ELVA B CARTER LETTERS
[Scanned by Stephen Rawlins, January 1997 from: "Memories of Clyde A. Carter and Elva B. Carter", a booklet written by Elva B. Carter for Christmas, 1984, with the help of her daughter Myrna C. Laird, who typed and compiled it.]
This is to tell you of the love and joy you have always been to me. You were such a beautiful little baby. I thought then I could never love another like you. When you were born prematurely, you were so tiny, you only weighed four and a half pounds. You got infection in your eyes, I guess when you were born. We called a doctor. He asked who my Dr. was. My answer was that I only had a midwife. The Dr. said you should have had medicine in your eyes at birth. He was concerned that you might be blind. Oh, how I prayed to my Father in Heaven every moment of the day. When you were three weeks old, you were watching some clothes on a line blowing back and forth. Then I knew that you could really see. I have always felt that my prayers were answered. No-one will ever know how grateful I was.
Those days babies were dressed in long clothes. The dress I made for you to be blessed in I hand embroidered. It had deep scallops around the bottom of the dress, and pleats on the shoulders. I'm sorry I did not keep it for you.
Your Dad was out of work at the time you were born, but soon after secured a job. With his first pay check he went to town and bought a beautiful baby buggy. That was a happy time to remember.
Velma dear, we have always been so close. I remember how I loved to have you come home each night after school and tell me all about your day. How I missed you when you went to Salt Lake. I could hardly bear your being gone. I depended so much on you.
You wrote a poem when you were ten years old, about your baby sister, Myrna, when she was born. It was published in the Juvenile Instructor.
We have a little baby,
She's as sweet as sweet can be;
And every time I look at her
She looks and smiles at me.
Her hair is very curly,
Her eyes like stars do shine;
We love our little baby,
That little sister of mine.
Jesse's mother died when he was a young boy, and he was raised by an uncle and aunt. We met at a dance, and he asked to take me home. I finally said yes, and that was the beginning of our romance. I really loved Jess, and I know that he loved me too.
March 12, 1954
As I told Velma how she was loved when she was born, you came along and brought so much love with you. It has continued through the years. I told you once that the miles that separated us never diminished our love for you, and I must tell you your father was so proud of his baby son. You have always been such a happy child. You loved to tease your sister, and once our neighbor told Velma to "Beat up on your brother, and he will stop teasing you." She turned on you, pounded on you, and pulled your hair. You fell on the floor and cried, "Mama, she has killed me, she has killed me. I'm dead, I'm dead." What a little character you were.
When we were living at your grandfathers he could not find his shovel. He had a water turn. We were asleep in the basement. Father came and woke us up, or rather tried to wake you up. He raised you up in bed. You were as limp as a rag, and not one word could we get out of you. After Father left, and you were back in bed, I felt a little foot moving. I said to you, "Keith, do you know where Grandpa's shovel is?"' You said, "Tell him to look under the porch." I called to Father and the shovel was there.
Once you were playing on the rug, and there was a needle that broke off in your knee. Father called me in Provo, where I was working, so Father took you to the Dr. They could not locate it. Needles travel in the body, and they were afraid it would puncture the knee cap, and drain the water out of the knee and you would have a stiff leg. They cut into your knee until it looked like a piece of hacked beef Father went outside and offered up a prayer that they could find that needle. The Drs. had about given up, and after Father had prayed they decided to try once more and they found it.
(This letter was written to Jess, March 12, 1954, but never mailed.)
Here is this Mother of yours to plead with you for forgiveness for the many things that I have done wrong. After all these long years I have come to realize the mistake I made in ever leaving you and going away to work. I know now I should of given your father another chance. There was no one in the world that could do for you what we could of done as your parents. It is my fault. There is an old saying two wrongs never made a right.
I guess I just as well start from the beginning and tell you all. First your Dad and I were married and he went away to serve his country. I can now look back and see how many ways I could of done differently to of saved our marriage. I know it is not good for a young married couple to live with their parents. Me, I was left alone after my marriage, so what did I do but remain with them. That was the first mistake I made. When your Dad came back from the service, there was no jobs available, so what did we do? Lived with our folks for a couple of months. I began to get dissatisfied. What I needed was a home of my own. Finally I persuaded Jess to get out of Wallsburg. We came to Provo and rented a little place. Mistake no.2. Instead of me keeping the place regardless of the fact that Jess had to leave and go to Wyoming to get a job. What did I do but go back to my parents. I can see now if I had of stayed in the little place your Dad would of had to of supported me. He only sent me $80 that whole summer, and that was the time we were expecting our first child. Jess was working on a ranch and of course in the fall Jess was laid off Knowing the baby was coming I expected your Dad to come back with some money. When he arrived home he had $12 to show for his summers work. We moved to Provo in an apartment that belonged to your Dad's fathers second wife. It was a couple of rooms at the back of their house. Your Dad secured a job, but we were only there a week when Velma was born prematurely. I was not expecting until December. When I took sick your Dad went for a lady we knew who had been a midwife. That I resented. I should of had a Doctor. Had things gone right I would not of been so bitter about it all but, the baby, a beautiful little girl, four and a half pounds. I was afraid to touch her she was so small; but the sad thing she got infection in her eyes. We had to secure a Dr. It is such a sad thing in my life. I have never been able to talk about it. Whenever I think of it I tremble with fear. That is one time in my life I was humble, and prayed to my God to bless that little baby girl. We had the Elders administer to her and I know through the power of God her eyes were saved. The Dr. left on a vacation and when he came back he said he was surprised that the baby's sight was not gone. They had to use such strong medicine to kill the infection. So you see what agony we endured for those three weeks before we knew her sight was not gone. The Dr. said if the baby had of been born in a hospital or of had a Dr. he would of put some medicine in the baby's eyes at birth and it would of prevented the infection.
More resentment. Then to retrace a little, in the spring before on my birthday your Dad came home with him a new bicycle that he had bought with money that I had saved up while he was in the army. That was the way he remembered my birthday.
To go back to the time after the baby was healed. How we loved her and how grateful I was that we had her.
For a year your Dad had work but is practically all I ever saw him was for his meals and at night to sleep. He would come home to his dinner, clean up, get on that bicycle, and that is the last I would see of him until bed time.
After a year of it I came back to my parents for a visit and I was so very disappointed in my marriage. His friends and mine were not the same. He left me alone with the baby so much. He would not go to church with me because he did not have a suit. He was laid off work, again he said if I would come back to him he would go to Salt Lake and try to secure work there. The folks let us move our things in their basement and what happened? We just moved in with our things. More resentment. Jess never did go to Salt Lake to try to find work. That winter we existed. Jesse's brother Heber had given us a half of pork and somehow we got some potatoes. The folks gave us a pint of skim milk each day. When I say existed, that is the way I felt.
I let Velma nurse until she was fifteen months old because we did not have milk for her. I had got so thin and she was not getting much from me. So what happened? I have always felt her indigestion was caused from malnutrition.
To top the climax, I was talking to a neighbor and mentioned the fact that your Dad did not smoke. She laughed at me and said, "He smokes all the time, just come out after your meal at night and you will find him sitting on your fathers porch smoking. That very night I came out to see for myself and there he sat puffing a cigarette That about did it. Before we were married I had told your Dad I would not marry him because I wanted to be married in the temple. I felt that was the right way to be married. He told me he would quit smoking, and I thought he had. How he secured a recommend I do not know. He at least was given a recommend. As I remember the Bishop hesitated about giving him one. (As you know to get a recommend anyone is required to keep the Word of Wisdom.) Anyway he got a recommend and we were married in the Temple.
I had suspicioned that he smoked but he denied it repeatedly. When I walked out there and saw with my own eyes that just about was the end of everything for me. If he would lie to me, if I could not depend on his word?
About this time I found I was pregnant again. That summer we saved up enough to pay the Dr. bill. I insisted on having a Dr. My son, you were born that winter. Mother fixed a room upstairs for us and took care of us. I was so happy that I had a son and a daughter. When the time came to have you given a name and blessed I was the one to take you alone. Your Dad would not go with me. That just about did it. Then one day he told me is all I did was to nag at him and that was the last drop in the bucket. The last straw as the saying goes.
You were two months old when I sued for a divorce. The whole world had dropped out from under me. I had wanted a home, family and to live my religion.
To go on with the morbid story for one year after I got the divorce he did not secure work. I became pretty well discouraged. Then is when I made up my mind as soon as I could leave you I would get a job myself I decided if I could not depend on your Dad in this life certainly I did not want him hereafter, so what happened I applied for a Church divorce, and it was given to me. I felt like I would either find someone else that I could depend on or that I would never marry. Here is where I am to blame -- your Dad finally got a job in Salt Lake. He wanted me to come to him, and I would not. I had gone through so much, suffered so much disappointment, just lost faith in about everything.
I would not listen to him. He told me he had learned his lesson, he pled with me. My heart had turned to ice and it has taken years for me to thaw.
Now I realize that had I had a little more faith, a little more tolerance, a little less thought of myself, and my comfort maybe I could of seen his side of the thing. I realize now I should of given him another chance for the good book says "What God hath joined together let no man break asunder." I felt that all along, but just could not bring myself to try it again.
When your Dad wrote and told me he was going to get married again I told him to go ahead. If I had of sat and analyzed my own thoughts, feelings and faced facts, I would never of let him marry for you children meant everything to me and also to him. Had I of placed myself in his position I would not of wanted to lose you either, so now I know I was not fair to him. I will have to answer to my maker, but I have repented from the bottom of my heart. I truly am sorry for the unhappiness I caused your father. You know the rest. Another place I failed was to study the scripture and really know the gospel so that I could teach my children. The thing I want to tell you now is let me help you to an understanding of this glorious gospel. I know you have always been indifferent to an extent, yet I know deep down in your heart you believe in Christ and that there is a God. That Joseph Smith was a prophet and that this is the restored church of Christ.
When one stops to think we are not here just by chance. There is a God of this world in the Bible in Genesis it tells of the creation of the world. There had to be laws to govern this Earth. In the Doctrine and Covenants 68:28 it ways, "and they shall also teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord." How, may I ask, can a parent teach their children the truths of the gospel if they themselves do not know the scriptures.
If you have not read the Book of Mormon, why don't you start with your family. There is a place some where I just cannot remember where it promises that if you will pray about it and read it with a prayerful heart you will know if it is true. (Moroni 10:4-5 Book of Mormon.)
If you want to read what the power of the Lord can do read in the Book of Mormon, Helaman, chapters 7 to 16 inclusive.
Then read II Nephi, chapter 28 through 33. There it tells people to repent and be baptized. Son, you have been blest with some wonderful children. It is your responsibility to teach them in the way they should go. If you do not know, how can you teach them? That is where I fell down. I thought if I went to church and took you children you would know and understand. Also we have tried to set a good example to you.
June 6, 1980
After 26 years I will try to finish this letter I never sent to you. I feel I must make a confession. Never have been able to talk about this divorce. Now it is out in the open. I feel like a thief and a robber. To take you children away from your father. My patriarchal blessing says "as you grow in years you will grow in understanding." It has taken me a lot of years. I have been playing these records, one of them explains Satan, his power and I know he influences people to do wrong. I have always prayed, but in looking back over the years I did not pray in the right way for the right things -- or I guess I just did not know how to pray--and to listen to the still small voice to guide me in the way I should go.
(This was never sent either.)
January 9, 1925
Dear, I hope you will read this with the spirit I have wrote it with and understand as I have intended it to be.
(Elva B. Carter's narrative.)
In looking back I just don't understand how I could be so inconsiderate and unforgiving, to go leave my two children that I adored for all those years with my mother and father. I knew that they were loved and well taken care of.
I met Clyde on a blind date.. George and Cecelia Carter (We always called her Rita, even though her maiden name was Cecelia Rita) invited me and another girl, Clyde, and Bill Rita, Cecelia's brother to their house for dinner. Afterward, we were going for a ride. As we went to get in the car, Bill got in the back seat. Clyde helped me in. Bill pulled me over to sit on his lap and let Clyde and the other girl sit on the seat so I was Bill's girl that night. Clyde had decided that he wanted to go with me. He did not waste any time. That weekend he asked me to go to Salt Lake to a matinee, have dinner, and go to a play that night. Of course, I accepted. We went to a picture show at the Pantages in the afternoon, then to dinner, and that night to the Wilkes Theater. It was a wonderful play. I had the time of my life. From then on we went steady. I loved being with him. He was a good dancer also, and how I loved to dance with him. He bought a new car, a coupe.
He used to take me home to see the children. Velma and Jess used to sit up in the back of the car when we took them with us. Velma used to say "Clyde's falling in love with Mother!." She had changed the words from a popular song. Clyde said when he saw me, he knew I was the one he had been waiting for. He asked me to marry him. I was not interested, but he persisted. My parents could not keep taking care of the children, and I finally decided I would marry him. We began our life together with our two precious children, Velma and Jess Keith.
You were such a bundle of love. Before you were born Mother came to Provo to be with us. We went to a show in the afternoon. The song they played in the movie was "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." I was having labor pains during the show. You were born at home about eleven p.m. Your Dad was such a proud Dad. As soon as he could take you with him he took you every where he could. You were such a bright eyed beautiful little baby. You drew attention everywhere we took you.
Your grandfather Carter had false teeth. One day when we were watching a parade, he was holding you. We were talking and laughing. Like lightning, you reached in his mouth and pulled his upper teeth out. How everyone laughed.
At the time Carol was born
Mother was with me. I told Mother a joke that your Dad had told
me about May West, the actress. The next day you repeated it. We
could hardly believe our ears.
You talked very young. At the age of fifteen months you would repeat anything, even rhinoceros, and hippopotamus. You said flower at nine months of age.
You were also a lovely baby daughter with a smile that could win over anyone's heart completely. I knew I was going to have another baby girl. I dreamed about you before you were born.
I started in labor a month before you were born. When the Dr. came he said he could stop my pains. As it was another month before you were due, he gave me medicine, and you were born a month later.
You were always a determined little girl. One day when you were about two years old I was going to take a bath. Our house was not modern and we had to bathe in a wash tub. We put the tub on the kitchen floor, and put hot water from the stove in it. I told you children to stay outside, closed the door, and locked it. I was just ready to step into the tub when bang, a rock came smashing through the window. You were determined to come in, and so took matters into your own hands.
Carol, you were our Christmas baby, and when you began to talk, you talked so fast. You knew what you were saying, but we had difficulty making out what you were saying.
What a sweetheart you were. It seemed that you had a smile for every one. How happy your dad was for another son. He really was a happy father when you were born. You were our second Christmas baby. You were born one year lacking one day after Carol. You children were close, not only in age, but in all things. I remember you and Carol running around in circles, laughing and having such fun together. We never did get a baby picture of you. When we planned it you broke out with a heat rash, then later we never had any money because your Dad got laid off.
You used to ask if you could do something and if we did not want you to do it, you would persist, saying, "Well now, why can't I do it? Just tell me why?"
Remember the time you took the car. You kept asking where we were going, what time we would be home. We were at a Railroad Lodge meeting, and when time came for refreshments, I went with another lady to get our car to go pick them up, but it was not there. Your Dad was in another meeting. I called him out and told him that the car was missing. We called the police. They sent an alert out all over the state about the stolen car. When I went back in, one of the ladies asked me if we had more than one set of keys. In a minute I knew who had taken the car.
We went down to the high school. Sure enough, there was the car. Johnny Roylance and his girl friend were sitting there. They jumped out of the car, and they went in and told you to come.
You were reluctant. I told you that your Dad would talk to you tomorrow about it. The next day your Dad never said a word, nor the next day, or the next. Finally, you couldn't stand the suspense anymore, and you went to your Dad and told him you were sorry. Remember? The punishment was far worse that you gave yourself.
During World War II, when I worked on the railroad, Joe Warren, who worked in the office, asked me how old my son Don was. I told him nine years old. He asked if would let you go up to Canyon Glen to stay with him and his wife over the weekend. I agreed to let you go. Then they wanted you to stay and work all summer in the little store that they had there. You worked all over the park for three years. They liked you so much, that Mrs. Warren told me that if I would ever let them, they would like adopt you. After the three years, you started delivering papers, but you earned your own money from nine years old on.
At first we were like gypsies, constantly moving from one place to another. We first lived in Provo, then to Springville, then Orem, then to Wallsburg. During the depression work was hard to find, and to keep. The first summer in Wallsburg, we lived in the little one room cabin on the farm. We all slept in the loft. We had to go outside and climb a ladder to get into the loft. When fall came, Clyde was called to work again. We had enrolled Jess and Velma in school so we moved to a log house for one year, then to Aunt Polly's house. That is where Carol threw the rock through the window. Clyde received $300.00 pension as a World War I veteran. We bought the Fraughton place using that for a down payment. We had a four burner electric that we used in the summer. During the winter we used the coal stove, and I covered the electric one with a piece of linoleum, and used it for work, and storage space. One day the neighbor children were there playing, and one of them turned the stove on. Myrna came and told me it was smoking. If she hadn't seen it, the house probably would have caught on fire.
When Don was only five years old, Myrna came running in the house all excited. The car was parked in the garage, and Don had backed it out. We always wondered how he did it. Those were difficult years during the depression. One year when Clyde was called back to work he had to go to Nevada, and was gone all that winter, coming home only occasionally on his days off. He had a chance to go on train service as a fireman. Work would have been uncertain. He never knew when he would be called, and he would be gone at least two days at a time. We decided that even though the pay was better we would rather have him home regularly. Clyde stayed and boarded with his mother one winter, and just came home on weekends. He only had steady work during the winter. The next year he drove back and forth from Wallsburg to Provo every day. Finally, when Clyde was called back to work on a year round job, we moved to Provo. Remember when you loved to jump on the bed, even though you had been told not to, and Don fell against the big window and broke it? I scolded you. Myrna decided she was going to leave home before Clyde got home. She got some clothes, put them in an apron, tossed it over her shoulder, and started off to Wallsburg, to go to Grandmas house. She went a couple of blocks, smelled bacon and onions cooking, and remembered that it was lunch time. She came back home to get some food to take with her, but I wouldn't let her go again!
We only lived in this house a couple of months when we found a better place on third east in Provo.
Velma, remember the time I told you to wash the dishes. You weren't going to do it. Your Dad said, "Look here, young lady, your mother told you to do those dishes. Now you get busy and do them." And you did. Your Dad would not tolerate any back talk from any of you. I'm sure Myrna remembers the time her Dad got the razor strap out for her. (I do. I told Mother that I didn't have to get a bucket of coal if didn't want too.) I can tell you though he did not need to use it. She soon did as she was told.
I am sure our pre-existence
has a great bearing on our lives in this world. The Lord tells
us to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all else will be added unto you." What a promise. He also
says "If ye do what I say, I am bound. If ye do not what I
say, ye have
We are living in the last days, in perilous times. The Lord gives no commandments unto his children that is not for their own good and benefit. He tells us to pray. How many mistakes I could have avoided in my life--I did not pray--I did not listen to council of religious men. I do know within my soul that this gospel is true. It is the plan of salvation. Everyone has to gain his own testimony. Every person will have to account for his actions on Earth. It is a probationary period, a time to learn, and to grow. Time is precious. It is doing the right thing at the right time that counts. This is such a wonderful world to live in. I have learned to appreciate many things that I once just took for granted. This land we live in is a choice land above all other lands. God must surely have been an artist, for His creations are beautiful. I think of our opportunities to learn, progress, and grow. We have scriptures to tell us how to live? prophets to council and advise us in the way we should go. Someone has said, "Life is Gods gift to us. What we take back to him is our gift to God." Every day of our life is precious. Christ's creed, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Making other people happy brings joy into our own life.
One of my favorite poems says,
A bell is not a bell until
you ring it.
A song is not a song until you sing it.
And love in your heart was not placed there to stay,
For love is not love until you give it away.!
We are a bundle of habits, some good, some bad. We many times do the things we want to do rather than the things we ought to do. President Lee said this, "Learn the gospel -- love the gospel -- then live it.!"
How grateful I am for this temple in Provo. Temples are sacred They are the nearest place to heaven on this Earth. People who go there are such wonderful people, good, kind, considerate, the kind of people I love to associate with.
I just hope and pray that I may be blessed with the health and strength that I need to continue to go on and do this sacred work for my kindred dead, for as long as I am permitted to remain on this Earth.
We have our scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. It is the most correct book ever written. The history, and the stories are fascinating. Especially do I love 3rd Nephi. In this book Christ visits the Nephites. I love the prophecies. Once I was indifferent to the scriptures, but at my age I have learned to value them.
There is the grand children. I've always felt they were well named grandchildren and then comes the great grandchildren, also properly named.
I want to pay tribute to each of the in-laws.
To Bob Anderson: I do thank you for being such a wonderful husband to my daughter, and for your love for her. Its always been such a joyous pleasure to come to your home. Thanks for your kindness to me. We have had such good times going to the mountains. Spokane is such a beautiful place to live in. There is an instance I remember when you left Bobbie with us when he was a baby. You went on vacation, returning sooner than you had planned. Bobbie called his grandpa Daddy. Bob, you said, indignantly, "Who's been teaching him that?" No-one had told him, he was just around our children, and picked it up from hearing them.
To Mella: You are such a wonderful person. You are so good for Jess. He is mighty lucky to have you for a wife. Such a good housekeeper, homemaker, cook, etc. etc. We were to welcome you into our family. As the saying goes, to know you is to love you. You two have always been good for each other, doing things together. I'm looking forward to spending more time with you.
To Robert Laird: Another wonderful man, such a wonderful teacher, dedicated to his work. You did not miss your calling. You go the second mile to help anyone in need. You have counseled and helped so many students, and how grateful I am for your goodness to me in so many ways, for taking me, Emily, and Ernest to the temple, and then when Myrna is gone for taking such good care of me.
To Steve Rawlins: Such good times we have had. One time in Pullman you had just received your degree, I said to you, "I guess you will be glad when you get a home and a regular job." You replied, "You know we have had such happiness here where the children were born, I would not trade it for anything." You have made so many accomplishments. You have been a wonderful husband and father. There is only love and admiration and thanks in my heart for you.
To Judy. You too are a welcome addition to the family, and you too have so many good qualities. I have always marveled at the way you have been such a good disciplinarian, and taught your children obedience. You have been such a good mother and homemaker. Its a pleasure to come to your home. Thanks for being so good to me.
I am so grateful for all of my family. I hope we can always keep the love and devotion we feel for each other. I think I have been blest. Each one is very special to me. Bob once said that he thought I should put names on at least some of my personal belongings, and label them so that the grandchildren could have something of mine. Just one thing, I would like each one to have anything they have given me. I do not know what anyone would want, so to each grandchild just something to remember that was grandmothers. Also the great grandchildren. When my father died and we went to settle things, each one took turns choosing what they would like. My only wish is that there be no strife. Material things are not that important. Love and respect, and consideration for each others happiness is what is important.
Clyde was so dependable, considerate and thoughtful. He believed in doing unto others as he would like to be done by. He was a man that loved his God and his fellow man. I never forgot what Bishop Davies said about him at his funeral. He said that Clyde was small in stature but a giant in spirit.
I cannot ever remember of wanting anything in our married life that he could possibly get that he did not get it for me, regardless of the cost. For instance, we were in Taylor Brothers store, and I wanted to try on hats. The fashion was that very small hats were worn on the top and side of the head. I tried one on, and the clerk remarked how becoming it was. When I asked how much it was and she said $25.00, I shook my head, for I felt that it was too much for us to afford.. The next day Clyde went back to the store and bought the hat for me. Another time I wanted a dress. I tried on several dresses. There were three that I liked, and I couldn't make up my mind which I liked best. Clyde said "Take all three." So I had three new dresses at once.
Clyde had friends galore and would go the second mile for everyone.
We liked doing the same things, bowling, dancing, going to plays. He was a good dancer. One time when we were bowling, I asked him why he did not let me beat a game. He said, "If you beat me, you will have to beat me right."
We went everywhere together, worked together, played together, prayed together, and stayed together.