Some Thoughts and Memories of Don & Annie Bigelow
(This was scanned into a computer file by Stephen Rawlins in Feb., 1997, from the document: DON AND ANNIE BIGELOW LIFE HISTORY, prepared by their children in 1988.)
Okie Bigelow Heward
We used to say that the meadow lark's song said, "Wallsburg is a pretty little place", and it is. This valley is completely surrounded by mountains. Because of this, it has been a favorable farming area. The temperature is somewhat warmer than other parts of Wasatch County and the growing season is a little bit longer. It has also been a successful dairy community.
Because of the mountains, the valley seems to be shut off from the whole world.The mountains surround it like the protecting arms of someone you love he Indians used to call Wallsburg Round Valley.
In the spring, the hills are covered with wild flowers that are beautiful. I remember seeing a whole hill covered with white lilies. Their fragrance filled the air. It was like a bit of heaven had dropped down to earth for me to enjoy.
Wallsburg is more than a pretty little place in the fall. It is a beautiful place. The mountains turns from green to a beautiful carpet, blended with red yellow and it's green. The mountains there are really natures beautiful garden.
After a while, the beauty changes to a blanket of white. When winter really comes to Wallsburg and the snow covers everything, it gets so cold that ice crystals form. When the sun does shine, these crystals sparkle like diamonds. At night when the telephone wires are covered with ice, you can hear them ring. The crunch of the snow under your feet is something your never forget. This time of year hearts and bodies were warmed by the wood fires that burned in each home. Friends and neighbors warmed your heart because those who lived there, in this small town were mostly good, honest people.
My mother was an angel, if an angel ever lived here on earth. She was the kindest, most understanding, loving and diplomatic person that I have ever known. She gave birth to eleven children and as far as I know, each of her children felt the same way about mother.
We loved mother so much that a look of disapproval was all it took to correct our behavior. I never remember of even being slapped much less getting a whipping. Oh! I remember one time when mother said to me, "I think you need a whipping. You go outside and find a stick that I can whip you with." I remember finding a very short stick but I knew mother would never accept that. I found a stick that was neither too short or too long I took it in the house to mother. By that time, I was so sorry for what I had said or done that mother of course did not use it. I am sure that mother in her great wisdom knew that was just exactly what would happen.
I never remember mother even rasing her voice to us. Our most severe punishment was, she made us stand on a chair. Mother never made us sit in a chair in the corner, no, we stood on a chair, where there was no mistaking that we were being punished. True humiliation and repentance was found while you were standing on a chair. It was bad enough to be found in this predicament by one of the family but if anyone else saw you there, you just wanted to die.
If there is unconditional love in this world, mother gave it to us children I remember loving to sit on the floor, next to mother's chair and feeling her loving, caressing hand stroke my forehead and hair. I remember she taught me about love. I said, "Mother I will never get married because I could never love anyone like I love you." Mother said, "Yes, you will because you will love your husband differently than you love me. You will also have a different love for your children." How very wise my mother was.
Mother showed her love in many ways. She cooked, cleaned and sewed for us. She was an excellent seamstress. She spent hours sewing for us girls. She would let us find a picture of a dress that we like in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. She would then make her own pattern and make the dress. I loved some of those dresses and was so proud to wear them.
Mother was a good cook. One thing that made her such a good cook was we had our own milk, cream, butter and eggs. All of us remember our father saying, "This is surely good. That mother of yours has been in the cream jar again." Mother was well known for her good homemade ice cream.
Sunday dinners were special. Mother prepared everything she could on Saturday. In the sumer, the peas were shelled, the beans were snapped or some other garden vegetable was prepared. We always raised a good garden so we had fresh vegetables in the summer. Mother bottled many of these for our winter meals. We raised our own chickens, pigs, cattle and sheep, so we had fried chicken, chicken and homemade noodles, cured pork chops, pork or beef roasts, the best homemade, bottled sausage I ever tasted or some other meat. There was always potatoes and gravy. We had ice cream, pie, cake, pudding or some other good thing for dessert.
Mother always prepared for more than just our family. We never had to ask if we could bring a friend home for Sunday dinner. Sometimes the Stake Church people came to Sunday School with out warning. I remember mother sometimes hurrying about but we had those people in our home many times for dinner.
Mother cooked just as well when dinner was for our family only. I remember with happiness the times that mother cooked dinner and we took it over to the farm where father was working, for a picnic. We spread a quilt on the grassy bank of the creek and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. I remember fried chicken, creamed peas with new potatoes and much more good food.
If our mother was not an angel, no one will ever make me believe that she was not.
Our father's nature was different than mother's. Father did raise his voice in authority. There never was a question if we displeased him. Yet father in his own way was kind and loving. I remember sitting on his lap while he sung to me. Sometimes he chorded on our pump organ or he played his guitar and we children sang with him. Someone said one of the best things a father could do for their children was to let them know that he loved their mother.
There never was a question in anyone's mind about whether our father loved our mother. They loved each other. I have said that my father adored my mother. Many times I remember when we were sitting at the table father would reach over, pat my mother's knee and say, "Oh, I love those blue eyes."
I have thought father was like the dogs that were used to herd sheep. Sometimes he would really bark but he never would bite. I remember my father said he would never whip a child because you beat one devil out and two in. Across from our home, the town ditch ran unfenced for a block or so. When a herd of sheep were driven up the road and they reached this unfenced ditch, it seemed that one would jump the ditch and most of the herd would follow. The herders on their horses could not get the sheep to jump back across the ditch. When they told their dogs to get them the dogs ran barking and the sheep immediately jumped back across the ditch. I felt that way about my father. I always obeyed even if I was not afraid that he would hurt me.
We not only were brought up in a home filled with love but our home was also a house or prayer. Each morning and night before we ate, we kneeled down by our chairs and had family prayer. I remember that I thought that my father would pray forever. To a hungry child, father's prayers were far too long. Now I would love to hear just one of those prayers. Father prayed, as we all should, just like he was talking to the lord.
Another thing that I didn't appreciate about father was the way we were usually awakened in the morning. We children slept in the basement. Father and mother's Bedroom was directly about ours. Father wore laced work shoes. The first thing when father got up he started singing some hymn. He then would stomp one foot and then the other to get his work shoes on. I thought that was a rude awakening. Now I think what a different world it would be if every child was awakened by hearing their father singing, Sweet Hour of Prayer, Count Your Blessing or some of the other hymns that remind me of father when we sing them in church.
Father was a hard workers. He worked from day light till dark on our farm. He worked hard to provide the very best living that could be made on a farm. He gave us everything that his labors could afford. None of us children will ever forget the Christmas that we were awakened by music being played on a big, beautiful phonograph that father and mother had bought for us. I enjoyed playing records on this until I was married.
I remember father saying, "I would rather have my children bring their friends to our home, than to go to someone's house to play." He went to the mountains and cut poles that were as high as most telephone poles and made a swing for us. He used big strong hay rope and made the seat large enough that two people could swing at once. Most of the young people in Wallsburg have had their turn in that swing.
He bought a croquet set and set it up on our lawn for us to enjoy. The pegs and hoops were never taken down except to mow the lawn. Father taught me a lesson on day that I will never forget. One day my sisters, Emily, Winona and I were playing croquet. Just as I hit my ball, mother called for us to come help her for a few minutes. Emily and Winona ran to the house but I took time to move my ball with my foot, so that the next time when I hit the ball it would go through the hoop without difficulty. When we came back to resume our game, I heard my father's commanding voice say, "Okie, I want you to move your ball back where it was and I don't want you to ever cheat again as long as you live." I either didn't know or had forgotten that father was sitting on the porch watching us play. I don't think I have ever cheated since that time because when our father said, "don't you ever" you knew that he meant never.
When father spoke to one of us, we knew we had better listen. His form of correction was a good talking to or a Scotch blessing, if you will. He would never let you hang your head in shame. He would strike you under your chin and say, "You look at me, I am talking to you." Believe me, you knew that you were being talked to.
Father was a very religious man. He lived every word that he believed to the letter. To him there was only right and wrong. As I see it, he kept all of God's commandments and expected each of us children to do the same. He really taught by example. None of us could ever blame any wrong doing on our father's example.
Mother believed the gospel as well as father did but mother was Relief Society president for sixteen years. She saw a lot of life. She learned to temper her religion with understanding. I think her philosophy was, I will try to live my religion to the letter, by I will understand when anyone is not perfect.
The only home that I remember was the new home that father and mother built in 1915. The husband of one of mother's cousins built the house for them. His name was Ed Snyder. This home was the first brick home built in Wallsburg It also was the first house in Wallsburg to have a full, finished basement. The white bricks were shipped by train to the Wallsburg Station, then hauled by horse and wagon to the building sight. The house was built on the top of a low hill, not far from the center of town. It was quite impressive because it could be seen almost as soon as you entered the valley. For those days, it was a big, beautiful home.
It was a well planned house. The living-dining room and parlor was on the front. The sliding doors between these two rooms went into the walls so the parlor could be closed off or the doors opened to form one big room. The door between the kitchen and dining room was a swinging door. Even if there was no water in the house, a room was made for a bathroom to be used for that purpose some day. There was only one bedroom upstairs but the basement was'finished into five good sized rooms. At the time the house was built, there was no electricity in Wallsburg but the builder wired the house for electricity. Father thought he could produce his own electricity by putting a turbine in the ditch that ran behind our house and the water fell down the hill.
The school house where all of us children went to school was built in 1904. It also was built by Ed Snyder. There were two class rooms downstairs and two upstairs. A school teacher taught two grades in each room. The first four grades were taught downstairs and the fifth grade to the eight was taught upstairs. There was also a large room on the back. I suppose it was intended for an assembly room. A storage room for coal and other things were under the building. The floors were made of wood and were kept oiled. A big potbellyed coal stove with a protective metal shield around it provided the heat. There was no inside plumbing. There was an outhouse at the top of the school yard for the girls and one for the boys at the bottom of the grounds. If we wanted a drink of water we walked about half a block to a spring. We drank by cupping our hands and drinking from them. We always attended school regularly because our parents knew that education was very important.
Besides our home and school, the "meeting house" as we used to call it, was an important part of our life. It served not only as our church by it was the only entertainment center that we had. Since It had a small stage, even our school plays were held in the meeting house. When there was a dance, the wooden benches that we sat on in church were moved with their backs to the walls. The floor was then a dance floor. I remember what must have been kerosene lamps on the walls. These were lit with a torch. This fascinated me. The electricity came to Wallsburg in 1929. Then, of course, the church had electric lights. As far as I know, the church was always heated by coal burning stoves. A bell on top of the church was not only rung on Sunday but every school day. Its ringing told us we would have to hurry or we would be late for school.
Maybe because we lived on a farm, each of us children were taught early to work. Both Father and Mother came from good old pioneer stock so they both knew the importance of work and they taught we children as well.
Yes, we had our ups and downs, our troubled times, our childhood quarrels and I was even a rebellious teenager. I only rebelled to myself though. I never disobeyed my parents that I can remember. I just thought that father was too strict. Sometimes I would think this but I never went any farther than thinking.
I am thankful for having an angel for a mother and a father who loved us and cared enough to want us to be perfect. I am glad they taught us right from wrong and lived their teachinge Because we were loved, we felt a security that is missing in many lives. Their love for us helps me understand about god's constant love. I have many times on my knees, thanked the lord that I was born to my parents, Don L. and Annie Boren Bigelow.
Okie Bigelow Heward