next train. Ned and Dean were given the serum twice a day for the first two days, then they received one inoculation each day for the following twenty-five days. The serum, which was sent daily, cost $250.00.
While still a small tot Dean was stung by red ants. It was thought he sat on an ant hill. Red ant bites cause swelling and pain. He was given the same serum administered for a rattlesnake bite since the red ant venom is similar to that of a rattlesnake. For a time his very survival was at stake.
Then there was the “sore eye” epidemic that swept the Valley. Mother was nursing two little girls whose mother was in the hospital. During the hot weather the whole family slept out in the yard to keep cool. Mother kept the two little girls by her side to separate them from the rest of the family. Although Mother did not get “sore eye,” Father and the three boys did. It was very painful. For awhile it was feared they might lose their sight. Mother nursed them all, milked nine cows each day, harnessed the horse to the buggy, and took the milk out to the road where it was picked up by the milkman.
Needless to say, Dean remembered nothing of these experiences. His first real, though vague, remembrance is that of riding atop his Father’s shoulders amid a noisy, flag-waving crowd at the railway station. Box cars were filled with soldiers leaving for war - the First World War.
Among them was Joseph (Dode) Morris who had been his Father’s life-long friend and partner in baseball. Dode caught for Father’s pitching. When he left, Dode said he would not ever came back. Dode Morris did not return from war. He was killed in France two weeks before the Armistice when an over-heated cannon exploded as it was loaded with shell. Today there is a chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars in Mesa named the Dode Morris Chapter.
In world affairs there had been the threat of war for several years. Germany under Wilhelm II sought an imperial role. Britain’s supremacy and France were threatened. Expanding Serbia ( a sector of eastern Yugoslavia) posed a threat to Austria. Russia was fearful of Germany and the Austrian expansion in the Balkans. In the arms race German had an army of over two million by 1914 with stepped-up embattlements in Russia, Austria, Britain, and France. The assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian on 28 June 1914, Dean’s birthday, was pretext for the outbreak of war - the First World War. Men, such as Dode Morris, were being drafted in America for the armed services but Father was exempt because he was married with a family. Then, too, Father was known throughout the Valley as “Wheat King” with a reputation for growing better crops of wheat than anyone else around. It was felt he could contribute much to the nation by growing wheat during this time of food shortage.
Life was full of little excitements. Aunts were on the porch gathered about a quilt frame quilting. Phildon and Cousin Floyd Millett were playing under the porch where they found a loaded gun. Phildon pulled the trigger and it went off under the spot where the ladies were quilting. Needless to say, they stirred!
Sometimes we can’t be sure whether we actually remember events or hear so much about them in the following years that they seem a very real part of our remembrances. Then there are those experiences that are so painful, they are indelibly etched on our memory.
Father had sharpened the blade on the binder preparatory to harvesting. (The binder is the machine that cuts the grain and ties it in bundles.) Father replaced the blade and started the engine to try it out. Dean was not able to suppress the natural urge. He stuck his finger in to see if the blade were indeed sharp. It was - cutting the tip off the end of his right fore finger. Mother plunged his finger into a bucket of cold water. Of course, Dean has always lived with a clipped finger!
It was commonplace for houses in Arizona to have no windows - only openings with screens and canvas flaps that could be rolled down for greater protection from the weather. During a heavy downpour when Phildon went outside to close the flaps, a bolt of lightning in a blinding flash came down between Phildon and the rest of the family seated on the porch. Shocked with fright Phildon was literally stopped in his tracks!
While the family were living with the Millett grandparents, Dean was fascinated to watch Grandmother as she took out her false teeth and washed them under the faucet. Dean questioned, “Grandma, why can’t I take my teeth out like you can?”
As school age approaches most children are excited to go to school The family was living at the Groehler Ranch when Dean decided to visit school. Without telling his Mother, Dean boarded the bus one morning with Ned and Phildon. His parents searched for him everywhere at home but came to the conclusion he had gone off to school. Lynn and Beryl Dana were delighted to have him in class with them. At noon they pooled their resources to buy him a lunch.
In the early half of our century money was a scarce commodity. Even pennies were not abundant. They were not thrown on the ground as worthless coinage as they are today (1991). A penny was to be treasured. It would buy a generous stick of candy or some other sweetmeat. But a dime was precious. The family was living in Lehi at the time when Dean acquired a dime. At the age of four years he was old enough to appreciate its value so he put it in his mouth for safe keeping. Inadvertently, he swallowed it. For the moment he was dejected but then, relying on our dependable digestive system, he reasoned it might go through him. He planned to watch for it. For a time he did his daily chore in the cotton patch. Surely enough, he retrieved his dime! There was much rejoicing on his part!
During the flu epidemic of 1919 many people died. Father and the three boys all succumbed to it. Again Mother was nurse, homemaker, and farm hand until Father was well enough to resume his responsibilities. Up to this time Father had spent most of his Sundays playing baseball. He would take the family to Church and then go off to the baseball diamond. He had played baseball since high school days and even after graduation went back to play with the team. In April before Dean’s birth, during an exhibition game he had hit an home run as the Gems played the professional Chicago White Sox team during their practise season in Mesa. Father played for hire as pitcher on many teams earning $10.00 an afternoon.
During Father’s recovery from flu, he became interested in the Gospel. During the epidemic he had feared he would die. Mother read Scriptures and explained the Gospel to him. When all were well again, Father went to Church with the family. He attended lectures, conferences, and Church debates. One night William A. Martin, the president of the Church Religion Classes, spoke. He had been a convert himself. He told about the many churches he had investigated unable to find what he was seeking. When he heard the Latter-Day Saint religion explained, he said, “This is it. We read and study the same Bible other churches do. If they are right, then we are, too, If we are right, then we are much farther ahead because we have not only the Bible but all the Standard Works, marriage for time and Eternity, the seeking after our dead, the Word of Wisdom, etc.” Father stopped drinking coffee and paid tithing for a year before he could stop smoking. He tried to taper off on cigarettes but the taper end got to be the big end. When it came time for Phildon to be baptized, Father said he was ready. He and Phildon were baptized in the font at the Second Ward Chapel, 5 July 1919.
Dean said his own baptism was very unspectacular and routine! Before his eighth birthday Bishop Clarnece Dana of the 2nd Ward interviewed Dean very informally at a social function on a hot June evening. Dean had been brought up to look forward to baptism and he wanted to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was baptized 1 July 1922, the Saturday before fast Sunday, in the 2nd Ward font. Dean was baptized by Charles Peterson, a member of the Ward, and confirmed on Sunday by Daniel Hibbert.
Dean was in fourth grade (15 January 1924) when he heard of a free offer to have pictures taken at a place down town. A machine processed the pictures almost as soon as they were taken. He came home on his bicycle with his pictures - four of them - and told Ned and Phildon about the offer. Even though Phildon was in bib overalls doing his chores, he rode his bicycle three miles to town to stand in line to have his picture taken.
In art class the students were drawing landscapes. Dean painted a cloud with a patch on it and rain drops leaking out. His teacher liked it!
Maybe it was after Dean had started school, or earlier, that he was walking home and stopped in at a variety store run by a Chinaman to buy a piece of candy. The proprietor tried his best to find out who Dean was. Dean kept answering, “I’m Mama’s boy.” He heard this story many times for years afterwards!
The streets of Mesa, and certainly the country roads, were unpaved packed dirt. A rain produced roads that were muddy and slippery as glass. Mother and Dean were on their way to church in town in the Oakland car when suddenly the car slid and spun around 180 degrees headed toward home again. Unnerved by the experience, Mother decided to keep right on going - home. Dean has said that is the only time he remembers that his Mother ever missed Relief Society.
During Dean’s Mother’s youth growing up in a family with four sisters and four brothers, Aunt Mary, as the oldest girl, was charged with the care of Aunt Neoma, and Aunt Helen watched over Mother. It was natural that Mother, with all the family, should accompany Aunt Helen and Hugh Dana when they were married at Long Beach, California. In August 1919 they camped en route. At night they all slept together in a “skunk boat” under the open sky. A big tarp was spread on the ground with the sides propped up to about 3? high to prevent wandering snakes and skunks from coming in. In spite of all their precautions, on awakening the next morning they discovered a snake was coiled up between them! Dean recalled that he slept between Nadine and Beryl Dana.
Uncle Hugh’s first wife had died about six weeks after their seventh (living) child, Dwight, was born. (She was a sister to Aunt Thell’s Father - a Hunsaker.) During her illness Aunt Helen had tended her as she was her dear friend and neighbor. Before she died she extracted a promise from Aunt Helen that she would take care of Dwight. Left with a family of little children, Uncle Hugh found in Aunt Helen a loving mother for them. Dean has said that she spoiled Dwight! It was natural that some of the older children who remembered their mother should resent anyone’s trying to take her place, but with patient loving on her part, Aunt Helen came to be accepted and appreciated by all.
While they were at Long Beach, Ned and Dean were playing in the car parked in front of the house where they were staying. The car was on an incline when Ned released the emergency brake. As the car started rolling back down the hill, Father saw what was happening, ran, and got into the car in time to prevent an inestimable catastrophe.
This is a good place to write a little more about Aunt Helen. She had married, first, Frank Grey, in 1905. A year later their daughter, Irene, was born. Frank died in 1907. Helen had been married to Hugh Dana less than three years when her only daughter died in 1922 of blood poisoning which is said to have developed following a smallpox vaccination. She would have been seventeen in three more weeks. The events preceding her death are especially noteworthy. Mother related them to the family after having spent the night with Aunt Helen following Irene’s passing. At the time Irene was engaged to be married, and as she lay critically ill, thoughts of her forthcoming marriage were in her mind. Bishop Ike Dana of the 1st Ward and brother to Hugh Dana, had been asked to administer to Irene. He had pronounced a blessing upon her that she would recover and marry. As the hours passed Irene’s condition worsened but she described experiencing wonderful manifestations from the Spirit World. She heard wondrous choral music and she met relatives whom she recognized who had long since passed on. She felt an urgency to be among them but Uncle Ike’s blessing bound her to her earthly existence. She earnestly begged the family to send for Uncle Ike that he might undo the blessing he had promised her. Ike was at work and could not come until the end of the day. Meanwhile, Irene became quite impatient, asking, “Why doesn’t Uncle Ike come?” Finally, Uncle Ike came and blessed her that “Thy will be done” and promised her this time that if she desired to leave this earthly existence, the choice would be hers. Within five minutes Irene had passed from this earthly sphere and she was at peace.,
In the Fall of 1920 the family were living at Grandfather Millett’s. They were enjoying pancakes for breakfast. The sugar bowl was empty and Dean was sent to fill it from the old square tin cracker box in which the sugar was stored. There were about four boxes all alike lined up on the pantry counter. Dean took down one that looked as if it contained sugar and filled the sugar bowl. Back at the table Uncle Eugene heaped his pancake with the usual one-half inch of “sugar” and took the first bite. He stared at Dean and his expression said that it was time for Dean to leave. He didn’t get far. Eugene thought it was a bad joke but Dean was mystified until he learned he had filled the sugar bowl with salt!
Phildon and Ned were already in school. Although it was not required, Dean should have gone to kindergarten but there was no transportation. Phildon and Ned had been riding “Old Blue” but Phildon’s attendance had been very irregular due to poor health. It was September 1920 when Dean started first grade at Irving School across from Rendezvous Park. With a late start in school Dean felt lost. Everyone in first grade had learned the alphabet and knew how to read. Days at home were long and so full of hard work there was no time for parents to read to a boy or help him read for himself. Dean always felt this was deterrent to his reading well. When others were reading, Dean was struggling to learn his ABC’s.
For the Fall term when the family were at the Millett Ranch Dean rode to school on the handle bars of Eugene’s bicycle. Dean said he was about cut in two sitting on the bar. After dropping Dean off at the new Lincoln School, Eugene went on to high school. During the latter half of the year after moving to the Bank Place, Phildon, who was nine years old, drove them to school with the horse and buggy. While the children were in school, the horse was hitched to the rear of the buggy with hay for it to eat. When Dean started his second grade Mesa had acquired its first two buses. They were converted Model “T” trucks with a suggested passenger capacity of twenty-six each. Dean’s bus went twelve miles to the main highway, then south for one mile, then turned and went east to the new Franklin School. By the time the bus reached Alma School Road where Dean lived, there were over 100 children on the bus. They sat two deep on the seats. Little ones, as they boarded were tossed on rows of knees the length of the bus to the back. During Dean’s third year Mesa bought two more buses. The Internationals were so long - 30?-40? - they had difficulty negotiating the mile-square turns so the route had to be modified to eliminate as many turns as possible. They had a capacity of over 100 passengers. These buses were said to be the longest in the world at that time.
During Dean’s youth, Father was farming several ranches. At home they had cows, sheep, and chickens. Father was up by 6:00 AM to build the fire in the cast iron cook stove. Then Mother and the boys got up and dressed in front of the kitchen stove during cold weather. There were cows to milk. Phildon and Ned did most of the milking but Dean had to do the separating and clean the separator so Dean was always the last one to finish his chores. A separator was a mechanical device for separating cream from milk. Twice a day these parts had to be washed and sterilized.) Other chores that fell to Dean were feeding the chickens, gathering eggs, splitting wood and filling the woodbox in back of the stove, and driving the cows morning and night from the pasture to the corral and back again after milking. One day on the way home from school, Dean loitered. When he got home his Father punished him severely as there was much work to be done.
While the family were living at the Bank Place the chickens were on the open range so laid their eggs about everywhere. Dean had to search the yards to collect the eggs. There was a box up in the umbrella tree where the chickens made a nest. It was too high in the tree to see into it, so the seven-year-old would reach over blindly to pull out the eggs. One night as he felt for eggs, he touched something slippery and slimy in the box. He climbed up to see what it was. It was a gopher snake with an egg-shaped lump in his middle. The snake was as surprised as Dean, and tried to back out of a crack in the box. The egg he had swallowed would not let him pass through. The snake kept backing up, pushing the egg forward until he finally regurgitated the egg and the snake disappeared. Dean collected the unbroken egg!
By the time Phildon was six years old he was driving a team of horses in the field for a good part of the day. Dean drove the team at about the same age though not for as long a stretch. He was working a full day by the time he was eight or nine years old.
Farming in Arizona valley was quite different from that in other areas of our country. The climate allowed for many crops, for fields to be under constant cultivation. Because of such continuous use of the land, the soil must be used very carefully to preserve it. For many years Father farmed what was known as the KP (Knights of Pythias) ranch. He farmed on the halves in that Father planted, irrigated, cultivated, harvested and received one half of the proceeds realized from the crop. He always did well and the owners appreciated his conservation of the soil through rotation of crops.
Alfalfa could be grown the year around with five cuttings six weeks apart and the field turned over to pasture in winter time. Alfalfa was planted with barley. The barley came up rapidly shading the alfalfa. This crop would be irrigated two or three times in the first six weeks. Alfalfa builds the soil with nitrogen. After about five years, that crop is plowed in and another crop planted. Such a rich soil produced fine crops of cotton, lettuce, maize, etc. Cotton was an annual crop planted in February to be harvested in November or December. Cotton, like many other crops, required cultivation and irrigation. Hygera or maize as a single crop, was harvested in one cutting and sold to packing houses as food for fattening beef cattle. Dean helped once to cut these tops and said it was a real chore! By mid-August cotton was high enough to shade its roots and too high to cultivate so it was during this time that the family went on vacation. Dean said in growing up he thought the last two weeks of August was the only time anyone could vacation!
Lettuce needed a wet soil to germinate. Father would order a small head of irrigation water to allow a trickle to flow for three days and three nights to start the seed. When still tiny seedlings, they were thinned to grow six inches apart to allow heads to develop. Lettuce was sold to local packing sheds. Sometimes Father grew lettuce in contract with a packing shed guaranteeing that the shed would buy a certain amount at a fixed price. Otherwise, he grew lettuce on the gamble that he would be able to sell it. Under those conditions he depended on the market. In 1929 Father grew fifteen acres of lettuce on the halves with a neighbor. The neighbor worried about selling the crop so accepted Father’s offer to buy the whole crop for $800.00. The lettuce market turned out to be very good. As a result Father was able to pay all of his debts and make enough on his half to buy a 1929 Model A Ford with rumble seat. The car was bought primarily with Phildon’s urging.
Some years the crops were good and then there were other years. Back at Lehi Father planted five acres of watermelons. He had a tremendous crop that thrived in the sandy soil. Some melons weighed forty pounds. People talked about that crop for years afterwards.
In late August after the cotton was “laid by” (too tall to cultivate but furrowed for irrigation) Father planted corn at the ends of the rows where the team or tractor turned for cultivating. If he planned it just right, there would be a crop ready for Thanksgiving and another for the Christmas market. The stores would take all the corn he had. Generally, the family bought the vegetables for the table as it was impractical to plant a small garden with their system of irrigation.
What part did Dean play in these farming activities? He worked long hard days. Before Dean was even five years old, his Father sent the boys to weed the cotton. Because they were all too small to use an hoe, they used butcher knives to accomplish the same ends, except the boys, in their innocence, thought Father wanted them literally to weed by removing the cotton - which they proceeded to do!
When Dean was about five years old there was a 4th of July gathering at Uncle Will’s on the Alma School Road. The road by their place was being resurfaced. For safety’s sake, carbide lamps lined the road at night. Carbide powder mixed with water under certain conditions gives off a gas and burns. Uncle Eugene and Step-cousin Mason decided to ignite some of this powder under a milk can. Fortunately, they set it off out in the field as the 10-gallon milk can shot 50? into the air producing a terrific bang!
People used to say that Phildon was used as an adult in the fields, and Ned and Dean worked nearly as hard. Dean drove the horses and then, after Father acquired a tractor, in 1929, he drove the tractor. In summer when Father was renting five farms, they moved the equipment - hay rakes, mowing machines, hay rack, three or four teams of horses, tractor - from farm to farm on a weekly basis. In the morning they started mowing. They could mow forty acres of alfalfa in one day with the tractor or they could accomplish the same using three teams one behind the other working from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Dean felt compassion for the horses as they panted in their labor and in the heat. By noon time, one team would be put on the hay rake while others continued mowing. Raking usually fell to Dean With the hay in winrows or stacks, the hay could cure without direct sunlight on it. It had a better color and, hence, brought a better price. By mid-week generally they had the hay put up and by the end of the week they prepared for the next week and the next farm. Every five or six weeks they harvested alfalfa. During the sixth week there was cotton to cultivate and hoe, ditches to clean, machinery to repair, cottonwood trees to top and wood to saw for the wood stove. Dean often drove the farm tractor in high gear. When he went over irrigation borders, the tractor would jump. He always hoped he would land on the seat.
Dean was fascinated by one of the workmen who came with the threshing crew. He never took off his clothes (never had a bath). When his outer bib-overalls became ragged, he merely put another pair over them. The inner layers gradually rotted and wasted away underneath.
One night when Dean was about twelve to fourteen years of age, he was given the responsibility of bringing home to the Bank Place southeast of Mesa the whole “kit and kaboodle” of farming equipment from the KP ranch. There were a hayrack, a flat-board wagon, a sulky rake, two buck rakes tied together back-to-back, and two or three mowing machines all drawn by the six horses. As the horses neared home where they could see the buildings across the fields, they began to pick up speed walking faster and faster. Dean tried to pull them down. They just would not slow. As Dean sawed the bits in their mouths, they broke into a run. On the bumpy dirt roads, it was a noisy procession. People said they could hear them for miles. Anticipating the last left turn before the house and realizing the need to maneuver it successfully, Dean tried to make a big sweep to the right and in the process mowed off a whole line of about fourteen mailboxes belonging to the neighbors. They didn’t negotiate the turn. The horses and equipment went into the ditch. The tongue of the hay rack was driven deep into the opposite ditch bank and broken. The horses were frightened and limped a little bit. Fortunately, none were seriously hurt. Dean unhitched them individually and tied them to the fence posts. Spectators came from miles around to witness the spectacle. (Dean had to set new posts for the mailboxes and repair them as best he could. ) Can you imagine the fright this young man must have felt? He has said that maybe his anxiety to be home compounded the reaction of the run-away horses. He had not held them in check soon enough.
By the time Dean was in high school Father hired a travelling baler to bale the hay. Up to this time a sulky rake gathered into winrows. Then a buck rake lifted the hay and carried it to a baler that compressed the hay into bundles. (A buck rake, about 12? wide, has teeth to lift hay in winrows and carry it to the baler.) A baler has to be loaded by hand from a platform. A ten-tined hay fork lifted the hay up to the platform. A travelling baler picked up the hay directly in the winrows and packed the bales on the move. With flood lights on the baler, it meant they could bale hay at night. Father liked to bale hay after dark when the dew had fallen as the moisture held the leaves on the hay greatly improving its quality. Dean did the raking with a span of horses. In order to rake at night Dean, as a teenager, rigged up a light for the rake from old discarded #6 batteries used in the hand-crank telephones.
One summer Dean was paid $7.00 for mowing and raking fields for a neighbor. Father said that would pay for their Father-Sons outing (including gas, food, etc.) to Granite Dells near Prescott on a weekend in June. Father, Phildon, Ned, Dean, and Jack Brimhall all went.
There were other crops to harvest - peaches, plums, figs, apricots, and grapes in season as well as dates and pomegranates at times. It was a family affair when children and grandchildren gathered at Grandma Millett’s to pick the down from the geese in springtime. At that time of the year the geese were molting (shedding their feathers) so it was easy to pluck the fluffy feathers from the geese as they lay docile in their laps. A big wood barrel was nearby into which they tossed the feathers. As each child was married, Grandmother gave her or him a feather bed - a mattress tick and two pillows. Feather beds require special care. Each day a feather mattress had to be fluffed. Dean remembered in growing up, he would stand in a chair and step carefully into the center of the feather bed so it would billow up around him like a snug nest on a cold winter’s night. Grandmother kept a beekeeper to tend her two or three hundred hives.
To return to Dean’s school days, he danced the minuet as he helped wind the May pole in a May Day celebration in first grade at the Irving School. After a half year at the over-crowded Irving School, Dean transferred to the new Lincoln School. Beginning fourth grade Dean finished elementary grades with five years at the Franklin School. He graduated in 1928.
Dean had been to school only a year or two when he walked by the J.C.Penny store in town where a man was writing “Merry Christmas” on the outside window with white poster paint. Dean had just learned how to spell “Christmas” at school and he was sure the man had misspelled it. He walked up to him and told him it was spelled incorrectly. For a young tot Dean was so insistent that the man went inside to inquire and came back to correct his writing!
In 7th and 8th grades Dean participated in soccer and track where he did the running broad jump, high jump, standing broad jump, relay races, and basketball throw. He tied for second in high jump during a track meet and he threw the longest basketball throw.
For a time during 7th grade Dean had a 14-mile paper route. Seven days a week he was up at 3: 45 AM travelling on his bicycle six miles east on the Apache Trail, then south, and so on to home. Daylight was just beginning to lighten the sky as Dean was travelling toward the west on Broadway. Looking up in the trees that lined the canal along the roadway, he thought he saw what looked like a bunch of grapefruit growing in the top of a tall cottonwood. Every morning, as daylight came increasingly earlier, he watched that tree. Surely enough, in broad daylight what he thought he saw was, indeed, a bunch of grapefruit! Dean thought such a phenomena wasn’t possible, but seeing was believing!
One day at school he was so tired from his early morning trek he laid his head down on his desk and went sound asleep. His teacher, Amy Riggs, did not waken him. When classes changed, she had the student who normally sat in Dean’s place, sit in another seat while Dean slept on! He awoke in the middle of the next class and sheepishly walked out! Referring to Amy Riggs, at an annual New Year’s family gathering, Dean saw his teacher there. He asked his Mother, “What is she doing here?” and Mother explained that Amy’s father was a first cousin to her.
Dean and his brothers usually took a lunch to school from home. His favorite was a sandwich of cheese and fig jam. A buggy came by each day with hot dogs and hamburgers for 5 cents apiece. Occasionally, Dean was given 15 cents for lunch. One day Dean had 5 cents and he went across the tracks to a little lunch stand to buy a special treat - a piece of pie. He thought it had the toughest pie crust he had ever eaten until he realized that, when he bought the pie, it came with a section of the cardboard plate. He had been eating pie plate and all!
When, in about the fifth grade, Dean’s teacher, Miss Solomon, asked the class how many books each had read. Some had read as many as thirty books. Then she asked how many had never read a complete book. Dean raised his hand. Miss Solomon was dumbfounded. Since the teacher was in Father’s and Mother’s Ward, she informed Dean’s parents. His parents had never read to him as a child so he did not have an appreciation of books. He always felt left behind and ignored in the lower grades because he could not read. However, numbers and math were not taught until first grade and Dean out-shone all of his classmates in math and science as he learned along with them.
Perhaps every child at some time entertains the notion of skipping school. Dean was about eleven years old when he and Max Mitchell did just that. Dean had never played with Max so he has wondered why he ever went with him on this occasion. They sat all day by the canal - a very dull, uninteresting day! Dean’s Mother learned of his escapade from the truant officer.
In the 7th and 8th grades Dean took manual training (we call it “Shop” or “Woodworking” today). His great desire was to make a sailboat to sail in the irrigation ditches. The instructor helped him with the general shape of the laminated boards that were glued together. The boards were rough-cut and finished into a boat about 18? long with a lead-weighted keel to hold it upright. It was pretty disappointing to have it all fall apart the first time he sailed it in the horse trough. It had been put together with ordinary glue that was not water-proof. Dean kept the pieces for awhile but did not know how to put them together again to last.
A woodworking project in 8th grade was a four-legged plant stand with a 12? octagonal top. Mother kept this table for years.
Jack Brimhall, a cousin, was Dean’s constant companion during their childhood. Jack was inclined to mischief and Dean became involved in some of his pranks. Dean and Jack were playing at Brimhall’s. The boys built a fire on the dirt floor in the barn. There must have been a shell among the papers they threw on the fire as the boys were hit on their arms by several BB shots as the main shot flew past them. The boys made the 100-yard dash to the house in record time. Aunt Neoma washed the blood from their faces and arms and started to the hospital with them. The boys seemed well enough en route so she changed her mind, and took the boys home again.
For amusement on a Saturday Dean and Jack put a box with string attached out in the road in front of Jack’s house. Drivers would try to avoid it. Others would stop thinking they were going to get something for nothing! As they were ready to pick it up, Dean and Jack would pull the string and retrieve the box. Some people treated it as a good joke while others were really angry. As people “caught on” to the trick, they tried to hit the box. This is when the boys added a brick to the inside of the box!
Jack’s father worked on the highways repairing roads and surfacing them. In their garage he stored barrels of tar for such road work. It was malleable to a degree. Jack and Dean used to take delight in sitting in the barrels to see who could make the deepest impression in the tar. Even though it was heavy tar, it stuck to their clothes. They even chewed it like gum. Dean said his parents were very unhappy with these antics.
When Dean was about twelve, as usual on a Sunday afternoon, he was at Jack’s house. A 30-ton caterpillar tractor with treads was stored in the yard. None of their parents were present when Jack suggested that he and Dean try cranking the tractor. Surely enough, they started it and decided to go for a ride. They were hardly big enough to reach the controls. They were in cahoots driving it over the bridge across the ditch, down Chandler Road to
Road, across Creamery to the canal. They had proceeded over two miles to Grandfather Millett’s place when they turned and started homeward. They had been gone for some time as a caterpillar tread moves slowly. An approaching car screeched to a halt opposite them. It was Jack’s parents. On returning home, they found the tractor missing and followed its tracks. They had been so frightened they did not know whether to be glad on finding the boys safe and sound or to scold them for taking the tractor. In their relief, they said, “Well, you’ve driven it this far all right. Why don’t you drive it on home. “ That they did!
Generally, as the years progress and we reminisce, the everyday things of life we pass by without thought. It’s when events step out of the ordinary that we call them back to mind. In writing of these events it may seem as if life were full of calamities, or we were always up to deviltry, or excitement was everyday. But it is not necessarily so. The things we remember were minor - or sometimes major -highlights along life’s route. No one else can possibly feel the significance of that moment. The following may seem of little consequence - but Dean remembered!
One way or another Dean and Jack managed to wheedle 15* apiece from their parents that they might go to a particular movie on a Saturday afternoon. But it was the comedy interlude that Dean remembered - not the feature picture. The boys laughed until their sides ached. They just had to see that comedy again so they sat through the feature a second time until the comedy was repeated. By the time they got out of the theatre it was late and dark outside. As they walked down the sidewalk in Mesa, an inebriated man grabbed them by the arms and asked, “Don’t you boys have a hat?” The boys confessed they didn’t even own one. The man must have had a pension for hats. He guided them into a men’s haberdashery and bought them each a cap. With that, he let them go and they came home in their bib-overalls wearing fancy new caps they didn’t even want!
Life with Jack was always exciting but their interests differed and Jack and Dean came to the parting of their ways before high school. Jack was later to become involved in serious confrontations with the law. Those whom we chose for friends have a great influence in our lives. Much credit should be given to Dean that at an early age he could recognize that association with unworthy friends could lead him into unworthy pursuits. Dean recognized that what Jack was making of himself he might make of Dean. And Dean wanted to lead a worthy life. His friendship shifted to others in the family and acquaintances at school. Max, another cousin, became his life-long friend. Together they shared many constructive activities and good times of youth. Another positive influence of friends came about when Dean was in high school. Occasionally he went home after school with Dale Riggs, a second cousin, to play with him. Dale and another friend, Donald Stem were accustomed to taking their books home and studying together. They were disciplined to study as Donald’s mother was a school teacher and both boys got good grades. Dean found that if he were to associate with them he had to study, too. His Freshman year had been a disaster. He had so many chores to do at home, he found little time or encouragement to study. He made the time to study now and found his grades went to “A’s” and he got good grades from then on.
All of his life Dean has enjoyed constructing. His Father used to say that every board he owned had a nail in it but Dean persisted in his desires. Dean did not have many tools with which to work as his Father’s inventory included a crosscut saw, wood chisels, wood bits and a brace, a draw knife, Grandfather Williams’s wood planes, a framing square, level, leather punch, hammers, wrench for machinery, screw driver, bit, small set of metal drills (for brace), sledge hammer and wedges for splitting wood, axes, wood files and a rasp (for shoeing horses),. It was hardly an assortment for cabinetry or construction work but they “made do” with what they had.
When Dean was about twelve years old he made a push car he named “the Mutt and Jeff. “ (Those of this generation may not be familiar with the comic strip, by Bud Fisher, that ran in newspapers 1907 through the ‘50?s called “Mutt and Jeff. “ The two characters were always involved in comic situations. Mutt was very tall and Jell was short. ) Short and tall did not seem to apply to the description of Dean’s car except that it was stubby. It was sturdily constructed from three 2×4?s. The wire-spoked wheels Dean salvaged from old wagons. For years the boys played with that car pushing each other all over the yards.
It was on the 4th of July holiday about 1926 when the family were gathered at Grandfather Millett’s The boys were flying kites in the new-plowed field. Eugene and Mason had made a kite about 8? across from wood strips and newspapers. Phildon held the kite while others managed the string. In a sudden gust of wind the kite took off into the air lifting Phildon with it. He was about ten feet off the ground when he let go falling safely into the soft earth.
At home the children were not encouraged to keep anything. There just was no space or place. Phildon had made a little blue box to hold his certificates and papers important to him. Dean, at 18, wanted a box so much to keep his own things. All he had was a wood scrap l”xl2?x2V long. Using the tools at the Mesa High School workshop he split the plank creating enough wood to construct his box. The bottom was made from an old crate he found. There must have been paint left from Phildon’s box because Dean’s box was blue, too. It still holds treasures collected during the years.
When Dean was thirteen to fifteen years of age he took a great interest in snakes. There were all kinds of harmless snakes in Arizona - garter snakes, water snakes, etc. Dean was brave in picking them up to tease the girls. One day, in 1933, he had read in Life Magazine an article on “Poisonous Snakes in the U. S. “ Later that same day he saw a small, very colorful snake about 10? long. He had never seen one like it before and was about to pick it up but decided he would look at the article in Life Magazine again to see if it were pictured. Surely enough, it was a deadly coral snake, not native to Arizona. The boys cautiously picked up the snake with a stick and bottled it. That cured Dean of picking up snakes. (This confirmed the warning that so many naturalists have expressed - leave snakes alone. They can never be “tamed” for pets. Even though you think you know their characteristics, you never can be sure. ) Dean thinks the coral snake must have arrived in Mesa via travellers - knowingly or unwittingly. Across the street from where they were living on Main Street was a service station and motel. No doubt, the snake had been in a car or luggage and dropped off there.
Dean has a BB shot in his forehead. Someone in the yard was firing a Daisy rifle and a shot hit Dean above his left eye. The shot didn’t bother Dean so it was left there and now some sixty years later, it can still be felt beneath his skin.
With perhaps eighteen boy cousins and fifteen girls when they got together, what one could not think of another did. Innocent play can leave possible permanent scars or memories. At the Bank Place they used to swing across the 6–8? ditch banks with a rope hung from a branch of a cottonwood tree. Ned used to carry Dean between his legs as he swung across dropping Dean on the opposite bank. On one trip across Dean landed on top of a cottonwood root sticking up sharply. It took the skin off Dean’s shin. A little later the boys were challenging each other to a standing broad jump up 18? onto the open porch at home. Dean miscalculated hitting the edge of the porch boards and skinning his shin that had not yet healed from swinging the ditch. Dean has always carried the scars of these escapades.
Dean may not have been directly involved in some of these performances but he was an enthusiastic spectator! A favorite trick was to toss stoppered soda pop bottles filled with water into the fire. As the pressure built up, the bottles would go flying!
Again at the Bank Place Dean and Ned dug trenches in the orchard in front of the house. They covered the trenches with boards and dirt to make a cave. At the very next irrigation, it all caved in. Then they dug tunnels -perhaps 50? of them - with a 4×7? room at the end where they could play. Again this tunnel and room fell in.
They dug a third tunnel on higher ground in back of the house away from possible irrigation. They sloped the grade so the room at the end was 5?-6? below the surface of the ground. It was a nice cool place to play. The mosquitoes congregated there, too. It never would do for a person with claustrophobia to have to crawl on hands and knees 10? in a dark tunnel to a still darker playroom beyond! Dean said they must have had to use flashlights to light their way. They enjoyed this cave for about a year until irrigation water flooded extra high and tunnel and playroom collapsed! (Grandma Williams would give a word of warning to any grandchildren who might get ideas from reading this building unsupported tunnels and rooms in the ground is dangerous business. The boys were fortunate to escape any tragic accident. )
For a time Dean was interested in birds and in trapping them. He did not want to hurt them but keep them in captivity to enjoy them. There were many varieties of birds in Arizona as thousands of them used to flock along the Salt River. When the family lived on Alma School Road Dean made a pyramid trap, 12? square, of l/4?x3/4? strips graduated up to a peak about 8? high. As birds came to eat the food put out to entice them, they would step on a string that released and lowered the trap down onto them. After catching the birds, he put them in a wire cage 6?x6?x8?. Some birds lived quite well in captivity while others would not eat to survive. Doves and meadow larks were common and easy to catch. Other birds he trapped were chippers, cardinals, and blackbirds. Dean never was able to snare a quail. They were clever and so strong they could push the brick weight off the top of the trap. One night Dean failed to tend his trap. When he did check on it, he found there a beautiful scarlet tanager dead. Dean felt so sad he opened the cage door and turned loose all the dozen or so birds.
When Phildon was about fifteen years old, his parents bought him a violin. They gave Dean a clarinet. Phildon learned to play the violin but Dean never cared for the clarinet. Ned wanted to take lessons and so he got Dean’s instrument. He played in the grade school and high school bands and orchestras, in the college band at Tempe, and in the Infantry Band for the Reserves. Dean never did learn to play either the violin or clarinet but about 1930–31 he learned of a method of playing the piano by chords and for a year or so he took lessons on their Gulbranson player piano from Orley Isles, of Phoenix. Ned sent for his clarinet on his Mission when he organized a church band. When he returned, he traded it in toward an engagement ring for Thell Hunsaker.
During the 22 years of their married life Dean’s parents moved 15 times in and around the Mesa area. There were significant associations with each move that characterized each location and Dean has been able to put together a certain chronology of events tying it to a certain house.
Each house is like a way station in life. We have revisited several times each of these former dwelling places. For Dean it must be like paging through a family album producing a flood of memories and an exercise in nostalgia. No matter how briefly Dean may have lived there, if a place gave him residence, located him in the world, it deserves to have been called “home. “
When there seemed to be no other place to go, they would move back to Grandfather Williams’s ranch in Lehi where they lived in a little old two-room uninsulated wood frame house with a lean-to shed in the rear. Mother wallpapered the kitchen with butcher paper and covered the bedroom walls with an inexpensive wall-paper. Do you know what it is like to wall paper a board wall? It looks pretty for a time. After a season or two of climatic changes/ the wallpaper cracks at the joint of every board or stretches to leave a series of parallel ripples. Mother painted all the trim woodwork gray - the cheapest paint they could afford. Wendall Davis recalled that his Mother, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Helen and all of the children came to help Mother. At noon lunch they had the first green peas and new potatoes of the season. Wendall always remembered the “food” part because it tasted so good! During cold weather - and it does get cold in Arizona at times - their only source of heat was a wood stove. Of course, there was no bathroom, no running water, and no electricity.
Each move necessitated an emotional adjustment and some moves were the result of a deep emotional experience. Land prices were going higher and higher. Father had bought a second-hand Jordan car, in excellent condition. It had been owned by a doctor in Phoenix. Father and Mother were saving their money to buy a house so they would not have to move around so much. Dean’s Mother’s dream was for a home of their own. They respected Grandfather Millett’s judgment when he recommended they purchase the Groehler Ranch that was for sale on Flour Mill Road Extension east of Mesa. It was an 80-acre farm. Father felt he could afford to buy only 20 acres but Mr. Groehler would not divide the property. They liked the place and Grandfather felt they could not go wrong since cotton was selling at 85 cents a pound. (A good crop produced about a ton of cotton per acre. ) It was predicted that by the coming year it would bring a dollar a pound. They decided to take a chance and made a down-payment of $10, 000 - half of the price and all they had in savings. The remaining $10, 000 they planned to pay when cotton was harvested. Dean was five years old at the time ?1919.
During the following winter a sudden sharp depression swept the country and there was no market for cotton at any price. They could not sell cotton, baled hay, or hay in the field. When the payment came due, they could not meet it. Mr. Groehler would not accept cattle, sheep, hay, or cotton for the payment. They did not have money for an attorney. There was nothing to do but give up everything they had.
One section of land across the street was owned by the McQueens?. Here they pastured their sheep every winter when they brought them down from the mountains. The little “leppies” (lambs that would die without special care) Mr. McQueen? gave to Mother when he thought they would not live. In all, Mother had over 150 “leppies” and, of that number, she and the boys raised 36 on the bottle. The ditches were fenced for sheep. As soon as it was warm enough, they put the sheep to feed on the ditch banks and fed them through the fence three times a day. Mr. Groehler took all of these sheep the family had nursed so tenderly.
Just to the east of the Groehler Ranch was the Evans Ranch School, a private school for boys. There they had a couple of dozen of peacocks. Dean had never seen peacocks before and he was quite excited about the exotic birds when they came into his yard to eat the chicken feed.
There were Mexicans who lived out on the back ditches. They invited Dean to come and share tacos with them. He was fascinated to watch them make flour tortillas as they tossed and flipped them back and forth from hand to hand to flatten them. On one occasion Mother paid them to make tomales for a Relief Society supper social.
Under the house was a fruit cellar with cement walls. It was cool down there and snakes liked to congregate there. Dean dreaded to go down there. It he needed to go where the snakes were, he waited until they moved out of the way.
In reflecting on the past and in spite of the deep disappointment at losing all of their savings, Dean’s Mother felt that the year or so at the Groehler Ranch when they were in their own home was the happiest time she had known. One Christmas Father gave Mother a fur neckpiece. She cherished this all her life perhaps because things in themselves are not important but as frail reminders of lives lived, they are more than mere possessions. Its value lay in the past - it represented the happiest days she had known.
After the loss of the Groehler Ranch (Fall of 1920) the family had no place to live so once again they returned to Lehi but shortly thereafter Grandfather and Grandmother Millett took them to their house to live. The Groehler Ranch episode was probably a turning point in their lives.
It is not surprising that such a material loss should have an intense affect on Father. Perhaps feeling an urgency to regain himself financially, he invested, to no avail, in several get-rich-quick schemes and land purchase speculations that proved unprofitable. He invested in oil stocks with “promise of a million. “ Some of the oil wells were imaginary and some “wild cat” ones just never did produce. He invested in land grants in California.
Court proceedings were going on in areas supposedly not legally owned. Lawyers were trying to sell this land for homesteading. Father made several applications for homesteading at $25-$30 each.
It was several months before they could find a place to farm on shares. For years Father had farmed a 40-acre place for the First National Bank. On a share basis money realized from crops was divided equally between tenant and renter with the renter providing seed/ cultivation, and harvesting while the owner paid for irrigation and taxes. The bank let Father farm another 40-acre lot on Transmission Road where there was a new house with five rooms, plus a pantry and an open porch. There were no out-buildings but it was a place to live and a place to put their four horses and one cow. (Mr. Groehler had taken their sheep, hay, and all but one cow. ) They were to live at the Bank Place for nine years from 1920–1929.
During these years Mother and Father were active in Church callings, Mother taught theology lessons, served in Relief Society presidency, and was Counselor in YWMIA. She and Father took parts in plays. Father was Superintendent of Sunday School and 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric.
Dean has many memories of the years they lived at the Bank Place. With no insulation, the house in the heat of summer was like a solar furnace. Many nights the boys slept outside on the porch. One night Dean had a dream of falling off a cliff. He only partially awoke when he dreamed again of falling off the cliff. By that time he was fully awake and found he had fallen off the cot onto the floor and fallen again off the porch onto the ground.
One Christmas at the Bank Place Father gave Mother a very nice pair of kid gloves. The boys did not take turns unwrapping presents. As Dean recalls, “They dove in all at once!” They didn’t save the wrapping paper either. After everyone was finished unwrapping presents, the papers were gathered up and put in the pot-belly heater and burned. They tried to find the kid gloves, but never did. They must have been burned with the papers. It cast a certain sadness over the day.
One night before their parents returned home from an evening out, the boys decided to go to bed in the cotton wagon. They sank into the newly-picked, light, and fluffy cotton and went sound asleep. On their return their parents, with flashlights, spent some frantic moments hunting the yards for the children and inquiring at the neighbors. It was, maybe, 2 o’clock in the morning before they finally found them.
In the Spring of his last year at Franklin School, the 8th grade boys got out of classes on Arbor Day to plant trees. They planted about 100 small trees about the school grounds that grew to full tall trees.
In 1926 Dean became a Boy Scout in the 2nd Ward troop. Scout activities took place at the Franklin School at noon hours. That is where Dean passed Cooking on a Rock by building a fire and heating the rock. He says he was “hard” on leaders as within months he “went through” several of them. Various circumstances brought this about. One leader became ill and died. One moved to Salt Lake City to a better job. Another was promoted to the National Boy Scout organization. With collapse of his troop/ Dean had to register with the 4th Ward troop in order to go to summer camp at Tonto Basin. At Boy Scout Camp Geronimo, north of Payson, one of the Scout leaders was a student of Zane Grey, (1875–1939). Legend has it that during an hunting expedition Zane Grey found a mountain lion that had dragged a steer into a cave and was eating it. Zane Grey killed the mountain lion and had it mounted. The Scout leader maintained that the skeleton of the steer should still be in the cave. He had a general description of where to find the cave. Zane Grey’s cabin was about three miles from Camp Geronimo under the Mogollon rim. The cave was supposed to be about twelve to fifteen miles from camp. The troop set out to find the cave. They hiked with back packs all day in the hot sun. Their feet were blistered in the desert heat. At night they slept on the ground. One of the land marks for which they kept a careful look-out was a scattering of quartz crystals on the ground near the cave. The next morning when they came upon quartz crystals, they spread out over the area within seeing distance of each other as they searched for the cave. At first they found several small sink holes and then a cave back under the rocks. Thirty to forty yards inside, the cave opened up to a chamber. There they found the skeleton of a steer. One Scout retrieved the head thinking to take it home as a souvenir but he became weary of carrying it and, with the thought of the fifteen-mile trek back to camp, he gave it to another Scout. At camp Dean’s patrol earned the award for Good Housekeeping and Personal Health. But the boys were so noisy! (Jack was the instigator of all the fun and trouble!)
Another memorable Scout outing was to Red Rock in February of 1930. Uncle Hugh Dana was Bishop. He liked to go on outings and he had planned this trip with the Scouts. Since he could not leave until evening after work on a Friday night, he asked Dean if he would accompany the twelve-year-old Scouts to their campsite leaving early in the morning. There were about ten to fifteen that left Mesa on horseback. At this time Dean was not active in any Scout troop. He borrowed Phil Davis’s (a cousin) riding horse. They travelled light as Uncle Hugh was coming with his pick-up truck loaded with bedrolls, hay for the horses, etc. Fourteen miles from Mesa at Granite Reef they stopped to eat lunch by the Salt River and in the afternoon continued on three more miles across the desert to Red Rock. The Scouts picked their spots to make camp and when Uncle Hugh came, they fed and watered the horses and prepared supper. As night fell, they tried to find flat places to spread their bedrolls. In the darkness tales of ghosts, howling of the coyotes, and fear of snakes overcame the boys and they began to whimper. The boys talked Uncle Hugh into breaking camp and going back by the river for the night. By the time it was decided exactly where they would go and by the time they had their paraphernalia all packed, three of the boys were missing. Uncle Hugh called out into the night but there was no answer. He figured that as soon as the boys heard the camp was moving, the boys had imagined they were going back to the place on the river where they had eaten lunch at noontime. Dean and two other leaders volunteered to spread out on the desert to comb the area at Granite Reef. They agreed to stay within calling distance of each other. The terrain was not exactly flat. On the way Dean was riding in the bottom of a wash next to a 20?-30? ridge that projected on the right, when, without warning, a coyote let out his piercing, mournful, blood-curdling howl just above him. In an instant, Dean’s horse, with her ears laid back in terror, was off like a shot. She streaked across the desert and could not be stopped, checked, or slowed. In his mad flight the horse brushed a prickly cholla just close enough to drive the spines into Dean’s knee. It was some time before Dean could calm the horse enough for it to stop and let Dean alight to pick the thorns from his left knee. At Granite Reef they found the boys just where they had anticipated they might be. Retracing steps, they had to double up with two riders to each horse. It was in the wee hours of morning before they reached camp. Dean’s bed roll was no where to be found so he spent the rest of the night sitting up and nodding in the truck. The next morning Dean found one of the Scouts had used his bed roll as extra padding to make sleeping more comfortable!
Dean was 15 years old when he passed tests to become a 2nd class Scout. When the family moved, Dean became assistant Scout Master to Albert Huber in the 4th Ward. Dean took the Boy Scouts on an outing to Superstition Mountain. They never reached the top as the Scouts complained so sorely of being tired and scared. His career in Scouting was temporarily ended until Dean had a son of his own to support in the Scouting program.
One summer Dean went on a week’s camping trip east of Mesa. Uncle Loren was responsible for road maintenance between Fish Creek Hill and Mormon Flat on the Apache Trail. He invited Dean and Jack to camp with him for a week. Dean was about 13 years old at the time. Across from camp there was an hill which the boys decided to climb one morning. They hiked over three ridges and still the hill seemed as far away. They were impressed at how deceiving distances appeared. Because they had gone so far from camp, they were late in getting back and late for breakfast.
Uncle Loren drove an old army dump truck to pull the grader that smoothed the gravel roads. The grader proceeded at a snail’s pace so the boys would jump off the truck to play and then run and catch up with the truck. Once the truck got too far away from them for the boys to overtake it. The situation was desperate because the canteen was on the truck. They knew Uncle Loren would come back with the grader eventually. In the meantime/ they found a dry creek bed and dug down until they found water. The flavor was pretty poor as it was where the cows had frequented! The boys surely were glad to see the truck with the canteen again! Dean saw his first gila monster on the desert. It was red and black and about 12?-14? long.
Dean tells this story of a neighbor boy who was his classmate at school. They lived about a mile apart but went to and from school together so Dean shared this experience with Clarence. Clarence Rowley’s family had very little money. In fact, Dean said they were as “poor as church mice. “ Clarence carried papers and with the money he earned, he had to buy all of his own clothes and help with family finances. In the dry goods store he had seen a sweat shirt he wanted and saved his money until he had the $1. 79 to buy it. When he went to the store, the clerk, sensing that he was trying to save money, said, “Why don’t you wait two weeks when we are going to have a sale?” So he patiently waited the two weeks. The sale price was $1. 99 and Clarence could not persuade the clerk to let him have the shirt for less. He had to wait two more weeks until the sale was over to buy the sweat shirt for $1. 79!
Dean graduated from Grammar School and became a freshman at Mesa Union High School in 1928. Freshmen were not allowed to tackle major projects in Shop but since Phildon, as a Sophomore, was in the same class with Dean, the instructor allowed Dean to build a cedar chest with Phildon’s help during the second semester. (Students from all grades signed up for Shop but worked on projects according to their grade level. ) Mr. Olson felt that most chests were too close to the floor and he wanted them to experiment with a leg that would lift the chest higher. Phildon turned the first leg and, following his example, Dean turned the other three legs that they used on the chest. The legs were about 12? long attached to the corners with an “L”-shaped strip. However, the longer legs were weak and eventually broke reducing the chest to a box on the floor. (To continue with the history of this particular chest: Cherrizade Williams used the chest as long as she lived (1967), moving it with her from the Bank Place, S. E. Mesa: to the Davis Place, Alma School Road; to Gibbons Place, S. W. Mesa; to 535 W Main Street, Mesa; to 816 No. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona; to Richmond, California via Lynn, Massachusetts due to error of Express Company; then back to Mesa, Arizona; to Malad, Idaho; and back to Mesa for several moves and finally to Phoenix.
“Dean took the chest to Lynnfield, Massachusetts in 1957 and it was stored on a basement floor. This allowed moisture to separate many of the glued joints.
“Cedar was cut from the woods at 500 Lowell Street in Lynnfield to make new feet and make repairs. Rebuilding was done January 1985, in Orem, Utah. The loose joints were dowelled and reglued before reassembling. A new platform (with lower support legs) was made to hold the old bottom, sides, and ends. New corner strips were made of the Lynnfield cedar. Betsey Williams refinished it in February 1985. “ (From Dean’s history of the chest) Gary and Sharon Mathews took the chest to Toledo, Oregon 26 June 1990.
Dean gained more hammering skill as he helped rebuild the neighboring Park’s house that had burned. The Park’s house was destroyed 13 March 1928. Howard, a classmate of Dean’s, had given his parents a clock he had bought with money earned from picking cotton. Howard’s Mother ran into the burning house to save that clock. (The clock was still running in July 1976 when Howard Park came to visit us. )
The deep, 6?-8?-wide irrigation ditches provided for many and varied activities. Perhaps Dean had seen such a boat or at least a picture of one. It gave him the ideas and in 1928 he constructed a tin boat. It was made from a sheet of corrugated galvanized steel roofing 30? wide by 8? long. Dean bent one end together vertically to form the bow, fastening it to a 2?x3? post gasketed with pieces of second-hand inner tubing. The stern was shaped and secured to an “U”-shaped board. It was a big hit and all the neighbor boys coveted a tin boat, too. Within a couple of years there was a fleet (about 9) of tin boats of various sizes belonging to cousins Max and Keith, and boys in the area. Hand propulsion was the power that sent them through the water as each navigator sat on the floor of his boat. For several years they cruised the raced in the canals.
Learning through these experiences, in 1929 Dean made a crude storage chest when they were living at the Bank Place. Ned had this later. Dean, also, made a pine chest for Aunt Hazel Valentine (August 1932) when the Valentines were living with Dean’s family.
In his senior year in high school, Dean made another cedar chest. Time for building the chest had to be shared with other interests he was developing. In his diary he made this notation for February 8, 1932: “Glued bottom on cedar chest” and he finished the chest before graduation. This is the cedar chest that arrived from Arizona at the time of our wedding in 1944 filled with sheets, pillowcases, towels, and many beautiful quilts.
At times Dean’s interest in construction took a different turn. (Alma School Road house) He spent some time constructing a kayak 30?wide by 14? long. (He got the idea from a Boy Scout magazine but, technically, it was not a true kayak as the top was open. ) Using the equipment at school, he sawed long thin pine ribs for the length. They were held in place by vertical, shaped 2?x4?’s at the ends. The frame was covered with canvas. Dean painted the whole thing when the canvas was wet so that, as the canvas dried, it became tight and water-proofed. He painted it in stripes of orange and black - the only paints he could scrounge- around it so it looked like an gila monster! Most of the time he used his hands as paddles as he sat on the floor of the kayak. He would put the kayak in at the main canal and paddle to Grandfather Millett’s ranch to play with Max.
Max wanted a kayak ever so much but he was not handy with tools. Finally, his Dad helped him build one. Profiting by Dean’s experience, Uncle Art and Max added hoops for strengthening. While they finished Max’s kayak, Dean took his apart and rebuilt it adding hoops. On a Scout camp-out to Granite Reef Dam, Dean took his kayak. On the return he paddled the canals all the way home. It took him over four hours hand-paddling all the way to Max’s house.
To transport his kayak from home to the ditches, Dean built a set of wheels - one was a disc of solid wood he sawed from a board and the other was an old wire wheel with no tire. Using these wheels as a trailer under one end, he pulled the kayak behind his bicycle.
A friend, Lorenzo Lisonbee, also, built a kayak. These three young men were kayaking on Canyon Lake when boys from a Scout troop camping there, asked to buy the kayaks. Max and Dean would not relinquish theirs but Lorenzo sold his for $5. 00 - enough to pay for his materials.
Dean spent a lot of time in that kayak paddling in the ditches and canals all over the valley. He had the kayak until he went on his mission. During the two years he was gone, he let Phil Davis (cousin) have it. When Dean came home his kayak was still in the Davis1 yard but the canvas was deteriorating.
When Dean was about thirteen Aunt Neoma was Stake President of YWMIA. Del Stapley (future Apostle in the LDS Church) was president of YMMIA. While they were in leadership, the Maricopa Stake purchased a tract of land at Groom Creek for a 99-year lease. MIA used the lodge there for social gatherings and camping. Lots of land were sublet to finance the MIA lodge. Aunt Neoma and Uncle Loren Brimhall, Uncle Art and Aunt Hazel Millett, Uncle Alma and Aunt Mary Davis, and Uncle Hugh and Aunt Helen Dana all leased lots. At times the lodge was rented to other groups, such as the Baptists. On one trip to Groom Creek there was not room for all to sleep in the cabins so Dean and Jack bunked in the loft of the lodge during a Baptist Convention there. Dr. Rock was the leader of the Baptist group. When the sentinel gave the bugle call in the morning, he shouted, “Dr. Rock and all you little pebbles, arise and shine!”
Dean has many memories of Groom Creek. One morning Dean, Jack and Hans and Jim Wickenburg decided to hike up to Spruce Mountain look-out tower. (Hans’s and Jim’s parents were operating the gold mine there trying to eek out enough money for food to feed their family during the depression days. ) The rain came down and the boys kept ducking into mine shafts and tunnels to keep from becoming drenched. At the mining camp they found an old house. Skunks were living under the foundation so the boys set to work tearing up floor boards trying to get at the skunks. By the time they were through, the boys left the house in shambles. They then proceeded on their way up the mountain to find their direction. It was getting late in the day and the trail was rocky and steep. All at once they stumbled onto the guy wires of the look-out tower. A friend of Ned’s was manning the tower so he gave them a real “tour. “ As they scanned the countryside through the telescope, they spotted a tiny column of smoke rising in the Brushy Mountains over 100 miles away. The tower keeper called forest fire fighters in that area to respond. It was a pretty exciting experience to boys in their early teens. They were grateful to the tower keeper who told the tired boys how to descend by a trail. At Groom Creek when the boys did not appear for dinner, their parents feared they were in trouble but when the boys arrived at camp, their folks were so happy to see them they forgot their anger at their being gone so long. Worry and concern for their safety had been their main anxiety.
There were other memorable vacations. In late August after the last furrowing for irrigation and cotton was too tall to cultivate, the family had about ten days when they could relax from their labors. For several summers they travelled to Santa Monica, California to visit Aunt Silvia (Williams) Lipscomb (a half-sister to Father). To be sure they had to pay board and room while they were there as Sylvia’s husband insisted upon it, but they enjoyed the beaches and swimming. (When Uncle Phildon was 17, he lived all summer with Aunt Sylvia working in Venice polishing shells for jewelry. ) On one of their trips Dean suffered with an earache. Aunt Sylvia’s husband, who smoked a pipe, breathed the warm smoke into Dean’s ear to relieve the pain. Dean’s ear was lanced.
Another memorable vacation was spent in the White Mountains in north eastern Arizona at White River and Paradise Creek. (Dean was about 12 years old. ) There were about 23 cousins and aunts and uncles in the group. In addition to Dean’s family, there were Uncle Art’s family and eight Danas. Kenneth Dana drove the Model-T pick-up truck to carry the tents, cots, and camping equipment. The first night they all tented in Hannigan’s Meadows after having visited during the day an old jail carved out of the solid rock of the mountain side in Clifton (Morency). They all slept in wall tents. Some had folding cots. Dean’s parents had a folding iron bed and slept in luxury with a pad for mattress and quilts to cover them!
Approaching Paradise Creek there was a steep hill - so oblique that cars often had to be pushed to the summit. Gale Dana had a new 1925 Dodge. He bragged that his car could climb like no other. He boasted his was the only car that could make the hill in second gear. Said he/ “I’ll bet $10. 00 I can climb that hill!” Father challenged him that his Star would do as well as the Dodge. Everyone but the drivers got out of the cars and they took out all the luggage and stripped out the seats to make the cars as light as possible. Both cars made it in second gear although it was a struggle for the Dodge. Then there was another wager. With three passengers each/ the Dodge could not quite make the incline while the Star struggled and just barely reached the top. The engine sounded as if it were taking off like an airplane. When Kenneth came along later, they had to unload the camping gear while everyone helped push the truck up the hill. Cars in those days made about 20 miles per gallon of gasoline. Gasoline cost 11–12 cents per gallon.
For about a week they tented at Paradise Creek the young people had looked forward to swimming in the Creek. Ready in their swim suits they jumped into the water and jumped out just as quickly! They were numb from the frigid water. Four Peaks and Mt. Baldy, white with snow, towered above their campsite. They were content to sit on the shore and fish!
On this trip along with the excitement of seeing new places and enjoying new adventures/ they all experienced a rather touching episode. Aunt Helen fell ill as they travelled. The cars all stopped by the roadside. Aunt Helen fainted. In their anxiety everyone was trying to do what each could to help her. Aunt Helen’s step-children, faced with the sudden reality that they might lose her, came to the realization of how much she meant to them. It was a dramatic event that brought the family closer together as they felt a greater appreciation for her love and sacrifices for them.
With Aunt Helen’s recovery the families continued their travels to Petrified Forest, Indian ruins north of Flagstaff, Sunset Crater, and Grand Canyon. While they camped at Flagstaff, the boys were fascinated by flying squirrels. From the top of a ponderosa pine they would glide 30?-40? to another tree. Phildon chased a squirrel until the squirrel started to scramble up a tree. Phildon whipped a rope around the tree trunk above the squirrel as it came down and ran for another tree. The boys kept this play going until the squirrel was exhausted and they captured it. They put it in a wooden barrel with a cover. The next morning the squirrel was gone. He had chewed a round hole in the side of the barrel.
At Grand Canyon Kenneth Dana and Phildon just about produced heart failure among their parents when Phildon grabbed a small shrub and they both swung out over the edge of the mammoth precipice dropping onto a trail below! (There were no fences there as now. ) They returned home via Montezuma’s Castle.
After Grandmother Millett’s illness with cancer, she and Grandfather bought a camp in Pine where the family used to gather for vacations tenting in the cool mountain air. Later, they, too, had a cabin in Groom Creek.
In 1927 the family, with the exception of Phildon, set out for California on vacation. The day before, at Gila Bend 70 miles west of Phoenix, there had been a flash flood washing out the gravel approach around abutments to a bridge leaving the cement abutments exposed. The highway department was negligent in that the road should have been closed. There was no barrier or sign of danger posted. Father was driving in the night when it was cooler. With no warning, they came upon the washout. The front wheels went over the gully but the rear wheels caught on the abutment and pulled the transmission in two. There was a terrible jolt when they went into the gully and another one when the car came to an abrupt stop. Fortunately and miraculously, they were not hurt. Almost immediately a man with a wrecker came along - almost as it he had been waiting for the accident. For $10. 00 he towed their car three miles to Gila Bend. The same man who towed them wanted to fix their car for a tremendous price. However, a trucking company had just delivered a load to Gila Bend and was returning empty to Phoenix. The driver loaded their 1925 Buick sedan into the truck and took it back to Phoenix where Father had the car repaired. Mother, Ned, and Dean returned home by bus. Phildon, who had stayed at home to help plow the fields for Gale Dana, was surprised to see them on their return the very next day after they had left!
When Dean was growing up, holidays were high points in every day living with exciting family gatherings and celebrations. For several years there were family reunions with maybe one hundred aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins gathered for a desert picnic on New Year’s Day. Activities included baseball and other games. One such picnic was held at Double Knolls east of Mesa.
The family usually went to a civic or recreation park, such as Rendezvous, for the 4th of July celebration. Holidays, as well as Sundays, were a time to celebrate with homemade ice cream. It was a familiar scene someone’s turning the crank on the ice cream freezer on the back porch or steps. Maybe another sat on the freezer to steady it while others took turns straining at the crank to turn the cylinder containing the ice cream mixture around and around through the salt and ice mixture that surrounded it. When the ice cream was finally and sufficiently congealed (after about an half an hour), the paddle was carefully withdrawn and dutifully licked by all who could seize the opportunity. Then the freezer was packed with ice and salt and covered with burlap to keep the ice cream frozen until it was time to serve.
In Dean’s youth Hallowe’en “trick-or-treating” had not been invented. But the holiday did provide an opportunity for deviltry. Just once did Dean indulge in such mischief. Maybe he was about twelve years old. The highway department had trimmed mesquite branches and left them along the roadside. Dean, Ned, and Ralph Parks gathered the branches and piled them across the road (by the Bank Place). On approaching such a barrier some cars came to an abrupt stop, turned around, and sought another route; some drove into the branches inadvertently; and one car, coming at such a speed it could not stop, plowed straight through them.
It was not every family that had a Christmas tree. Trees had to be imported from northern Arizona and were expensive. Dean remembered there being a decorated Christmas tree in the auditorium in the Lincoln School when he was in second or third grade but they did not have a tree in his room.
December 25, 1925 the family gathered at Grandmother and Grandfather Millett’s for a reunion. They had a Christmas tree - a pepper tree limb the family cut from a tree at Uncle Will’s (corner of Alma School Road and Broadway or Creamery Road as it was then known). The foliage on the pepper tree was long, slender, shiny deciduous leaves similar to needles of an evergreen. It was decorated with paper chains and balls but by afternoon the branch was quite wilted. There was no exchange of gifts as individual families had had their own celebrations earlier. Each family contributed some food - a salad or vegetable, rolls, etc - to complement the roast turkey. Adults ate in the living-dining room while benches were set up on the porch for the children. Probably each family brought its own dishes and silverware. That Christmas was especially memorable because Uncle Alma Davis had a camera and took pictures capturing the occasion for even future generations.
Dean knew there was no Santa Claus by the time he started school. He had heard stories of its fallacy but still he wondered and questioned. Ned and Phildon were so sure they knew who the real Santa was that they searched the house while their parents were away early in December. They even found some of their gifts. It was the most unhappy Christmas they ever had!
Many times Dean has related the story of his family’s first Christmas tree. In 1972 we preserved it in writing for posterity and the following is an account of Dean’s first Christmas tree as he related it in his own words.
Our First Christmas Tree
“We were living on the old Bank Place (about 1922) on the road known as Stapeley Drive. The practise in those days among farm people was to go to town Saturday nights to do their shopping. This particular Saturday was just before Christmas and our folks gave each of the three of us 25* to spend. That was quite a little to us. You could buy a set of dominoes for 10* or 15*, for instance. Many things could be bought for a penny and useful items were often no more than 5*. As I remember it/ I spent a dime for something so had only IS* left. Then I went down to the end of Main Street to the end of the block where all the stores were to a feed and grain store - Zeb Pierce’s Feed and Grain Store. They sold Christmas trees and had a small one - table top model fir tree - for 15* I wanted it. Everyone else had Christmas trees. I guess I had read about them in school and just thought it would be nice to have one. I kept looking at it and going back to look at it until one of the men there let me have it for 15*. When I got back to the car, there was quite a little interest in it. Phildon had spent only 5* so he still had most of his money. He bought decorations for the tree with the rest of his money. True to form, Ned had already spent his money! He just didn’t hold onto money long. One of the decorations I remember was a little colored glass stocking.
‘’After our folks saw what we had done, they added a little to the decorations. Mother was pleased that we had a tree to decorate. We got some red paper and some green, which wasn’t very expensive then and I made paper chains.
“We had no fireplace and we put the Christmas tree on one of the colonnades between the living room and dining room. The colonnades were mantle-high bookcases that divided the rooms - one on either side with a post that went to the ceiling. If you looked from living room to dining room, it was on the right colonnade. Back of the colonnade on the left was the wood dining room stove used for heat.
“There were no candles on the tree that year. The decorations were the few Phildon and Mother bought and what we made. Presents were usually left on the dining room table and that year they were kind of divided between the dining room and under the tree.
“I remember seeing Grandfather Williams that night down street when we bought the Christmas tree and we told him what we had done. He didn’t seem very impressed. I don’t think they ever had one. Grandma Williams had always been poor in health and that is why they had moved from Kansas to Arizona. Christmas trees just were not popular at that time.
We always had a Christmas tree every year after that. They grew in size until it no longer sat on the colonnade -either in a chair or on a small table. Decorations were added every year, too. We used real candles that clipped on the branches. They were lit infrequently and blown out soon to be enjoyed for only short spaces of time. We added tinsel and we added balls in the years following. We didn’t have electric light strings as we had no electricity there at the Bank Place.
“We usually had Christmas at Grandmother Millett’s. One year they didn’t have a Christmas tree and we decided to cut a pepper limb and use it for a Christmas tree. We went up to Uncle Will’s on the corner of Alma School Road and 4th Avenue where they had large pepper trees. They are kind of shaggy but leaves stay green all winter. We set it up in the living room. There were about 10 or 15 or us went after it and we put all the decorations on it and it was beautiful. It wasn’t the shape of a Christmas tree but it had all the glitter and lights and was lovely. By evening the tree looked as if it had been cut for weeks. It had completely wilted down.
“We used to hang our stockings on the colonnade, in fact, it was the one by the heater. We used to get an apple, orange, mixed nuts in shells, candy cane, and occasionally a small gift. One year I remember I got a pocket knife. Mostly goodies to eat. We didn’t have fancy gift cards. Names were written right on packages. We didn’t have that much money. Wrappings were plain colors, usually red, green, or white.
“We didn’t take turns opening gifts. Everyone dove in as fast as he could.
“We didn’t have much money but Mother loved Christmas and she spent a fortune on it. She loved to give so we probably had more gifts than we rightfully should have had. Our gifts were generally clothes and a few toys. “
Occasionally the family had egg hunts at Easter time -maybe at family gatherings but there were no special traditions associated with the Easter holiday although there were special programs at Church. When Dean was about seventeen the M-Men and Gleaner Girls organized a Sunrise Service up on Superstition Mountain. Many found the early morning climb too rugged so the Sunrise Service was held at the top of Tempe Butte the following year. To accommodate many older people who wanted to share in these annual services, the Easter Sunrise Services were then held at the Temple grounds. Subsequently, the program was taken over by the Stake and held there annually.
Not only was there a certain regularity of activities associated with holidays but there was, also, an uniformity of activities in every day living in the home. There were the routines of each day, each week, and the seasons.
Every day on a farm certain outdoor tasks had to be performed. There may have been variations depending on the place where they were living at the time. It almost goes without saying that cows had to be watered, fed, and milked twice a day and turned out to pasture; the milk separated and carefully cooled and stored; hens fed and eggs gathered; horses fed and watered; wood (desert iron wood, mesquite, cottonwood, and china berry wood) cut, split, and brought into the woodbox. The animals were watered at a trough filled automatically by a float valve that regulated the water level as it flowed by gravity from the elevated storage tank (at the Bank Place).
Today we expect any liveable house to have a furnace, a bathroom, refrigerator, stove, hot-and-cold running water in the sink, automatic washer and clothes dryer, electricity, telephone, vacuum cleaner, etc. How times have changed! None of these “luxuries” of today were part of our youth. Because we didn’t have any of these conveniences, we didn’t miss them! But it did mean that life was lived quite differently in maintaining a subsistence. Nevertheless, the housework had to be done - dishes still had to be washed and beds made. Dusting and sweeping were daily chores. In arid Arizona dust blew across the dirt roads and fields and filtered into every nook and cranny of the house. Each morning the chamber mugs had to be emptied. As the boys grew older, they just used the out-of-doors if they had to go in the night! The closest semblance to a bathroom that they had was a “two-holer” ‘way out by the chicken coop! (Bank Place)
In some places where they lived there was no running water in the house. In Lehi they had to draw their water from the well. At the Bank Place they had running water with a faucet at the sink but it was cold water. So all water for dishes, cooking, and washing had to be heated on the stove top. Milk and food were lowered down the well to keep it cool. But at the Bank Place they had an ice box. Most of the time ice was delivered by the ice man who maintained a regular route. He would saw off whatever size of piece would fit into the ice box. At times the family went to the Crystal Ice Plant by the railroad tracks to get their own ice. This ice plant was next to the lettuce sheds where lettuce was crated for shipment. Since lettuce had to be iced on the railroad cars, it was feasible these two businesses should locate adjacent to each other by the railroad tracks.
During the summer Mother often used a kerosene stove for cooking as it did not throw out so much heat into the house as did the wood stove. Of course, air conditioning was unheard of. Coolers were not invented. There was no electricity for fans. When nights were insufferably warm and it was “hot as blazes” inside the house, the family slept on cots on the open porch or even out in the yard in hopes of finding relief in any breeze that might be stirring. Sometimes on very hot nights the boys would go to the irrigation pump and ditch box for a “skinny dip” to cool off!
Not only must daily chores be performed as usual but on Mondays/ it was, also, washday. Father got up extra early -whether in winter or summer - to build the fire in the kitchen stove. Mother was up by 6: 00 AM. With breakfast over, the work day, with hired help on the farm started at 7: 00 AM. A brisk fire burned all day in the cook stove. Pinto beans, that Mother had picked over (to remove tiny stones and bits of dirt) and put to soak the night before, were put on the stove to boil with salt pork and molasses. There was little time for meal preparation and beans was typical washday dinner and supper fare. Dean’s first task before he separated the milk, was to start a fire in a rock-walled fireplace in the yard. (Dean disliked milking cows but Ned and Phildon didn’t mind it, so Dean was given lesser tasks to do. ) A #3 tub for boiling the clothes sat on the grate over the fireplace. The outside of this tub was black with soot so Mother had to be especially careful putting in and taking out the clothes lest they hit the soot. She used a stick to poke the clothes down into the boiling water. To whiten the clothes Mother added lye and at least a half of a bar of Pels Naptha soap shaved into the water. The clothes boiled anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour depending on whether they were white, colored or very dirty. Making use of the clothes stick Mother lifted the steaming clothes high enough to allow them to drain a bit before transferring them to another tub. Each article of clothing was hand scrubbed on a scrub board. Can you picture the blistered fingers one could get from scrubbing maybe a dozen pairs of bib- overalls with their rivets and heavy buckles and buttons, to say nothing of all the towels, bedding, and underwear? Mother’s hands were worn raw. A third tub was for rinsing the clothes in cold bluing water. These tubs were not stainless or enamel but huge #3, round, galvanized iron tubs. Again, each article was wrung by hand. Shirts, aprons, dresses, etc. were starched for stiffness. The starch solution had been boiling on the cook stove. Still, washing was not completed until everything was hung with spring clothes pins on the clothes line to dry.
In Arizona sunshine clothes dried rapidly so they were brought in before nightfall. Starched clothes were sprinkled. No, there was no spray bottle. Mother dipped her hand in a pan of water and scattered the drops over the clothes. Then she rolled and packed them tightly into the clothes basket so the dampness would penetrate evenly throughout the fabric. Mother probably did not iron until Wednesday as Tuesday was Relief Society day and she usually held a leadership position in Relief Society. (Dean attended Relief Society regularly until he began school. )
At the Bank Place Mother had her first Maytag washer.
It was driven by a pulley attached to a single-cylinder, stationary gasoline engine. Another pulley ran to the water pump to pump the water from the well to a storage tank elevated on a platform. In summer the water in the storage tank was “hot” - hot enough for baths. When the family moved to the Bank Place the water level in the well was about 15? below the surface, They could even draw water by lowering a pail down the well. Within about five years with so much water being pumped from irrigation wells, the water level had dropped to a depth of 35?-40?. In order for the pump to function, Father had to build a platform down deep in the well on which to set the pump.
There still was much work to be done by hand on washday. Wash water had to be brought by pails full to fill the tubs and then dipped out and carried off to empty the tubs. Maybe the rinse water was used to water the flowers. During summer months emptying the tub was Dean’s task. The family did not have electricity until they moved to the place on Alma School Road. There it was 25-cycle power and lights often flickered.
As Mother scrubbed and rinsed by the wash tub stand, she stood on a wide long board that kept her feet dry and free of mud. Over the years this board became warped with its weekly soaking. Its turned-up end made it an ideal surf board that Dean used for surfing on the canals.
When Mother ironed (On Wednesdays), again a hot fire burned in the wood stove. Probably Mother ironed early in the morning before the high heat of the day. This was before the days of “wash-and-wear” and practically everything was ironed - bib-overalls, shirts, pants, sheets, towels, pillow cases, dresses, etc. Today the casual wrinkled look is acceptable but in our youth we dressed properly with our clothes starched and ironed smooth and crisp! Using three or four flat irons with one interchangeable wood handle Mother exchanged irons as they became too cool to be effective. One had to strike a happy medium of heating the irons just right on the stove top -not too hot lest the imprint of the iron scorch itself into the fabric and not too cool to drag. “Just right” was judged by the sound of the sizzle when you touched your wet finger to the bottom of the iron. Mother’s ironing board was a flat board fashioned with a tapered end and padded with old sheets tied in place underneath with criss-crossed strings. She propped the ironing board across the backs of two chairs.
Other days of the week Mother devoted to house cleaning, cooking, and mending. Saturday evenings the family often went to town to get groceries. As they sat in the car on the street Grandfather Williams often came by to visit with them.
The family usually worked each week day until 6 or 7 o’clock at night.
In the evenings after supper, sitting around the kitchen table, they often played games as a family - flinch, dominoes, checkers, Rook, etc. For a time they played horseshoes pitching them night after night until Dean got to be a fair player with so much practise. A favorite amusement had been playing tag in a fig tree until one time Phildon made a big jump and fell down through the branches to the ground unconscious. Dean ran to the house for help but Phildon revived. From then on, they were afraid of playing tag in trees.
Kick-the-can was one of Dean’s favorite sports shared with his brothers or whoever might be around. Someone said, “You haven’t lived if you haven’t played Kick-the-can!” All that was needed was a tin can and as many players as could be gathered. It is sort of like hide-and-go-seek plus the can. “It” places the can in a large open space and draws a circle around it. Then “it” counts to 100 while all the other players hide. “It” tries to spot an hidden “enemy, “ run back to the can, put his foot in it, and count “One, two, three. “ If the other person gets there first, he kicks the can as far as he is able so “it” has to retrieve it. In the meantime all the others can come in “free. “ “It” has to be “it” again. Otherwise, the first prisoner “it” catches is “it. “ sometimes, it is just as much fun to run along kicking the can wherever you might be going. Dean’s Mother complained about the boys’ playing kick-the-can, whatever their rules, because she said it scarred their shoes!
Dean said that “whether they needed it or not, “ they all had a bath on Saturday night. The #3 tub was set on newspapers in the kitchen. (Dean’s family did not have a bathroom until he was about fifteen years old. ) When he was little, Dean could curl up in the tub but when his legs got too long, he sat on the rim of the tub to bathe. He said it was very uncomfortable perched on the thin rolled edge! Why did just about everyone take his bath on Saturday night? Perhaps the excuse was Sunday. Saturday night was next to Sunday. “If any loving mother nowadays attempted to foist upon her brood the horrors and indignities of the old-time family ablutions on Saturday night, she’d be carted off to the pokey for child abuse!” (John Gould) Once in a while in summer Dean and his brothers escaped this ritual if they had soaked all afternoon swimming in the canal. In summertime the Saturday night bath was not too rugged but in other seasons they were apt to have goosebumps. It was mighty comforting to enjoy the heat from the oven as Dean bathed before the open oven door. The Saturday night bath was a real ordeal by the time each had filled his tub, unfilled the tub, and readied it for the next in turn.
Sunday morning everyone donned clean clothes. Maybe the boys had two pairs of clean overalls a week and a couple sets of underwear but maybe they got by with just one change. Whenever Dean got new clothes, Ned managed to wear them first. Unfortunately, for Dean, they wore clothes of the same size - except shoes. Dean’s feet were larger. For Church Dean wore “knickers” - short-legged pants that buttoned in a band just below the knee. Phildon got his first long dress pants when he was 14 in 1925 and Ned and Dean graduated into dress pants at about the same age. Otherwise, they lived in bib-overalls.
On Sundays the family could sleep a little later in the morning. They seldom did manual work. The only exceptions to this were when irrigation water was scheduled or weather had inadvertently delayed harvesting. Water usually came two or three days after it was ordered. No one wanted water on Sunday but often had no choice as water had to flow evenly. Varied crops required varied timings for irrigation and cultivation. For instance, alfalfa was a two-irrigation crop. After the first crop was baled, water was put on the field as soon as possible for the second crop. Again it was irrigated when the plants were about 2? high.
Of course, the main activity of Sunday was Sacrament meeting and Sunday School. The family never missed these meetings. These were the only two meetings in summer as Relief Society was suspended, as was MIA. Primary was held week nights during the school year only.
Dean and his brothers could hardly wait for April when their Mother let them go bare footed. They were sorely tempted to try it during warm days in March. It was like a new-found freedom and a release from the prison of winter. To be sure there were prickles and cockleburs to be avoided but they grew only where the soil had been irrigated. Paved roads scorched with heat were crossed hurriedly and with prudence while they jumped judiciously through the deep dust of the dirt roads that was blistering hot.
In late August Mother took advantage of the back-to-school sales to buy those articles that she didn’t sew - underwear, shirts (as the boys grew older), trousers, bib-overalls, socks, shoes, etc. The boys each had two pairs of shoes - one pair for Sunday best and one for every day. When the everyday shoes wore out, then the Sunday best became everyday shoes.
Have you ever heard of the “party line?” That is what Dean’s family had at the Bank Place - their first telephone. It was a hand-crank model - the only kind. To reach “central, “ one merely turned the crank a little or a lot depending on how you were feeling. Then, after lifting the receiver, a real live voice would say, “Number, please. “ Often this was the voice of someone familiar in your home town. Most telephones were usually not private as they are today. At the Bank Place everyone on the street was on the same line. Each person, on receiving calls, had his own ring. For instance, maybe the Williams number was 48 with a ring of thirteen - one long ring and three short rings. The next neighbor might have 48, ring 12. The operator would ring one long and then two short rings for them.
However, these rings are heard in each house on the same line and anyone could lift the receiver and hear the conversation of any of his neighbors. This was known as “listening in. “ In this way some people made it their business to know all of their neighbors’ business. You knew someone was “listening in” when you heard the subtle click of their receiver in your ear! There were the usual “listeners’ on the Williams’s party line!
Like most folks, the family lived frugally with plain hearty food to sustain them. As already mentioned, Monday was “boiled beans day” and washday. But the day before on Sundays a roast of beef was the tradition. Mother put the roast in the oven with carrots and potatoes to cook while they were at Church. Father always bought the meat as he had been a butcher and understood the cuts of meat. He, also, taught Mother how to cook as he had been the cook for one summer for the Geodetic Survey crew at Goldfield (near Superstition Mountain. (The crew was making topographical maps of the State of Arizona. ) Suppers might be bread with milk gravy, or a bowl of lettuce with cream, bread with milk, or “sody” crackers and milk, or sauce (canned fruit). At breakfast time the family often ate rolled oats or rice cooked with raisins and flavored with sugar and nutmeg. Occasionally, for breakfast or supper they had “cold” cereal Nabisco Shredded Wheat, Post Toasties, or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. The four layers of shredded wheat in each box were separated by card boards. You can be sure these cardboards were treasured for so many later uses.
There was always a plenteous supply of fresh milk and cream. In fact, Dean drank such quantities of milk, his Father used to say they needed to bring along a cow when they went camping. Whole milk was “set” in large shallow pans. After the cream had risen to the top, one could run a spoon around the pan and lift off an heavy sheet of cream.
Mother made a red, white, and green frosted, three-layer cake for birthdays and special occasions. The cake was the birthday for Dean and Phildon. Their birthdays were both in hot June. The family were immersed in farm work with little time for any frivolities. The only celebration was a spank for every year of age plus “one to grow on!” They seldom received any presents but, if they did, it was probably much needed clothing. But Ned, with his birthday in cool March, usually had a birthday party. Besides, Jack Brimhall’s birthday was the same day as Ned’s and Mother and Aunt Neoma usually planned a special time for the boys.
In the Fall of 1929 Dean’s family moved to the sixty-acre Davis Ranch on Alma School Road southwest of Mesa. Uncle Alma and Aunt Mary had remodeled the house. Father and Mother bought new furniture. Mother made curtains for every window. They had electricity and Mother had her first electric iron. They could throw away the kerosene lamps. They had a bathroom, too. No more #3 tubs in the middle of the kitchen floor on Saturday nights! And there was a fireplace/ too, that was a particular delight to Dean. He would lie on the floor before the fire in late evening and watch the glowing embers die.
It seemed as if this move was the beginning of a new era. Our lives can be divided into intervals marked by events of varying significance. It was a time of transient happiness. It was a time of deep sorrow. It was a time of calamities. It was a time of growing up and daring, new experiences. It was a time of tearing apart the bonds of love that leaves its scars forever.
Although there were scorpions in Arizona, Dean said he never saw any until the late 20?s - specifically, when they were living at the house on Alma School Road. Scorpions liked the hot dry climate of Arizona and they frequented any old wood lying on the ground. Occasionally, they came into the house. Some of them were 3 to 4 inches long with their tails rolled down. They would hide under anything and shoes were one of their favorite places to stow away. A scorpion bite is especially potent when it is carrying its young and at such times its bite is almost certain to be fatal. Mother became desperately ill when she was stung by a scorpion. Her condition was so serious, her life hung in balance. Those were anxious moments. The doctor told the family that if she lived though the night, she would “make it. “
There were other encounters with scorpions. On New Year’s Eve probably in 1929, Dean was listening to the radio when a scorpion bit him on his shin. He took off his pants and found the culprit. Dean was at home alone and didn’t know what to do. He called Aunt Helen and she said, “You get over here immediately. “ Aunt Helen cut open the injured flesh and put on potassium permanganate - crystals that would draw out the poison. Actually, Dean said the burns from the potassium were about as bitter an affliction as the scorpion sting. Although his leg felt like a wooden club he was dragging around, he still had to hoe sunflowers the next day. Dean still carries the scars of the burns from the crystals.
Another time Dean had stopped en route to Phoenix to see a friend in Tempe. As he stood at the door talking to Howard Ashe’s mother, all of a sudden he felt an awful sting on his foot inside his shoe. Although he was at a stranger’s house and talking to a lady, he had to tear off his shoe. The scorpion had been in his shoe since Dean had left home. Mrs. Ashe, understandingly, doctored the bite with kerosene - the standard remedy of the time to draw out the poison. Needless to say, Dean did not go on to Phoenix that day.
In 1933 when Dean was at Teachers’ College in Tempe, he was learning to rebuild storage batteries. As he dismantled an old battery a scorpion bit him on his little finger, was such a powerful sting Dean went to the Infirmary for help. His arm began to swell and his chest ached. The nurse suggested he go home and see a doctor. Dean hitch-hiked to Mesa and then walked the remaining three miles home. He never did see a doctor and he survived!
As the boys grew older, their activities associated with the irrigation ditches shifted in emphasis limited only by their imagination, energies, and ingenuity. The ditches were almost always full of water. Dean and his friends swam in them a great deal. A favorite sport was surfing on the canal. Dean saw the warped board on which Mother stood on wash days to be an ideal surf board. Such a memorable incident occurred that Cousin Wendell Davis even wrote of it in his life’s story, too. Wendell was driving Dean’s parents’ Buick sedan along the canal at 60 miles an hour pulling the rope Dean held onto as he rode his surf board. All of a sudden a lettuce crate floating in the canal loomed just ahead. Dean saw it and Wendell saw it. Dean figured he could dodge it on the near side at the speed at which they were travelling. Meanwhile, fearing dire consequences, Wendell felt he should slow down. The more Wendell slowed, the harder it became for Dean to avoid hitting the crate; but at the crucial moment he managed to veer to the far side just missing the lettuce crate!
A fun activity Dean, Max, and others in the neighborhood enjoyed was bicycle polo using croquet mallets and balls as they rode about on their bicycles. It was fun but hard on bicycle spokes! Dean made a golf course in the yard creating “holes” with cans embedded in the ground. The players shared a #3 iron. Other games Dean played with his friends were marbles, parcheesi, Rook, poker, Ta-bowl (a table bowling game), indoor baseball, etc.
Forty years ago travelling across our country, you would see many cars “wearing” a canvas water bag hanging from a bumper. As the heavy canvas became saturated with water, evaporation kept the water cool inside even in the torrid heat of the southwest. Relying on this principle of cooling by evaporation, Dean found that water in a big porous Indian olla did keep water cool. The family used this novel method for a short time, just as the Indians always had done, instead of refrigerating water.
Dean’s inventiveness could have gotten him in serious trouble. He and Max were playing at Grandfather Millett’s place when he set off the first “bomb. “ To make his bomb he had inserted a rifle shell, with lead removed, into a wooden casing. Into the hole he slipped a shell and cap with a nail protruding. When the bomb was thrown, the force against the nail caused the cap to explode with a terrific bang. It was just a noise-maker and never designed to hurt anyone. But - Dean tried one out at school! He planned his escapade at the bell time just as the manual training students lined up to file out onto the patio to hurry to their next classes. Dean threw the “bomb” out a third floor Physics room window to the patio below. At the explosion the students, who were running out, came to a screeching halt in the path of the bomb and beat a hasty retreat in every direction. Gradually and cautiously, they ventured forth to their next classes. Dean said no one discovered who caused the commotion but he has chuckled about it over the years. Looking at it in today’s perspective, he feels a sense of guilt realizing such an incident would be punishable by law. Grandchildren: Grandpa says it was a foolish thing to be playing with dangerous materials. “Don’t try it. “
A tragic accident befell the family 15 December 1929. It had been a busy week. Mother had been caring for two little children whose mother was at Aunt Helen’s maternity home. Phildon had helped with washing, cleaning, and getting ready for Mother to accept a job at the Toggery. Walter Lipscomb, a half brother to Father, and his wife, from Los Angeles, had just left for home after a visit. That morning Dean and Phildon had frozen a gallon of maple nut ice cream - Phildon’s favorite flavor. To quote from Mother’s writing, “I was tired and sat down to rest for a minute. Mary and Alma Davis came in with the tragic news of Phildon’s death. We did not know until later that he was killed instantly when a gun accidentally went off. “ Phildon and Kenneth Dana had gone rabbit hunting off across the desert toward Stewart Mountain in their old stripped-down Ford. A loaded gun between them was defective. It was a 16-gauge shotgun with a trigger that was well worn. It had gone off several times before but no one ever bothered to fix it. One day earlier Jack, Ned, and Dean were hunting birds along Mesquite Lane. Without any provocation the gun went off shooting up the sand between Jack and Dean as they walked just ahead of Ned who was carrying the gun. Mother continued, “What a sad Christmas it brought to a home we loved and where we were so happy. “ There were broken hearts that only time could heal.
At that time Phildon was going out for basketball at High School. He was All State Guard on the football team. He played 2nd baseman and earned his letter in baseball. He was All State on the basketball team the year before and he was expected to be the main stay on the basketball team that year. He was a robust, all-round athlete after having started out life with such poor health that he had to stay out of school for two years.
Dean’s parents had planned to give Phildon a Kodak auto graphic 127 folding camera for Christmas. Rather than not give it to anyone, they gave the camera to Dean. That was the beginning of Dean’s interest in photography. He took a lot of pictures, joined a photographic club at school, and learned how to develop and print his own pictures at home. It was not easy to process film in the hot weather as he had no way of controlling temperatures but we are thankful for the contact prints he made in the 1930?s which we have as records of those days.
To continue the story of Dean’s first camera and a few subsequent ones, Dean gave the 127 camera to Ned when he left on his mission to California 1 January 1934. When Dean went on his mission to the East Central States (1935–1937), Eugene gave him his camera. On Dean’s return from his mission Eugene asked for his camera back as he wanted to trade it for another. When Dean came to Philadelphia to work at General Electric Company 1 July 1940, he had no camera. Two engineers, who belonged to a camera club, told Dean they could get him a C-3, 2 1/4?-square camera at a discount from the established price of $35.00.
Dean’s gross beginning weekly salary at that time was $28.00 (77 cents/hour). Dean sent home to his Mother $10.00 a week. After paying board and room that did not leave much for Dean’s extra curricula spending. However, he managed to scrape together the $26.50 for the camera. A year or so later on a vacation visit home to Arizona Dean bought a C-2 camera for taking colored slides for about $40.00. His Mother felt this was gross extravagance as Dean already had one camera and surely did not need a second one! These same two camera club engineers, also, steered Dean to the X-ray department at G. E. where he obtained used, brown glass bottles suitable for photographic chemicals. We are still using these same bottles today (1991).
It is Dean’s nature to appreciate beauty and want pretty yards. In 1930 Mesa 4th Ward had a campaign encouraging members to clean up and beautify their yards. At the place on Alma School Road Dean leveled the front yard and made a lawn. He planted a row of zinnias along the lawn bordering the highway. They grew to be 5–6? tall with giant blossoms of many colors. There were rose bushes there when the family came there. He moved them to the side fence. With a pressure pump on the well, he could keep yards watered and everything thrived. Mother was so pleased with the beautiful yards. A committee came to survey Dean’s efforts and to his surprise, it was announced in Church that Dean had been awarded first place for Improvement in Landscaping and Beatification. Another year Dean grew giant dahlias, canna lilies, and carnations. Dean loved flowers. The second year he was awarded second place for Maintenance of the yards.
Dean was reaching out for new experiences in many avenues. He had not taken much interest in competitive athletics in high school. Father had wanted to encourage the boys to play baseball by playing with them but Dean was afraid of Father’s fast balls and, consequently, disliked baseball. Nevertheless, he went out for baseball briefly during his junior year. Phildon and Ned excelled in athletics all their high school years. In his junior year when the season was about half over, Dean was persuaded to go out for football. Considering the lateness of the season, he was surprised he was even accepted. He was put on the third string. They had five specialty plays, a pass, and a punt. Dean’s team practised hard and scrimmaged with the second team. It wasn’t long before they could beat the second team. Since the second team was the team with whom varsity scrimmaged, the coach substituted the third string to scrimmage with varsity. The next year practically all of the third string moved up to varsity. In his senior year Dean played almost every game as right guard. The team placed second in the state. There are various groups -coaches, referees, press, etc. that rate the players for All State. Dean was selected for the second team and on other ratings he received third and an honorable mention. Dean enjoyed participating in football but, it is sad to note, that he doesn’t remember that his parents ever came to any of his games. Family support in any worthwhile activity is vitally important to any of us at any age.
It was during a game in Tuscon that Dean had his two front teeth knocked in. A Tuscon player was attempting to tackle a runner on Dean’s team but Dean protected his man so effectively, it made the opponent angry and he kicked Dean in the mouth. Dean pushed his dislocated teeth forward and for the rest of the game held them in place with his tongue. When Dean returned to Tempe after that game, he found someone had drained his tank of gasoline in the Model A!
Dean had experimented with studying and found it had its rewards - achievement and a certain self-satisfaction. For a student who had never taken a book home and almost failed his Freshman year, his junior and senior years were quite a contrast. He almost always had meritorious grades. There was an exception. Dean excelled in math but in his junior year in algebra he got a straight “C” all year. The teacher obviously catered to girls as they all got “A’s” and “B’s” and the boys got “C’s” or “D’s” no matter what their accomplishment. One girl and Dean were the sharpest in the class. She got “A’s” and Dean got his habitual “C’s”!
Dean gives much credit to his Physics and Science teacher, Herbert L. Stahnke, for teaching and encouraging him to study. During home room one morning, Mr. Stahnke remarked that he had watched a certain football player go home after practise every night with nary a book to study. He wondered how that person was able to make passing grades. (There were only two football players in homeroom -Dean and Don Stem. Stem always went home laden with an armful of books. He, also, became valedictorian of the class. But, interestingly, he flunked out at the University of Arizona. ) Dean, of course, was the one who left school empty-handed. Through the system of achievement levels espoused as an experiment in certain disciplines in Mesa Union High School Dean learned that scholarship was attained only through individual effort.
During Dean’s junior year, Charles Southern, his English teacher, required the students to write a book report in order to pass the course. Dean had not read a book so Mr. Southern chose a book for him - one with over 600 pages. About a month later in class Mr. Southern asked Dean if he had read the book. Dean said he had read about thirty pages. Mr. southern asked, “Did you enjoy it?” Dean answered, “No. “ with that, Mr. Southern said, “that’s a pretty good book report, “ and Dean got a “B” for the course.
1 January 1932 Dean began keeping a daily diary. He wrote fairly regularly for three and one-half years. Such a written record is valuable in creating an accurate and chronological record of life as lived. Sometimes it seems as if more important events happened during these days but maybe it is because this record is more reliable than our memory.
During the last few months of high school, Dean went on two memorable field trips with his History class. One was to the State Penitentiary in Florence. To quote from Dean’s diary - “Before we were hardly started (on the tour of the prison) we went to eat - on prisoners’ tables and chairs, out of prisoners’ plates and prisoners’ food. We used our own spoon and cup - them which we packed all day. The prisoners were looking at us from all the windows and doors. We had bread and lima beans to eat and some other stuff that looked like onions but were red with some kind of sauce. The bread was the only thing that tasted good and did we eat bread. We were not supposed to talk to anyone while eating but were jabbering all the time. When we were finished eating, we went through the rest of the prison. “ A month later Dean went with his class to the Court House in Phoenix, the State Capitol, Herd Museum, and the Insane Asylum.
Dean’s interest in radio was kindled when the Physics class was challenged to build crystal sets without batteries. Using galena for his detector and an 100? antenna wire, he had enough power for ear phones. Having had this experience, Dean worked at the “C” level, then “B” level and finally at the “A» level for building a crystal set with a coil winding on a pencil (This teaching format beginning at “C” level and progressing individually to “A” was an educational experiment at the high school at that time. ) Father was farming the KP Ranch. Dean worked there on Saturdays and learned Morse code while he drove the tractor planting cotton.
One day a week in high school there was one period devoted to special clubs. Besides the camera club, Dean participated in the Citrus Club, Ukulele Club, and Monitor during his junior year.
In May 1932 Dean was appointed assistant Scout Master for Troop 50 with cousin-by-marriage, Albert Huber, as Scout Master.
According to Arizona State law in order to qualify for graduation from high school all students had to take classes in Arizona and United States Government and pass tests on each. Dean scored 93 on the Constitutional Government of the United States test.
Dean received his diploma from Mesa Union School 2 June 1932. He saved a few strands from the tassel of his cap as a memento of the occasion.
During the summer Dean “Hoed cotton, by gosh! (July 18), And still more cotton (July 19), and still yet more cotton (July 20)!” He hayed, shod Chief, cleaned ditches, cultivated, furrowed, etc. On his 18th birthday Dean earned $2.00 nailing cantaloupe crates all day at the M. D. Best lettuce shed. He even helped Grandmother Millett make soap.
On a trip to Groom Creek in late summer to help Uncle Hugh work on the Dana cottage, Dean took his sled along. Ordinarily, it was great sport sliding on the dry pine needles that carpeted the hillsides but it had rained and the sled just would not slide on the wet needles.
Dean began classes at the State Teachers’ College at Tempe in September 1932. He had no money for tuition and books. Although Dean’s family did not have cash, they had hay for barter. The college had a prize dairy herd which they pampered by feeding it quality hay. The Agricultural Department agreed to buy two bales of Father’s hay to try. It met their quality standards and they bought two tons of hay (30 bales per ton) at $7.00 a ton. Tuition was $10 -$12. 00. The balance was deposited as credit toward Dean’s books at the college bookstore. When the school year was over, the school bought more of Father’s hay and paid $15.00 a ton cash. This was twice the going price for hay at that time. Hay just was not selling for any price during the depression. (This was hay Father harvested so carefully after the dew of evening fell on it. )
Ned had decided to go to Tempe, too. The first year Dean and Ned drove the Model A Ford to school and had a paying passenger. Then they used the stripped-down Ford for transportation and the last year at Tempe, Dean hitch-hiked back and forth from Mesa.
Although Dean was attending a teachers’ college, he did not want to be a teacher. Therefore, he chose independent studies - Botany, Library Practise, Physics Laboratory,
Algebra, and English. He needed one more class to complete his schedule. Ned and Lorenzo Lisonbee were taking radio and encouraged Dean to do so.
Dean went out for football and scrimmaged as guard with the Varsity team. When players on the team found out Dean was a Mormon, they made it rough for him. “They don’t seem to think Mormonism is sensible, “ to quote from Dean’s diary.
On a football trip to the University of Arizona at Tucson the bus on which the team was riding became jammed in a railroad underpass at Tucson. They removed the luggage from the top of the bus and still the bus would not clear the underpass. They let the air out of tires and gained another 2?-3? so the bus could finally pass through. Then they had to pile the luggage atop the bus again and inflate the tires to continue on their way. Dean was made captain of the team in a game with the Phoenix Indians. Tempe won 13–0.
Dean was, also, playing basketball in M-Men tournaments with Ned as coach.
Life at home was not pleasant as Father and Mother were having differences. Uncle Alma refused to continue renting the house to them and in January 1933 the family moved to the Gibbons place - three quarters of a mile south and a mile west of the Alma School Road house. Mother called the Gibbons house a mansion. It was a large fourteen-room house - new but shabby from neglect. Mother made curtains and drapes. She decorated a huge room in the basement where the boys could entertain their friends. It was the first house Dean had lived in that had a basement and a second floor. It was cozy and attractive. They cleaned the yards. Their joy in the new home was short lived as Father asked for a divorce and moved to the old ranch in Lehi taking the car and everything but the furniture. Ned fixed up an old car that he, Dean, and Mother might have a means of transportation.
At school Dean was having an interesting experience learning to use a slide rule in Physics class. It was a required instrument in Engineering. A slide rule simplified mathematical calculation with its logarithmic scales. It was an essential tool in figuring equations with a fair degree of accuracy but perhaps today in 1991 our grandchildren have not even heard of a slide rule. Today’s calculators with their precise results have reduced the slide rule to the category of antiques. (Calculators came into use in the late 1960?s. Glenn was required to have one in Engineering at BYU for which he paid $400.00. Today they can be bought for $5.00. )
During Dean’s first year at Tempe he took a test in Engineering Physics on the electrical portion having to do with ohms law. Since Dean had worked in ham radio for yearshe was well versed in ohms law and knew it forward and backwards. The quiz questions were simple if one understood the principles. Dean finished his exam in no time and turned in his paper. The professor asked Dean if he had answered all the questions. Dean assured him he had. The professor insisted Dean return to his desk and review his answers before dismissing him. Again Dean passed in his paper. At this point the professor called in all of the papers and graded them accordingly. Dean got 100 and the next highest was 30.
You can sense the excitement Dean felt when he made this entry in his diary for 20 January 1933, “Over radio KTAR ‘Believe it or not, it’s snowing outside!’ It was coming down in flakes so pretty. I stood out and watched it. Later I came up in the attic and watched it snow. Gosh, but it’s pretty. It has the roof just about covered and is the roof pretty. It’s the first time I’ve seen it snow in my life and right here in Mesa. “
Dean took the Amateur Radio Operator’s License test, passed, and received his license 15 April 1933. His call number was W6IYR. The next few years he talked with other hams all over the United States.
In May Dean, Ned, and Mother moved to 535 Main Street, a house where Grandmother and Grandfather Millett had once lived. Uncle Will, Uncle Art, Uncle Eugene, and Aunt Helen helped them move. The house now belonged to Aunt Helen Dana. They did not have the money to pay the rent so Dean did farm work for Uncle Hugh - planting, cultivating, harvesting, etc. ten hours a day for fifteen days each month during the summer to pay the rent of $15. 00 a month.
While at the Gibbons place, Dean had built a radio shack about 5?x7? for his radio equipment. When they moved to the place on Main Street, Dean took his shack along. Since he had built it in sections, he could disassemble and reassemble it with minimal labor.
Again in his Sophomore year at Tempe Dean went out for football. This year he was on the Varsity team playing tackle. In September - October 1933 the Varsity went on a week-long trip to California. Dean did not participate in the game with Whittier. During their stay in a Los Angeles hotel on the 11th floor, Dean was awakened at 1: 13 AM (October 2, 1933) by an earthquake - the first one he had ever experienced. Dean said he “was bouncing up and down in bed and felt as if I were swaying across the street and back. It lasted eight seconds according to the papers but it seemed eight minutes to me. “ The chandelier was swinging back and forth. Plaster cracked and fell from the ceiling in his room. The baseboards sprang loose. People rushed into the halls hollering and screaming. Hysteria reigned and everyone said they should go to the city square! Finally, Dean went back to bed but he was far from calm.
In Los Angeles the team had some free time. Dean strayed into a Newberry’s store and couldn’t resist buying two variable condensers for his radio! He went to the docks where he watched a freighter unload, and he said he saw what seemed like “all the airplanes in the world. “ He visited Balboa Zoo. These were new and impressive experiences for a country boy.
The next day the Tempe Bulldogs played the San Diego Marines at the Marine Barracks field. Dean was in the game for about three minutes in each of the last two quarters as defensive fullback. He received many compliments on his playing.
In August 1934 before Dean’s third year at Tempe, the college gave him a job to work out his registration (tuition). He was hired to install new steam pipes in the tunnels. All of the buildings on campus were joined to a central heating plant by a series of tunnels containing these steam pipes. The following week Dean was put behind a walking, power, reel lawn mower. He and the head custodian mowed all day long all week long and managed to mow the whole campus area once in that time!
Although Dean went out for football his third year, he did not continue for the season. The coach of Varsity felt his players should be able to swear and cuss and he did not care for Mormons. He wanted a team that would demoralize the opposing team with abusive language. Dean did not feel he wanted to play by those “rules of the game. “
Since their move to Main Street it had been a struggle to maintain a subsistence. Ned worked Saturdays. Dean worked Saturdays at Pay-and-Take-It. He worked a 14 to 16-hour day clerking, setting-up, carrying out, candling eggs, mopping floors after store hours - for $2. 00 a day. Dean wrote in his diary for a particular day, “Worked from 9 - 1: 30 at Mesa, then to Tempe and practised football until 4: 15. Then back to Pay-and-Take-It until 10: 45. I never was so tired in all my life. “ Mother worked in the County Recorder’s office at the County Court House in Phoenix substituting for Aunt Hazel (Valentine) who was ill. Finally, Aunt Hazel had to give up her job and Mother worked full time. It paid about $125 a month. She supplemented that income with a Saturday job at a department store in Mesa.
For a couple of months during May and June of 1934 Dean took piano lessons from Lapreel Davis (Huber).
Grandmother Millett passed away in July. In failing health, she had been staying up at the cottage in Groom Creek where the weather was cool amid the pine forests. She had had cancer but it had been in remission for the last 17 years. Realizing that she was very ill and feeling great pain, she said to Dean four days before her passing, “I guess there is only one resting place for me now. “ Aunt Neoma felt that the family in the valley should know of Grandmother’s condition so she urged Max and Dean to return to Mesa. Driving Dean’s stripped-down Ford, they started out at 3: 50 AM travelling the one hundred miles in about nine hours including time out for two flat tires on Yarnell Hill. They had no headlights but there was a full moon so it was almost as bright as day. Nearly all of the children went to Groom Creek to see their Mother for the last time before she passed away at 9: 30 PM, 30 July 1934. Dean was pall bearer at his Grandmother’s funeral.
Grandmother loved all of her children and grandchildren but Dean felt an especial closeness to her. He was often on hand to run errands for her. When she was ready to quilt she would have Dean draw on her quilting lines. On a particular white quilt with blue embroidered feather stitching, he used the fancy grill design on the front of the Atwater-Kent radio as a pattern. We have that quilt today.
Dean has always been an active member of his church. In the 4th Ward Dean was assistant Scout Master and taught a missionary class for teenage boys. After their move to Main Street Dean taught a Sunday School class. He was set apart as Secretary-Treasurer in Mutual 18 September 1934.
On 23 December 1934 Dean was ordained an Elder by Bishop Isaac Dana. For Christmas Ned gave Dean a Bible, a
Doctrine and Covenants, Book of Mormon, and Pearl of Great Price. Mother gave him a suit of clothes. They had Christmas dinner a Grandfather Millett’s.
As a prospective missionary Dean went tracting after he became an Elder. The 23rd of May 1935 he received his call to go on a mission to the East Central States. Fifteen months earlier Ned had been called to the California Mission. Bishop Uncle Hugh Dana had requested the least expensive mission for Ned as Mother just did not feel she had the money to send him on a mission. California was that mission. When Dean was called, statistics showed California still was the most economical - costing an average of $15. 00 a month. Although Uncle Hugh requested this mission for Dean, when the call came through it was for the East Central States Mission - not the cheapest nor the most expensive. (It included Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. ) Uncle Hugh gave Dean $15. 00 from the Ward for the trip to the Mission Home in Salt Lake City via San Jose to see Ned. A “big crowd” came to a farewell social for Dean at South Mountain on June 18. The next night friends held a party for Dean when he received 19 handkerchiefs, 10 pairs of socks, 3 neckties, and a shirt. Dean gave his farewell talk at Church June 23. Then he went to Mother’s missionary meeting and gave another farewell talk. There the Missionary Mothers gave him $10. 00.
Through Dean’s interest in radio, he had met Avery “Lanky” Lenoir, who worked at the Salt River Water Users Association. Lanky and his wife were leaving on a vacation to California and offered to take a fellow “ham” with them if Dean were willing to visit the Exposition in San Diego en route with them. They did not know where to stay in San Diego so Dean inquired at the Mormon Mission headquarters there. They found a home with lovely rooms. Dean explored the city with them for a few days and then continued by bus to San Jose where he met Ned June 26. Ned’s Mission President assigned Dean as junior companion to Ned for the week. Dean was invited to give a talk at a District Report meeting for all missionaries and enjoyed a birthday party with lady missionaries.
On the 30th of June Dean took the train for Salt Lake City. As he crossed the Bay he saw the construction of the new bridge from San Francisco to Oakland. Dean arrived at the Mission Home 1 July 1935. Max Millett was already there. He had been called to the North Central States. His 10-day stay at the Mission Home was a very different experience than perhaps he would have today. Dean had training classes morning, afternoon, and evening on the Articles of Faith, prophets and prophecies, Old Testament, missionary ideals, etc. with teachers from the General Authorities. Dean had much free time with opportunities for dates and sightseeing. He went on canyon picnics, parties, and swam in the Great Salt Lake. July 4th he spent writing a paper on “What It Means to Be a Mormon. “ (A copy is in the appendix. ) His last class was with David 0. McKay?.
Dean was ordained a Seventy by A. R. Ivins, July 9, 1935. He was set apart as a missionary by Alonzo A. Hinckley. It was then time to purchase his railroad ticket for his departure for his mission on July 11. But Dean had no money. The money from the Elders Quorum had not arrived. Dean packed his suitcase compactly and was prepared to hitch-hike to Kentucky. Almost at the zero hour on the morning he was to leave, the money arrived and Dean picked up his train ticket - $18. 38 for coach travel. Max had left four hours earlier. There were ten other missionaries travelling with Dean. Others departed along the way. A little girl by the name of Marjorie of about 4 or 5 years was travelling alone to Kansas City. She attached herself to Dean and he took care of her until she disembarked.
Waking up from a nap as the train travelled along the route of the Ohio River in Indiana, Dean looked out and thought, “All those woods. I’d never seen anything like it in my life All I’d seen was deserts. It was about as pretty a thing as I had seen. The river was fairly full and so the trees came right down to the water and the train went right along one bank. “ For four days Dean travelled across the country arriving at the East Central States Mission Home in Louisville/ Kentucky, 14 July 1935. A missionary from the office was supposed to have met Dean at the train but somehow they missed each other. But Dean had no problem finding the Mission Home. After arriving there, he walked back to the depot to pick up his suitcases only to find when he reached the station, he had left his tickets in his suit coat pocket at the Home so he walked three more trips back and forth and back again.
He was forewarned he would be giving a talk at church that evening so he set about preparing. Having slept only spasmodically in the train coach seat during the last few days and then having had unexpected extra exercise on arrival, he fell fast asleep. But he still had to give a talk anyway. He based his talk on Ezekiel 17: 11–19 and the Book of Mormon. There were 14 in the congregation.
How fortunate we are to have Dean’s missionary diary to furnish first-hand accounts of his experiences. Ever since our move to the West, Dean has tried to find his diary but to no avail. As I progressed writing chronologically in the review of his youth, he hunted for the diary more intensely. Then I arrived at the year 1935 with only a few notes to cover this very important period of his life. However, he did have his Weekly Reports notebooks. With these in hand Dean spent a whole evening recreating events as he could remember them at each address of his mission. Since place and companions were included in the reports, they helped immensely to jog his memory and I had several pages of notes by bedtime. As a last resort (10 May 1991) I suggested we go to the attic once again to search through trunks and boxes stored in “his” area. It was after 10: 00 PM but we did just that, even searching through boxes of his Mother’s possessions. We were literally on the last remaining box. There was no possibility of its containing the missing diary but we carefully laid out each piece of Mother’s linens. About half way down in the box beneath more tablecloths, I felt what seemed to be a book. I was so excited my hands actually shook as we uncovered not his diary but two volumes of his missionary diary! (Dean had forgotten he had used two notebooks. ) We were so overcome with joy I think we both were crying! What had been lost for so long was found! During the following week I painstakingly read every page. It would be a monstrous task for you to read about every day and every street he tracted. Instead, we have tried to give you an overview of his routines that they may be reflective of the times in the life of this missionary, of the people, and of the areas where he served. Outstanding, uncommon, singular, unusual, unconventional experiences are particularly noteworthy.
The Church is a church of change. Change has been especially evident over the years in the missionary program. One hundred years ago sons and even fathers left their families to go forth into the world for periods of several years to preach the Gospel with no training, armed only with their Scriptures and their personal testimony. In the 3C’s missionaries travelled about designated areas distributing Gospel pamphlets to those who would accept them. The memorized approach of the 1950?s had not yet been introduced and the structured program of today was non-existent. Missionaries had to rely greatly on their own initiative and self-discipline and the Spirit of the Lord for study and work. Each week they had to send the Mission President minute reports of hours spent in visiting investigators and saints/ study, meetings, and other missionary activities; the number of homes they visited, invitations, and conversations; the literature they distributed; meetings held whether cottage, street corner, or in a hall; baptisms and blessings, etc., plus their expenditures. They were allowed only to loan out Books of Mormon.
Following his arrival at the Mission Home, every day Dean anxiously awaited his assignment. In the meantime, he and other missionaries held street meetings. “A street meeting wasn’t nearly as bad as I had dreaded they would be. “ Dean just introduced himself and the others did the speaking! For a week he studied and worked in the Mission office, when he was not sleeping. Finally, Mission President James Kirkham called Dean to country work without purse or script, in the area surrounding Bowling Green, Kentucky south west of Louisville. There he travelled about from area to area taking church census, visiting members, and tracting. According to Matthew 10: 9–10 the missionaries could “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in our purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of his keep. “ But by law, they had to have some money with them. Otherwise, they could be arrested for vagrancy.
In one way Dean did not have to worry about money. When he arrived in Louisville, he had 83 cents in his pocket. In country work it was expected that the people of the land would invite the missionaries into their homes to share their bed and board. The young men were not even supposed to hire a room for lodging. At one time Dean and his companion had hiked for miles with no invitation to stay all night. They were “discouraged trying to find a place to stay so I offered a little prayer. We were taken in at the next house and they fixed us some supper. “ In this particular area of Kentucky these young men were looked upon with suspicion as “stoolies” (stool pigeons) or Revenue officer spies. This was bootlegging country. You could smell the home brew in the air. To dispel the peoples’ fears, one member suggested the missionaries hold a meeting that very night. Dean was concerned whether anyone would come on such short notice. The missionaries were assured there would be an audience. The news spread via the “grapevine!” Sure enough, people came from miles around not so much to hear the Gospel as to satisfy themselves that these were really missionaries. Later when Dean caught a ride in a pick-up truck, the driver told him about the “stills” hidden up in the hills. He added that that was one place (Rhonda) he would not want to be after sundown. Life just was not safe. When Dean told him he had just come from there the driver would not believe Dean had been there all night and returned still dressed in a suit!
Always we need to keep in mind that there are customs and circumstances singular to the people of their area. In country work Dean was living among the people of Appalachia. They were sincere people with little education and even less of the world’s goods. Their houses often consisted on only one room with a dirt floor and oiled paper for window “glass. “ The animals slept in one side of the room and the family in the other. Among these people missionaries were looked upon as heroes, as counselors, as teachers, as sages. The members came to them with their problems and even sought their advise in marriage difficulties. The missionaries, at 19 years, were supposed to possess the wisdom of the ages!
One night they “made our bed in the woods to sleep out and then went to a Holiness (Church of God) meeting” in the evening. Dean and Elder Harper were invited to sing. For a selection they chose “We Thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet. “ Following the meeting one of the congregation invited them to his house so they went into the woods, gathered up their belongings, and slept in a bed!
At another time Dean and his companion became separated. It was late at night so Dean slept alone in a tobacco barn. The next night they both slept in a hay barn. On still another time when they had walked for miles and the hour was late, in the darkness they could make out a building off in a field. It proved to be a broken-down old barn with such a scanty roof they could see the stars through the rafters. They “had had no dinner or supper and could have eaten a bear. “ But the Lord provided manna for breakfast in the form of wild plums growing in a tall tree outside the shack.
In one Kentucky county where they were tracting, a minister heard that the Mormon missionaries were in the area so he preached to his church congregation on the evils of Mormonism. He warned them against inviting the missionaries into their homes. Consequently, the elders did not find any place to stay in this vicinity. Then there were members in the backwoods of Kentucky who had but one bed to their names. They gave it over to the missionaries and slept on the floor themselves.
One man they met said his brother was healed at one time by the Elders and Dean and his companion were welcome to spend the night anytime they wanted. This emphasizes the importance of signs and manifestations in preaching and believing in the Gospel even though we are told we must have faith without miracles. You can feel the faith this man had.
In the Gilreath, North Carolina area Dean and his companion were hiking from place to place visiting. They started looking for a place to stay and asked a fellow where the road ahead led. His answer, “No where much!” They continued on their way until they came to a fork in the road. They tried the left branch but it ended at a saw mill. They tried the other branch and it ended the same. It was dark and too far to return to the Balls where they had been staying so they started through the woods. Dean climbed a tree and saw a light in a house off in the distance across wheat fields. On arriving at the door, the missionaries were invited in to stay the night but when the word “Mormon” was mentioned, the people changed their minds. The two Elders walked in the dark and rain, asking in vain at a few other places until they arrived back at the Balls at Gilreath at 11: 30 PM. The lady of the house was in bed but she dressed and fixed supper for the Elders.
You can be sure they ate very sparsely at times living on black berries and wild plums. In the Fall when nuts were ripe Elder MacRae? asked a member for a few nuts to eat. The Brother was eager to oblige and invited the boys to come with him to get some. Hickory nuts grow in very tall trees. The Brother chopped down the tree and the two elders filled a gunny sack with nuts. He justified his action with, “We have to cut trees for firewood anyway!” The Elders ate nuts for some time. An entry in Dean’s diary, “Didn’t get any dinner but I found an apple tree and they (the apples) tasted pretty good even if they were half full of worms. I, also, had a raw ear of corn. “
Often they went into the woods to study. There was no other place. Some times they held cottage meetings every day if the situation allowed when they talked on such subjects as Revelation, Word of Wisdom, Plan of Salvation, Baptism, etc. Meetings might be held in a member’s or investigator’s house, at the local school house, or even outdoors in hot weather. At one open-air meeting a pig ran grunting around and the dogs went on a noisy rampage. Missionaries took turns speaking. Early in his mission Dean wrote in his diary that he was “beginning to like to tract but see that I need to memorize much more Scriptures yet. “ He deplored the fact that he did not have at hand the “ammunition” to refute the arguments of Pentacostals, Baptists, Methodists, Campbellites, and Russellites with whom he came in contact. Most Catholics would not even talk with the missionaries.
Before the present age of television when people from all over the world invade our homes, dialects and regional accents were much more pronounced. When dean arrived in Bowling Green he could scarcely understand the lingo of the natives, but after his return from two weeks in Grayson County, he found their speech quite understandable! On one occasion, President Kirkham sent Elder Williams and Elder MacRae? a telegram that they should travel to Central City, Kentucky to conduct a member funeral and while they were there to perform any needed child-of-members baptisms since Elders had not been there for some time.
They stayed with a member family for the duration and one night were asked what they wanted for supper. Not knowing whether or not they had anything in mind, Dean spoke up and said he would like to have some of their left-over cold biscuits and skimmed milk. Almost shocked, the wife said, “But you don’t want that. That’s the stuff we feed the hogs. “ Dean assured her that that was exactly what he did want. Southerners feel they must have fresh hot bread every meal and any cold bread left over goes to the pigs along with the milk after it has been skimmed. This family said they could afford to have Dean come any time if he were going to eat the stuff they fed the hogs!
While serving in country work, to show that they did not consider themselves better than anyone else and to be accepted as equals, and, as their prime motive to be helpful, the Elders often worked along with the members. They borrowed overalls and plowed the fields, planted corn, shelled peas, shocked grain, and hoed tobacco. They went down in the “holla” to load timber. They even helped butcher a cow and went opossum hunting. Another time they cut corn in “Pee Wee Holla. “ Dean found it novel to drive a mule and even more challenging to guide a yoke of oxen with no reins and only the simple commands of “gee, “ “haw, “ “giddy yap, “ and “whoa. “ Today this may not seem proper missionary procedure, but perhaps they were being just as effective as missionaries. In the evenings they preached the Gospel at neighborhood gatherings.
Living in such a transitory manner it was a real struggle to keep their clothes and their bodies clean. It rained often. Their rain-soaked clothes lost their press, their hats lost their shape, and the red mud clung to and stained their shoes and stockings. Dean wrote in his diary, “After breakfast we went to the creek and took a bath after which we went back to Tatum’s and got a ride in a wagon for one-half mile. We left our luggage at a store and hiked through all kinds of mud and rocks for four and one-half miles to Ira Thompson’s where we had dinner. We then walked another one and one-half miles further to see his daughter and all the six miles back. We walked about three miles and caught a ride to Elkton. We walked to George Addison’s about three miles out where we got to sleep. I had blisters on my left foot and a hole in the bottom of my other shoe. I was certainly glad to get in - Oh, Boy!” There were many entries in Dean’s diary indicating he had his shoes resoled and tapped or patched, or he bought stick-on soles, or he bought a new pair of shoes ($5. 00). Dean wore out the seats of his pants with so much walking. Some kind friends patched their clothes and one lady relined his suit coat. Other times Dean wrote of bathing in the quarry or in the stream or river. When in a town they frequented cleaning establishments to have their suits pressed and hats blocked. (Oh, yes, they always wore a hat. ) When Dean first arrived in Kentucky, a member family invited all of the missionaries to a party. Unaccustomed to wearing a hat, Dean came home without his. Pres. Kirkham, looking out the second story window, saw Dean approaching and called out the window, “Elder Williams, where is your hat?” When Dean realized it was missing, he confessed he had forgotten it. Pres. Kirkham told Dean to borrow a hat in the Mission Home and go back and get his own promptly.
Sometimes Dean and his companion would walk sixteen miles or more a day “out in the sticks, “ in the hill country but when they came to highways, they travelled by “thumb, “ hitch-hiking from town to town. It was an acceptable practise for missionaries. They always hitch-hiked separately since people would pick up a single person but would not stop for two. The elders would meet at some predesignated point ahead. In one town Dean could not find the place where they were to meet so he went to sleep on a bench in the town park and that is where his companion found him! Dean had lots of interesting experiences hitchhiking. When he went to Hodgsonville to visit Lincoln’s birthplace, he caught a ride in a truck. He nearly froze as he rode outside for twenty-two miles at about 6–8 degrees Fahrenheit.
North of Hopkinsville he noted, “Got our things together and rode all eight or nine miles to Grafton on a wagon and was the road rough! I could nearly pick my brains out of my feet after that jolt!”
When going to a funeral Dean caught ten different rides - two were on wagons, two in trucks, a portion in an ox cart, a ride in an ambulance, ferry ride across the river, and the remaining rides in more conventional automobiles. At the funeral there was no music provided so Dean and his companion (Paul Martin) sang “0, My Father. “ Dean sang the melody and his companion, who had a wonderful tenor voice, said he would follow Dean’s lead. Afterwards, Paul said, “Boy, did I ever do some jumping around trying to follow you! “
When hitch hiking from Gilreath to Wilkesborough, he caught a ride in a taxi. He had a very friendly conversation with the driver but when Dean arrived at Wilkesborough, the driver exacted his fare! Dean offers this moral: Never hitch a ride with a taxi. driver.
A minister with whom he once rode asked Dean a lot of questions about himself. The minister expressed an interest in genealogy. When Dean told him his name was Williams, he said, “You’re Welsh!” Dean said he didn’t think so as his ancestors came from England. But the minister persisted with, “If your name is Williams, you came from Wales. “ (We were to learn later he was correct. )
Hitch-hiking provided for many interesting experiences. Sometimes Dean had very profitable and interesting conversations with the drivers. Then there were other times. In the Gilreath area Dean had a ride with a man in a “The subject came to religion and the Bible. Gathering my leanings, the man asked, ‘Do you believe those fairy tales in the Bible?’ I assured him that I believed stories of the Bible were true, whereupon, while slamming on his brakes, he assured me that no liar (leaving out some of his descriptive words) was going to ride with him.”
Them there were other experiences. One night he killed a copperhead snake as he was returning to his room. Another time in Shelbyville, Kentucky, he saw a black snake about 4? long. The lady of the house brought a hoe and Dean cut the snake nearly in two. Then he skinned it and gave the skin to a little boy to make into a belt.
All of the missionaries learned one lesson well. Never travel without insect powder. Bed bugs were common and especially while doing country work Dean made several notations similar to this one, “We bought some insect powder and we surely needed it there!”
In October the Elders left country work and rented rooms in town for the winter months. Life was a bit different for the missionaries. They no longer faced the uncertainties of where they would lay their heads each night or if they would eat. They were assured of a warm room if they could afford the coal for a fire in the stove. They would not go to bed hungry if they could afford to buy. But they ate very simply cooking their own meals. Their menus consisted of spaghetti (in a can), baked beans(in a can), salad of cabbage, raisins, and mayonnaise. salad of cabbage, raisins, and mayonnaise, (when the cabbage became wilted, they cooked it and began the cycle all over again), macaroni, canned pink salmon, stewed tomatoes, potato salad, etc. In Winston-Salem Dean was introduced to banana pudding and became so fond of it, he even tried making it but sometimes he admitted his efforts were failures. He hankered for the beans like his Mother made so he put some beans on to boil. While Dean am his companion were out tracting, the landlady, thinking the beans did not smell very tempting, added pork and seasoning. Dean said they tasted so much better after that.
The Elders were often invited out to dinner on Sundays. One Elder was so anxious to be invited, he invited himself. After he was transferred, it was some time before the Elders received any invitations in that area.
It is the heart-warming experiences we remember. Dean and his companion, Elder Harper, were in the process of taking church census. Arriving 15 August 1936 at Beaver Dam they were in a quandry whether or not to continue the census out in the country or stay in town and tract for a week. While they walked along deliberating, they passed several fellows sitting on a porch. One called out to them asking if they were looking for a room. “My Mother has a room she would like to rent to you. “ (She was an old friend of the Elders. ) They decided then and there to take the room which included breakfast for the incredulously low price of 25 cents per day. Each evening when the Elders returned from tracting, she would ask them leading questions about the Church. By the end of their stay, she admitted she had been ready to join the Church thirty years before and she had been waiting for the missionaries ever since. “I was just checking to see if the teachings were still the same. “ Thirty years before the missionaries had been shot and she and her husband were warned they would be shot, too, if they joined the Church. Less than a month later Dean baptized Mary Martin in a local pond and Elder Harper confirmed her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
One lady said she knew all about Joseph Smith. “I know it. I read all of that in the Bible!”
At one house where he had a room and board in Louisville, he lived with a couple from Germany. They had sauerkraut for three meals a day - morning, noon, and night. Dean could not endure it and had to find another room.
Dean had a few interesting excursions, too. Since he was in an historic area he visited the reenactment of the Crater Battle of the Civil War in Petersburg, Virginia, 30 April 1937. At his first Christmas he did not expect any gifts but the Mission Office crew had hid the missionaries’ packages so on Christmas morning Dean had presents from his Mother, Aunt Helen, Aunt Mary, and Uncle Alma. It had snowed like a blizzard during Christmas morning so the missionaries enjoyed a snowball fight. It was the biggest storm for the area since 1917. The temperature was ?11 degrees. (When it was so cold, people just would not open their doors to the missionaries. ) The week between Christmas and New Year’s was a lull and a dull time for missionaries so several of them visited My Old Kentucky Home and Lincoln’s birthplace. Another time he took the boat trip in Mammoth Cave. Dean, along with nine other missionaries, visited the baseball factory in Louisville. They each received a souvenir bat. Pres. Kirkham was adamant about missionaries’ going on excursions, having parties, or enjoying any good times. He said, “No, “ to everything. Even though President Kirkham had been told in General Conference he should allow the missionaries an opportunity to gather for a relaxing free day at least once a month, the missionaries never received that permission.
On May 2, 1936 was Derby Day at Churchill Downs. Dean and his companion were in Shelbywille at the time. It was some forty to fifty miles distant from Louisville but they decided to go to the Derby - an experience of a life time. They hitch-hiked their separate ways. Dean walked to the Downs. He had planned to watch from a distance but lots of people were climbing the back fence so he decided to do so, also. He went over the fence for 5 cents.. “I watched one race from the stables and then I went into the center of the track” where he saw the races from the fence right before the finish line. It wasn’t long before he came upon a number of other missionaries - all from the Mission Office! They had all bought 5 cent tickets for the back fence, too!
One of the members with whom Dean and his companion were staying in the Kannapolis area had an hankering to go to Carolina Beach. He persuaded four missionaries to go with him. It was a two-day trip. After a day on the beach in the hot sun, they all had acquired serious sunburns and sunburn fever. “Was I blistered or was I blistered!” Can you visualize the comfortable night’s sleep they enjoyed that night - five in one bed?
In mid-October 1935 Dean and his companion, Elder MacRae?, were sent by the mission leader to visit a family living in a remote area near Battletown, Kentucky. The missionaries were instructed to spend some time with this three-generation family in fellowshipping and collecting church census data. Dean caught a ride for some distance but walked the last ten miles to join his companion at the Benett-Russels. Without doubt these young men were warmly welcomed. They entered into the family life, hunting, cutting timber, butchering, gathering nuts, etc. But the family had a great interest in caves. There were many sink holes about the yards and they told of sending dogs into them and their coming out three or four miles away. One sink hole in the back yard they had never explored_ so the missionaries volunteered to investigate it. Armed with 3/4? rope and flash lights, Elder MacRae? was insistent on going down first not wanting Dean to take the initial risk. They anchored the rope to a persimmon tree above the hole where it reached to the bottom of the cave some 30? below. Elder MacRae? put his legs over the edge ready to slide down when he began to shake like a leaf. They pulled him out onto the ground lest he fall off the rope. Then Dean slid down to a domed cavern about 20? in diameter. Dean went off to a side tunnel for about 100? to another domed chamber. There were side tunnels but he did not explore any further. He kept retracing his steps calling up his findings to those on the surface. Encouraged by this success of spelunking, they decided to find a cave said, by legend, to contain a petrified Indian. Loading the equipment in the back of a pick-up truck, they set off in the general direction about seven miles distant off in the woods to a sink hole. All around was flat land. But all three went down a 25 - 30? sheer cliff. Part way down the cliff was a tunnel. At the bottom was an old rotted ladder reaching up to the tunnel. The ladder held them and they explored the tunnel for a distance of about 40 yards where it divided. Following the right branch Dean came to another sink hole and domed chamber. By the dim glow of his flashlight he saw what/ indeed, looked like a petrified squatting Indian. With more rope they lowered themselves down another 10 - 15? and found the Indian was a stalagmite formation that had the remarkable resemblance to an Indian. Hence, the legend. Until Dean and his companion had come, few had been there to discover for themselves!
As was to be expected, Dean had a variety of companions. Some were waiting for time to pass to return home, some were lazy, some wanted to do things other than missionary work, some wanted to go outside the district, some were not the best of influences, while others were diligent and conscientious in their calling and were a strength to their companions. One Elder and his brother owned a successful business running a lime plant in Salt Lake City. His brother persuaded him to go on a mission while he managed the business at home. When Elder Hansen had fulfilled his mission, he would run the business for his brother to serve. Elder Hansen had plenty of money but he was forever considerate of Dean who lived “on a shoe string. “ If Dean did not have the money for the most meagre of necessities, Elder Hansen lived just as frugally. As the missionaries travelled about they often stopped overnight to visit other missionaries. Many were the times they slept four or five in one bed. They learned that if they pulled their trunks along one side of the bed and slept crosswise/ they had more room!
The faith of members and missionaries alike was marvelous. One elderly lady of eighty years walked ten miles each Sunday to Church. In Cleveland, North Carolina Dean and his companion administered to a baby - twin to one that had just died. The baby was yellow with jaundice but in the short time they were there, the baby’s skin cleared remarkably. Of course, some anxious mothers lost no opportunity in trying to marry off their daughters to the eligible young Elders!
Dean’s last transfer in 1937 was to Petersburg, Virginia. There the Branch had no piano. Dean was instrumental in their getting a player piano for $12.00. They were desperate for a pianist. Dean had to make considerable repairs on the piano when they asked him to play. He had only learned to play by chords so he guessed at the appropriate chords for the hymns. The Sunday School Superintendent said he had never heard hymns sound like that before - really swinging! But he played for congregational singing for the remainder of his Mission.
Dean turned in his last missionary report July 10. The 14th of July 1937 was “the great and awful day” of his departure from Petersburg, Virginia. Dean and President Kirkham were released at approximately the same period of time. Dean attended each Ward and Branch conference as Pres. Kirkham and the in-coming Mission President, William T. Tew, toured the Norfolk and Richmond areas. He had spent $592. 31 during the two years of his mission - an average of less than $25.00 a month.
The Mission gave Dean a check for $49.26 for his fare home in lieu of a train ticket since Dean was going home “the long way. “ He hitch-hiked to Chicago where he met Max Millett and Bill Wright - also, released missionaries. In Flint, Michigan Dean picked up the new Chevrolet car his Mother had ordered from the factory. Together the three drove east to Palmyra, New York where they attended the Pageant at the Hill Cumorah - its very first production. They, along with other missionaries, slept in the barn at the Joseph Smith, Sr. homestead. At Schenecatdy they toured the General Electric Company plant with George Ross, a former teacher of Industrial Arts at Tempe. It was in his classes Dean learned so much about radio. Dean asked Mr. Ross about the prospects of getting on the Test Course at G. E. Mr. Ross said, “It is very difficult. “ In New York at the Eastern States Mission, they added another passenger, Lee Crandall. Lee knew people who worked at the Stock Exchange so they all were given tickets to the vaults under Wall Street where gold bullion is stored. In Washington, D. C. they stayed with Harold Clark who had been their high school History teacher in Mesa. At that time he was secretary to Congressman Murdock. He gave them letters of introduction allowing them to go to the “head of the line” at Washington Monument, White House, etc. Back at Petersburg, Dean retrieved his luggage and then they were on their way West. En route they visited many Church historic landmarks Kirkland Temple, Nauvoo, Carthage, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Independence, Missouri, etc. At Carthage they slept in the jail room where Joseph Smith was murdered. Stains from his blood still marked the floor. Sleeping here was a privilege accorded only to returned missionaries. By the time they reached Mesa, they had driven over 5000 miles. His Mother was not at home to greet Dean when he arrived August 10 since she had been invited by friends to tour the Northwest. She was torn between welcoming her son after an absence of two years and going on the trip. Since she did not have many opportunities to travel, the family encouraged her to go.
By mid-September 1937 Dean was enrolled at the University of Arizona, in Tuscon. The first year it was the “filthy four” - Dean, Leroy Alldredge, Olas Lunt, and L. R. Layton who lived with Gordon and Clara Kimball (Gordon was brother to LDS Pres. Spencer W. Kimball). In October the LDS Institute Building at the University was dedicated and a chapter of Lamba Delta Sigma (LDS) was organized with Bro. Lowell Bennion as Director. The Institute was the center of social and religious life for LDS students. Under the direction of Dr. Bennion, Sacrament meetings were held at the Institute on Sundays.
Dean’s Mother struggled to “make ends meet” and send Dean to the University. She still held her job at the County Court House and the Saturday job in Mesa. Ned and Thell (Hunsaker) were married 24 November 1937 and they lived with Mother. For the three years he was at the University Dean worked a 16-hour day at a Pay-and-Take-It grocery store in Tuscon on Saturdays for which he received $3. 71. Leroy got him the job as he worked at the same store. However, Leroy received $10. 00 for working an eight-hour day as a journeyman butcher. During the school year through the NYA (National Youth Administration) Dean worked two nights a week 11: 00 PM - 3: 00 AM in the Physics Department. This NYA job paid 35* per hour as Dean assisted a doctoral candidate researching eclipsing binary stars. In the Stuart Observatory Dean focused the telescope from a platform on top of the dome for the student who was making his observations from the floor below. They observed Oranius (of the constellation Orion) plotting light versus time using sensitive potassium photocells that the relative size, density, etc. to the eclipsing binary star might be determined. The graduate student conducting the research was on Fellowship from Princeton University.
During his second year Dean again worked for the Physics Department in the Observatory. This time Dean was taking measurements on the eclipsing binaries from the floor while an assistant manipulated the telescope for him. This information was a further supplement to the researched data of the previous year.
Dean often ate at the Commons. For 5 cents he could get a plateful of mashed potatoes. This was the cheapest food he could buy. He ate as much as he could plain, then on the remaining potato, he added catsup (which was free) to change the taste and help it go down more palatably.
On the 20th of April 1938 Dean attended a movie in Phoenix. There was a drawing for ten silver dollars and Dean won it. With the money he bought a meal ticket at the Commons.
Grandfather Alma Millett, Jr. died 11 February 1938. Dean, Mona, and Hope were at the University. They had all been at home for vacation just weeks before and the family felt it best they not interrupt their studies, so they did not come home for the funeral.
During the summer of 1938 Dean cultivated and worked in the fields, cleaned irrigation ditches, and did odd jobs for Father from 7: 00 AM to 6: 00 PM for $1.00 a day. He kept the Dana farm “running” while they were away on vacation. (Mexicans got $1. 00–1. 50 per day and white people usually got $2. 00–3. 00 a day. )
The second year the “filthy four” became “filthy five” at the Kimballs with Leroy and Miles Alldredge, Cousin Keith Millett, and Karl Curtis as Dean’s roommates. Levan Kimball, Pres. Kimball’s son, also, lived with his aunt and uncle. Karl was a nephew.
In addition to his other jobs, Dean was an instructor in the Physics Laboratory teaching electronic tubes. The irony of it was that even though he had had Physics at Tempe, the University would not recognize the credit for Engineering because it was not called “Engineering Physics. “ But Dean was accepted in Physics Department his first year at the University to take Electronic Tubes and in his second year he taught Advanced Physics (Electronic Tubes). The students in his lab were mostly fellow students in other classes with Dean. Dr. Roach, the professor, did not have a clear understanding of how a grid-leak detection system worked so he glossed over his explanation in class and some of his information was even incorrect. On a lab report the students quoted the professor’s words and because they were wrong, Dean marked them “wrong. “The students were angry. Consequently, Dean had a conference with each student and explained grid-leak detection. Dean told Dr. Roach what he had done and the professor admitted he never understood it himself!
In February 1939 Dean was elected to the Tau Beta Pi honorary scholastic society in Engineering with initiation at the Pioneer Hotel. Dean was granted a scholarship. He was, also, chosen by Dr. Bennion to be Superintendent of the LDS Sunday School at the Institute.
Before the school year was over Dr. Joel Fletcher, a young LDS
professor at the University in the Agricultural Department asked Dean if he would like to work for the department at the close of school. The Agricultural Department authorized Dean to work for one month in developing electronics for a soil moisture instrument. Dean designed and built the instrument portion while Dr. Fletcher developed the 2?-3? probe (capacitor) that goes into the soil. Such an instrument allowed for more precise irrigation, saving on water and saving crops by watering when needed. At an AIEE convention at the University of Arizona in 1939–1940, Dean was invited to tell about the soil moisture instrument. A civil engineer present said it had pertinent application in highway construction since soil compacts most readily at a certain moisture content. There were several requests from outsiders for this instrument and they were referred to Dean One was from the University of Utah. During the summer and winter of 1939 Dean built five or six such instruments. He had to have the steel boxes for housing sub-contracted. For each instrument he received $80. 00. The last one Dean built paid for the Alumni Fund due at graduation and $35. 00 for his transportation by bus to Philadelphia to his first assignment at General Electric.
Together Dean and Joel Fletcher were co-applicants for the patent for this soil moisture instrument. When Dean filled out his application for work at G. E. / he was asked if he had had any participation in patents, so, of course, he listed the soil moisture instrument. Because General Electric inquired so persistently, Dean advised Dr. Fletcher to drop his name from the patent.
When his one-month contract with the University of Arizona Agricultural Department terminated, Dean was in need of work. In July Aunt Helen came to tell Dean that the Salt River Water Users Association was hiring anyone with electrical knowledge to help rebuild a burned-out generator at the Mormon Flat Dam (about 65 miles from Mesa toward Fish Creek Hill). Dean went for an interview in Tempe where he was told he needed to go to the Phoenix office. However, after a brief conversation with Dean, Mr. Cox asked Dean where he lived. Dean said, “On Main Street in Mesa” to which Mr. Cox replied, “Be ready with your bedroll in front of your house at 7: 00 AM tomorrow and the truck will pick you up. “ There were only two “extras” hired that summer and the other fellow was let go in about six weeks as soon as the generator was rewound. They sent Dean to the Phoenix shop to work until school resumed. There Dean repaired transformers, polished insulators, and did general maintenance work in their shop.
The generator at Mormon Flat had either become overloaded or struck by lightning so that in the ensuing fire, the armature was “cooked. “ To put out the fire workmen had used water hoses. Although the magnetic field coils on the rotor did not burn, they were soaked. In order to dry them out, current was put through them. Dean was in the process of building a platform from which he might work on the coils. As he was carrying a crosscut saw to saw the timber, Dean was drawn between the poles by the magnetic pull on the saw. They had to cut the current off to release the saw and extricate Dean. Fortunately, Dean was not hurt but he was very surprised and mentally shaken!
While Dean was working at the Dam he met a fellow by the name of Glenn who wanted someone to go with him to stake out the deer haunts before the hunting season. In early Fall they went to the Tortilla Flat area beyond Canyon Lake (on the way to Roosevelt). There they came upon several herds of deer. One deer they startled and cornered following it out a narrow ledge on a cliff overlooking the Salt River 200? below. As they came closer and closer to the precipitous edge, they wondered what the deer would do.
Suddenly, realizing it could go no further, it turned in an area no more than a foot wide, and came bounding back in 25? to 30? leaps high over their heads. His hoofs came down like thunder and would have mashed the boys if he had hit them. They, also saw the only rattlesnake Dean ever saw in the wild. It was coiled in their path sunning itself. (Dean had heard many “buzzing” in the desert, to be sure, but never seen one. ) Dean shot the snake and removed the rattle. A herd of thirty to forty javelenas (wild pigs) added to their day of adventures.
Dean’s Mother lost her position (November 1937) at the County Court House due to political maneuverings of those in public office. It was a real blow to the family financially as Mother had no income for several months. In September 1939 Aunt Neoma read an advertisement in the paper of a rooming house to rent in Phoenix. Mother decided to take a chance at running it and two days later she moved in. Within a week she had her first roomer and soon had rented enough rooms to pay the rent, pay for the furniture she had purchased, and to send money to Dean and live herself.
In January 1940 of Dean’s senior year at the University one of the professors announced that a recruiter from General Electric company would be there for interviews. The professor had applications for those who were interested. Just about everyone filled one out. When the General Electric representative came, he held brief interviews with each applicant. When he had finished, he called Dean in and asked him if he would like the job. (General Electric was offering just one opening to an University of Arizona graduate. ) However, it seemed imminent that the United States would be involved in the European conflict so by the time school was out, G. E. had offered positions to two more graduates and by the time the summer was over, the company had contacted most of the applicants.
In May the Dean of the Engineering School accompanied several of the students on a field trip to view various electrical installations. Their trip took them to the Globe area. Dean, along with three other students, happened to be riding with Dr. Clark as they travelled a section of road under construction. Dr. Clark was an exuberant man talking and motioning as he drove. The car hit a mound of gravel in the center of the road causing the car to swerve across the road to the very edge of a cliff. The car sheared off a palo verde tree over the shoulder and came to rest with one wheel dangling over the 30? drop. Gingerly they all alighted from the car as the wheel still rotated suspended in mid air. A grader at work nearby pulled the car back to safety.
Dean wore a special ribbon on his gown at graduation, (May 29, 1940) signifying his election to Phi Kappa Phi, a scholastic honorary society. He graduated with Honors with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Mona Millett, his cousin, graduated with High Honors. Mona was the lowest one in the first 5% and Dean was the highest ranking one in the second 5%. There was a difference in the thousandths in their grade averages.
By mid-June Dean was on his way to the East travelling by bus to Philadelphia - his first assignment with the General Electric Company in the Test Course. The Test Course was designed to familiarize engineers with various processes by giving them training for three-month periods in various operations of the company. There were orientation classes and technical and business courses associated with it. Normally the Test Course term was for one year but during war times, it was difficult to get recruits so Dean was “on Test” for two years. He held the following assignments:
At Philadelphia (7–1?40 - 10–21–40) he tested large oil circuit breakers on high power lines.
At Erie, Pa. (10–21–40 - 1–20–41) he worked on diesel electric locomotives testing the switch engines for manipulating the cars in the railroad yards.
At Pittsfield, Mass, his first assignment (1–20–41 ?4–11–41) was working on transformers. During his second Test (4–11–41 - 10–27–41) he was in charge of the 3rd shift for six months testing insulation break-down and making heat runs to meet specifications. Here at Pittsfield, Dean met Don Pearson, a future friend and neighbor who was to figure, along with his family, very prominently in our lives. Don was in charge of the second shift.
At Schenectady, New York Dean’s first assignment (10–27–41 - 2–9?42) was working with induction motors. The second period (2–9?42- 5–25–42) he worked on test equipment design. His third Test (5–25–41 - 9–26–42) was radio receiver development for the military.
At West Lynn, Massachusetts Dean went off Test working in the Laboratory in charge of Demand Meters and Gyro Testing.
Immediately after Pearl Harbor the company shifted to war production with personnel working a 12-hour day seven days a week to reduce the backlog of civilian contracts. After about six weeks this was reduced to a 60-hour week for the next several years.
Dean arrived in Philadelphia in about the same financial status as Benjamin Franklin - almost penniless. He reported for work on Monday, July 1, worked three days and then had a four-day holiday weekend. He got a room with the promise to pay his rent of $3. 00 per week on his first pay day but his landlord surmised Dean did not have much money so deferred his need for payment. (He probably had had experience with new engineers before and understood their financial situation. ) One of the fellows at work invited Dean to go with him to the New York World’s Fair over the long weekend. Dean told him he had no money but he was able to get an advance on the three days he had worked. He still could not afford an hotel room so he and his non-Mormon companion went to the Mission Home where they were referred to a member family who gave them a room at a reasonable rate.
Dean’s beginning gross weekly salary was $28. 00 of which $1. 00 was deducted as a city tax. He sent $10. 00 home to his Mother each week.
Dean’s room was in what is known as a “row house. “ Whole streets were built up with houses that looked all alike with a common wall between each house. One evening after work when Dean was coming home to his room, he walked into the house and started toward his room. He thought things looked a little strange and discovered he had walked into the wrong house! He sheepishly retreated thankful he had not met anyone.
The Draft was initiated before war was declared. Dean was in Schenectady when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1940. Actually, he was in Ithica, New York visiting the Lloyd Brinkerhoffs from Arizona. Lloyd was getting his doctorate at Cornell. (His niece married Dean Gardiner. ) Dean was already registered with the Phoenix, Arizona draft board. He was scheduled to be inducted into the military in March 1940. Before that date he had had his physical exam and passed “with flying colors” with an A-l classification. General Electric at Pittsfield, Massachusetts wrote the draft board explaining that their engineers were vital to the war effort and Dean was granted a deferment. By the Spring of 1943 Dean was again classed A-l by the Phoenix draft board. This time Dean was at West Lynn Works and again General Electric intervened. But the answer came back from Phoenix that Dean was A-l and would be inducted at first call. General Electric then requested that Dean’s registration be transferred to the Lynn, Mass, draft board and asked the local draft board to give Dean in occupational deferment (a “B” classification as an engineer working on war projects). Lynn had so many draftees that Dean’s position was never questioned again.
Neither of us were aware of it at the time but the 31st of March 1943 was the very beginning of a new life for Dean and for me. It was my very first day of work as Engineering Assistant to the Metallurgist in the Laboratory at West Lynn Works, General Electric Company. At noon it was the routine for one of the girls in the Laboratory to take all the orders for lunches and purchase them at a snack shop just outside the Plant. Dean happened to be nearby when they asked the “new girl” what she wanted to eat. Did I want coffee? “No, I don’t drink coffee. “ Did I want tea? “No, I don’t drink tea, but I would like a bottle of milk. “ In my timidity and apprehension among all the newness of every situation, I was not even aware of the young engineer nearby. But Dean took notice and decided he needed to find out more about this girl who apparently lived the Word of Wisdom. He lost no time in asking to take me home from a Laboratory dance five days later. Our lives were destined to be shared as Dean gave me a diamond on the 27th of October and on 20 February 1944 at the Universalist Church in Pittsfield, Maine I was married to my Arizona-Yankee!
Priesthood Line of Authority
- G Dean Williams was ordained a High Priest 11 August 1974 by
Warren A. Jones.
- Warren A. Jones was ordained a High Priest 12 November 1961 by
E. Doyle Robison.
- E. Doyle Robison was ordained a High Priest 21 September 1961
by Legrand Richards.
- LEGRAND RICHARDS was ordained an apostle 10 April 1952 by David
- DAVID 0. MCKAY was ordained an Apostle 9 April 1906 by Joseph
- JOSEPH F. SMITH was ordained an Apostle 1 July 1866 by Brigham
- BRIGHAM YOUNG was ordained an Apostle 14 February 1835 under
the hands of the Three Witnesses/ Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer,
and Martin Harris.
- THE THREE WITNESSES were called by revelation to choose the
Twelve Apostles and on 14 February 1835 were “blessed by the
laying on of the hands of the Presidency, “ Joseph Smith,
Jr., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams, to ordain the Twelve
Apostles. (History of the Church, Vol 2, pp. 187–188)
- JOSEPH SMITH, JR. and OLIVER COWDERY received the Melchizedek
Priesthood in 1829 under the hands of Peter, James, and John, and
were ordained Apostles by them (D. & C. Sect. 27: 12, 20:
- PETER, JAMES, and JOHN were ordained Apostles by the Lord,
Jesus Christ. (John 15: 16)