1953: Summer in California

As soon as graduation was over I decided to return to California and find a job. So began the packing up from the little house across from Lower Campus on 7th North. The heavy trailer was brought to the front and we began packing all my earthly possessions, all of which put together were probably worth about $56.97. The girls had found a small apartment on 7th North and about 5th East for when they started school in September.

Arriving in California with Steve and Marilyn, I found an apartment in Temple City and we unpacked the trailer. Before I had a chance to start out looking for a job, a friend who had been in our ward before we went to Provo came to see me and offered me a job with his electrical wiring business. He had started it about the time we left for Provo, putting all the parts together in his back yard and taking little jobs as they came along. About this time there was a large trend in California for ‘tract’ homes, where builders would buy large tracts of empty land and build dozens of homes all with the same floor plans. It was a very efficient way of building even though the aesthetic values left something to be desired. But people could afford homes that they couldn’t otherwise and California’s stringent building codes meant they would be well built.

By the time I arrived back in California Redge Walton, who had offered me the job, had done very well wiring these large tracts of land. His son-in-law (Marilyn: He became his son-in-law later when one of my California friends, Arnetus, his daughter left in the middle of her Freshman year and married her 2nd cousin from Arizona.) Bill Raymond, Arnetus’s husband learned to be a good business man and increased the size of the this growing company tenfold. They had built a building in Monrovia or somewhere near Arcadia, and I took the job. He said that as the company grew, I would grow with it and he offered me a good salary. I loved it, and since neither my boss or his son-in-law had very much formal business training, I was able to set up the books and do a good job for them. Their daughter had been Marilyn’s best friend for years.

Meanwhile as I was working, I took two classes in psychology and one in writing for movies and television. One of the classes in psychology was awful because of the teacher. When I went into the class, I told him that I had been in a class at BYU with the same textbook. And he condescendingly replied that “I would find that the class at UCLA would be far different from the one at BYU. IT WAS! IT WAS TERRIBLE! I didn’t gain one thing from the class and neither did any of the other students. Most of the time we made fun of his ties, which were also terrible, and just yawned our way through the class.

The other psychology class was very good and I enjoyed it, but most of all I enjoyed the class in playwriting. I had started a play several years before that I felt that the best writing in it of anything I had ever done. I called it THE RESURRECTION and it was based on a little paragraph in Utah History where a mysterious man rode into a little Utah mining town and said he would resurrect everyone in the little cemetery outside of town, for $2000. My play was concerned with several of the families and what was happening to them as the community tried to raise the money, and I felt it was very good. But I had trouble with the ending. I finished the play up to the end while at UCLA and the class loved it and so did the teacher. All of them said to hurry and finish it. But I felt the ending I had in mind was blah to the extreme. But every month or so I thought about it.

Finally, one day I was washing the dishes or working around the house and it came to me and I wrote the ending and was very pleased with it. Marilyn’s Chris even said he would try to sell it to the movies or television because he was connected with the movies at the time, but nothing came of it and I haven’t tried very hard to sell it, although I think it has real possibilities for an hour or maybe two television show. Now if any of you reading this and want to read it, it is among my writings.

At the end of summer, I returned to Provo and back to working on my masters.

Marilyn got a job at the Telephone Company in Alhambra an rode the bus every day to and from her work. In the Fall, Marilyn started BYU with her sisters. The three girls lived together in a little tiny apartment on about 6th East and 7th North. Linda, that Fall, wrote the music and lyrics for what was called The Varsity Show, “KEYNOTE” was the name, and the other two girls were in it. Marilyn had one of the secondary leads and it was a full musical. Meantime, my boss at BYU, Dean deJong had started calling me, and writing me begging me to come back. Before I left before graduating many times members of the Fine Arts faculty came in to talk to me and mentioned how much he was going to miss me because I had been there nearly 4 years and being more mature, I had taken over a great deal of responsibility. In face, at the time I felt I was running the College of Fine Arts single-handedly. But, he was a great man. Because he was on the General Board of the Sunday School, I thought this was about next to being a General Authority…I guess it was for him. I often wondered at first why he hadn’t gone further in the Church, but later found out that—at least I surmised—that it was his great ego that kept him from being an even greater man. When I went to work for him he was a widower and many people asked me why I didn’t marry him. But, I guess I knew him too well—deliver me I kept thinking. The first summer I was gone he was also on some assignment when I got back to the campus, but the first thing I heard was “Have you heard about your boss? He’s engaged!”

He had talked to me about his re-marrying–said that he and his Rosabelle had had a perfect marriage, and after she died, he had no desire to marry again, even though many of the General Authorities urged him to. When the last of three daughters married, there was still a lovely, beautiful, educated Chinese girl who had been living with them for years just like a member of the family, and she stayed on (with all kinds of gossip swirling around it) to take care of him. I’m positive that he never considered her anything but a daughter and he loved her very much in that way. In fact, she found a fine Chinese man and married him and their children are all practically geniuses and one has been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Anyway, he had finally decided to marry and met a fine woman in Idaho while on a conference and had a whirlwind courtship—you could hardly call it that–and they married. He told me all about it when he came back to the office. In fact, the first thing I said to him as he walked in was, “The minute I turn my back, look what you go and do.” And we had a good laugh over it, but I was very happy for him. And he married just the right woman, who could take his ego, and stay strong herself, and I sure he was devoted to her and treated her great to his dying day…which was just last year.

Marilyn recently told me there were hundreds of students in the Music Department who said they never saw Dean deJong because I knew more about schedules for classes. I helped them when they were depressed and didn’t know whether to continue in school…or they had a class scheduling problem and always helped them out so they could graduate. I was actually a counselor before I even got my Masters.

Anyway, he was begging me to come back to the office. He didn’t realize how much of his work I had taken over. Said he would let me work on my master’s or anything if I would just come back. I finally told him that I was coming up for Linda’s and the girls to see the Varsity Show and I would make up my mind then. Before I went to Utah I talked with my boss in California and told him about the situation and that I was torn about what to do. He said that immediately he knew what I would do–and that was to return to the University. I felt that I still hadn’t made up my mind, but when I went to Provo for the Show, and talked with the Dean, I found that I missed the University atmosphere–I would like my master’s and maybe a Ph.D. And I wanted to be there where the girls were so active in everything. Also, there were memories connected with Arcadia and Temple City that rather bothered me.

Meantime, Fall, 1953, Linda was already in A Cappella Choir, and Joan and Marilyn tried out and got in. They sent me a telegram telling me they made it and we were all happy about it. The director, Newell Weight, was a great person whom they loved and they all three had a wonderful experience singing. They took tours to other states every year and this was an extra bonus for them. They always came home with tales about how they had been good friends with various member of the group, but through the experience in traveling, they would dislike them, in some cases, but in others they came home fast friends with some whom they hadn’t particularly cared about before going on tour.

Since there wasn’t a student at the Y, evidently, who could do the orchestra arrangements for Linda’s songs and she hadn’t taken that in school, they got Bruce Riddle from the University of Utah to come down and do it. When they first asked him, he said he wouldn’t stoop to doing arrangements for ’some girl’s’ music, but when he heard it he became enthusiastic and made the arrangements. The girls, of course, wanted me to come up when the Varsity Show as produced and I said I would.

Then came the awful time of having to tell Redge (my boss) that the Dean was wanting me to come back. I said I loved my job and really was in a quandary as to what to do. He said they would miss me very much, but he knew what I was going to do…and that was to go back to the Y. He was wonderful about it and said he just wanted what was best for me. So I came back to Provo (which I had sworn I would never see again when I left) and felt that was the best decision. And it was. My life in the years after that took on dimensions that were completely beyond the realm of my imagination.

I had a good friend in the ward (in fact, lived back of us in Arcadia before we moved to the two story house in Temple City, which we lost. She was very capable and wanting to change jobs, so I had her go see Redge and he hired her. I had been telling him that they should incorporate the business. It had grown so fast that they really hadn’t kept up with all the possibilities. This they did a few months after I left and they made the new gal an officer in the corporation. Had I stayed with the job, I would have soon been making money more than I ever had in my life, but knew I had made the right decision. Money has never been that important in my life.

Well, the packing up in the trailer began again. I would never had made the next week or so except for Donna who came and helped me during every spare minute. And about three days before Christmas still in 1953, we had everything packed, the house cleaned and there was a bed made with all my bedding in the back for Steve and at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon we said goodbye to Donna and once more I started out from California. My war was an ancient Plymouth which was going to trade in, but in moving I couldn’t afford it.