Boise, 1929

We got a little apartment beside a mortuary and set up housekeeping. We soon made friends there and among the many we made was the bishop of our ward and his family. They had six girls and about the middle one was Edna who became my best friend. And, she still is, and now is twice a widow and lives here in Provo. She will enter this history at intervals until the end. I was active in the Church and Al always went, but I guess because his territory took him into Oregon and quite a distance away, he didn‘t ever have a job that I remember in the Church there.

This entry is from when Marilyn went to Edna Done’s home where Edna got out her diaries and gave these entries which Marilyn wrote down.

(From Edna‘s diary, July 11, 1930)

“We went to Klea‘s and Al‘s and went to ‘White City‘; an outdoor dance hall at the end of Warm Springs Road. Here ‘Kitty Kids‘ an all girl orchestra played. Klea loved the orchestra. I surely like Klea and Al.”

(From Edna‘s diary, 1931)

“Edna was going with Henry Fletcher who ’gook Edna to see Klea in her apartment.”

(Later Edna was sick. Her diary states:)

“Home from work. Sick with a cold. Went to Mutual and Klea took me home. She gave me salts and aspirin. Hot bath and lay and talked for hours. She talked me out of marrying Henry Fletcher. I surely love that girl!”

(Next day’s entry)

“Met Klea at C. C. Anderson’s and had lunch.”

(From Edna’s diary, Thursday, October ?, 1931)

“Went to party for Lois at Klea’s.”

(From Edna’s diary, Sunday, November 1, 1931)

“Went to Mildred Thomas’s and had a practice with Klea’s chorus. We went to hospital to see Al and then to Klea’s and then home.” (Edna commented as she was giving me these quotes that Mother was a wonderful choir conductor and was always involved in something musical. She had a small women’s groups including Dale Thomas, Iretta Nokelby and others. They once sang on the musical radio show that Mother had twice a week. She also commented that Al was in a mean tempered mood in the hospital and didn’t treat Klea very well which surprised her because she thought they were the perfect couple.)

(From Edna’s diary, Tuesday, November 10, 1931)

“Went to a lovely waffle supper at Klea’s”

Klea’s narrative:

It had seemed to me that Al’s salary was very good for those days, and I had never thought we would have trouble living on it, but within just a few weeks I found that it didn’t cover our expenses (living expenses, that is). As we talked about it, he said that as a prominent salesman, he had to stay in good hotels and eat in the hotel coffee shops, and that it just cost a lot to travel and do his work. His salary and expense account were quite good for that time (1929) and I just guess his salary and expense account just disappeared.

So, I started cutting down at home. I went without butter and kept groceries and home expenses to a minimum. Finally I could see that I would have to get a job in order for us not to go in debt, which I have always abhorred. I went downtown and got a job with Falk Company, who had the largest department store in town. There I sold records and sheet music which was sort of up my alley. One of the things I remember about the store there was after I had been there for some time, they told me that I ran everywhere

I went in the store. I was 19 at the time and very mature in some ways because I had had a lot of responsibility in my family from the time I was born, almost, but in other ways I was very immature and so many times in the past years, I have felt that the young people now are so much further ahead mature wise than I was at their age.

One day in the store, we received a recording by a young fellow named Bing Crosby and I believe the record was ‘Among My Souvenirs.’ At the time I predicted that he was going to be a big hit, and look what happened. Since that time and most of my life, I have had this ability to pick ‘winners’ in the area of performers, as well as songs that will be hits and it has been an asset in working with groups.

The year we were married was 1929, and of course, that was the year of the crash of the Stock Market at the end of the year. But, Al still had his job and I had mine. It took some time for the country to feel the effects of the terrible crash. Then times began to be critical. In 1931 I got pregnant but continued to work because we needed my salary so badly. My doctor had me walk about three miles every day so I got to know the area around where we lived very well. Most of the time, Edna walked with me.

(Edna commented to Marilyn)

I went for walks with Klea. I was a little afraid because women in that day weren’t supposed to exercise when pregnant. It scared me a little to walk with a pregnant woman.

Mother’s history:

For some time I worked on the side in radio and even had a chorus who sang there, but my memories of some of this are pretty fuzzy.

Al was a very loving husband and very solicitous of me when pregnant, but unknown to me there were storm clouds.

Two of our close friends in Boise were Fred and Lorraine Williams. He worked for the State of Idaho at the Statehouse. She was a little bit of a thing and was pregnant at the same time I was. (The friendship between us was not a part of the storm clouds mentioned above.) I often was concerned about her having a baby because she was so tiny, but I don’t think anyone worried about healthy old me because I was larger. Anyway, one night they came to our apartment and we played games and about midnight they went home. The next morning as I was walking to work, I met Lorraine’s sister-in-law and she asked me if I knew that Lorraine had had her baby the night before. I told the sister-in-law that she didn’t have her baby because they were at our place until midnight the night before. But, she said that she went to the hospital and had the baby with no problems whatever.

Then a month later or so, it was my turn and on December 9th, I went to the hospital. But, my darling little Linda wasn’t born for three days on the 12th. I lay there in misery with pains every few seconds but nothing happening. I pulled on the cloth straps at the side of the gurney or whatever it was, until my hands were one mass of sores. I was out of my head most of the time. My chin went straight down to the end of my neck from straining. I finally got so I thought I was saying something and it would come out gibberish and I begged then to let me die. People saw me afterwards and said I didn’t look the least bit like myself.

(From Edna:)

“My mother, who was a midwife, went to see your Mother during her labor and felt so sorry for her. It was the worst labor she had ever seen.”

Mother’s history:

Toward the end of the third day the doctor decided he would have to take the baby by forceps. This wouldn’t happen very often today. They would do a cesarean but this was 1931. Anyway, they gave me ether and took the baby. Miraculously, after all that she was perfect, even her head not much out of shape and was 8 pounds 3 oz. I thought she was wonderful. It took me three weeks to begin to recover.

By this time we had moved to an old apartment house with very little furniture, but we were just glad that our Linda Jean was here and apparently healthy. In the apartment house was a nurse friend and she was very good to help me out when I first got home from the hospital. At one point I said how upset I was that the doctor had let me suffer for so long before taking the baby and she said that if I had seen some of the babies she had seen that were taken with forceps that came out mangled and practically in pieces, I would know that a good doctor always waited until there was absolutely no other alternative before using the forceps. We couldn’t afford help, but I believe Wanda came up and helped also. In fact, I think that was the time she came up and got sick on watermelon and has not been able to eat it since. But then we would not have had watermelon in December, so I must be thinking of another time.

Linda began being very cross at first and I was trying my best to nurse her, but finally my nurse friend said that she was starving so we put on a bottle and she did just fine. Anyway, I gradually recovered and cared for Linda. She grew fat and strong and we loved her dearly, of course.

Things were becoming even worse for us financially. We paid the hospital bill but never did pay the doctor. We had a chance to rent a little house that was out in the country a short distance outside Boise. It wasn’t much of a house, but cheap. It was on acreage and there were no close neighbors and I was often ill at ease when Al was gone.

An episode happened there that frightened me very much. One night when Al was out on his territory, as he always was all week, his brother, Hod, showed up at our house. He was in very bad emotional condition and was ranting and raving and walking all around the room constantly. Then he used the phone to call his ex-wife long distance and talked for about an hour and I wondered if we could ever pay the phone bill. But, more that that I was afraid he might turn really bad and hurt me or Linda. This went on for hours but finally he left, ranting all the way out. I hurriedly locked the doors. When Al returned I told him about it and he went to the military hospital where Hod was now staying for some reason, and asked them not to let him leave at any time, and he never did come back.

A few months or so later an incident happened that I wish I didn’t have to write but if I’m going to put down all the major parts of my marriage I must tell this. I will try and be as factual as possible and since it was a great shock to me, it is indelibly on my memory.

One day one of the MacDonald brothers, who now ran the factory, came to Boise and said he wanted to take us to dinner. We went and had a nice time there and I didn’t have the faintest inkling of what was to happen later. He went back to the house with us and said that he needed to talk to Al and me. Then he said that Al had been using company funds and they were going to have to let him go. That he was under Bond and now that was being revoked and that he would probably never be able to be bonded again.

No one can imagine the shock this was to me, completely out of the blue. I asked Al to go into another room and I asked the MacDonald fellow if he knew what had happened. He said they had no idea that it might be gambling, other women, or whatever. He also said that when they first knew about it, they thought it was me. That I was being extravagant and living beyond our means, but since he had been there and saw how we were living and how I was dressed, he knew it couldn’t be that. I was paralyzed with shock. It was such a complete surprise because I had had no inkling that such a thing could be happening. I was nineteen when we were married in 1929, so I was only 22 or so at the time and while I had thought for years that I was twenty going on 65, I had never had anything like this happen to me or to anyone I knew.

And to this day, I still don’t know one thing about where the money he took went. I never did quiz Al or was never angry with him and he never did offer an explanation. Our relationship was sort of in flux and I was trying very hard to believe in him and give him another chance to show me that things would work out financially. I was really so hurt and worried about our situation without a job, that I guess I just went on from one day to another. Al was a hard worker and he decided to go out into selling candy on his own. He bought an old panel truck and got candy from a wholesaler and started out selling it on his own. At the moment, I don’t know where the money came from to buy the truck or to get the first candy supply, but that is what he did; maybe a loan on my piano.

Some friends decided to go outside Boise a mile or so and take over a grocery store that was across the street from a grade school. Along with the store was a small cafe that mostly sold lunches to the school children. Behind the store and cafe were little separate ‘cabins’ which is what most of the motels at that time consisted of. They said we could have one of the cabins free if we would take over the cafe and run it. We were so short of money that we grasped at anything and decided to do it. The motel rooms were each a separate little house consisting of a bare room (no carpeting as I remember) and a small poor bath. I ran the cafe and usually would give Linda a bottle and she would go to sleep at noon and when the school children came for hamburgers and hot dogs. Otherwise I had a swing hung in the kitchen and I put her in it while I cooked and waited on other customers. It was very hard taking care of Linda and waiting on people, cooking, washing dishes, the whole smear by myself except that on weekends when Al was in from his route and he helped me. It was very hard, but Al wasn’t earning very much money and at least we didn’t have to pay rent. I probably made a little money at the cafe and we probably ate on the leftovers.

One day I gave Linda her bottle and thought she would sleep as usual for four hours, and I was busy with the school children, but at one point felt I should run over to the cabin and see if she was okay. I opened the door and she was sitting up in bed with blood all over her from top to bottom. That was before plastics and her bottle was glass and somehow she didn’t go to sleep, sat up and broke the bottle and scratched herself with it. Actually, there were only scratches that bled a lot and she was okay, but it nearly scared me to death, and I never did leave her alone again.

Also, at this time I was playing piano with a trio and we got paying jobs quite often and that also helped some. One rainy night we had a job and Al was in town so I drove his truck to the job. It was raining quite heavily, so I was going slow, but rammed into a big truck that was almost in the road with no light of any kind on it. Since I was going slow I wasn’t hurt but the truck was totaled, and that was the end of our struggles in Boise.

By this time President Roosevelt was elected and he promised to do something about the depression. There were no jobs anywhere. People were going hungry. This was before the Church encouraged a year supply of food and the entire country was in a depressed state of mind. The young people now who didn’t go through that time would not be able to imagine the feelings of helplessness and how men walked the street day after day looking for work and would take anything they could get. Of course, prices went down and down every day until they hit rock bottom, but it didn’t help because no one had anything to buy good with anyway.

I forgot to mention that my parents moved to Salt Lake about the time that Al and I got married and the family was living there they around 1928. They lived first across the street from the capital in an apartment then move to another apartment on Apricot Street near the capital. Then they finally moved to Poplar Grove area of Salt Lake which was on the west side of the city over the railroad tracks where they were when Al and I left Boise.

(This is included from a conversation at a dinner party at Wanda’s Saturday night, March 12 the year mother retired. Mother wrote about their conversation about living near the Capitol Building.)

Wanda and Harold were telling about that. Harold says he was six years old. He wandered one day over to the Capitol Building and was around on the other side and was lost. All the sides of the building look alike and didn’t know which was to go home, but he knew our address so he sat there crying and a man came along and when he gave his address, he took him home. I used to get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning and practice on the piano. I remember that Professor Asper had a recital and I invited Mother to go. Dad didn’t seem to be there to go. Anyway, afterwards Mother criticized the way I bowed (we had to bow at the beginning and the end). I was crushed and decided I would never again let her know about anything I was doing so she wouldn’t be there to criticize me. This was a mistake on my part because she was terribly proud of all of we kids and anything that we did, but it is also a lesson for parents, that tender young people just are crushed with criticism, and it is better to give praise and then just slide in the criticism at the bottom of the conversation, or if possible, don’t give it at all.