General Board

I haven’t mentioned the writing I had been doing, but it included poetry, stories, plays, etc. I had three plays published in the MIA Book of Plays, and several stories and articles in Church magazines. Linda wrote a Roadshow and we took that to June Conference from my stake in Provo, and then I wrote another Roadshow that I took to another June Conference.

I was about February 1965 when I was called to meet with Florence Jacobson, President of the Young Women. I had taken a Roadshow to June Conference and helped in several other drama areas so supposed that they wanted me to help with something else. I was greatly astounded when they asked me to be on the Board of the Young Women. And from there came about ten exciting years of my life. Hard work, traveling, driving two or three times a week to Salt Lake City over icy roads occasionally in the winter, but all in all a tremendous experience.

Our Drama Committee was a very united group. We used to look at the Bee Hive Committee, and Dance, Scouts, etc. and feel that they really didn’t have the closeness that we had. Now several of them are gone and it was hard to know they weren’t here, even though we seldom saw them. First Frances Borden, Also Albert Mitchell, Stann Russon, Ione Bennion and last our beloved Moana Bennett. Perhaps that was saddest to us because she was younger and left several children at home. When I was first on the Board all her children were very small and it seemed she was having another one each year. In fact, it was quite a joke that she was always pregnant at June Conference. A very talented, loving woman that we all loved.

This was in the time of the old Mutual Improvement Association which is long gone now, and regretted by many. We all met together in a large room in a bank building for a general meeting conducted by one of the Young Man or Young Women Presidency. There they gave us any assignment for Conferences and told items that affected all of us. If anyone had a birthday Crawford Gates always went to the piano and in his inimitable way played crescendos, rousing chords, glissandos and finally ended up with ‘Happy Birthday To You’ which we all sang with gusto.

Then we were dismissed for our committee meetings in various rooms of the building. Our committee was in the basement along with others. We picked up our boxed lunch, the butt of many jokes, and then began our work on our drama activities. We read plays, planned June Conference, made assignments to visit Roadshows and other productions, and so on. Many times we had to have extra meetings. We established a rapport with each other and made all the work a labor of love. We had a young woman chairman and a young man. Most of the time I was there, Nate Hales was young man chairman and Frances Boyden was young women. Getting ready for June Conference was a massive job. Along with the Roadshows that were held on the University of Utah campus–and we would scour the church for good ones to bring in, we also had one-act plays at another theater. These were usually assigned to be presented or if we had seen a good one, we reported it and sometimes brought them in. Pasadena Stake was asked to bring their winning Roadshow since we knew of the high quality shows they did. Marilyn’s Party Roadshow won that year and came I think around 1967.

Years before I was on the board thy had printed one of my plays, Mother’s Anniversary, and they asked me to cast it in Provo and bring it to June Conference. Steve played the part of the obstreperous son in it and since it was published has been presented all over the English speaking world. They also asked me to bring a Roadshow, which I did. So before I went on the board all of our committee knew me.

Besides Roadshows and one-act plays, we had to have our presentations ready for Saturday when we met with drama directors from all over the Church and gave them instruction. Also, for many years we put on a drama in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake which was called the Parent and Youth Show. I wrote two of these and was involved in many others. One that I wrote was “Suddenly you’re Older.” We got permission from a well-known playwright to use his idea of a play on growing older and we had the cast put on their makeup right on the stage and progress from youth to old age. When we presented it for the Executives, they didn’t like it. Our Committee was petrified that I would be terribly hurt, but having written quite a bit before this and being criticized and having my writings rejected many times, it really didn’t bother me. We went ahead and did it for June Conference in the Tabernacle and soon after they began getting letter by the hundreds saying how it had affected young people’s lives so it was a really successful show.

When I first went on the board, we were sent to Stake Conferences with all kinds of material for the stake boards, and we had to give a short talk in Stake Conference. But as the Church grew so large, it was decided that we would only go to Regional Conference. Also, then they decided to put us in motels and it was much better this way because we didn’t have to entertain the hosts, and got much more rest. However, there was one drawback to this. Usually as we got home from meetings with the host, we had a chance to talk with them about problems in their stake that could not be discussed at the stake meetings–not because they were personal things, but because the time was so limited.

We met with drama directors and I helped write several chapters of a Play Production Book on directing, etc., and also a Book of Plays. Before and during the time I was on the Board, they published three of my plays.

We had humorous things happen to us also. There was always a General Authority with us on our trips to the various Stakes and Brother Alvin L. Dyer had a bad reputation among the Board for being very hard on the MIA people that went with him. So it became know as being in ‘Dyer Straits.’ One evening in the general meeting I received my assignment to a stake in Idaho and there was the name of the General Authority. So when we got down to our committee meeting, I said, “Well, gang, this coming month I’m in ‘Dyer Straits”. However, it turned out for me that he was one of the most delightful people I had traveled with. Thoughtful and friendly and I came back without a single complaint about him. I can’t say the same for a couple of others who shall remain nameless. most of them were very friendly and helpful.

I never did travel overseas for the Board, but did go from one end of the United States to the other and nearly all the experiences were great. During June Conference rooms in the Hotel Utah were reserved for us, but Mother was still living then and I felt that I should stay with her, which I did. I’d go from Provo and stay for the entire time of the June Conference.

Then one day we were all called to come to a special meeting and were all released. And the entire program of the MIA was changed. We still have parties once a year and talk about being in the Youth program during the Golden Years. And I still feel that they were. Now the young people get no training in speech, drama, or dance. Some stakes hold Roadshows every other year and some done hold them at all. There are no dance festivals (except for one they had a couple of times in the Rose Bowl in California, which were a tremendous job, but very successful.) No speech festivals and they very seldom do a play of any kind in the wards. President Harold B. Lee was the one who made the changes in MIA.

I am thankful that I had the privilege of being on the Board during those years. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, but by the time I was released, I felt it was probably time I went on to something else.