Total Pageviews

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Security Bank

            There must be many people throughout Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming who own sets of Cherbourg French Lead Crystal glasses just like the beverage, champagne, and wine goblets that currently sit in my china cabinet. I use them for Sunday dinners and holiday meals when family and company gather. For many years, these glasses were stored in their original white cartons with black lettering the way they came boxed from First Security Bank. 
            During the 1970s, 13 banks and 153 branch offices comprised the First Security Corporation. It was the 59th largest bank in the nation. The tellers, bookkeepers, and secretaries of the Delta branch remember how much work was involved to balance their credits and debits, just like banks always have, but unlike more modern banks, they had to do it without relying on the aid of computers. Long-time employee, Anna Lee Hepworth says that when she worked at First Security Bank, it closed at 2:00 pm but employees labored with the cash and checks and 10-key machines until 5:00, accounting for every penny. There were many more checks to deal with in former days than there are now with today's electronic banking and credit card expenditures. The many checks had to be sorted alphabetically, all deductions and payments accounted for, and every deposit posted. Each transaction was verified and run through two systems of posts and statements, again with both obliged to come out perfectly balanced before employees could leave for the day. Yet, with all the time and toil required to do this job, Mrs. Hepworth says she found great joy in the work, the camaraderie of the employees, and staying busy all day.
            Former employees of the Delta branch boldly proclaim it was 'the best bank with the best people in the world'. Anna Lee found pleasure in her employment there, praised the fine managers she worked under, and loves the great friends she made and has maintained throughout the years. Several of these former employees continue to meet monthly for lunch.  The 'Bank Ladies' look forward to the chance to get together each month and preserve the friendship they formed back in the days at First Security Bank. While they eat, they visit about their families and activities; they also reminisce about things that happened while they were working together. Recently they recalled that when First Security moved to its new location in 1972, the big, heavy safe was placed on a wheeled cart and pushed and pulled along the sidewalk on Main Street to its new home. What a sight that must have been!
            I remember going with my mom to the bank with my passbook and a check or cash to deposit. The tellers were always friendly and kind no matter how small the amount or the customer. They would take the money and mark the new account total in my little blue book. I remember the vault where the safe deposit boxes were located and the numbered metal boxes, which required two keys to open. I remember those "premiums" offered during the late 1970s for savings account deposits. First Security Bank offered two china dishes or two crystal glasses for each $50.00 deposited in a savings account. Over the past 35 years my goblets and my memories of First Security Bank have remained sparkling clear. I now lift a glass in tribute to the Delta Branch of FSB and the wonderful people who served the community so well and made banking there such a pleasure. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Not Exactly Rodeo Queen Material

           When I was thirteen years old, I had a horse named Buster. The defining attribute of this animal was his attitude. Buster was naughty! Lynn Talbot, who lived across the street, said that Buster need to know who was in charge, but Buster always knew exactly who was in charge--he was! Mr. Talbot loaned me a saddle and bridle until I could purchase my own, but I could not get Buster to take a bit, so Lynn exchanged the bridle for a hackamore, with the admonition that I would have even less control of this horse without a bit between his teeth to remind him of who was in charge. 
            It was exhausting getting Buster ready to ride. He would kick and stomp his hooves and throw and thrust his head, he would step away from me just as I would lift the saddle onto his back, and he would snap his teeth at me as I mounted. Once I was on his back, he would buck a time or two before he would finally submit to the yanking of reins and kicking of flanks.
            To put it mildly, Buster was reluctant to be ridden. I could persuade him to walk and at times cajole him into a trot. I rode Buster all over town trying to convince him that I was in charge, but a slow pace was all he could muster, at least until I turned him toward home. Once Buster sensed I was done fighting him, he would gallop at a terrifying speed back to the house. Both Buster and I would arrive home in a lather, he from his furious hurtle and me from just hanging on.
            The one place I could ride Buster with less aggravation was the rodeo grounds. There, he was willing to canter around the arena without all the work or the out-of-control, mad dash when we turned towards home. Perhaps riding in circles kept him wondering which way home was. We were relaxed and he was relatively well-behaved…at least until we exited the ring. Once we went through that gate, all bets were off and so was Buster, recklessly racing back to his hay and to be rid of his rider. This was our routine for several months.
            One day as we rode into the arena, I was thrilled to see three barrels placed in the familiar triangle figure for barrel racing and I decided we were going to try it like the beautiful rodeo queens and grand horses I had watched in that arena over the years. I urged Buster forward and we trotted through the clover-leaf pattern of the three barrels finishing with a quick gallop back out the gate (because he thought we were heading home)...FUN! I had to try that again, but this time with some real speed. I drove the heels of my boots into Buster’s sides and forced him to gallop at an angle to the right side of the arena to barrel number one…around we went! Pulling hard, I convinced him we were headed to barrel number two and then things went south. As we rounded the barrel, Buster reared and I slipped from the saddle and fell into the soft soil of the rodeo arena. Even though the fall didn't injure me, I instantly knew I was in trouble because my boot was caught in the stirrup and Buster took off pulling me along. He abandoned the plan to circle the third barrel and was heading straight for the open gate. My head and body were bouncing up and down through the plowed ground making a cloud of dust as he drug me the full length of the ring. I was certain this was the end; I couldn't see how to survive that kind pounding when we came to the gravel and then paved roads, the ditches, rocks, bushes and other hurdles we would cross between the rodeo grounds and home--which is where I knew Buster was heading at a dizzying speed.
            I was struggling with all my might to free my foot from the boot OR my boot from the stirrup as we flew through the gate of the arena. I was screaming at Buster to stop, yet I knew it was completely futile. Just as we entered the parking lot, Buster came to a sudden halt…He just stopped. I didn’t waste a second, without the pressure of being pulled by my foot; I could rotate the boot and extricate it from the stirrup. I jumped to my feet, fully expecting someone to be standing there holding Buster’s loose reins. But there wasn’t anyone there, at least no one I could see.
            Buster allowed me to easily remount and then he calmly walked out of the parking lot and turned onto the road. It was the first time he ever returned home at anything less than a frenzied gallop. As we made our way home, I reflected on the magnitude of what had just occurred and what very well could have happened. I imagined the pain I would have experienced being pulled by one foot along this road, I envisioned my family finding my broken and bloodied body. I started shaking as these images played through my brain. I was still trembling while I unsaddled Buster, toweled him down, and gave him oats. I patted his head and went into the house marveling that I was alive.
            Since then, I have come to the realization that I have a guardian angel. I have experienced other miraculous interventions which have prevented serious injury or death. I am certain my guardian angel has had to work harder and put in more time than her counterparts. She is certainly due a great deal of overtime pay on reckoning day.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pioneer Day

          The high point of summer each year of my childhood and youth was July 24th. It would begin with a bang and end with a rodeo with lots of fun stuff in between. I remember being awakened by the cannon shot announcing the Hinckley Lions Club breakfast, which was followed by the parade down Main Street. The parade often had many of the same entries of  Delta's 4th of July parade with one notable addition--the Miss Hinckley float, carrying the queen of the day and her two attendants. The parade ranked second only to Halloween in the amount of candy the town's children would haul away in bags. When I was young, the last parade entry going past meant, 'make your way to the church for the choir's annual Patriotic Program'.
            The Hinckley Ward Choir started practicing for the Patriotic Program immediately following their Christmas Cantata each December. I don't know if Cluff and Ruth Talbot were the originators of this long-standing tradition, but at least two generations of Talbots kept the program going all the years my family lived in the area. The chapel and overflow area of the original Hinckley church building would be packed beyond capacity with townspeople and out-of-towners coming to be uplifted by singing and speaking. For a couple of years, I was a member of the choir and had a prime, padded spot at the front from which to enjoy line up, but other years I remember trying to find a seat. The last time I attended that program, I sat in the balcony where I enjoyed the performance below and nearly felt the roof lifting from the building by the passionate presentation honoring pioneer ancestors.
            Immediately following the program, the barbecue lunch started. In those days when Ward Relief Societies were required to raise operating funds, this lunch greatly bolstered the budget of the Hinckley Sisters. It seems they offered either chicken or beef as the main entree with potato salad, baked beans, and a roll as the standard fare, with cake or pie offered as desert. People would sit on blankets or folding chairs all around the large shaded and grassy area of the church grounds enjoying their lunch and each other's company.
            During the 1970s and 80s there was a break between the church lunch and the Hootenanny in the early evening. More recently, activities and games in the park and presentation of awards for the 5K fills time after the parade. During a few years of my childhood before the park was completed, I recall a large flatbed trailer was pulled to the shady yard of the Manis Family on north Main Street. The Hootenanny would include banjo picking, piano playing, singing, dancing, and other engaging routines.
            The day would culminate with the Hinckley Rodeo. Each night started with pretty girls on horses as the Hinckley Rodeo Queen and her attendants began the procession of participants. Bull riders and steer wrestlers; bareback and saddle bronc riders; barrel racers and hide pullers; calf ropers and mutton busters were among the entertainers each night of the rodeo. My favorite part of the evening was the comedy duo of rodeo clown and announcer who would fill the gaps between events with stunts and jokes. The night air was filled with cooking smells of hamburgers and popping corn, the scent of assorted animals and dust raised by  their pounding hooves, the boom of the announcer's voice over the loud speakers, adrenaline of the contestants, and pure excitement of the crowd gathered on the bleachers.
            I was brought up believing there was no better way to pay tribute to stoic pioneers than early-morning pancakes in the park, candy thrown from floats on Main Street, barbecued meats and baked beans on paper plates, and cowboys riding bucking animals using only one hand to hold on. Happy Pioneer Day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Swimming Holes

           I have written a number of columns mentioning ditches over the past few months--burning the banks, asparagus growing there, swings over, forts in, milkweed growing along, etc. The canals and ditches of Millard County are an integral part of the agricultural system of the area, they were also a load of fun for the children growing up there.
            With summer in full swing, the water will once again be flowing through the ditches of my childhood. There were some canal segments in Hinckley which were particular favorites of the kids of my generation. Damron's Deep and Big Ditch were my two favorite swimming holes; they always had a crowd of kids dressed in cut offs and t-shirts during the hottest part of every summer day.
            The Damron Family had widened and deepened the ditch on one side of the large headgate near their home.  This was a favorite place to jump in, splash, and swim for a large group of kids. I would often meet my friends there. We could jump off the headgate, swing from a rope tied in a tree, or just wade in from the shallower part of the ditch, but once you were in the 'deep' section, it was all fun and games.  The current swirled us around and carried us downstream.  It took some hard work to keep yourself in the deepest place. I became a powerful dog paddler in Damron's Deep.
             After several summers of burrowing our toes into the mud in Damaron's ditch, they plastered the bottom of the ditch with cement. I don't recall who did the work, but I do remember it being rough compared to the slick, smooth mud and after a few bloodied toes, we learned to wear shoes when playing there.
            Big Ditch was another favorite water hole. It was a very wide, but not deep place in a ditch north of Hinckley Elementary School. I'm not certain if someone had manually extended the sides to make it such a large space or if years of water erosion created the large bowl-like structure, but we would sit in the water like a group of hot-tubers when we went there. We would spend a little time splashing about, but mostly we just sat and visited. It was more of a social rather than a physical event being in Big Ditch.
            My Grandma Basham came to help my mother when my baby brother, Mark, was born in June of 1972. Grandma was absolutely aghast that my mom allowed Jim and me to play in the grayish-green water that flowed through the ditches. She put us on notice, that while she was there we would not be allowed in that water. I could not understand her aversion to the muddy ditch or the water flowing through it. It was cool, it was fun, and everybody was doing it. She certainly put a damper on the first half of our summer that year.
            Luckily, grandmas don't stick around too long and Jim and I were once again allowed to swim in our favorite spots. Unluckily, that August Jim and I both contracted Impetigo which Dr. Lyman blamed on the irrigation water.
            Concerns about bacterial infections, pesticides, herbicides, and debris found in irrigation water have come to the notice of many in recent decades. Swallowing unpurified water could result in parasitic disease or other medical complications. In more recent times, the idea of playing in dirty water has completely changed. I'm grateful for the fun memories I have of swimming in the ditch. My mother didn't bat an eye about her kids splashing in the irrigation water; however, I'm sure if she ever saw her grandchildren swimming in that water, she would have thrown a fit. Apparently, a grandma's role is to spoil children rotten in some ways, while determining dangerous possibilities and demanding changes even before science proves her point.

Friday, July 6, 2012

B'More and Beyond

       I've taken some time to get around to blogging about our wonderful time in Baltimore and surrounding areas.  I think I've kept it to myself for the past couple of weeks just hugging all the memories, examining them closely before sending them out into cyberspace.

      Of course the best part of the trip was seeing Dani and Kelly.  They celebrated their third wedding anniversary and moving to Baltimore in June.  In those three years we have seen them only five times--NOT enough!

        We left home at 8:00 am on Wednesday, June 13.  Kevin was generous enough to drive down from Logan and transport Rob, Bryan, Camille, and I and all of our luggage to the Salt Lake International Airport.  We had a 10:50 am non-stop flight to BWI.

        When we arrived, we collected our suitcases, took a shuttle to the car rental center, and met Dani and Kelly at about 5:30 (Baltimore time).  Dani had just finished her last day of school earlier that afternoon and now she had us to take charge of.

      We followed D & K to downtown Baltimore to their favorite burger joint, Abbey Burger, which was ranked "Baltimore's Best Burgers" in Best of Baltimore. The menu consisted of a check list we marked with our selection of meat, type of bun, toppings, and add-ons we wanted. We could have ordered alligator, duck, kangaroo, or about a half dozen other meat options. We each completed our list and the waitress collected them and presently returned with our order. My black Angus with avocado, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and chipolte mayo was the best hamburger I have EVER tasted!

      Following dinner, we checked into the Towson Sheraton, and then went to Dani's and Kelly's apartment where we got to meet their cat, Libby, for the first time. We discussed our plans for the rest of the week, watched a movie, and ate the delicious individual creme brulee Kelly made for us. 

      Thursday, June 14th, we awoke early, met at the Ahern's apartment, made and packed a lunch and left for Gettysburg, PA. We went to Gettysburg the last time we visited, but Rob loved it so much he wanted to do it again and Bryan wasn't with us last time, so he voted to go there too. We enjoyed the beautiful drive through the countryside. At the battlefield, we did the 'driving' tour, but we got out and walked a lot.  Around noon we found some picnic tables set up near the center of the battlefield and ate our lunch. Squirrels and Cardinals hovered around waiting for our crumbs. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading monuments and listening to Rob tell stories of the three-day battle and those who made history with their bravery. We ended our day at the Gettysburg Cemetery.
A cardinal who wanted to share our Gettysburg picnic
A Gettysburg Cannon
     The next morning (Friday, June 15), we splint into two vehicles to head to Washington DC.  The guys--Rob, Kelly and Bryan--were headed to the Air and Space Museum, while the girls--Dani, Camille, and I--went to the Holocaust Museum.  We spent six hours in these places and then met up at the National Zoo.  We visited all the enclosed exhibits when we first arrived because they closed at 6:00 pm. Then we ate dinner and spent the next two hours exploring the rest of the zoo, or at least as much of it as our tired feet would allow.  We were all footsore and exhausted when we arrived back in Baltimore that evening.
One of the two elephants who entertained us.
The lazy Howler Monkey (a new daddy to a cute baby Howler).

     Saturday, June 16, didn't require quite as early a start as our two previous days.  Kelly had a job interview at 8:00, so we met them at about 9:30 and Dani and Kelly took us to their favorite book exchange called The Book Thing (how is that for a catchy name?).  We spent an hour looking at thousands of used books then we walked to the farmer's market that the Aherns visit most summer Saturday mornings.  We enjoyed the chance to see our Baltimore family in their own surroundings.  After walking back to the car, we headed down the freeway to Philadelphia, PA. Since Dani and Kelly are both history majors, they love exploring many famous US historical sites. They were very familiar with Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin's grave and several other places in the city.  They also took us to Reading Market where we ate authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.  They were delicious and then we poked around some of the other booths and shops in the famous market. We bought some candy from a Amish family's store. Kelly directed us to a few more sites as we headed out of town that afternoon and then pointed us in the direction of Longwood Gardens. Kelly had purchased on-line tickets for this amazing place where we spent the next six hours. Longwood Gardens was Pierre duPont's estate in Kennet Square, PA which was deeded to the state by the famous millionaire as a foundation for people to visit the exquisite gardens, fountains, arboretum and grounds.We stayed until after dark so we could view the spectacular lighting displays and watch the fountain show. It was so beautiful, I don't even know the words to use to adequately describe it.  

Philly Cheesesteak. Yummy!!
Walking to Independence Hall
At Benjamin Franklin's Grave
Longwood Garden fountains in the daytime.
I could not get a decent photo of the gorgeous night-time lit-up fountains.

      Sunday, June 17, we met Dani and Kelly at their church house at 9:00 am and enjoyed visiting their ward and meeting many of their friends. After church, we went back to their house and Kelly made Chicken Marseilles to celebrate Father's Day. That afternoon, we drove back to Washington DC and visited the National Cathedral, some of the monuments at the National Mall, and Arlington Cemetery. It was a pleasant Sunday.
National Cathedral with scaffolding around earthquake-damaged spires 
A stained-glass window from inside
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Memorial (also earthquake damaged)
from the Lincoln Memorial.
See our reflections in the Vietnam War Memorial.
      Monday, June 18, was the day Camille was most excited for on our whole trip. We had another early morning to get on the freeway headed to Ocean City before the rush hour crush. We made good time and arrived in Ocean City on the only over-cast day of the trip. At first I thought it might be too chilly to enjoy the beach, but it ended up being a delightful day. The clouds seemed to keep the crowds away and we stretched out and enjoyed our section of sand. We napped, read, talked, walked the boardwalk, waded in the Atlantic Ocean, and shopped in some touristy shops. That evening, we cleaned as much sand as we could from ourselves and our belongings and went to the outlet mall where Kelly did a little 'back-to-school' shopping. He will be teaching high school starting next week and needed some new shirts, slacks, ties, etc. We also got a local's recommendation of where to eat. He directed us to a seafood place for dinner.

Enjoying Ocean City's Beach
A cloudy day over the Atlantic 
Fish for dinner
     Tuesday, June 19 we got another fairly early start with the plan to begin the day at Fort McHenry, but as we approached the bridge, we were stopped by police officers who were not allowing anyone over to the fort. We are still not sure if the island was filled to capacity, if there was an accident, or if some other issue prevented us from seeing Fort McHenry, but we didn't get to "Sailabrate" the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with other Baltimorians that day. Our alternative plan took us to Annapolis where we discovered a beautiful little city, which is the capitol of Maryland and picturesque in every way. We walked through the old part of town, found a spot for lunch (even though we couldn't locate a crab house), ate delicious ice cream, and toured the Naval Academy. It was the warmest and muggiest day of our trip to this point. Mid-afternoon, we headed back to Baltimore where we ended the day at Inner Harbor. We had plans to visit Kelly's favorite Crab House Restaurant there, but found that it was closed, so we returned to their apartment where he grilled steaks for us instead.

A lightpole hung with flower baskets against the
backdrop of the Episcopalian Church Steeple
in Church Circle, Annapolis
The National Aquarium in Inner Harbor, Baltimore

       The next morning, Wednesday, June 20, we awoke to the hottest day of the whole week.  We met Kelly and Dani at the Towson Mall and where we did a little shopping in the airconditioned stores. At noon, we had brunch at Towson Hot Bagles and said our tearful goodbyes. It was time to head to the airport for our return flight.

      We had a grand time in Baltimore. It was sad to leave our kids knowing we won't see them again until Christmas. Thanks for taking such great care of us and treating us to so many visual and culinary delights on our trip.

Sidenote:  I've been texting a very hot and miserable daughter each day this past week. The power has been out since a huge storm hit the east coast on June 29.  Today is July 6 and at 8:00 pm, they are still without electricity. They have been experiencing 100+ degree days and high humidity.  The poor Aherns have been waiting it out in their third-floor apartment without any airconditioning, refrigeration, warm water, or lights for seven whole days. The power company has given them expected days/times for restoration of power, but all of the estimates have come and gone over the past three days without the promised power.