History of Charles Henry Last
(Complied from his own writings and typed by his daughter, Janice Last Castleton 24 February 1985. I scanned this copy into my computer and made minor editing changes. Parenthetical inserts by Janice are labeled "JLC". Mine are identified by "SLR" Stephen L. Rawlins, 9 August, 1997.)
I was born in a house on the Winchester Road Edmonton, a suburb of North London in England. The date was April 13, 1898. My earliest recollection are of my mother, Grandfather and Grandmother Hardesty.
About the age of two I remember playing in a back lot in a kind of a hollowed out place with a little friend. Mother said I had strayed away from home. I didn't realize that I had been lost. I remember staying with Uncle Bob and Grandma Hardesty. I think it was after Grandma Hardesty died. I remember being upstairs in the bedroom where Grandma Hardest lay in death, as the undertaker took her away. That was my first experience with that awful spiriter Death as it appeared to me as a child. I think I asked a lot of questions of the undertaker.
I remember walking across a steel bridge and looking down through the cracks and looking up at my mother and asking "Mama, am I scared?" I remember playing in the back yard with a little cart which I called a "Bullashackes" which in infant language meant a cart or wagon. I think the house was in the Winchester Road where we all lived; Mother and Grandma and Grandpa Hardesty. He was a furniture polisher in a plane factory. I remember lightening and thunder and hiding under the table.
I was 3 or 4 years old when I started school. We had moved several miles closer to the City of London to Hornsey Road almost next to Pakeman St. School. It was a huge red brick two story school building surrounded by high walls and heavy iron railings. The infants entrance was near the corner fartherest from our house. I was terribly homesick until my heart was broken and I came as near home as I could get and that was to the gate; this was during a recess. I pressed myself against the heavy steel bars and who should be on the other side but my mother. She knew I would be lonesome and she was there at recess time to comfort me and console me with a sack of large round licorice candy balls. I'll never forget them. It was my first experience at being separated from my dear mother's arms to be alone in the dreary world. Mother used to say that I cried every morning for awhile, "Do I have to go in class?" Well I got to like it and got along fine.
We later moved across the street to 166 Hornsey Rd. Dad worked a few blocks away on the Holloway Road, one of London's larger business thorofares. He worked at the Capitol and Labor store on the main road going toward the city of London, called the Holloway Road near its junction with the Seven Sisters Road which road was one of the tentacles that spread out from the city towards the suburbs.
Later as a missionary we held street meetings along this road where streets cut out from it.
Dad was a small man and made up for his lack of size by an aggressive nature. Because of his size he felt that he was at a disadvantage in competing with his fellow salesman. Actually he outsold them all in the clothing business. The reason for his being short was his legs had been stunted, and one was shorter than the other -- which gave him a rather Charley Chaplin walk. I could always tell Dad's walk as he came home from work down the street, and would run in and tell Mother he was coming and get the table set.
I remember when Tom, my next youngest brother, was born, November 8, 1902, in London, England. I remember receiving book prize for good deportment and scholarship. I remember that I had a chance to obtain a scholarship. The folks discussed it but I would have to wear a uniform of some kind at this school, and so the folks vetoed the idea.
I grew up in this neighborhood of closely built houses, concrete roads, streetcars and busy thorofares, playing on the streets with the gang running up and down with hoops and skating up and down the paved highway; playing cops and robbers on the dark side streets.
I remember going to church where a minister by the name of Reverend Bloomer presided. He interested my mother, who was attending some kind of a sewing circle, to suggest to the ladies that they get their husbands to quit drinking beer. This was the custom of these people, just like we drink soda water or soft drinks. He suggested that they put the money away that they would spend on beer and save it to take their families to the seashore, for two weeks. Grandma Last did suggest this to her husband and Dad agreed and they "signed" a pledge to become "Teetotalers."
This led them to join the Hornsey Rise Guild, a small social group of people who had also signed the pledge. They met in a small building on the upper end of Hornsey Road. The leader of this group at this time was a Scotchman by the name of Grant. They were all pledged teetotalers and were interested in getting others to sign the pledge. They had musical programs and socials. Every year they gathered contributions and bought Christmas toys and distributed them among the poor. One of the outstanding experiences as a boy was to help gather contributions and distribute them among some of the desperately poor people.
About this time Dorothy was born. [October 28, 1904 -- JLC.] She only weighted about 5lbs. And Grandma said the doctor said that she was so small that she wasn't worth keeping. But that made Grandma Last all the more determined that she would keep her and she did live. [Dorothy's journal states: "Mother said I was born premature, and she figured I was about six months along. When I was born they didn't bother to weigh me until I was three weeks old because I was too little. At that time I weighed two pounds and a half. I was born at home and they didn't have such things as incubators then, or at least not where we were. The doctor said, "oh, you can't do anything with that" and pushed me off to the side of the bed. That gets a mother's dander up, so she decided she was going to do the best she could for me. She got a shoe box, lined it with cotton, put me in it and fed me with an eye dropper." -- SLR]
A Mr. Keywood had a delicatessen shop next door to our house and I wrote him a letter and got a job as an errand boy. Every Saturday for which I was paid sixpence or 12 cents. I received a tip for delivering some groceries and I succumbed to temptation and bought a large sack of ripe tomatoes. They looked so delicious and tempting, but after one or two my appetite was completely satisfied.
I used to buy mother little bunches of flowers that could be transplanted and bring them home to her.
I had boy pals as I got older. Old "Webbey" I used to call him. Henry Webb and his brother Charley Webb. We used to have fun at nights playing up and down the hard streets that still were lighted by hand as the night came on by lamp lighters who went around with lights on the end of long poles. They were gas lights and had to be turned off the same way.
This home was over the shop of a Mr. and Mrs. Busts Taylor. They were a nice old couple.
We used to play all kinds of things round the dark side streets. Attach strings to door knocker and lead the string out into the shrubbery and pull on the knocker until the occupants came out to open the door and of course finding no one there. Sometimes we got into mischief and the cops would chase us down.
Another form of activity for boys on the streets was to kick a tennis ball or tin can around the streets imitating the soccer football heroes of that day. Kids became quite experts at "dribbling" the ball with the feet and around the goal posts.
There were no organized forms of recreation in the schools. Kids figured out their own games and with a kids imagination these were plenty.
Romance entered into my live about the 5th grade. A dark eyed handsome girl came into our class at the middle of the year. Her name was Mabel Yound. She was different than any of the other English kids. Her father was English and her mother was French. I worshiped that girl from a distance. I don't believe I ever had a conversation with her, and as there were no social activities of any kind I never had a chance to speak to her because I was too bashful.
Dad had a family by a former wife who died. His youngest girl, Daisy, was about 14 or 15 years old. I remember that she worked out as a "domestic servant." There was a little friction between Mother and Dad and the other family, but they were pretty well grown up. The boys, Wal, Will, Claude and Albert, and the girls, Elsie, Daisy and Leah, were quite the characters. The boys went to Wales to work on the farms and they learned to talk Welsh. I was an outsider and never was accepted by any of the family except Daisy, the youngest.
It must have been quite a problem for a woman as young as Mother to come into a family whose oldest son was as old as she was.
Some of the members of the "Guild" that Mother and Dad belonged to were Mormons. They invited some of the Mormon missionaries to speak to them on the Word of Wisdom. As a result most of the people joined the Mormon Church, and eventually came to Utah. The Lasts William Rook. The man that was the Guild leader, Mr. Grant, never did join the church and soon the guild was disorganized. Elders Soren Peterson, Harold Hulme, Albert Needham, Jordan, and others were in the mission at the time.
My parents were not attached to any particular church but we were expected to go to Sunday school and the "Band of Hope", comparable to our MIA. I remember sitting in a large group of young people and listening to a lecture by a man on the mechanics of the automobile engine, and I remember particularly a man demonstrating how to unscrew a light globe from its socket; he made a big pont that has always stuck with me, to always stand on one leg while doing it; and he meant it seriously,
We were invited to attend the Mormon Church and I believe that Mother was very much opposed to some of the beliefs of her first church because of some of the experiences she had been through; and, therefore, the beliefs of the Mormon Church were very acceptable to them.
My Mother was very perturbed about the doctrine of infant damnation, which was that little children who happened to die before they could be baptized by sprinkling by the minister were consigned to hell fire and everlasting burning without being redeemed. This doctrine was so contrary to the idea of a loving God that mother expressed herself emphatically to the missionaries and she asked them what the Mormons belief was. When they told her she was converted to the Mormon religion.
I remember distinctly the first meeting I attended; it was so different than the church meetings I attended up to that time. I felt a distinct spirit there that I can't explain, especially when the little congregation sang hymns they seemed to sing as if they really meant it. Elder Don C. Rushton of Salt Lake City was the first speaker I heard. We became regular attenders of the little Holloway Branch of the L.D.S. Church, held in a room in a business college near the "Nags Head" intersection of the Seven Sisters Road and the Holloway road.
I remember as we withdrew from attendance at the Reverend Bloomers Church (I forget the name of the church, but it was near to the Pakeman Street school on the Horsey Rd.) Mr. DeVil came to the house at noon when Dad was home for lunch and I was home from school during the noon hour. Mr. DeVil inquired why we hadn't been to church any more, and I will never forget the utter sorrow and defeat on his face when Dad told him that we were to be baptized into the Mormon Church in the near future. We were baptized at Finsbury Town Hall at a conference in April 5, 1908. We were all baptized together. This is my half sister Daisy, myself, Mother and Dad and my half brother's fiancé, Kitty Morgan.
We all became active in the branch. My Mother was a Sunday School teacher and I was a member of her class. Dad became the branch clerk and then a counselor in the branch before he emigrated with the Rook family. Dad came to Zion in July of the year 1910.
I remember the Wilmott family who were active at the time we first joined the Church. These people were still active in the branch when I returned on my mission in 1921-22.
Dad and Mother got the spirit of gather in Zion and Dad was promised the loan of enough money by one of the brothers to get himself to Zion so he could earn money for the rest of us to come. Dad gave notice to quit his job, a very courageous thing for him to do under the circumstances. He often said he would not have had nerve to do it but for the backing and encouragement that Mother gave him. At the last minute the Brother was not able to give Dad any money at all. They felt very downcast but a way was opened up and a Mr. Horswill lent Dad the money to go. We bid goodbye to Dad at the Liverpool St. Railroad Station. He and the Rooks and some others of the Saints were going together.
We moved to South Tottenham to Ferndale Road near the North London L.D.S. headquarters at that time. Mother had to skimp every penny and she helped to do the cooking at "Deseret"; and I think she was able to salvage a lot of food that was wasted by the missionaries. She brought lots of loaf ends and wasted sandwiches and other good things that would have been otherwise thrown away by the wasteful American Elders. [There were five children left with Grandma, Charlie, Tom, Dorothy, George, who was born August 24, 1907, Frank, who was born November 22, 1908 -- JLC.]
I continued going to the Pakeman St. School in order to be eligible to go on a summer excursion of the "Open Air Fund Children." We used to pay a few pennies every week all winter and then in the summer you were sent out into the country for 2 weeks and stayed with country people and roamed the country side. It was wonderful. I stayed one summer at Mount Sowell near Lougnboro at a Mrs. Chapmans.
I later returned there as a missionary with Elder Mickey Oswald. We hiked to Mount Sowell and visited some of the people and placed we knew.
I had to walk several miles to school after we moved in order to go on this trip, but it was really worth it. Sometimes I had a penny to ride the street car part way, but not often.
After the summer vacation was over I was assigned to the Page Green School. I was the only Mormon in it. My good friend George Wollaston attended another school, the Carlsmead Road School, I believe. Tom, my younger brother, went to the new school at the back of our house in a new area being built up. The Monsen family all went to this school too and they had fights every day. Many a time the fight would end up in our front yard. By the time I got home from my school I would have to fight my way through kids with sticks, egged on by mothers in the windows and doorways up and down the street. We were "bloody" Mormons.
The Eatons, who lived downstairs and sublet the rest of the house to Mother, were wonderful people and very fine and hospitable. Mr. Eaton was quite a heavy drinker but a very good hearted man who liked us kids.
We enjoyed mingling with the "Saints." There was distinctly something different about them. Our little Sunday School and the small group of people seemed so friendly. On Sunday nights I remember the thrilling spirit that was there.
I remember listening to president Charles W. Penrose speaking for 2 hours at a conference.
We had to scrimp a lot so that we could get ready to all go to Zion. We had drippings instead of butter sometimes on our bread. We used lard most of the time on our bread. Mother used to have to pawn her few valuables until Dad was able to send some money. Dad and Mother were wonderful in what they did. The sacrifices they made for us kids inspired by the Gospel teachings and by strong impulses to get away from persecution and to get their children to a country where opportunity was greater, where one could live the Gospel without restraint. So week by week Mother made out the best she could. She was interested in night classes and learned to make hats and she took cooking lessons.
During this time Mother and Mrs. Wollaston became very good friends at "Deseret" as also did Jack and George and myself. Our life long friendship originated at this time at the Church.
In December, Dad had a stroke of luck. Mr. Rook sold a piece of property Dad had invested in at Park Valley, and with some borrowed money he was able to send Mother enough to pay our passage out to Zion.
What a happy day it was. Mother sold all her furniture for a little. Her piano finally went.
We said goodby to our school friends. I went back to Pakeman St. to say goodbye. The headmaster was Mr. Newman. Mr. Morgan was a stern character that was handy with the cane or stick used for corporal punishment. I had felt the sting of it across my outstretched hands and across the seat of my pants.
I remember standing before the old classmates saying goodbye. I saw the utter envy in their eyes to see one of their classmates going to the promised land of America. Goodbye to Mr. Collens of the Esc. Seventh Standard and "Sagey" (Harold Sage) my old pal at Page Green. His Dad was an ardent Pro American. He had said, "someday you will see America, the greatest and most powerful country in the world." It certainly wasn't so before World War I, but it has become so since.
At last our house was empty and we stayed at a neighbor's on the Lealand Road and the next night, joy of joys, we loaded up our baggage on a handsome cab. I had the honor of holding the horses head, and when all was loaded I was the oldest and had the honor of sitting high up on the drivers seat next to the driver himself. As we left those poor London people behind to the horrors of the terrible bombings of the wars that were shortly to follow.
We went to Liverpool St. Station. We were the only family of Saints leaving, so no one came to see us off. We went by train to Liverpool. There we stayed all the next day at a friend of Mother's, and the next day we drove to the docks of the White Star Line and waited for the time to walk up the gang plank to the boat. We must have been there early. I remember sitting on a seat with the kids while Mother checked the tickets and finally we climbed the gang way passed the fellow that checked our tickets, and happy day we were in a cabin all to ourselves. What a time I had climbing up into the ventilation shaft to see where it went over into the next cabin where I could see the passengers in the next cabin. I was promptly hauled back down by Mother.
We had a Christmas dinner on the boat. Our meals were out of this world compared to the short rations we had had at home.
The sea was rough and most of us on the boat got seasick. I was sick for three days, long enough to completely empty my stomach. From there on I was always the last one to leave the table. The waiter at our table was amazed at our capacities to eat.
Mother had bought a pale lavender silk dress for the evening dinners.
I made friends with a boy about my age who was probably Spanish. Most mothers would have been worried to death with five lively youngsters, but not Mother. I remember climbing on the inside of the steel mast and stood beside the lookout watching for passing boats.
We finally came in sight of land at Halifax and I remember a group of men standing in the bow of the boat and one of them pointing to land saying, "Gentlemen, that is God's Country."
It was winter and cold and snow covered everything. The boat proceeded to Portland, Maine, where we landed and passed inspections and got on the train to Toronto, Canada; and then to Chicago.
Everything seemed strange, the trains and passenger cars so different from English trains. They were filled with immigrants, Dagos we would call them. Mother had to tell them off a time or two when they piled their luggage on the back of our seats.
Mother got excited in Toronto when the train was being pushed back and forth. She thought we were being sent the wrong way. At Chicago I remember we had to wait several hours for the train to leave for Salt Lake. While there we played in the large depot and Mother left us a few minutes, a couple of men came up and looked us over. "Some more immigrants," one of them said. "What are they, Swedes," said the other man. I kept my mouth shut tight.
We arrived in Salt Lake and stayed with a friend of Dad's, a Mr. Crafts, and we had fun running up and down in the snow; it was so fun. It didn't seem to be cold to us as it was in England, yet there was a foot of snow.
We arrived in Preston a day or so later when we were met at the depot by Dad and Brother Lorenzo Skidmore, a good neighbor. He brought his team and bobsled. It was sure a happy reunion for everybody.
Dad had rented 2 rooms in a red brick house in the 4th ward, and we shared it with a Mr. Peterson, a jeweler.
We had very little furniture and I being handy with tools made some out of packing cases.
We started school after being quarantined for some imagined diseases, but the people were good to us, and brought us many good things for which we will ever be grateful to the good people of Preston, Idaho, 4th Ward. The ward met in a grey frame building east of the grade school.
I started school in the 9th grade. Willis A. Smith was principal, and a fine pleasant man he was. Brother Bingham was the 8th grade teacher. He was a young man and was teaching and operating a farm. I have seen him several times since and he doesn't seem to age. He is a successful farmer up in Dayton, Idaho.
The kids had lots of fun teasing the little Englishmen, but they were a good bunch of kids. Quite different from the English kids I had been with.
There was not the strict discipline as in the English schools. The teachers were younger and were not as well trained, but were far more friendly than in England.
I somehow squeezed through and was graduated from the grade in school. That winter I lived part of the time with Brother Skidmore, our good neighbor. I helped with the chores and on Saturdays, learned to milk cows and harness and drive a team for which I was given my board and room. I think it was a gift of those good people for, I did eat and I did like the American good and their family life, family prayers.
I worked two weeks with the Sant family at Treasureton, Idaho and had many experiences working and living with them on the farm during the summer. Learning to harness, ride horses, drive and ride in a white top buggy. I experienced my first homesickness.
We had moved around the block to a house owned by Red Sant. The place had two rooms in the main part of the house and a shanty at the back, outdoor plumbing, a barn and a good sized lot backing on to a big pasture owned by Brother Felstead. We planted a fine garden, with potatoes and everything we needed. We read the instruction on the packages and planted the seeds in small rectangular patches and some seeds had to be planted in "hills", and we made hills about a foot high. We did have a good productive garden that must have looked strange to many people but it did provide us with food for the table.
I found an old shotgun in the barn and spent many hours in the hay loft picking off imaginary Indians as they crept up on us from all sides. I fought many a bloody battle in that loft. I discovered a pit of Ben Davis' apples in one corner of the lot. We couldn't figure out how apples came to be in the ground, but I later found out.
We became acquainted with the William Smith family who had befriended Dad and helped him through his trying days living in Preston alone. Young Bill was just a little younger than I. We became fast friends. I also made friends with a boy named Bill Bradbury and his family of good Yorkshire people. We had many happy hours together having fun that was unheard of in England; playing baseball, with a string ball and wooden club, riding down the Indian Hollow east of town on a set of buggy wheels in summer and on a hand sleigh in the winter. Automobiles were very few in those days, 1912, 13, 14, and the old horse and buggy was the only means of transportation. Bradbury's had a horse and buggy.
One Spring I remember riding to work to thin beets in Whitney. I got on Bill's horse and slid back to let Bill ride double and the next thing I knew I went over the horse's head into a barb wire fence, ripping my coat and the scalp of my head; scars which are still there.
One summer we took off for one of the canyons near by -- Cub River Canyon. We swam in ice cold water, climbed the cliffs and captured a young eagle. We brought it back and put it in a cage, but it had to be released because it killed every chicken that came near it.
I worked for Elijah Gilbert in Fairview 10 miles south of Preston. I used to walk home on Saturday night and back again Sunday afternoons, and there were no automobiles to thumb a ride in.
I stayed out of school two weeks in the spring and fall to help with farm work and during the summer I worked on the farms. All of the money I made went to Dad to help with the family. I never thought of keeping it for myself.
I worked two summers for Dan, Joe and Jim Egbert, west of Fairview. I enjoyed the work and I worked pretty hard for $30.00 a month and all I could eat. I did have a healthy appetite. I ate more than my share of raspberries and apricots and plums.
I started High School in the Fall of 1912 and liked my classes. Shop was on of my favorites along with art. Both of these were taught by Brother Oswald Christenson.
Charley and Carl Cutler, Harold B. Lee, Lewis Ballif, Marvin Swan and many others were students. Joseph Geddis was Principal.
I was much too immature to really get what I should have done from my High School. I did not go to a regular dance all during High School. I was very bashful but I did go to Social Dancing on Wednesday afternoons one Spring. I was on the staff of the school magazine, the "Oneida." I liked to swim. They built a new gym and it included a swimming pool which I enjoyed. Mother had a baby boy which was named Preston. It died and was buried that summer in the Preston cemetery.
[David Howard Last was born August 13, 1912. Preston Robert was born march 17, 1914, died April 7th, 1914 JLC.]
We had a party when I was a Junior and we drew for partners. I drew Marie Swan who lived one mile north and east of Preston. Charley Cutler was a swell sport and loaned me their rig to bring Marie to the party. It was a banquet.
The spring of 1915 we moved to Lewiston, Utah where Dad was employed in the branch of the Eagle Clothing Co. opened up there.
We found the people a little different. I never did quite make the friendships that I had at Preston.
I should have gone to school at North Cache High School at Richmond, but I went to Preston to finish high school. I rode my pony back and forth each day and then stayed during the winter at Bradbury's. I think now I missed making friends by doing so. It was a tough year.
The spring of 1916 Dad and myself and Will Smith and his son, Bill, joined together to buy a small relinquishment of land on a half section of supposedly good dry farming land in Idaho, west of Shelley among the lava rocks in an area called Cedar Crest. They bought it through Newel Daves. It proved to be a fake and our Dads got there $200.00 back and we had a summer's worth of experiences working for Alma Hules and the Hules family of Blackfoot. We met some fine people and we were on our own that summer. It proved to help me in overcoming much of my backwardness and I began to be more sociable.
The last winter in Preston I did go to a few dances with Bill's sister Evelyn. Bill Smith and I have many memories of our summer there at Cedar Crest and we have sometimes spent many hours far into the night talking about them; our trips into Blackfoot to talk with Mr. Wright, part owner of much of the dry farm land at Cedar Crest; our life with the Hales family; rounding up the horses from the far corners of the Cedars and plowing all day; our trouble with the deep well and the gas engine; the trip our Dads took with us in the Wagon from Blackfoot at night; our journey from home to Blackfoot and our return in the fall; our battles with rattlesnakes; hikes over the lava; and finally our closing our connection with the Hales and our return home.
Bill later joined the Idaho National Guard and went to France in World War I. I returned to Lewiston and our entire outfit consisted of team, wagon and horses. The poor old horses were completely played out by the time we came home. We make the same journey now by auto in 2 « hour easily.
In 1913 while in Preston I was impressed by Brother Jim Barnes. One day he asked me what I was taking in school. I told him and he said "You are taking carpentry?" "Yes," I said. "Well why aren't you working at it?" I thought about this and then asked the local builder for a job. Albert Johnson hired me for $1.50 a day and he really worked me. I worked for Johnson and Millard for 2 years even to the summer of 1917. We worked on the new North Cache High school in Richmond.
Well, Bill enlisted and Bill Bradbury and I worked in the beet fields in Lewiston the fall of 1916 for a Mr. Jorgenson. Then we decided to go to the sugar factory and get a job. Bill told them he was an experienced saw filer and got an easy soft job all winter. Poor me, I worked the hard way, but by spring had a good job on the "carbonators" in the mill.
Bill lived with us in the old Baker home the winter of 1916 and 1917. We lived in the Bill Stocks home just north of town, but moved to this other one.
Business got bad and the Eagle Clothing company decided to lay Dad off from the store It so happened that Fred Elwood, owner of the Elwood Grocery store, wanted to sell out and move to town, and he made Dad a very tempting offer, and Dad bought out the stock and rented the store. He later made arrangements to buy the building itself. This was a wonderful opportunity for us and by all of us working together, Dad was able to come out and do a good profitable business.
We moved into a better home owned by Glen Rawlins. This was the best home we ever lived in. It had an open fireplace and was modern, with indoor bathroom. It was the best house we had lived in. It was later purchased by Claud McGee and we had to move out. The only place we could find was an old saloon across the road from the store. Our furniture was piled into this stinking old place and we lived there until the house we were building was finished. [Charles Last and Claude Felton built this house for the family -- JLC.]
The store did a fine profitable business for a few years. We all worked and what we made all went to Dad. We took beet thinning, weeding and topping jobs. I also worked with Best pond, Claud Fulton, Johnson and Millard of Preston, Cannon Construction Co. on the Cornish Sugar Factory as a carpenter.
We all helped in the store at odd times. George, Tom, Dorothy and Mother and the younger ones as they grew up.
We were active in the Lewiston 1st Ward. Dad enjoyed meeting the folks at Sunday School and seeing that everybody had a hymn book. I was in Joe Hyer's class that sat on the benches in the north west corner of the old chapel. I later was in John Hyer's class on the stand. Curtains were drawn across to divide the classes.
We sang in the choir with Ed Kemp as chorister. Dad, Mother and myself sang in the Preston 4th Ward Choir, but I sang in the Lewiston Choir. I met Reginald Beales who was then about 18 years old, and an accomplished violinist and his sister Doris, who was an accomplished pianist.
We enjoyed each other's friendship, being English born. We found many friends in Lewiston; the Hyer family, Pens, Van Ordens, Wisers and many others. My only real pal in Lewiston was Regie Beales. The Beales were from Yorkshire and very fine people. Sister Beales was a splendid cook and how I enjoyed her Yorkshire pudding. Reg did a little oil painting. This inspired me to try it in the spring of 1917, when I had a few weeks idleness. I supplied myself with paints, brushes and compo board and I did a few copies of postcards. Later at the U.S.A. C. under Professor Calvin Fletcher I did a few more paintings. This was my only splurge into the realm of fine arts. I did have some talent which had showed itself as a youngster. I liked to model in plasticene as a kid and I made some pencil drawings and entered them in a drawing contest carried in the Juvenile Instructor. I drew a pair of shoes and to my surprise they were published in the magazine, somewhere about 1914-15. I was art editor for the Oneida Stake academy yearbook one year. My drawings were used for the covers and for some cartoons. So there is some manipulative and artistic talent tied up in this old carcass of mine. After this I was forever too busy to indulge in any form of art work
While in Preston I was selected among others to sing in a boys chorus led by Brother Bingham, our 8th grade teacher. We sang in contests and won in our stake, Oneida. Then we went to a regional meet at Hyrum. We lost there, but really had an interesting time with our practices and appearances in the stake.
Later I belonged to other choruses at USAC and the Bear River Male Chorus, which won out in Stake and Region and in the Church finals at the Salt Lake Tabernacle, which was indeed a thrill. I have always enjoyed singing in groups, chouses and quartets. I never did enough solo work to get over nervousness which affected my voice. Professor George Thatcher of the USAC music department wanted to give me private singing lessons. He said I had a tenor voice and I should develop it. I did not have the money or maybe the desire to do solo work. I guess this is a characteristic of mine. I was a little too modest too loathe to be out in front. An introvert by nature I surely am. Fred and George Nye were the conductors of the Bear River Male chorus. Also Walter Wurthridge and Jene Jorgenson of Tremonton.
At Lewiston I began to get over my fear of the opposite sex. We used to go out with Doris Beales occasionally to make up a foursome with Reg and Idella Van Orden. We had many good times in those days without benefit of automobiles. We either hiked on foot or rode in a buggy or in the winter sleigh riding.
I was always bashful. In England we did not have the opportunity to develop socially as we did in Utah. I was years behind the kids my age socially and altho I was affected emotionally by girls, I did not have much to do with them until we moved to Lewiston.
My association with Doris was the first I had ever "stepped out" with a girl. Then I sort of fell for Eve Nielsen, but I guess we were not for each other; but I did worry about it for many months whether I should continue to go with her. I always asked the Lord for guidance in choosing a helpmate and mother. Matters came to a point when I had to decide one way or the other. So I prayed most earnestly one night. I had to know if Eve was the one for me. And I received an audible answer ; it was simply "leave her alone." Eve later married Eric Jorgenson, one of our crowd, and they have had a fine family.
We had some fine dances. I learned to dance a little in Preston and blossomed out in Lewiston, and we had some fine times dancing in Lewiston, Preston, Richmond, Logan, and at a time during World War I when dance bands were very popular.
In our little social crowd was Rulon Kemp, Ella Kemp, Mildred Leavitt, Minnie Smith, Eve Nielsen, Eric Jorgenson, Marva and Hazen Bright, Cassie Telford, Idella Van Orden. We did have fun.
We had fathers and sons outings to Bear Lake where I had the worst case of sunburn I ever had from swimming in the lake; picnics up Cub River Canyon and High Creek.
Saturday afternoons most everybody laid off work, and there was usually a ball game at the ball grounds behind the church house. These were the days when baseball players were farmed out from the Pacific Coast League to the Bush Leagues. The Cache Valley League was one of them, and there were 2 or 3 in each ball club. They played some pretty good ball too. There was lots of enthusiasm.
We had our problems too. The Beales left for the big city. Reg went first and left me in charge of his girl friend Idella. He went to Salt Lake in search of fame and fortune. He found another girl friend and the result was that Idella was left out and I was in a rather delicate situation. Well that was when I decided to take Mildred Leavitt to the Choir Canyon party. That began my association with Mildred which continued until we were married.
I remember once Ollie Bell, a friend who had a Ford (car) invited us to go with him up Logan Canyon. (I'm not sure whether or Dad asked him to take us or not.
Dad had lots of nerve and was not afraid to ask anybody for things that would have embarrassed any one else. Dad had always had to kick out for himself and was not an introvert.) Well, we got up the canyon a few miles and the Ford threw a con rod. The con rod bearings got overheated and burned out. Ollie was a natural mechanic so he crawled under the Ford pulled off the pan and went to work and put in a new con rod. (He had to hitch a ride to town and hunt up a new con rod and find his way back up the canyon.) In those days the roads were thick with dust, steep winding and narrow, far different than they are now. Ollie was a good character. I'd like to see him and remind him of that good turn he did us.
The year of the late snow I started on the Cornish Sugar Factory early in May and worked there until late fall and had many interesting experiences that summer.
We had a beet thinning contract with Dave [No last name written -- JLC] of the 3rd Ward (Lewiston 3rd ward). I had to quit my job for a few days to finish it.
That was the summer George Wollaston came from England to stay with us and renew an acquaintance that started as kids when we moved from Holloway to Ferndale Road at South Tottenham, London, England. This friendship has continued ever since between us and our children. He has always been Uncle George and his good wife Aunt Emma to our children. [As children we always called Uncle George and Aunt Emma Wollaston Aunt and Uncle, and their family did the same to our parents. We all still love them as family JLC.]
We had an old surrey and we hitched up the bay horse and went to our work in the beet fields.
The store paid out well. Business was good and we prospered as we all worked for a common cause. We moved into a better house and things were wonderful. We even had an open fireplace and a bathroom in this house. The fall of this year was beautiful even up to January of 1918. That winter I started school at U.A.C. in Logan, and continued until the end of the spring term.
I continued working at the Cornish Sugar Factory until it was completed and turned over to the West Cache Sugar Company. I worked from an apprentice carpenter to a journeyman carpenter at the unheard of wage of $1.00 per hour. I helped in the store and all the money that I and the other boys made went into the family purse.
The store did well. The farmers were prosperous. The price of sugar was high and the price of sugar beets $25.00 per ton. There was talk among some farmers of refusing to raise sugar beets for less than $40.00 per ton. The war was on and there was a false prosperity among us. [This war was World War I -- JLC.]
I had some very fine experiences that summer, working with carpenters who were not of our faith. They were a rough gang of bommers who followed construction jobs all over the country and lived a pretty rough life. There was one fellow, Ed Lindsay, who was different. He was quite cultured and was married to a very cultured woman. They lived in a part of Dave Egbert's home. We got quite well acquainted with them.
When I went back on the job after being away thinning and weeding beets, the boss put me to work with the steel men building the Lime Kiln; and I had quite a time working in high places and learning to balance on 4" steel way up in the air. I was working with a middle aged man putting in forms between the steel beams. I was on one piece of steel and he on another each holding one end of a 2 x 8 about 10 feet long, 30 feet up in the air. He lost his grip on his end and it fell down but I managed to hang onto my end and regain my balance and bring it back up again. The fellows watching sort of froze up as it looked as if me and the plank would fall to the concrete below; and when I pulled the plank up again they hollered "Good for you Cub." They called me cub as I was an apprentice carpenter. I did things then that I haven' t the nerve to do now.
While going to school in Logan I stayed with George and His family. (George Wollaston.) They had moved out to Utah by this time. I didn't stay there very long.
I enjoyed college very much. I took pretty much the things I liked to do, carpentry, drafting, art and the basic courses required of Freshman. When school was out in the spring of 1918 I went to work with Ollie Bell. We built a house upon a lot that Dad had bought. We built it of brick up to the window sills and frame the rest of the way up. We both had more nerve than knowledge but we finally got the house finished by late summer and I enlisted in the Students Army Training Corps at Logan. The U.A.C. campus was converted into a military officers training camp and I joined up in a machine gun unit of all things. Well the Flu epidemic came along and most everybody including myself took sick and a few died including my friend Maurice Mile of Smithfield. The camp by this time was quarantined and no one was allowed in it. I was among the first to be put in an improvised hospital on the north end of the Main building. After a few days or a week I was up and around. I guess I must have been pretty sick for awhile, but when I recuperated sufficiently I was put on nurse duty in the sick room of those who were in the last stages of pneumonia and who should I find in that large room containing only one bed occupied by friend Maurice Mile. He was very bad I fed him a little water through a tube and he was completely conscious and recognized me. He said he was going to die and couldn't last much longer. I cheered him up as best as I could. His mother at the time was trying to get to him but the guard wouldn't allow her in without a pass. Poor fellow died and his poor mother waiting outside the building. There were several of the boys died during the flu epidemic. Big strong husky fellows would suddenly collapse and be overcome and had to be hospitalized.
I missed the unit which I should have gone with to Camp Oglethorpe, Georgia. So I was discharged before Christmas with the rest of the fellows. I'll never forget the fine group of boys there were there; out of about 700 fellows there was only one case of syphilis. They were nearly all good L.D.S. boys. Some of the commissioned officers I met later as missionaries in the British Mission "Brich" Warning, Romney, Marion Romney was a private in Co. A. Also George Eccles. Apostle Henry D. Moyle was our Battalion commander for a while. We drilled in below zero weather, ate regular meals had plenty of drill and exercise. We were never in better physical shape after we had the flu and when the war ended on Nov.11, 1918, by the signing of the armistice we up on the hill were deeply disappointed because we had been trained to hate "Le Salle Boch," and were itching, in our ignorance of actual combat conditions at the front, to get at him.
Well things were pretty dead at home that winter but I went back to school until the spring of 1919. I worked around on different jobs; helped to build a barn with Bert Pond; worked on beet contracts; helped Dad in the store etc. I went back to school again later in the fall. I enjoyed school very much especially my work in the shops and drafting rooms in social science and music. I was in the choir, the glee club and the Opera and sang a few times in the college quartet, when Arno Kirkham the baritone was not able to be there. I met Laverne Belnap and Afton Johnson and some of her friends and we sort of became friendly along with Rulon Kemp. Rulon was a very good fine young fellow who was attending the B.Y.C, also a Lewistonite. [B.Y.C. was Brigham Young College in Logan for a while -- JLC.]
That spring we put on the comic Opera "The Gondoliers" by Gilbert and Sullivan. We surely had fun. I sorta got friendly with Laverne who sang alto. She was a very nice girl who came from Hooper. I went to see her later that summer and we went up Ogden Canyon on the street car and got a taxi to take her home that night. The taxi driver stuck me $7.00, and left me with 50 cents to sleep in a flophouse that night.
I never did see Laverne again; she died while I was on my mission. We never did get serious. I believe she knew that she was not long for this world.
Well, those were the really happy carefree days I mingled with good clean young people and enjoyed their company. One of my best friends I thought a great deal of was Rulon Kemp. He too passed away while I was away on my mission.
Well summer came again and I thinned beets and worked around with my carpenters tools and occasionally helped Dad in the store. If we had been money wise we could have built up a fine grocery business but we didn't. We children all chose to go our different ways. Dad was finally left with the store to himself.
I recieved a call to go on a mission that summer to Great Britain. I was very happy of the thought of going back to England. But how I do wish that I could have gone later on in life when I would have been more mature and more experienced in the Gospel, and in working with people. I believe I could have accomplished more for the Gospel. But it did a lot for me for which I am very thankful for my dear old Dad who made it possible.
Well all arrangements were made. I had my passport and about $100.00 given to me by the Lewiston Elders quorum, and I worked in the beet field right up to the last. As I left the beet field I took my $1.00 Ingersoll watch which had been wound up so tight it was jammed, and threw it to Dave my brother; it hit a big beet and glanced off 20 feet in the air. Dave caught it and put it to his eye and yelled, "It's running," and I guess it did for a long time after.
Well it was about this time I had taken Mildred out a time or two and I really felt that she was the girl. She had invited me to a Primary officers party and now it was time for me to take off the next morning, Sunday on the local interurban, (street car). It was about November the 10th, Saturday night and an awful sloppy wet night, and I was saying goodbye to Mildred at the Leavitt home. I kissed her for the first time and said goodbye. I told her that some day I would be back if she was still available. I can recall very clearly my feelings as I half ran and half walked the 2 miles thru the sloppy muddy dirt trail to home. When I got home I was wet but elated at the thought that I have found my girl even if I did have to say goodbye for more than two years.
Dad, Ma and myself took off for Salt Lake the next morning and stayed at the Newhouse hotel. Quite an extravagance for Dad -- poor old Dad; I never have felt that I ever appreciate him as I should have done. I feel that we children could never repay Dad and Mother for what they have done for us. This thought has made me feel that the only way I could return it was to pass on good works to our own family, and to try to live the Gospel better because of what Dad and Ma have been.
We were set apart and I had my patriarchal blessing and took the train to the East. I fell heir to a pal by the name of Sovell from Oak City. He was as green as I was. Elder James Wiley Sessions was our leader, a wonderful couple Harold Bennett, Gosmer Thomas was also in the group along with others from Salt Lake. We went through Buffalo New York, but I felt that I didn't have the money to visit the Falls. We went on to New York City, to get our Visas to England. Stayed in New York a couple of days and had some interesting experiences and then went up to Montreal and stayed overnight in a small home and then boarded our ship, Nov.20, 1920. We enjoyed the trip over to Liverpool, England. We had a rather rough voyage. We had a telegram to the effect that Utah Aggies beat U of U on Thanksgiving football game. The Utah State Elders were very happy at the expense of the U of U Elders.
We had several study classes on board. We arrived in Liverpool and stayed over night at Edge Lane. Elder Bust who had preached polygamy to us all the way over was returned on the next boat back to the States. He seemed a very fine sincere man older than most of us, a temple worker and a very active missionary on board. I liked him and was sorry it had to end that way.
We then went on to London and to Deseret where we met James Gunn McKay and his wife, our mission president. He was a character if there ever was one. But he was a good disciplinarian and the elders learned a lot of Gospel under him.
[In Dad's words, "This ends period up to December 1920 46 years ago but written after 1940 26 years ago. Must have been the end, guess I go on from here January 1966." I assume that Dad found this history he had started and then started again in 1966. I am typing this last portion February 1985 -- we aren't very fast in writing our histories -- JLC.]
We gathered at Deseret South Tottenham, North London, England as the new missionaries arrived in England. The first missionaries after the War. Among us were some of the "90 day wonders' of S.A.T.C. at the U.S.A. college officers training. Quickly trained young men who like I had been from college to war training and then to training other younger college youngsters in the S.A.T.C. at Logan and at U. of U. These were some fine young fellows, and a few not so good.
We enjoyed the training under James Gunn McKay, he was a rugged man; a farmer with a strong personality, a good teacher, disciplinarian, loved by many of the Saints but was considered overbearing by some had been in charge of the mission during World War I and now faced with the job of training new missionaries, and to build up the mission as it had been before the War. We had classes, memorizing scripture references, and in organizing talks on various doctrinal subjects. I was back in my old home town -- Tottenham and the folks I knew, the Willmots in Holloway and Brother Hawes of South Tottenham. I enjoyed it tracting, visiting the branches, the Saints and the street meetings in Hyde Park, Clapton Common and Benrsbury Park. I visited Hal Taylor's, Aunt Alice and family a number of times.
We each had to take turns in getting up early and lighting the fires and doing house chores. We were sternly warned of failure to do our duty. I remember that I was so anxious to do mine that I set the clock and unknowingly set it an hour early, to the disgust of everybody except President McKay. I had to ring a large bell to wake everybody up which I did with gusto.
I visited with Aunt Kate, Uncle Tom and Uncle Charley, cousin Kate, Aunt Alice and Uncle Hal Taylor and their prodigious offspring; we had quite a time with them.
I visited with "Uncle Henry" Horsewill, quite a bit, and he took me around on his motorcycle on a side car and pointed out many places he had built as chief of H. C. Horswill & Sons Contractors. Well I could see where I would of been had I stayed in England, or would I? Uncle Henry was a friendly man but not a spiritually minded man. After 2 months in London I was sent to the Nottingham District under President. Before leaving London I was able to visit Mr. Collins at the Page Green school. Newman at Pakeman St., Harold Sage and old school chum. Mr. Keywood at 166 Hornsey Road
I enjoyed street meetings at Hyde Park, Clapton Common in South London, Finsbury Park and some of the street corners along Seven Sister Road. I met Kenneth Coombs whom I came to know more later. Many missionaries came while I was stationed in London. Elder Waring (Brich former 2nd lieutenant in S.A.T.C.) and U of U athlete Romney and others.
We tracted several areas of London close by without much success. Elder J. Wiley Sessions and his wife and family stayed with us until he was made President of the South African Mission. He was an older man and had much success in tracting.
When I went to Nottingham I was transferred to Robin Hood Chase where I met Brother Stallings and Harold Brough of Evanston, Wyoming; Brother and Sister Abraham Noble, wife and daughter former residents and converts from Nottingham. I labored in Mansfield, Longhsboro and Leicester and while there walked to Gilmorton, 7 miles from Lutterworth and obtained some genealogy from the minister and met the local historian and obtained "the History of Gilmorton," Martin Bloskan and interesting man.
Harold Brough was made President of the conference and Max Toolson of Smithfield became my companion. We really went to work at Mansfield and before long had a first Sunday School going, and then came a great wave of anti-Mormon pictures and lectures and we had quite a time. I was transferred to Longhboro and then to Leicester with Elder Mickey Oswald and latter Elder Valentine. I labored in Leicester for a year and enjoyed the work tracting holding cottage meetings and visiting the Saints in the Branch.
We had a very poor place to meet over an old stable upstairs and in a rather poor district, but we had some good people there. George Gent and his wife [who later moved to Utah and lived in Tremonton when Janice was in high school, 1949-50 -- JLC] and Welch girls, Brother Wheatley and many others. We enjoyed our weekend visits in conference headquarters and the place where we lived first with Sister ____________ and then with Mrs. Veary and her family; finally back to London to work with Brother Kenneth Coombs as companions. He was from Garland, Utah and we would later become good friends. He left for home at the death of his father and I stayed for 2 more months and then returned home in January of 1923. It was a wonderful experience and I wish that I had the money and the time and desire at that time to have carried on genealogical research in Leicestershire, Suffolk, Norfolk, and London, but it just was not the time.
I was released in December and arrived home in mid winter in January 1923. [Dad has several small diaries that he wrote during his mission that are in the possession of Charles Boyce Last. Dad doesn't mention that at the time of his discharge he went to Germany for a week. He was given money to do this from Charles Henry Horswill. He spent Christmas 1922 in Germany but I never heard anything about this trip from him. I found a book of Germany post cards and it had one picture in it of Dad in front of a Building in Germany. Aunt Dorothy Last Rawlins told me how he was able to travel there at the close of his mission. Dad mentioned in this history, I am copying from two different pages a time and so missed something that I wanted to include. Dad says regarding Walter and Kitty his half brother and sister, this:
"I visited with Walter and Kitty a number of times, being warned that speaking of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we knew it was anathema to Wal. So I remained silent and just talked Gospel conversation. Had I known better I could have let the conversation and broadened his thinking in areas that we both believed in but the fact remains that Wal was deeply prejudiced and was proud of it, and that attitude is indelibly impressed in his children. I met with "Uncle" Henry a number of times. He was a friendly man but not a spiritually minded man. JLC.]
Elder Wring was a passenger with me on the boat Empress of France and we arrived in New York after a rough voyage and got home about the 19th of January.
At home things were really tough. I was wearing a 2nd hand suit I had bought from Max Toolson, a green serge too big for me but worn out at the seat. I remember that the seat broke out while visiting at Elder Hooper's place in Hooper and once again just after we got home to Lewiston. Well, Dad had it pretty rough. There was a depression on, just after World War I, prices collapsed and Dad was in a bad way. He had overinvested in his home and business and now the business wasn't doing so good. Chain store competition and the other things made it bad. I felt there was no future in business and I was not sure that that was what I wanted to do. There was not enough for me and Dad and the other boys in his business.
I went through that period that every missionary faces -- adjustment to the regular work a day world. I talked to Goudy Hogan, [he was Mildred Leavitt's Uncle and President of the Lewiston State Bank in Lewiston -- JLC.] of the Benson Stake Presidency and sought advice. He was a very kindly man and advised me to borrow money and go back to school, which I did. Not having made up my mind specifically what I wanted to do, I enrolled in those classes I was most interested in, woodwork, social science, mechanical drawing and the basic required courses. I obtained some odd jobs on the side and found a place to stay with Emma and George Wollaston, my old friends, and found myself much happier. I was home in Lewiston on week ends. The problem of what to do in the winter time when work was nil was at least partially solved and there was still the other problem that was unsolved. But things were gradually working themselves out as I went about my daily school work, meeting people, discussing things, doing things.
I was now in my sophomore year, credit wise, and spring on the way, as the days lengthened I was able to get out early and late shingling a few houses, sweeping floors at the college to make my way financially.
I did have a strong testimony of the value of prayer during my mission I had many experiences which strengthened my belief in the help recieved from God in answers to earnest prayer, but the prayer which was the most earnest prayer, and I received the most striking example of the power of prayer, is in this part of my story.
About this time I was troubled about many things -- what my future held for me mainly -- what to do -- choices of a life companion -- such problems I made a matter of daily prayer. One afternoon I came home to my room and feeling that I just had to pray earnestly about things. I felt as if there was an awful weight pressing on my spirit. I was very depressed concerning everything. I had been over to the athletic field watching the high school teams as my brother George Last was there. It was "A" day and all of the schools were at the college and I went to see my younger brother. I was terribly depressed so I just headed for my room. I had borrowed $7.50 from George and had bought an engagement ring for Mildred and was ready to give it to her but I was depressed as I did not know what I was going to do to make a living and be able to do the things I wanted to do. I wanted to get married to Mildred because I knew she was the girl for me. As I walked along it seemed that I was so low my nose was right on the ground. So I climbed upstairs to my bedroom, it was too early to eat supper. I felt impressed to kneel down and put my troubles before the Lord. He knew I could confide in Him and at least I would jet this load off of my back.
So I told the Lord with all the earnestness I could muster, and the words just rolled out how I would serve him as best as I knew how and I didn't care how hard I had to work, and I was willing to do anything; and up to this time I had not seriously thought of teaching as a vocation. So I told my Father in Heaven that I had spent two years working for Him and would he open the way for me to find my work and a job. With that I crawled into bed and slept like a log; all my cares had left me. During the evening Emma came to the door with a letter and finding me asleep left it for me. Next morning on waking I found the letter it was from Superintendent Skidmore of the Box Elder School District asking me to see him for an interview next morning at his hotel in regard to teaching at Bear River High School. He had talked to the head of the Industrial Arts Department and they had recommended me as a prospective instructor. I was overjoyed to find that the Lord had already answered my prayers even before I had humbled myself to pray for it. Of course I had been praying, but this day I felt especially that the time had come for me to make a special appeal for help, and I got it almost immediately. I can see the Lord has a purpose in causing me to feel as I did that day.
Well, surprisingly again that morning I was in Henry Peterson's psychology class; a message came from the President's office which the instructor read, "Last to the President's office immediately," which I did and found that the Superintendent of the school for the Deaf and Dumb at Ogden was looking for a shop teacher and wished me to go to the school at Ogden; and left me $5.00 to pay my way, which I gladly did.
So that day was one of the happiest of my life because the way was opened up for me to have the opportunity to do my share of the world's work and responsibility and to have a family of my own. It was the most dramatic and impressive answers to prayer that I had.
Needless to say I wrote Mildred about it and she came down from Lewiston and we talked it over and decided to come to Bear River High School which was a new high school in that area of the Bear River Valley. It is a rich and fertile valley north and west of Brigham City. I had a missionary friend living in Garland, Elder Kenneth Coombs.
I wrote to the principal C. E. Smith, whom I later became very closely associated with in the school business and in church, and whom I learned to respect, admire and love as a great humanitarian. I also went over to look over the place during the summer and visited the school; only one building had been built and the basement of the new gymnasium and auditorium addition had been started.
Well, August the 29th came and we had become engaged earlier in the year and work was scarce and hard to get. There was a real depression on but I picked up a few jobs shingling and lathing in Lewiston and Logan and had a hard time collecting my money, which I did on the way to Salt Lake with Uncle Frank Rawlins and wife who took us down.
We had quite an experience that summer. On the 24th of July we went up High Creek with Walter Taggart and his wife to be Vella Gregory, Ruey and Verla Taggart, Mildred's nieces, and we all went up in the family white top buggy with a team and camped up as far as we could go. We had unhooked the horses and took them on up the right hand fork of High Creek and went up to the Lake with a few cookies. We rode and held on to the horses tails to help us up the dry gully toward the Lake. Just as we came up to it a great huge black thunder cloud came over the top of the cliffs areas of the lake, and lightening and rain began to strike all around us. So we turned fast and retraced our trail in a hurry back to the forks of the canyon. By the time we got down we were wet. We got the girls into a tent some group had, the Housley boys, and we went down and pulled the white top to higher ground. When we got back to the tent the rain was really coming down and little rivulets running through the tent floor. I was wet anyway so I went outside to see how it looked and it was terrible. There was a thunderous roar along with the rain, I couldn't figure it out and so as I came closer to the creek which was really a torrent of water I saw that the boulders in the bottom were tumbling over each other down the creek and making the sound. Finally it let up and we were a soaked bunch of wet hens and roosters. We took what we could carry, our lunch had washed away down the creek, and we piled on the horses and doubled up with the Housley boys and came down the canyon. All the bridges had washed out in the sudden cloud burst. Several parties had some narrow escapes further down where the rain and flood had accumulated and picked up debris in a dam, and finally as the water piled up it broke away and almost washed a group of scouts camped a few miles below. My brother Dave Last was among them. People out in the valley could see what was happening in the hills and knowing the many of their folks were there, many came as fast as they could to get to the mass of mud and rocks at the mouth of the canyon, waiting for the campers to come out of the canyon. Well we came in single file down the canyon wet and tousled, a sorry looking crew entirely unconscious of being the course of their concern. There had been a lot of people up there and we had not realized the danger they and we had been in; but the further down the canyon the worse the flood had been. Other floods had come all the way down to Salt Lake. The worst had been down the steep and over grazed canyon east of Willard and along the mountains to Salt Lake.
We realized what a terrible flood it had been when we rode through the main street of Willard, with several feet of mud and rocks completely covering the highway and many of the houses along the road.
[Back to going to Salt Lake to be married. Mildred and Charles Last went to Salt Lake with her Aunt and Uncle the Frank Rawlins -- JLC.]
We stayed at the White Chapel Hotel and were married in the City Hall in the afternoon. [I think he meant they got their licence JLC.] The next day we went through the Temple [Salt Lake City Temple -- JLC] one of 47 couples married day, Aug. 29, 1923; Elder George F. Richards married us and we were very happy. We went to the temple at 7 o'clock in the morning and out about 4 PM. We went to a marriage supper of another couple, relatives of Uncle Frank's wife. We had quite a nice evening with all the fun as if we were the honored couple.
We returned on Saturday to Lewiston, Utah, and had a choir party for us and we really had fun.
The weekend afterward I went to Brigham to the Box Elder Teachers Institute and stayed in Brigham at Howard Valentine's parents place. (He was a missionary companion of mine.) After institute I rode back to Garland with Doug Cannon and a Miss Taylor. Mildred came down from Lewiston with her Brother Hyrum and nephew Walter Taggart with all of our belongings. They drove from Lewiston in a wagon with a team of horses pulling it. Our belongings were a cedar chest which I had built for Mildred, and a few housekeeping goods.
[The first house they lived in is now the home Andrew Funk owns and lives in, 1 block south of the stake center. The reason Charles and Mildred came to Garland are explained in this portion of his story.-- JLC.] We thought this problem of which offer of employment should I take was best answered by going to Bear River High school in Box Elder County and trying to find a home in Garland. We figured that Garland away from the city and nearer to Logan and to our folks was the best place to do the things we wanted to do best, to raise our family.
I came to Garland before school started and met Kenneth Coombs my missionary companion in London who had a family business left to him by his Dad, the town pool hall and he was a good LDS man. He had his mother's home, quite a big house, and we rented two small rooms from him for $30.00 per month. I visited the Bear River High School which was built two years before and after quite a political struggle the Board of Education was building an addition back of the main building, a gym in the basement with an auditorium over it. This school was built to take care of the children of the county in the northwestern part of Box Elder County, who had at this time had to move to Brigham City to attend high school.
I had a good job and a good wife and we were settled in a good community. What else could we ask for. Well the salary could have been better but we figured in time it would get better. $115.00 per month was the starting salary. I had never seen the place to which I was to go to teach but I felt that I knew enough to know it was a good place. After 40 years of teaching at the Bear River High School these are my reflections. We have tried reasonably well to set an example to our children and to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have not taken the time to help them with their school as we should have done. We allowed ourselves to be wrapped up in many other things, chorus, choirs, glee clubs quartets, scouting. We neglected some areas like local government and politics. We were picked up in a whirlwind of church activity from the first day almost. Bishop Munns was our first Bishop, an English convert to the Church. Mildred joined the Ladies Self-Culture Club. I joined the Legion and Mildred the Legion Auxiliary. We both joined the Ward choir and the Stake choir, then I joined the Bear River Male Chorus. I taught a Sunday school class the first year, the second year they put me on the Stake Sunday School board and I enjoyed the work. I was then put on the Stake High Council, not that I felt that I was worthy, but that Mr. C. E. Smith, the high school principal and Stake President chose me, and I could have done a much better job if I had tried to do. Principal Smith was a splendid man, teacher and a strict disciplinarian who loved to work with the young people, and was in demand everywhere as a speaker.
[I have tried to write this just like Dad wrote it and sometimes it doesn't make sense, and sometimes I don't type the correct letter, but in Dad's narration he describes Box Elder County and especially the area of Garland and I am adding it at the end -- JLC.]
I had never seen the place to which I was to go to teach but I felt that I knew enough to know it was a good place. It was over the hills west of Lewiston, Utah, bordered by the Idaho line on the north and the Great Salt Lake on the South and the Nevada line on the west. It was on the west face of the Wasatch range fault on the East. Bear River School District composed the biggest part of Box Elder County. On the east were great dry farms and the eastern part more specifically the Beat River Valley, which the Bear River drained, was a great farming country, reclaimed from natural grasses and sagebrush by the pioneers, and irrigated by impounding the waters of the Bear River as it pushed its way through the narrows. By far the biggest irrigated farming area of the state. Among its inhabitants were some of the finest people and young people to be found anywhere.
Addendum by Dorothy Last Rawlins:
Dear Janice: ( March 2nd. 1985)
This letter came today and I couldn't put it down until I had read all of it. I cried all the way thru it as I do when I read my own Father's History. I agree that we have so very much to thank Mother and Dad for and I hope we are proving that we are worthy of their sacrifice.
I just want to add that at Charles funeral I felt such an outpouring of love and respect by the people of that part of the country. I can never tell you of the many stories people told us of how your father had helped them in all sorts of situations; the lady he helped to fix her cupboard while he us selling walnuts and others he promised along the way. He learned to keep his tool box in his car. The Japanese were very much present at his funeral and they all told of his love and compassion. I am sure I have never seen a larger outpouring of sheer love and respect. I am sure he deserved it !!!!
Love from Aunt Dorothy