Our little dead end street of 9th west was just a little happy sometimes dysfunctional family. When holidays came around we would celebrate together. On Halloween Mother would help us with our costumes and the kids would go trick or treating en-mass. Roaming over many blocks mostly in our ward boundaries. We soon learned what houses gave out the best treats and which houses would require us to do some kind of trick to get our treat. I would try to avoid those houses but sometimes I would forget and if required my standard trick was to sing “Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam” or “Give Said The Little Stream”. Then we would come home and dump it all out and separate out the “good” stuff from the old apples and crumbly cookies. We didn’t worry about tainted treats. Many houses gave out home made treats and most of the time these were some of the best.
Once Halloween was over then we looked forward to Thanksgiving. The Cox families would plan Thanksgiving dinner together. Because my Dad was the Bishop we would get some of the banquet tables and some folding chairs from the church and set them up in Aunt Wanda’s living room. The food would be assigned and on Thanksgiving day we would gather at Uncle Reid and Aunt Wanda’s. Sometimes Uncle Morris’ Father and Mother would join us and sometimes Aunt Wanda’s relatives would come. Mother made the best bread,( actually Mother made the best of everything) Aunt Wanda’s pies always had burned crusts and Aunt Mary made really good candied yams, Aunt Mima made good mincemeat pies, (the only time I liked mince meat). The kid’s were put to work making placemarks and turkeys out of gumdrops, marshmallows, and toothpicks. Then we would argue about where everyone would sit. It was always something to look forward to be allowed to sit at the grownups table. It is interesting to realize how your tastes change as you grow older. I remember not liking the taste of real butter, which was a treat for some. Mother always encouraged us to try everything. I guess there were some things I would refuse to eat but not much.
When I was about nine, Dad started to build a house across the street from where we lived. It took him about two years to finish. He and Uncle Reid did most of the carpentry work and the electrical wiring. One Thanksgiving after the walls were up and the roof on, we set up the tables in our new house. I remember that as a very different dinner. The weather was warm that year but it was not as comfortable as Aunt Wanda’s. But we were having dinner at our house for once. Once or twice our family journeyed to Pocatello, Idaho to have Thanksgiving with Mothers family.
As I look back on those years I remember them with fondness. I also think there were times when my Mother must have felt like an outsider. She spent her whole life surrounded by Cox relatives. She wrote letters to her Mother and she had a circle of friends from Pocatello that she kept in touch with for the rest of her life. But for the most part she was pretty isolated from her family and friends.
As early as I can remember my Dad worked for the Power Company. He drove a company car or Truck. One of his jobs was going around to the ranches and farms around Cedar City to read the meters to determine how much electricity they had used. In the summer it was not uncommon for him to come home and ask who wanted to go with him to read meters. He would only take one or two at a time. So we all got a chance. I loved to go with him. He would talk to us and listen to us. We would wait in the car as he did his work. Sometimes he would greet the ranchers and introduce us. My Dad knew everyone. I loved it when we went to the Iron Ore Mine. He would let us get out of the truck and look for interesting rocks. You could find ore with beautiful crystals growing on the rock. The mine also had huge earth moving equipment and trucks. Often he would have to go to St. George or Hurricane, these trips of course would take longer and if we got to go they would usually involve an ice cream cone or some other kind of treat.
In the spring we looked forward to Dads trips to Hurricane because he would often come home with a big mess of asparagus. Mother would prepare it with butter and hard cooked eggs and lemon juice. Yum Yum. In the summer Dad would get up early and go fishing and be home in time to go to work. When we woke up there would be a sink full of trout all cleaned and ready for Mom to fillet and either freeze or prepare for supper or lunch. Mother would remove the bones and lay the fish out flat and cook it under the broiler. I have never had trout prepared any other way that could rival my Mothers. We all loved it except my sister Kathryn. I have never understood why she did not like fish. To this day she avoids all kinds of fish.
My Dad loved car trips. He would show up in the middle of the day and say who wants to go to Dixie, or up the canyon or let’s go to Zion. I was always ready to go.
Just after school started when I was in the 8th grade the Scouts and the Beehives from our Stake hiked the Zion Canyon Narrows. We left Cedar early in the morning, my Mother made us a big breakfast. On the way up the canyon I was in the back seat and I got car sick. We had to stop the car so I could relieve myself of breakfast. So the morning didn’t start off real great for me.
In order to get to the head of the trail you have to travel up to the top of Cedar Mountain and drive around Navajo Lake and down into the canyon to the head of the Virgin River. Then hike quite a bit to get to the river. At that point the river was shallow and very rocky. We hiked a long way before we had to get in the water.
The majority of the hike is in the water and as you travel down the canyon the river gets deeper and the dry land disappears as the walls of the canyon get steeper and more narrow. My Dad and my Brother Doug were part of the group. We picked up sturdy sticks to use as aids to help keep our balance in the river and on the slippery rocks.
My Dad was the Bishop and we really laughed when he slipped and fell down and got back up so fast that he didn’t even get wet. The water was cold but after being in it awhile you didn’t notice the cold. As we got deeper into the canyon the walls got higher and the river bed more narrow. There was water wall to wall. I could not help but remember the stories of other groups that were caught in these canyons by sudden summer rain storms up on the mountain. The river could become a raging torrent in a matter of hours. These groups were caught deep in the canyon with no way to get out. I remember hearing talk about being very careful to watch the weather to make sure there would be no rain storms in the mountains.
When we finally reached the end of the canyon Mom was there to met us along with other Mothers to chauffeur us all back to Cedar.
To me this was one of the great adventures of my young life. Partly because there was an element of danger and the other bonus of the trip was being with my Dad on an adventure that he would usually take with my brothers and the Scouts. I got to be a part of his world.
You go from 6th grade feeling like one of the big kids to Jr. High 7th grade and you are again at the bottom of the heap. The teachers I remember the best in Jr. High were Mrs. Frame who taught English. Mrs. Frame’s husband was a barber and he was also the Bishop of our ward when I was young. My Dad was one of his counselors when the ward was divided and Dad was called to be the Bishop. By the time I had her in 9th grade we did not have that connection. I also remember Mr. Hulet the Principle and Mr. Adams, who taught Choir. Mr. Adams was also in our ward and he led the Ward Choir. I was allowed to join the choir even though I was only in Jr. High. I think this is were I gained my love of singing and music. I had tried to play the violin when I was in grade school but I was not ever very good and I realized I did not have what it takes to develop the skills. But I could sing and when you are in a group you can blend in.
Jr. High also exposed me to other students I had not ever met because it was the only Jr. High in town all the kids from town and all the bus students were together. Also in Jr. High we had different classes and teachers for each subject and we could make our own schedules. There were some mandatory classes such as Math, English, Social Studies, History, Science, PE, and then the electives, Art, Music, Band and Orchestra. You had to have so many hours of each class in order to graduate. I tolerated the mandatory classes and lived for the electives. I loved Choir, and then in 8th and 9th grades I loved Home Economics. In 9th grade we could start Seminary and I loved that. For PE we had to get a uniform, it was a one piece blue cotton thing that had snaps down the front and a belt. I was long-waisted so I could never get one that fit very well it was always too tight in the crotch. Every week we had to check in with a clean towel and a clean uniform. We would get demerits if we didn’t comply. Showering in a community shower is lots of fun. We would get checked off as you exited the shower. Everything was figured into your grade. I was mostly a good little soldier.
In Jr. High I made friends with some girls I had never met before. Penny Stapely, Janet Corbridge, Marsh Hunt and Kathy Murray, we became a circle of friends. I think Penny was the Queen bee. But we all had lots of fun together. We would go to the Jr High dances together, movies and we would have parties at each others houses. Penny didn’t live very far from me and I would walk and meet her and we would continue on to school together. We spent many hours on the phone and I considered her my best friend. Those were pretty fun days. Once we graduated into High School I don’t know what happened but we kind of drifted apart. We didn’t have classes together and I guess our interest just didn’t mesh.