Linda’s Marriage to Bruce

In 1954, Linda graduated. In the meantime she had met Bruce Riddle, who had been a student at BYU, but for reason of the Word of Wisdom, he left BYU and went to the U of U. He was exceptionally bright, but had many emotional problems. He was married to a fine girl and they had a daughter, but were separated. I knew his wife and she was a lovely person. I could understand the problems with Bruce.

When Linda wrote the Varsity Show, she had not had any classes or experience in orchestrating so they took her music to Salt Lake to Bruce. His first words were, “I’m not going to orchestrate any girl’s music.” But they insisted that he look at it and he immediately liked it and did the orchestrations. So, he and Linda met and it was instant attraction. Later, he and Lynette were divorced and he picked up his relationship with Linda. It was during the time of the winter and Spring of 1954 that their romance blossomed, much to the discomfiture of the family and all who knew them. However, before that, Linda told me that she was sick of school and wanted to quit. I knew how bright she was and what a future she could have, but was afraid if she quit she might never get back. As bright as she was, she didn’t get an overall good grade point average. The things she liked, she got A’s in and the things she didn’t like, she got C’s. Her grade point wasn’t bad, but could have been straight A’s without too much effort. Later she told me that she was sorry that even though many courses bored her, she hadn’t gone ahead and gotten good grades. However, it really didn’t matter that much.

The main concern in my life was the romance which had developed between Linda and Bruce Riddle, which continued immediately after the Varsity Show was over. He had been married before in the Temple and wasn’t active in the Church. Bruce was an extremely bright fellow. His I.Q. probably between 150 and 160 or more. He was raised in Cedar City and his father had died when he was a little boy and while many of his relatives were wealthy, his mother and family were the ‘poor relations’ and this may have had an effect on his emotions.

Linda and Bruce fell in love. We talked about the problems they would have–finances, using money wisely, his responsibility to his first wife and child, etc. I felt deeply that if he and Linda were married that only problems would be the result. But nothing could deter the romance and finally their decision was to be married. The three of us sat around a round table in what we called the music room of our home and hashed out what I thought the problems would be. Bruce knew that I was very much against the marriage as were several of Linda’s professors, who tried to talk her out of it, along with several people who had known Bruce. But they were determined that they could work out all their problems since they knew what they were.

I didn’t have much money, but decided that since they were determined to get married, I would do whatever I could for them. Linda was working in Phoenix, Arizona at the time and she got material for her wedding dress and I helped with the veil. It was decided that they would be married by our old bishop, Oscar McFarland in the Las Flores Ward in the Relief Society Room. We made it as nice as possible and after the wedding we had a small party with a few friends and they opened their gifts, we had refreshment and they were on their way on whatever honeymoon they had planned.

I returned to Provo to go back to work. Linda and Bruce decided to stay in Southern California and he got a job in an office and she did too. But both of them were too creative to do the day to day humdrum work in an office. Linda found that elementary teachers were very scarce in California so she applied to teach. I guess they were pleased with her educational background although she hadn’t had any education classes, and they hired her. Watching Joan take all her education classes at that time in all the areas and the things she was learning I asked Linda how in the world she ever got by with her class. But, she was a natural born teacher. She said that she went into the teacher’s room at lunch and listened to what they were doing and then went back to her class and did it. And she was a great success. I think she gave them great lessons in music along with whatever else she taught them and she loved doing it.

Whenever I went to California to visit them at first, Bruce was very rough on me. He hardly spoke and whenever I said anything, he would speak up and say that whatever I said was stupid, etc. I decided that I wasn’t going to let him get to me, so I just smiled and said, “Maybe you’re right, Bruce.” Gradually he became more friendly.

Then they decided to go back to school and moved to Sacramento. There one of them would work and the other go to school for a semester and vice-versa. And there, they had my first grandchild, Kent. I went to see them right after he was born–being a working mother made it hard for me to be in on all the births, but I tried, and if not when the grandchildren were born, I saw them soon. When I walked into the house after Kent was born, there he was on Linda’s lap with a thermometer in his little behind. But, he was a darling baby. He had big brown eyes and was a handsome boy and very good. I always went when the babies were born it if was in the summer when I could plan vacation time around it.

About eleven months later, along came Steven. He was fat and forever smiling and a love of a baby. He was so fat that he sort of looked like a benevolent Buddha. In fact, he was very lovable, but not very handsome and we wondered what he would be like as a grown-up, but we needn’t have worried. We loved him like anything and he grew into a handsome blond we all adore. He is now a six foot plus handsome man.

Bruce was still going to school and eventually Linda also went and took orchestration and several classes that she hadn’t had in her musical education before.

Linda and Bruce were still living in Sacramento. I believe Bruce had finished his bachelors degree. Kent was nearly three and Steve two. Marilyn was in another Wilshire Ward Musical and wanted me to come down to see it. Linda was also writing and directing her ward’s Roadshow, which I think was “Go West Young Fan” a spoof on TV westerns. It is now published. Since the dates for both shows were close, I went to see Marilyn’s show and then visited with Linda and Bruce for a few days and saw her Roadshow. While Linda, Bruce and I sat in her kitchen table late one night and planned a Christmas TV opera that we were going to do. The temporary title was NOTHING EVER HAPPENS IN BETHLEHEM. It would be about a girl who is the daughter of the inn keeper who turned Mary and Joseph away and she let them stay in the stable. We were excited about it. It was about this time that Minotti’s hour long Christmas opera Amahl and the Night Visitors had been filmed and we were enchanted with that and wanted to write one of our own.

Linda and Bruce had been through some difficult times. Bruce was trying very hard to do things as he should, but sometimes his emotional problems got in the way. He told Chris in a conversation a short time before the above happened that he was very jealous of Linda’s ability to compose music. She was a much better composer than he (and he was good), but he said her melodies were so much better. All the time he hadn’t been too threatened because he could orchestrate and she couldn’t. Now, she had taken some classes in orchestration and could do everything as well, if not better, than he. We don’t know the extent to which he was threatened by her talent, and will never know because about a week after I returned home from Sacramento, the phone rang and it was Linda telling me that Bruce was dead. Then she fainted and some friends finished the conversation. I flew right down and his brother and wife came up from L.A. as did Marilyn, Chris and Donna. Linda told us later that he had been particularly solicitous that morning. Even after going to the car, he had come back and kissed them goodbye again. He said he was going to the mountains to find a friend who had been at BYU from whom he had recently had classes. I think he was quite close to him. This friend was at a music camp in the mountains or something. However, he never did find him, but on the way back his car left the road and crashed down hundreds of feet through the forest. He was still alive when people rushed down the mountain to find him, but died shortly afterward. We never did know exactly what happened.

The day before his funeral was Kent’s third birthday, and Bruce’s brother and sister-in-law were quite upset that we had a little family party for Kent. Perhaps we shouldn’t have, but at the time we felt that Kent didn’t really know what was happening and if we could show the family love and solidarity for him, it might help.

In the three or four days before the funeral, Chris worked from early morning until late at night getting their financial situation all in order. The rest of us stripped the house, put the furniture in storage, and packed up Linda and the boys. She went to a graveside service for Bruce in Cedar City and then came to California where she, Marilyn and Chris rented a large old house together. Steve was still living with Marilyn and Chris, so this big old house held Marilyn (pregnant with Julie), Chris, Kathy, Steve, Linda, Kent and little Steve.

After some months, when the house they were renting was going to be torn down for an apartment house, Linda decided to go back to school and get her master’s. She felt the logical place was Long Beach State because one of her professors from BYU was teaching there. She got her master’s degree and while there met Richard Williams and married him.

The summer of 1955, right after school let out, Marilyn’s quartet, “The Sophomores” met Winston Christensen on a Delta Phi Chorus and Variety Show tour. They toured for a few weeks through the East Central States Mission. After returning Marilyn was telling about her tour and she mentioned that the director, who was one of the returned missionaries, but in charge of the group…and all of the girls wanted to date him. However, he took his responsibility seriously and wouldn’t get involved with any of the girls while they were on tour. She said she would really like to date him.

A short time later that afternoon, the day they arrived home, he called and said the group was going swimming and would she like to go. She said she wanted to go, but told me that I had better give her some money because she didn’t know if he was inviting her as one of the group or intended it to be a date. When she got home, she said that he had taken her as his date. His name was Winston Christensen and he was from Delta, Utah and since he had been gone on his mission for two years, he was in the same year in school as Marilyn.

They began dating from then on and Marilyn came to me and said that he told her he wasn’t going to get married just yet and she felt she was falling for him and didn’t want to go on dating and maybe be hurt. I told her that what she said was true, but if she stopped dating him, it was sure that he wouldn’t fall in love with her and if she hung in there, he might change his mind. I said that she would have to decide which course to take. She had other guys dating her at the time and enjoyed their company, but wanted to date Chris. Many of his roommates were the ones asking her out. She later found out that when guys asked if it was okay to ask her, he said he would prefer they didn’t. Marilyn finally tried to cool it with him since a lot of girls were interested in him. The girls in her quartet were also in A Cappella Choir and they talked Chris into auditioning and he got in so she had a class with him every day. She smiled at him in A Cappella rehearsal and had the feeling he would ask for another date. She decided to stay dating him and see what happened. Finally by Thanksgiving he took her to his home to meet his family. On the way home, she told him that either they started making permanent plans with each other or she didn‘t want to date him anymore. He said he wanted to continue and gave her his Delta Phi pin. The night before the second Delta Phi Tour, Chris gave her an engagement ring. She about broke up with him again when he wouldn’t even hold her hand on the tour those two weeks. He said they were on ’missionary rules’.

Marilyn wanted a reception in California along with a reception in Delta. We still felt close ties to Arcadia and our friends there. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on September 4, 1956 in the Salt Lake Temple by Apostle LeGrand Richards whom Chris had met while first counselor to the mission president on his mission and he volunteered to marry them. There was a ‘wedding breakfast’ at Chris’ aunt’s home in Salt Lake and they left for California. It was also held in the Las Flores Ward but in the patio. Donna and I worked for several days like beavers. I wanted it to be nice, but couldn’t afford to have it catered. We ordered the cake and got material for punch, borrowed stuff from here, there and everywhere. I found the inside of heavy cardboard carpet rolls and put corrugated white paper on them to make them look like columns. We painted box lids white for the top so they pretty much looked like Grecian pillars. A friend who professionally arranged flowers made a beautiful arrangement for the mantle over the outside fireplace on the patio, and we scrounged a rug for the bridal party to stand on and put white ribbon and bows between the pillars. and decorated the refreshment table.

Actually the whole thing was beautiful and even used the pillars for their Delta Reception.

A good friend of mine in Provo even used the idea for her daughter’s wedding in their garden. The evening was beautiful with many friends attending. My biggest regret was that I could not afford a professional photographer. Several of us took pictures and a friend, but they were very unprofessional. I’ve grieved over this a great deal.

After the reception, Marilyn and Chris left for a week’s honeymoon. Donna and I picked up the pieces (liberally) from the reception and took back all the borrowed items and tried to recover. A week later was a reception in Delta given by Chris’ folks. They had taken with them the pillar makings and put them up again in their church cultural hall. Then several people borrowed them after that in Delta. So the day before the reception I loaded up the old Chevie (I can’t think now of how and where I acquired it, but I guess it was the successor to the ancient Plymouth that I drove to Provo in the snow from my short stay in California after graduating.

We had most of their wedding gifts, the wedding dress and veil, the top of the wedding cake for the reception in Delta, and a thousand other things. Then at the last minute my good friend in Arcadia, Grace Martin, picked a large bouquet of Antheriums from their hothouse; nailed pop cans to a board and put the flowers in the pop bottles, which were then put in the cans. She also did this with a large bouquet of orchids. These were on the seat between Joan and I, or Steve and I as the case might be. We were terribly loaded.

We finally started out in the afternoon and drove to Mesquite where we got a motel for the night, but the air conditioner was so loud we couldn’t sleep so got up and started on. We were about two miles out of Mesquite when the motor of the car started thumping and bumping and I knew something was terribly wrong. We drove back and into the first service station on the outskirts of Mesquite and the attendant came out as he heard the motor, yelling, “Stop your motor, stop your motor.” He said I was ruining it completely. He called a tow truck to tow us two blocks around the corner to a garage and there said they had to make major repairs and would be the next day before it was fixed because they had to send to St. George or Las Vegas for the parts. “BUT”, I said, “THE RECEPTION IS TONIGHT!” I asked about a bus and they said one would come along before too long and stop at a service station down the street so we found boxes here and there and repacked everything and made a nice mound in front of the station and on top was a huge plastic bag with the wedding dress in it. and we stood there hold the bouquets of orchids and Antheriums

The bus came and out motley crew and packages got on. The bus stopped in St. George for lunch and I tried to phone the Christensen’s. They weren’t home but finally the friendly telephone operator asked if it was important and if so, she would try and locate Mr. Christensen and she did. There’s something to say for non-dialing telephones. I told Chris’ Dad our predicament and they said they would have Marilyn and Chris in a car meet us in Fillmore. Also, he asked if we could get flowers in Fillmore because Delta had none. So we checked around town and one of Chris’ aunts or cousins or someone gave us tons from her garden. There was no florist in Fillmore.

Marilyn and Chris came and we shoved and pushed everything into the car and then wedged ourselves in. I sat behind a huge bouquet with no room at all or my feet. Fortunately it isn’t far from Fillmore to Delta. We unloaded the flowers at the Church and they made beautiful bouquets for the guest book table and such. Then we dashed to Chris’ home and I pressed the wedding dress. Didn’t have time to press my own or eat any dinner because we were so late we jumped into our clothes and headed for the Church. The reception was very nice, but in this little Utah town, they don’t try to be very formal at receptions. There was a line. The gifts were on tables around the hall, with beautiful handmade quilts from friends. After the line ended there was a program and then a dance where everyone tripped the light fantastic, or some sort of it. Even the oldsters got out there and ‘cut a rug.’ Was that saying popular at that time? (No, Mother, that was way before the 1950’s.) Chris’ dad played in this dance band and they play for free for a favor to the family. Evan didn’t have to play that night.

Steve and Joan had to be back in Provo so I got rides with friend for them back in Provo. I got a ride back to Fillmore and waited in a cafe until 3:00 a.m. when a bus came headed for Mesquite, among other places. Since it was so late in the morning when we got there, my car was ready and I got in and drove back to Provo.