Mother’s History

This cow had the usual good crop of horns and I was a little afraid of her but she did give a lot of good milk. (Marilyn: milk cows have horns?) When Al was gone he got someone else to milk her but one time he got Robert Flaherty to come over to milk her. He went out the first morning and try as he might he didn’t get a drop of milk, so I said to move over and let me try. It had been years since I had milked a cow. In fact, since I was a child in Redmesa, but I did it. So, I sent him home and proceeded to milk the cow night and morning. She was quite a valuable animal, so one morning when she got out of the yard and was grazing in the empty space on the east of us before homes were built, I knew I had to get her back in before she went into the street and got hit and killed. The girls were in school, but Steve was home so he walked out into the empty yard with me. I carried a pitchfork for protection, but when the cow lowered her head, and snarled and started for me, I ran back with Steve following and to the people behind our lot who were members of the Church. The woman there said that she wasn’t afraid, but when she went out the cow did the same thing and she retreated in terror and she said she guessed she was afraid of this on.

So, I clutched the pitchfork again and followed by Steve started out again, swearing under my breath at the darned animal every step of the way. By now the cow wasn’t too far from our fence, but again she lowered her head and made the angry sounds cows make and started for us. As she got close to us, I held out the pitchfork and touched her head with it and backed her up to our fence holding the cow at bay and told Steve to climb over the fence and then I climbed over the fence. Then the dratted cow started to run down and around the gate into where she belonged and Steve and I dashed into the chicken yard and somehow or other climbed over this quite high fence and there we were prisoners of the cow. The cow was where she belonged but we weren’t. We waited for some time and the cow finally moved up to the northern end of the pasture and we dashed out and slammed the back gate shut and made sure it was secure. When the war was over and we could get butter again, the cow was sold, and none too soon.

Another amusing thing that happened was during this time when Steve was about four years old. Al and I were working out in the yard where we spent a great deal of our time. Steve came out and said he was hungry. I told him to go in the house and have one of the girls open a can of soup and give him lunch. He didn’t return so I supposed that one of them had taken care of him. When I finished and went in the house, there was a kettle of sort of brownish stuff on the stove so I thought someone had opened a can of Campbell’s bean soup for him. I took a big spoonful in my mouth and spit it out immediately. It was the most terrible spoonful of food I had ever had in my mouth. It developed that none of the girls got him lunch so he decided to put together something for himself, and goodness only knows what went into it.

About this time also, Steve and Al were working out back and I was in the house. When they came in; it was evening and soon I put Steve to bed. All went well until morning when Steve woke up and yelled at me, “Mom, Dad found a snake outside last night.” I am terrified of snakes and have been all my life. Still am. It doesn’t matter whether they are little garden snakes, blow snakes, water snakes or whatever. I’m not afraid of them biting me, I just can’t stand the sight of them and Al knew this, so he told Steve in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t to tell me that he had found in the yard. Steve kept it in all while I was putting him to bed, but when he awoke in the morning, he couldn’t stand the silence any longer so yelled it out. From that time on, I watched every step I took in the yard, but never did see one again.

Al’s business continued to grow and I felt that we would never be in need financially again. But there were problems. Whenever he went east to buy trucks, I would start getting phone calls from people who had dealings with him and they were angry. Sometimes they would swear at me and tell me I was lying when I said I knew nothing about what they were talking about. It was stressful, and sometimes I would swear to myself that when Al got home I would pick up the nearest chair and hit him over the head with it. I never knew what the people were talking about, but could tell they were very angry with him. But when he came home, he always laughed everything off and gave an explanation for it and conned me into forgetting it, but it went on and on.

Finally, we had quite a good bank account and because of all the meat shortages during the war, he decided he wanted to build a locker plant for storing meat for customers. He found a lot for sale just off Las Tunas Drive in Temple City only a few blocks from where we lived in Arcadia and he began building it. When finished it was quite a huge building, and I began working in it taking the orders from customers who rented the freezer lockers. Al would buy the beef and there was a modern aging room in the plant and he bought good meat and it was a very going business. We opened it sometime in the fall and about February of the next year we had an offer to buy it for $250,000 which was a tremendous amount at that time. It cost us $104,000 to build. By this time the war was ending and I knew that people would be able to buy refrigerators and that freezers were coming into vogue and people would not want to be bothered with a locker plant where they had to go and pick up their meat, etc. I tried to persuade Al of this and begged him to sell the plant, but he wouldn’t sell it.

At this time, although the plant was still going fairly well, the bottom had dropped out of the used truck market. Al had several of them on hand which weren’t selling, and I begged him to sell them at cost, but he said he would let them rot first, and rot they did. So quickly, as time went on the locker plant business began to wane and he didn’t have much business downtown and disaster was staring us in the face.

Perhaps one of the things that bothered me the most during this time was that Al had a problem with telling the truth, and as I looked back I realized that it had been going on all the time, although not to the extent it was at that present time. He always told stories, quite often funny and interesting at parties, or when we were with a friend, that I knew had no truth to them, but for a long time I just ignored this and decided he was trying to be friendly and fun. But more and more I began to find things wrong with the business and his dealings in it. Since my parents had somehow instilled in me a great desire to be truthful, it began to be very hard on me.

During this time Al was active in the Church and was even a counselor in the bishopric for some time. I was president of the Relief Society for about a year, but had to quit and go back to work. I can remember that about this time we were working on house papering rooms and doing other things by ourselves. Many of our friends who had no idea that we were getting into financial trouble laughed about it and said they couldn’t understand why we were doing all this work ourselves when we could well afford to have it done. But we couldn’t.