WALKER FAMILY HISTORY
INTERVIEW WITH BETH WALKER ZEMP AND MARY WALKER FAIRBANKS
Mary: Dad always had his suits tailor-made. He was taller in the body, than in the legs, so he always had his suits tailor-made.
Beth: He always wore high-top laced shoes. After he hurt his foot in the bailer, he had to wear that type of shoe.
Dad was 6’1 1/2" tall.
Mary: I thought he was 6’. Mom was 5’ 2".
Beth: We had this garden up here. When we were kids we used to hand weed the rows. We had a little buck skin pony. We called her Dolly. She was blind in one eye. We had a little cultivator that we would hook behind her. Fay would ride and guide the horse, and Harris would guide the cultivator.
Mary: The garden went from where Beth and Earl’s trees are, clear down to Stuart’s lot. It was all garden.
Beth: We used to use the cultivator down the center of all the rows, and then we could irrigate down the furrows. Then we would can the produce all summer. Grandma used to can about 1500 quarts of fruit and vegetables every summer. We used to boil the vegetables for four hours. All on a coal stove.
Mary: Jane always said she was raised in the kitchen. She said she used to pick peas all summer long. Down by Stuart’s house we had some apples. We had some grapes that died out.
Beth: When the grapes would die out, Grandpa would always replant them. We had apple trees and plum trees, and a huge strawberry patch. We had some raspberries too.
Mary: We had current bushes too. Ask your Dad (Harris) about the current bushes. (laughter) I had to go out an pick the currents one day, and I was real mad.
Harris had a girlfriend at the house. It wasn’t your mother. They came out and they were out smooching by the current bushes. I looked up and saw them and started giggling. I got chased.
Bill: Well, my Dad hasn’t ever told me that story.
Mary: That was when he was a school teacher.
Beth: I’m sure glad he married your mother, and not her.
Mary: Yes, I am too.
Mary: Dad decided he was going to grow peanuts once. He sent away and got these peanut seeds. They looked just like peanuts, only they weren’t roasted. He put them up in the top of the cupboard, and hid them from the kids in a casserole. I remember I got up there and tasted one and it was rotten. It tasted awful. I don’t remember if he ever got them planted or not, but he was always trying something new. He was always trying to grow something new.
Bill: I remember Dad saying that some people would tell Grandpa he was crazy for trying to grow some things - but he would always try anyway.
Mary: When we had school fairs, they used to give prizes for watermelons. I remember we used to grow big watermelons. And cantaloupes.
Beth: We used to get raided by the kids in town, too.
Mary: And the Stephenson kids always raided the apple trees.
Beth: Lulu gave all her kids castor oil for eating the green apples.
Bill: Dad said that Grandpa encouraged the kids to play sports, but when the sports were over, it was back to work.
Mary: Where Don Steed’s house is, at the end of the lot, there used to be jumping pits. We had the pole vault standards. We had a cinder track all along the north side of the lot, clear out to the corner.
Beth: We used to have a tennis court. You had to be interested in sports. Dad used to make us do it whether we were interested in it or not. Harris always said he got his best training in learning to be a fast runner when Mom wouldn’t let us leave for school early. She always said that kids that got to school too early got into mischief, so we would have to run like the wind to get to school on time. We used to run and then take the short cut, which meant you had to jump over the fence to get to the school. Grandma had the idea that you should never leave for school more than 15 minutes before it was to start. Otherwise, you would get in trouble, so we couldn’t leave until there was 15 minutes to go. She would say: ‘You’ve got plenty of time to get there in 15 minutes.’
Mary was the first one born in the corner house. Before that we lived in the Knight Sugar Company office. That’s where I was born. It used to be back and a little bit further south on the diagonal road. It was the County of Warner building for years. Grandma and Grandpa both worked. The front part was the office and there was a little hallway and there were two rooms in the back where they lived. The building has been torn down now. It was right back of where Jack MacLean’s house, next to the medical clinic, but it was on the main road then. It was a diagonal road. That was not there first house; when they were first married they lived in a little house. That is where Harris was born. Fay and I were born in the Knight Sugar Company office. The house that Harris was born in was behind where Bobby Graham lives. It was on a diagonal road too.
Mary: I guess Mom was the original working mother.
Beth: The old office had cages, like they have in banks. Your dad (Harris) used to like to put his feet through the bars in the cages. Your dad used to crawl around on those cages like a cat. I can remember Harris sitting up there and straddling the top of the cages.
I was four when we moved into the family house. I can remember standing in front of the window and bawling like crazy cause I didn’t want to stay there. I wanted to go ‘home’. Grandpa contracted to have the house built. He bought the living room area of the house, had it raised up and then had them build on to it. The house they bought only had two rooms, all the rest was built on. They didn’t move in until it was finished. I think it was finished about the end of November. I think we moved in before Christmas in December of 1917. Mary was born the next June. She was the first one born in the house.
When they first had the house, they would take in boarders. They had the Knight Academy here, and Mom would board about six kids. She had all the upstairs area for boarders. Alta Fisher (Whitehead) and her sister Rhoda live here. They were from Claresholm.
Earl Zemp: She married Neal Fisher, who used to play basketball with Harris.
Beth: A Barrus boy from Etna, or Kimball lived here. I was too little to remember all their names, but I remember them and they used to come back and visit Mom and Dad often. Bro. Barrus used to work at the temple.
Dad was in the Bishopric even before your Dad was born. He was put in right after they were married.
Mary: I think Dad was in the Bishopric for 27 years. I remember Mom baking a cake one time and telling me: "I remember a time when I would have to bake a cake to take to church and we didn’t have enough money to bake a cake for us to keep at home." I remember another thing she said: "We went in debt to buy a cow, and then the cow died." This was when they were newly-weds, and they still had to pay for the cow. That was their first and last experience with installment buying.
Beth: I remember the Sunday Dad was put in as Bishop. Bob was a little tiny kid, and I remember him asking: "Am I a Bishop too?"
Mary: I remember when Dad was Bishop, he was going to perform the wedding for Edith Dyson and Frank Dewsberry. Jane said: "Daddy, where are you going?" Dad said: "I’m going to marry Edith Dyson." Very upset, Jane said: "Won’t you ever come back and visit us?" She was just a little kid.
Beth: I don’t ever remember sitting with Dad in a meeting. He couldn’t . He was always in the Bishopric, the Bishop, on the High Council or the Stake President. But he always controlled everything, even though he was on the stand. Jane was quite a little talker, and I remember once, Dad got up to the pulpit in the middle of Sacrament Meeting and said: "Now if Jane will quit talking, we will go on with the meeting."
Jane was about fourteen. He always sat where he could see us from the stand. We didn’t dare move; he watched us.
He was very strict. He spoke once and if you didn’t do it, you got it.
Mary: He wore a size nine shoe but it felt like a size fourteen. (laughter) and he used it often. He would often threaten us with a glass of water. He would come to the bottom of the stairs and he would say: "Harris, Fay, Beth, Mary, Jane.." and on down the whole lineup. "It’s time to get up." And then everyone would turn over and go back to sleep.
Beth: But when he came back and we heard his foot hit the bottom step, we’d be out of bed right now.
Mary: He’s say: "If you’re not out of bed, I’ll be up there with a glass of water." And he didn’t mean maybe.
Whenever we got sick, Grandpa was the doctor. You would have your choice of two things: Salts, or Castor oil. But we always got the salt water cure first. First, he’d come up with a big round tub. He’d plunk it down by your bed. Then he’d get a big kettle of water. He’d stir up salt in this warm water, then he’d say: "Okay, I’ll give you a penny a glass for what you can drink." "How many can you down?" We’d drink and drink until we’d lose our shoelaces. Then we’d get our choice between castor oil and Epsom salts. We didn’t get sick very often.
Beth: :You wouldn’t dare say you were sick. You would be so sick that you could barely stand up before you would say you were sick. We all experience the salt water cure.
Mary: I remember when Dad bought the car when Richard was born. He bought a green car. It had a black top. In the back it had an arm that would flop out, it was the first time we had ever seen one that would do that. Mom was in bed with Richard, and I can remember lifting her up so she could look out and see the new car.
They used to stay in bed for ten days after having babies back then. We used to have Mrs. Deardon over. She was a midwife and she would come and assist when Grandma had babies. She didn’t have any of her babies in the hospital. The first time she ever was in the hospital was when she got sick right before she died. She had never been in the hospital before that.
Mary: Grandpa was in the hospital for his appendix, and I remember he told us they cut a hole big enough to put his head in. That was in Lethbridge.
Beth: They didn’t think he’d make it then. He had a ruptured appendix.
Mary: Dad also had undulant fever. I remember he used to take chills.
Beth: When he was young he had rheumatic fever, and he also had inflammatory rheumatism. He couldn’t stand to have any blankets on him, so T.L. King and Melvin made a little frame, like a covered wagon, to put over him and then the covers went over the frame.
I remember Bob and Grandpa both got small pox. Bob got it first.
Beth: I remember Bob got it first, because you stayed home and Harris and Fay and I stayed at Aunt Maggie’s.
Mary: Mom took care of Bob. The doctor told us we could eat at home, if we ate outside. That meant we could eat corn flakes, instead of mush. (laughter) We would go home at noon, and Mom would bring the lunch outside to us. It was spring, during school. We would eat on the table outside, and we slept at the office. I remember once just sitting on the office steps waiting for Dad to come back from the farm. I didn’t dare go anywhere else, we just had to sit there and wait because it was locked and we couldn’t get in.
Beth: Harris and Fay still had to take care of the cows and the milking and everything. We all had small pox vaccinations. Fay had his about six weeks before his worked. He was really sick.
Neither Dad nor Bob had any scars from the small pox.
Mary: Mom was just about worn out, because she had one right after the other.
I remember I grade one, I got the measles, and I took them home and every one of our kids got the measles. Everyone got sick at once.
Beth: Grandma couldn’t take care of everyone. We had to move beds down to the living room, cause she couldn’t watch us all with the fevers and everything. The living room looked like a hospital. Then when we got over the measles, we got the mumps.
Bill: I don’t know how Grandma took care of all of you and did everything she did.
Mary: I don’t know either.
Beth: Mothers didn’t used to go places in those days like they do now. They usually went to church and they didn’t go anywhere in between. Young mothers now just go go go, but they didn’t used to do that. They stayed home and worked. They had to. They didn’t have automatic dryers and washers and things like that. Goodness sakes.
Mary: They’d hang out clothes in fur coats with money in the pockets. (laughter)
Tell him the story.
Beth: I was teaching school and I came home one day at noon. Grandma had been washing and she had piles of clothes that she hadn’t hung out, so I just took off my coat and put on an old fur coat that Grandma had. It was really cold, so I put it on to go out and hang the clothes for her. I had them about half hung out and Grandma came running out and said: "What have you got that coat on for?" I said: "Because it’s cold. I’m not hurting it any, and besides, it’s an old coat anyway." I couldn’t imagine why she was so concerned. She grabbed the bottom of the coat and sighed and said: "Oh, I thought you’d lost this." She had a big roll of bills, down in the lining of the coat. It was a lot of money then. I can’t remember how much she had in it, but it was probably $200 or $300. That was really a lot of money then. She had it all rolled up and pinned up in the lining of this old coat. That was her vault.
Mary: Grandpa used to give her money. He’d come and give her a whole handful of change. We used to think that was so fun. She’d put it in a big handkerchief and tie it up, then she’d always have change when she needed it.
Bill: When I was growing up, Grandma was a very popular speaker. She would speak all over Southern Alberta. Was she like that when you were growing up?
Beth: No, she was too busy. But she always had church jobs. She was secretary of the Relief Society for many years. She would do all the book work at home.
Mary: She was the assistant Bishop, too. She used to do all minutes, and help with the records, and even the tithing records. Dad insisted that Mom write the records, because no one else could write quite like Mom.
I remember once, I was working for Dad and I had written up some of the records for Dad. Gene Allen, the general manager of the Knight Sugar Company, saw my records and said: "Mary, you sure are a good writer. That really looks nice." Dad said: "You should see her mother’s writing. It doesn’t look anything like her mother’s. Her mother’s is the one that looks good." (laughter) She was a beautiful penman. Dad was too. He was an exceptionally good writer. When you looked at the whole page that Mom had written , it was beautiful, there was never anything out of place.
Mary: When she would sign a check, if some one bumped the table, she would really get out of patience. She didn’t want that signature marred, anywhere. She signed her name Fannye H. Walker, with a big fancy F.
Mom didn’t do a lot of baking of things to take to people. If people were sick, she would take them a bottle of fruit, that she had bottled.
Beth: What do you mean she didn’t? Grandma made cakes, and cakes and cakes and took to people. I don’t remember there ever being a death or something like that where Grandma didn’t bake a cake and take it to them.
Mary: That’s probably true. She was a cake baker. She really could make cakes, but she didn’t really like to make pies.
Bill: I remember when I was a kid and we’d have the big family dinners at Grandma's house, she would never sit down and eat. She would just keep serving everybody. I can remember Dad and everybody else would spend the whole meal trying to get her to sit down. It was like a comedy every time.
Earl: It rubbed off on her daughters, too.
Mary: Not on this one. (laughter)
Earl: Well, it rubbed off on the oldest one.
Mary: Bill, do you remember the meal we were having beats and your mother said: ‘Bill, will you have a beat?’ and you said: ‘What did I do this time?’ That was down there with all of us there and we just roared.
Bill: It seems like we were always having big dinners at Grandma's house.
I remember Grandpa's tricks. He would kick his hat onto his head.
Mary: And he would pound pennies through the table. He could flip quarters in between his hands and pull them out from behind your ears. The kids loved that. He used to do tricks for us for home evening quite often.
Beth: We used to have home evening when we were little kids.
Mary: If Mom hadn’t baked anything, she’d say: ‘Phone Daddy, and see if he’s got something for home evening.’ We’d phone him up and he’d say: ‘What do you want?’ He’d go buy something and bring it home. They didn’t have oranges available then like they do now, so once in a while we’d get oranges.
Beth: Yes, that was just about our favorites: oranges. Nowadays, you get almost anything, so it seems like nothing is special. Oranges were a really rare treat.
Mary: Lot’s of time, we would have popcorn. Mom would make an icing and color it pink, like you do on cakes, kind of runny. She would cover the popcorn with it, and that was one of our favorites.
Beth: Back then, everybody had ice cream freezers. We used to make ice cream and that was the favorite of about everybody. We always had eggs, and milk and all the cream you wanted. We didn’t have an electric freezer until later; we had the old crank kind that you would take turns with. We’d put the salt on the ice and then churn it with the handle. Churning the butter used to be Jane’s job.
Bill: Dad told me that Marilyn once picked all Grandma's tulips.
Beth: It was Marilyn and Eleanor.
Mary: They just skipped along and popped off the tops of the flowers.
Beth: Grandma about cried, but Grandpa stood there laughing.
Mary: It was the most beautiful row of tulips.
Beth: I think I would have about cried too. They took about all of them. There were three rows of them.
Mary: Mom always had beautiful flowers. Harris and Beth and Fay always said: ‘There is nothing that Mom would rather have for dinner than a nice bouquet of flowers.’ She would always say: ‘Run and get a bouquet and lets put it on the table.’
Beth: When she’d hear Dad coming, she’d say: ‘Hurry put the table cloth and the dishes on quick.’
Mary: One day, Mom was wearing a house dress, with a hole in it, and Dad didn’t think it was very nice. He said, ‘If I ever come home and catch you in that dress again, I’ll tear it right off of you.’ Mom washed it and said: ‘I can’t throw this away.’ and she didn’t have time to mend it. She put it on again and she was doing some kind of dirty work, and Dad came home unexpectedly, and there was Mom. He just grabbed it and ripped it right off and threw it in the garbage. (laughter) She had to go find another one right quick.
Bill: He did what he said he was going to do, eh?
Mary: You bet he did!
Mary: Grandma Harris used to come and stay with us quite often. She would come up from Utah on the train. They would pick her up at the station, and she always brought her trunk. A big square trunk. She would come and stay up in the east bedroom.
Beth: She would always bring us a piece of material, or she would bring something for us.
Mary: We would always look forward to when she would come and stay. Sometimes she would stay for a long time after Grandpa Harris died. She’d stay up there, and she’d bake buns. She’d make these great buns. She would dip them in the milk and put cinnamon and sugar on them. Nobody around here did that quite like that and she would make these great big huge batches of buns. She used to make most of our bread when she stayed here. When it was cold she’d have a stove up there in her room and she’d build a fire up there. We had forced air heating, but we didn’t have the power to drive it up, and we couldn’t get the rooms as warm as you could today. We’d run upstairs and run into Grandma Harris’ room to get dressed. That was more fun. It was nice and warm in her room.
She’d get up at 5 am, every morning. She’d get her own coal, or wood, and start her own fire, and have a bath.
Beth: The reason that generation were such early risers, was they were not raised with electricity. They would go to bed when it got dark, and get up really early. All those older people were like that. That way they made the best use of the daylight hours. Mom wasn’t such an early riser. Dad always said: ‘It doesn’t matter what time you get out of bed, it ‘s what you do after you get up that counts.’
Mary: Dad was a show lover. He loved to go to shows (movies). One night Mom had been working hard all day, but Dad wanted to go to the show. She said, I’m tired, but I’ll go anyway. They went to the show and she went to sleep. She’d done this once before, and so Dad thought he’d teach her a little lesson. He got up and walked out and was visiting with Lee out in the foyer. (Lee Brewerton was the owner of the theater in Raymond.) Some little kid came along and woke her up, and she was sitting there alone in the chair. Dad was going to go back and get her in a few minutes, but that didn’t go over very big. Mom didn’t like that. Dad sure liked shows. After he became an MLA, Lee would never let him pay for his ticket, he always insisted that he just go in.
When he’d go to Edmonton, he’d always stay at the Hotel McDonald
Bill: I would like to have copies of Grandpa's talks in the Alberta Legislature. Roger is going to help me get some. I have researched the material on Grandpa in the Church Historical Department , and I have some good material from his talks in Stake Conferences when he was Stake President. I was surprised how much of his church talks were about agriculture.
Beth: Well, it was an agricultural country and nearly everybody in the stake was involved in agriculture. It isn’t that way so much today.
Earl: Some of the General Authorities came up and complained about the muddy roads, and said they felt sorry for the people up here.
Beth: Dad told them he didn’t want to hear any of that kind of talk. He wanted them to encourage the people, not discourage them.
One time Elder Widtsoe came and there was a big blizzard. He ended up staying for a whole week.
Mary: I know they went to Lethbridge, and Rulon Dahl was with them. They got lost in the blizzard - it was that bad. Dad had a big Nash car, and they said they couldn’t see at all. They never sent a General Authority up here to conference in January or February again, after that.
Beth: Mom and Dad certainly had lots of General Authorities stay with them. And lots of government officials, too. Dad was very good friends with Jimmy Gardner, who was the Minister of Agriculture for Canada. He stayed here. J.J. Bowlen was the Lieutenant Governor for Alberta, and he and Dad were very good friends. I remember once cooking dinner for Dad and Mr. Bowlen when he came down to see Dad. Mom was gone to June Conference in Salt Lake. Percy Page was a friend of Dad’s. He was the coach of the famous ‘Grads’ women’s basketball team.
Bill: I remember Dad telling me that everyone liked Grandpa, including those who were not members of the church.
Beth: Well, Dad did an awful lot to bring the sugar factory in here and when the Utah Idaho Sugar Company came in. A lot of people from Hungary and other European countries came to this area. His experience from his mission in Holland for 3 1/2 years helped him a lot in dealing with these people. He helped many of those people. So many of them arrived and they couldn’t understand a thing. He helped them with a lot of their legal matters and if they had problems they would come to him because could talk to them or understand what they were trying to say. He helped so many of them. Of course, most of those people didn’t have anything when they came to see him, and he just helped them free of charge.
Mary: Once after the Sugar Company people left, we had a large box delivered to the house. Mom said to the delivery man, ‘We didn’t order anything.’ He said: ‘Well, it’s got Mr. Walker’s name on it.’ Mom phoned Dad, and he said: ‘I haven’t ordered anything.’ She said ‘Well you better come home and see this - it is the hugest box’ He came home and they opened it up and it was a big radio. It was big, and we had never seen anything like it.
Beth: When we opened the box, there was a note inside. It said: ‘From Mr. Waddis, a present.’
Mary: Dad phoned Ed Hawk. He and Dad were good friends, and he could help Dad put it together. Dad didn’t go back to work that afternoon.
We strung the antennae wire from the living room into the dining to improve the reception. We could even pick up the World Series. We were so excited. It was a great big huge radio. I think it was 1924.
Beth: Dad loved baseball. When he first came to this country, he played for Stirling. Stirling was bigger than Raymond. They lived out there and they were closer to Stirling than they were to Raymond. Uncle Alec was there with him for a while, and he was a baseball player too. He also played for the Raymond Union Jacks basketball team and they were Canadian Champions several times.
Bill: I interviewed Uncle Elliot Taylor, and he told me that Grandpa could throw a baseball so hard that no one wanted to play catch with him when they played baseball together in Coalville. He made Elliot be his catcher.
Beth: When Grandpa was 16, he went out to herd sheep, and he was gone all summer. When he came home his mother didn’t recognize him, he had grown so much. None of his clothes fit any more.
Mary: You know his father died when he was on his mission.
Beth: When Dad first came up here, Uncle Alec came with him. In the fall, it looked like it was going to storm. They decided to stay home from church to try to get the beets out of the ground before the storm hit. They worked all day, and that night it froze so hard it ruined all the beets. If they had left them in the ground, they would have been alright. They lost everything. Dad always said the Lord did that to teach him not to work on Sunday. He learned his lesson well. After that he would never ever work on Sunday and he wouldn’t allow any of his kids to do so.
After that, Uncle Alec didn’t want to have anything to do with Canada. He took the next train back to Utah.
Bill: Uncle Elliot told me that Alec thought Grandpa was crazy for staying up here in Canada.
Mary: They all did. Dad used to say; ‘They’ve all made fun of me, but some day they might have to come to me to get something to eat.’
The next time Dad came back to Canada, he came back in a box car with Bill Stone.
Earl: You know how your Uncle John (Salmon) came up here don’t you? He was a Bishop, and he was off three cents on his tithing and he couldn’t make it balance, so he just sent the books in off the 3 cents and came to Canada. (laughter)
Beth: I don’t know where Earl picked up that story.
Bill: Well, my Dad told me the same story.
Mary: We always got together with the Salmons. We were always close to them.
Beth: We used to all meet at one home for Christmas, and then the other home for New Years. Then we would alternate. We did that for years until the families got so big. Most of the older Salmon kids like Loretta and Ross were married and had kids before we stopped meeting together.
Mary: Fay and Elsie, Beth and Earl, and Paul and I were all married the same year.
Beth: Earl and I in March. Mary and Paul in June, and Fay and Elsie in July. 1940
Elsie wasn’t a member of the church yet, so Dad married them. That was during the war, and if you were not married by 15 July, 1940, you were counted as ‘single men’. After church that night, Fay and Elsie said ‘Come and go for a ride with us.' So we got in the back seat of the car, and after a few minutes, Fay said: ‘How would you like to go to a wedding?’ I said: ‘Whose wedding?’ Fay said: ‘Ours’. We said: ‘When you going to get married?’ They said: ‘Tonight.’
So they got married that night, and Elsie had to be back to work by 11 pm.
They didn’t tell anybody about it for six months. We were sworn to secrecy.
Two weeks later they went on their honeymoon and they took Earl and me with them to make it look right. They went to Waterton, and we got a cabin. They got the screened in porch and we took the back bedroom. Nolan’s band was playing at the dance.
They wanted to keep it secret so Elsie could keep working. Back then, if a woman was working and got married, they just released you.
Fay had ulcers when he got home from his mission but he was feeling pretty good then.
The next morning, Elsie came flying into our bedroom with a bunch of her clothes over her arm. She said Jane was coming to visit us. So we scurried around to try to make it look alright, and then talked to her in the kitchen like everything was normal.
Months later, when Jane found out, she said: ‘Thank goodness. I’ve been really bothered ever since I saw you guys in Waterton, because I saw all Elsie’s clothes hanging in the same bedroom as Fay’s. I thought - what’s the matter with Earl and Beth?’
Bill: Did my Dad know about this?
Earl: No, we were the only ones.
Bill: I guess my Mom and Dad were probably in Montreal then.
Do you remember when Mom stayed here and Dad went to Montreal?
Mary: We sure do. Money was so tight back then, I guess they figured it was the only way they could afford for your Dad to be in medical school. Then people didn’t borrow money to go to school like they do now. You either had it before you went, or you didn’t go to school. Dad just didn’t have enough money. How he ever got enough money to educate all the kids, I’ll never know.
The boys could do what they wanted, but the girls had a choice: a school teacher, a nurse or a secretary. I wanted to be an interior decorator. Dad said: ‘Girls don’t do things like that.’
Beth: I wanted to be a dentist.
Mary: That’s just what they believed in those days.
Bill: Tell me about Grandpa's sheep?
Mary: Every time we had any kind of a fancy dinner, Christmas Dinner, anything, we had to wait for Grandpa to come back from the sheep.
Beth: That is the way that Dad really got on top. He had these good Marino sheep and they had the best wool. He really got top prices for his wool. That’s really what got Grandpa getting ahead, was his sheep.
Bill: Dad said that Grandpa would say that anyone that doesn’t like sheep doesn’t like money.
Beth: Well, that’s why.
Mary: I remember once after we were married and had the store; we were coming home early on Wednesday at about 2pm. As I came out of the store I saw Dad across the street filling up with gas. He said: Hey I’m going up to the ridge, why don’t you go with me?
So we rode up to the ridge with him.
He said: ‘While we’re up here I’m going to go show you where you can find coal up here. If anything ever happens, you’ll know where to get coal. So he took us over a hill and we walked down this great big coulee, and he should where we could find coal. When we started back up the hill, he got deathly sick. He was really sick. He laid down on the side of the hill. When we finally got up to the top of the hill, he was just ashen.
We finally got him to the car and Paul had to drive. Dad would just raise up once in a while to tell us where to turn. When you’re up in those hills, its easy to not be able to tell where to go. We finally got him home and he was just sick as could be.
I’ve often thought: ‘I wonder what would have happened to him, if we hadn’t gone with him that day?’
Mary: One day, Harris and Dad and some of us went up to the ridge in two cars, after your Dad had come back from school. Harris had to leave and come back before Dad. Dad said: ‘Harris, do you know your way back?’ Harris said: ‘Of course I know the way back. Don’t you think I’ve ever been to the ridge before?’ We said good-bye to Harris and he left. About 30 minutes later, he came back up over the hill (laughter). He saw us and kept right on driving. He didn’t even stop to hear any of our comments.
Earl: I got lost up there one night trying to take some things to a sheepherder.
Beth: I got lost up there one night taking a truck of grain out. I turned the wrong direction and got lost. It was so dark and you couldn’t see anything.
Mary: I can see how you can easily get lost, but what was so funny was that Harris was indignant to think that Dad would ask him if he knew his way out.
Bill: Well, I can remember being somewhere in the car with Dad and Mom and Dad was wandering around. Mom said: Just stop and ask someone where it is, and Dad said: ‘I know where it is, I just haven’t figured it out yet.’
Mary: We had a lot of sheepherders work for us, and no matter who they were or what they were, they were always welcome in our home. Dad was really good to them. Mom would feed them, when they would come to town on their day off. They were always welcome in our home.
Beth: One fellow came, and we still don’t know the whole story of that guy. His name was Bob Cook. He was well-educated, and a very talented guy. We all figured he must have been hiding out from something. We couldn’t ever figure out why he came to herd sheep. He worked for Dad for about two years, I think.
Mary: One night at the dance, Dad said: ‘You girls be nice to Bob, and dance with him.’
When we got home, Mom said: ‘Where did you girls go?’ We said: ‘Mom, we couldn’t dance with him - he had been drinking.’ Mom said: ‘Oh he had not, he just has bad halitosis.’ (laughter)
Earl: He could hardly stand up. (more laughter)
Mary: This is fun, but I’m not sure Mom would appreciate us talking about all these things.
One June, when Mom was in the Relief Society, she went to Salt Lake for conference. She was Rheta Walton’s counselor. Mom and Sister King and Sister Walton would go. One night they stopped in Helena. Mom said: We’ve got to be very careful in these hotels, so they pushed the dresser right up against the door. Andrew came along the next morning and saw that they had left the key in the outside of the door.
Mary: Later when Mom became the Mutual President for the Stake, Dad would drive her down to the June conferences. Sometimes they would take the little boys with them.
Mary: We would have ice cream parties while they were gone. Dehlia Woolf would come over and tell our friends to go home. They’d get ready to leave and I’d say: ‘You don’t have to go home, she’s not our boss.’ They didn’t stay late, usually by 10:30, our parties would be over with.
Mary: At Stake Conference, it was nothing for us to have 25 people for dinner.
Beth: I can remember house cleaning before Stake conference.
Beth: Dad and Mom also used to host a big supper for the High Council on the Saturday night of Stake Conference. He’d have the Stake Presidency, the High Council and the visiting Brethren.
Mary: I remember Dad having Stake Presidency meetings here at home.
We used to serve them ginger ale. Dad would serve it without ice: he’d say: ‘nobody want ice in ginger ale.’ He’d say, it’s cold enough, it just came out of the refrigerator.
Bill: What was Grandpa's favorite fruit?
Earl: And he sure liked candy.
Beth: Aunt Lizzie told me that when Dad was a little boy, his Dad was a merchant in Coalville, and before he would go to school, he would sit behind the candy counter, eating a whole handful of candy. After school, when he would get out he would go back and sit there by the candy counter. But Grandpa had to make a rule because his mother worried about him. She thought he was a little runt and he ate so much sweets. So they made a rule: he could only eat the candy that he could hold in his hand, he could never put candy in his pockets. That’s the way he grew up.
Dad could eat more candy than you can imagine, but he almost had perfect teeth. Even by the time he died, he hardly had any fillings.
Mary: He had beautiful teeth, but he took care of them. He would soak them a lot. He would brush them with soap or salt. He had good looking teeth.
Bill: Dad told me about a time that Elder Widtsoe came to visit for conference, and Mary decided that she would test him and see how he liked chocolate. She put a box of chocolates in front of Elder Widstoe and Grandpa, and they sat there and ate the whole box of chocolates.
Beth: I guess that’s cause his wife wasn’t there to tell him he couldn’t do it. Elder Widstoe ribbed Dad about his sugar, and Dad ribbed him about his salt. He liked lots of salt and Dad liked lots of sugar. Dad would eat lots of sugar on his cereal.
Bill: Well, that’s the way my Dad is, he puts two or three heaping teaspoons of sugar on his cereal.
Earl: That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Bill: I guess as the sugar factory man, he was living what he was promoting.
Mary: We had a cupboard on the east wall of the kitchen, kind of like a breakfront, with a molding that came down from the ceiling with about a 2 1/2 inch gap between it and the ceiling. Mom used to hide chocolate and things like that up there. Your dad, (Harris) found the hiding place one day, and there was chocolate up there. It was unsweetened chocolate. He would take a great big chunk of it in his mouth. We had bins with sugar in it, and Harris would stand up on the top, pull out the bin, take a big hunk out of the bar of chocolate, then he’d drop down and get a handful of the sugar and put it in his mouth so the unsweetened chocolate would get sweetened. Of course, kids couldn’t go buy chocolate bars in those days like they can now. I can still see Harris getting up there and standing on that cupboard with a big hunk of that bitter, awful unsweetened chocolate in his mouth.
Beth: I guess that is why Mom never had the ingredients to make some things. We would all take our turn sneaking some of the coconut, or the nuts, or something. Everybody did. I remember Reed and the other boys taking hands full of rolled oats.
Mary: I remember when we went to Utah to see Grandma and Grandpa. I was four. I turned four down there.
Beth: Mom was still the Stake Relief Society Secretary, and she told the sisters that she still had some sewing that she needed to get done before the trip to Utah. So they said well, we’ll come and help you for an afternoon.
Mary: They sewed some clothes for us to wear on the train. I remember Jane and I packed a trunk for us to put our clothes in. I think Jane still has that trunk. We packed all our pictures in it. I can still see it as plain as day. I remember the canal, and their house. I remember Grandpa Harris sitting me up in the cherry tree. The cherries were still on. He said: ‘You can sit up there and eat all the cherries you can eat’. That’s the only time I saw my Grandpa Harris. Fay ate so many cherries he was sick. He just ate cherries all day, they couldn’t get him out of the cherry tree for anything. Did Grandpa Harris ever come to Canada?
Beth: Yes. He came to Canada one summer. He came to the house, and I just thought he was a strange man. He said: ‘Is your mother home.’ I said: ‘ Yes, but she’s been canning and she’s sleeping now.’ He said; ‘Will you wake her up, please.’ I said: ’No, she told me not to wake her up.’ He said: ‘Oh, I don’t think she’ll be upset if you wake her up.’ So I went in the house to wake her up, and he followed me in the house. I was scared, and so I woke her up really fast. I didn’t know it was Grandpa Harris. It was the first time I had seen him. I was probably four or five. He had come up on the train. I can’t remember how long he stayed. He farmed and he had an orchard and fruit trees. He lived near where Hill Air Force Base is.
Bill: Uncle Ez told me that Grandpa Harris was a great farmer. He said his farm always looked like a picture book farm.
Beth: When I was a kid, I really envied my friends and cousins who had grandparents around them. We never knew our Walker grandparents. Dad’s mother died when he was sixteen and his Dad died when he was on his mission.
Bill: Did Grandpa have any favorites subjects when he gave talks?
Mary: His favorite topic was ‘Get out of debt.’. And ‘Keep your land.’ And ‘Don’t sell your land.’ Get our of debt, keep your land, and don’t sell your land. He talked about those things a lot.
END OF TAPE
Recorded October 31, 1979 at Raymond, Alberta, Canada.
Transcribed February 25, 1995 by William R. Walker