Thursday, November 23, 2017

Our first Thanksgiving as a Family

It has been 41 years since Jerry and I welcomed our eldest child into our home.  She was born on a Sunday afternoon, November 21, 1976 at about 2:30 PM.  She weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and was 19 inches long. We named her Camie and we fell instantly in love with her!  She had black hair and dark eyes (which soon went brown).  She was a tiny Spanish beauty even though only a quarter of her ancestry is from Spain

My aunt, Alice Johnson, was in attendance at her birth.  This was not planned.  She was the head nurse in the nursery at Utah Valley Hospital.  When my attending nurse became extra ornery, my husband marched her down the hall to the nursery and informed her she was trading places with my aunt.  The hospital for some wonderful reason allowed this, and Aunt Alice stayed with us.  She was not a labor and delivery nurse, but she was a vast improvement over the nurse I had and was very professional.  She timed contractions was very comforting and calming.  I remember that she marked the time of birth.

As soon as Camie arrived, we began calling to announce to our parents that they were grandparents.  For my parents, this was their first grandchild.  For my maternal grandmother, this was her first great grandchild. Both our families were in Church, so we couldn’t reach anyone to tell them this most exciting news.  It was a couple of hours before we were able to let them know they had a new granddaughter/great granddaughter/niece.  Of course, they were overjoyed at the wonderful news.  My mother immediately began planning to make the 200 mile trip to come and welcome her first grandchild.

Aunt Alice warned us that Camie was an “angry baby” when she would bring her in from the nursery for her feedings.  Camie immediately began experiencing colic. She spent her first night at home sleeping on her daddy’s chest, where his heartbeat lulled her and allowed us to get a few hours rest.  When Grandma arrived, she spent hours carrying Camie around, trying to soothe her.  After we had spent several sleepless nights, Jerry called on my mother to say the family prayer.  I remember some of the words of that prayer.

“Heavenly Father,’ she pleaded, “we all need some sleep, especially Camie.  Six o’clock would be a nice time for her to wake up.”   Camie slept through that night.  She awakened, crying at exactly 6:00 AM  to the second.  We learned many lessons from my mother.  One of those was to be specific in your prayers.

I remember feeling guilty that my mother was not in her home in Moab, Utah cooking Thanksgiving for the family there.  I was the oldest of eight children and most of the rest were still at home.  I am sure extended family pitched in to help with the family in Moab.  Mama cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us there in Provo, Utah.

As soon as she was able, my Grandmother Holyoak came up from Moab to see her first great grandchild.  She was quite elderly and had really looked forward to having great grandchildren fearing that she would be gone before getting any.  She may have been just as excited as my mother to have Camie born.  Just before the family arrived for this visit, I accidentally stuck my infant daughter with a diaper pin while changing her diaper. Every time Camie looked at me she would start to wail remembering her injury. I remember worrying that they (the family) would think I was an incompetent mother.

I received some good advice from my grandmother on child rearing.  She said, “They never feel well until they have had their bath.”  She advocated bathing Camie first thing in the morning.  Her baths seemed to calm my fussy daughter.  Now the advice is different, but back then, that was good advice and it worked for all eight of my babies. 

I was also worried about spoiling my daughter.  Grandma told me that was nonsense.  “You can’t spoil a child under a year old,” she informed me.  “You can easily un-spoil them,” she continued, “but it’s hard to make up for lost attention.”

I was worried that Camie wanted her feedings too close together.  Grandma emphatically told me.  “You don’t tell her when she SHOULD be hungry; she will tell you when she IS hungry!”

When Camie was about a month old, we made the trip out to San Jose, California so she could meet her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousin out there.  I remember Grandma Martin giving her the first tub bath in her sink. It was so fun sharing her with them.  We had a fun Christmas there with them. 

So armed with some sage advice on the part of her grandmothers her great grandmother, and Aunt Alice, we muddled through the first few months and year.  Camie had no time for cuddling.  She was too busy learning and doing, to waste time snuggling.  When I would try to cuddle with her, she would stiffen up and look over my shoulder.  She began walking at around 10 months of age.  About that time she became much less fussy.  She was a bright little baby who seemed more like an adult, trapped in an infant’s body.  Her first word at around 10 months of age was “flower” (“wow-uh” as she would say).

When my mother was born, her mother had crocheted some baby shoes for her to be blessed in.  I was also blessed in them as was Camie.  I gave them to Camie when she was pregnant with her oldest son (before we knew she was having a boy). So today, she will be here for Thanksgiving dinner with her husband Spencer and their five children. Their youngest is a daughter who was blessed in the shoes her great, great grandmother crocheted.

Jerry and I have many wonderful blessings we are thankful for.  Not the least of these is our wonderful, beautiful, oldest child.  So glad you got to make our first Thanksgiving together so wonderful Camie!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Remembering the Account of a Murder/Kidnapping Near Moab, Utah in 1961

When I was seven years old, my parents let an unemployed man named Abel Aragon, from Price Utah, camp out in our peach orchard.  Mr. Aragon, a decorated WWII veteran was looking for work in Moab, Utah where we lived.  According to Mama, he was somewhat disgruntled that he had sacrificed for his country, but was unable to find  the employment necessary to support his family after he returned.  Mama seemed under the impression that he had some mental problems which she attributed to his war experiences. I am not sure how my parents became acquainted with Mr. Aragon, but they felt sorry for him and did not feel he posed any danger to their family.

I do not know how long it was after he left our property, that Mr. Aragon held some tourists up at  gunpoint near Dead Horse Point State Park and shot a woman and her companion.   The woman, Jeanette Sullivan died at the scene. Her companion, Charles Boothroyd, was left for dead, but survived to tell the story.  The woman’s 15 year old daughter Denise was in the car when her mother was shot and attempted to drive away.  Denise had never driven a car before and Mr. Aragon was able to force the car she was driving off the road.  He then forced her into his car, kidnapping her. 

Three days later on July 7th, Able Aragon was stopped in a road block at Crescent Junction, Utah (about 40 miles north of Moab) where he fatally shot himself in the head.  He was alone at the time.  The whereabouts of Denise was not known.  She is presumed to have been murdered by him.  To this day, her body has not been recovered. 

My parents did not talk much about this incident within my earshot, but I was aware of it.  I began having nightmares and was noticeably more anxious than normal during the day.  Mama began to question me in order to determine what my problems were.  I confided to her that I was worried about being kidnapped.  I remember her assuring me. “You don’t have to worry about being kidnapped; your parents are poor.”

“Hallelujah, we’re poor,” I remember thinking.  I immediately felt more secure, wrapped in the protection of our poverty.  Mama did not tie the reason for my fear to the kidnapping of Denise Sullivan, who was likely taken because she was a witness to the murder and attempted murder.  It wasn’t until I was several years older that I realized I could be kidnapped for reasons other than ransom.

To read more about the incident, read the account of the Deseret News reporter who won a Pulitzer prize for his reporting of this story: