Mildred Ream 1907-1979 (click here for source)
Mildred's daughter Sharon Ream Meyer writes (30 May 2012), "Here's Mother's autobiography, which she wrote in longhand while recouperating from hip surgery, and from which she didn't recover. We find it amazing, that it surfaced after such a long time."
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MILDRED EVANS REAM
I was born September 28, 1907 to beloved parents, Margaret Davis Evans and Joseph James Merriman Evans at 511 East Center Street in Spanish Fork, Utah. The family doctor was Dr. Warner. I have lived in that house all of my life with the exception of one year, when I married James O. Ream of Provo, and we moved to Santa Monica for a year.
My childhood was happy and free to play in a large block owned by my father. Half of the lot was in all kinds of fruit trees – early and late apples. (I loved the red Austrian apples.) We had pears, plums, grapes, peaches, currents, and every kind of a vegetable. My mother worked so hard caring for the garden – weeding and watering, so we could have a good healthy living. We didn’t have enough money, that we could waste anything, but we always had plenty to eat. We were all taught to work.
My childhood memories were happy. I had a kind, loving mother and father. Mother was beautiful, and Dad was strong and honest. Mother said when she went to look for me, I was in the carrots, turnips, radishes, pears – in the garden or up an apple tree. We had plenty of grist in the mill for flour and cereal - cows – milk and cream – chickens and eggs, pigs, ham and bacon.
We had two big weeping willows to play under and a large cottonwood tree in the backyard. It was a corner where all children loved to come and play. My mother welcomed them. Down on the corner, there was a pollywog pond we had fun playing in.
Bud, my baby brother, was an entertainer and I would attend all the entertainments. He sang a “stuttering” song that really raised the rows. Mother was very proud of him and attended all he took part in.
My father was the hardest working man in town. He served as a state and county road supervisor. He was away a lot, so we didn’t see him too often. But we were all happy when he came home with his pockets full of nickels, candy and jewelry for us.
Utah was such a poor state that the means and ways of doing things was one of its kind. Having no funds to keep the state roads up, they had to use the trusted convicts for help. My dad was state supervisor over the roads under Governor William Spry. They laid the first cement road in Davis County and blazed the first road into Zion National Park. The roads all down southwest LeVerkin ect. (sic.) (Hard to read her writing sometimes. SRM) He was an expert powder man, and he blew the trails through the mountains. Dad never carried a gun. The men loved him because of his fairness. Governor Spry said he understood men, and if they wanted a hunk of tobacco, he would give it to them.
I was always busy. I liked to be doing something whether I am helping or not. My mother had a lovely quilt and all tied. I took a scissors and cut every one of them loose. Another time, she tied a scarf tight around my head, so I wouldn’t get cold. I took a scissors & cut it off in hunks – taking my hair with it. I looked like a “pinto” for a long time. I can’t understand why my mother didn’t give me away. She was so kind that she didn’t – would always forgive.
I started to school in the Little Red School across the road. The bell would ring from the Little Red School House. I would never leave home until I could hear it ring. I had to go to Benjamin first as my birthday fell September 28th, and I couldn’t start with the first grade. Burt Angus was my Benjamin teacher and Stella Markham was my 1st. I attended that school until I was in 2nd grade. Then I went to the Central School. Rose Jameson was my teacher. In 1978 when they ripped the Central School down, it about broke my heart. It was the most precious landmark we had in the 19th Century. I was always running. Loved to enter “running races” and would usually win.
My parents taught me to work while I was young. (To learn to work and how to save is the most valuable lesson ever taught.) I started real young to work in the beet fields thinning beets. Bud and Minnie were there too. The days were long – the rows got longer - knees and back sore. Bud was so tiny. He would sometimes lie down in the rows and cry. I picked beans – cherries – apples – peaches. My sister, Minnie, was just older than I was, and she held my hand most of the time. Seems like all through my life, she watched over me like a guardian angel. Baby-sat for Arthur McKell, Art, Mark and Della. Today Mark still reminds me of it. Cleaned house for Mrs. Smith, a particular lady. I always loved to have my own money.
My early childhood was playful. I loved life. Many children were in the neighborhood. We would play kick-the-can – relieve-e-o - hide & go seek – etc. -Helen Beckstrom, Burl Frost, Mae Stebbins, Delor Becksrom, and many others.
In the junior high, I was active in all kinds of athletics. In the summer a group of us girls went to Orem and picked strawberries and raspberries.
Our house wasn’t modern. We had to carry water from the flowing well. Outside privy. The water all had to be heated on a coal stove and several of us bathed in one big bathtub, after the water was heated. Chairs and blankets were put around the tub. Some of us had brands on our bums from the hot stove. Hot bricks and stove lids were put in bed with us to keep warm, or heavily laden down with Mother’s canyon quilts. She made them for Dad to take to the canyon with him.
But the grand old stove – no better bread – roasts etc. ever graced a table as good as my dear mother prepared. Dad would slice large potatoes and cook them on top of the stove and serve with salt. We all loved them. I can’t find a stove that can do it just like my dad. We carried hot buckets of coal to keep the fires burning. It was a struggle to keep the home warm in the winter.
Entering high school was a fun time. Lois Gillispie and I went down to Utah Idaho Sugar Company and applied for work. We both got on every shift from 4 to 12 p.m. in the Lime Kiln under Walter Briggs. I worked then for the sugar beet run and made enough money to carry me through some time.
In my senior year, I got a better job at the Utah Idaho Sugar Company in the Chemist Lab under David Hodge. It was a great help to me to get me clothes.
We had many parties and dancing.
From Benjamin to elementary to high school – I graduated from high school in 1926. I took part in many musicals and operas at the high school under F. J. Faux.
I loved to dance. Had a lot of good times at the dances. There was a crowd of us that really had fun. I went with Eldon McKell a lot. Others in the crowd were Art Grotegut, Grant Christensen, Dean Hughes and Lois Gillispie, Dean Larsen, Archie Lawhorne, Max Mendenhall, Zelda Peterson, Hannah Bowen, Genevieve Bowen.
The leaders in the group I graduated with were: Archie Williams, Blanche Thorn, Jack Swenson, Len Ludlow, Charles Hagan, Ardell Ludlow etc.
After graduation our paths all went in every direction. I stepped out with Jimmy Evans, the drummer for the Warne Stones Bros. Orchestra (Hard to read. This may not be the correct name for the orchestra. SRM) We had fun. Then I went to Hyrum to work with my sister, Fay, in Nelson Ricks station. When I returned most of the old gang had left.
I started with Henager Business College, and my mother got sick and wanted me home. I got a job as telephone operator with Mountain States Telephone Company – The “Great Depression” was being felt everywhere. “Depression written on every gate.” I was lucky to have a job.
I had many dates, but I couldn’t make up my mind to marry. During the Depression, if a girl got married at the telephone company, she had to quit, as work was so scarce. They divided wife and spouse.
Worked with the Mountain States Telephone Company (Blanche Johnson), and the Depression hit so hard the force was cut way down. I only got a few hours work a week. As it picked up I gained in seniority and finally became Chief Operator. I had opposition because they made me chief operator over those that had more seniority. Mr. Vickors was manager. I surely liked him. I was fortunate to have a good job with a great company – “Mountain States Telephone.” I was soon advanced to chief operator due to the sudden death of Blanche Johnson. It was a real challenge but a great opportunity in the Depression, and it was good money in those times. We had food at home such as milk, cream, chicken, wheat, cereal etc., but no money, so I was able to help the family through the rough spots. I was able to help the whole family.
1933 – Mother died.
1934 – Lew was hurt felling a tree.
1935 – Joe was killed.
1937 – I married James O Ream and moved to Los Angeles, where he was employed with the Payne Furnace Company.
My mother died May 19, 1933. It was difficult, but Dad made arrangements with the Commercial Bank for the burial and to pay as the crops came in. She was laid away beautifully. She was so beautiful anyway. It was a metallic casket, and she had so many beautiful flowers. She was truly loved – died at age 66.
In 1934 Lew was helping a Mr. Johnson fell a tree up on the bench, and Lew didn’t get out of the way far enough. The big branch struck him throwing him to the ground. His collar didn’t come unbuttoned, and it chocked him. He was knocked unconscious. He was rushed to the Spanish Fork Hospital in a critical condition. I was notified at the telephone office to come to the hospital. He had a basal skull fracture. He didn’t regain consciousness for 31 days. He was never the same. He never knew a well day after that. He had the headache all the time. He was Dad’s strongest and best help on the farm. He tried to work but couldn’t – only part time.
He finally passed away at 52 from a coronary occlusion (heart attack). He had such a sad life, and it brought great responsibility to me to care for him.
In 1935 as the New Year came, a truck coming down Spanish Fork Canyon hit my brother Joe. He had a flat tire, and he and Ron Mc Kell stopped to fix it. A truck came around the bend losing control and pinned Joe between it. He died in a few hours after. So that was another tragedy in our family. [Joe's wife] Dale was left with 5 children.
The land was all mixed up, so it was a real hassle to get things settled, as the boys were all working together but nothing in separate deeds.
Dale with her father, Morgan Beck, had Rulon Morgan, a lawyer and a relative with all his interest in Dale. Pressured by her father, Mog Beck., Dale even claimed she helped to bury Mother, because the profit from the land was all in one. I had to stand up against her and got it cleared once and for all. The expenses were all paid and the deeds made out proper and in all honesty.
Dale got Joe’s/her (40) acres and home. Lew got his (40) acres (rocky land). Bud his (40) acres. Dad deeded this to him. Dad got his (40) acres (Hill). Lew hated his part of the land, so to give Lew a good deal, Dad deeded his 40 acres to Lew and kept the balance.
The railroad came through and took part of the rocky land leaving about 32 acres without approximately 2 acres over the track, which belongs to the piece.
Dad sold (5) acres of it to the state for gravel and more by the yard. Of course, what was left of the rocky land was still in Lew’s name and not transferred back to Dad.
In the meantime it went to “Tax Sale” by the county. No one was interested in it, because they couldn’t see any value in it.
Dad advised me to take my telephone stock and redeem it. As Dad said, “Someday you may need it, when you don’t feel like working.” Even though against my will I redeemed it, I felt like I was putting the money down the drain. Money was so scarce in the Depression, but I listened to my father. For about 25 years I have had to pay taxes. They were low because the land couldn’t produce anything.
I had quite an ordeal to get Lew to deed that to me to make him understand Dad had deeded him his (40) acres – the best of the land. When I redeemed the rocky land, the only legal way was to deed it to me, so Lew did that, and his name was put on Dad’s 40 acres.
I want this to be made clear, that this was all done through the legal lines and deeds, I have for evidence. It is only common sense that the rocky land I redeemed should be in my name giving me free title to it. It was blood money. It took every penny I had in telephone stock to redeem it. Vernon Richardson is the witness on the deed. So whatever the returns are, they have only one place to fall, and that’s in my cup. And it was my father that had me do it.
Before my father died, he had a will made, and so did Lew. Lew deeded me the 40 acres that Bud traded him for a big city lot. Bud sold it into city lots and made well. Lew also deeded the 40 acres Dad deeded to him in lieu of the rocky land.
I have a stipulation in it that I will never sell the two 40 acres until necessary.
Dad said, “That’s the reason I put it in your name, because I know you will hold onto it.” Minnie Cummings was the witness on both deeds.
The ten acres of land has a story all its own. It was in Dad’s name – everything else was out of his name. He decided to deed the 10 acres to Minnie and Orville, because Minnie had helped him at various times. Orville told Dad he knew nothing about farming, and it wouldn’t be any value to him. He and Minnie suggested he give it to “Little Joe,” because he was the same as “Fatherless,” and it would give him a background. So it was all handled through Dad, Minnie and Orville. Minnie and Orville were witnesses, so that signs and seals it forever.
After years of paying taxes and holding on to the title without profit, in 1977 Leon Giles wanted to buy some of it for commercial gravel. He offered me $5,000.00 an acre. So I sold 5 acres – on time – the escrow plan. The realtors took their toll and - Utah Loan and Title, but we got it settled. Then the income tax takes its toll. But it has been a blessing out of the sky. My dad stands right by me. I did what Dad wanted. The time came when I was unable to work, and this has given me stability. So whatever the profit comes from it, it belongs to me with full right and ownership. I only hope I can invest it right to help others and help my family.
(Sharon Ream Meyer writes:
I found the above with Mother’s papers after her untimely death 28 September 1979 on her 72nd birthday and after hip replacement surgery.
Other important happenings in her life were:
1. Divorcing James O. Ream.
2. Serving as Utah County Recorder for four years from 1946 to 1950.
3. Two children – Sharon Ream Meyer born 1937 and Joseph James Ream born 1940.
4. Six grandchildren. Her family meant everything to her.
Mother never got much profit from the land, but that was not her aim. She wanted to preserve the homesteaded land.)
To read diary entries of Mildred's visit to California in 1949, click here. To read Mildred's obituary in the Deseret News, click here. To return to the Richardson Family index page, click here.