Make your own free website on Tripod.com


Home | Family Tree | Photos | Family History | Family Statistics | TriviaLinks | E-Mail

 

INTERVIEW #2 WITH J. HARRIS WALKER, NOVEMBER 2, 1977

By William R. Walker, at Concord, California

Some comments by BETH RUSSELL WALKER.

JHW: You knew that Dad was Bishop Evansí counselor for years didnít you? Bishop Evans was Markís grandfather.

(Billís note: Barely three months after his marriage (21 February, 1912), Grandpa James H. Walker was called to be a counselor in the Raymond 2nd Ward Bishopric. On June 2, 1912, Elder David O. McKay of the Quorum of the Twelve, called J. W. Evans as Bishop. L. D. King was 1st Counselor and J. H. Walker was 2nd Counselor. Grandpa Walker served as a counselor to Bishop Evans until 1924. On May 4, 1924, Elder Stephen L. Richards of the Twelve, called Bishop Evans to be 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency. President Heber S. Allenís 1st Counselor, Theodore Brandley, was released. Orrin H. Snow who had been 2nd Counselor was called as 1st Counselor, and Bishop Evans was called as 2nd Counselor. Grandpa Walker was called as Bishop, where he served for nearly 17 years until his release on 16 February, 1941.)

JHW: Iíll tell you a couple of funny things.

I remember one time (my sister) Jane won a goat. They had all kinds of things like this. They would auction them off or give them for prizes. Jane won a goat.

Anyway, we had this crazy goat around our house for about two years. We had it down in the corral, and then it jumped through the windows and down in the hay loft, and everything else. Finally Dad took it out "to help lead the sheep" when they were taking the sheep somewhere.

Bill: How long did the carnival go on?

JHW: For about three days. It was always in the winter.

They finally got out of the hole and got the church built.

There were a few things kind of funny about building that church. One of them was J. U. Allred came into my Dadís office one day. I was there. J. U. came in and said: "Bishop, I want to donate some rock for the foundation of that church."

Dad said: "Thatís just fine. Whereís the rock?"

J.U. said: "Itís on that quarter section out on the ridge." (laughter)

You would have had to pay $10 to $20 an acre to clean the rock off, even then. That was a big job cleaning rock off, and he was going to donate this rock.

Beth: Grandpa said: "Is it by the road so it is accessible?" And he said: "Oh no, itís not gathered up."

JHW: Did I ever tell you about Wilford Heninger and S.B. Smith donating the pictures for the carnival?

Wilford was the counselor in the Bishopric then, and S. B. Smith brought in some paintings to donate. Wilford didnít want to put this painting out. (laughter) He didnít think it was very good, so he took it down to the Relief Society Room, and turned it around backwards in front of the fireplace, so nobody would see it. (laughter) Finally, it got turned around.

Beth: I think Wilford bought it. JHW: I guess he did.

(Billís note: When Grandpa was Bishop, his 1st Counselor was Wilford A. Heninger and his 2nd Counselor was Leslie L. Palmer.)

JHW: Another time, S.B. came in to Wilford and said: "I need some money, I want to sell you this painting." It was a big painting, and S.B. wanted $25 or something for it. Wilford looked at the painting and he said: "S.B., if youíll paint me one just like it, but about the size of a postcard, Iíll give you $35." (laughter)

Beth: S.B. wasnít a bad painter, he just put everything in his pictures.

JHW: Wilford was in the Bishopric, and S.B. hardly had enough to eat. Anyway, Wilford gave S.B. a cow to keep them from starving. S.B. got a rope and he tied the cow to a post outside in his yard. The cow wasnít looking very good after a few days, and Wilford used to drive by every day to see how the cow was looking. After three days, the cow hadnít been moved and there was nothing left to eat. So Wilford would stop and take the cow and move it down a couple of posts so there would be some more grass. It ended up that Wilford was moving the cow all up and down along the road so that the cow would have enough grass to eat. (laughter)

Bill: Now we know why one man was more prosperous than the other.

JHW: What else do you want to know?

Bill: Tell me about your school.

JHW: I went to Normal School when I was 17. It used to be that you could get your high school diploma after the 11th grade. So somebody suggested that I go to Normal School. I thought maybe I could play basketball up there, so I decided to go. (laughter) That was about all the reason I had to go. So I went to Normal School.

(Billís note: Normal School was a teachers college in Calgary. Students could attend one year and then be able to teach school in Alberta.)

Bill: You didnít think you were going to be a doctor then?

JHW: No, but I didnít think Iíd be a school teacher either. I didnít have any idea. I just went up there so I could play basketball. (laughter)

Bill: What did your Dad think of that?

JHW: Oh, he thought that was all right. He liked basketball, too. (laughter)

We had a dumb coach. Oh man, he was dumb. Sergeant Sutherland was our coach. He was a dummy. He was an English Army sergeant. Back in those days, guards werenít supposed to score any baskets. I think it was about the first game we played. I went down the floor about half a dozen times the first half and scored. I had twelve points at half time. He cornered me at half time and said: "If you donít quit going down the floor like that, Iím going to take you out." I said: "Well, I made 12 points, didnít I?" He said: "But thatís not it. You kept going down the floor." (laughter)

Bill: When did you go to school?

JHW: From September until the first of May, or something. I wasnít a very good student in those days. I did just what I absolutely had to do. Then I went back and worked on the farm in the summer. Then that fall, I taught school up at Kimball. I was 18. I taught Grade 7 through 11.

(Billís note: Kimball was southeast of Cardston. The town no longer exists.)

Bill: How many kids in your class?

JHW: Oh, it was just one class. It was a two-room school. Kimball was just a little tiny, wee town. I think I had 12 or 15 kids. I canít remember exactly.

Beth: Some of them were older than he was.

JHW: That was the trouble. Several were the same age as me.

Bill: How did you teach them?

Beth: With great difficulty. (Harris laughs heartily)

JHW: Iíll tell you one thing: I sure learned what I didnít learn in high school that year. You would get out there and have to teach grade 7 through 11 mathematics all the same day. The literature courses the same day, and history, and all that sort of stuff. When I went to high school, I didnít study very much, anyway, so it was kind of tough that first three months.

I had just been up to Kimball for a week when my little brother died. My baby brother Dick died.

(Billís note: Richard Harris Walker, the 12th child of James H. and Fannye Walker was born 28 August 1929. He died 6 September, 1931. About five days earlier, he had received a diphtheria shot, and Grandma always assumed that was the reason for his sickness and death. Diphtheria is an infectious disease characterized by a high fever and difficulty breathing.)

JHW: So I went down to the funeral.

I had a hard time getting back, too. That was back in the days when they didnít have any gravel (on the roads) going out there. We went to Wilford, and I had to walk the rest of the way back through the mud. It was about 8 miles. It was quite a little jaunt.

So I taught school for one year.

Bill: Then what did you do?

JHW: I got rich that year. I got $950 for the year.

Bill: Then you went home and worked on the farm for the summer?

JHW: Yes, and then that fall I went to BYU. I went on an athletic scholarship. The scholarship amounted to my fees. That was in 1932, and of course, that was just right at the height of the Depression. It was pretty tough going, Iíll tell you. My total fees were $96 for the year. And I had a job with the athletic department where I earned $30 per month. I canít remember, I think I had $300 to $400 when I started, and that is what I lived on for the year. There was nothing else. We didnít live very fancy, as you might imagine.

Bill: How much was your rent?

JHW: I canít remember exactly, but I do remember what it was the next year. The place we rented the next year, for four of us, cost us $12. For the four of us. We had one bedroom with a little gas burner.

Bill: Who did you live with?

JHW: I lived with Walt Pitcher the first year. The second year I lived with (my brother) Fay, and Dean Rolfson, and Walt. I went three years to BYU. I had one year credit from Normal School.

Bill: So you graduated in three years?

JHW: Yes. I went from 1932 to 1935.

Bill: You were on the Track Team? That was your scholarship?

JHW: Yes. I did the Broad Jump and Pole Vault. The first fall when I went down there, I had been sprinting quite a bit before that, but I guess I got slower or something. I donít know what happened to me. Anyway, I had my tonsils out ten days before I went down there. About two days after I arrived, they had the Intermountain AAU Meet at the Utah State Fair. I ran in the 100, and got left on the line. I ran in the 220, and Goldstein beat me about three or four inches, and he was the Rocky Mountain Champion from the year before. So I thought I was going to be a sprinter at the Y, but it didnít quite end up that way.

Bill: Did you play any other sports?

JHW: Well, I played lots of basketball.

Bill: You didnít go out for the BYU basketball team?

JHW: Well, you know how college basketball is. Even then, they had the whole team picked even before the tryouts began. You didnít even have a chance.

We had a Canadian (Intramural) team, and we played the subs on the BYU Varsity team, and came within 6 points. We didnít have quite a complete team.

Bill: What did you graduate in?

JHW: Zoology, with a minor in Chemistry.

Bill: So did you take your classes at the old BYU Academy Building on University Ave?

JHW: Most everything was there. They only had two or three buildings up on top of the hill then. They had the Library and a couple of other building up there at that time. Where all the new BYU campus is was all orchards, and the BYU farm.

I went out for Football the next year, but I hadnít ever played football. I was getting along pretty good, and it looked like I would make the team and sit the bench as Halfback. I went down three weeks early (for football.) But when I got in my classes, I could see it was going to be one of two things: either I was going to go to medical school, or I was going to play football. It wasnít going to be both. Because all my lab classes came exactly when football practice was on. That ended football.

I was planning on going to medical school from the day I went to BYU. I took all the preparatory classes straight through.

Bill: What made you decide to go to medical school?

JHW: I donít know, but maybe my little brother dying, and nobody knowing what he died from motivated me. That might have had a little bit of influence.

I knew Dr. Leech and Dr. Madill very well. Also, Dr. Fowler. And they influenced me a little bit.

(Billís note: Dr. George Wesley Leech and Dr. John S. Madill practiced in Raymond. Dr. Fowler was from Magrath, but practiced in Lethbridge.)

JHW: After I finished BYU, I went on my mission.

When I came back, I got accepted to Medical School at the University of Utah. I didnít do very good that year.

Bill: Why didnít you do well?

JHW: Because I didnít.

Beth: His mother said it was because I kept him so busy doing dishes he didnít have time to study.

JHW: So anyway, I would have had to repeat the class, so I decided to just skip it. So we went home to Raymond, and I taught school in Raymond the next year. We lived out on the farm, and that was the year I got rich. We lived on the farm, taught school and played basketball, and we raised Jim, and milked 30 cows. We raised 200 pigs and we had chickens.

Beth: And some bratty brothers.

JHW: We had a nice little wagon cart, and a crazy horse. I taught at the old High School, where you went to Junior High. I taught kind of a conglomerate. I taught Grade 12 Biology, and Grade 10 Health, and I canít remember what else. Mathematics and Social Studies in Grade 7 and 8.

Bill: So you had decided not to continue with medical school?

JHW: Kind of, but I hadnít quite decided what to do.

Beth: He had applied to McGill Medical School when he came home from his mission and had been accepted, but decided to go to the University of Utah, thinking it would be closer to home and cheaper.

JHW: Anyway, that was a pretty tough year. It was very hard work. That was 1938/39.

Beth: He didnít bother to tell you that he got married.

JHW: Oh, I know we got married. We got married when I came home from my mission.

Bill: I knew that. (laughter)

JHW: We didnít spend much money that year. At the end of the year, we realized we hadnít made a fortune. We had 400 bucks. That was from milking cows, feeding pigs, and teaching school.

Beth: And running the cream into town every morning.

JHW: So after I got thinking about that year, I decided that was just about enough of that.

Bill: You didnít want to work that hard for 400 bucks, eh?

JHW: No. I had been accepted at McGill before, so I wrote and asked them if I could come. They said, "Yes". So I went. So I went to McGill Medical School in 1939.

(Billís note: McGill University is located in Montreal, Quebec. McGill University Medical School has long been regarded as the top medical school in Canada. In addition to Dad, Uncle Bob Walker, Uncle Glen Walker, and our cousin, Brad McMullin all graduated from McGill Medical School.)

JHW: I was on the train going to McGill when they announced the outbreak of the War. That was a wild ride. There were 500 soldiers on the train I was on. You should have seen that place when they made the announcement on the radio. They were just wild and crazy.

Bill: Is that because they wanted to go to Europe and fight?

JHW: Well, I guess so. You can imagine a bunch of soldiers when they announce theyíre going to go to war.

Bill: Had it been pretty obvious that it was going to happen?

JHW: Of yes, everybody expected it to happen. Then you know, itís like dying. You expect it to happen, but then it is not the same when you do. (laughter)

Bill: Mom stayed in Raymond?

JHW: Mom stayed in Lethbridge.

Beth: His Mom and Dad wouldnít let me go, because they said I was the reason he failed in Salt Lake.

JHW: Well, my Dad had lots of responsibilities in those days. He had kids going to school all over the place and everything. Lots of kids.

Bill: So you went to Montreal alone for the first year?

JHW: For the first two years.

Bill: Mom stayed in Lethbridge with her Mom and Dad?

JHW: She came back near the end of my second year. I came home in the summer and worked on the farm.

Bill: You didnít see each other at all during the year? (No answer.)

What about at Christmas time?

JHW: I stayed there.

Bill: You must have thought that was great fun, huh Mom?

Beth: It was. I went back the summer of 1941, just at the end of his second year. Instead of him coming home the second summer, I went to Montreal. Jim was just two.

Bill: So you raised Jim alone for two years?

Beth: Well, with my mother.

JHW: Jim talked like an old man when he got there. He just chattered like anything. He could say anything. It didnít matter what it was; he could carry on sentences and everything. At two. He talked like he was going to be a professor.

Bill: So you had two more years?

JHW: Two more years and then an internship. I was on the speed up course because of the war. The last year we went straight through the summer. They just started the speed up course at that stage. So I went straight through the summer and finished school the end of January, which ordinarily would have been the end of June. Then I started Interning immediately, and interned until the first of December. Ordinarily the Internship wouldnít have ended until the end of June. Then I came straight home and started to practice. Dr. Madill wanted me to come home (to Raymond).

Bill: So I was conceived in Montreal?

JHW: Thatís why youíre so French. (laughter)

I wasnít very anxious to get in the war, Iíd been gone long enough with the two years before. So we went home and worked with Dr. Madill.

They drafted everybody up to 26, but I was 30 by then. I was just 30 when I graduated, and 31 when I finished. I turned 31 on the 28th of November, and finished on the 30th of November.

Bill: Was it hard deciding where to go practice?

JHW: No. I already had decided long before. Dr. Madill asked me if I would come back and work with him a long time before. So I told him "Yes". Do you know how much I got when I first started practice?

$250. For the first six months, I got $250 per month. And, he had an old car he let me drive.

Bill: How was it?

JHW: (laughter) It was an old one. You couldnít get a car, anyway.

Bill: Where did you live?

JHW: We lived in that little orange house of Bert Nilssonís.

Bill: When did you buy the big house?

Beth: When I was in the hospital with you, he signed the papers. (May 1944) We lived in the other house for six months.

Bill: So you came home from the hospital to the new house?

Beth: No, we lived in the other house until about the first of October.

Bill: That must have been tough being back there in school without your wife and kid.

JHW: The toughest part was passing. (laughter)

Bill: Pretty hard, huh?

JHW: Dang rights. First year medical school is hard. No matter what.

Beth: About as hard as being home alone.

JHW: Do you know what we did at the end of the first year? They had a special exam for the five guys that got the top grades in Anatomy, for the Anatomy prize every year. I didnít find out about it until after I got home, but anyway, I was tied for number one. Anyway, I wasnít there for the special exam, so they gave me number two. (laughter)

Bill: So you returned to Raymond in 1943?

JHW: Yes, the end of November, 1943.

Bill: When did Dr. Madill leave?

Beth: The February before Helen was born the hospital was opened; and he left in June that year.

(Note: Helen was born in September, 1946.)

JHW: I practiced with Dr. Madill for about a year and a half, and then he had a coronary. So then he didnít do much for a while. I canít remember for how long, but he didnít do much. Then he arranged to go to Vancouver and take a residency.

Bill: He hadnít planned on that until he had his heart attack?

JHW: No. And the worst of it was, he used to say: "Iíll do this surgery now, and after a few months, Iíll let you start to do it." But anyway, he didnít ever get around to that stage, and by the time he left, I hadnít really had any experience doing some of it.

Bill: So were you the only doctor in Raymond for a while?

JHW: Yes. For about a year. Doug came first, then Steele.

(Note: Dr. Douglas McPherson, and Dr. Steele Brewerton.)

JHW: I really worked alone for most of one year. Then Doug came.

Bill: Where was your office with Dr. Madill? Was it over the old post office?

JHW: Yes. It was in 1945 that they opened the Raymond Hospital. It was right soon after that that Madill left.

Beth: The hospital was dedicated on my birthday. (February 3rd) And Dr. Madill left that summer, and Doug came right away, at the end of the year. His baby should have been born at the same time as Helen (Sept 6, 1946) His wife died, and he left.

JHW: So he was there for a very short time. He remarried.

Beth: He left Raymond, and went to Edmonton to do a residency. He came back to Lethbridge to practice.

JHW: Well, he practiced in Magrath for a while. That was after he married Joan. We bought the practice in Magrath. Doug came back down from Edmonton, and practiced in Magrath for a while. Then he decided to go back to Edmonton, and Steele moved to Magrath. Then Harlan (Taylor) came, and then a year later Mark (Dahl) came. Mark went straight to Magrath.

By 1953, we started coming to Salt Lake to take some residency training.

Bill: Did you think at that time that you would end up leaving Raymond?

JHW: I had no intentions whatsoever to leave. The reason we did the residency training was because I was the senior partner and every time we had any difficult surgery, I was the one who got on the short end of it routinely. I was continually running into surgery and things that I didnít know what to do about, because I wasnít really trained. I had three months surgery training when I was an intern, and that was really all I knew, except what I had learned as I went along. So I was getting a little bit tired of running into surgical problems that I didnít know how to treat. So thatís why we started taking residencies. I decided I just couldnít tolerate that situation for the rest of my life. So thatís why we started taking residencies - so we would learn more. Also, we didnít know much about anesthesia. We had very bad anesthesia. So when we started, Harlan and I took surgery. Steele took OB, and Mark took medicine or anesthesia. Harlan took six months of anesthesia right at first. So anyway, this helped us out a whole lot in our practice when we started doing it. Our practice perked up considerably. Once we started doing that our earnings picked up considerably and the quality of our medical care improved very much right fast. Every time we came back it got better, as is kind of obvious.

I had no intention of going into plastic surgery until I had finished three years. I had finally finished three years of general surgery. Then I had to make up my mind whether I was going to take another year of general surgery and then go back and practice general surgery in Raymond the rest of my life; or complete my general surgery and move somewhere else as a general surgeon; or something else.

In the meantime, I had taken a month or six weeks with Dr. (T. R.) Broadbent. I was very impressed with him, and plastic surgery. I thought I might like that better. That would be two years. So I asked him and he said he would take me, so that was it. So I stayed (in Raymond) until I finished my commitments, and then I left and came down to Salt Lake to take the plastics residency.

Bill: So when did you decide to leave Raymond?

JHW: I decided to come when Dr. Broadbent told me that he would take me as a resident.

Beth: But you had no intentions of staying in Salt Lake.

JHW: Well, I had no intention of going back to Raymond. At first I thought maybe I could go practice in Raymond and then go to Lethbridge and do plastic surgery, but I decided that wouldnít be a very good idea anyway. Then I had considered going to Calgary and starting plastic surgery in Calgary. At that time there were no plastic surgeons in Calgary. None at all. Of course, I could have done that easily enough, I guess, but about six months before I finished my residency two plastic surgeons moved into Calgary. Just six months before. I decided I wasnít very anxious to be the third plastic surgeon to arrive in Calgary within a year. The way it turned out, it would have been easy enough to do, except I would have had a tough time for a year or two. Anyway, I decided to stay in Salt Lake.

Bill: So you went to Salt Lake for good in 1963?

JHW: Yes.

Beth: Do you remember that you went to Lethbridge every week for six months to take some x-ray training from Dr. Rose?

JHW: I know I did. But that wasnít a very good idea, and it wasnít really official.

Beth: But then it helped you to read your own x-rays.

JHW: Well, I donít know how much good it did. It didnít do me too much good. Maybe a little bit.

Beth: (One of the doctors) drew up a letter informing Dad that the rest of them had decided that they werenít going to finish their residencies. And that if he was going to finish his, there would be no room for him when he got back - because he would be too highly trained to work in a small town. So it was up to him to make his choice.

JHW: Well, they did all finish their residencies.

Beth: They just about had a town uprising. They had petitions all over town to get him to stay. People offered to set him up in his own practice when he came back.

JHW: Well, that is kind of overstated, a little.

Beth: That is not overstating it, not one slight particle morsel.

JHW: (laughter) Anyway, it didnít make much difference.

Bill: I can remember they had a big banquet for you when you left.

JHW: Did I ever tell you about the big banquet they had for Ray Knight when he decided to move back to Utah? They gave him a big saddle, and a cowboy hat, and some boots, and other things. They had a whole town and area party for him. They had people come from all over to see him. After they got through he said: "If you people think this much of me, Iím not going to move." And he didnít. (laughter)

Bill: Did he die in Raymond?

JHW: He died in Magrath.

Bill: Didnít you win outstanding athlete in Alberta?

JHW: Oh, I donít know about that.

Bill: Well, I remember at the banquet they said you were twice named outstanding athlete in Alberta.

JHW: Well, twice I got the most points at the Alberta Track and Field Championships.

Bill: What about rugby?

JHW: I played English Rugby one year when I was at Normal School. The old guy who used to coach usÖ We had really a pretty fancy rugby team. Uncle Ken (Russell), Len Shields, (and Gerald Snow) and I, We all lived together. We had never seen a rugby game before. One of the guys in our class played on this team and tried to get us to go play with them. We decided to join the team. Ken and I were the best sprinters in the school. We both ran the 100yds in about 10 flat. Len was pretty fast too.

JHW: Do you know how they play Rugby? Instead of the backfield like they have for American Football, they have the wings out in a V shape, come out like this. They have an inside the middle and an outside wing. So Len and I made one wing. We could just outrun the Englishmen in that league to death. No body could touch us. We played in the regular Calgary rugby league. It included the Calgary Stampeders, who had a rubgy team made up of their football players.

Bill: Didnít you lead the league in touchdowns?

JHW: Oh I donít know. I was first or second. I did score a lot of touchdowns.

Whenever we got the football going down our line, we could run fast enough, and weíd learned a few tricks. If we got the ball down our wing, we could go. (laughter)

Bill: Didnít you get an offer to play professional rugby in England?

JHW: The old guy that was our coach, for years and years after that he would come to all of my track meets. It didnít matter where I was. Anywhere in Alberta, he was always there. He would come to see me, and every time he would see me he would say: "Iím still waiting to take you back to England to play pro rugby." I would say: "I donít want to go play pro rugby." He would say: "I sure do want you to go." He said: "You could make it just as easy as can be. All youíve got to do is go England and you can play."

I said: "Well, I donít want to go." He sure did try hard to get me to go play pro rugby.

Bill: What about baseball?

JHW: I played lots of baseball. They used to have a pretty good Southern Alberta baseball league when I was a kid. When you were a kid they had nothing, but when I was a kid they had a really good baseball league. They had Raymond, Spring Coulee, Cardston, Magrath, Lethbridge, Warner, and MacLeod. They played pretty good baseball. It was much better than anything they have up there now, except of course for the professional team in Lethbridge.

Back in those days, all these towns used to play good baseball.

The first time I ever played with the town team, Lee Brewerton used to always have to go (to his theater) about the eighth inning to start the show. I was sitting the bench. I was about 15. The first time I got in a game, it was the eighth inning and we were one run down. My first time up, I was awful scared. I canít remember who we were playing. The guy was a pretty good pitcher, he threw pretty fast. He about scared the daylights out of me. He threw a big pitch outside. I just about didnít get my swing around fast enough, but I did. I bopped it and knocked it just shy of a home run - way out almost on the right field line. I got a three-bagger, and we won the game. (laughter)

Bill: So you were the town hero?

JHW: Well, that was my first town team game.

Bill: So did all your little brothers come to watch you play?

JHW: I think most of them used to. Anyway, I used to play pretty good baseball. When I was about 15 or 16, I think I could have fielded with any big leaguer. I played outfield, when I first started to play. Later, I wasnít such a good fielder, because I couldnít see as well. But before my eyes got bad, I could really snag the balls, Iíll tell you.

Bill: When did you start to wear glasses?

JHW: 18 or 19. I played just about every position on the team.

Bill: Did you grow up in the house that I knew as Grandma and Grandpa Walkerís house?

JHW: We moved there when I was six. Before that we lived in the old Knight Sugar Company office.

Bill: The family lived there?

JHW: Yes, we lived in the back. Not in the Alma Hancock office. It was the old office. Itís been torn down for quite a while. It was a big office. We moved in when I was six. My Dad got appendicitis, and he just about died. He was in the hospital for nearly two months. I was about the size that Greg is now.

I remember I was with him and he was trying to crank the car to get it started, and his stomach hurt him so bad he couldnít crank it. I remember I tried to crank it. It was one of those old crank kinds. (laughter) Canít you see Greg doing that? I was trying to crank it because my Dad couldnít do it.

Bill: When I interviewed Uncle Ez (Harris), he told me that the first time he bought a car, they asked him if he wanted a starter. He said: "How much?" "65 Dollars." He said: "Do you think Iím crazy? Pay you $65, when all I have to do is jump out there and twist the crank and it starts?" He said: "But the next car I bought, I got a starter on it."

JHW: The starters werenít too bad, because you could usually start the things, even if they were awful. I remember the first car we got without a crank, I was unhappy about it. For a while we got both.

Bill: Did your Dad own that whole block?

JHW: He owned up to Bethís place, but not the whole block. Part of Bethís place used to be Hamp Witbeckís. He owned back to the lane. The trees on the north side of Bethís house were the property line. Donít worry, I hoed the weeds up there for so many years, I know exactly where the property line was. We had a garden and an orchard. Down by the old house was all orchard. We had plums and apples, and a special kind of cherry. We had a few grapes. I only remember one year we had lots of grapes. I remember the one year that Dad picked a great huge tub of Concord grapes.

Bill: In Raymond, that is something.

JHW: Well there werenít very many people grew them.

Bill: Tell me about when you met Mom.

JHW: I met Mom when I was going to Normal School. Thatís what youíre supposed to get from going to Normal School: being normal. (laughter) I lived with Ken (Russell). I knew who she was before. I knew Julia (Russell Asplund) before. They lived in our ward when I was a little kid.

(Billís note: Julia Russell was born 2 March, 1902. She married Charles Asplund on June 29, 1927. They moved to Raymond, where Uncle Charles was a teacher at the Agriculture School. ĎThey lived in a house kitty-corner from where the old Raymond Hospital was located.í Our cousins, Malcolm Asplund and Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards were born in Raymond.)

JHW: Julia was a real pretty girl. She was the best looking girl in Southern Alberta. Charles taught at the Agricultural School. And they lived down there, didnít they?

Beth: They lived in that house across the road from Bennetts. They first lived in that little house next door to Roy Stoneís. Then they moved to the other one down by Bennetts.

JHW: They lived in the ward, and so I knew Julia and Charles from when I was 14 years old.

Bill: So they lived in the ward when your Dad was the Bishop? So your Dad knew Momís Dad then?

JHW: Iím sure my Dad knew her Dad. I have no doubt about that. Grandpa Russell used to live in Stirling, and my Dad used to play baseball for Stirling. He played basketball for Stirling.

Bill: How come he didnít play for Raymond?

JHW: Well, they went to Stirling (when they first came to Canada). He used to play for Stirling when then would beat Raymond to death. Stirling was a good team, because Dad and Uncle Alec played for Stirling. They were a good team. Iíve had some of those old Stirling people ask me about Uncle Alec lots of times.

I found out from Dad how Biddy Meldrum got his nickname. Biddy was one of the hotshot Jacks basketball players for years and years. For a long time I didnít know why they called him Biddy, but I found out that when Dad and Uncle Alec played for Stirling they beat Raymond 103 to 20 something. They called him Biddy because of the final score, and it stuck. (laughter) Of course, Dad played with Biddy for a long time after that.

(Billís note: The Raymond menís basketball team was named the Raymond Union Jacks. The team was famous across Canada for its numerous championships. The Union Jack is the name sometimes used for the national flag of Great Britain. Most local people called the team "The Jacks". Grandpaís cousin Scott Salmon told me: "Your Grandpa played on 5 Dominion championship teams." A picture of one of the championship teams has the following players: Harry Fairbanks, Neil Fisher, Cliff Nalder, Turk Buehler, James H. Walker, Wilford Meldrum, Wm. Jensen and Leonard Webster.)

Bill: Tell me about your mission.

JHW: I went in 1936, I was 24 years old. I was sent to Montreal. I spent a year in Montreal. My first companion was Elder Dance, from Rexburg, or somewhere up there. He was an older fellow. He was bald-headed. He was about 46, or something. He was married. That was still in the Depression, and the church was sending short-term leader missionaries. A lot of farmers went out for several years, because they were having a hard time getting enough missionaries. Most people didnít have any money. He has my first companion. He was there for six months, and then he left and went home.

My next companion was Homer Smith. Homer was the Mission Presidentís son. Homer is a Pediatrician up in Ogden. I worked with Homer for another six months. That was in Montreal.

In Montreal we used to meet in the old IOOF hall. We would get up there on Sunday morning. We used to have to go up and dump all the cigar butts out and clean out all the beer bottles and air it out Ė so we could stand to breathe for church. Every Sunday it was the same thing. It just smelled like an old stale beer hall Ė which it really was almost.

Then I went to Peterborough, Ontario. I was there for something like six to eight months, I donít remember exactly. Then I went to Dover, New Hampshire for two months. That was part of the Canadian Mission. The whole New England States area was part of our mission. LeVan Kimball, President Kimballís son was my companion down there. I was his senior. He was 17, and he was already out of college. Oh, he was smart. He was Dean of the University of Utah Law School when he was 31. Then after a couple of years he went back to Michigan, and heís been Dean of the Law School there since then.

He was a good missionary.

The last few months I was in Toronto. I canít remember the name of my companion. In Peterborough, my companions were Leon Harris and Gerald Peterson.

Every time I think of Elder Peterson I have to laugh. He used to tell me about how awful his girlfriendís mother was. "She was an awful old hag." he used to say. Iíd say: "Well Gerald, like mother, like daughter." Heíd get so mad he wouldnít talk to me. (loud laughter) I donít know if he married her or not, but he was determined he was going to. He sure didnít like her mother.

Every time I think of himÖ one time we were hitchhiking to Toronto for conference. We used to hitchhike all the time in those days. We were hitchhiking to Toronto. He was a real farm boy. He had never been off the farm at all. We were darn near late. We were getting along okay, but we still had 70 or 80 miles to go to Toronto. We got dumped off by a corner, and we saw a herd of cows about a half-mile away from the road. He said: "Iíve just got to go down there and see those cows." (loud laughter) He had do go wandering off down through that field to see those cows. (laughter)

Bill: Whenever you met President Kimball did you talk to him about being his sonís missionary companion?

JHW: Yes. I have once or twice. Weíve talked about that a time or two. I saw him in Raymond a number of times. When Dad was Stake President he was up there at least twice.

JHW: Have I told you about the time that President Spencer W. Kimball came with Apostle Widtsoe? Sister Widtsoe was writing all kinds of articles in the church publications about how awful candy and sugar were. Apostle Widtsoe used to talk about it too, but not like his wife did. Anyway, he and President Kimball were up staying with Dad.

MaryÖMaryÖshe used to be a little devil anyway. She came down and she said: "Iím going to find out if he really likes candy or not." (laughter) So she went and got a five-pound box of candy. She came down and brought it in the front room where they were sitting and talking. She passed the candy around and Apostle Widtsoe just about couldnít get enough candy to eat. Iíll bet he hadnít had a piece of candy for several years. (laughter) Mary was just killing herself passing the candy around.

Somebody told me that Sweets candy sends over a five pound box of candy to the General Authorities every week for their Thursday meeting. Iíve heard they still do that. I think President Kimball told us that.

(Billís note: The Church Historical Record shows that Elder John A. Widtsoe presided at the Taylor Stake Conference in Raymond on Feb 21 & 22, 1948. Also, Elder Spencer W. Kimball presided at the Taylor Stake Conference on April 21 &22, 1952.

Elder John A. Widtsoe was ordained an apostle in 1921, at age 49. He served in the Quorum of the Twelve until his death in 1952, at age 80.

Elder Spencer W. Kimball was ordained an apostle in 1943, at age 48. He became President of the Church in 1973, at age 78. He died in 1985, at age 90.)

End of Tape Two, JHW #2,

Transcribed by William R. Walker, 14 February, 2001

J. Harris Walker Interview
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4

Home | Family Tree | Photos | Family History | Family Statistics | TriviaLinks | E-Mail

All content of this site is the sole property of the James and Fannye Walker Family
No duplication is allowed without the express permission of the site owners