Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Family History Tour: Searle and Clark Families

A few months ago when my mother-in-law, Denise, was telling a story about The McCornick House (a place I've often heard of), I mentioned that I'd like to see it and take pictures of it before it falls over. The McCornick House is legendary in Denise's family history. Her grandmother and grandfather, Carrie Nielsen Clark and Lawrence Clark, bought 40 acres in McCornick in 1919. Some shady land developers convinced dozens of recently married LDS couples in the surrounding area that McCornick was the next big thing. Plenty of water! Crops will grow and you'll be rich and happy! Almost 100 years later, the Clark home is pretty much the only thing (barely) left of McCornick. 

Last Thursday, April 9th, we took a drive to Delta and McCornick to see the legendary cabin. On the way there, I read Brian the 16-page history Denise gave us.
"[Carrie's son] L. Nielsen and her brother, Rex Griffith had dug a cellar five feet deep and twelve feet wide by fourteen feet long, making a roof over it with cedar posts and boards then covering it with dirt. They hung their bedsprings from the roof of the cellar, making beds for the boys and a place to store their food, clothing, and some light furniture.

"Then, When Carrie and the girls arrived, they took their huge canvas wagon cover and built a lean-to on the side of their wagon, boarding it up - which served as a kitchen and dining area. Here they set up their kitchen range, table, kitchen cabinet and chairs. Carrie wrote: 'It was fit for a Queen!'"

Okay, let's stop here for a moment and reflect on our lives.
This is Carrie Nielsen Clark and four of her children (from left to right: Denise, Nola, Edra, and Niels). My mother-in-law is named after her Aunt Denise. Edra (the five year-old on the right) is Denise's mother. Don't they look clean here? :)

"The next day after the girls and I arrived (10 April 1919 being my Mother's 53rd birthday and Easter Sunday), we went half a mile from our farm to a sandy knoll up by the canal bank and had our Easter party, taking our lunch with us and hiding eggs." One of the Easter traditions in Brian's family is going to the sand dunes for a picnic and hunting Easter eggs. I've always wondered why they think that's normal, and now I know! :)
Denise and Bridget walking up to the Clark home in McCornick, April 2015.

In May 1919, more families had moved in, crops were growing, dreams were coming true. Carrie Clark: "This beautiful day the last part of May 1919, we had just sat down to our noonday meal when all at once we heard a roaring noise. We all looked at each other, so bewildered - we had not had time to think. One of the men said the banks of the canal must have given way. We all looked up and there, not a half mile away came the surging stream of 200 second feet of water headed right toward us. There was not one thing we could do but get out of its way.

"It came rushing on but thanks to the leveled ground when it first came out of the canal, it cut a deep gulch and washed twenty feet deep and some fifty to sixty feet wide and a forty-acre field long before it commenced to spread out. So by the time it reached our camp, the water was three feet deep in some places. four and five feet deep in other places. We were stunned. For a while no grownup or child made one sound."

In August 1921, the crops looked great. On the 14th of August Lawrence went to Delta to get twine so they could finish cutting the grain crop. Everyone else was at church. Carrie Clark: "It commenced thundering and lightning and just like a cloudburst - a real hard rain in the town site and all the other farms. But when we went back home, a hail storm had hit our three forties [acres] (Mother's, my brother's, and ours) and five other farmers. Just took a strip two forties wide and four forties long. Threshed out every bit of grain on the ground. We had had another lovely garden but the tomatoes and melons were shot full of holes as if they had been shot with a twenty-two. Cabbage and lettuce were stripped of their leaves. Our turkeys and chickens were lying dead all over. 

"So there was no need for the twine."

I can't even write this down without losing it! Brian and I laughed/cried at all the things we think we've suffered after reading his great grandmother's words. Carrie's mother, Margaret Bridget Allred Nielsen Griffith, had come across the plains and now she was dealing with all this bad luck in McCornick along with the Clarks. (I loved finding out that we had inadvertently named Bridget after such an amazing ancestor. Margaret was a nurse and a pioneer.)
Standing: Carrie Nielsen Clark, her mother Margaret Bridget Allred Nielsen Griffith. Sitting: Enid and June Nielsen (or Griffith?)

Denise with grandsons; Nate, Colin, and Emil at the Clark house in McCornick.
Grandma showing the kids the very stairs she went down to sleep in the basement as instructed by Grandma Carrie Clark. (The family spent summers in the McCornick house after they moved to Delta in 1930 so the kids would have somewhere to go to school.)
Grandma Carrie would lead Denise down the stairs, snuffing out the black widow spiders as she descended. 
It was fun to stay at Grandma's house, but kind of scary, too. :)
Bridget and Grandpa collected pretty glass near the... kitchen, I guess?
Emil, Bridget, and Colin sitting on the edge of what I think was the grainary. Beyond them is some of the 40 acres the Clarks owned.
Grandpa found a lizard and tried hard to catch him. The boys (except Nate) cheered him on.

In 1930, Lawrence and Carrie Clark moved to Delta. Most of the other farms had been foreclosed (not enough water for all those farms), so there was nowhere for the Clark children to go to school. We actually saw the Delta house first on our tour, but I'm putting those photos here. (Denise was born in this house, by the way.)
Carrie and Lawrence Clark in front of their home in Delta, 1930.
Eighty-five years later - those trees really grew up! Back row: Brian, Debbie, Hal, Harold, Denise, Dena, Kyra holding Brighton. Front row: Bridget, Nate, Emil, and Colin.

We didn't hear as many stories about the Searle family on our tour, but we did visit the old home of Delbert and Ruth Searle in Delta.
Denise's father is Donald Searle, Delbert and Ruth are his parents. This is their home in Delta.
Harold and Denise with grandchildren (and great grand child) in front of the Searle home.

We've had the wedding portrait of Denise's grandparents, Del and Ruth Searle, in our front room for many years. It was very cool to see where they lived and raised their family.
Back row: Del, Donald (Denise's father), Alta, and Ruth. Front row: Archie, Sidney, and Arda.

If you're like me, you're wondering what happened to Del's hair. Denise said he had blood poisoning and it turned his hair completely white within a very short time period. I love having that wedding picture where I can see it all the time. Such a handsome couple. 
Del Searle, Don Searle and Harold doing their favorite thing - fishing.

Just like our ancestors, we headed to the sand dunes after our tour for a picnic and a Junior Arrowhead Hunt (Harold brought some of his chips and dropped them in the sand where the kids could find them). I was inspired not to complain too much about having to use a sagebrush for a bathroom. Carrie Clark was a queen in a castle in a lean-to! I can do anything.
Emil and Bridget, Brighton, Colin, and Nate.
Oh, man! So dirty. The shoes were almost done, this was a fitting farewell.
 Brighton perfectly accessorized for the sand dunes.
Sweet Bridget burying herself in the sand.

I want to take this kind of tour with all my grandparents! I can't put into words how special this was - I'm glad we have these stories to share with the next generation.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

As Bridget pointed out to me today, I say this every year - but this year I mean it! This was hands down the best Easter ever! We didn't have any guests or parties, but we did have General Conference, all our favorite foods, coconut cake for breakfast, kite flying, and lots and lots of jellybean eating.

First, between Conference sessions on Saturday, we colored eggs. This was Emil's favorite part. The part he kept asking me about every five minutes starting sometime Thursday afternoon. He's got to have this information! And then forget it immediately.

When Brian left for the Priesthood Session, Bridget and I got to work on a coconut cake. It had to be done! Bridget cracked all the eggs herself. :)
Between the cake and the frosting, there are five cubes of butter. FIVE. It's probably best that I only make this once a year.
I had to squish this under my short cake dome. Note to self: Get a taller cake dome.

Brian and I spent a harrowing night putting a sleepwalker back to bed a few times, avoiding the jabs of a tiny ninja sleeping between us, then a sweaty but cuddly little boy who likes to sleep in my arms and cut off the circulation in my hands. Otherwise known as The Usual. We never get to sleep again, do we. This is the great secret of every parent - there is no more sleeping.
Poor Bridget - this is so funny to me. Here I've captured the moment that they commenced the manic jellybean eating. Each of the kids got exactly what they wanted, which was fun for everyone. Emil told me that the book he got was his favorite book. :) He has a favorite book. 
Hurry! HURRY! There are only 1,283 jellybeans left!
I find Emil in this position all the time. He got a big rig to drive all his matchbox cars around in.
We had these eggs and cake for breakfast. THAT'S the dream.

We took it easy - watched General Conference again. Bridget played Conference Bingo with Brian and me on Saturday, which was very fun and tricked her into enjoying the talks, but it didn't include the boys. Today we had the kids do some General Conference matching and coloring games. It's a lot of hours to keep little kids occupied, but they did remarkably well. And they had their precious, precious jellybeans. 

When the last session ended, I put the kids in their new-ish Sunday clothes to take some official Easter pictures.
I love the way Bridget reacts to her brothers. She thinks they're so funny.
That is Emil's only dance move, obviously. 
So very close. Emil thought we were still doing funny faces.

They changed back into comfy clothes and we drove to the windiest place we know of to test out the new kites. (Each of the kids got a micro kite in their basket and Brian got a big kite in our shared basket.) It ended up being Colin's favorite part of the whole weekend.
I love this shot! I wish I'd changed the settings so the kite is in focus, but I love it.
Bridget was really good at keeping her butterfly kite in the air.
See what I mean? Best Easter EVER. A spiritual feast for two days and cake for breakfast - it doesn't get any better than this.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Reports March 2015

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
All the hype surrounding the long lost book by Harper Lee coming out this year (Go Set a Watchman) reminded me that it has been a lot of years since I read one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. When I find that I can't remember important plot points of a book, it's time to read it again. Unless I forgot it because it's stupid. Ha! Mean. The last time I read To Kill a Mockingbird I was in college, so it was time. (By the way, one of my reading goals this year is to read a classic every month. I'm already doing that most months, but I made it official. This is my classic for March.)

I'm not sure I noticed the beautiful slow build in To Kill a Mockingbird before this reading. Normal childhood stuff, sibling stuff, small town stuff, then we're in the middle of a court room on the edge of our seats. The whole book is all about perspective - climbing into someone else's skin to see what they're really about. I tend to Olympic Cry for people who do the right thing - especially when it would be easier not to do the right thing. So, Atticus Finch defending a black man accused of raping a white woman, knowing there's no way he can win the case, made me proud to the point of tears. The victory was that the verdict took longer than a few minutes. Baby steps. 

Having read Gone with the Wind not long ago, I feel like I "got" To Kill a Mockingbird on a new level. Reconstruction was so hard for everyone - black and white. It helped me immediately distinguish White Trash from Good Folks. :) 

One of my favorite scenes...okay, I want to write about two of them. First, Calpurnia taking Jim and Scout to her church one Sunday when Atticus wasn't home. None of them could read, so they had a guy say the line of a song, then everyone repeated that line in the tune they all agreed on. I want to go back in time and see/hear that. I bet it's amazing. 

The other favorite is after Atticus had given his closing arguments (so good) and he walks out of the court room. The black folks in the balcony rise, while Jim and Scout (Jean Louise) stay seated. I think it's a reverend or someone else sitting near them that says,

“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'.” 

Oh my goodness. This is a book you have to read if you haven't already. What's wrong with you?

 2. Real Moms: Making it Up as We Go by Lisa Valentine Clark
 I saw a recommendation for this book on Eric D. Snider's blog. I've been reading his blog for about 10 years and I have agreed with 99.5% of his opinions (he's a movie critic), so I thought I'd like Clark's book. You know who would like this book even more than me? Melissa! I'll mail it to you, Melissa. (You're the one who reads this blog.)

Lisa Valentine Clark is about 40 years old, Mormon, and living in Utah County with her five children and her husband. (Me with a couple of different turns.) When she's giving sarcastic advice or ranting about something familiar or telling a story about her kids, the book is at its best. Some of the chapters about being a mother and loving yourself, felt like a good lesson in Relief Society, but not really something I care to read about in a book that is mostly for laughs.

My favorite rant was about her Dodge Caravan with manual doors. She said something about 100% of the kids she carpools standing in front of the van doors waiting for them to open. Oh! That makes me laugh! What have we done? :) And they can't understand her instructions to pull the handle and yank back at the same time. Who? What?! I read two pages to Brian because I was laughing so hard he had to know, about her junior high aged son calling her from school to come pick up his tooth that had fallen out. Because he didn't have a pocket. KIDS! Hilarious.

In conclusion, easy and fun read. It's in the mail tomorrow, Melissa.

3. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
I was in the mood for a fun mystery (not a gross one) and this ended up being just the thing. Eleven year old Flavia de Luce is a chemistry enthusiast with two dreaded sisters, a dead mother, and a remote father living in a fine house just outside a small village in England in 1950. One morning Flavia discovers a dead body in the cucumber patch - almost dead body. The man whispers one word before he expires, "Valet." Flavia is the only one who hears him. 

Since it's 1950, Flavia has to go to the library to find back issues of the newspaper to follow the clues and figure out who killed the stranger in the cucumber patch. There were some fun twists, but I did figure out who the murderer was kind of early. I am the mother of twin boys, though. My mind is a STEEL TRAP for where the shoes could possibly be. (For real. Yesterday the first place I looked was in a suitcase, and there they were. THERE THEY WERE, you guys.) Anyway, the case involves stamp collecting and probably the most interesting story about stamps in the history of stories about stamps.

Flavia is very spunky and a little vindictive - a great combination, it turns out. Next time I'm in the mood for a mystery, I'll go to the second book in this series. (There are a bunch of them.) All the books in this series are available on Audible, which is how I read it. Jayne Entwistle did a fine job - my one nit-picky complaint is that she sounded like she was about to laugh too often. Sure, if she is going to laugh, but then she didn't laugh.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Madness of March 2015

March has been kinda weird. It started with Colin in the ER with a concussion. He somehow dived head first off our bench at church and landed on the top of his head. After he'd hit his head, he couldn't seem to stay awake for anything and he was very pale. Scary. He went to Primary and (I found out later) insisted on his teacher holding him because he wanted to sleep. They brought him to me in Relief Society during the third hour and I took him to the Mothers' Room and held him while he slept. When we got home, Brian and I looked up the symptoms for concussion and decided Colin wasn't exhibiting enough of them to have a concussion, so we let him play. A few minutes later, Colin stood about four feet away from me and projectile vomited all over me. I changed my clothes, helped Brian clean up and we were off to the ER.
Sure enough, he had a concussion. Thank goodness no brain injury. He puked again in the ER (all over my pants and shoes) and the doctor gave us some anti-nausea medication. Poor baby! Colin is back to his old, daredevil self now. My campaign to convince them that baseball, tennis, swimming, basketball (what else?!) are all more awesome than football has begun. My heart can't take it.

We had some fun visits in March. Grandma Peggy and Grandpa Bob stopped by on their way to Arizona, then my bff Kellie and her family came, then Grandma Peggy and Grandpa Bob again. Kellie had Spring Break and they spent a few days in Utah. Five boys (four of whom are part of a twin pair) and Bridget. :) It didn't take long for the little boys to be friends.
Nick, Emil, Max, and Colin
Nick and Max are nine months older than Emil and Colin. Nick and Emil are the BIG brothers and Max and Colin are the wee ninjas. It's eerie how similar Nick and Emil are and Max and Colin are more like twins with each other than their actual twin brother. Max called me "Miss Cole" (all the women in his life are teachers) and he even told me he loved me. The feeling is totally mutual! I get the feeling that Nick takes a little more to be won over (just like Emil), so I have added that to my bucket list. :)
My boys were very interested in this whole "big brother" idea. They like to wrestle, eh? They have interesting toys, eh? They want to watch the same movies we do, eh? Tell us more, Xander. :)
That's Bridget's face when she's boy trapped. Ha! Don't feel too sorry for her, she's about to skip school and go skiing with her Dad. 
 There she is! Photo by Brian, of course.
Later that week, my parents came back after their vacation in Arizona. They came with me and the boys to Munch and Mingle at Bridget's school. We picked up Chick-fil-A and had a picnic on the baseball diamond. Fun! That very night, Brian took us to the Spring Scrimmage at BYU.
Brian has season tickets to BYU football. So far he has not taken me or any of the kids to a game. (He's invited me before, but we'd have to find a babysitter for, like, seven hours. Brian disputes that it takes seven hours, but they have to go early and eat and avoid traffic, then deal with traffic coming home besides watching the game. It's seven hours.) Brian was very happy showing us around his second home, the stadium. :)
The boys climbed and climbed and then complained about how hungry they were. (For real - we thought the Food Truck Roundup was at the stadium that night, but it was only three trucks. Two of them were dessert trucks. And there were two concession stands open. Now we know we can bring our own food.)
One of Brian's friends was watching the scrimmage from a box with his family. We spent a few minutes with them. (I should mention that Bridget was keeping me up-to-date on what was fun and what was not fun. In the box, not fun. Walking around the stadium looking for food, fun. Sigh.) It was a beautiful evening and kinda perfect being there with my little family. 

The next day Grandma Peggy, Bridget and I had big plans to visit Gardner Village and then go to the General Women's Meeting at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. We got a late start, but Grandma Peggy and Bridget finally got to be at the doll store together. :) Bridget brought a Zip-lock bag of change (she bought a yellow T-shirt for Annalee) and Grandma Peggy bought a bunch of shoes (right?). She let Bridget pick out a pair of shoes for Annalee, too. The three of us ate lunch at Archibald's, then ran to the car and raced to Salt Lake. We were definitely not in our seats by 5:30. We happened upon a pretty good parking spot just as I was thinking we were going to have to listen and watch from another building on Temple Square. We RAN down the streets and RAN up the stairs and sat down during the opening song. Whew! My feet, you guys. 
I didn't know if we'd get a chance to take photos afterward, so I snapped this selfie with Bridget while we were in line outside. That's Grandma Peggy's sleeve and glasses next to Bridget. Grandma would've fit, but I was trying to be discreet. The ladies behind me offered to take a photo of the three of us, but the line started moving. Anyway! I'm so happy we got to be there together. I was just teary this morning practicing a duet with Bridget on the piano. Having a daughter is THE BEST. Especially having Bridget for a daughter.
After the meeting we came out on the deck of the Conference Center as the sun was setting. It took my breath away! So beautiful - especially with all the happy women milling around taking photos together. I love this picture. Grandma Peggy and I limped back to the van (you guys, MY FEET!) while Bridget skipped and asked if we could walk around Temple Square. (No.) We made our way to Baskin Robbins for ice cream (duh) before heading home. It was my favorite! Let's do that again. :)

So, we're at the end of March. It's been amazing. :)