This biography was printed in March 1976 by the William Halls Family Organization in its family periodical, Through the Halls of History, Kristine Halls Smith, editor.
© 1976 William Halls Family Organization
George Henry Hall was the 4th child and son of William Halls (1834-1920) and Louisa Carritt Enderby (1840-1911)
GEORGE HENRY HALL and CELIA RAYMOND HALL
By Florence Hall Bell (Daughter)
Whenever I think of Papa, I think, too, of Mama. She was so much a part of his life that to write his history without including hers would be difficult, if not impossible. She had a remarkable influence on him in spite of the fact that, in his own words, “he had lived to accomplish his purposes.” You could say, too, that everyone else whose life closely touched his had lived for the same reason. He allowed nothing to stand in the way of his accomplishing those purposes.
Mama and Papa were not much alike. However, that very fact made for variety and a lack of stagnation in the home. About the only major objectives they had in common were their children and the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But those must have been enough, for they achieved a relatively successful and happy marriage, as marriages go. The famous and beloved Mamie Eisenhower, when asked the secret of her remarkable happy marriage to Ike, said, it must have been because they had absolutely nothing in common. I have learned as I have grown older that few marriages are “ideal,” and that if your marriage hasn’t failed outright, then it has to have been a great success, just by virtue of having survived at all. There was never any question of the survival of Mama and Papa’s marriage, but there were times when how it was to be achieved was a bit vague, especially on Mama’s part. But Papa was always sure of his ground, there was never any question in his mind. He was a great enthusiast and an incurable optimist; he always knew everything would turn out right, and it didn’t dare do otherwise!
Papa was born in Huntsville, Weber County, Utah, on June 20, 1867, to William and Louisa Carritt Enderby Halls. He was the fourth child and fourth son in a family of five boys and one girl. His mother was the first of Grandfather’s three polygamous wives. In their young manhood, Papa and two of this brothers agreed to drop the ‘s’ from their name. Mama was married with the name of “Hall” and Hall it was as far as she was concerned. She thought that ‘s’ tacked onto an otherwise perfectly good name was superfluous and probably the result of a mistake of some kind somewhere along the line. It just may be she wouldn’t have married Papa if he had stuck with his original name, because she didn’t like it.
Grandfather and Grandmother Halls had been converted to the Gospel in England and had married and emigrated to Utah in 1861. They settled for a short time in Kaysville and then moved to Huntsville, where Grandpa engaged in various pursuits, including an interest in a cooperative farm east of Huntsville. He also took up land south of Huntsville, which in time was developed into a promising farm, known later as the Hall Brothers Farm. Papa’s youth was spent almost entirely in the school of hard knocks. He early learned the meaning of hard work, and I think it was on the old Co-op Farm that he first learned the “value of a dollar”. It was a lesson he never forgot. Be it said to his credit that he tried faithfully to teach that all-important lesson to his children, but we were poor students and slow to learn. To his disappointment, we showed little interest in the subject and even less application. Papa never caught up with inflation, or maybe I should say inflation never caught up with him. He expected a dollar in 1960 to buy what it bought in 1900. Some of us who had the responsibility of managing his financial affairs in his extreme old age found this delusion on his part more than a little frustrating at times.
Mama was born in Kaysville, Davis Country, Utah, on April 1, 1868 in a sturdy rock house on the old Mountain Road. Her father and mother, Grandison and Celia Hall Raymond were converted to the Gospel in Sullivan County in Upper New York State. They crossed the plains to Utah in 1852, with two small daughters--one less than a month old when they left--in a comfortable covered wagon with the necessary provisions for such a trip, and settled in Kaysville where they spent the remainder of their lives. Mama was the youngest of their 10 children--6 girls and 4 boys--three of whom died in childhood.
Grandfather Raymond was truly a Yankee in every sense of the word--capable, industrious, undaunted, firm in his beliefs. His ingenuity and determination knew no bounds. Nevertheless, he could be kindly and understanding when the need arose. He was not financially poor when they left New York State, and with the proper means at his disposal, he soon converted his little plot of the wilderness into a blossoming and verdant farm, on which he raised prize peaches and strawberries and other luscious fruits and vegetables. I remember when I was a child hearing Mama speak wistfully of the strawberries her father used to raise. (There were no strawberries on the Hall farm, nor on the Hall ranch in Idaho.) Grandfather also accumulated a fine herd of cattle which he managed in a highly lucrative manner. So, when Mama, the youngest of his brood, was growing up, her family was considered to be among the affluent of the community. Mama had beautiful, fashionable clothes, and attended school in Salt Lake City. Mama’s mother was always spoken of by everyone who knew her as the most kind and charitable of women. She was beloved by all. Sons-in-law are not usually considered to be the most reliable source of accurate information about their mothers-in-law, but Papa was an exception. He said of Mama’s mother that she was without question Athe most saintly character’ he had ever known; and he voiced an opinion shared by the entire community. I should like very much to have known her, but she died when I was nine months old, and Grandfather died the day after I was born. Mama was not told of her father’s death until I was six weeks old. With such a gentle upbringing, Mama was quite unprepared for the rigors of life that marriage to Papa entailed.
During the first year Grandfather and Grandmother Halls were in Utah and lived in Kaysville, they became acquainted with Mama. However, papa first became interested in Aunt Bessie, Mama’s sister just older than she, whom Papa met at Weber Stake Academy in Ogden. They must have struck up quite a friendship, for he invited her to his family home in Huntsville to spend the Christmas holidays. She went and had “a very enjoyable time” according to her. But it was aunt Bessie herself who admitted that “when George met Celia, he transferred his interest to her.” It was also Bessie who gave us a rather enlightening insight into Papa and Mama’s courtship. She said: “Their courtship seemed rather unusual in that some of the time, at least, they seemed to be sparring partners, trying to test each other’s wit, intellect, breadth of information, and what not. The folks would hear them debating’ various issues, and apparently George became satisfied that Celia was a good match in every way, which I’m sure she was, and she that he was, also.” This behavior carried over into their entire lives--they always loved to discuss with each other the pros and cons of issues of current interest. They respected each other’s opinions even though they didn’t always agree.
I could never understand how Papa at this point could have exhibited such cowardice, but of course he was young then and no doubt hadn’t developed his confidence to that point of later years. But for this once, at any rate, he wasn’t sure of himself, for after one of his visits to Kaysville, he went home and wrote Mama a letter, asking for her hand--popping the question, if you prefer. Those were the popular terms of that era. She must have replied in the affirmative, because they were married on February 24, 1892, in the Logan Temple. Six weeks later, on April 9, Papa was called to fill a mission in England. Mama remained at home with her folks during his absence. They wrote each other the dearest, most charming love letters while he was away, shyly expressing their love for each other and their hopes and plans of again being together, and how joyful it would be. Those letters intrigued me no end when I was a young girl. Mama had brought with her from home a little pink trunk that was stored away in the basement of our home. It contained her wedding dress and other priceless mementos, including this package of letters, tied with a blue ribbon. I carefully retied them after I had read them. I have no idea whether any of my siblings were ever so curious. I didn’t ask. I wish I knew what became of them. How delightful they would be for posterity. They were so indicative of the dignity and wholesomeness of the age in which they lived.
Papa returned from his mission April 2, 1894, and after taking Mama to General Conference in Salt Lake, they left for Huntsville “to begin housekeeping,” as Papa put it in his diary. Grandfather Raymond gave them as a wedding present, a number of head of nice cattle, with which Papa started himself out in the cattle business. A good many years later, Papa gave Mama a few thousand dollars with which to do genealogical work for the Raymond family, in grateful appreciation of the generous gift by her father.
Mama and Papa settled down in Huntsville in a fairly nice house for those times, a two-story white adobe, roomy and pleasant, just a half block from the main street of the town, very convenient to all the town facilities. There were two good-sized bedrooms upstairs and a “trap” room, and I do mean trap room. I am convinced that every home should have a trap room. In a few short years, the folks rearranged it so that part of it at least could be used as a play room for us children, and we loved it.
On August 7, 1896, Mama gave birth to their first child, a girl, whom they named Violet Celia. Papa lost his heart to her right from the start. Nothing and no one else in his whole life ever quite measured up to her. On February 9, 1898, I came along, with no fanfare from Papa. As a matter of fact, he was off somewhere on a “home mission” (the equivalent no doubt of what is today a Stake Mission), and his diary for that day made no mention whatever of my arrival. How could it? Means of communication were a bit slow. About a week later, when the news had finally leaked out, he recorded that a daughter had been born, and that was it. No word of joy that a beautiful spirit the likes of Florence Louisa Hall had been permitted finally to leave the portals of Heaven and come to honor his humble abode. He didn’t even mention that I was whole and had all my parts. Well, no matter. He bore it with fortitude and was always a kind and considerate father. I think I bear the dubious distinction of being the only child in the family born without benefit of Papa’s presence. But he was like Grandfather Halls--his church duties always came first. Grandpa went off once on a church assignment and left Johanne with a very sick child, and she didn’t want him to go. He told her if he didn’t go, the child would die. The child didn’t die, so I guess he proved his point. But I think Mama wondered a little why Papa couldn’t have deserted his post long enough to have seen her through this ordeal, but as it was mama was left to the tender mercies of a midwife and dear little Aunt Lottie, then a girl of 16.
The first son, George Raymond, was born August 8, 1900; and a second son, Eugene Henry, entered this life on September 20, 1902. It was at this point, when the baby was but three months old, that Papa was called in December, 1902, to fill another foreign mission, this time to far-off Australia. There was never any question about his going. Mama made no protest. It was arranged that Mama should have a cow and chickens and $15 a month in cash from the hall Brothers farming business. Even in 1902 B.I. (before inflation), that can’t have been very much to go on for a family of five. The cow proved to be a meany. We children were instructed never to go into the barnyard unless we were with Mama, because this cow had taken quite a dislike for us and would chase us. Even with Mama with us for support, this miserable creature would dodge back and forth around Mama’s skirts in an effort to get at us; but for some reason, she stood in awe of Mama, which I guess isn’t so hard to understand. For some further thoughts on this Australian mission of Papa’s, I am including here an excerpt from an article about Mama, written by my sister Violet…
Much of a faith-promoting nature has been written of the lives of LDS missionaries and of the fortitude of their lonely wives, of their reliance on divine succor, and of how briar-strewn paths were smoothed by prayer.
Mother prayed, many times through tears; often her prayers came dangerously near curses--and her paths were never smooth. No longer a bride, but a woman cherishing no illusions of romance, or of divine guidance, Mother, now struggling to care for four little children, the oldest six, the youngest three months, was left once more while Father went to preach the gospel, this time to the far-away Australians. She made no protests when he was called--had she the power she would not have stopped him. But she lacked the religious fervor that has buoyed many women when skies grew dark and storms raged. The menacing thought that he was seeing the world, meeting charming people, enjoying delightful companionship, and showing off, was always with her. And while in the dread cold of the bitter winter days she shoveled paths in the deep snow, nearly a block long, to the barn, where twice a day she milked her cow and fed her hens, climbed the narrow ladder and pitched down hay--shoveled paths to the well, the clothesline, and the street, she was further chilled by Father’s letters--not of love, but of success, of tropical beauty--banana palm trees, entertainment in fine homes, of brilliant people being led by her husband’s brilliant line to embrace the true religion and be saved.
There were ghastly weeks when night and day she prayed and wept and fought to keep alive her first-born, who lay unconscious with pneumonia. She prayed, but always had the best physicians she could summon, and followed their directions with precision. Kindly neighbors came to watch--and talk, and she loathed them. All four children had the measles--her kerosene lamps burned all night and the children screamed in delirium. Fires burned in all the stoves, and sometimes went out if Mother in her rounds had failed to stoke them. A nurse was hired and somehow paid, out of her small funds, and the neighbors were not there. I often wondered why they weren’t allowed to share Mother’s life, to lend what comfort they might have done, and I’m convinced the solution was--gossip. They talked--they went away and talked--they came with fresh stories of other women’s sorrows, and she would have none of them. Never in her life did she repeat a scandal, never allowed her children to pass on spicy bits, never indulged in the small-town prattle of small town folk. And she confided in no one--no one read her letters, no one knew what her income was, or how she spent it, no one knew whether her lot was hard or gay.
There came nearly being one exception--a quiet-voiced ward teacher, bald-headed, long bearded, who raised eleven sons. He came often and was always welcome--never seemed to speak to her of his--or her religion, but came in always with the same remark—“Sister, you have such beautiful children,” and left still praising her “beautiful children.”
On Christmas day the baby had pneumonia. The beloved doctor, Edward I. Rich, ploughed through snowdrifts all night long to get to him in time to save his life. For pneumonia then could run its course undeterred by sulfas or oxygen. This baby was Mother’s world--his helplessness, his sweetness, his terrible need of her, and perhaps his illness, endeared him to her as to no other person in her life.
And on another winter day in the days when yellow flats floated on quarantined houses, Father came home. Two of his four children were in bed with scarlet fever, but he had performed a splendid mission, and it was over. His wife was in his arms, and they loved each other. The children adored him, and he them. He was thin, and he wore a strange blond moustache; he was a stranger but he was their stranger. The yellow flag came down. There was laughter and much to tell on all sides--friends came--there were merry strains from the parlor organ and singing that cheered the night. Mother had now snowy paths to sweep, and everyone was well. Spring came and business prospered and the Lord was on their side at last…
Papa returned from his mission on December 31, 1904. I remember it perfectly. The door opened and a tall, handsome gentleman entered. Mama gave a little cry, as though she hadn’t been expecting him, and rushed into his arms. I was drawing on a little blackboard and wondered who this strange man was that Mama was so taken up with. I was six but didn’t remember him.
It was toward the close of summer that Papa shaved off his moustache. I wonder why I remember that so clearly. He looked so different without it, but he said it did not flourish so well in this dry climate. I still recall the good smell of the moustache wax he used to put on it, and the bay rum he used for aftershave. Whenever one of us kids went near him when he was shaving, he would invariably dab us in the face with lather, and sometimes in the mouth. Although that was not especially pleasant, we always went back for more. Papa thought that was great fun.
On January 27, 1906, just over a year after Papa returned from Australia, Mama gave birth to our fifth child, a boy, whom Papa named Sydney, because of his great love for the Australian city of Sydney. When this child was eight months old, he passed away, on September 28. This was our family’s first brush with death. I was eight years old. Once before, when our neighbors, Alma and Eliza Peterson, lost a lovely baby, we children walked past their home ever so many times and peered with awe at the wreath of fresh flowers attached to the front door; and on the day of the viewing, we finally got up the courage to actually go in and look at the little white figure so beautiful in death. The thought that a similar experience could ever come to us was unthinkable. However, it wasn’t long before our own little baby was stricken. We were living on the farm. It was early fall but we hadn’t yet returned to our town house. We children were going to school from the farm. Quite suddenly our baby brother became very ill. He had always been a rather delicate child and perhaps for that reason Mama always seemed unusually attentive to him, and to love him more than anything else in the world. Or perhaps it was just because he was the baby. I remember watching her strained, white face as she went silently about nursing him, and we instinctively dared not intrude on her unspoken anxiety. She seemed far away from us, in a world of her own, and we felt lost and a sickening sense of impending calamity. I remember I kept wishing there were something I could do to help her. She spent most of her time in the bedroom with the sick child. Dr. Edward I. Rich came from Ogden in a horse-drawn carriage to diagnose the illness as typhoid fever--rare in an infant.
Then one night the doctor was there again and this time we other children were allowed to go into the sick room where Mama sat holding the baby on her lap. He was so white and still that it was frightening, but we were told that he was going to be “all right.” It was the first time since his illness that we had been allowed to see him and it was the last. I went to school the next morning in better spirits and with more confidence than I had had since Sydney became ill. After all, he was going to be all right--they had said so, and I believed it. So it was a terrific shock to me as my sister Violet and I were walking from school back to the farm past our Aunt Minnie’s house, to have her come out and stop us. She took us into her home and told us very tenderly that our precious little brother had passed from this life into a beautiful place where I understood why he was going to be all right--he was with Heavenly Father. Aunt Minnie told us we were to remain with her and Uncle John for a day or two so that our mother might rest. I remember so vividly the awful feeling of despair that overcame both of us. We needed so desperately to be with our mother at this awful moment. There are times when you just have to be with your mother and this was one of those times. We need to share in her sorrow--it was our sorrow too. But here we were at Uncle John and Aunt Minnie’s where we had to be on our best behavior. No one who has not experienced such a situation can understand the overwhelming sense of relief that came to us when Mama phoned early in the evening and said she had to have her children with her.
Then began preparations for the funeral. In those days funerals were quite formal. It seemed necessary to send to Ogden for corduroy tam-o-shanters with gold buckles on top for Vi and me. That’s the only thing that stands out in my mind about our clothing. But Mama was to wear a long, heavy black veil with a black hat and black costume. Where my two younger brothers were or what they were doing during all this, I haven’t the vaguest notion.
Our house in town was opened up and set in order for the viewing. I can still see in my mind’s eye as though it were yesterday, that little white casket containing the exquisite little body, standing on a metal framework in the center of our parlor, as kind friends and family came and went. Violet and I were dressed up and standing by our parents, and I remember feeling called upon to smile at them, because I felt ill at ease and didn’t know what to do. We heard afterward that someone had said that apparently I hadn’t taken my brother’s death very seriously.
The only thing I recall clearly about the funeral itself was the scene at the cemetery. Certain things impressed themselves upon my mind and others didn’t. The Huntsville Cemetery at that time was a bleak hill covered with sagebrush and rocks--as uninviting a spot as one could imagine--and to lay her precious little son to rest in such a forbidding place tore my mother apart. The grave site was not camouflaged in advance with beautiful green artificial turf as graves are now, with chairs nicely placed for the immediate family. Now, no caskets are lowered into their graves in the presence of the onlookers. Sydney’s casket was carried to the cemetery in a white-topped buggy and our family and friends stood around the open grave while the little casket was placed in a crude pine box and lowered into the gaping hole. Then, as though we had not suffered enough, the grave closer briskly shoveled in the awful dirt and rocks right in front of our eyes and ears. I have never been able to erase from my mind the pitiful cry that burst from my mother as the first shovelful of rocks resounded on that little pine box. That cry sank into the very depths of my heart and stayed there. I think I understand how the pioneers felt in leaving a beloved one behind on the plains. The fact that Sydney’s crude little grave was dedicated to the Lord by one of His servants gives me, and in hope it gave my mother, some comfort.
Now, as I go to the Huntsville Cemetery where my beloved mother herself has been laid to rest beside that little grave, I am so happy that with the advent of piped water to the cemetery came grass and flowers, trees and shrubs, and there is also the security of an all-encompassing chain link fence. I look out over the clear waters of Pine View Reservoir to the beautiful, heavily-wooded, encircling mountains of Ogden Valley and Ogden Canyon to the west, and I think there could be no more lovely and peaceful spot in all the earth. I often think of it as a perfect setting for the resurrection. And I look forward to that glad day when our fun-loving family shall again sit down together, in heaven, in one of our happy get-togethers. And this time Sydney will be there!
Before I take us away from Huntsville, I should like to recall some of the early impressions I have of our life there as children. We were happy and secure. If Papa and Mama had problems, they didn’t allow them to carry over into our lives. I grew up with the firm conviction that my Father knew everything, possibly because he thought so himself. It gives children confidence to know there is nothing their Father doesn’t know or can’t do.
I remember so well the awful cold of winter and the frosted windows in our house. We would wrap up in warm clothing, with overshoes and black leggings that buttoned up the sides with shiny black buttons, and wool caps and mittens, and go out romping in the deep snow. When the snow froze, we could run and play on the hard crust. In fact, they could even drive horses and sleighs over the crust some of the time. We could always tell when spring was breaking through because we broke through ourselves--to ridiculous depths sometimes, usually losing an overshoe in the process as we tried to get a foot back out. It wasn’t always easy to get the overshoe back out either. We had a small, fancy sleigh called a cutter--a one-horse-drawn vehicle that corresponded in winter to a one-horse buggy in summer. It was exciting to ride in the cutter to the tinkling of the sleigh bells on the horse’s harness. We liked nothing better. There was only one seat and not too many could ride at a time, so a cutter ride was a rare privilege.
For larger groups, we rode in a bob sleigh, wrapped up in blankets, with straw in the bottom of the sleigh for comfort and warmth. It was slower, with two horses, but still with sleigh bells. The sleigh bells were detachable and could be put from one harness to another.
I still remember with nostalgia the first signs of the coming of spring to Huntsville. The chickens came out of the coop and began cackling in the yard like mad, the icicles began dripping from the roof, and the sun actually gave forth with a bit of warmth. There was a distinctive smell in the air that I always loved that was a sure harbinger of spring. Sometimes now I get just a slight whiff of that same old delightful spring odor, but not to the same extent--a smell of earth, I guess it is, beginning to pop up through the long snows of winter, moist and steaming.
One of the joys of spring was a pussy willow tree in front of our house--a tree, not a bush. It had tiny little pussies on it, and we would stand up high on the fence beside it and pick off the pussy willows. Then Violet and I would put cotton in an egg shell and a suitable number of navy beans to represent the eggs in a hen’s nest. The hen herself was never a problem. From a beautiful collection of sea shells Papa had brought to us from Australia, we picked out a shell to fit the nest that looked more like a hen than a hen does herself. After the sea shell hen had sat for a few minutes on her eggs, she came off with a nice brood of fuzzy little pussy willow chicks--the dearest little chicks you ever saw. I love them yet. My heart goes out to the kids nowadays who have nothing better to do than to shoot down everybody in sight with their toy guns.
Another memory I have of our early days there was the big milk can full of the evening’s warm milk, that Papa put out on a wooden rack by the big tree in front of our house, for the milk wagon to pick up next morning. I don’t really know where this milk went to or what the arrangements were, but there must have been a dairy somewhere that the people of the town supplied with milk. I’m sure we weren’t the only family who put out milk that way. What I do remember though, is that Vi and I would take our amber, knobby tumblers, a loved and rare possession, out to the milk can and dip up and drink warm milk from them. Our parents knew we did this and didn’t stop us. But I can see now that this couldn’t have been the most sanitary practice for the public’s milk. However, at that time the public good was not our first concern.
Then, too, we had cousins to play with. I can’t imagine growing up without cousins. Two of Papa’s brothers, Uncle Will and Uncle John, and his two sisters, Aunt Lizzie and Aunt Lottie, all lived in Huntsville at that time, and they had children somewhere near our ages, both boys and girls, whom we loved and whose company we enjoyed as only those who have had a like experience can appreciate. Uncle Will’s-Ruth and Aunt Lizzie’s Edith and Estella were particularly good friends with Violet and me. I was some younger than they, but they always included me, and I still love them for it. These cousins used to come over to the farm in the summers and we spent hours wading and dipping in the canal and roaming over the surrounding hills picking wild flowers, and in various other pursuits.
One of our favorite occupations was springing the traps that Papa had so carefully set out to catch squirrels. Squirrels were a menace to the crops and means of control difficult. Papa made every effort to rid the farm of as many of these pests as possible by way of a string of traps located at strategic spots. It seemed a little contrary to reason for him to teach us kindness to all of God’s little creatures, the while he was going around deliberately killing them. At least, that’s the way we looked at it, so we went around releasing them whenever we found one caught by only the foot or the tail and was not already dead. Have you ever looked a squirrel in the face, close up? They have the brightest, softest eyes and sweetest little faces. Nothing I have ever done had given me more satisfaction than freeing one of these precious little fellows.
When Papa found out about our humane activities, as of course he did find out, he was quite put out to say the very least, but he tried dutifully, though unsuccessfully, to explain the need for this seeming inconsistency. Papa also used to put out poison for the mice in their holes in the granary. Violet and I found one of these little dead rodents one day, and we took it upon ourselves to give it proper burial. We made a small cardboard box into a little coffin and lined it with white silk. We held the funeral in our playhouse. Papa had fixed us up a marvelous playhouse--a little room adjoining the granary. It had a nice board floor and little door with a catch on it to keep out intruders. We furnished it in great shape, with all our little-girl possessions-furniture, dolls, the works. Violet delivered the funeral oration. Papa happened along just in time to listen to himself being described as a wicked old giant who had brought this innocent little victim to an untimely end in such a dastardly fashion. He went in and told Mama and they had a good laugh.
I recall another occasion when Violet and I and these same cousins helped a broody hen get over her desire to become a mother. We learned our technique from Edith and Stella’s grandmother who lived near them. She read in the newspaper, no less, that if you wanted to cure a hen from wanting to set, you could do so by holding her head under water for five minutes, and she’d never set again. Dear old Grandma Wangsgard actually tried this, and when the hen failed to rally, her Danish temper was kindled in no small way. What kind of newspaper would give you such counsel she wanted to know! Her granddaughters tried to explain to her that this was only a joke, but it was no joke to her. Profiting by her sad experience, we stopped short of killing our hen. We took her with us down to the canal and while we dipped ourselves, we gave her several good immersions. We didn’t follow up to see whether we cured her-all we were concerned with was giving her the treatment. As I look back on this escapade, I can’t think how we could have been so kind to squirrels and mice and so cruel to a poor defenseless chicken, bent only on fulfilling the measures of her creation.
This same playhouse served as a sanctuary for me at a time of great distress. Something I did--and I haven’t the faintest idea now what it was--greatly distressed my Father, and in very stern terms he assured me he was going to “punish” me. I ran and hid in the playhouse. I latched the door from the inside and huddled there, suffering, for many hours; so long, in fact, that I began to take some comfort in the thought that when finally they did find me there, I would be dead. But nobody came looking. I thought maybe Vi would come to lend a comforting word, but she didn’t. Mama apparently wasn’t concerned either. Nobody cared--except Papa, of course, and his interest was the last thing I wanted. I was beginning to get hungry. Evening began to fall, and then sheer panic set in. I finally decided that “punishment” would be better than this, so I crept stealthily out of my hiding place and, oh, so quietly slipped into the kitchen. All was “quiet on the western front.” Mama was preparing supper and Papa was relaxing in his easy chair, reading. No one greeted me, which was just as well. They didn’t seem to realize I had been away. I waited and waited for Papa to fix his steely gaze upon me and invite me into the bedroom. But supper was over and the evening wore away and bedtime came and Papa had paid no attention to me whatever. And that was the end of it. I didn’t realize then just how well he had kept his word.
The summer after Papa returned from Australia, he got each of us four kids a rabbit. They were big and golden brown--a beautiful species. He made the mistake of getting both sexes, so it wasn’t long at all before we had rabbits coming out of the walls. They were everywhere. They ran around the farm at will, without curtailment in any way. It seemed as though every week or two, a big pretty mother rabbit would emerge from under something or other with a whole tribe of the cutest tiny little rascals you could ever imagine. There’s nothing cuter than a baby rabbit. We spent hours trying to run one of them down. Sometimes we could catch a baby and it was worth all the effort we had gone to. They grew like weeds and weren’t babies long, but then some more came along so we always had little ones. Our experience with rabbits lasted for two summers, but toward the close of the second, we began to notice there weren’t so many of them around, and before long it was a rare sight to see one. They disappeared completely as though they had migrated. Papa thought they must have contracted some hideous disease that spread through their midst like wildfire. We felt very sad, but it just may have been a solution to a problem, unless, of course, we wanted to go into the rabbit business.
After Sydney’s death, Mama never went back to the farm. She didn’t want to go back there, so it was pleasing to her when she didn’t have to. Our family spent the following summer at the ranch in Idaho. Uncle John and Aunt Minnie had been living there operating the ranch, while Papa managed the Huntsville farm. But in that summer of 1907, it was agreed that Uncle John and Aunt Minnie should come back to Huntsville with their family and take over the Hall Brothers business there, while Papa assumed responsibility for their Idaho interests. Years earlier, I think it must have been sometime in the early 1880's or possibly earlier, Grandfather Halls had taken up land in Thomas’s Fork Valley, Bear Lake County, Idaho, at the urging of my Grandfather Raymond, who had himself acquired ranch land there and established a small community named for himself--Raymond. He thought that country had great potential and wanted his dear friend, Grandfather halls, to get in on it too.
Our ranch was midway, about three miles each way, between the little community of Raymond and another like community to the north, Geneva, inhabited mostly by Swiss and German converts to the church. We affiliated ourselves with the Raymond Ward. We always spoke of Raymond as “down the valley” and Geneva as “up the valley.”
So it was, that in the spring of 1907, we made our first trip to what turned out to be our dear Half Circle Ranch, so named because of our half-circle cattle brand. Our first trip out there, however, started out on a pretty sour note. Papa went in April and took Raymond, who was just seven years old, with him. Why he took that little kid with him I can’t imagine, unless, like most of us, he just didn’t want to go alone. Papa was batching, of course, and he thought he was a great cook, but he left Raymond down the valley with some of the Raymond relatives. Mama’s two oldest sisters, Martha and Emma, had married and settled out there years before and were now well established. Papa had the right idea to leave little Ray with the family instead of keeping him at the ranch; otherwise, he may very well have killed the child. For he hadn’t been there long before he whipped up a mess of potage that poisoned him. Mama received the startling news that Papa was at our cousin Fred Evans’s home very, very ill, indeed. Mama was nearly five months pregnant, but she hurriedly packed up our clothes for the summer and we took the train for McCammon, Idaho, where we were obliged to change trains for the balance of the journey to Border, Wyoming. In McCammon, we had to wait several hours for the next train, in the very early hours of the morning, about 4 a.m. It was gruesome, sitting huddled in that little bare, cold station. How sleepy and miserable we were! On the morning of May 12, when we arrived at Border, Wyoming, they met us with a bob sleigh--the ground was covered with snow. I can still remember that trip and how bleak it was. The bottom of the sleigh was piled with straw and we were covered with quilts to make the 10-miles to Raymond and our beloved Aunt Emma’s home. On some occasions, this might have been fun, but not this time. Mama went at once to Cousin Fred and Carrie’s place to check on Papa. She wasn’t sure he would still be alive. He was so overjoyed to see her that he wept a little, and she comforted him as one does a child. I was put to bed at Aunt Emma’s and I awakened to the wonderful smell of food being cooked. There was an eerie light in the room and I didn’t know whether it was breakfast or supper being cooked, whether it was morning or evening. I got up and walked out into the dining room, where the table was set, and still I couldn’t tell. But it was breakfast--the most heavenly breakfast in the world--and the house was warm. I guess I don’t need to tell you that Papa lived. In a few weeks Mama had nursed him back to health. But she never forgave him for being such a--well whatever!
When we arrived at the ranch that first summer, we found it to be pretty much a wilderness, which Papa planned in time to make “blossom as the rose.” We loved it, though, right from the start. There were acres of unfenced prairie around our ranch, that seemingly belonged to no one. Here we kids could wander at will, investigating birds’ nests built on the ground, gather wild flowers, search out squirrel and badger holes and watch for their occupants. Papa got ponies for us, and little saddles, and we learned to ride. In the haying season, we spent endless hours in the field with the hay men, riding on the hayracks and sometimes riding with Papa on his mower. This was the beginning of many, many happy summers at the ranch. Always in the fall, we came home to Utah to school. But much of our growing up was done there. We had many happy and some sad experiences, some of which I hope to recount to you in this account.
It was in the fall of that year, on September 27, 1907, that Stanley, the sixth child, through mismanagement, was born at the ranch. I guess Mama didn’t dare leave Papa alone there for fear he would do some more cooking. It was just a year, September 28, since Mama lost Sydney. We were so happy to see her again holding a little boy in her arms. We all adored little Stan. He was as robust as Sydney had been fragile.
After we had spent this first summer at the ranch, during the following winter of 1908, the Hall Brothers (Mosiah, George, and John) decided to divide up their business holdings, and in the settlement Papa became sole proprietor of the Idaho property.
In the fall of 1908, Mama and we kids made a trip home to Huntsville that I well remember, with a team of horses and a white-topped buggy, with Grandpa Halls at the controls. Grandpa had been visiting us and offered to drive us home, which Papa thought was a capital idea. The trip took three days. Mama sat up in front with Baby Stanley and Grandpa, and we other four children sat in the back seat, but it was rather close quarters, so Ray and Gene, little shavers of eight and six, often sat on the floor at the back with the endgate down and their legs hanging over the edge. Naturally, they couldn’t resist jumping down at times and running about. Grandpa didn’t like this and tried unsuccessfully to stop them, so when appealing to their reason failed, he took to whipping up the horses, leaving the little offenders far behind, and they would have to run like mad to catch up and jump back into the rig. As they grew ever bolder and bolder, Grandpa grew madder and madder, and finally they were left so far behind that there was no chance of their ever catching up, so they gave up running and started walking. Grandpa went right on and finally when they were no longer visible around the turns and the bushes, Mama came to their rescue, although she had quite a time prevailing upon Grandpa to stop and wait for them. They were a pair of tuckered little kids when they got back into the buggy, and I don’t recall that we had any further incidents.
We stopped our first night in Round Valley at a Bishop Price’s and the second night we put up at the Hardware Ranch, then a place that passed for a “wayside inn”, possibly the forerunner of a modern motel. It is a number of miles northeast of Huntsville, now a winter resort of sorts, where they have an elk herd that draws good crowds of wildlife lovers all winter. The following morning as we and a number of other overnight guests were preparing to leave, a lady took a fit. (They call it a seizure now.) It was the first and last authentic fit I ever saw, and I didn’t actually see much of that one, because Mama snatched us up and hustled us out of there so fast that we didn’t get to see as much of the excitement as we wanted to; but it always stayed fixed in our memories in spite of her protective custody.
In the spring of 1909, when I was eleven, Mama and papa decided to move away from Huntsville. Mama wanted to move to Logan. She thought it was such a lovely town and such a wholesome atmosphere in which to rear a family. Because Mama wanted to move to Logan, all of us kids old enough to have an opinion on the matter wanted to move to Logan. Papa wanted to move to Ogden, so we moved to Ogden. We bought a big two-story, red-brick house on Porter Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets that had belonged to Uncle Cy. Mama wasn’t much in favor of buying that particular house, either, but Papa thought it would be anything but neighborly, since we were moving to Ogden, to buy anybody’s house other than Uncle Cy’s, since his house was for sale. It just wouldn’t be the friendly thing at all. Uncle Cy had moved his family to Salt Lake. So that was agreed upon. Perhaps it would be more exact to say that from the summer on the ranch, we came home for the first time to our Ogden home. One thing I liked about the Ogden home: My older sister Violet and I each had a bedroom of our very own to decorate and do with as we pleased. We were allowed to pick out the wallpaper for our rooms. I always thought Vi’s room was nicer than mine, but then, in all fairness, I should admit that I spent my life thinking everything she had was nicer than mine. As a matter of fact, she herself was nicer than I was.
On November 16, 1911, the seventh and last child, Evelyn Iris, was born, at our Porter Avenue home in Ogden. However, no one, least of all Mama, had expected Evelyn. She came as a glad surprise four years after Stan was born. In those days, no woman worth her salt went more than two years, let alone four, without producing a child; so when Mama had gone three years without conceiving, it was assumed by all that her child bearing days were well over. And neither she nor anybody else seemed to mind. We felt so sure of our ground that we even went so far as to go and have a big, elegant family group picture taken. We hung one of these pictures in a handsome gold frame in our parlor, and another of lesser elegance in Mama and Papa’s bedroom at the ranch. It was a shock to everyone that Mama at 43 could be so fertile. I have since heard of various other families who made the same mistake. That just gives you a rough idea of the botch people made of their family planning in those days. As a matter of fact, I guess family planning as such hadn’t yet been invented. People just did what came naturally and accepted the results as the will of the Lord. So, there we were with another little mouth to feed. But we were all foolish enough to think she was the cutest thing on earth and we doted on her from the minute we laid eyes on her. To Papa, she could do no wrong. He took her with him everywhere possible. On the ranch, he never wanted to ride into the field on his horse without her behind him. He always called her by her middle name, Iris. He liked it better. And while everyone else called her Evelyn, he consistently called her Iris as long as he lived. But, as I may have implied, he was an individualist. To Mama, Evelyn was the blessing of her old age. She acted as Mama’s chauffeur, shopper, advisor, handyman; and anything else that Mama needed, Evelyn was it. Evelyn and her new husband, George Ingalls, were living with Mama and Papa in an apartment in Ogden at the time of Mama’s death.
You remember some funny little things about your Father. When I was small, I stood in awe of my Father. I thought him a stern man, possibly even a little bit hard-boiled. I would always rather approach my Mother with my problems. But as I grew up, I learned that Papa was capable of rare moments of great understanding and tenderness. When I was a small child on the farm, I had a little black and white kitten that meant more to me than any treasure I had ever had. There was an alfalfa parch near our house and my little brothers were assigned the task of going every day or so and gathering fresh green fodder for the pigs. My little kitten was in the habit of following them. Then came the dreadful day when Papa was mowing the alfalfa. Papa didn’t see the kitten and his mower cut off one or more of its feet. Papa came to the house and took me on his lap and with his arms around me, explained what had happened. I screamed and cried and would not be consoled. He then told me as gently as possible that the kitten must be killed, that it couldn’t live like that, and that it was suffering. I must allow Heavenly Father to take it back, he said. I refused to have it killed. Then he said, with a little firmness: “It must be killed, and I will do it quickly so that it doesn’t suffer, but I don’t want to do it without your permission.” Then he promised to get another kitten just as near like that one as he could possibly find. And with a broken heart, I finally gave him my permission.
There was another time, when we first moved to Ogden, that all my new-found friends had roller skates. Of course I went to Mama. Mama didn’t want me to have roller skates. She though they were for boys--they weren’t ladylike, and besides, they were dangerous. I suppose this was a small matter, but sometimes little things are terribly important, especially maybe to kids. I just couldn’t give up the idea of having skates and I nagged Mama day and night, until her patience was exhausted. Finally, to get rid of me, she said: “If your Father thinks it is all right, it is all right with me.” She counted, of course, on his refusing, and I knew it. And so I delayed asking for days because I couldn’t face that awful final verdict. One night, when I just simply could stand it no longer, as Papa was sitting quietly reading the paper, I crept up to his chair and in a faint little voice said: “Papa, do you think I could have some roller skates?” I hastened to add: “Mama says it’s all right with her.” And before he could make any reply, I burst out: “Oh, Papa, I want them so badly.” Without looking at me, or even taking his eyes from his reading, he said: “I don’t know any reason why not.” At that moment I knew he was the Best Father in all the land.
I pride myself on not having forgotten my feelings as a child. A couple of years ago when my youngest grandson was nine, I was buying wrist watches for Christmas for his sister and two brothers. It didn’t occur to me to buy one for him, until he came to me, off-handedly citing the numerous instances when it was absolutely imperative that he have the time--in fact, he really couldn’t get along without the time. In surprise, I said: “Do you mean that you want a wrist watch?” His dear little face lighted up, and admitted that that was what he actually needed. His father said absolutely not, he was too young, it would be a waste of Grammy’s money! And so it was settled. But he couldn’t give up. He kept coming to me with his sad face, explaining how wrong his father was, that he would take wonderful care of it, if he could just have a wrist watch. Finally, remembering the skates, I said: “O.K., I’m buying it, and you can have one.” When I told his father my decision to disregard his wishes, he took it rather well. I might add that the child kept his word, he did take care of the watch and he still has it, running nicely.
Mama was one of the truly beautiful people; her ideals were of the highest--in fact, perhaps too high for comfort sometimes. For example: Her attitude on sex was unrealistic. She was never quite able to accept the facts of life. While she understood those facts, she didn’t like what she understood, so she chose to ignore them as far as possible. Mama regarded sex as a “necessary evil”--something you tried to live above. Thank goodness she did think it was necessary, or the seven of us children might have had a different set of genes altogether. She loved her children--they were her whole life. She loved Papa, too, and in view of her attitude on this subject, it was comforting, to her daughters at least, that she always spoke of Papa with regard to the marriage relationship, as having been “a perfect gentlemen and always very considerate.”
I recall her saying once when I was yet in tender, formative years, referring to our Godlike powers of creation, that it was “a low enough instinct at best.” I was a young woman before I realized that to multiply and replenish the earth is a God-given function--in fact, a commandment, no less. I have only recently learned that only those who can properly use sex in this life will be permitted to use it in the next. Mama didn’t teach us any of this. Under such tutelage as Mother’s, how any of us ever grew up with a love for the opposite sex is something to be wondered at. However, in spite of everything, we were all so normal it was disgusting.
While I am discussing Mama’s attitude on sex, perhaps I should include the unfortunate history of Papa’s venture into raising his own horses. In these advanced days of electronic and almost-human mechanized equipment, it might be somewhat difficult for any but the relatively aged to thoroughly understand or appreciate the problems involved in providing power to operate a ranch such as ours. In the early 1900's we had no electricity. In fact, we had no telephone.
Even our washing machine had to be turned by hand. Today, as I smugly watch my shining, white Maytag “thinking” out the intricate stages in its clothes-washing process, I sometimes find myself remembering back on how distasteful washday was to me as a child. My older sister and brothers and I took turns turning the big wheel on the washing machine 100 revolutions each. Mama would say: “This batch must be turned 700 or 800,” or whatever, according to the degree of soil of the clothes. It was endless drudgery--at least, that’s as I remember it. If you were persuasive enough to get the fellow who was resting to count for you so you wouldn’t make the mistake of going over your hundred, you might turn and read Shakespeare at the same time. But Mama frowned on this practice, as we all had one-track minds and had a tendency to disregard the turning in favor of the reading. We often slowed down to such a slow limp that we became the target of a piece of Mama’s mind, but no matter how much of it she shared with us, there was always an ample supply left.
In such a situation as this, if washing a few clothes involved such a colossal effort, fancy, if you will, the problem of power to operate all the countless pieces of farm and ranch machinery: buggies, wagons, mowing machines, discs, harrows, hay rakes of various types, ditchers, derricks, plows, seeders, threshers, grain binders, barn haylifts, and grinders, to name but a few; not one of which was anything but completely inanimate. And, of course, there was only one answer--horses! A great many were required, during the winter. The cattle were always taken to the range during the summer and that was quite an operation in and of itself, requiring a number of excellent riding horses. Horses were expensive. It has always been said that water is the life-blood of the West, and of first importance; but in those days horses ran water a very close second. Always alert to any method of placing an extra dollar in his pocket, Papa conceived the brilliant idea of raising his own horses. When Papa had an idea--and he was forever having them--you could bank on it that it wouldn’t be long before it materialized. Papa’s ideas were invariably practical. Mama had ideas, too, but they could be counted on to be aesthetic.
And so it was that Papa showed up one fine day proudly exhibiting his newest, prized possession, a great big, beautiful, prancing, whinnying, bay stallion, with black mane and tail. He had a white streak down his forehead. He was of the large, draft-horse breed--a Percheron, perhaps? Papa’s eyes fairly glowed as he looked at him. Papa loved him; it was obvious. Papa loved all his animals, always. He loved them, I think, almost as much as he loved us. And then there was Mama! She didn’t love him one bit--the horse I mean! At first sight of him, she froze in her tracks! Papa gave him the imposing title of “Idlewild.” That was too much for us kids, so we promptly settled on “Old Idle”--a misnomer, if ever there were one, for he was neither old nor idle. It might well be said of him that he fulfilled the measure of his creation, and that didn’t call for his being idle. The very thought of having a stallion plying his disgraceful trade on our ranch, which up to now had been such a pleasant place, was more than Mama could bear. The bulls she could put up with. They were off on the range with the herd and not right there on the ranch under foot.
“Old Idle” had a specially-built stall in the barn and somebody was always leading him out into the corral to the watering trough, and you could hear his great, distinctive, whinnying voice at the most inopportune times -- times when Mama had momentarily forgotten about him. Her jaw always set in the Yankee fashion of her New Englander father whenever she heard him. Poor Papa! Our of deference to Mama’s tender feelings, he truly tried his very best to be discreet about “Idle’s” activities, but in spite of Papa’s best effort, Mama could never gracefully accept this “necessary evil” at such close range. I cannot say for sure that she actually prayed for his demise -- Idle’s that is -- but there lurked a nasty, unspoken suspicion in some quarters to that effect. And so it was not entirely a surprise when “Idle” one day suddenly fell violently ill and lay down in his stall and rolled his big eyes back in his head. A fast rider was dispatched for the Veterinarian in Montpelier who came forthwith, and for a few hours there was great excitement and tension centered around the barn and the stall of this big, beautiful creature. Mama and we children remained in the house. Finally, toward evening, Papa came to the house, his head bowed and a grim expression on his face. He gave us the awful word that “Old Idle” was in very deed idle at last. The pain on Papa’s face was not pleasant for Mama to see, and when he said to her in a calm, quiet voice: “Well, Sally, I guess you’re satisfied at last,” she could find no words with which to reply. Then he said to her, with more spirit: “Why, that horse was worth a thousand dollars!” In those days a thousand dollars was not to be scoffed at. Mama suddenly found her voice and with some spirit of her own, she said: “I can’t help it, George, if he was worth two thousand dollars, I just can’t feel sorry.”
Papa had a way of doing whatever was expedient. He very often got away with whatever it was by virtue of sheer audacity. He seldom had to back down, and on the rare occasions when he did, no one was more astonished than he was himself. There was once, however, when he more than met his match. When he came home and told the family this story, he was utterly incredulous that anyone could treat him -- George H. Hall -- in such a fashion. It was on the occasion of his shipping beef cattle to Omaha. The cattle were to load at Border, Wyoming, a small railroad center about 10 miles south of our ranch. I have referred to it before. The cattle cars had been switched onto the siding at Border. Papa had sent the cattle, with their drivers, on ahead and expected to join them later himself and accompany the cattle to Omaha. The railroad required--and certainly it was necessary to the owner, if he wanted to protect his interests--that such shipments of livestock be accompanied by at least one responsible adult. The nature of this business was of sufficient importance that Papa, whenever possible, discharged this duty himself. When the train made a stop, he would leave the caboose and go out and check on the cattle, and if some were lying down, he would prod them to their feet so they wouldn’t be trampled and would arrive at their destination without any casualties. But when Papa arrived at Border on this particular day, he found to his dismay that his cattle had been loaded, the cars had been hooked on the cattle train, and off they had gone--without him! He was pretty “shook up!” His beautiful fat steers were on their way to Omaha without a shipper aboard. But he didn’t panic, not Papa! He thought things out sensibly. He figured the thing for him to do would be to catch the next passenger train going east and overtake the slower cattle train. So he waited around Border for awhile, getting more uneasy as time passed. Then he learned that the next train to pass through Border was a fast mail that wasn’t scheduled to stop there. He was elated! As the train approached, he ran out by the track and waved his hat and his arms wildly in the air, then stepped back as the train passed him. The engineer didn’t dare ignore such a warning--there was probably trouble ahead, a wreck or something. The train slowed and came to a jarring stop. The engineer jumped down and ran back to meet Papa. Papa confidently explained his dilemma: his cattle had gone without him and he must board this train in order to catch up with them. The engineer went red in the face and came forth with a volley of abusive language that would have curdled the blood of a lesser man than my Father. “Why, man alive,” he shouted, “do you know what you’ve done? You’ve stopped the fast mail!” As if Papa didn’t know! “You’ve delayed us”-- and he mentioned a number of minutes – “and you’re not boarding this train!” But Papa had an indomitable will and he was not easily frightened. He stood right up to this loathsome fellow, and in his most authoritative voice, reserved for just people and such occasions, he said, “Well, I am going to ride on this train! I’ve got to catch those cattle.” The engineer was not impressed. As he swung onto his engine and the train started forward, he called out for the last time, “Well, you’re not riding on this train!” And away they went, leaving Papa standing there with his mouth hanging open and his faith in human nature badly shaken. It was the first time and the last that he ever flagged down a fast mail train.
To say that Papa was a man of few words would be a bit misleading, to say the very least. That is not to say that he talked incessantly either, but when he needed to express himself, he was fairly adept. However, he didn’t always say very much around home. By that I mean he didn’t ever go off into fits of uncontrollable temper or horrible tirades or boring tangents. But when it came to preaching the gospel, he was very fluent. He loved to speak in church and teach lessons, etc. At times he used to become quite dramatic, lowering his voice almost to a whisper and then raising it to a crescendo. He was a great admirer of William Jennings Bryan, who, it seemed, was something of an orator. This approach to public speaking displeased Mama. She wanted the gospel, in particular, preached in quiet terms. Then, too, almost always, he got so carried away that he went overtime, which displeased the audience. In spite of these seeming faults, he was a popular speaker, both at church and at funerals. But because of Mama’s attitude, Papa felt a little self-conscious with her in the audience, so Mama sometimes begged off for his sake as well as her own from going to hear him speak. In the days after he had given up trying to drive a car, one of us kids used to get the job of taking him on his various speaking engagements. Once when I had taken him to Raymond to speak in Sacrament Meeting, I was sitting quite far back in the hall with an attractive young man who happened to be present, and I guess we got a little carried away ourselves, because Papa stopped dead still in the middle of his sermon and said in a good, firm voice: “If my daughter and the young man sitting with her will pay attention, I will go on with my talk.”
Papa prided himself on his extensive vocabulary. He liked using big words and mama thought he sometimes misused them. Once in a great while he mispronounced a word -- even as you and I. One offending word in particular that Mama could never get him to use correctly was “irrelevant.” He always persisted in calling it “irrevelant”. And to make matters worse, it was one of his favorite words, and he used it on practically all occasions.
One lazy afternoon in the summer at the ranch, we were startled when two impressive and stately gentlemen stopped their rig at our front gate. We could tell at a glance they were important and on an important errand. They were obviously not local folk. They inquired for Papa, of course. Mama sent for him at once and he came up from his work in the field and for a long time conversed with these strangers in a quiet and very serious manner. When they had taken their leave, we all fell upon Papa in a body fairly bursting with curiosity. Papa told us they represented one of the political parties in the State of Idaho and wanted him to try for the nomination for Congressman from his district that fall. That did it! It took us no time at all to swing into high gear with plans for living in Washington; that is, we kids went into full steam ahead--not Papa nor Mama. In the course of a very few days we made an extremely important person out of Congressman Hall. At the same time, we added some luster to ourselves as well. One of us would say: “Mr. Important, I want you to come and meet Miss Florence hall, the lovely and talented daughter of the famous Congressman.” Oh, we laid some elaborate plans in a great hurry, all of which Papa and mama either ignored or merely smiled at indulgently. We had lots of fun while Papa mused over it for a few days, and then he burst our bubble by coming up with the decision that he wasn’t politically minded, not right then anyway. The fact was, he loved his ranching business more than anything else in the world and it would take more than the dubious honor of a political career to wean him away from it. As a matter of fact, Papa was well liked and influential in his part of the State, and had he gone on the campaign trail, with his usual enthusiasm and powers of persuasion, it is barely possible he just might have carried it off. But as it turned out, our family’s career in Washington was short-lived--it never got off the planning board
Papa did run for Mayor of Huntsville once though, a long time before this, before I could even remember. I have only heard Mama tell the story, which she did once in awhile with great hilarity. She thought it was very funny. During the course of the hotly contested campaign, some of Papa’s enemies, or perhaps I should call them merely opponents, circulated a story rightly calculated to dead him, to the effect that Papa was illicitly married to some dame in polygamy, which, at this time, of course, was contrary to the law of the Church and the State. The story came out in some sort of local news sheet or campaign brochure. Papa couldn’t have been a Hall without being something of a jokester, and he saw in this situation a rare opportunity to have a little fun with Mama, by coming home with the news sheet and making full and humble confession--which he did to the very best of his ability. But it wasn’t good enough! Mama burst into hearty laughter. She always said she didn’t know when she had laughed so hard. Then she said: “George, don’t you think I’d know it if there were another woman in your life?” And that ended Papa’s big joke, as well as his chance to become Mayor of Huntsville.
As I have indicated earlier, our Father and Mother did “not always see eye-to-eye. Let’s just say they sometimes had differences of opinion on various and sundry subjects. For example, there was a stock-show incident: In Ogden, the 1920's were roaring in more ways than one. It was a town of lively activity, largely by reason of extensive railroad interests centered here. Among other things with which the railroad was associated were large stock yards. Cattle, sheep, hogs, and various other animals were shipped in to the Ogden yards for sale or auction and sometimes taken off the trains just to be fed and watered before continuing on to the larger market at Omaha. Papa loved to attend the auctions whether he was bidding or not. Once a year, in January, the Livestock Association put on a big livestock show for about a week or more. Prize stock animals of all kinds from all over the country were brought in for exhibit and sale, and it was always a big event and a great drawing card for the town. The merchants and townspeople with any civic pride at all supported the stock show in a big way. A nice and spacious coliseum had been erected near the railroad yards for just such events as this colorful display. Papa loved nothing more than to have members of his family accompany him to the stock show where he could point out to them all the fine points of the various show animals, and, incidentally, show off his knowledge of the trade.
On one of these occasions, in the early 20's, one of my girl friends and I decided to go to the stock show and make a hit with Papa. It was the best way to butter him up that I knew of. I dressed up in a new three-quarter length black sealskin coat with a big shawl collar and cuffs of grey squirrel, a jaunty little upturned powder-blue hat, short narrow black skirt and black high-heeled shoes. I felt very chic. You may think that was a strange get-up for a stock show. Not at all. Nowadays, of course, a young lady would appear at such a place--in fact, almost anyplace--perhaps not with bare feet, it was too cold--but certainly in flats and old faded denims and a sloppy sweater. A hat would be out of the question, or at best perhaps a ratty-looking knit cap of some dubious sort. We had just arrived at the entrance to the coliseum when a man attendant led out into the open, a great, huge, shorthorn bull--the most ferocious-looking creature you could possibly imagine, and I had always had a phobia where bulls were concerned. We stopped short in our tracks, not daring to proceed. At that precise moment, here came the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and a couple of his cohorts whom we knew. They greeted us with enthusiasm, and before I was aware of what was on their minds, they took hold of me, one on each arm, and hoisted me up onto the back of this great hulk of a beast. He was very flat on top and easy to sit on and he stood still, except once when he coughed, but I was scared stiff. I didn’t’ dare to jump down for fear of breaking an ankle, so I sat there with my mouth wide open screaming. They laughed and had a great time as they took pictures, and I learned later they were taking movies, which appeared on the screens of the local movie houses. The next night, the Ogden Standard-Examiner displayed a big picture of what they titled “Beauty and the Beast,” with a writeup all about Sir Graybar Horatio Hotshot III--or some such name--grand champion of the entire stock show. They enthused over his fine pedigree and many other fine attributes and gave the name of his proud owner. The bull was, of course, the center of attraction. Then, as an afterthought, they added: “Aboard Sir Graybar is Miss Florence Hall, daughter of George H. Hall, one of our prominent stockmen.”
Well, when Papa opened the evening paper, he started to laugh. He was delighted. He said: “Sally, come here and look at this.” Mama looked! She threw up her hands in holy horror, and nobody was ever able to talk her out of it. To have her lovely young daughter displayed in public in such an undignified manner was just too much for her. What was wrong with Papa to be so amused at so revolting a spectacle? I tried to explain that I had had nothing to do with it. But Mama knew that I had done something to lead those men to believe that I was a loose character or they never would have taken such a liberty with me. Later, a friend of mine who was a reporter for the paper gave me a glossy print of the picture, and to this day it appears in one of our family picture albums.
Papa was never daunted. Nothing ever got him down -- not completely, that is. But then Mama had a hand in that, too. She sometimes helped bolster him up, even though her methods may have been a bit unorthodox. I think the closest Papa ever came to going under was during the depression years, which burst upon the nation in 1929.
Things went bad, even for Papa. He got to a pretty low ebb, and when at home in Ogden where he didn’t have much to do, he spent his time haranguing Mama constantly with his business worries. He would sit in a rocking chair which we purposely kept in the kitchen at our Monroe Avenue home so it would be both comfortable and convenient for him to regale her while she did her work. It was originally a situation that both had liked: Papa would read to her and they would carry on great, interesting discussions, as in the days of their courtship. But when the depression hit and Papa’s business ventures began falling apart, as did everyone else’s, Papa began falling apart himself. Finally, when mama had listened to him until she began to question her own sanity, she said to him one day in no uncertain terms: “George, if you’re determined to lose your mind, go right ahead. I’ll put you in Provo (State Mental Hospital), but you’re not taking me there with you. And I’m not listening to another word of your pessimistic outlook.” Well, with those few timely words, Papa braced right up and became his old confident self again. He pulled out of the depression with nothing worse than a mortgage, but that hurt his pride, for he had always before boasted that nothing of his had ever been mortgaged. Even at that, he was more fortunate than many of his business associates, some of whom suffered extremely heavy losses.
Papa never wanted to leave the ranch in the fall until the last dog was hung. Usually Mama was determined to stay with him to try to take care of him, which wasn’t easy. The last time my husband, Joe saw Mama alive was late in the fall of 1943. As he and I were leaving the ranch after a brief visit, Mama said to us: “If I can just get your Father through this season alive (he had some recent runaways with his horses and other mishaps), I’ll think I have scored a point.”
As it turned out, she herself was the one who didn’t get through the autumn. While sorting her clothes to go to the Montpelier laundry one Saturday morning in late October, she became suddenly violently ill and was rushed to the Montpelier Hospital. Violet received the word for the family by telephone that Mama had been operated on for a bowel obstruction, the unhappy results of which Violet failed to disclose to us, having our best interest at heart, or so she thought. Joe offered to stay home with all the younger kids, Ron, Marc, and Cherry, varying in ages from nine to 12, while the rest of us went to Montpelier. We couldn’t leave the kids alone and it didn’t seem wise to take them. Besides that, they were in school. Art, Vi’s husband, drove us to Montpelier in his car. As we traveled, we kept our hopes high that Mama would be well again soon, thinking, of course, that the obstruction had been removed and now all that remained was for her to regain her strength. What a wonderful thing is hope--what would we do without it--but it isn’t always realistic and it wasn’t in this case. So, I was totally unprepared when Mama’s nurse--our cousin Virginia Dimick -- quite casually, thinking I knew, spoke to me about the fatal nature of Mama’s illness. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the dread suspicion that I couldn’t live without my Mother. Later, after her funeral, broken-heartedly I expressed that thought to my brother, Gene, and my husband. I never forgot my husband’s reply. Putting his arms tenderly around me, he said: “Yes, you can, honey, you have to!” His choice of words at that time expressed a wise philosophy that has helped me on subsequent tragic occasions, including his own untimely death at age 57.
Mama’s body was brought to Larkin Mortuary in Ogden for preparation for burial. My younger sister Evelyn and I went to the mortuary and arranged our dear Mama’s hair for the last time. It was an experience I cherish. She seemed so near to us. She didn’t seem dead. I think her spirit was very near to us. It was as though we could speak to her and she would hear and understand. Vi was the only family member with Mama when she died. Her last comment has always stayed with us: “Take care of the Old Man,” she said. Mama called Papa “The Old Man” only on rare occasions, when she was feeling extremely tender toward him. As a rule, she called him “G.H.” It sounded different when she called him “The Old Man” than if someone else had. Believe me, none of us kids ever called him that. Mama’s death occurred on October 29, 1943. She was 75 years of age. She was buried in the Huntsville Cemetery on a bleak November day, beside the little son she had laid to rest there so long ago.
After Mama died, Papa lost interest in the ranch -- not entirely, perhaps -- but he didn’t seem to want to go back there without her. I think he was more lonely out there. Immediately following Mama’s funeral, Papa spent a week or two in the hospital for some repairs that suddenly became urgent. When he had rallied somewhat, he accepted a short-term mission call to Northern California. That kept him occupied for those first trying months at something he loved -- preaching the gospel. I’m sure it gave him comfort.
Papa lived for 19 years without Mama. He tried his best to adjust to his changed lifestyle and to have a life of his own without being a burden to his children. For several years, he spent the winters in California in Long Beach where Uncle John lived. He and Uncle John had a lot in common and were great pals. They enjoyed being together and playing open-air games that were available to the retired folk in that locality. They made friends with a good many of the people with whom they played these games and had a good time. When he was in Ogden, he stayed with me or my two sisters at various times and occasionally, of course, spent a little time at the ranch with Gene and Betty.
When he was in his early 80's, on one of his bus trips to California (he would never fly) in the early fall, he was overtaken by a massive coronary occlusion. A kindly sailor on board the bus helped him to a taxi and took him to his Long Beach hotel where they called Papa’s nephew, Dr. Ernest M. Hall, Uncle Mosiah’s eldest son, who lived in the vicinity. Ernest came at once and took over Papa’s care and did a wonderful job of it, for he recovered rather remarkably. But before the winter was over, he blacked out in the library one day and struck his head on a chair and cut a great gash in his forehead. He was once more back in the hospital, and this time Vi flew to Long Beach and made arrangements for him to be brought home. We rented him a nice apartment and hired a delightful elderly widow to care for him. This lady--Nettie Fallows--was a beautiful person, both in looks and in character. She kept house for Papa for eight years and during that time he was contented and at peace. She was also a very good Latter-day Saint which was all to the good. Sister Fallows, as we called her, became endeared to our family and we loved her as though she were one of us, and she loved us. When Papa got sick and she was no longer able to take care of him, we continued to look out for her until her death in 1965. On her deathbed, the last thing she told me was how good we had been to her.
We then secured a nurse for Papa, Anne Hinman, another remarkable woman. We loved her dearly, too. She took Papa into her home and cared for him until his death. He died at her home, as he wanted to do. He told us if we took him to the hospital and kept him alive by artificial means when he was supposed to die, he would never through
all eternity forgive us. Anne and her husband were truly devoted to him. They really loved him, and he was happy with them.
Although Papa was not at all well, for his 90th birthday he wanted a big birthday party. My husband was very ill at the time in the final stages of cancer. It was a toss-up which would go first--Papa or Joe. However, we went ahead with the plans for the 90th birthday for June 20, 1957, at Violet’s home. It was to be an outdoor garden affair. But we had to postpone it as Joe was buried on that day. Papa was too ill to attend the funeral but he insisted on going to the Huntsville Cemetery for the burial, so Gene and Betty picked him up after the funeral and brought him to the graveside where he sat in the car close by and watched the ceremony.
In the first week in July, we had his party. We sent out invitations to many of his old friends and relatives, and put notices in the Salt Lake and Ogden newspapers. He received his friends lying on a chaise lounge. It was the most wonderful day for him. People came whom he hadn’t seen for years and years, from far and near. It was amazing! We had a beautiful big cake with 90 candles on it, and it was something of a feat to get them all lighted together, but with three of us lighting, we made it. When we got him to his feet to see his cake, he burst into tears. It was one of the most highly successful social functions we had ever given, and Papa was pleased beyond measure.
Everyone thought this party was a swan song for Papa but he rallied after that and lived five more years. As a matter of fact, we had a 95th birthday party for him, at Evelyn’s home on the patio; for in the meantime, Violet herself had passed away. At this party, Papa wanted only the family and, of course, Sister Fallows and Anne and her husband. There were about 30 of us altogether. We had a wonderful time--a time always to be remembered with thanksgiving.
That was in June of 1962, and on September 5, Papa passed away, quietly and peacefully. The day before he died, he awoke from a sleep and told Anne he was “going home,” that he had been in touch with Saint Peter and had told him that he was ready to come. Shortly before Violet died, she told Papa she would come for him “one of these days”, and for him to wait patiently for her to come. She died in April 1959 so he waited for her for over three years. He was buried in Huntsville on September 8th, beside his beloved Sally. There is a space between Papa’s grave and that of my husband reserved for me.
It is interesting to have lived in two such distinctive eras of time. We went from the horse-and-buggy era right into the jet plane and man-on-the-moon age without noticing that anything unusual was taking place. Oh we marveled a bit by word of mouth as each new innovation took place and then accepted it without further fanfare. It all came about so naturally that we have taken it all for granted. How many wonderful things we take for granted. Both eras in which I have lived have been marvelous, with many, many joy-filled experiences. I wouldn’t have missed any part of either of them. Actually I think it may have been a great advantage, almost like living two lives. If I had to choose between them, I think I’d take the first, but then, again, I’d hate to have missed the second.