All posts by dhalverson

Home Sweet Home

Sitting on a small suitcase on the front seat of our ’47 Chevy sedan between my mom and dad is a fun way for a six-year-old to travel.  I could see all the sights between home in Salt Lake City and New Orleans and back again, and I did not have to sit where my sister was—in the back seat between my two grandmothers.  I sat in the front seat on my mother’s suitcase between my parents almost every day for three weeks, and I was looking forward to being home and in my own bed.

My dad wanted to take the family with him when he attended a conference in New Orleans for his new job as Managing Director of the Intermountain Electrical Association.  With his new job, he had a private office in an office building in downtown Salt Lake City, and a secretary in her separate office. I was impressed by his new job and by the fun posters of Reddy Kilowatt (a fictional character that acted as corporate spokesman for electricity generation) he brought home.

I enjoyed the trip except for when I was bitten by bedbugs while sleeping in a rollaway bed in the Lusher, a cheap motel in Louisiana, the only non-AAA rated motel we stayed in on that trip.  No AAA-rated motels were available.

My mother and grandmothers were very particular about motels. Each time we needed a motel for the night, they would look for AAA-rated motels.  They would first ask the attendant for a key so they could look at a room before committing.  They would go into the room, feel the bed, check out the bathroom for cleanliness, look behind the furniture for mouse dropping or cockroaches.  They usually looked at two or three motels before they found one that passed inspection.

The best part of the trip was spending time with my dad.   He was in the Bishopric, he played on a basketball team, and he sang in operas and on the radio, so he was not often home.  On the trip, I was able to sit next to him in the car every day for three weeks!  There were seldom radio stations to listen to, so we talked or sang songs. When we were stopped at a stoplight, he would say, “The light is going to turn green right now.”   I thought he was psychic or something.  (I didn’t notice the yellow light for the other direction of traffic.)

Second to the bedbugs, the next worst part of the trip was when, somewhere along the way, I lost my teddy bear Timmy.  I probably lost him when we all jumped out of the car to take pictures at the sign announcing we were entering a new state.

When we returned to Utah, it was comforting to be back in the mountains rather than on the open plains where there was no way to tell what direction we were facing.  At home in Salt Lake City, we always have the “big mountains” (Wasatch Mountains) to the east and the “small mountains” (Oquirrh Mountains) to the west, so if I could see the mountains, I always knew which way I was facing.  I also knew the mountains protected us.

People were always talking about WWII, as it was foremost in everybody’s mind.  The war ended just ten days before I was born.  During the war, my father was in the Army Air Corps, and my mother and grandmothers worked in the Remington Arms Plant. The returning soldiers were heroes, and I was especially impressed when they gave talks in church wearing their pilot’s bomber jackets.  I heard a lot of talk about the Germans and the Japs.  In my six-year-old mind, I thought the Germans were just over the mountains to the east and the Japs were on the other side of the mountains to the west. I thought those mountains kept us safe from the Germans and the Japs, and I was also told that the mountains protected us from tornados.

We were coming down from the mountains through Parley’s Canyon when suddenly I saw the Salt Lake Valley.  It gradually opened as we got closer.  It was comforting to be back in the Salt Lake Valley between the mountains.  From Parley’s Canyon, we traveled down 21stSouth to 13thEast and then south along 13thEast past the large and scary Utah State Prison on the left and Sugar House on the right, where I spent so much time shopping with the women in my family. Thirteenth East met Highland Drive in front of my grandmother’s house, and my house was 40 feet behind my grandmother’s house.

Both my grandmothers lived in the same house.  My mother’s mother lived in a large walk-out basement apartment in my father’s mother’s house. The large Jensen mansion was on the other side of the cornfields of the Jensen Estate that were on the west and north sides of our home. I had a lot of fun when I lived on Highland Drive.  As we got closer to home, I anticipated picking raspberries, peaches, apricots, and apples that grew on our property, running through the cornfield, and playing in an old barn at the far end of the cornfield. 

There were some scary things about our house.  The stove in the kitchen was heated by coal and could burn me if I touched it when it was hot.  There was a grated opening to access the crawlspace below the floor. My mother screamed once when my father came up from the crawlspace with a black widow spider on his back.

Finally, after the long trip, the car was unpacked, my grandmothers were back in their house, and I was glad to be back in our small home. My bedroom was a fun place where my dad would often lie down next to me at bedtime and tell me stories he made up about dreams he said he had.  

I wish those fond memories could have continued, but a year and a half later, my father died of polio, and four years later I had a stepfather.

Two Kinds of Love

 

Two Kinds of Love

Janeen and I began dating in July, and by November, we were very much in love.  I loved her, and her love for me was different than any kind of love I had ever known.  She loved me for who I was.  She thought more of what she could do for me than for what I could do for her. She never criticized nor competed with me.  I did not understand it, but it made me want to be with her.  It was as if I were walking into the sunshine after living my entire life in a dark cave.

As I observed Janeen’s relationships with her children, I saw bonds I never knew in my family when I was growing up, or when I was married to my first wife Nancy.  Janeen has four children, three boys and a girl, who all live within three miles of her. Her children enjoy being together, and they enjoy being with their mother.  Janeen divorced her husband eight years before I met her, a man who was abusive to her and to their children.  Throughout her marriage, Janeen did her best to protect her children from their father, and she made sure they knew that their home was a place where they were loved and where they felt comfortable.

Janeen was involved with her children’s activities. Janeen worked with her children when they took music lessons.  She helped them with their homework and tried her best to help them with personal issues. She helped them with their math problems; she helped them write papers and sometimes typed them.  She went to their school activities.  She was a “room mother” at their school.  She went to parent/teacher conferences.  She took them places that were fun for them.   She drove them to their friend’s houses whenever they wanted.  She actively supported them in whatever they wanted to do.

Janeen’s children’s activities were focused on her children’s interests such as camping, boating, and riding motorcycles.  Janeen was comfortable driving her motorhome while pulling a trailer large enough to carry motorcycles for each of her children. She took her children on weekend trips to the Sand Dunes or other off-road sites throughout Utah that were popular for safe motorcycle riding.  Janeen’s husband Alan seldom accompanied them.

The only kind of love I knew before I met Janeen was based on obligations, whereas Janeen’s love is selfless and not overshadowed by ulterior motives.

 

Before my father died of polio when I was seven, he was always overcommitted and seldom home, so I spent most of my time with my mother, my sister, or either of my grandmothers, all of whom lived with me or within 40 feet.  When I was young, my activities were things that my mother and her mother liked to do such as shopping or taking drives in the country to see scenery.  I never did anything that men customarily did.

I looked a lot like my father, and to my mother, it was almost like I was my father’s surrogate.  My mother loved my father, and she loved me for how I reminded her of him, not for who I really was.  As a matter of fact, I did not know who I really was. I followed whatever she wanted me to do.  I liked or disliked whatever she told me I liked or disliked.   I don’t remember having any discussions about my opinions or what I wanted.

The winter after my father died was a heavy winter for snow.  The boys in my school liked to throw snowballs during recess and lunch hour, and our pants would get a little damp from the snow.  My mother was so afraid that I would get polio like my father that she instructed my teacher to have me go in a closet and remove my pants.  Then the teacher would lay them on the heat radiator at the rear of the classroom where the other kids could see, and I sat in the closet until my pants were dry.   This was seriously embarrassing.  Surely if my mother thought about me and my feelings, she would realize what it meant for my image among my classmates and found another alternative, such as sending me to school with an extra pair of pants, but her only concern was that I did not get sick and die like my father.

My mother married my stepfather Bart when I was ten years old and things got even worse.  According to our church beliefs, my mother was married for eternity to a man who had died, which meant she could marry another man, but not for eternity.  This was a big problem for Bart, his parents, and his siblings.  However having lived at home with his parents until he was 41 years old, Bart’s options for marriage were limited.  He discussed his options with a top-level church leader who asked him what he thought his chances were of marrying a woman of the same faith with his same rigid religious convictions who did not already have an eternal marriage.  Available women who met his expectations probably would already have had a previous eternal marriage unless they were much younger that he, and any woman that young would likely be uninterested in a man his age. The church leader and Bart decided he should not pass up the opportunity to marry my mother Dorothy.

The first two Christmases after they were married, we celebrated Christmas with Bart’s parents, his brother and sister, and their families.  However, my sister LuRae and I were ignored.  We were not Bart’s eternal children, and Bart’s parents and Bart’s brother and sister gave gifts to our step cousins, but no gifts to my sister and me. We had to watch our cousins open their gifts while we got nothing.  Neither Bart nor my mother voiced objections.  I think it is ironic, but not unusual, that such cruelty can be justified by a principle that is part of Christ’s gospel when Christ taught that love was the greatest commandment.

Bart continued to see view LuRae and me as inferior. My mother was raised in a male-dominant culture where wives followed their husbands, and she supported Bart.  I took piano lessons, and although my mother was an accomplished pianist, she showed no interest in helping me learn the piano. I had to practice behind closed doors while she and Bart watched TV. My father, mother and Bart all sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but when I took private voice lessons from the director of the Tabernacle Choir, my mother and Bart did not help me learn to sing.  Again, I had to practice singing behind closed doors.

They seldom offered assistance with my schoolwork, or discussed with me what subjects I found interesting.  My parents fulfilled an obligation to support me until I became an adult, and that was it. Personal issues were never discussed or dealt with in my family.  My having opinions that may conflict with theirs could jeopardize their total control.

My mother and stepfather had a daughter—my half-sister Maureen. She was only eight years old when I left on my mission, but I remember her getting much more attention than LuRae and me.  She became an accomplished vocalist and pianist, and I doubt she could achieve that while practicing behind closed doors.  She was Bart’s child and I was not.

When I was five years old, my mother opened a bank account for me and told me I should save for my mission. There was no further discussion about my saving or paying for my mission.  Most Mormon boys go on missions, but few, if any, save enough money to pay for their missions themselves.

I worked hard as a teenager and saved enough money, over $2,200, to buy a new car before I went on my mission. I decided to wait until after my mission to buy my car so it would not depreciate during those two years.  As I was preparing to go on my mission, I assumed my parents would support me since they never asked me if I planned to support myself, and the $100/month they would send me was not much more that what it cost them to support me at home as a teenager.  In the weekly letters I wrote to my parents the last few months of my mission, I expressed in detail what kind of car I wanted, the options, and I even asked them if I could borrow an additional few hundred dollars to get the car I wanted most, a 1967 GTO.  They never mentioned the money in their weekly letters to me except to tell me I should wait until I was home to discuss money.  When I got home, I discovered that I had only $400 in the bank and my parents had a new Pontiac.  When I asked them what happened to my money, Bart merely reminded me (with his nose high in the air) that I had been saving for my mission since I was five years old.  I assume that, when I was preparing for my mission, he could not discuss with me if I agreed to use my money for my mission for fear I may not agree to use my money. They could not take the risk of allowing me to make that decision.  If I declined to use my money for my mission, then they would have to take responsibility for my not going on a mission or pay for it themselves.  Either the money they sent me each month was my money, or they used my money to purchase their new car, it made no difference.  They had taken my money without asking.

The money issue was a big revelation to me.  My parents did not care for me as much as for my money.  At first I just felt guilty that I forgot I was saving my money for my mission, but the more I thought about it, the angrier I felt.  I had been robbed, and the anger I felt towards my parents led me to look to someone else for direction.  Nancy was the only other person I could turn to.  My parents hated Nancy for being from the wrong side of town and wearing her hair in her eyes.  I eloped with Nancy because I was so angry with my parents for using my money to purchase their new car.

It is hard to place the blame solely on my parents.  This is how they were raised.  Their parents treated them the same way.  It was their culture. It was in their roots to often use religion as an excuse for committing evil acts.

I knew there was no love in my marriage to Nancy from the very beginning.  She and I each claimed that we were in love, but it was just a cover. Neither of us married for love. Nancy married me to get out of Granger, a low-income neighborhood she hated. She had a boyfriend with whom she was sexually active when we married, but he was from Granger, too, and could not offer her a way out of Granger as I could.  Nancy claimed to love me, but she continued her relationship with the guy from Granger after we were married, and she continued to have affairs throughout our marriage.

Nancy’s obsession with maintaining control of any relationship led to the problems I have with our four children.   I loved our first child, a beautiful little girl, and from then on I was imprisoned in a loveless marriage.  I did not want to be an every-other-weekend father to my daughter.  Nancy knew we would eventually divorce, and she manipulated our four children to insure they would remain loyal to her and never see me after our divorce.

Nancy did not want me to be included in her relationships with any of her friends.  She competed with me in every way. She always resented that I made more money than she did. Nancy was focused on her career and on what was best for her children.  Her love for her children was based on her need for control, not on the needs of her children. I drove my children to school. I went to their games, I raced bicycles with my sons at BMX events regularly for years, but Nancy only went to one BMX race.   However, I could not overcome Nancy’s efforts to make me out as the bad guy. My children did not have a mother like Janeen.

 

I had not experienced Janeen’s kind of love until after Janeen and I met.  Janeen supported her son on his mission, and when he came home, she gave him her car and purchased a new one for herself.  She did not see that her obligation to support him had come to an end. She did not even see it as an obligation.  She loved him unconditionally and gave him everything he needed until he became financially independent.

Janeen’s children all live within two miles of our home, but my children all live in distant parts of the country. Janeen and I have been together for 15 years, and Janeen’s children come to our home for Sunday dinner several times each month.  They invite us on the camping trips they take together and are constantly expressing love for each other.  Janeen’s children have busy lives with families and friends, but their Mom is always high on their priority list. I was accepted into their family because their mother loves me and they know I love their mother, her children, and their families.

All Janeen’s children have a feeling of comfort and love when they come to our home.  They know it is a place where they are loved unconditionally and are always welcome. They feel the same as they did when they were young, including feeling free to search the refrigerator and pantry for something to eat.

My children don’t ever come to our house for dinner.  I have not seen any of my children in years.  My children are all married, but I attended only one of my children’s weddings—the one that took place when Nancy and I were married.  Nancy hired armed guards to keep me from attending my younger daughter’s wedding, and I did not know about the other two weddings until afterwards. One lives in New York, one in Chicago, one in California, and I don’t know where the other one lives.  I have not had a relationship with any of them since their mother divorced me.  They also don’t seem to want to live close to their mother or each other.

My children did not have a place where they could have the same feelings Janeen’s children have had at home.  There was always a confrontational spirit in our home. Nancy had to maintain control and she did not trust me.  I loved my children, but I did not know how to be a parent like Janeen because I never had that kind of home while growing up.  There was no place where my children could go and know they were loved unconditionally and feel comfortable.

Janeen would love my children unconditionally as her own, but she has never had the chance. My children have never met Janeen, and I long for the chance to show them how much Janeen and I would love them as we do Janeen’s children.

Janeen not only taught me about love, but she also gave me insight in to what was wrong with the kind of relationships that existed in the family where I grew up.  This realization has given me renewed confidence in understanding and bringing to light the source of most of my life’s struggles.

 

It’s All About Money

I was raised in a rigid religious home based on rules that I never questioned. It was unheard of in my family to question the rules in the Sunday School lesson manual that governed our lives. My parents were never candid, open, or forthright about personal issues. My stepfather was raised in a rigid religious environment and continued living with his parents in that environment until he married my mother when he was 41 years old. He quietly maintained a stern, but passive persona. Life was simple for me as long as I did not venture out of the religious bubble that confined me.

The problem was that the bubble would eventually burst and I would be left ill equipped to live in a world where there were options. I would be lost without rules and I would not know how to deal with people who lived differently outside the bubble.

When the bubble did eventually burst, the results were catastrophic.

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In September 1966, I was on a flight from London to Washington, D.C., reviewing in my mind the last two years as a missionary for the LDS Church in England. This was the first time in two years I had been alone without a companion since arriving at the mission home in Salt Lake City for one week of training before leaving for England. I had lived my life according to the plan my parents had laid out for me, but the future was a blur. The Church taught that young men should serve a mission, then marry and create a family. They taught nothing about life beyond that. Nothing about education or a profession was taught in Sunday School nor in my family. I completed my mission but I was not yet ready for marriage. Attending a University would give me a draft deferment, so my options now were either college or Vietnam.

For the last two years as a missionary, nothing was vague. There had been no options. I performed my missionary duties according to a daily schedule. My parents sent me a check for a set amount once a month, enough but not much more.

Ever since I can remember, I planned to serve a mission for the Church. It was expected of every Mormon boy. I opened my first bank account before I turned six, and my mother told me I was to use the account to save for my mission. I was taught that I should always be preparing for my mission by learning the gospel at home and in Sunday School.

I attended church, cut the lawn, took out the garbage, shoveled snow, and I never complained.   As far as I knew, my friends lived the same kind of lives. The boys my own age in the neighborhood who did not live that way were labeled “bad boys,” and I was told not to associate with them. I liked some of those boys, and I wondered what was so bad about those “bad boys.”

I had worked and saved my money ever since junior high school when I got my first paper route. When I was old enough to drive, I wanted to buy a car. By age 18, I had saved enough money to buy a new car, but I did not want that car to sit and depreciate while I was gone, so I decided to put off buying a new car until I returned home from my mission. In the meantime, I continued to drive the old 1952 Plymouth that had been the family’s second car—the old clunker.

For the first few months of my mission, I received letters from several girls I had dated, but Nancy kept writing the longest. Before my mission we had dated off and on, but mostly we talked on the phone, sometimes for three to four hours at a time. Since she was from another part of town and three years younger, I could just be myself, and ignore the self-consciousness I felt around girls. She faithfully wrote long letters every week that must have taken her hours to write. She wrote the things a missionary wanted to hear, such as how much she liked her seminary teacher, how much he liked her, and how she prayed often and long. I enjoyed writing letters to her, too, as often as I could. We created fantasies about our future lives together.   When I thought of her, I thought of an attractive, spiritual, active LDS girl, who could be my eternal companion and a supportive wife and mother. I had fallen in love with the fantasies described in those letters.

Eventually the letters arrived less frequently and were less lengthy—both hers and mine. I figured she was just busy and had less time to spend writing letters. I did not want to think she was no longer in love with me, and she never said she wasn’t. Even though I received just one or two letters during the last six months of my mission, I continued to tell my parents in my letters to them that I planned on marrying Nancy.

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The girl Nancy described in her letters existed only in those letters. Nancy visited my parents several times while I was on my mission, and my parents came to know the real Nancy, not the Nancy depicted in those letters. They desperately did not want me to marry Nancy. They even told my older sister to try to convince me not to marry Nancy. My older sister lived in Kentucky and I stayed with her for a couple of days on my way home from England. My parents could not tell me why they did not like Nancy. They were not comfortable expressing personal feelings. They never were able to give me personal advice, and I could never go to them for help with personal issues. They could only give me rules.

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The first few days after I arrived home were busy. I had to meet with Church leaders to obtain a formal release from my mission. I had to meet with a neighbor across the street who offered to recommend me for a job delivering flowers for a florist, and then I had to meet with the florist. I had to finalize my registration for school, which started the following Monday, and I had to register for the draft. In addition, Nancy wanted me to drive 16 miles round trip to Granger every evening to see her. I was not sure if she really wanted to see me or she just did not want me to have time to see any other women.

I arrived home on a Wednesday afternoon, and by Monday, I had a job, a full load of classes at the University of Utah, and I had to deal with the draft. I was hesitant to tell Nancy I would rather study than drive to her house every evening. I was a peacemaker and did not want to make waves, and I was hesitant to jeopardize my relationship with the woman represented in her letters. Nancy appeared to be compassionate and empathetic while she maintained the persona of the girl in the letters.

The first few weeks were insane. I wanted to study hard and do well in school, but with working, studying for my classes, dealing with the draft, and having to see Nancy each evening, I was overwhelmed. I just did not want any more hassle, and something had to give.

I am sure my parents recognized my frustration, but instead of talking about it, they just made demands such as requiring me to be home by 10:00 pm on weeknights and by midnight on weekends. I was 21 years old and had adjusted to living away from my parents, and I did not need that kind of hassle on top of everything else. I needed someone to talk to, not rules, and I had no one to talk to but Nancy.

I still needed a new car, so I went to the bank to check my account. The teller updated my passbook and handed it back to me. I had expected to see two years of interest added to the $2,600 shown in my passbook. I was shocked that my passbook now showed a balance of only $400. I could only assume that my parents moved my money to another account. I immediately went home and when I walked in the house and found them siting together, I said to them, “ I just came from the bank to update my passbook and I only have $400 dollars in my account. Do you know where my money is?” My parents looked at each other and my stepfather said, “Did you forget that you were saving your money for your mission?” “ Your money was used for your mission.”

I immediately remembered what my mother said when she opened that bank account for me when I was five, and at first I felt guilty for forgetting what she said, and then I realized I could not buy a new car, money was gone, and it was my parents who had the new Pontiac. A combination of guilt and disappointment must have shown on my face when I responded with, “Oh yeah, you’re right.” They offered no apology, no expression of sympathy for my obvious frustration; there was only the silent, rigid expression I had come to expect from my stepfather.

Later, I began to think that if I was to pay for my mission, shouldn’t it have been discussed when I was preparing for my mission? Why did they write me at the beginning of my mission that they were blessed for supporting a missionary if I was supporting myself?

If we had discussed it before my mission, my parents would have been faced with a risk that they were not willing to take. If I did not agree to use my money for my mission, they would have to commit to pay for my mission. By not discussing it, I believe they kept open the option to use my money. The $100/month they sent me each month could not have been much more than what it cost them for my support as a teenager. My stepfather worked for over 30 years as an accountant for the gas company and because my father’s mortgage insurance paid off his mortgage when he died, my stepfather had never had a house payment. I am sure they had the money.

As I thought more about it, my guilt turned to anger. I was 21 years old and was I expected to remember what I was told when I was five years old? Over the next several days, my anger became more intense. Was it my money they sent me each month?   Had they spent my money on their new car? A few days before, they had threatened to take my money from me if I continued to speak of my plans to marry Nancy. So did they really take my money because I talked about marrying Nancy, and if that were the case, why would they not tell me and offer to return my money if I did not marry Nancy? My feelings towards Nancy were waning due to her unreasonable demands, and it would not have taken much in the way of trust and council for me to forget the idea of marrying Nancy.

I was back home. I was back in my childhood environment. I lived for the last two years with missionaries who communicated. Now I was back in the bubble where there was little communication, no sign of love or empathy, and no offer of counsel. I wanted out, and I began to think of ways I could get out from under my parents’ control.

During those first few weeks at the University of Utah after I returned home, Nancy occasionally came to sit with me in my afternoon mythology class. It was a large class that filled a general education requirement. One day she left me in the classroom to return home, but instead of going to my next class, I followed her to her car. She did not go to her car; she went to another car I did not recognize. She climbed in the passenger side, and some guy in the driver’s seat gave her a big hug and a kiss.

Nancy had another boyfriend. I was confused. Why was she coming to the University to sit through a class with me while some guy waited for her in his car? Why would she want me to come to her house in Granger every evening if she had another boyfriend, and why would the boyfriend wait for her while she sat through my class? If I had someone else other than Nancy to talk to, I may have figured it out, but with my school studies, my new job, and being deceived by my parents and now by my girlfriend, I had no one I could go to for advice. I knew I was being deceived, but living my life in the bubble had not prepared me for dealing with deception.

I had been home from my mission less than three weeks. I was doing poorly in school because of Nancy’s demands, and if I dropped out of school, I would end up in Vietnam. Without Nancy, I would be totally alone. I was afraid to let go. My money was gone and I was totally dependent on my parents. They offered to pay my tuition of about $125/quarter, and I was working part time at $1.50/hour for everything else. I still needed a better car, but what could I buy earning only $30/week?

With all the stress of starting school, a new job, my parents, and no money, I had to ignore what I did not understand. For two years I had assumed Nancy was in love with me, but the fact that it was all a lie was staring me in the face, and I did not want to believe it. How could I abandon the image I held in my mind for two years of the girl in those letters? Obviously, love was blind and I did not understand Nancy, her motives, her background, or why she wanted me to drive out to Granger every evening to see her when she had someone else. Her relationship with the other guy was strong enough that he waited for her in his car while she attended my mythology class with me. What did she tell him she was doing?   Was there a plot concerning me that Nancy and the boyfriend were pursuing together? The betrayal by my parents and now Nancy, plus the guilt, put me in such a state of depression that I could not think clearly.

On the first Friday night in October, I went with Nancy to a concert by the group “Up With People” at Skyline High School. My parents were out of town for the weekend, and I could take Nancy to my house without having to deal with my parents. It felt good to have a place where I could be alone with a girl, and I thought more about getting a place of my own. Could I afford it? How could I confront my parents and tell them I did not want to live with them? That would certainly burst their bubble.

Nancy and I were together on my bed and we talked about my frustrations. We kissed and got into some heavy petting. Young Mormons say that on a date you can do A, B, C, D, and E, but not F. We did everything up to—but not F. However, Nancy said we had come close enough that what we did counted as F. This only added to my guilt and depression. I told Nancy about my parents, my money, and how I wanted to get out from under their control. Nancy suggested we run off to Elko, Nevada, and get married. Nevada did not have a waiting period for marriage. It was a way out. The anger I felt towards my parents overshadowed my confusion about Nancy. I could leave home without having to justify leaving home to my parents. I did not think about how I felt about Nancy. All the guilt I felt about the money and the petting led to a kind of emotional suicide. All I wanted to do was run away. We decided to go for it.

I began to grab whatever I thought I might need. I needed money so I grabbed my collection of solid silver half-dollar coins; I even took a roast from my mother’s freezer and put it and some clothes in my suitcase. We drove to the home of one of Nancy’s friends where she borrowed some money, a ring, and a wedding veil. We drove to Nancy’s house where she packed a bag and climbed out her window (a classic elopement scene), and we headed out to Elko, Nevada.

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Nancy and I eloped to Elko and, as it turned out, my parents were right about Nancy. The real Nancy was someone from whom I should have run. The moment we got married, it was like a switch was turned and the Nancy in the letters gave way to the real Nancy. She became controlling and focused only on her own ambitions. The compassion and empathy she had shown vanished. My marriage to Nancy turned out to be a disaster. It was not based on love. It was never a partnership. It was never a marriage. She married me to get out of Granger. I married her to get out of my parents’ house.

It was the loss of my money that led to marrying Nancy. I have always been plagued with the guilt I felt for not remembering what I was told when I was five years old, so I recently decided to check it out. When my mother died, my sister gave me the letters I wrote to my parents while I was on my mission, and I began to read them. I read each of the letters I wrote during the last seven months of my mission. That was when we were discussing buying cars. I wrote about how much money I had and what car I could buy with that amount of money. My parents were in the market for a new car as well, and they asked me for my advice on what to buy. I researched a General Motors discount program for American servicemen stationed overseas that missionaries could participate in. I offered to use the discount program for their car as well as mine.

I wrote about makes of cars and options such as air-conditioning and other accessories. I sent them price lists, including optional equipment and delivery fees. I gave them prices of various models and the prices of options. I asked would prefer to pick up the cars in Detroit, or have the cars shipped to Salt Lake City. These discussions occurred in letters written over several months. My stepfather used my discounted prices to negotiate a discount from a Salt Lake dealer, and he purchased a new Pontiac five months before I returned home.

A few months later, I told them the car I really wanted was a 1967 GTO, but it would cost a few hundred dollars more than the amount shown in my bank passbook. I asked my stepfather if he could loan me the additional money, and his only answer was that I should wait until I got home to discus money.

There could have been no question that I thought I still had my money. There was no Internet at that time, and no way I could know how much money was actually in my account.  If they had been sending me my money each month, why did they not remind me I had always been saving my money for my mission when I wrote about how much money I needed for my new car?

My mother had gone on a mission, and in one of the letters, I recalled how my mother’s widowed mother supported my mother on her mission. If my mother’s widowed mother supported my mother on her mission, why would my parents think they were not expected to support me on my mission? Also, how many young men would go on missions for the church if they had to earn the money for their missions before they turned 19?

My parents’ threat to take my money if I continued to plan on marrying Nancy was only a cover-up because my money was already gone. Reading those letters relieved me of the guilt I had felt for 50 years about the money, and it has given me a new level of self-respect. I am not the bad guy. It was not my fault. The only possible explanation I can think of is that my parents took my money for their own purposes. They stole my money and tried to cover up what they had done by blaming it on my plans to marry Nancy.

The irony is that I most likely would not have married Nancy if they had not taken my money. I would not have wanted to leave home, and I would have had time to think things through—with or without their counsel. If I had read those letters and rid myself of the guilt earlier, I likely would not have spent the better part of my life in a loveless marriage.

My Carved Memory

My Carved Memory

 My father had two trunks with him when he returned home from the mission he served in Tahiti and Hawaii from 1939 to 1941. He started his mission in Tahiti, and then he finished his mission in Hawaii when France’s involvement in WWII created a political environment that was unsafe for missionaries in Tahiti. One of the trunks was nearly full of oyster shells. The inside of each shell had the multi colored iridescent quality of mother of pearl, which is also called nacre and is used in jewelry. The same material also forms the outside of pearls. He must have had a plan to use these beautiful shells for something, but his untimely death at the age of 33 from polio when I was seven years old nixed whatever plans he had.   A few of the other items he brought home in the trunks must have been used as intended, but much of what he brought home still sits in those trunks. The last time I saw the trunks they were stacked in a bedroom in a house my ex-wife acquired when we divorced.

My mother found some of the contents of the trunks interesting enough to remove them, and those items were distributed among my two sisters and I when my mother died. I was not present when my sisters decided who would get what, so I was left with whatever neither one of them wanted. I got some shark’s jaws, which were smaller versions of those displayed in Quint’s workshop in the movie Jaws. There was also a whale’s tooth, some model outrigger canoes, straw hats, beads, sea shells, hula skirts, and some vanilla beans inside a couple of bottles. Some of these items have come in handy for three generations of grade school show-and-tell days.

There is one item, however, that I took possession of shortly after my father died. It is a wood carving of a hand holding a fish upright. The mouth of the fish is open at the top, which hints at an intended use of the carving other than just art. It could be an ashtray or it could hold a small vase. The carving is slender and top-heavy which makes either use impractical. The slightest nudge could result in either ashes, or flowers and water being spilled.

The entire carving is 15 inches high and the size of the hand indicates it is about a one-half scale, so the actual fish would be about 30 inches long. The carving is crude and lacking in detail. The eyes do not line up and the gills and fins on either side of the head are dissimilar in shape and size. The fins are essentially the same on the top and bottom and are crudely fashioned. An arc-shaped tool was used to create the fish’s scales. The hand holding the fish lacks the detail of finger nails or knuckle joints.

I am not a connoisseur of wood, so I don’t know what kind of wood was used. It is too light to be hard wood like teak, and it is very difficult to detect any grain in the wood partly due to the nature of wood, and partly due to all the nicks and scratched that have occurred over decades in my toy boxes or other casual storage media.

A cross section of the carving at the bottom clearly reveals two shades of wood in the carving. It is evident that the object was carved from a small log about five inches in diameter. A darker core in the log is surrounded by wood of a lighter tone. The two tones continue throughout the carving since the areas carved deeper into the log are darker in color than the areas nearer the surface of the original log.

The carving is crude and certainly not worthy of an art museum. It was not important enough to my mother to display it, or to keep it out of my toy box when I was young. It is interesting to contemplate what my father saw in this carving, and also, why I have found this item important enough to keep it for more that six decades. I am curious to know how my father acquired the fish. Did a friend in Tahiti or Hawaii give it to him? Or did he purchase it? The object evokes many questions and few answers.

I have never displayed the carving. I have never even shown it to anyone. It has always been in the background of my mind and hidden in the background of my possessions. While Janeen and I have been married, it has been hidden behind some pictures on the top of a bookcase in our home.   When I was recently looking for something to stare at for 10 minutes, I saw this fish and brought it to the forefront of my own consciousness and showed it to Janeen. I asked her if she had seen it and she was not sure, but she could not recall ever having seen it.

As I contemplate the carving, I wonder why my father kept it, and then I begin to wonder why I have kept the carving for almost 70 years. I don’t ever remember playing with it as a child. My best explanation is that the interest I have in this obscure piece of art is something I share with my father. When I look at it, I think of my father and tears come to my eyes. It is somehow a connection between the two of us. It seems to be a physical token that represents a shared interest.   My symbolic link with this fish is something like Tom Hank’s character’s symbolic link with Wilson in the movie Castaway. The object is significant only in what it represents.

My father held on to this piece and I have also held onto it for all these years. I feel somehow that it represents a physical connections as well as a spiritual connection. As long as I have this carving, I have the feeling that I am connected to and under the protective care of my father. I have never thought about this strange concept before, but now, when I do contemplate the idea, it gives me comfort. It is a carved memory and a carved companion that means more to me than I can understand.

Waking Up

Waking Up

Ever since I can remember, I had planned to go on a mission for the Church. It was expected of every Mormon boy. When I opened my first bank account before I turned six years old, my mother told me I was to use the account to save for my mission. I was taught that I should always be preparing for my mission by learning the gospel. I was taught the gospel at home, in Sunday School, and various other church classrooms since I was three years old. We were also taught Church doctrine in “Seminary” as part of our high school curriculum. My father, mother, and stepfather had all served missions, and my father and mother taught “Seminary.” I never questioned if I would go on a mission when I turned 19. To question it would demonstrate that serving the Lord was not my highest priority, and that was absolutely unheard of in my family.

When families sit down to eat a meal together, they often offer a prayer. We called it “blessing the food”; others may call it “grace.” The prayer is usually consists of reverent phrases that indicate a belief in God, the family’s devotion to Him, and a recognition of His generosity and love. In some families, the same phrases are repeated in every prayer, and in some families they vary. What is not normally said in a prayer at the dinner table are requests for help with personal issues and struggles that any one individual at the table is dealing with in his/her life. Those things are left to individual prayers offered alone in silence. The prayers at dinnertime are reverent, standardized, and have little to do with personal issues.

My family lived our lives at all times like a prayer at the dinner table. Any dialogue was as pious as a family prayer. There was never an admission of doubt for any part of the strict religious teachings that ruled our lives, nor was there ever an admission of any moral weakness. Problems like that existed but were never discussed. It was assumed that we all dedicated our lives to the Church, and everything else in life, whether it was earning money, romance, or schoolwork, came second to our dedication to the Church. Any personal problems I had at school or with girls were never discussed and I handled them without any counseling from my parents. We always relied on church doctrine to resolve personal issues. Any other options falling outside church doctrine would be sinful.

I seldom received any help with my homework. My mother sometimes typed papers and read some of my reading assignments to me, but I don’t remember ever discussing an author’s philosophy or anything philosophical for that matter. After all, thinking philosophically may lead to questioning our religion.

I attended Church, cut the lawn, took out the garbage, shoveled snow whenever needed, and I never complained.   As far as I knew, my friends lived the same kind of lives. Those boys my own age in the neighborhood who did not live the same way were labeled as bad boys and I was told not to associate with them, nor was I ever taught how to deal with them or understand them. I trusted that if I continued living like that, everything would work out fine somehow. The problem was that I was not prepared to deal with someone who did not live his or her life as I did. I did not know how to handle distrust, and I had no experience in finding ulterior motives behind what people said or did. When I encountered those inconsistencies, I could only ignore them or assume I misunderstood the situation. I was taught to follow a set of rules without ever questioning those rules.

I anxiously awaited a response from my missionary application to learn where in the world I would go on my mission and if I was to learn a new language. Learning a new language would mean two and a half years instead of just two years as a missionary, allowing six extra months to learn the language. My letter came one afternoon in August of 1964 a few hours before I had planned to go with some friends to a drive-in movie to see the latest James Bond film, “From Russia With Love.” I was very pleased to see I was called to serve in the British Mission, headquartered in London. It was in a foreign country, but I was not going to have to learn a foreign language. Although a missionary had to be at least 19 years old, I was scheduled to leave a week before my 19th birthday so I could return home early enough to begin fall quarter classes at the University of Utah to avoid the draft. I could get a draft deferment by going on a mission or attending school. Any significant gap in time between the mission and school could put me in Vietnam. I had attended one year at the University of Utah prior to my mission, and my education had to wait until I returned home.

The envelope containing my mission call included a list of what I was to take with me. I was limited to one suitcase not to exceed 40 pounds. I needed a couple of dark suits, dark ties, white shirts, the right kind of underwear, comfortable but dressy walking shoes, scriptures, and a modest amount of money to get me started. The letter also specified the modest amount my parents would be sending me each month for my support. My upkeep as a teenager must not have been costing them much less than that amount.

I had to prepare a printed program for our local Church service that would become my “farewell service.” I identified who, in addition to me, would speak, and offer the prayers at the service. I had attended many missionary farewell services, so I knew the drill.

The first week of my mission was spent in the Mission Home in downtown Salt Lake City, along with about 180 other missionaries who were going to various parts of the world. I was assigned a companion with whom I would share a room. The beds were clean and comfortable and the food was plentiful. We received basic training lectures as to what is expected of missionaries such as:

  1. Keeping women physically and emotionally at arm’s length.
  2. Always being with a companion.
  3. Writing our parents weekly.
  4. Referring to the male missionaries as “Elder” and male members as “Brother.”
  5. Referring to female missionaries and female members as “Sister.”
  6. Beginning the day every morning at 6:00 am.
  7. Praying morning and evening.
  8. Memorizing the lessons to be taught to potential converts called investigators.

We were given instruction from general authorities of the Church as well as the Mission Home staff. It was all very “Rah” “Rah” and would have put any Amway rally to shame. It is no wonder Utah is the multilevel marketing capital of the world.

The companion assigned to me was Charles Manley Brown, a grandson of Hugh B. Brown, a counselor in the first presidency of the Church. He was an okay guy and, as a Peanuts fan, I had fun saying my companion was Charlie Brown. Of all the missionaries in the mission home, he and I and four sisters were going to the British Mission.

After a week in the Mission Home, I was eager to begin serving my mission. I was able to say goodbye to my family and some friends, including a couple of girlfriends, at the airport. Then I left on my first ever commercial flight, a new United Airlines Boeing 727 to New York City, and from there I would go to London on an Alitalia Boeing 707. I marveled at the views of our country, New York City, and London from the air.

We arrived in London at about 10:00 am, London time, having missed a night’s sleep due to the time change. London seemed cloudy and humid. The six of us were picked up by a couple of missionaries driving a van and we sat on wooden benches along each side in the rear compartment. We were taken to a small hotel where we were allowed to catch a few hours’ sleep before we were picked up again and taken to the mission headquarters in South Kensington. The streets were narrow and the houses were all connected. Cars were driven on the left side of the street, and for the most part, the cars all seemed small. We saw several sites that I had seen in photographs such as Buckingham Palace and the Tower Bridge.

At the Mission Home, I met the mission president, my district leader, and zone leader. A district leader is over 10 or 12 missionaries and a zone leader is over several districts.   I was surprised that my district leader and zone leader were both guys I had known in high school.

After meeting briefly with the mission president, I bought a used bicycle for four pounds (about $11.00) from a missionary who was going home. I loaded my suitcase and the bicycle into another van and was driven to meet my new companion in Herne Hill, just across the Themes River in South London. He was introduced to me as Elder Bradley. We had a room on the third floor of a large house owned by a friend of our mission president. Our board and room cost four pounds, ten shillings a week each (about $13.00). As the van left and we were walking into the house, Elder Bradley said to me, “Just call me Phil; I hate this Elder stuff.” I was disappointed with his disregard for the rules such as referring to missionaries as “Elder” and “Sister.” Did we not need to follow all the rules? I had been raised to follow rules.

After eating dinner with some dental school students who also had rooms in the house, we went out to call on people whom Elder Bradley and his previous companion had been teaching. At the first house, an attractive young lady in a negligee answered the door. She looked at me and then at Phil and said, “Hi, Phil,” and then invited us in showing no hesitation due to her attire. Elder Bradley had an awkward moment and declined to enter. It seemed strange to me that we did not go in. Surely, if she were being taught about the Church, we would want to accept her invitation even if she did have to put on a robe. Instead of going in, Phil introduced me as his new companion and asked if she still had the book he had left for her (a copy of the Book of Mormon). She had to think a few minutes before she remembered the book. The whole scene made me wonder just how “arm’s length” this relationship was. She gave us the book and we left. I also wondered, if Phil did not want to go into her home, why did we even call on her? Did it have something to do with the negligee?

The arm’s length thing had to be an absolute rule. At 19, missionaries are at the peak of their sexual drive and away from home for the first time without supervision other than their companion. The Church just cannot have its representatives dating or even flirting with young women when they are preaching the gospel. Several months later, I attended a church service at a branch of the Church in Maidstone in Kent County. Although there were about 90 members on record and the Church owned property for a chapel, only two members were at the Sunday meeting I attended. The reported cause of this extreme fallout was a missionary who had sexual relations with a young lady in the congregation. Sexual relations would cause a missionary to be excommunicated and sent home dishonorably, bringing disgrace to himself and his family, as well as the Church.

I had been indoctrinated as to the seriousness of the arm’s length rule and was shocked to learn that my companion, whom I was to be with 24/7, and who was be my mentor, could possibly be disregarding this rule as he did the “Elder” rule. I wondered what other rules he did not think we needed to follow. Should I report him or should I let it ride and see what happens next? I was taught to follow the direction of whoever was in charge and he was my senior companion. In retrospect, I should have reported him, but I did not. If I had, I would have immediately been assigned to work with another companion.

I had planned on keeping arm’s length from girls, and I was actually looking forward to not having to deal with the dating scene. In my family, the rules for missionaries were part of our unyielding code of conduct to which obedience was assumed and expected. Any deviation was either ignored or was someone else’s fault. We never discussed problems, especially about girls, so I never gained experience dealing with them. We never discussed sex or the issues around dating, so I became afraid of my naiveté when it came to girls and I tended to shy away from them. It was as if we lived in a society of arranged marriages, except such a service was not provided, but somehow, when the time was right, a potential spouse would magically appear. That was how my parents were raised. My mother was in college when she thought she could get pregnant from kissing a boy. Whatever I learned about sex, I learned at Boy Scout camp. Socially, I belonged in kindergarten. I was not prepared to deal with this kind of problem. Elder Bradley was my leader, but he was not following the rules. I had no experience dealing with this kind of conflict.

Later that first evening, Elder Bradley (Phil) showed me which bed was mine, and when I pulled back the covers, I saw that the sheets which had once been white were now a light brown. In disgust, I asked how long it had been since the sheets had been washed. Elder Bradley paused for a moment, scratched his head and said, “Well, I’ve been here five months and they haven’t been washed as long as I’ve been here.” The sheets could not be washed until next Monday, since there was a rule that we could only do laundry on a Monday, our “diversion day,” and laundry was not considered to be missionary work. I had to sleep in those sheets for five nights. That was one rule Elder Bradley did follow, and I was not surprised when I got sick.

So here I was, sick in a different part of the world, away from home for the first time in my life, sleeping in who knows what, and my companion was destroying every image I had of what I should be doing there. My mother had always changed my sheets once a week. They were always clean and white, but now I had to crawl between those filthy things. I should have reported these problems and not ignored them, but I was raised to ignore problems. I was actually more concerned with staying arm’s length from those filthy brown sheets than from young women.

Maybe Phil was just too lazy to wash his sheets, but what about his companion whom I replaced? Was he a bum, too? Were missionaries unable to function without their mothers?

Eventually I went to a chemist (pharmacist) who gave me something called “The Mixture” which helped reduce the frequency of my trips to the toilet; and after washing the sheets, I eventually got my health back. There were many new English germs my body had to get used to. I was told many missionaries get sick when they first arrive—“inoculation by affliction,” or something like that.

One Sunday after working with Elder Bradley for a month or two, he and I attended a Stake Conference. Elder Bradley sat with his arm around the back of another attractive female member in full view. That was seriously against the rules and I was embarrassed to be sitting by him. Phil may not have gotten away with it because I was soon assigned another companion, Elder Van Orman from Canada. I would never know how or if Phil was disciplined since I never saw him again. Missions are like that. You are with a companion day and night for several months and then you never see him again.

Many young, single women in the mission field are looking for romantic relationships with missionaries. Missionaries from the United States are a good catch. This made it even more difficult for young men to ignore those hormonal urges. Most of the missionaries are male, and this may account for there being more young women than young men in the congregations.

There was one member, a young woman named Jacque Hartley-Davis in the branch we attended who showed a particular interest in me, but I did not have any romantic feelings for her. She was attractive, although a little over weight, and she walked with a limp. She was pleasant to talk to, and I must have given her my home address because the next spring she traveled to Utah and called on my parents. She must have given my parents the impression that I had long-term plans for Jacque. I had no idea she had met with my family until my parents wrote me about her visit and mentioned how much they liked her. From another letter Jacque wrote my parents a year later, it became evident that Jacque had been keeping an eye on me since she mentioned seeing me at a conference.

The next summer I was transferred to Margate, a seaside resort town on the northeast corner of Kent where the Thames opens into the English Channel. My companion, Elder Bunker, was more like Elder Bradley when it came to rules, with the exception that his thing was mice instead of girls. He raised mice to dissect them.

One evening Elder Bunker and I were at a picnic hosted by the local members when it began to rain. In England people say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change.” Someone raised a large plastic tarp, and we all climbed underneath to wait the obligatory ten minutes for the rain to stop. While under the tarp, Sister Kartchner, a beautiful wife of an American Church member, put her arm around me in some kind of embrace. She was about twice my age, but suddenly, those 19-year-old suppressed hormones hit me like a tidal wave and I did not know what to think, let alone what to do. I immediately became aware that she was very attractive. Nothing was said, and nothing else happened under the tarp, but the feeling remained with me. She asked us to stop by her home whenever we were in the area, and we did stop by several times. A couple of those times we found her sunbathing in her back yard wearing a two-piece bathing suit showing off a very nice figure.

She and I spent just enough time together to sense that we were attracted to each other. As a naive young man it was very difficult for me to deal with all these emotions. I was unprepared for being attracted to an older woman. A woman twice my age showing a romantic interest in me gave me validity I had never known. She was older, much more mature, and yet she was interested in me. I felt like a man for the first time in my life, rather than a boy waiting for something that would graduate me into manhood. It was a huge boost to my self-image, which only compounded my attraction to her. I wanted her affection. I wanted to hold her, kiss her, and feel her body next to mine. I thought of running my hands up and down her legs and cupping her breasts in my hands. I knew she wanted the same thing from me, but I was also aware of the missionary rules and I thought of the heartache that being sent home in disgrace would bring to my family and me if we developed an intimate relationship. Thoughts of Elder Bradley also helped me control those emotions. I was able to avoid a scandal involving the beautiful Sister Kartchner, but I still remember the impact of the strong emotions I felt when I was with her.

V-J Day Celebration in Salt Lake City, August 14, 1945


V-J Day Celebration on Salt Lake City’s Main Street

August 14, 1945

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A large number of people gathered together on Salt Lake City’s Main Street the day Japan surrendered, bringing an end to World War II. Everyone had been impacted severely by the war. Most people in the picture had lost loved ones and/or friends in the war, and many of the men had served in the war and experienced the horrors of war first hand. People in the United States were justifiably in fear of being conquered by the Axis powers of Japan or Germany and they themselves, or people they loved, would then be subjected to the war’s atrocities. Fear had come to an end that day and hope was on the horizon.

Most of the people celebrating on Main Street that day were young people. The young men still serving overseas would be coming home, and the young people who were married were looking forward to buying a home and starting a family. Those young people not married were looking for partners with whom they could finally live with on a permanent basis and begin lives together. The lives of young people were to change much more than the lives of their parents, and also, it is young people who want to be part of such a large party.

The photograph shows a large number of people standing as close together as people on a rush hour subway train, and the people covered the entire street including the sidewalks. The cars parked on the street are hardly visible behind the hoards of happy people.

What I knew as the Tribune Building on the east side of Main Street between First and Second South is named the “Tribune Telegram Building,” indicating that telephone technology had not penetrated every household and telegrams were a common way of communicating.   I can see the Studio movie theater just down the street showing “The Picture of Dorian Gray” which was produced by in 1945 by Albert Lewin.

The streetlights are not what they are today. They are taller and much more decorative in the photo rather than merely sterile functional sources or light as they are today. It is clear that curved glass was not available in automobiles since there was a vertical bar separating the two flat sides of the front windshield. Curved glass in automobiles did not happen until the 1953 models.

Instead of a digital display showing the temperature, there is a large round thermometer showing the temperature. Only the bottom of the thermometer is visible, but since the numbers go from 30, then 20 on the left side, and then to 110 on the right side, it is very likely those are numbers representing the temperature from -30 to +110 degrees.

The appearance of the people is just like what is seen in old movies. Many of the men are wearing hats, and the women have long curly hair with overly painted bright red lips that were common in old 1940s movies.

The woman in the center at the bottom of the photo is very prominently displaying teeth that indicate orthodontia has come a long way since then. The man next to her is a little heavy, but everyone else seems to be thin. The general population today would have more heavy people.

Women are all wearing dresses, whereas today, young women would be wearing shorts and tee shirts or halter-tops. After all, this was a hot August day. If my mother had been in the crowd, she would have been wearing maternity clothes since she was 8 ½ months pregnant with me. We can’t see the women’s legs, but if we could, I am sure we would not see any nylon stockings with seams up the back. Nylon replaced silk for women’s stockings in 1940 because it was more durable and could stretch.  Nylon was used heavily in war products like parachutes and ropes and  was not available for stockings after the U.S. entered the war.   You may see women who had painted lines up the backs of her legs to appear to be wearing nylon stockings. If a woman could find a pair of nylons on the black market, they would cost about $20 a pair. After the war, Dupont shifted the use of  nylon from parachutes and other war products to stockings.

Men do not look too much different today except for shorter hair and the hats. Some of the men are wearing uniforms indicating they are home on leave or stationed at Fort Douglas.

This day marked the end of World War II and the dawn of a new era of hope for our country.

Something Funny

Something Funny

I must have a strange sense of humor, because so often people say things they think are funny and I don’t laugh. There are also things I find funny that were not intended to be funny. I very laugh during in the typical TV sitcom. I don’t like canned laughs in response to lines that are not funny. I feel manipulated, like the producers are trying to make a line funny that is not funny by following it with a laugh track. If I do try to watch a sitcom until the first commercial, I will find another channel.

I don’t get the English sense of humor. English movies are seldom funny and they all have weird endings. I went to a movie in London back in the early 60s staring an English comedian named Norman Wisdom. It is the only movie I have ever walked out of, because the attempt at humor was too nauseating. Humor must have something to do with our cultural heritage. My anal retentive stepdad was seldom funny, but he liked puns, so even though I try not to be like my stepdad, I like to make puns, which some say is the lowest form of humor. I am constantly trying to make puns out of what people say. Only about one out of ten attempts are worth anything more than a groan. Maybe I just have a poorly developed sense of humor.

My sense of humor reminds of Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” who repeated, “In Hartford, Harrisford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.” The only time she made the “H” sound was in front of the work “ever” where it does not belong. I am so out of step when it comes to what I think is funny.

I was going through the list of 22 humor prompts looking for ideas for something funny to write. I am at a disadvantage because I am of the wrong sex for most of the prompts on that list. I don’t have nip slips, I don’t carry a bag, I don’t wear yoga pants, and I don’t keep up with the Kardashians.

I scanned each option carefully. The one about women and their pants had promise, and I wrote a great 3-page response, including a photograph, but since it was about women wearing yoga pants, the piece went directly into the gutter and I had to abandon it. I just cannot write respectable humor about women in yoga pants. I established two criteria, the prompt had to be about something I thought was funny, and it could not descend into bad taste. These two criteria severely limited my options.

I found two possible prompts. “Funniest thing that has ever happened to you on a job.” and “Giving birth saga.”

The funniest thing that ever happened to me on a job was when I began my first sales position. I had previously worked for large stable companies; General Electric and Boeing, but BMC Computer Services was a small company that was run altogether differently.

They had an office in Houston and one in Denver staffed by Sam Love with his wife Debbie as his secretary. Sam was in Denver because he had a geographical non-compete agreement with the company he previously worked for in Houston. Sam and Debbie had offices in an executive suite where numerous small businesses rented individual offices, but shared conference rooms, receptionists, and telephone answering services. A direct competitor to Sam had an office across the hall from Debbie and Sam had reason to suspect that the competitor was stealing resumes from Debbie’s desk. He had reported the problem to the police and they suggested a sting operation where Sam placed the fictitious resume of an ideal candidate on Debbie’s desk. Sam previously considered something similar and used the name Ima T. Case (for I ‘m a test case). This time the resume was for a male so he changes the name to Ira T. Case. Ira’s phone number was Sam’s home phone number.

The competitor took the bait and Sam got a call at home for Ira Case and Sam, acting as Ira, agreed to interview with his client. This was a few days after I had given my two-week notice to GE. The competitor knew Sam, so Sam asked me to play the part of Ira Case. Ira had worked for companies that I had never worked for using software that I had never worked with. I went with a tape recorder hidden in a briefcase, to the interview with the competitor’s client as Ira Case.

Of all the possible companies to be Ira’s employer, Sam would have to pick a company that the client had worked for. He asked me if I knew specific individuals at that company, and of course I knew none of them, but I said yes to some and no to others. I left the interview with his explanation as to how he got my name on my recorder, so I my part was over. A few days latter, however, Sam took me to a meeting of the Data Processing Management Association, and when we walked in, the first people we met were Sam’s competitor and his client. The came up to me and said, “Hello Ira!” but my real name was on my nametag. I tried to bluff my way through it and they said I sure looked like a guy named Ira, but I knew was busted. It all came out when I had to testify in court against the competitor who no longer had his office across the hall from Debbie.

Sam was a fun loving guy who liked to drink and a bar was his favorite place to meet someone. Debbie was accustomed to after-work meetings, but my wife Nancy was not. A few days after I began working for Sam, he wanted me to meet a man at a bar in downtown Denver after working hours. As drinking goes, the time passed and it was later than I had told Nancy I would be, so I excused myself to use the telephone located just outside the restroom to call Nancy. While I was on a chair against the wall talking to Nancy, a young lady walked by on her way to the restroom and made a comment about my long legs that she had to step over. Nancy heard a woman’s flirtatious voice referring to a part of my body and thought the worst. When I got home every personal item I owned was on the driveway. It was such a bizarre scene that all I could do was laugh. I left my car in front of the house, moved all my stuff into the garage and went in house to tell Nancy how innocent the evening actually was. I don’t know what perturbed Nancy more; that I was in a bar with another woman, or that I was out having fun while she was home rather than the other way around.

 

Giving Birth Saga

Of course I have never given birth myself, but I had a friend from high school had a great giving birth saga. He and his wife were expecting a baby back in the days before ultrasounds and the expected birthing day was approaching. It was in the middle of the night when his wife woke him. She was in labor. This was their first child and although they had tried to prepare for this day, he was extremely nervous trying to get everything together and get her into the car. The labor was progressing rapidly and the intervals between pains were getting shorter. He got himself dressed, fumbled around looking for his glasses, found some things to put into a small suitcase for her, and by the time he got everything together, there was a baby crying on the bed. Now he was really going nuts. He put the baby on his wife’s stomach and carried them both out of the house and put them in the back seat of the car. He got into the driver’s seat, but he had to go back into the house for his keys.   In his crazy state, it took him a little time to find his keys, and when he went back to the car, there was another baby on the back seat. His wife has given birth to twins.

He went back into the house, and trying to be calm, called to get instructions as what to do and finally he got his wife and babies to the hospital. Mother and daughters were fine, but the irony of the situation, he said later, was that he still had to pay for the use of the delivery room.

We Are What We Wear

 

We Are What We Wear

It all began with Adam and Eve. Once Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, they entered a state of mortality where they would someday begin to show signs of aging and their once perfect bodies would begin to sag. Knowing this, God told them that being naked was not good, and he gave them fig leaves to wear. As the aging process progressed and skin began to sag, people began to cover more than the original fig leaves covered, and eventually people were wearing robes covering their entire bodies. Methuselah lived to be over 900 years old. He must have had some serious sagging by that age. It makes me wonder: If we all had perfect bodies, would we wear clothes?

There are a few people who look good without clothes, but the majority of us have body parts we are at least a little self-conscious of, and we want to cover up. If you have ever been to a place where clothing is not required, or even discouraged, such as a nude beach, you quickly realize that laws requiring clothing are not enacted to protect the individual in question, but to protect the other people who would have to look at that person. Some things you see there are disgusting. No one wants to admit they have imperfections. Those of us who either have nothing to hide or don’t care what people are forced to look at are in the minority. The majority rules and society has adopted customs that require we all wear clothing of some sort.

In defense of clothing, I must say that clothing offers protection and warmth when needed. People are not covered with fur and need protection from the wind, cold temperatures, and from prickly vegetation when walking through forests, so it is not all about image.

In addition to protection, our clothing represents who we are. I want to dress as other people expect me to dress given my position, age and location. I just came from a Hawaiian resort hotel where all I needed to wear was a pair of swimming trunks, but if I walked to a nearby mall, I would need to put on at least sandals and a shirt, but I would still look out of place in a business suit. I would look like I was interviewing for a job. When I returned home and the temperature was much colder, I would need to wear more that a T-shirt and sandals.

Wars have been fought throughout history and up until recently, the uniforms soldiers wore identified opposing sides. A soldier knew who the enemy was by his uniform. Now, our country is fighting a war against Islamic separatists who do not identify themselves by what they wear. They wear the same clothing as all the other Islamic people, so we have no choice but to associate all Islamic people with the separatists. Their clothing is all we have to go by to identify the enemy. Some Islamic people have gone so far as to wear a sign that says, “We are Muslims, but we are not terrorists.” That does not mean much since terrorists operate in deception and wearing such a sign may be more reason to suspect a person is a terrorist.

When I was in junior high and high school, what you wore was extremely important. There were greasers, betas or nerds. If you were a greaser, you wore dirty jeans low on your hips, a black or white T-shirt and, if a coat was needed, a black leather motorcycle jacket and motorcycle boots. It told everyone you were rebellious, you did not do what your teachers wanted you to, or what anyone wanted you to do for that matter and you were tough and always ready for a fight.   You wore your hair long enough to reach your collar, and you used greasy gels to keep it in place.

If you were a beta, (the word comes from college boys who belonged to fraternities) you spent a lot on your clothes to be sure you were wearing the latest fashion. A Gant shirt with a “leech tag” (little hook on the back) was very popular. You did not wear jeans, but chinos, and since you were well enough off to afford the latest fashion, you had enough connections and followers that you intimidated the greasers. They left you alone. Good looks were a requirement and you did well in school since image was everything and that motivated you to study hard. The teachers liked you and gave you special help when needed.

It was the nerds in the middle that were in trouble. They wore what their parents bought, which was usually clothes from J.C. Penney’s. They were easy prey for the greasers to beat up on them. They tried to be as invisible as possible when walking the halls to avoid being noticed by either the greasers or the betas for that matter. They worked hard to do well in school since that was all they could do to feel successful. It was hard to find a place where they were accepted, so they either joined the school orchestra or the science club, or some other club that attracted others like themselves.

We often can’t choose our friends. I lived in a neighborhood where most of the boys my age were nerds, and I wanted to fit in with them, so I tended to become a nerd. I tried to bump myself up to beta status with Gant shirts, but without peer support, I just could not make it, so greasers beat me up on several occasions. It did not help that I played the trumpet in the school band. Eventually I changed to playing the sousaphone, which belonged to the school and was too large to take home, so I would not be seen carrying my trumpet back and forth to school.

I was very happy to get out of the class-oriented society of high school and enter college, where the students just did not care what people wore. College students were there only because they wanted to be there. The greasers got jobs as auto mechanics or construction workers, the betas joined fraternities, and I lived at home while attending a home town University. There were minimal standards I had to follow, but I was never beat up because of what I wore. There were no attire based class distinctions in college.

Our own self-image is affected by what we wear. The right clothing can be an affirmation of our abilities, our drive to succeed, and our confidence that we can achieve aggressive goals. In the right clothes we are not ordinary, we are extraordinary. Marilyn Monroe said: “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” The right clothing can give us confidence and a sense of power from knowing that people respect us or are even intimidated by us.

Once I got out of college and in the professional arena, clothing again became important. I was a professional and I had to dress like one. I had to wear a suit, white shirt, tie, and nice leather dress shoes. I could take my suit coat off and hang it up while I was working in my office, but if I had to attend a meeting with upper management, I had to wear the suit coat. It became a habit and I was comfortable wearing suits. It was about that time that a monumental change occurred. Women were allowed to wear pants in the work place. It took some adjustments since some women abused the privilege and came to work in shabby jeans that were not acceptable. My attractive sister in law worked for an electrical supply company and one of the customers commented about the jeans she was wearing. She replied, “If you had legs like mine, maybe you could.” She did have great legs, and her jeans were not shabby.

In 1978, my employer, Boeing, won a contract from the Army corps of Engineers for remote processing time on their large multimillion-dollar computer systems Boeing used to design airplanes. I was sent by Boeing to train a group of Army corps of Engineers programmers working in New Orleans, Louisiana, on use of Boeing’s computer system. My job was to work with the programmers on a daily basis for a couple of months and help them understand the peculiarities of the computer system and assist them in converting their applications over to Boeing’s computers.

The first day I was dressed as usual in a suit and tie, but I noticed no one else was wearing a suit. It was hot in New Orleans in August, so the second day I left my suit coat at the hotel room, but I wore my tie. It seemed like the programmers were not comfortable with me. I was not relating to them the way I expected. I did not understand it. I usually got along well with my coworkers.

I was reviewing my progress with their manager and I mentioned that and was having trouble getting to know the programmers. He said, “Look around you; I am wearing a tie, and none of the programmers are wearing ties. Here only managers wear ties. You are wearing a tie, so you are not one of them, but a manager. The third day I left my tie at the hotel and it made a big difference. I got along a whole lot better with the programmers. We were able to joke about the tie thing, and they began to ask me personal questions about my background and who I was. This was the Deep South, so what they really wanted to know about me was if I was a Yankee. Evidently being a Yankee is much worse than being a manager. I had never thought about whether or not I was a Yankee, but I told them that my ancestors were run out of the northern states by the Yankees and settled in Mexico. Utah was part of Mexico then. That must have been good enough evidence that I was not a Yankee, and I got along fine with them after that. I never mentioned that the New York Yankees was my favorite baseball team. I increased Boeing’s billing by about $30,000/month at that one location thanks to not wearing a tie.

When I got back to my home office, I put the suit and tie back on, but it was a time when things were beginning to change. More and more programmers were dressing more casually, but I was a holdout. I eventually moved from programming into sales where I met mostly with upper management, so I continued wearing the suits and ties. Some of the programmers I hired came to work in shorts and T-shirts. One of my programmers who were working on an assignment with AT&T said one of the male AT&T programmers wore women’s clothing to work.

The 1987 movie “The Secret of My Success” referred to upper management as “suits,” meaning only upper management wore suits. In 1995 I went to Nova Scotia to attend a wedding. My good friend’s son was to marry the daughter of the CEO of AT&T Canada. He was giving a speech and made the comment, “Back when we used to wear suits to work…” This helped me to understand times are changing all the way up the corporate ladder and strict dress codes are becoming a thing of the past.

For a long time I thought a suit and tie was the lowest common denominator in business. It is not that way anymore. Now I look at a suit as a “kiss ass outfit” worn by people who are trying to “kiss ass” their way into someone else’s good graces. I do occasional work for the Utah Senate and they still require coats and ties in the Senate chambers. I wonder how long that will continue. They are all politicians and kissing asses is how they operate most of the time.

Since I am retired, if I am not going to church, or visiting the Senate chambers, temperature, comfort and modesty rule what I wear. I have an extensive wardrobe in the basement that I have not worn for years. Some day I may clear it all out and give it away to charity. I hate kissing asses.

 

Life With My Father

October 2, 2015

My mother and father loved to sing.   He began singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a teenager and continued singing with the choir as long as he lived in Salt Lake City. He sang solos and in quartets while he was on his mission and in the army. My mother also joined the choir, and they continued singing in the choir together until my father quit the choir when he was asked to serve in the Bishopric at 27 years old. He continued singing for the church as a soloist on a weekly Sunday evening radio program, and he was in demand for operas and musical production. He and my mother often sang duets at church services, weddings, funerals, and other occasions. He was on the staff of Larkin Mortuary as a vocalist for funerals. Funerals were usually held at lunchtime, and there was a place behind the organ in the Larkin chapel where he could sit unobserved and eat his lunch during the service when he was not singing. I was able to attend an opera, Don Giovani, in which my father had a leading role. His character was killed in a duel and when it happened, I yelled out loud, “They killed my daddy!” I did not get to go to any more operas. I thought it was unfair because after I blew a referee’s whistle in Stake Conference, I still had to attend Stake Conference.

In addition to operas and bishopric meetings, he played basketball, so he was not home very often. When he was home, though, he gave me a lot of attention. He was tall, 6 feet 4 inches, and I remember him sitting with one ankle resting on his other knee and I would crawl up through the hole made by his long leg. We would play catch in the cornfield behind our house, and at night, he would lie next to me in bed and tell me bedtime stories he made up as he went.

Professionally, my father managed an appliance/TV/hifi store owned by Ken Rogerson, a friend of his from the Tabernacle Choir. We had one of the first television sets among my parents’ friends, and people would come to our home just to watch the new television set. Initially programs were only aired one station in evenings and on Saturdays, on Channel 4 at first. Then a second channel, 5 was added. I remember watching Queen Elizabeth when she became Queen in February of 1952 on that small 17-inch screen, but I especially loved Saturday morning cartoons. Eventually daytime programs were aired, and I can remember those really boring soap operas. Another benefit of Rogerson’s was the records. Our TV was housed in a mahogany cabinet with a hifi, radio, and record player. Long Playing records were a new thing and my father brought home several. My favorite was one with a story called “Land of the Lost” about a couple of kids who fell off a boat and were led by a fish called Red Lantern on an underwater tour of the place at the bottom of the sea where everything lost on earth found its way. Red Lantern said that if it were not for lost pins and needles going there, people would be sitting on pins and needles instead. That may have been the beginning of my love of puns. The flip side of the record was a story about a circus bear called Bongo who had issues with his love life.

In 1950, my father was offered the position of Managing Director of the Intermountain Electrical Association, a professional association for appliance dealers. It was a prestigious position with a private office and secretary in an adjoining office in a downtown Salt Lake office building. He frequently had to travel to other cities in Utah and surrounding states, so we saw even less of him.

The family spent a lot of time with him in 1951, the summer before my 6th birthday, when we drove to New Orleans where he attended a convention. He decided to take three weeks and drive with the family to and from the convention. He thought it would be a great opportunity for the family to travel throughout the Midwest and South and see a large part of our country. “The family” included both his mother Beatrice who we called Nana, and Mom’s mother Isabelle Morrow, who we called Muzz. The six of us, Mom, Dad, my sister LuRae, Muzz, Nana and I, spent three weeks going to New Orleans and back in our ’47 4-door Chevy. I sat on a suitcase in the front seat between my mother and father. LuRae sat in the back seat between the two grandmothers. We traveled south through Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and on to New Orleans. I remember seeing a lot of desert, Indian dwellings, barns, silos, and windmills. We made a big deal out of entering a new state, and we usually stopped and took pictures of us standing by the signs that indicated we were entering another state.

There were no Interstate Freeways then and most roads were just 2-lane highways. Traveling took more time than on today’s freeways since cars had to slow down for each city. Cities were usually about 20 miles apart since that was about the distance people traveled in a day when the cities were established, before automobiles.

With three fussy women, we went through a tedious process to find an acceptable motel every evening. We would first look for a AAA rating and then we would stop and ask for a key to look at the rooms. They would check out the beds for the proper firmness and cleanliness, look behind the furniture for mouse droppings, and check out the bathrooms for cleanliness. Usually we would check out 2-3 motels before one was acceptable.

Our meals were interesting, too. We looked for clean and decent cafes, but not too expensive. I remember one restaurant in Texas where we ordered chicken, but the adults knew what chicken bones looked like and those were NOT chicken bones. They figured they were some kind of raccoon or something.

We did not have car stereos then or even radio stations most of the time. We sang songs and played games to pass the time. My father would impress us by telling us when the traffic lights were going to change by looking at the yellow light in the other direction. We just thought he was psychic or something.

One night in Louisiana, we had to settle on a motel that was not AAA rated. We just had no other choice. The motel employees brought in a roll-a-way bed for me, and in the morning, I was covered in bed bug bites. That was the consequence of a non-AAA rated motel. My dad would often say to me at night, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” I wondered how I could have kept the bed bugs from biting me that night. While my father was busy at the convention, the rest of us toured New Orleans. I was particularly impressed with sea shells stored in huge piles that were to be used instead of gravel on the streets.

On the way home, we went up North through Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois to visit church history sites. We saw the Liberty Jail where Joseph Smith was confined, the Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith was killed, the Kirkland Temple, Nauvoo, and Adam-ondi-Ahman in Daviess County, Missouri where the LDS Church teaches Adam and Eve lived after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden.

With this new job and their two children, my parents could afford a much-needed larger home. In May of 1952, we moved to a new home in East Millcreek. In addition to the travel, he and my mother were busy decorating and finishing their new home. Actually, we were all working on the new home­­—Father, Mother, Muzz, my sister LuRae, my grandfather George, and even me. My grandfather taught me to install doorknobs, and I installed all the knobs in the house. I began helping my grandfather with carpentry work when he remodeled our old house on Highland Drive several years earlier.

That summer we worked on the yard planting grass, flowers, and shrubs. My father made a platform out of wood to drag across the dirt to smooth out the ground for the grass. The idea was to weight it down with rocks, but I had fun being the rocks. I enjoyed riding on it while my father dragged it.

We had a large swing at our Highland Drive house that was made from 3 pipes. Two 6-inch vertical pipes connected at the top by a 3-inch horizontal pipe. For stability, the pipes were cemented in the ground somewhere between 4 and 6 feet deep. My sister LuRae and I enjoyed that swing and my dad wanted to take it with us, so he dug it up and chained it to the back of a borrowed truck and dragged it, with the cement still attached to the bottoms of the posts, along Highland Drive to 33rd South and then East on 33rd South to 26th East. I recall that roads in those days were not smooth asphalt as they are today, but more like gravel and dirt, so I guess he got away with it. My mother said she could hear him dragging the swing up 33rd South. He installed the swing in the backyard of our new home where it still is today.

We were living a dream. My parents were in love and living in harmony with their strong religious ideals with two healthy children and a brand new home in a prime area. He had an executive position and they were in high demand for their musical talents, but dreams don’t last. (To be continued)

 

Julie’s Wedding

Julie’s Wedding

My daughter Julie was 30 years old and had been going with Ryan off and on since high school. Julie is a very sensitive and caring child, the third of my four children. Julie met Ryan at the Waterford School in Sandy, and she attended college in New York City at the prestigious Parson’s School of Art and Design, earning a degree in fashion photography. Julie’s success, however, was in selling health insurance, not photography. Julie was good at selling insurance and quickly moved into a management position where she taught and managed a staff of sales people, including her younger brother Michael whom she lured to New York from Salt Lake after he graduated from the University of Utah in business.

The Affordable Care Act and other regulations affecting health insurance had a severely negative impact on her health insurance business, but her residual income was enough that she could get by without working. She moved back home to Salt Lake where her romance with Ryan was reignited, and now they were planning their wedding.
Nancy, my ex-wife and Julie’s mother, wanted Julie to have the best wedding possible. Nancy considered several venues for a reception and chose the new Waldorf Astoria Hotel at The Canyons Resort near Park City. Nancy also hired a professional wedding planner to handle the color scheme, invitations, and all the details that went with an impressive, opulent wedding.

Although Julie had lived in New York City for over ten years, she still had a lot of friends in Utah that would be included in the list for invitations, and of course, all those whom Nancy wanted to impress. Who was NOT invited was significant–Nancy’s two sisters, their families, and me or anyone from my side of the family. No one who knew me or my sisters or their families was invited for fear that I would find about the wedding and show up uninvited.

The wedding plans were going well until Julie received my text message saying I knew she was getting married and when and where she was getting married. I wanted to attend my daughter’s wedding. I wanted to walk her down the aisle and give her away as all fathers want, but I did not want to just show up uninvited. Nancy had prevented me from attending my oldest daughter Amy’s wedding and I did not want her to keep me from Julie’s wedding, as well. Julie replied to the text message with, “I cannot have you there. It would cause big feelings for certain people. Today is my wedding day, and I want all the attention focused on me.” I interpreted this reply to mean that Julie did not want Nancy to “freak out” when I showed up at her wedding.

I knew Ryan’s father, so I called him and asked him what he thought about my attending Julie and Ryan’s wedding. Ryan’s father was firm in saying that it would be a really bad idea. It was then obvious to me that the issue had been discussed extensively for Ryan’s father to have strong feelings about it.

Also obvious was the fact that Julie told her mother about the text message. For Nancy, the situation became critical. How were they going to stop me from attending Julie’s wedding? Everything was in place. It was too late to change the time or location. Someone had to talk to me, but who? Nancy could not speak to me. Julie was too emotional about the issue. It was hard enough for her just to answer my text message. I don’t believe Julie wanted to exclude me. She was afraid of what Nancy would do if she told me I could come.

Amy came from Chicago to help with the wedding plans. She and Nancy formulated a plan to respond to my text message in a way that would further hurt and humiliate me. I was active in the LDS Church and Amy suggested that she speak to my Bishop and convince him to talk to me.

Amy called Bishop Whipperman and tried to convince him how it would ruin Julie’s wedding if I were to attend. Amy could not explain to the Bishop all the problems between Nancy and me because she did not know them. All she knew was the fabricated cover story Nancy used to convince Amy she should never speak to me again. I had not spoken to Amy since her mother divorced me 12 years ago, and therefore, I could not refute what she had been told. Amy also told the bishop that they could not count on my respecting this warning, so they were going to hire armed guards to keep me out of the wedding. Getting my bishop involved and discrediting me was the humiliation part and having my daughter Amy involved was the hurtful part.

It was just a few days before the wedding when Bishop Whipperman called to arrange a meeting with my wife and me at our home. Bishop Whipperman had known me for about 11 years and he knew my character. He also had been Nancy’s bishop and knew her character, so the humiliation part backfired on Nancy. It must have been uncomfortable for him to be put in the middle of a situation that did not concern him. He told us a little of Nancy’s cover story about me that he had heard from Amy and warned us of the extent of Nancy’s determination to keep me from causing a scene at my daughter’s wedding by showing up. Nancy created a false image of me as a person so terrible that it would be in the best interest of everyone concerned if I did not attend my daughter’s wedding. I am not that kind of person, but it was not about anything I did.

Nancy’s need to keep me from my children was a result of an intricate web of lies she had told about me in order to take total control of our computer consulting company and to alienate my children from me.

I started a computer consulting company in 1985 that grew and became so successful that by 1990, when Nancy was fired from her job as an administrator of a law firm for having an affair with the managing senior partner, Nancy saw it as a better source of her income that any other options she had. Nancy had worked most of her life, not so much that she needed the income, but she felt strongly that she needed to be in control of her own destiny. She never trusted anyone, especially men, and she needed to insure her independence from me by having her own income. Our relationship had always been a competition rather than a partnership. Nancy could not relate well with anyone unless she had complete control, and so she could not work with me in the company without taking control.

I thought I could use her help in the company, but she immediately began making plans to take control of the company. At first I thought I could deal with her aggressiveness, but as she began to replace good people in the company who were loyal to me with less qualified people who were loyal to her, I became increasingly frustrated and angry, which led to the demise of my marriage. Nancy used our divorce to finally get total control of the company. Nancy really did not want to divorce me, but she saw it as a legal tool in taking total control of the company.
After the divorce, Nancy called me daily in an effort to maintain control over me. She was sure I would remain under her control since she now had control of the income, and then we could get remarried on her terms. I spoiled her plans when seven months after she divorced me, I met Janeen. Nancy was devastated that I was interested in someone else. She may have lost her ex-husband and would be permanently a divorcee, which did not fit into her plans. Nancy began stalking Janeen. She even called Janeen’s son’s employer in an effort to get him fired.
When I married Janeen, Nancy threatened me saying, “Don’t ever contact your children again. You have a new family now, and I’ll make sure you know nothing about your children—not births, baptisms, marriages, etc. You will know nothing about your family.” She had lost control of me, and so she had to do everything in her power to guarantee that I remained estranged from my children. She utilizes every diabolical method possible to perpetuate the estrangement so my children will never know the truth. Some of the most repugnant examples are: She insisted she took control of the company because I was lazy and incompetent, not because she wanted the entire company for herself. She forced a termination of communication with her sisters, my sisters, and anyone else who may be able to tell my children the truth. She had to, or the truth may come out.

This sounds preposterous, but Nancy’s relation with her sisters, Judy and Sherry, is a window into Nancy’s mind and substantiates this theory. As the company continued to grow, Nancy hired her sisters, Judy and Sherry, to help her manage the company. They had both worked for the company for many years and they knew how Nancy had taken control of the company from me. Not long after the divorce, Sherry had a daughter Jodi who was the same age as Julie, and they had been very close their entire life. Jodi was getting married, but Nancy would not let Julie attend Jodi’s wedding. Nancy told Julie that Sherry was suing Nancy, so Julie could have no contact with Jodi or anyone else in Sherry’s family. A simple check of public records confirmed that there was no such suit.

I do not believe that my children do not want a relationship with me, but that they choose rather to keep the peace with their mother. They know her well enough to know that she will stop at nothing to enforce her obsession with control. She lost control of me when I married Janeen, and she is still doing everything she can to punish me. This is partly because of her anger, and partly as an example of what will happen to her children if they cross her.

What is unfortunate is that because of Nancy’s personality disorder, she is hurting her children and grandchildren by denying them a relationship with a father and grandfather who loves each of them. All Janeen’s children and grandchildren love me and love to spend time with me. I hope the door will open so I can share that same love with my own children and grandchildren. Who doesn’t need one more person’s love?