Leisure time was not as dull as one might suppose. Many activities of the early settlers havebeen described in the section on talents. Each season had its holidays and special activities.
One report says that the few people who had arrived in the two towns that first spring had a picnic at Water Canyon for the Fourth of July and a celebration at Lund for the Twenty-fourth. Other remembrances of these early celebrations, when there was no meeting house and the area was virtually treeless, were of boweries, erected with poles planted in the ground to support aroof of freshly cut willow branches, with benches of logs or planks, so the people could watch the program and sports from a shady advantage point. One feature of these early celebrations that people who were children then remember was a big barrel of lemonade kept cool with a block of ice from the ice plant in Ely or the Whitehead ice house.
As the towns grew their celebrations were probably patterned after the celebrations of their original home towns and LaPreal Sinfield Thompson describes the general procedure. Floats for the parade were decorated the afternoon or evening before with the hope that no rain would comein the night to spoil them. Also on the eve of every holiday there was a children's dance followed with dancing by the grown-ups. At daylight the next morning a cannon roll (dynamite set offnear the foothills east of town) would rouse the citizens and get them started doing their choresand getting their horses, costumes etc. ready for the parade.
The parade started early and the floats were usually flat-rack hay wagons drawn by horses inthe early years and later by tractors and cars. In the old days they were decorated with red, white and blue bunting instead of the crepe and tissue papers used today. The parades were of a patriotic nature that also recalled the pioneer trek across the plains. One popular theme was the statue of liberty represented by a tall statuesque girl (Zella Harrison was one) and thirteen other girls representing the thirteen original colonies. Each organization had its own float, as original and meaningful as their ingenuity and the materials on hand could make it. There was always afloat for the young children with a sign proclaiming "Lund's Best Crop" and a band wagon to lead the parade and furnish the music.
A number of covered wagons and handcarts filled in between the floats with the occupants dressed appropriately, sometimes with a crate of chickens fastened on the back or leading a cow. E. A. Hendrix sometimes hitched a cow and a horse together to pull his wagon. Along the fringes of the parade boys with bronzed skins, wearing loin cloths and feathers, rode their ponies bareback and darted here and there with blood-curdling yells. On one occasion the covered wagons formed a circle on the town square, the "Indians" attacked and the battle that followed was noisy with yells and guns fired into the air and very exciting for the youngsters when Bertha Smith was captured and carried off by the "braves."
LaPreal Thompson goes on to say that after the parade everyone went home to change into their new clothes, made especially for the occasion, to go to the meeting and program. When my mother spoke of the first Fourth of July celebration she attended in 1901, when they sat on logs and listened to a splendid patriotic program, the key word here is patriotic. They were not so far removed from their roots and tales of persecutions that they took freedom and opportunity for granted and not so sophisticated that they considered expressions of patriotism "square." Therewere musical numbers, patriotic and other, readings, dramatics and stunts, humorous and serious,but the "piece de resistance" was an oration--not a speech or a talk--an oration! A common question was, "Who is the orator of the day?" The subject for the Fourth of July was sure to be the Declaration of Independence with readings and quotations so the children became somewhat familiar with the language and purpose of that great document whether they wanted to or not. The theme for the Twenty-fourth was, of course, their pioneer ancestry with "All Is Well" and the "Handcart Song" to emphasize the theme.
LaPreal says that after the program, in the early years, the family went home for lunch where they might have a special treat like homemade root beer or ice cream made for the occasion. Atother times there was a town barbecue with beef cooked overnight in a pit with some of the men delegated to keep the fire going. Of late years lunches are sold on the High School lawn for the convenience of out of town visitors and all others who wish to take advantage.
Clothes were changed again to go back to the sports that have been held at different times at various locations--near the boweries on the square, on the tithing lot, or north of the old church,somewhat later, on the shady street east of the present Community Center lot and of late years, on the High School lawn. The sports began with children's races and other competitions of different kinds where the children might get a nickel or a dime for prize money. Their parents also might give them a small amount to spend at one of the stores or McKenzie's Ice Cream Parlor. One year a carnival came in and set up a number of games of skill or chance in the area on the south side of the old church to take the extra nickels and dimes of the towns people. Popcorn prize boxes, kewpie dolls, stuffed animals, candy, etc. were the prizes. A number of colored carnival-glass dishes that have become collector's items found their way into many of the homes from this enterprise.
After the children's sports came the sports for adults. The Valley has always been sportsminded. One of their first projects was to organize baseball teams at Lund and Preston and by mutual agreement they reserved Saturday afternoons during the summer months for a baseball game, alternating between the two towns. Webster (Jim) Ashworth gives this roster of the firstbaseball team at Lund-Webster (Jim) Ashworth - pitcher, Arthur (Art) Smith - catcher, Earl(Curly) Ashworth - first base, William H. (Bill) Ivins - second base, Rennie Whitehead - shortstop, Rose Smith - third base, Edward (Ted) Oxborrow - center field, Gordon (Mick) Reid - rightfield and first base, Julius (Jule) Gardner - left field and Willard Burgess manager and umpire. Other accounts also list Adolphus (Dolph) Whitehead and Leo Gardner on that first team. Some of the Preston players were Chris Hermansen, Peter Lauritzen, Chris Jensen, Andrew Jensen, Jim Jensen, Andreas Anderson, George Morley, Ike Morley, Ferry Morley, Arnoldes Windous. Competition was keen especially for the holiday games. Later when Loraine Ivins and Ashby Harrison were old enough they both proved to be competent pitchers and the two towns joined forces against Eureka and Ruth teams at different times for the celebrations.
Wrestling and boxing always drew part of the crowd and often took place on Harrison's lawn. Chris Hermansen, Carl Madsen, Jake Kump and Rodney Oxborrow were some of the participants.
Horse racing was another popular sport in the early years. The track was the street in the middle of town between the present church and the high school. The starting line was by the big ditch. They would race down the street past the Smith home onto a then unfenced area, circle stakes set up and race back to the starting line (whirl stakes and back, they said) so the spectators could see the start and finish of the race. Murry Whipple, Steel Reid, Wilford Terry, Harry Lewis, Bert Allred, Bill Goodman and others chose the fastest of their riding ponies to race. Some of these were pretty fast and seemed to enjoy the competition. My brother, Steel, had two at different times that were hard to beat. He called one Nance and the other Frisco.
There were also horse-pulling contests where pride in their work teams was the issue. Characteristically horses have always played an important part in sports in the Valley so it was natural that amateur rodeos soon became an important event. The first were held on the town square which was a relatively small arena with little protection for the spectators so good pick-up men were essential. Jesse Gardner and Loren O'Donnell performed this function for many years.
One year, to add variety, Mark Oxborrow and Dee Terry had a chariot race. They built their chariots by putting boxes on car wheels and they stood in these and raced their horses hitched four abreast around the square. In another race they had trained two horses to work so well together that they could stand with one foot on the back of each as they circled the arena.
The prowess of Murry Whipple and Dard Bruno has been discussed elsewhere and they were usually champions in the saddle bronc riding but gradually other rodeo feats were introduced, bareback riding, bull and calf riding, steer and calf roping, barrel races, etc. Most of the boys and young men tried competing in one or another of these sports. Wesley Reid, Jesse Gardner, Murry and Vern Whipple, Loren O'Donnell were some of the regulars in the roping events. When Myron Adams lived on the Riordan ranch he brought a professional rodeo outfit in for a few years and the town built an arena on some property Clinton Scow owned east of town. Later Fern Sinfield donated a five-acre plot of ground in the fields west of town to the rodeo association and those interested built an arena with bleachers, an announcer's platform and a building they moved in that can be used for food and drink concessions.
After cars and good roads made travel easier, the Fourth of July celebration at Lund was discontinued as a concession to the countywide celebration at Ely and the Twenty-fourth took onmore importance as a county event, especially the rodeo. The rodeo has to quite an extent replaced other adult sports and is the feature that today draws most of the outside crowd as well as outside talent. In the old days the boys would gather the day after as an aftermath to the celebration for a little informal riding and roping. Now there are two official days of rodeo with some competitive events for the girls as well and a Rodeo Queen is chosen.
After the afternoon sports people would go home to unwind and discuss the day's events before getting dressed in their best again for the dance. LaPreal Thompson made the comment, "I often think how often we changed our clothes during the day to keep clean and save our good clothes. Now days people go to the parade, program, rodeo, dance and everything in the same clothes they have worn all day."
Another summer sport was swimming. At first the youngsters used to cool off in the big ditch where it entered the fields at the north end of town. The boys would skinny-dip when there was no one around, then roll in the good deep dust of the road and run back and jump in the water again. Then Dolph Whitehead took advantage of a natural hollow near the spring, placed a few dams in strategic spots and had an ideal swimming hole. It served as a reservoir and the water was drained off for irrigation and refilled with fresh water periodically. There were grassy banks, one or two large trees, some willows and close by some of the home ranch bunkhouses to serve as bathhouses. No one had real bathing suits even the modest kind considered suitable in that day. The boys wore cut off Levis and an old shirt and the girls wore an old dress out of the rag bag with "bloomers" underneath. And then there were "water wings" for the children just learning to swim. An hour or two in Whitehead's pond followed by a family picnic lunch on the bank was a great event and one always had plenty of company in the years when it was in use.
It was a quiet little town but summer evenings were filled with sounds of young voices and the laughter of children playing hide and-seek, pomp-pomp-pull-away, prisoner's base or ranging from the field lanes to the foothills with cries of, "Run, sheep, run." Corn suppers were also apart of this season. Freshly picked corn was boiled in tubs over an outdoor fire or roasted in the husks underneath the coals and this, with plenty of homemade bread and butter was a feast. Atother times potatoes were baked in the same manner.
Picnics were a common activity of the summer, fall and spring seasons and certain areas had appeal for different reasons. Water Canyon, Sawmill, Rock Canyon, White Knoll, the Big Ledges, Schoolhouse Canyon, Four Mile, Six Mile and Nine Mile, Whipple's Cave, the Cove,Douglas, White River, Ellison, Currant Creek and Currant Creek Summit, Chimney Rock, the Coke Ovens and Ward Mountain.
One early account tells of an outing planned by several women whose husbands were away working or on a freighting trip. These women, (Delle Ivins and Bertha Smith are two mentioned)took their children to Rock Canyon to camp overnight. As evening approached and they began to make camp they heard, or thought they heard, a cougar. They quickly hitched up the horses,loaded the children in the wagon and hurriedly drove back to town. With the uneasiness nighttime often brings accentuated by their recent terror, they decided to spend the night together and went to the Ivins home. As they were putting the children to bed, to their horror, one child was missing (the account does not say which one). They were about ready to hitch up and go back when someone found him asleep at the foot of one of the beds.
Some of the places were within hiking distance but others were quite far. Usually, sometime during the summer, the young people would plan a day's outing or a camping trip to one of the more distant, White River, Cave Valley, the Coke Ovens, Whipple's Cave or others.
Whipple's Cave was an adventure. It is a small cave with many of the same formations as Lehman Caves but virtually unexplored. Access was through a hole on the surface of the ground into which one was lowered on a rope for fifteen or twenty feet. Lights for the dark cavern below were lanterns and candles. My fear was obvious when it was my turn to go down the rope and my brother, Steel, comforted me with the observation, "What kind of flowers do you want, Margaret?"
Late summer and fall outings were likely to have a twofold purpose-to provide a recreational break from routine and to gather elderberries and chokecherries or pinenuts. These were sometimes overnight trips that included several families, camping by the Water Canyon streamwith the high, almost perpendicular cliffs on each side or in Sawmill at the small spring that filled a barrel trough with icy cold water that spilled over to create a grassy spot below before it sank into the ground again. Or the quest might lead at different times to Nine Mile, Douglas, Ellison or Currant Creek Summit, wherever it was reported there was a good crop of berries or that the pinenuts were plentiful.
Basketball and football were not among the earliest fall and winter sports but they have achieved such popularity over the years that a history of White River that did not include them would be incomplete. Basketball had its beginning after the high school was established and has become the main organized sport. L.R. Ivins was the first vocational-agriculture teacher and heal so took over the boys physical education program. The first court was two baskets set up onfairly hard-packed ground south of the old church and games and practice had to be scheduled according to the weather. When the high school was built it included a gymnasium that was small but adequate for the times and the Lund school was included in league and tournament play with other small schools. Good coaching and enthusiasm for the game have combined to earn Lund a respectable standing in competition in spite of its size and the fact that its team includes almost every boy in the school. Some outstanding coaches beginning with L.R. Ivins have been James Jensen, Pete Linson, Nephi Schwab, John Adams and the latest, Kenneth McKenzie. The regulation size gym in the new Community Center has given basketball a boost and the High School girls' team and the grade school teams, under the coaching of Robert Oxborrow, have had very successful seasons competing against some much larger schools.
Nor does interest in the game end with the school. M.I.A. and town teams have been among the top contenders ever since county wide league play was instituted. The year that Lund was battling for its high school the town team took first place in the county in league play, in tournament play and also received the trophy for good sportsmanship, seeming to support the town in its contention that "bigger is not necessarily better."
Football was started in the school soon after basketball but after a few years it was dropped. Then, after a time, it was reinstated. It has had its share of successes and has its fans but it has never been as popular as basketball. Some people think that a program with three major sports, basketball, football and track, in which the same group of boys are competitors is a little top-heavy in the area of athletics. On the other hand, some say familiarity with a number of sports is of value especially with the stress being put on physical fitness today and sports of all kinds still play an important role in the life of the Valley.
Then, too, the fall season brought Halloween which in the early days was more trick than treat. The younger children made Jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins they raised and dressed up as ghosts to frighten their neighbors but soliciting the neighborhood with a bag for treats is a comparatively new innovation. However the young people in their early teens had their own bag of tricks--like removing gates, tipping over outhouses and putting wagons on top of sheds. That the culprits usually had to undo their mischief never seemed to deter them. Mick Reid and Lorain Hendrix worked as a team and their inventive minds led them into pranks at Halloween(and other times) that were both amusing and amazing. But their originality didn't always save them from the wrath of their victims. One time, when Bob Ashworth was a baby, his parents, Webster and Marie Ashworth, left him asleep in his buggy while they went to M.I.A. at the church, a short distance from their home. Mick and Lorain, always on the alert for any opportunity that came along, rolled the baby in his buggy across the way to Ruth Gardner's and left him there still undisturbed. The parents, returning from the church, didn't have too long to panic for Ruth Gardner, also returning from M.I.A., found the baby and wheeled him back home to his relieved parents. Sometimes there were parties where bobbing for apples, trying to bite an apple on a string, popping corn or pulling candy provided the entertainment. In recent years the P.T.A. or the High School F.H.A. have given a costume party for old and young on one night and trick or treat on another is customary.
Thanksgiving was celebrated much as it is today with chicken instead of turkey except for the few who raised their own turkeys. But there were always one or two dances. Mart Gardner remembered that one of the first Thanksgiving dances was held in their home right after their adobe house on Main street was completed. That, too, has changed and from the beginning of the F.F.A. program in the high school the F.F.A. boys (and girls, too, in this equality minded age)have preempted the night before Thanksgiving for a carnival to raise money for projects the school budget does not cover. Raffles, bingo, fish ponds, darts, ring the ducks, etc. result in a noisy night of fun and profit.
Christmas then as now was a special day for children. It began weeks ahead, practicing for school programs, making little gifts and sharing the general excitement in the preparation of good things. A children's dance was held on Christmas Eve and at the end Santa Claus arrived with his bag and a gift for each of the smaller children, sometimes a bag of candy and nuts and sometimes a small gift.
Trees were not always a part of the earliest Christmases but hanging up their stockings was. The lavish gifts usual today would have amazed them but the parents managed to have a few simple gifts, a toy or two, a few books, and in the toe of the stocking, some hard candy and nuts and an orange (oranges were scarce so this was a real treat). The toys could be a doll, a set of dishes, a little chair or perhaps a sled or a pair of skates. It might be a real ball to take the place of the home-made ball of string or rags stitched in several places to make it firmer and a real batto replace the flat board usually used for baseball or "one old cat".
Even though the presents were few and simple the anticipation was as great and the magic of tiptoeing down the stairs in the darkness before the dawn as real for the children of yesterday as of today. Then after exploring their own and their brothers' and sisters' gifts, watching for lights to appear in the neighbors' windows to share as soon as possible the excitement of one's playmates' Christmas doubled the delight. Oliver Peacock (and others I am sure) always hung up his sock and found in it a lump of coal, a potato, a switch or whatever, to the delight and amusement of the children.
When Christmas trees began to be used a few "store boughten" ornaments were managed--fragile little birds and balls, a string of tinsel and a star, but for the main decoration children strung garlands of popcorn or cranberries which was all part of the fun of preparation. The lights were small wax candles in little colored tin holders that snapped onto the branches somewhat like clothespins. That there were no serious mishaps from this dangerous practice was due largely to the fact that the candles were lighted for only brief periods and watched carefully--plus a great deal of luck!
The sleds and skates received were put to good use during the holidays and after. Children coasted on streets that had a little slope but the real coasting track was on the hills above the Whitehead, Ashby and Hutchings homes. The skating pond was a long stretch of ice in the pastures below town where in winter the water not then needed for irrigation made its own course. The skates fastened onto the leather soles of the shoes and as much time was spent putting them on and stopping to adjust them as skating. A bonfire nearby warmed the fingers for this task and lighted the scene to make skating a night time as well as a daytime sport. During the period when the ice was good there were seldom days or nights when skating parties were not enjoying it.
Games for the long winter evenings were always included with the Christmas gifts--card games like Old Maid, Rook, Pitt or Finch, as well as checkers and a variety of other games. One game board I remember was about the size of a card table with a variety of games on both sides including checkers and a game we called croquinole although I have not been able to find such a game in any dictionary, encyclopedia or game book. The board was laid out in a series of circles with pegs set at intervals around the rim of one and a depressed hole in the center. It was played with sticks resembling short pool cue sticks and a given number of circular wooden pucks. Each circle counted for a certain number of points the highest being the hole in the center or a ringer on one of the pegs. At the end of the game the points were tallied to see who had the highestscore.
Christmas and New Years were days to put on your best bib and tucker to go calling. The Christmas call was a personal greeting to your friends that took the place of later day card exchanges and also a way to share your friends' pleasure in their Christmas gifts. My mother called New Years calls "first footing" which was an old Scottish custom.
By far the most popular socializing was dancing. It required little but music which they had and a dance floor of sorts and at first the homes provided that. Molly and Marie Oxborrow(Ashworth) told of moving all the furniture even the stove, out of Grandma Oxborrow's and Whipple's homes to dance. The Christmas party in 1900 was held in Grandma Oxborrow's home which was a wooden building brought from Taylor that stood at the bottom of the square and is now part of Lynn and Lois Horsley's home. Marilda Whitlock told of a dance during Christmas holidays at the Lonnie Gardner home after which her father, Will Terry, told her she must wear her hair on top of her head like a lady instead of in little girl ringlets.
Quadrilles, grand marches, reels and polkas required room so it was cause for celebration first when the log meeting house was completed and the first dance was held in the upper story in January of 1902 and again when the larger hall was added in 1909. One peculiar custom was that in the larger hall the girls all congregated in the northeast corner of the hall on the right side of the entry and the boys in the opposite corner to the left. When the music for a dance began the boys would cross the no man's land between and claim a partner for the dance. When the dance ended he would escort her back to her place, thank her, and return to the boys' side. This was the general pattern but of course sometimes couples would stand and visit for a time or a boy would sit with his date until someone came to ask her for a dance which usually wasn't long. All the boys danced with all the girls, not so much as an exchange of partners as that everyone was on their own. The older ones often dated but usually a younger girl would go to the dance with her parents or an older brother or sister and some boy would ask to walk her home.
Then they might dally for a time at the gate but not for long, in those days of stricter codes, before her father would call her in.
In the early years there was always a long stag line and no wallflowers but no one cut in except when a tag waltz was announced. Then the extra men would get their chance and a popular girl would dance no more than two or three steps with each partner.
Another dance Jack Horsley would call was a circular two-step. This also required a change of partners in the course of the dance and some from the stag line would join the circle so when the call came to dance the extra men would roam around waiting for another chance. In the years that followed every time Lafayette Carter thought things were getting a little dull he would singout, "Circle all--swing your partner--grand right and left--e-e-everybody two-step" and immediately the party would come to life. Onlookers would decide they wanted to dance after all and the floor would fill up. The music, noisy stamping feet and laughter, accented by an occasional cowboy yell from the more exuberant participants broke down all barriers. "Oh,Johnny" is a version of this dance with a few extra figures that is still danced with gusto on many occasions and is a good mixer that young people and their parents enjoy together.
During Christmas holidays there were dances of one kind or another every night except Sundays. Each organization was responsible for one evening and each tried to come up with a different idea. Some ideas they used, not necessarily just at holiday time, were basket dances, weight dances and masquerades. George Fawcett told of a masquerade ball held in 1900 which had to be in someone's home. It became customary to sell homemade ice cream at these affairs.
Dances that caused considerable amusement were weight balls at which the amount of the ticket was determined by weight. I can imagine that some of these individuals, especially the women, were somewhat reluctant to get on the scale and I can picture David Gardner slyly putting his foot on the scale as some unsuspecting woman looked in horror at the weight she had gained. Joe Oxborrow probably had to pay the most for his ticket.
Another fun occasion was the basket dance. The girls would each bring a prettily decorated basket with a lunch demonstrating her cooking skills and the boys would bid for the basket and the privilege of sharing it with its donor. Sometimes I think the boy had his eye on the girl and at other times on the size of the basket.
Ranch dances were highlights of the early years. The hospitality of the Riordans, Whipples and Amos Gardners was boundless. Food was plentiful and the young people and older ones, too, danced all night and drove home as the sun was coming up the next morning.
Two activities that started in those early years at the holiday season were the rabbit hunt and the Old Folks' Party. The rabbit hunt was started originally to control the in roads of the rabbits on the haystacks in the fields. Captains of two teams choose all the men and boys in town and those who come in for the event. They hunt all day and count the rabbits as they come in to decide the winners. The rabbit population varies and sometimes the count is in the thousands and at other times just a few hundred.
In the early days they went out in wagons or sleighs and put cotton in the horses' ears to lessen their fright at the gunfire. Sometimes the girls went along for the ride but they usually found that, what with the cold, unpredictable weather and the rough ride jolting across the furrowed, dormant fields, it wasn't as much fun as they had imagined. I went out just once. I was sitting up on the high wagon seat between Ben Gardner and Lafe Carter when an especially hard jolt threw me out of the wagon and I fell on my back crosswise across the double trees behind the horses' heels. Luckily the boys were able to control the team and I survived the mishap and danced much as usual that night at the dance that always followed the hunt.
When the custom started only the losers had to pay tickets and they were also required to furnish the supper so the party was held the night after the hunt to give them time to prepare. The first party was held at the home of Alice and Lonnie Gardner. The story is told that either Tom Judd or Will Terry specified that no rabbit meat should be used at these suppers (cottontails were often used for meat before the tularemia scare and rabbits were handy) but some people used rabbit meat anyway (disguised probably).
Will Terry was especially fond of pies and had a standing request for pies instead of cake at their public parties. One time he came rushing to tell my mother that my father was on the losing side in the hunt. "Mrs. Reid," he said, "Bob has to furnish pies for the supper." "Oh?" my mother replied. "I don't know what they will be like. I don't think he has ever made pies before."
The rabbit hunt has continued as a part of the holiday season and always draws many out of towners who like to hunt, but now the hunters go out in pickups. It is held on New Year's, exceptw hen that day falls on Sunday, and the dance is held the same evening. Refreshments are much simpler (north end of town, cake; south end, sandwiches or vice versa) and all the men pay tickets.
One feature of this New Year's dance in the early days was a dance by John Duffy. John Duffy, a little wizened Irishman of indeterminate age, was a man of mystery. He had come into town with Joe Oxborrow one day about 1915 or 1916, on the stage that carried the mail. He lived here the rest of his life and became something of an institution. He seemed to have little connection with the outside world and was very reticent about his past. He had a little shack, part dugout, on the lot north of the McKenzie home and another in Douglas Canyon in the White Pine range, where he had a little plot of ground and a small stream of water. He also had a team of horses and an old wagon to get back and forth between the two. His tentative attempts atfarming his plot were not very successful, however, mainly because, during prohibition, a moon shiner operated a still in the canyon and John Duffy had the weakness attributed(deservedly or not) to the Irish. Otherwise, he lived frugally and when his grub got low he would work with the threshing crew, potato pickers or at other odd jobs never asking for charity. The stores had punch boards with enticing displays of candy in fancy boxes of varying sizes. When he had money, Duffy (everyone called him simply Duffy, even the children, unless their parents made them say Mr. Duffy) would punch until he won a prize. Then he would give it to the first pretty girl or child who happened into the store. The dance he did was something between a clog and a tap dance which he called a step dance. Toward the end of the New Year's dance he would have gotten the spirit (no pun intended) and would have been disappointed if he had not been asked to perform.
Another tradition that started with Christmas holidays was the Old Folks' Party. The actual beginning is somewhat obscure. The first to exclude young people were called Married Folks' parties and were held in the homes. Most accounts agree that William Terry was the first to suggest an Old Folks' party and he and Ruth B. Gardner as presidents of the Young Men's and Young Ladies' M.I.A., are credited with starting the tradition as we know it today about 1907 or1908. Only a few Lund residents qualified for what would be considered senior citizens today, George and Rhoda Burgess, Allen Sr. and Ann Elizabeth Wakeling, George Sr. and Louisa Fawcett, Edmund A. Hendrix Sr. and Mary Ellen and Priscilla Hendrix, William, Mary and Martha Terry, Mary L. Oxborrow, William and Hannah Vance. Most of the other married people were in their early forties or younger so the age limit was set at forty years, where it remains today, making for a livelier affair than the usual Senior Citizen's party. Belle Gardner remembered one held in her home which she thought was in 1907 just before George turned fortyin 1908. Ella Fawcett said the first one she attended was in 1908. She wasn't yet forty but she and Laura Petersen were invited because their husbands, George Fawcett Jr. and Martin Petersen, were on missions.
The story is told that the first Old Folks' or Married Folks' party held in the log meeting house that was ready for use in 1902, was on a snowy day (date unknown) and only a few ventured out, Robert and Mary L. Reid, Byze and Lillian Ashby, Mose and Louisa Harrison, William and Delle R. Ivins, Dolph and Eva Whitehead, William and Martha Terry and Robert and Sarah O'Donnell. The snow turned into a blizzard so they stayed all night. As was usual, they had brought ample food and they spent the night with impromptu program numbers, stories, games, charades and general merrymaking. Vera Carter Reid remembered one held in the Relief Society building when she, as a little girl, peeked in the window to see the fun. The cement hall added in 1909 provided a larger assembly hall and the party was held there from then until it burned in 1945. Then it was held in the high school until the new church was completed in 1952, where it has been held every year since. Maggie Hendrix says that since its beginning there was only one year that it was not held.
In the beginning the affair lasted from noon or before until well into the night. The afternoon was spent in visiting, games and a program with a potluck supper served in the evening and dancing the lively old-time dances occupied the night hours. The committee pampered the "oldpeople" by gathering easy chairs from the homes for their use. Then, too, someone always went around with team and buggy or sleigh to escort the guests to the party in style.
George Fawcett Jr. said that the first one he attended after he returned from his mission, he went to Preston, gathered up the guests and started for Lund but the snow had become so deep they got stuck in a snow bank and had to wait for a group from Lund to come and rescue them. Louisa Harrison told that one day Will Terry drove up to her gate and invited her to ride to the Old Folks' Party. She got in a the buggy and making a wide circle he turned his team around in the street and with a flourish, deposited her and her food hamper in front of the church across the street from her home. This practice continued for some years after cars came into use. One year Arthur Carter had taken May Reid, to the party and when he brought her home about midnight,he left his car idling while he walked her down the long path to the door. When he went out the car had slipped out of gear and his fine new car had rolled down the steep bank into the "big ditch".
The party has evolved into a dinner in the evening followed by a program and old time dances with Audrey Smith and/or Nat Oxborrow and company providing the music. The young people plan and serve a complete dinner with tables tastefully set with seasonal centerpieces and favors. Many former residents of Lund, Preston and the ranches return for this event and it has become a homecoming reunion. Bliss Ivins Jones attended more than thirty of these parties although she had to travel from Burbank, California and other far places and until the later years of her life, she never missed one. For everyone she came to she had a fresh original tribute to the Valley and its pioneers.
The entertainment has always been excellent. In the early years many of the people I have mentioned in the section on talents and others furnished the programs. Delle R. Ivins, Belle Gardner and May Reid continued to give readings and Ellen Oxborrow and Lil Ashby to sing songs almost to the day they died. Mary Sinfield, Neil Gardner, Andy Petersen, NettieHermansen, and Marilda Whitlock were always ready with readings or reminiscences. Some of the other remembered program numbers were: Harold Ivins--reading--Shooting of Dan McGrew, Cremation of Sam McGee, or anything by Robert Service (he memorized volumes so he was always ready); Lafayette Carter-reading--Agnes, I Love Thee; LaRue Carter--reading--The Crooked Mouth Family; Clair Whipple--reading--Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed; HelenGardner--reading--Betty at the Ball Game; the Harrisons, Antone, Zina (Warder), Kathryn(Gubler), and Kelly--a variety of songs, among them one favorite was Estrellita; Edith Reid and Maude Gardner--song--likely to be one they borrowed from their mothers' repertoire; Ladies Chorus--Dear Hearts and Gentle People; Laura Hendrix--musical reading; Fawn Ivins Robinson--Carlotta Mia; Carol Ivins Collett--original poem; numerous skits and specialties by different groups directed by Isabel Chesnut, Hilda Harrison, Maude Gardner, Kathryn Gubler, Peggy Gardner, Molly Kaye Reid and many others.
This quote by LaPreal Sinfield Thompson tells of a program given in 1951. "One of the best programs I can remember was a skit put on by Vera Carter Reid. She had the young boys and girls of the town portray the old original settlers. Some of these young people were grandchildren of the older pioneers. The family resemblance in some cases was unbelievable. One couple, Bob Oxborrow and Gerry McKenzie Oxborrow took the part of Brother and Sister Reid Sr. Bob was built and looked so much like his grandfather Reid that it was almost like having him there again and Gerry was a little wisp of a girl very much like Sister May Reid." A list of the characters in this original drama and the roles they played is an interesting link between the generations:
Gardner Scow and Mattie Jean Gardner--Lonnie and Alice Gardner,
Clark Reid and Hazel Sinfield--George and Ellen Oxborrow,
Mary Dee Terry--Mary L. (Grandma) Oxborrow,
Tony Ivins and Colleen Ivins Scow--Will and Delle R. Ivins,
Bill Jones and Karma Collett--George Sr. and Louisa (Grandpa and Grandma) Fawcett,
Frank Reid and Sherril Gardner--Alex and Ann Reid,
Bob and Jerry McKenzie Oxborrow--Bob and May Reid,
Elbert Gardner and Phyllis McKenzie--George and Belle Gardner,
Leland Hendrix and Hazel Reid--Jacob and Agnes Gubler,
Wallace Taylor and Dawn Ashby--Byze and Lil Ashby,
Douglas Peacock and Patsy Terry--Joe and Sabra Oxborrow,
J. L. Whipple and Carolyn Harrison--John and Rose Whipple,
Jensen and Scharlott Peacock--Oliver and Charlotte Peacock,
Max Reid and Vesta Gardner--Heber and Bertha Smith,
Richard Reid and Janice Gubler--Mose and Louisa Harrison,
Eddie Perry and Vione Peacock--David and Ruth Gardner,
Philip and Anita Carter--Lafe and Alice Carter.
I might add that the program of dances, readings and songs were all numbers performed in the early years by the characters they portrayed.
History, especially of a long standing tradition like the Old Folks' Party, is made of memories, sometimes happy but often sad. It is a yearly reminder of the passing of time with the inevitable loss of old friends, yet we treasure the memory of those friends and the full lives they lived with recreation and good times an important part of it. The party of 1950 was brought to anearly and sudden end when Chris Hermansen had a heart attack and died while dancing. Luella Whipple was his partner. The incident is remembered but as the years pass the memory of hiszest and vigor and whole hearted participation in many Old Folks' Parties and other recreational activities tends to overshadow it.
Another custom among the young people were oyster suppers where stew made with canned oysters and milk, along with crackers, was the menu and the excuse for the party. One year while the new grade school was being built, Gladys Frazier was teaching first and second grades in the Relief Society building. There was always considerable speculation about which of the eligible bachelors would squire the young school-marms. One evening Henry Mathis was sitting beside Miss Frazier at an oyster supper. As she turned her head to recount some story to the group, Henry surreptitiously refilled her bowl with stew. Everybody laughed and encouraged by the apparent success of her story she talked more animatedly while Henry continued replenishing herdish. By the end of the evening, without noticing, she had eaten about a quart of oysters.
Another kind of supper that knew no season were chicken suppers. The neighborhood chicken coops were raided to provide the main course and sometimes the take was tender young fryers and sometimes tough old hens. The older generation. rightly or wrongly, tended to overlook these youthful pecadilleos except once when Ed Hendrix took Neil Gardner and Gene Peacock to court. One time a group of Lund and Preston young people were having a chicken supper in Preston. Aage Madsen said he wouldn't steal the chickens but he would cook them, so the other boys went to the Madsen coop and got the chickens and Aage cooked them. After Lewis and Bea Mathis were married, Bea was telling about a chicken supper the crowd had had the night before and she said, “We had six and a half chickens.” “Now, Bea," said Lewis, "You wouldn't have folks think we left one half of a chicken hopping around, would you?”
Games at recess were also somewhat seasonal. After a heavy snowstorm fox and geese was the game played while the snow was fresh and later snowmen, snow forts and snowball battles had their turn. The children often found another use for snow besides coasting, building snowmen or snowballing. It was a kind of ice cream they made (with or without their parent's approval) by combining snow, thick cream, sugar and flavoring. This practice would be frowned on even more today in this pollution conscious age but at a time when treats were few and far between the children found it quite satisfying.
The children went from door to door dropping valentines and took their eggs and hiked to White Knoll, the Big Ledges or another area for Easter. The Seventeenth of March was always celebrated with a program and dance, not because it is St. Patrick's Day but because it is the anniversary of the founding of the Relief Society and very often it was accompanied by a late winter or early spring blizzard. The Preston people seemed to make more of an occasion of May Day than the Lund people did but there was one memorable occasion when the two towns had a picnic on the meadow of the Pete North ranch on White River (I think probably Judd and Moffat were the owners at the time) and they braided the Maypole in traditional old country style. Always in the spring the Lund school allowed one day for a walk in the hills and if May Day happened to be a nice day, that was the day chosen.
Another school custom was a "peanut bust", when the children were tired of routine. They would smuggle bags of candy and nuts into their desks during the noon hour. Then when school opened, on a signal, they would pelt the teacher. Afterward they gathered up the goodies and spent the afternoon munching and playing games. A conscientious teacher would allow them to get by with it about once during the year.
After three years under Clarence B. McMullin's strick discipline, we were ready to take advantage of any loophole any teacher would give us. Mr. Paige was the unfortunate teacher who gave us the loophole and we made his life miserable. One day as we were gathering back at the school after having lunch at home, someone (I think it was I or else Bert Horsley) suggested that we take the afternoon off and go to the hills. The idea snowballed and we took off for the Big Ledges. No one was left in the upper grades but one or two conformists and a few late-comers. Mr. Paige quit at Christmas time and Ivan Hill finished the term. He got us a little moreunder control, I think mainly because he was young and good-looking and we liked him.
That spring there was an infestation of grasshoppers and we invented a new sport. We would flick grasshoppers as they lit or in flight with the flexible end of a long, supple willow branch from which the leaves had been stripped. We got so expert we could pick a grasshopper off a fence post at a distance of several yards with remarkable accuracy. Mr. Hill drew a pencil sketch of me with long legs and arms flying, willow wand upraised in pursuit of a grasshopper.
At times different games had spurts of popularity at recess for no apparent reason. For a time everyone would play marbles and each child had his collection which increased or decreased according to his skill but he always held on to his favorite "taw". Then suddenly marbles would be dropped for baseball, pomp, prisoner's base, hopscotch, jump rope and somewhat later yo-yos and hula hoops. Playground equipment is a comparatively new innovation with swings, see-saws, bars, nets, etc. with the various balls provided. There are baseballs or soft balls and bats to replace the homemade string or rag balls with a flat board for a bat that children of an earlier day found satisfactory.
Organized sports have also to a great extent replaced the informal sports of by gone days. Track, as an activity of the spring months is another innovation of the schools. The Lund school,as in other sports, has proved that it can compete successfully with other schools and some of its participants have broken school, county and state records in different events. In 1978 the Lund grade school took first place in the district track meet. The next morning their coach, Robert Oxborrow, received a phone call from one of the officials saying that due to an error on the part of the officials one of the runners from the Ely grade school did not compete in the race for which he was eligible. He further stated that if the Lund runner in that race did not come into Ely on Saturday morning and rerun the race, Lund would forfeit the trophy and it would automatically be given to the Ely grade school. This ultimatum could of course have been challenged but Bob Oxborrow drove to the Six Mile ranch, because they didn't have a phone, picked up the boy, Glen Taylor, and drove to Ely. With his school's honor at stake, Glen went into the race with greater determination than before. He beat his own time, which won him an individual trophy, and the Lund track team retained their first place trophy.
Another reunion that originated in recent years is the High School reunion. Since the classes were so small, it seemed a good idea to include a number of classes beginning with the first class in 1919. It is held in June every two years and each time two additional classes are included. These reunions have been very successful. An evening is spent with a dinner, program, pictures,reminiscing and dancing and a picnic is held the next morning on Murry summit.
A number of traveling troupes representing a variety of enterprises came into town at different times. Many very excellent old photographs in the homes today bear the signature "Stephens' Traveling Studios". Mary Sinfield remembers that these people were relatives of Charlie and Carl Stephens (Stevens) of Sunnyside and Cave Valley and they set up their tent and equipment near the Horsley home on the lower street. She also remembers her aunt, Maria Platte, who was teaching school at Sharp (Adaven) having her picture taken sitting in a chair with her long hair hanging down and touching the floor all around her. (Several other women could have shown similar luxuriant tresses among them the Burgess sisters, Alice, Ruth, Ella and Lucy).
One time salesmen for a photograph enlarging company came to the door with a pitch, "You are the lucky recipient of a gift certificate for a free enlargement. Of course you will have to order x number of pictures to qualify but this gift is especially for you." It seems everyone in town was chosen for this special offer and most gave them quite sizeable orders. However the framed enlargements were quite good.
Then there were traveling shows. Sometimes these were theatrical troupes complete with costumes, make-up and scenery that gave performances such as "East Lynne" and other melodramas of the day. Sometimes they stayed two nights giving a different performance each night. We were introduced to motion pictures with the antics of Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and the Keystone Cops and the glamor of Mary Pickford, May Murray and the Gish sisters on a screen set up in the old church by enterprising traveling companies anxious to pick up a few dollars wherever they could. The captions helped one follow the story in these silent pictures and the figures on the screen actually moved. True they moved in a jerky, unnatural manner and the reels broke frequently but we weren't critical.
Another show, long remembered, featured "Spiritualism". It was given to a good-sized audience by a pleasant couple, man and wife, a little past middle age, who stayed in our home. There was a large box with curtains across the front in the center of the stage. They called for volunteers from the audience and my father, Bertha Smith and George Gardner went up. They were seated on chairs in front of the closet-like structure with the man on one side of the box and the woman on the other. After a few preliminary jokes and conversation, eerie things began to happen, levitation of a chair, strange rappings and voices from the box, and then little hands came from behind the curtains and touched the volunteers around the face and neck which they could apparently feel because they would clutch at the places where the audience saw the little hands. I have no explanation for what we saw that night except the one my parents gave, "It must have been group hypnotism".
The medicine man was a product of an earlier age but we did have a man come to town who claimed to read character from the bumps on one's head--for a fee. He was suave, appeared well-educated and called himself "Dr. Miller". My mother, usually so skeptical, was quite impressed, mainly, I think, because he gave her and her youngest child (me) such flattering readings. We were the only ones in the family to have readings. That was our introduction to phrenology.
Then there were the gypsies. They would appear at unpredictable intervals, set up camp in the shade of the trees at the north end of town or in the grassy lane between Fawcett's and Joe Oxborrow's. "The gypsies are in town. Nail down everything loose," was the warning. "And don't try to bargain with them. They always get the best of the bargain". Lafayette Carter told one incident when some gypsies asked to buy some hay from David Gardner. David looked at their small cart and said, "You can have all your cart will hold." By the time they finished stacking the hay they had as much as a hay wagon load. It was piled high and extended beyondthe cart on all sides even up over the horses' backs with only their ears sticking out. When David saw the load he said, "I told you, 'you could have all your cart would hold'. Take it."