INTERVIEW WITH J. HARRIS WALKER, NOVEMBER 2, 1977
By WILLIAM R. WALKER, at Concord, California
Some comments by BETH RUSSELL WALKER are included, with occasional notes by Bill.
Bill: When I was at Glenís about a year ago he told me some stories about Grandpa (James H Walker) and his brothers going to Raymond. Can you tell me about them?
JHW: It was Alec, Jack didnít ever go to Raymond.
Alec went to Raymond with Dad, and the first year they went, they planted their grain. In the fall, on September 2nd, they started their harvest and made one round with the binder. They had a good crop, they had made one round with the binder at night. They had no money. That night a big hail storm came up and hailed them out 100%. They didnít have a dime. So they got on the train, a freight train, and rode the freight train back to Utah without a dime. And that was the last time that Alec would go back to Canada.
He did come back one other time, for about two days, when he was about 60 years old. He never would come back, even for a day, in between.
Alec was a very good athlete, as was Dad. They both played lots of baseball.
Bill: Who was oldest?
JHW: Alec. He was two years older.
(Billís note: Robert Cowie Walker and Jane Wright had nine children: Agnes Ramsey Walker Hodson Rigby <24 Aug 1870>, Margaret Cowie Walker Salmon <15 Sept 1872>, Jane Walker <30 Dec 1874> died as an infant, Robert Walker <18 Dec 1875> died at age 2, Elizabeth Wright Walker Hansen <6 May 1878>, John Walker <10 Nov 1880>, Alexander Wright Walker <14 July 1883>, James H Walker < 31 May 1885>, and Mary Marian Walker Taylor <23 Dec 1887>.
Bill: How old were they when they went up to Canada?
JHW: Well, I think it was before Dadís mission. But anyway, they spent the summer up there, farmed, had a good crop, got hailed out, and didnít make a cent.
Bill: Why did they go up there in the first place?
JHW: Dad went up there when he was 17, with Uncle John Salmon. Uncle Johnís wife was Aunt Maggie, who was Dadís sister. (Margaret Cowie Walker Salmon)
Bill: Why did John Salmon go?
JHW: Dad said he went (laughter) because he couldnít balance his Bishopís books in Coalville. At the end of the year he was trying to balance the books and he was out 15 cents. This used to tickle Dad, of course, because Dad was an accountant. So John couldnít balance the books, so he sent the books to Salt Lake, and said: ĎHere are the books, and here is the 15 cents I canít find.í (laughter) So then they went to Canada, and Dad always said that was the reason that John went to Canada. It was the only way he could get out of being Bishop. So anyway, they went to Canada.
Of course, at that time, in 1903, the Church was - they werenít really sending them - but they were really encouraging church members to go up there. There was lots of cheap land. It was good farm land, and they could make a good go of it, and they were encouraging them to go. Thatís how come (they went to Canada.)
Bill: Glen said that your Grandfather (Robert Cowie Walker) helped the Hayes family pay their way to Utah, do you know anything about that?
JHW: Well, I donít know who the family was, but all I know is when they got to Liverpool, and they didnít have enough money to buy passage for one (of the family). So Grandpa Walker just handed them his ticket. He said: ĎHere, take it.í And he was already to go with his family. In fact, my grandmother (they werenít married at the time), but she was going with them. That was Jane Wright. So my Grandfather just gave them his ticket. So they used the ticket and came to America. So my Grandfather stayed, and he had no money. So he got looking around, and after they left (on their ship)Ö The first steam ship to ever cross was just getting ready to depart. So he went down to the office of the company, and asked them if they had a job. First they told him that they didnít have any jobs, then finally, somehow or other they finally decided that they had a job as a steward. They asked him if he would do that. And I donít know what that amounts to. Anyway, they finally gave him a job as a steward. So he signed on as a steward, for his passage. This was a few days after the other ship had gone. Anyway, then the steamship left. I donít remember the name, but it was the first steamship ever to go from London or Liverpool to New York. They got to New York three weeks before the other ship came; three weeks before the ship that he was originally supposed to go on.
Bill: So Jane Wright was on the first ship. Were they engaged then?
JHW: I donít know if they were engaged or not, but they were planning to get married. So was his family on the ship.
Beth: He got to New York early enough and immediately got a job, and had saved enough money that they were all able to get on the train to go west. His father and mother and brothers and sisters all were on the ship coming from Liverpool. He got a job in New York and saved his money until they got there. They got on the train and headed west with that money that he had saved while waiting for them.
JHW: Back in those days they used to do lots of betting on running, and races and that sort of thing. So on his way west from New York, every time the train would stop, he would go out and bet somebody that he could beat them in a foot race. And he made enough money doing this on the way across to pay for his passage and more. He was apparently a very good athlete. He was a good athlete, because when Uncle Jack went to BYU, he was the conference quarter mile champion. When he came home in the spring after he had won the conference championship in the quarter mile, Grandpa told him to do something, and Jack told him that he wouldnít do it. Grandpa took off after him and ran Jack down. (laughter) Thatís what Dad said.
Bill: Uncle Jack was your Dadís older brother?
JHW: Yes. He was the State Treasurer of Utah for two terms. He was a returned missionary, but he forgot he was a Mormon.
Bill: What about Alec?
JHW: Alec married Eldesta Mary Spencer. Aunt Dess was a really strong Catholic, and very wealthy, and Uncle Alec became a cigar-smoking, essentially non-Mormon. He never went to church again. He was a very good friend of Matthew Cowley. Matthew Cowley had been an apostle for ten years, and Uncle Alex didnít even know it.
Bill: Youíre kidding?
JHW: He didnít.
Bill: Itís hard to believe that one brother could be a Bishop and Stake President all of his life and the other two brothers donít have anything to do with the church.
Beth: Well, he went to Canada.
JHW: Well, Uncle Jack was a returned missionary. He was the kind of a guy who could have been a Stake President, if he had stayed in the church. But he married - his wife was a Presbyterian. They ended up getting divorced eventually.
(Billís note: Uncle Jack married Margaret Chesholm, later divorced; his second wife was Elizabeth Jane Price. They married 2 Jan 1942)
Bill: What did Grandpa think about his brothers not being active in the church?
JHW: Well, there wasnít anything he could do about it. It used to bother him some. He used to go see them and talk to them, but it was like talking to a brick wall.
Bill: What about Agnes Ramsay Walker, who married William Hodson? Your Dadís oldest sister.
JHW: Thatís Ednaís mother. Do you know Edna and Andy Anderson? They live on D Street.
Beth: (Andy and Ednaís) daughter Ruth came up to Canada one summer and went to Waterton with us.
Agnes married William Hodson when she was 19. They got married and went back to Coalville, and he got sent out on the ranch to herd the sheep, and while he was out there he got pneumonia and died. She was married about a month.
JHW: Then she married Will Rigby, and her kids were all Rigbys.
(Billís note: Agnes married William Hodson 30 April, 1891; she married William Seth Rigby 17 March 1898.)
Bill: Then the next child in that family was Margaret Cowie Walker.
JHW: She is the one that married John Salmon. That is Aunt Maggie.
Bill: So all the Salmon boys from Raymond are her kids?
(Billís note: John and Margaret Walker Salmon had seven children: Lauretta Salmon Dahl <1896>, Jennie Elene Salmon Paxman <1898>, John Ross Salmon <1902>, Scott Walker Salmon <1905>, Robert Walker Salmon <1908>, Agnes Salmon Oliver <1910>, and Carl Walker Salmon <1913>.)
JHW: They took Grandpa to Raymond with them, so he lived with them for a time.
Bill: Then they had two kids that died, and then Aunt Lizzie. Then Uncle Jack, Uncle Alec, then Grandpa (James H Walker) and then Mary Marian Walker.
JHW: Aunt Mamie. They all called her Mamie.
Beth: If my name was Mary Marian, Iíd want to be called Mamie too.
Bill: Then Jane Wright died, and he married Mary Lovenia Copley, and that is Uncle Copleyís mother.
JHW: Well, Grandpa married her when he was 61 or 62. She was an old maid school teacher. I donít know how old she was. (Note: She was born in 1874, and they got married in 1905 = 31) She was a little tiny woman. She was about 4í 10 or 4í 11". Of course, she mothered big Copley.
(Billís note: Jane Wright died 14 Dec. 1901. Robert Cowie Walker married Mary Lovenia Copley on 22 June 1905. They had one child: Thomas Copley Walker, born 19 Sept 1906. Robert Cowie Walker died 24 Mar 1908.)
Bill: Were any of your Dadís brothers as big as Copley?
JHW: Oh no. Alec was over 6 foot, and Jack was about 6 foot.
My grandpa was built just like me they said. Iím 5í 8".
(Billís note: Uncle Copley told me that his Grandpa Walker <James Walker, father of Robert Cowie Walker> was 6í 5".)
Bill: Uncle Glen said that Grandpa coached Henry D. Moyle at the LDS Business College basketball team.
JHW: I know Dad played on the basketball team at LDS Business College. I know that he knew Henry D. Moyle. (Billís note: President Henry D. Moyle was ordained an Apostle in 1947 and was a counselor to President David O. McKay for four years until his death in 1963.)
Bill: Glen told me that Grandpa Walker told him once about Bishopric meeting that Grandpa told his counselor Wilford Heninger that it was his turn to conduct for Fast and Testimony Meeting. Wilford said he wasnít going to conduct. Grandpa asked him ĎWhy?í Wilford said: "My best horse broke his leg this week, a hail storm wrecked my crops, and today Iím not going to get up and tell everybody the Gospel is true."
JHW: Thatís right. (laughter) I donít know if those were the exact things that happened, but I remember everything had gone wrong, and he wasnít going to take his turn conducting. I could tell you lots of stories about Wilford Heninger. Do you know what Wilford used to do? If they had some money to raise for some cause, and Wilford got assigned to help raise the money, he would just pay for it out of his pocket. He would never ask anybody for any money.
Bill: Glen said that once in Coalville, an old ram ran over and knocked Grandma down and so Jack went over and slit the ramís throat. Do you know that story?
JHW: No. When Dad was 15, he went out and herded sheep for a year and he was off by himself for a year, and didnít even come back to town. He was just a little kid when he left and when he came back he had grown over a foot, and nobody knew him.
Bill: Didnít he go to high school?
JHW: Oh no. Dad went to school for 5 years. He started school when he was 8, went to school for 5 years. He finished public school and went to one year of business college. But he was smart. He was smart as a college graduate, easy enough.
Bill: Glen said that Dad used to tease President N.Eldon Tanner and Solon Low about being Social Credit.
JHW: Kid em? Judast, he didnít kid them at all! Dad was leader of the Opposition in the government. There wasnít any kidding. (note: He was obviously annoyed at the way I phrased the question.)
Bill: What did he ever say about them?
JHW: Well, (laughing) He didnít ever say anything about N.E., but his prize story about Solon was that somebody was really going at Solon one time in the Legislature. They said to Solon: ĎDo you really believe that Social Credit stuff?í Solon said: ĎIíll say right now, for the record, that I am still just as much a Social Creditor right now as I ever was.í Of course, thatís the way Solon was, he was very elusive. You couldnít pin him down.
(Billís note: Solon Low was a school teacher from Raymond who grew to national prominence in Canada as a member of the Social Credit party. He served in the Alberta Legislature and as Provincial Treasurer of Alberta. Later he was elected to the House of Commons in the Canadian Parliament and for a time he was the national leader of the Social Credit Party. When he was not reelected, he returned to Raymond and taught high school, until his death.)
Bill: Were President Tanner and Grandpa pretty good friends?
JHW: Oh yah, they were good friends. They were in the same (LDS church) branch in Edmonton. They were friends before they went to the Legislature. They had to live in Edmonton during the Legislative session. It seemed like it was most of the winter. I was in medical school then. They lived at The McDonald Hotel when they were in Edmonton. Grandma would go up with him and stay with him when he was there.
(Billís note: President Nathan Eldon Tanner grew up in Cardston. He was a prominent member of the Alberta Legislature, and served as Minister of Lands and Mines in the Provincial cabinet for many years. He was President of the Edmonton Branch of the church from 1939 to 1952, when he left government and moved to Calgary. In 1953, he was called as the first President of the Calgary Stake. He became one of the most prominent businessmen in Canada as President of Trans Canada Pipelines. He was called to be a General Authority in 1960, an Apostle in 1962, and served in The First Presidency from 1963 until his death in 1982. He was a counselor to President David O. McKay, President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Harold B. Lee and President Spencer W. Kimball. For those interested in reading more about President Tanner, I suggest you read Elder G. Homer Durhamís excellent biography N. Eldon Tanner, His Life and Service.)
Bill: Did they release Grandpa from Bishop when he got elected?
JHW: No, he was already released. He was on the High Council when they made him Stake President.
Bill: How did he get to be leader of the Opposition in the Legislature?
JHW: He got voted in.
Bill: Were there only a few members of the Opposition?
JHW: Oh no, they had a pretty good Opposition.
Bill: Was he a Liberal or a Conservative?
JHW: I think he was elected as an Independent. If the election had gone differently, he could have been the Premier of Alberta. The way they run it in Canada, if the Opposition party wins the election, their leader becomes the Premier. I canít remember if it was Premier Aberhart, or Premier Manning when he was in the legislature.
(Billís note: William Aberhart was Premier of Alberta from 1935 until his death in 1943. He was succeeded by Ernest C. Manning.)
(Billís note: Quoting from a newspaper article: "James H. Walker of Raymond, M.L.A. for Warner constituency, a lanky, hard-hitting farmer, is the new leader of the Independents. He defeated David H. Elton, K.C., of Lethbridge in the race for the leadership as the Independent Citizensí Association of Alberta convention made its choice Monday eveningÖ. J. Percy Page, President of the Association, announced the result of the balloting. Mr. Elton asked the convention to make the choice unanimous by a standing vote. The delegates not only did so, but added three cheers for good measure.")
Bill: He must have his speeches recorded in the records of the Alberta Legislature.
JHW: Iím sure he has. Dad was a pretty good speaker, you know. He could get up and talk about anything, at anytime. He would have been a very good lawyer. Dad was in line to be appointed Senator when he died.
(Billís note: In Canada, members of the Senate are appointed by the Prime Minister. The appointment is for life.)
Bill: Glen said he had just been interviewed by Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent to become a Canadian Senator when he had his heart attack.
Beth: He was on his way home from that interview.
JHW: Yes, he was to be appointed Senator.
(Billís note: Louis St. Laurent served as Prime Minister of Canada from 1948 to 1957. He was the second French Canadian Prime Minister. He was a member of the Liberal party. Prime Minister St. Laurent was born in 1882, so he would have been three years older than Grandpa. I recall that a telegram of condolence from Prime Minister St. Laurent was read at Grandpa Walkerís funeral. Does anybody have a copy of it?)
Bill: Glen said that Rudger Clawson was the President of the European Mission when Grandpaís Mission President in Holland died, and they appointed Grandpa to be the Interim Mission President.
(Billís note: Elder Rudger Clawson served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1898 until his death in 1943. He was President of the Quorum from 1921 until his death. He was President of the European Mission from 1910 to 1913. It was common practice at that time for a member of the Twelve to reside in London, and oversee all of the church in Europe.)
JHW: I believe thatís right.
Bill: Glen also told me that Elder Sylvester Q. Cannon was a visiting authority in Holland, and he and Grandpa blessed a little five year old boy, who had been blind for two years. Elder Cannon blessed him that his sight would be restored, and it was. Grandpa was the missionary that assisted him in giving the blessing, and that the man moved to Salt Lake. His name was Brother Root, and he lived in Ensign Third Ward. (Note: Sylvester Q. Cannon was Presiding Bishop and then an Apostle from 1925 until his death in 1943.)
I also heard the story that Grandpa was preaching at a meeting in The Hague when a man walked in and said he was going to kill the Elders. Grandpa told the other missionaries to get out the window, and he jumped out last and they all outran this guy. Do you know that story?
JHW: No. I couldnít ever see Dad running away from anybody.
Beth: I canít either.
JHW: I would have thought Dad would have been running right straight at him. I donít know if that story is right.
Bill: Well, I hope heíd have been smart enough to run if the guy had a weapon.
JHW: I donít know anything about it.
Bill: I understand your Grandmother Harris said she had shaken hands with every President of the Church except Joseph Smith. (Billís note: This was JHWís grandmother, Mary Ann Parkinson Harris who married Daniel Browett Harris on January 6, 1881. She was Grandma Fannye Harris Walkerís mother.)
JHW: Yes thatís right. I knew my Grandma Harris as well as I knew anybody. I think she did say she had shaken hands with every President of the Church except Joseph Smith.
Bill: I heard that Aunt Lizzie gave Alexander Schreiner piano lessons in Germany.
JHW: Oh, that isnít right! Aunt Lizzie wasnít a piano player, in the first place! However, Aunt Lizzie knew the Schreiners very well.
(Billís note: Alexander Schreiner was the famous Tabernacle Organist for many years.)
Beth: Aunt Lizzieís husband, Uncle Will was President of the German Mission when the Schreiners were baptized. They were good friends. When Aunt Lizzie died, Alexander Schreiner phoned Aunt Lizzieís daughter and said: "I am speaking at your motherís funeral and I am playing an organ solo at your motherís funeral." And he did.
(Billís Note: William Lawrence Hansen was born in SLC May 22, 1867. He married Elizabeth Wright Walker on June 3, 1903. I checked with the Church Historical Department and found that he was not the Mission President, but served a second mission to Germany from 1908-1910, under President Thomas E. McKay. As a young missionary, he was President of the North German Conference of the Swiss German Mission, in 1989. He was Bishop of the Sugar House Ward from 1914 to 1920. He served as a counselor in the Northern States Mission Presidency after moving to Chicago. The mission president was Bryant S. Hinckley (father of Gordon B. Hinckley) and the other counselor was George E. Romney. Uncle Will was called as the first Patriarch of the Chicago Stake when it was organized in 1936 by President Heber J. Grant. While Patriarch he was also President of the High Priests Quorum and Stake Mission President. He died in 1941, and Aunt Lizzie spent the rest of her days in Salt Lake City. )
Bill: I wasnít there, but didnít Legrand Richards speak at her funeral?
JHW: Yes. Dad was always a very good friend of Le Grand Richards.
Bill: Back in the days when your Dad was called to be Bishop, wasnít it a General Authority that came and called them?
JHW: Usually it was the President of the Church. Sure. Almost always. Do you know in those days how many people were in the church? When I was a deacon, there were 300,000 members of the church.
Bill: I remember when I was a boy when they announced the 200th stake.
Beth: We were at conference with your Grandma and Grandpa Walker when they made the 200th stake.
JHW: Well, it was usually one of The First Presidency that installed a Bishop. Not always. My Dad was the Bishop before I was a deacon.
(Billís note:. Elder David O. McKay, of the Quorum of the Twelve divided the Raymond Ward on June 2, 1912. The new Second Ward Bishopric was John. Wm. Evans, Bishop; Lewis Darling King, First Counselor and James H. Walker , as Second Counselor. Grandpa Walker served as a counselor to Bishop Evans until 1924, when he was called and ordained to be Bishop, by Elder Stephen L. Richards, of The Quorum of the Twelve. He served as Bishop until 16 February, 1941. This service in one Bishopric added up to 12 years as a counselor, and 17 years as Bishop.)
(end of Side A of Tape #1)
JHW: My Dad was in the Bishopric from the time I was born.
Bill: I remember Grandma telling me that Grandpa was in the Bishopric, the High Council or Stake President from the time he was 27, until he died.
Do you remember who called him to be Stake President?
Beth: Yes. Ezra Taft Benson.
(Billís note: Elder Ezra Taft Benson, of the Quorum of the Twelve was accompanied by Elder Marion G. Romney, who was then an Assistant to the Twelve. The Stake Conference was held on 11 May, 1947)
JHW: He became Stake President after President T. George Wood. He was president of the sugar factory.
Dadís counselors in the Bishopric were Wilford Heninger and Les Palmer. When he was Stake President his counselors were John L. Allen and Leslie L. Palmer. Wilford was appointed Stake Patriarch.
Bill: I heard that Jane Wright Walker helped make Queen Victoriaís wedding dress.
JHW: I donít know anything about that.
Bill: I also heard that Robert Cowie Walker was a personal body guard of Queen Victoria.
JHW: Where did you ever get that? I donít think thatís true. My grandfather lived in Glascow. He never lived in England. He lived in Scotland. I guess he could have been a guard when Queen Victoria went to Scotland. He came to the United States when he was 20 or something. He died in 1908, before I was born. Dad was on his mission when his Dad died. His mother had died before.
Bill: Thatís pretty rough.
Bill: Maybe thatís one of the reasons he went to Canada. He didnít have anything to stay home for. What happened to the farm?
JHW: Thatís where Copley is. My grandfather owned several different farms around Coalville. My Dad took us up to this one ranch. It was quite a fancy ranch, but it was a terrible way to get up to it. It was about 25 miles east of Coalville. He took us up there one time about 5 or 6 years before he died. He took us up there and it was a wild ride. Judust. Crazy roads even then. It was a nice looking ranch when you got there, but it was a terrible long messy ground between here and there. I donít know how they got out there, but they lived there for three or four years.
Then he owned a store in Coalville, and ranched a bit, and he had some other farm up there. Then he bought that farm where Copley is. He lived there, I guess, when he died.
Beth: Robert Cowie Walker owned the block in Salt Lake City from Third to Fourth South on the west side of Main Street. Brigham Young told him to sell it and go up to Coalville and open a store.
JHW: So he sold it for $300.
Bill: I remember Grandpa owned a ranch up by Waterton.
JHW: It was 450 acres, straight south of Mountain View.
Bill: What ever happened to that?
JHW: Sold it. It was almost at the base of Old Chief Mountain.
Bill: I can remember going up there as a kid and staying overnight a couple of times.
JHW: It was a nice place.
Bill: Was it for recreation?
JHW: Well they carted cattle up there. They carted cattle up by truck a couple of times. He didnít have it for very long. What finally sealed it was a couple of thugs who were running away from the law got out there and lived in the house and smashed everything up. They took a hammer to the toilets and the sinks and knocked down some of the walls. They had a big fancy barn, and they ransacked and ripped out all the stalls and everything, so finally Dad said: "Thatís enough of that. Iím going to sell it."
Some of the LeBarons used to own it.
JHW: My Grandpa Walker used to trade horses all the time. He used to always have fancy horses. Heíd get them in great shape and heíd always have them nicely matched. That was back when everybody drove horses. He used to start out for Salt Lake on a trip, and he might have traded horses three times before he got back. Everybody would come along and he would want to trade horses. He would always trade the team and so much to boot. He'd trade for horses that didn't look too good a shape or something and he'd take them home and fatten them up and then trade them again. He was always trading.
Bill: Iíve got a letter here from your Mom to Uncle Glen telling all about Grandpaís heart attack. Have you seen it?
JHW: I donít need to have seen it. I was there all the time. I donít need to see the letter. I know what happened.
Bill: I remember Grandpaís funeral. They had more people there than they could get in the Stake Center.
JHW: Dad had lots of friends. He had just as many friends that werenít Mormons, as were. Of course, Dad was one of the best known guys in Alberta. He was very well known from athletics, without anything else. He was the original coach of the Raymond Union Jacks. He really organized them. He coached them, and played with them. They won the Canadian Championship one year. He was a very good basketball player.
Bill: When I interviewed Uncle Ez a few years ago he told me a story of when Grandpa was coaching. Grandpa was too sick to go on a basketball trip and the guys on the team came down and got him out of bed and said they couldnít play without him. They got him dressed and took him on the trip with them.
JHW: I donít know. They used to go everywhere on the train in those days. There werenít decent roads. Even if they went to Cardston, they went on the train and stayed overnight to play basketball.
Beth: I remember when Faun and Clifford (Peterson) got married, it took a day to get to the temple, a day to get married, and a day to get back, from Barnwell to Cardston.
JHW: When they opened the temple in Cardston in 1923, they had a big excursion. They had a special train. All of us kids had a great time. I was 11. We got to go on the excursion train. (laughter) Nobody stayed home. Every kid in town went.
They had The First Presidency, and all the Apostles and everybody there.
Beth: I have my motherís recommend to the dedication of the Alberta Temple. Itís a good thing I confiscated it, Francis has destroyed everything else that they had.
JHW: When theyíd go play basketball in Cardston theyíd always go by train. Harry Fairbanks used to play with them. Harry was such a Ďcut upí that they used to have to sign him in under a different name because none of the hotels would have him. Harry would make such a racket and keep everybody awake all night, nobody would get to sleep.
Bill: Is he Uncle Paulís uncle?
JHW: Uncle Paulís brother. Didnít I tell you about big Lloyd? We were up there a year ago and I was telling them about the Raymond Union Jacks playing Winnipeg for the Canadian Championship. Harry went down the floor three times in succession and put hook shots in from the corner Ė three successive plays. It tied the score up. Lloyd sat there with his eyes about this big, and said: "Harry? Did Harry ever play basketball?" (laughter)
Beth: Harris said to him: "He was probably more famous than you." (laughter)
JHW: He was only just about the best basketball player in Canada. Thatís all.
Anyway, the Jacks got beat in that game. It was by two points, or something.
Anyway, Dad was still playing with the Jacks when I was about twelve. From the time I was about six, I never did miss a basketball game. I always went to all of them.
He was 27 when I was born, so he would have been near 40 then.
I told you about my Dad playing baseball, didnít I?
I only saw him play one game that I can remember. I think I was nearly 14. They had an Oldtimers baseball game. They got some Oldtimers to play the town team. The town team played in the regular Southern Alberta League. They played pretty good baseball.
Dad hadnít had on a baseball suit for ten years or something. They were playing against the regular pitcher. Dad got up five times and got four hits, including a triple and a double off the town pitcher in five times up. And he hadnít played ball for ten years. He looked like he was a better ballplayer than anybody on either team.
Bill: He was the Bishop then. That must have been something for everyone to see their Bishop out there playing that well.
JHW: Dad was very strong. Did I tell you about him carrying the tub of tomatoes? That wasnít too long before he died. We were picking tomatoes up in the garden. One of these great huge tubs was right full, not just a few tomatoes. It was a big tub like thisÖfull. He just picked it up and carted it off by himself. I said: ĎLet me help you.í No. He wasnít going to let me help him, he just carried it himself. I couldnít even have picked it up.
Bill: Your Momís mother (Mary Ann Parkinson Harris) lived with you in Raymond for a while.
JHW: I donít know how much time she lived in Raymond, but total time she lived in Raymond must have been four or five years. She used to come up a lot. Immediately before she died she was down in Utah, but she used to come up and back and up and back. She was up in Canada most of the time her last five years. Not all of the time, but most of the time.
I told you about her milking the cows, didnít I? She would get up at 4:30 every morning. She had a great huge big old long cup, and sheíd go out to the barn. She didnít trust anybody else milking. (laughter) So sheíd go out and milk this great huge cup full. It was about a quart of milk. Sheíd go out and milk it herself, and then sheíd drink the milk real warm. Just straight warm out of the cow, sheíd drink it right then.
Bill: Did she do that when she was 80?
JHW: Oh yes, she was over 80. She was a character. She had a great sense of humor.
(Note: Mary Ann Parkinson Harris was born 9 Aug, 1858, (Ogden), Died 19 Nov, 1945 (Ogden) at age 87.)
Beth: She and Jim used to spend hours telling each other stories.
JHW: She used to tell Jim stories and then Jim would tell her stories. Jim used to have a great imagination. He would make up the biggest tales, and she would just sit and chuckle listening to him. And when sheíd laugh, she had a big tummy laugh. She would just jiggle all over.
Beth: Sheíd never make a sound, sheíd just chuckle.
Bill: Was your mother a lot like her?
JHW: Well, in some ways.
Beth: His mother didnít have Grandma Harrisí sense of humor.
JHW: She was somewhat like her mother, but not that much. Grandma Harris was very much like Uncle Ez. (Note: Grandma Fannye Walkerís youngest brother was Ezra Parkinson Harris, born 1895)
Bill: Youíll have to read the transcript of the interview I did with Uncle Ez. He said some pretty interesting things. He was talking about what a great farmer his Dad was.
(Note: Bill Walker interview of Ezra Harris, Layton, Utah, on April 20, 1974)
JHW: Grandpa Harris was a good farmer. I was only 12 years old when I saw him, but I knew enough about farming to know what was pretty fancy farming. And his was pretty fancy farming, I can tell you that! (Note: JHWís Grandpa Harris is Daniel Browett Harris, born 30 Oct 1848 in Council Point, Iowa. Died 15 December, 1922 in Layton, Utah.)
Bill: I remember Grandpa Walker always going to General Conference.
JHW: He never missed General Conference as far as I can remember. He always went to conference.
Beth: He usually took us with him, so Harris could help him drive.
JHW: The last few years he wouldnít drive at night, so we went with them most of the time.
Bill: Did you usually drive straight through?
Beth: He usually wouldnít drive straight through. The only time he drove straight through was when we came down when Nolan died. He used to like to stop at Dillon. (Montana).
Beth: The minute the sun went downÖ if you had to turn your lights on, Grandpa would say: "Weíre stopping."
JHW: He wouldnít drive at night unless he had to. He couldnít see very well at night, I think.
Beth: He didnít think it was safe driving at night, because the other carsí lights blinded you.
Bill: I can remember going out to the ridge and riding with him and he used to go like mad.
JHW: Boy, Iíll tell you it was a wild ride, going with him out to the ridge. He was a pretty wild driver out on the ridge. He rode with Ray Knight too much.
Beth: He knew every badger hole out there.
JHW: He would go right straight up and down those hills like they were nothing.
Bill: I think thatís where Fay got it from.
Beth: Fay, and Glen, and Harris.
Bill: Uncle Ez said that his Dad used to go to General Conference every time also.
JHW: His Dad was Bishop for years and years and years.
(Note: Daniel B. Harris served as Bishop of the Layton Ward in 1889, and served for 22 years. His counselors were J.W. Thornley and William Nalder. Later, Charles Robbins replaced Thornley.)
Bill: Tell me about the General Authorities that used to come and stay with you.
JHW: All the General Authorities used to come and stay at our house. Dad became Stake President in 1947. So I was 35 when he became Stake President, but we had some General Authorities stay with us before that. If you want to run through the names of the General Authorities of that time, they all stayed at our place.
Beth: Do you want to hear an interesting story about when President David O. McKay stayed at their place? My Dad told me that if I wanted to do something that would make President McKay happy, to take him a rose that he could put in his lapel. So I took a rose down, a pretty red rose bud that had barely started to open. He was so thrilled. He put the rose in his lapel button. Bishop Wirthlin was there with him, so Grandma had to go out in the garden and find a rose bud for Bishop Wirthlin, because he didnít want President McKay more dressed up than he was.
(Billís note: The Church Historical Record shows that David O. McKay and Joseph L. Wirthlin were the visiting General Authorities for the Taylor Stake Conference of September 6 & 7, 1949. At that time, President McKay was Second Counselor in The First Presidency, and Elder Wirthlin was First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopic. President McKay became the President of the Church in 1951, and Elder Wirthlin became Presiding Bishop of the Church in 1952).
JHW: I donít know if President Heber J. Grant ever stayed at our place, or not. Maybe not.
Beth: I remember President Grant came up in 1932, and talked at a big gathering at the Agricultural School, out on the lawn. They had no place else big enough to hold the crowd. Thatís when Julia and Charles (Asplund) lived out there.
JHW: Harold B. Lee stayed at our place; and Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Henry D. Moyle, Joseph Fielding Smith.
Beth: When President Smith came up for one Stake Conference, when they were leaving to go to the afternoon session, his wife said: "Now Joseph, I want you to see what I have in my hand." It was a roll of lifesavers. She said, "If you go one minute over time, Fannye and I are going to be on the front row and weíre going to start chomping on these lifesavers, and weíre going to make so much noise, that nobody will be able to hear what you say, so you better not go overtime." That was Jesse Evans Smith.
Bill: Was your Dad particularly good friends with any of them, or was it just a Stake President Ė General Authority relationship?
Beth: Well Le Grand Richards was his personal friend. They had known each other since Holland.
JHW: Well, he had known all these guys for years. You knew didnít you, that back in those days there werenít very many Bishops and there werenít very many Stake Presidents. The General Authorities just about knew them all.
Bill: In the interview I did with William Anderson, he said that President Grant had said: " If Bishop Walker wants something, give it to him, because heís going to get it sooner or later anyway."
(Note: Bill Walker interview done July 2, 1977 in Raymond, Alberta with William A. Anderson, Stake Clerk to Grandpa Walker.)
Beth: Well you know that when they wanted to build the Cultural Hall in Raymond, they wanted him to build it about half the size. He said: "Well then, weíll just go without."
JHW: He told them to go jump in the creek!
Beth: Weíre not going to authorize you to build that big of a building. You donít have enough membership. Grandpa said: "Well, weíre not going to build anything less. Weíll go without first."
And he held out until they finally okayed the plans for this building. And the first Stake Conference they held there, they had an overflow crowd. Whoever the General Authority was that came up to dedicate it, just couldnít believe it. I donít think theyíve had a failure of anything theyíve ever done in that hall.
JHW: Do you know all about Dad when they built the Second Ward Building? He was the Bishop. They had all the plans all arranged to build the Second Ward chapel and they had just broken ground in 1929 when The Crash came. Of course, Raymond wasnít a very wealthy area anyway, but when the crash came nobody had anything. Here they were at that time, building a $100,000 chapel. That was pretty expensive even for those days.
Then the Crash came, and trying to make a $1000 was just something in those days. Here they were trying to find enough money to build the church. They really had a bad time. They werenít making any money or getting anything at all. Dad decided that they would have some carnivals.
Beth: They would sure never approve that now.
JHW: I know. But they decided there wasnít any other way they could raise the money. So they decided to have carnivals. It was just like the Fair Midway. They had spinning wheels and all kinds of stuff. They would give away a door prize of a car, and all this sort of stuff.
They almost built the Second Ward church from that. They just had it once a year, and they said if everybody comes out and donates well for this we wonít ask you for anything else the rest of the year.
Beth: Well the "Raymond Carnival" was noted all over Southern Alberta.
JHW: Nobody had anything then. Nobody had any money.
Bill: They didnít have anything, unless it came time to gamble, eh?
JHW: Yeh, thatís right. Anyway, they would have donations and they would auction off stuff. They would have bazaarís and bake sales, fish ponds, picture sales, all kinds of things. They would give a car away. You should have seen the crowds they used to get for these things. You couldnít believe it hardly.
Bill: Where did they do this?
JHW: At the church. They just had the outer shell up, and they would do it there. (laughter)
It just looked like people going to the Fair. Anyway, they used to make quite a lot of money out of it.
Beth: Jane won the car one time, and her Dad wouldnít let her keep it. He made her give it back and they drew someone elseís name.
JHW: They really had quite a time. Old Brother Eveson was always writing to President Heber J. Grant and telling him to release Bishop Walker because he was running a gambling house. (laughter) He was Dale Andersonís grandfather. He was a member of the ward. He thought it was awful.
Beth: So did a lot of other people, but they all came and spent their money.
JHW: Well, they wouldnít have had any money otherwise. They had it four or five, or eight or nine years.
Bill: What did President Grant say when he got these letters?
JHW: They kept writing to him, but he said: ĎWell, theyíre having a hard time getting any money, weíll just leave it alone.í But finally they told him to quit.
(END OF TAPE ONE)
Transcribed by William R. Walker, January 7, 2001.