The Wride side

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.

The Wrides, my mother’s family were considerably better off than the Hiatts, making Ferron’s project of courting Gladys a bit of an uphill climb. Thomas Wride, Gladys’ grandfather was a successful farmer and cattle rancher. He was the first person in the little town of Benjamin to buy a car. He was plain spoken, hard driving, and influential.

Denzil, my grandfather was a gifted cattle man. It was said could tell a good cow from a bad one a mile away. His skill, and honesty caught the attention of a big time cattle marketer who had plans to make Denzil a partner and a very rich man. Denzil was a driving force in establishing the Spanish Fork livestock auction which made a number of men in Spanish Fork, Benjamin and Payson wealthy. Among them was not Denzil Wride however. Just as his fortunes were turning he died of a heart problem.

I vaguely remember Grandpa Wride as a quiet sober man. This made him a counter point to my grandmother Florence Beck Wride who had a great sense of humor, and later on in her widowhood would enjoy practical jokes that made even some of her descendants wince a little.

Occasionally she would go to Salt Lake City to shop and also try out her jokes on a more unsuspecting crowd than the home folks had become. She would stand on a street corner and stare intently at the sky. Soon passers by would notice her strange behavior and look up searching for what she saw. Seeing these people others would join to discover the black helicopters, approaching asteroid, or the Second Coming, whatever heavenly event was portending. Grandma would quietly slip away chuckling.

Once she was surprised and entertained at a brazen titillating advertisement in the window of a large department store. Laughing hilariously, she called it to the attention to others who joined in the merriment. In the staid and respectable streets of down town Salt Lake this was a sight not to be missed. She addressed the crowd, “Let’s go see what’s going on, or coming off.” Thousands of people had passed that window, but none with Grandma’s flakey perspective. The punch line to her joke was a big sign in the window proclaiming, “Men’s pants, half off.”

As a widow, she loved to test out her suitors, of which she had several notable men. If they survived her dribbling water glass dripping drink down their chin and her hidden whoopee cushion grandma figured they were stable enough to enjoy her company.

Several of them, among them a Mr. Ivan Hamilton passed the tests and got fairly serious. But Grandma despite encouragement from some family members never married Mr. Hamilton or anybody else. The one true love in her life, according to his own account was Charlie Douglas Payson’s self appointed prankster. Charlie’s tousled hair, deep wrinkles and bushy eyebrows danced to the tune of his animated voice as he spun his latest yarn on the unwary listener.

More than once he would spy Grandma and her friends the proper ladies of our little town enjoying a quiet malt at the drug store ice cream and soda pop bar. Charlie would tap her on the shoulder and announce, “Flossie, I know that I’m a handsome man, and you are a lonely widow. But you’ve got to control yourself. I saw you throwing those come hither glances a me just now. I’m a respected member of the community, and having you always chasing after me is embarrassing. I know I would be a great catch, but get a grasp on your hormones now and stop stalking me around town every time you see me. This doe eyed gazing and heavy breathing when I’m around is making people talk, and wrecking havoc with my reputation.” Charlie exited his stage with dignity but haste lest Grandma should get a word in edgewise. Her feigned embarrassment entertained her friends and other customers in the store, and set the stage for Charlie’s next appearance.

Charlie’s antics may have even added to Grandma’s already popular appeal with the town teenagers as she cruised Main Street on Saturday nights with her granddaughters my sister Jeanie and her cousin Lynette.

Grandma made a little money and received a king’s ransom of joy from her job at the city hospital caring for the new born babies. She was the first to receive and bathe several of our children. She traveled some, including a trip to Europe, served a mission to Colorado and brightened all our lives until her eighty-first year. Given her skill behind the steering wheel, some of her descendents were surprised she lasted that long, and died in bed. She drove a Chevrolet stick shift, although she rarely shifted. She would start off in high gear jerking and lurching away from stop signs and traffic lights while cars passed on either side of her.

“Ferron, my car doesn’t seem to have much pickup,” she often told Dad. But once up to speed, she made up for the slow start with her lead foot on the accelerator. She was stopped at check points several times by highway patrolmen looking for car or driver infractions. Once they were checking specifically for people driving without a license. They waved the sweet little old lady through, saying, “Go right ahead maam, we’re just checking driver’s licenses.” She thanked them and jerked away. Her smile and happy greeting made up for the driver’s license she didn’t have.

Give her credit, she took the license test so many times people in the office would greet her with, “Morning Florence here is your written test. We’ll have an officer ready when you fill it out.” The explanation was unnecessary. She knew the drill as well as they did. Short minutes later, she would whip through the written part, and step up for the driving test. Short minutes after that she would return with the tester, grateful he had survived another Saturday spin with Florence. Eventually she passed. How? The police department isn’t saying.

“I’ve lived to ride in a horse and buggy, and fly in a jet plane,” she often observed. More amazing to us was she lived to survive her own driving.

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.

Your next installment is: Being born