Thursday, July 31, 2014

31 July 1962 A letter from Helen Davidson Toronto

                                                                                  Salt Lake City, Utah
                                                                                  July 31, 1962
Dear Laura,
            I've been going to write this letter since before your birthday, but this has been the most hectic summer I can remember and it seems that I have accomplished absolutely nothing to speak of.
            From your letter to mother it sounds as though you are having quite a time in the old East.  I do hope though that you won’t be like so many that have lived in the East and just have never taken time to see the places there that so many people drive thousands of miles to see.  We have friends who lived near Washington for at least 15 years and had never taken the time to visit the places of interest right there in the city, such as the capitol, the white house, the library, etc.  I know it all takes time but it is worth it many times over.  It is just like people here never going to the temple grounds, or Bingham mine etc.
            You wanted us to see what we could do about housing for Betty.  Mont called the housing director yesterday and talked over the situation but he said the only thing Betty could do now was to come a few days early and get something.  This doesn’t sound reasonable to me and I will try to get down to Prove soon and talk to Norma and Ed and see what we can find out.  The director did say that there just isn’t anything at all in the dorms and that there is a long waiting list, they don’t make any promises to those on the waiting list before the second semester.  Bob Toronto’s girls had a place in a home not far from Norma, I believe they did their own cooking, however.  I will see what I can find out for you as soon as possible.
            One of the girls from our ward is married and living in your town.  I talked to her mother about you and she was very thrilled and was writing to Marilyn a few days ago so she may have talked to you already.  She is Marilyn Neely Knudson, 5827 Old Chesterbrook Road in McClean. She graduated from the BYU, married and moved there.  She has one little boy and is expecting another baby soon.  Maybe she can give you some suggestions on housing in Provo.  She is a very nice girl and very talented in things like road show production and musicals.  Her mother is our theology teacher in Relief Society and is a wonderful person.  Their father died of a heart attach about 8 years ago and they have had some struggles, nothing like ours of course but for this area they were difficult. I think an uncle was responsible for Marilyn’s schooling.  She has a sister married to a Cornwall and one married to (I think, Carl Buehner’s son – one of the Buehner’s anyway.  She has two sisters and two brothers still at home.
            I had an unusual experience a week or two ago.  Early one morning a woman called saying that she was visiting her folks home, she was from South Carolina (Myrtle Beach) – her husband is a judge at a big army base there.  One evening she was seated next to the Secretary of State at a big function and in the course of the conversation he found that she was originally from Salt Lake and he asked her if she knew us.  She has been away from Salt Lake for twenty years and has traveled all over the world.  He told her that we were good friends etc. and said that he could always spot the Mormons and liked to sit by them because he could get to drink their liquor.  She said, “well maybe I’m one of those Mormons who like to drink their liquor     “.  He said, “Heaven forbid, I never want to meet one of those.”  Anyway they had quite a conversation about Salt Lake, the Mormons, and the Welfare Plan.  She said that he had everyone at the table straining to hear every word.  There was the governor and all kinds of high officials.  She was so excited in telling about it.  She said she was so grateful that we had been members who stood up for what we believe because as they have traveled around the world some of the people who hold high positions from Salt Lake have not done so and it has been hard for her.  Her husband is not a member, and Frank Thornton said to him, “How can you keep from joining up with them.” She said that it sent her husband to thinking, and it has been a real boon to their branch there at the base.  At any rate in the course of the conversation she mentioned having a sister in McLean and somehow I’ve mislaid the name or never did get it but she teaches school in Arlington, so you may run onto her.  The woman who called was Mrs. Bill Watts, I believe.  I had all the information written down and now for the life of me I can’t find it.  Anyway this woman who called me is at present at an army base in So. Carolina and her husband is an army officer – an attorney and a judge at the base.  You can see why I should have written this sooner.  I hope you can locate her sister through talking around.  Her name might be Bennett.
            We have had so many things happen around here this summer I am a bit of a nervous wreck.  It seemed to start about the 12th of July and hasn’t let up.  Sally went to a swimming party with 12 other little girls from the ward. It was a birthday party for the daughter of our Relief Society president and they went swimming at Elmo Garff’s place out in Holiday.  Sally had an ear infection so she couldn’t go in swimming but could sit an watch.  It was a warm night and very, very cloudy. LaFarne Garff asked me if I wouldn’t like to go with her just to sit an watch, but we had been to the BYU all day with the Relief Society on a tour and I was tired, besides I wasn’t worrying about Sally because of her ear so I just stayed home with David.  Everyone else was away.  At any rate little Linda Snelgrove drowned, she is the 10 year old daughter of Lucille Wilcken from down on Adams street, if you remember.  It has been such a tragedy for both families and the ward members. LaFarne of course was in worse condition than the Snelgroves so I had to just take over all the Relief Society duties with the help of whoever I could get. Lucille and Barr have been wonderful about the whole thing.  Linda was a little girl just full of vim and pep. They just had the three girls and six boys, so Linda had to keep up with the boys, she was the oldest girl.
            Just a week after that Mont, David, and Joey were going to Tabiona and Roosevelt when they had a blowout up in Daniel’s Canyon and the car turned over.  It came over the news and gave us all such a scare that I haven’t gotten over it yet.  No one was hurt which was just a miracle, the car was wrecked to the tune of about $1200 or more.  It was in the paper and over the radio so we were besieged with calls.  At the time Mont was acting governor because Gov. Clyde is over in Europe - he and his wife went over to meet their daughter who was just released from her mission in England.
            Then a few days ago Grandma Frederickson, next door, had a bad stroke and is in very poor condition.  She has been in a home for six months and it has been very hard on her.  It would be such a blessing if she could just sleep away.  She thinks the Lord has forgotten her, I guess. We were in to see her yesterday and it was sad because her mind is so clear.
            Melba Ralph Black lives in our ward and she has a 19 year old son who has Multiple Sclorosis and is to the point where the doctors have given up.  Sunday the Bishop asked the whole ward to fast for 24 hours for him and then last night we had a prayer meeting at the ward.  June Ralph Jones and her family were there too.  It is very sad because Melba just has two boys and they are very nice and nice looking and very smart.
            Well, there are other things that have happened but this is such a morbid letter that I better stop.
            We had young Roland and his new wife down for dinner on Sunday and had a nice visit with them, they went to church with us.  He has a beard and has had it since before they were married.  Mother can’t stand it, but I think he looks better with it than without.  He says half the people tell him to leave it than without.  He says half the people tell him to leave it on and the other half says he had better cut if off.  His wife likes it, and I guess if she doesn’t mind nobody else should.
            We have friends who live at 7315 Radcliffe Drive, College Park, Maryland. They are Ralph and Betty Huber.  They lived by us when we lived on Wilshire Place.  They have several girls, two of them married, and a little boy.  They are wonderful people and so nice to know.  If you ever hear of them thru the church I certainly wish you would say hello to them for me.  I don’t know whether they would be in your stake or not.  One daughter went to the AC and is now married and I believe lives in Logan.  There are lots of other people there I would like you to say hello to but I can’t think of them.  If you ever meet Sister Bennett, Senator Bennett’s wife, I hope you will speak to her and tell her that you are my sister.  She is so nice and a real wonderful person to talk to.  She is President Grant’s daughter.  I would like to get a cook book from her that she was selling a while back – it is ( receipes) of Senator’s wives etc.  She was selling them to raise funds for the Republicans.  I guess if I took the time I could reach her here because her husband is running for reelection in November against Congressman King.  Although King has to come out on top in the Primary first, but I guess he will.  I hope Bennett wins in Nov. though.  King is a good man I guess and has a nice wife and family, but some of his ideas are way out in left field.  Mont says that he is one of those men that is fine in Church but when he is in politics its just another world entirely.  But that seems to be all too common now a days.
            We have had a very cool summer here so far and I hope it hasn’t been too bad for you there – how I hated the summer in the east, I used to wonder how people could stand it and survive.
            Its about time for the mailman so I better get this letter off quick.
                                                                        Love to all of you,
                                                                                    Your Loving sister, Helen


  1. Housing problems make me grateful for technology! Life is always busy and filled with people. Trials and things to celebrate. Make me laugh the comment about thenawdulnweather out east!

  2. This one is a tear jerker! It is neat to me, to think about support networks and people caring about people across families and across the country. Communication tieing people together. Not gossipy, but caring, sharing burdens.