Being born and childhood home

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

I am the second child and second son. On my birthday my parents were visiting my mother’s parents in the hamlet of Benjamin north of Payson. I was born in a hurry. My mother told my father the time had come. He bundled her into the car and hurried off to the hospital three miles away in Payson. He carried my mother in holding my head at the same time. Holding my head was no small accomplishment. I know. I have been doing it all my life, and it is a big head, always has been. I take something above a 7½ but I usually settle for that since that is the biggest size most stores carry. My football helmet in high school was too small, but the next size up was the water bucket. Forget using two holes on adjustable caps. Apparently the “One size fits all” means fits all but one, me. I use the last hole, jam the cap down and when I take it off I have a Frankenstein mark across my forehead.

Soon after I was born my mother was cradling me in her arms in the hospital. Her maternal grandmother Rosetta Peay came in to see the new baby. She looked at me, assumed I was hydrocephalic and said, “You’ll never raise that child Gladys.” The new mother didn’t take that comment well. The pioneer stock of my Grandma Rosetta’s generation was long on work, short on tact.

Grandma Rosetta came to take care of us occasionally when Mom was not feeling well, and when my two sisters were born. Mom attempted to sell us on the idea by reminding us that Grandma Rosetta put raisins in the morning oatmeal she cooked. We liked this delicacy, but the appeal was dampened somewhat by the name Grandma Rosetta put on it. Like most of her generation in our part of the country, she called it “mush.” Even in childhood I thought, “Surely a less appetizing word does not exist in the English language.” If Wheaties© was the breakfast of champions, which I firmly believed, then mush was the breakfast of Alaskan sled dogs and people who enjoy a hot bowl of wall paper paste.

I was born in the middle of the middle month in the lowest year of the great depression. My father used to joke, “We never worried about the depression. We already lost everything in the prosperity.”

We lived on the wrong side of the tracks. I guess that was more embarrassing to the railroad company than to us. We stayed. They eventually tore up the tracks, and left town.

The little white house at 450 East Utah Avenue, Payson, Utah was my home from about age two until I left for college at Brigham Young University. My father Ferron Edmond Hiatt, my mother Gladys Wride Hiatt, the children in order of birth Gordon Ferron, me, Adella Diane, LuJean, (We were permitted to call her Jeanie, but never Louie.) J. Richard and Roger Lynn lived in a loving and generally peaceful environment.

We might have been even more generally peaceful if we had followed the custom of the Tongans. I learned from my mission there that the first daughter presides over the siblings. Even the king keeps close tabs on his sister’s approval ratings of his performance I was told.

In our family we would have been well advised to consider the counsel of our sister Diane. She was the most level headed, got the best grades of any of us, and in her adult years was a respected teacher and educational administrator.

She was also a good hearted little sister who, among other things, fetched socks. This was no small service in our home. We outgrew the space in our little house, so we sawed a doorway under the roof at the back of the house, and built a bedroom for Gordon and me. It had almost enough head room to stand up if you walked straight down the middle of the floor which was the peak of the roof. The usable space inside was limited, but the stairway to our penthouse was roomy. In fact there was all outdoors. We nailed the stairs to the back of the house.

Since the bathroom was downstairs, and we didn’t want to get out of bed, dress, hike down to the rest of the house, undress, shower, do our other bathroomy things and get dressed again. We usually jumped out of bed, grabbed an armful of clothes, and hustled down in our whatevers, especially in the winter. We were also usually late for where we were going, and often getting dressed, found we were short an article or two, most frequently socks.

Diane would cheerfully fetch the forgotten clothing, and seemed to enjoy helping her big brothers. A small service perhaps, but multiplied many times; of such are the gold crowns in heaven burnished.

A few years later the family built on to the back of the house, enclosing the stairs, eliminating our bracing morning run and Diane’s benevolent sock service. By then I was in the Tonga islands serving people whose coconut palm huts made our house look like a mansion. Like our family, the house had grown over the years with ingenious adaptations and quirky add-ons. The original two rooms never vied for the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but they were shelter from the storm, and coincidentally purchased by way of a storm.

“It is an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody some good,” as the saying goes. An ill wind brought us our little house. The wind came just as Earn Francom was planning to harvest the grain on his farm at the foot of West Mountain, west (obviously) of Payson. The ill wind flattened his field and made harvesting the grain impossible. In the economically tenuous days of the Depression one stroke of bad luck could sink you. The bank foreclosed. Earn had to move.

Meanwhile in Benjamin, an unemployed, confused young husband and father sat on the grass under a big cottonwood tree contemplating his bleak future. Down the dusty or muddy lane (depending on the weather) to the farmhouse sped a car. Out jumped Thomas Wride my great grandfather.

“What are you doing wasting a perfectly good day. You should be working providing for your family,” he barked.

“No place to work. No job,” my dad replied.

“Get in,” Tom said, and the two roared away.

They pulled up at the bank in Spanish fork.

“George in?” Tom asked the receptionist.

“He is sir, but he’s busy right now,” she answered.

“He’s not too busy to see me,” Tom said brushing past her desk and bursting into the office with Ferron in tow.

“George this young man needs a home for his family. You’ve got the Francom place on West Mountain. Let him take his family and stay there until they can get settled.”

“Tom I can’t do that. It’s a foreclosure,” the bank president protested.

“Yes you can. It’s better than having it empty for kids to break out the windows and steal whatever isn’t nailed down. You know me. You can trust me. It will be fine. Now fix up the papers and we’ll be on our way.”

“So let it be written, so let it be done,” as the pharaoh spake in the movie The Ten Commandments.  We had a home at least for now.

Spring came. The blown over stalks had dropped their seeds on the ground where they sprouted and grew. The windfall crop brought in a hundred dollars from the mill. With the money Dad bought a house in Spring Lake just south of Payson. Later a mover with a big wagon and hulking horse team happened to be headed our way, and agreed to transport the house to the foundation and small basement Dad had carved by hand out of the hard pan Payson ground. We were settled for the rest of my parent’s lives, and the growing up years of mine.

Most of those years were with the four of us children. Richard and Roger were two little welcome surprise cabooses on our family train.

I guess we lived in the industrial part of Payson if there was one. Our front window looked across the street to big brick buildings housing big iron machinery. But they were also the home of the most fascinating neighbor any boy ever had. She was a woman of adventure from the big town, Salt Lake City. She visited several times a day, and she had a backyard any imaginative child would die for, (and almost did as our parents sometimes warned us.)

What do you think about this part of the book?

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.