Alice Fern Anderson Gillette Autobiography
typed from tapes by Paul Gillette - June 2005
I feel that I am getting older and need to leave a history of my life; so I leave a tape of my life and things I remember about my life. I do this for my children sake, so they can tell their children about me and if they desire to type it off these tapes. I am well and can remember my life for the benefits of my family. The church encourages us to make a record of our lives, so as I sit here I’ll talk about the things I remember. They may not be in order but bear with me.
My full name is Fern Alice Anderson Gillette. I was born in Raymond, Alberta, Canada. on the 17th of February, 1910. We have different histories of my mother and she tells of my birth. The beautiful Halley’s comet in the sky was happening at my birth and now in 1985 this same comet is back in the sky. My father was William Richard Anderson and my mother was Emma Alice Bevan. And we have histories of both of these persons. They met in Canada when they both were 18 years old, and they were married on my mother’s 18th birthday, December 31, 1902. My dad was 18 years old in March and my mother in December. So they married on her birthday, and they had a large family of ten children: Thelma Evan Anderson Charles is the oldest child. William Bevan Anderson was the oldest son.
Another son was born, Francis Marian Anderson, and he was named after the doctor who delivered the baby. Dr. Davis was an uncle to my mother by marrying her Aunt, Veebe, and they had always been close to mother and the whole family. He thought she had a hard deliveries so he talked mother into coming to Tooele to have this third baby. It was a good thing that she did because she had a real hard time. She stayed down in Utah for about a month and then went back to Canada with this little baby. Baby Francis only lived a few weeks after that and then died. He was the only child she lost at childbirth of her 10 children.
Then I was the next one after Francis Marion and then my sister, Sadie Leona Anderson Goodwin. She was very dear to me. Then we had three boys coming along. There was Max Freeman, Richard Blaine who we always called RB, and Jay Wilson Anderson. Then we had another girl, Gayle Anderson Kirk, and I don’t think that Gayle had a second name. The last one in the family was Don Ross Anderson. I am always proud that I had such a fine family and wonderful brothers and sisters. A book could be written on the good times we had together and I was always so proud of them. They made a good name for themselves while here on the Earth.
I don’t remember too much about Canada because in 1914 I would only be four yrs old. My father had two bad years of drought and just said that he had enough of dry farming. He was determined to go to the United States, but he and family were Canadian citizens and had to get permission to leave the country. He told me that it was only four days before the Great World War I would start, and England and America would be at war with Germany. If we had not come across the border when we did, we might have been required to stay in Canada. They closed the borders, but we not before we crossed in the fall of 1914 to Montana where we lived the town of Lima. I kinda of remember a little bit about living in Lima--the winter, Dad bringing his his horses, cattle, and wagon.
We finally came into Tooele in the Summer of 1915. That fall in 1915 Thelma and Bevan were old enough to go to school. However, I was always a little head strong and I decided that I could go to school if they could. I remember getting ready for school and they couldn’t keep me from going. Finally, Mrs. Goodjohn, the teacher, received permission from the principle to allow me to go school. They couldn’t keep me from going, so they decided to let me go. They were not so restrictive in those days. So they let me start at five years old and I did very well because at the end of the school year they passed me to second grade.
I don’t remember any about school or being very smart; but when I finally ended up, I was just 15 years old as a senior in high school. When I got up to the 7th grade, I had only been going to school for about a month; and one morning we had a principal and couple of teachers came into the seventh grade and said it was too large a class and they were going to take the three top students out and advance them to the 7th high class. I was one of the three, and we went into a 7th grade high class just a month after school had started. Then, at Christmas time we were promoted to the 8th grade. By the time school stopped in the spring, we had completed the whole 8th grade requirements; and I ended up as a 9th grader in high school next fall. I was only about 12 years old but I must have been able to do the work because I was promoted. I was a 12 years old when I was a freshman and only 15 when I was a senior in highschool. I know I was young, and I never felt like I was smart but never had any trouble with doing the homework.
I was a pretty young age to be in high school and it put me into an older group which was my brother Bevan’s group. He was four years older but just one grade ahead of me. So it was just natural that my brother and I learned how to dance in our kitchen together. I learned to dance very well with him because he was a great dancer. So I would just beg him to take me to the dance with him, and finally my dad would say, “ Bev you can’t go to the dance unless you take your sister”. So he would finally give in and take me to the dance.
Some of my fondest of the 1920's come from these occasions. I told Bev that I would walk down to grandma’s house just a half of block from the dance hall and wait for Bev to come and get me. He would have to pay for a tickets him and his partner, so I would not have to pay for a ticket myself. Then we would dance the first dance together, and then I told him he did not have to dance with me anymore that evening just make sure I get home alright. However, Bev and I dance so well together that he would take four or five dances with me because he enjoyed it so much. That was the way we were with each other all of our lives. He was just a real pal to me and I enjoyed him. We had so many of my dates with Bev and his wife, Ellen.
Anyway, one time when he came to pick me up at grandma’s, I noticed one of his friends. And that friend was Leslie Gillette, and they called him “Sike”. Then, he would come walk over with us to the dance and then he would walk back with me after the dance. Then one night when I was at grandma’s, Sike was there alone. Bev had asked him to come over and pick me up. I found out later that Bev had said,” Sike, if you’ll go get my sister, I’ll pay for your ticket”. Sike came from a very poor family, so he said okay; but from that time on we had dates and started to go together. I was 15 yrs old as a senior when Sike was a senior, and he happened to be the one that I married. And it was quite a romance.
I graduated in 1926. My father owned his own grocery store and I had been working just a few hours after school and on Saturday. I think I made about 7 to 10 dollars a week. Very little. I knew I couldn’t just keep on doing that, but I didn’t know what to do. One day I was down at the store sweeping the front walks when Mr. Harold LaBell, who was the manager of the telephone company next door came out and said,” You don’t happen to know anybody that is interested in being a BPX operator at Bauer Combine Metals company?” They have called me and really need one. I said I know who to ask, because I wanted it. So I went into my dad and nagged him to let me go. He finally said if that is what you want to do, go right ahead. So I started work at the Bauer plant over by Stockton. I really loved that-- I would plug in the number for anyone that would call there.
I also started at a little night school in Tooele where they were teaching short hand and typing. It seemed to be thing I wanted to do was business courses. My boss was Mr. Sweet and one day he called me in to his office and said he knew I was going to school and taking short hand and type writing, and he had seen me type and do pretty well. He said he was going to make a secretary out of me. You find somebody to take over your job as telephone operator and I am going to put you at another desk and make a secretary out of you. And he was the most wonderful boss, a most patient man because I don’t think I could write ten words a minute with my short hand, but I was a pretty good typist. I can still remember the very first letter he called me in to dictate. Oh, I was so frightened; but it was only about three lines. He said it so slow and then he gradually talked a little faster.
Now I was going to night school and working real hard. I worked for Mr. Sweet about seven years all together. I worked for four years and then got married. Then he called me back for another three after that. By the time I left there he could dictate as fast as he wanted and I could take it down in short work, and I always felt that was my line of work because I seem to adapt to it so well.
I really enjoyed my work at Combined Metals and had many good experiences there. They would come and get us every morning and give us a ride home. I finally was ready to quit and he left it up to me to find someone to replace me. I knew it was going to be an opportunity for one of my friends and I started thinking over all the girls I knew and all of a sudden I thought of a girl named Theo Johanson from Grantsville. She had moved up to Tooele and she needed a job. She was staying with her friends, the Glens. She was living with my friend Nona Shibley, so I was inspired to ask her. I called her and asked if we could get together. I asked her if she would like that job and she really wanted it. She was working as a operator at the Tooele Telephone office, but it was a better paying job so she came over and started work at Bauer. We have been very dear friends all of our lives. I will talk about her more and about all the things we did together.
Getting back to Sike, he was so important in my life. He graduated in 1925 and he was quite an athletic. He was a sprinter. He and Bev would run together and I think it was Bevan that really got him started. Sike was a very shy young man. He would not push himself at all and I think Bev got him started in running. They were such good friends and then they were on the football team and then the basketball team. He loved athletics then and for all of his life. Well anyway he was working for his father in the tire shop; and Muddy Pratt, an old friend, was a sprinter. He was at the University of Utah and he talked to the coach and said that he knew two young men who are very good runners. I think you ought to give them some help and give them a chance to be on the track team. So they got in touch with Bev and Sike and they went in the University of Utah to school. They were on the track team and got a couple of letters the very first year. After the 1st year my brother Bev was called on a mission to Norway so that did away with his college because when he came home he just did not have a desire to go back.
Sike, he went there for three years, and he got letter each year and he did very well. Then it seem like he had financial problems. Their was a depression and stock market crash of 1929 and no job to be found. They would give jobs to the athletics in order for him to even go at all. Then in the summer they would hire them to work for South Pacific railroad driving tour bus to Zion Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon.
We went together for seven years, but it seem like he was gone a lot of the time. We were not engaged, but I knew he was the one I wanted to marry. I did go out and I meet many others, but I never did fine anyone that ever made me feel like he did. So I just planned on that someday we would marry. So finally in 1931 when everything went broke, the banks and everything; and he had to quit school as he just started his senior year. His father had lost his savings in the bank and there was no way he could help Sike. So he stopped going to school, and I had been waiting for him for such a long time that I said, “Well if we are ever going to get married, we might as well do it now.”
Theo, who I was working with at Bauer was engaged to marry to Kirby Orem. All I had to prove that I was engaged to marry Sike was his Sigma Chi fraternity pin. The four of us were planning on being married. However, in those days married women could not keep a job; so we decide to elope and not tell anybody. So one Saturday we got in to a car and went to Ely, Nevada and were there to be married at the courthouse which closed at noon. So we got our licenses and we went to the home of a Mormon bishop, and he married the four of us. We were not married together, but as couples separately.
We stayed at Ely Saturday night for our honeymoon, but then came home to be to work Monday morning and did not dare tell anyone that we were married. We would have lost our jobs; it was the tradition the depression. A married woman could not have a job, because there was not enough jobs for the men with families. We never told anyone from June 21, 1931 till Christmas 1931. It was not hard for me to keep it a secret because George Spears ,an mining engineer, a dear friend of Sike, had a job for Sike in Ely, Nevada . George contacted Sike and said that he had waited until December to tell everyone that I was quitting my Bauer job and moving to Ely to live with him.
We lived in Ely for that winter and then the surveying crew was sent to a little town of Eureka, Nevada. So George, his wife Molly , Sike and I, and the crew member went up to Eureka. There we were snowed in deep. The four of us lived together because there were no separate houses in the town. We lived in a Presbyterian minister’s house because that was the only house available in Eureka. I was getting really tired living together with Molly and George. I knew it was not the best thing to do, but we did not have any choices.
One night the four of us were playing some card games and about 9:30 pm a messenger came to the house and said there was a telephone call for Sike and Fern Gillette from my father. So we left and went downtown through the snow to take this call. Dad said that he wanted to speak to either Sike or Fern. I said I wanted to talk to my dad, so I took the call and Dad said, “How would you like to come back to Tooele?” And I said that we would come! My dad said that he had bought the right to provide gasoline through the Texas gas company in the Tooele County area. Bev would be the distributor, and Sike would run a brand new Texaco service station in Tooele. We will be there, when do you want us; I did not even let Sike make a decision. I just said yes. Dad talked to Sike after that and we left the next day. So we were only gone for the winter because we took over the station that turned out to be our life long business.
I was talking to Janis one day, and she said she hoped I would talk about what I did as a young girl. I had a very interesting period as a young girl. It seemed like I was always ahead of my age in doing things. I was graduated into an older crowd starting school when I was five and moved into an even older group when I was advance in junior high school and graduated when I was 15 yrs old. It threw me into Bev’s group I guess; but I had lots of good times. I loved to ride horses and Wilson (Jay Wilson) had a horse and every night when I got home from working at Bauer, I would change into a white shirt, pants and boots and ride it. I would be all alone but I love to ride. I learned to be a good swimmer and diver and I really enjoyed doing that. So we had warm springs and hot pots in the county, and we were always going swimming somewhere. Finally we got the swimming pool in Tooele, and I was there a lot.
I consider myself a good driver. I don’t take chances much now but I have earlier in my life. I remember Dad has this old truck; I took my girlfriend and went to Ophir in it. My friend Fay McFalley was living up there. We were going 35 mph going through Stockton and just outside the train was stopped across the highway. Because the train was stopped, I had to stop and a police officer came along and gave me a ticket for speeding. Here it was only 35 mph but he said I would have to come over and see the judge the next Thursday.
I was afraid to tell Dad. I was afraid because would probably not let me drive anymore being only 14 yrs old. So I told my brother, “Bev you have got to go with me over to that court in Stockton.” He said he would and so planned on Thursday for going over to the court. Wednesday night the phone rang and my Dad answered. Mr. Anderson please tell your daughter that she does not have to come to court tomorrow because the Judge will be out of town for a couple days. And so dad knew all about it (ha ha). I had not planned it that way; but they never went through with the court appearance, they just dropped it. They must of thought it was silly and so did I.
Then in my senior year I learned how to play golf and they built a dirt course just above town. Sike’s father was the caretaker, and so I picked up golf with my brother Bev and Sike. I loved it and was pretty good at it.
Probably one of the last times I played was in the All-church tournament. It was in Salt Lake City at Fort Douglas and they had called players from all over the United States. There were 125 women in 1959. I happened to be runner up to the winner: and so the next year I entered again and was grand champion. So I have a couple of beautiful trophies playing golf. I was a young woman Mutual teacher and a full tithe payer and I was eligible. I have had a lot enjoyment from golf and I have won other trophies from the local women league. I was not the best in world and I wasn’t the worst, but it gave me a lot of peace and joy in life. I played with my brother Bev and also with my husband Sike. I would always go up on Wednesday, women’s day, and play. I was active in that too.
There were certain sports I liked, I guess golf was my favorite. I had my sorrows in golf but not too much. I’d go up to win a tournament and dub the golf ball all the way around the course and feel like quitting, The next time I’d do well and life is great. But I really had some good times. Before I finish this second side of the tape, I want to tell about a time when I was playing golf in Logan. It was the fireman convention and there were not very many women playing in the tournament, so and I was play golf with Bev and a couple other fireman. That was the time I made a hole-in-one. It was a 3 par hole and I hit the ball 165 yards right at the pin. It hit the green and rolled right in to the hole. Boy, this was so exciting and the men thought they had a super golfer on their hands. Golf was such a joy in my life and at times I played really well
And I always loved to dance. As I said, Bev and I learned to dance on the kitchen floor at home and he was a fantastic dancer. So I learned to dance with him. The community used to have great big public dances and so I got Dad to make Bev take me to the dance and I had a ball. Then when my husband was a Sigma Chi and they had many parties, he would invite me in. They were fantastic dances too, and I could just fill tapes of the fun times I had at their parties.
One thing I must not forget to tell you about is playing cards, especially Bridge. When I graduated from highschool and was about 16 yrs old, my good friend, Nona Shibley was just married. She knew how to play bridge and she taught me how to play. She had a husband that worked on the railroad everyday from 3 o’clock to midnight, and we started getting girls to come in and started a club called “good girls”, and we played bridge until I moved out of town to the Ogden retirement center. A member for over 50 years.
There were about four girls that were original members. One would die or move and we would add to the group but there were still the four original members. We had a good time. We would have a dinner club with our husbands and we all bring a hot dish, have a wonderful dinner and then we all played bridge. Our husbands were not as enthused as we were about playing bridge, they loved to play poker, but not bridge. Every Wednesday night my husband would attend their fireman’s meeting and afterward they would roll out the tables and play poker till all hours. Sike loved to do that. He was a good poker player, but never took up bridge seriously. But he was a good sport, and he would go to the dinner party, I would make him go.
One thing about those old times in the 30's, we use to have a lot of public dances. At one time we had a dinner/dance club with our husbands, and it was a fun time. Once a month we would go to some center, catholic center or church or someplace and have a private dance and have our dinner. I have many fond memories of these. To think of that whole group, most of whom are still alive and real close friends still.
Sike and I were very active in the town. We were members of the Rodeo Club, very active in the fireman’s activities, and had lots of dances. There were about 50 couples that were very active and really high class people. We felt we were with the best people there in Tooele. We were concerned citizens and a high minded group.
Most of these activities happened in the 30's. We had not been to the temple yet. We decided that when we did go to the temple, some of these clubs would have to go, such as the Rodeo Club because when they had their parties, there was a lot of drinking going on. Lots of other places that we went to were drinking, also. We more or less stopped all that. I remember one night, we went down to a rodeo party and had dinner with them. Then we would get up and leave because then there would be the drinking starting. Someone shouted at us and said you think you’re too good for us now. It hurt my feelings but we had to change our ways and start living the Word of Wisdom because we were preparing to go to the temple and have the most important endowments of our lives. When we came out of the temple in 1941, our lives were changed. We realized that our children were sealed to us, and we could never go back to our old ways.
Now I am going to go into our marriage. I was 21 years old, and I had been waiting around about seven years for Sike. We either needed to get married or break it up. Sike had been going to school and working in southern Utah during the summer. The depression hit, and the banks were going broke. We were never in financial trouble for I had my job. He didn’t have a job, but I just said we were going to married, because I can’t wait any longer. So we were married in Ely–6 months later we were living there.
When we got the call from Dad to come to Tooele, we moved back and into a little house behind my folks place. It was a place with three rooms; and we fixed it up really cute and got alone on very little. We didn’t have to pay rent. We had the light bill and we heated with coal, and had a little food. We were not making very much when he first went into that station. That was really tough for a while. In about a year things started to get better.
My dad lost a lot of money in the bank when it went broke. So he sued the bank and settled for a service station and a house on the west side of Grantsville. He decide to move down there. There was a little café and they would run that, and Sike and I would move into the big house and make the payments so we could save the big house. We did that for about a year.
Finally my parents wanted to come back, and we moved over in the old Gillette home at 63 south 1st East where Sike had been raised since he was a kid by his grandmother. She had died and his father, Mathias, was living their alone. He wanted to go to Idaho because he was going to marry his brother Sam’s wife, Aunt Francis. The two Cornia sisters married the two Gillette brothers. One of each couple died, and they decide to marry each other and move to Idaho. We were living there by 1935 because Kay was born in 1935. I had a really rough time having Kay. Finally with some difficultly, Kay Joyce was born. We really did enjoy her.
Sike was running the service station, and we were getting along okay because it did not take much to pay our expenses. From the time he took over the station, he really worked hard. It was a Texaco station, and he built it up until it have the largest gallonage in the state at one time. Then things happened for it to go down again, but he really worked hard to give service and treat the customers right. He made a lot of friends and won back a lot of customers that Ed Gillespie had before him. Ed Gillespie had gotten mad at Texaco, quit, and started another station; and a lot of his customers went with him. Sike had to start with a very low volume of gas sales, but he worked hard and really overcame the situation.
Three years later we had a son, Paul Leslie; and I got along with him just fine. Then I started thinking that we had not been to the temple. I was really was a religious person and I was worried about that. About a year after we married I thought all we had to do was ask for a recommend, and the bishop would give it us. However, Sterling Harris was our bishop and was Sike’s coach in high school, Alf Hanks was the Stake President. He was the father of Bev’s wife. So they knew us real well, and we really were good friends. But when Sike asked for a recommend, they said no way . Just because you are married does not mean that you can automatically received a temple recommend. You both need to work in the Church and prove your worthiness.
So we started to work in the church, and that was the first time. I don’t blame them for not giving us a recommend. We went to church to have Kay blessed, and never came back. We did not pay tithing or fast offering. We were just terrible. I just did not realize how important it was to work in the Church and be worthy and neither did Sike. In 1941 we learned that I was pregnant and I needed to have the baby sealed to us as well as Kay and Paul. I just decided that we had to go to the Temple before I had Janis because I did not always have easy time. I usually hemorrhage. So we started to live the gospel and work in the Church.
I was in the YW Mutual and Sike was in the Sunday School Presidency. Before he could be advanced to be an Elder, he first needed to be a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Finally before Janis was born in 1941, we went to the temple. My mother went to the temple with us and did Sadie’s temple work.
When Willie and Alice went to the temple when Bevan went through the Temple before his mission, Thelma and I were not sealed to the family because we were over 18 yrs old and could not be sealed to our parents. That always bothered me, and I never got back to the temple to be sealed to my parents until 1963. Mother died and I had to get someone to stand in for her; and I practically had to drag Dad into going. I really shed some tears in order to get my day back to the temple. I was so worried about it; and finally in 1963, he made a turn about, started paying his tithing, going to church, and even got an appointment to work in the temple where they baptize for the dead as a counter. It was a little job and so they gave him a recommend. We went to the temple, and I was sealed to the family.
There was still Thelma, and we couldn’t do hers because she was not interested in going. However, she died a couple of years ago, and I made a special point of going to the Temple and having her sealed to the family. Our whole family are sealed to our parents, and I feel relieved about that. Sike and I were sealed to our two children on the 9th of April 1941 with Janis being born under the covenant.
The reason that my mother, Alice, was there at our sealing is because of Sadie. She was married to a nice man named Jake Goodwin and had a child named Joe. He was just a fine young boy, healthy, and then she got pregnant again and wanted to come back to Utah to have her baby. So they came back to Utah, and it seemed like Sadie was so anxious to get the pregnancy over with. I keep telling her to not be so anxious. Let nature take its course, but she even went to the doctor ask him to give her a shot that would hurry the delivery along which is usually Quinine and Caster Oil. The doctor said it was only a couple of days before Easter. Why not let it take its course and wait until after Easter and give the nurses a break. I don’t like to have deliveries on Easter Sunday.
So she did not insist, and we went on a picnic that day on Sunday . Sadie and Joe, Sike and I, and Kay and Paul. So we had this picnic and every thing was nice; but when we came home she took the caster oil. I don’t know what else, and she went into labor. The water broke and she was having labor pains but the baby would not come. She was dying and so they had to rush her into a hospital in Salt Lake, She died going up on the elevator going to the delivery room. They were going to have to take it caesarian.
The baby, Connie, lived but she was a retarded girl. She never was quite right. She had a gastric Hemorrhage and cerebral Hemorrhage. She is living with her father in Alabama. She’s about 5' 6" tall. ( She died in 2004). She had a nice figure but she has the mind of 6 yr old child. What a tragedy that was. He married shortly after that. He has always taken care of Connie (that is what they named her). That is the reason why my mother was there was to take out Sadie’s endowments at the same time Sike and I were being sealed. But some day all the work will have to be done for Sadie and Jake and Joe and Connie. Jake joined the Church right after this, but was never active in the LDS Church. Joe was raised up in the Baptist Church by Jake’s mother. They need to be converted and have their work done for them.
I think I would like to tell you about how and why I got active in the church. I have always been religious, but I had not come out very strongly. Then we were married and we needed this recommend to go to the Temple. We were told we would have to work for it. I had two children by then and I felt I was doing my duty there, but would support Sike in anything that he would do. I felt I had my hands full with Kay and Paul. I would get Sike and the two children to church and sit around and still be inactive, except I would go to Relief Society. And we would go to Sacrament meeting in the evening, but I had a feeling that don’t ask me to do anything because I am busy raising children.
So it was the wrong attitude, but it was my attitude. One day my husband being in the Sunday School Presidency came home, and I asked him how everything was going. “Just fine, we really have a find wonderful school, but for one thing. We need a teacher in the eight year group.” This is what it means to be a Latter-day Saint (having a job); but I said don’t look at me, I’ve got my hands full trying to raise these children and keep this house going. You be the one that works in the church, I can’t do it. Don’t ask me. I had a very negative attitude. He said, “They are such cute little kids, just eight years old. We will have a teacher in about a month, but we need one desperately right now. Why don’t you try it?”
“Well,. I guess these little eight year olds I could handle. I will take it for one month, but make sure you have your teacher there because I am not going to take it any longer than one month.” And so I went to Sunday School and started teaching that class and 14 years later I was still teaching the same class and I don’t believe I ever missed a class. I learned about the gospel myself; and I was converted through that teaching. I really loved it and learned to give of my self and not be so selfish. During teaching that class all those years, I went to a teachers training class and that was where I really obtained my testimony that I have today.
After 20 years in the old home, we decided to buy or build a new home in the other stake; and that released us from all our jobs in the 1st Ward. So we moved down to the North Tooele Stake, 8th Ward, and we were as free as the wind. So were just moving into our new home on 2nd North street, and I was putting up my curtains when there was a knock on the door. It was the Sunday School Superintendent, Clair Elkington. I knew him because he was an relative, and he said the Ward really needed a Sunday school teacher. I said I had better take it; and low and behold, it was the same age class. I ended up teaching it for about 4 yrs; but I did ask after a couple of years to go into the twelve year olds. Finally I got to the 14 yrs old class teaching in the Sunday School. (My sister, Joyce, was in her class at times and she said she was the best SS teacher she ever had. Great discipline and learning!. Luann Gillette)
Then, all of sudden I was called to be in the Ward Relief Society. I had been attending but I had taken no part. I was to be in the Presidency of the Relief Society, and I did know one thing about it. I had to get together with the Presidency and learn from them. Lynette Lowry was the President, Ethel Weight was the 1st Counselor and I was the 2nd counselor and the work counselor. Being the work director was scary because I was not a knitter, or knew how to crochet; but I could sew, and I could find someone to give demonstrations and could even give some opinions on a sewing project. I was in it for five years and I worked really hard and we really did have a very successful Relief Society. So I was all into Relief Society. Then they changed bishoprics and we were released.
Lo and behold, I was called to be the work counselor in the Stake Relief Society. Jeneal Stewart was President, Ethel Weight was 1st Counselor, and I was Second Counselor. Again I was called to be the Work Counselor and boy was that an experience. I don’t know of any two women I think more of than Janeal and Ethel because they were so darling and such great women. I really learned to love them. I remember being in a welfare meeting one night. I was sitting in the audience waiting for them to come; and when they walked in, I had a feeling of love toward them that I had never felt before. I had never realized that I could love a person like that. They were so great and we were in together for nine years in the Stake Relief Society. It is one of most treasured time of my life. Jeneal Stewart is just tops when it comes to running an organization and we had a great time.
So the Relief Society and Sunday School taught me a lot about Church and has been my main focus in the church. I could write a book about all the neat experiences we had while working with the sisters and the youth.
After my release from Stake Relief Society, I was getting up to the age where you kinda expect to slow down. Sike and I were retired so we decided to buy a camper and it was a beautiful camper all soft and comfortable. It had a king size bed and automatic hot water. It was just a real nice truck and camper. We spent ten years going when were could while still running the Texaco Service Station. It got to the point that we could take time off and we would go for three or four days. Sometimes we would go even for a week and we would have a very enjoyable time. It was an important part of our lives.
It is a good thing that I am recording these experiences because I might not be able to remember these things in a few years. I am 76 years old and I notice that my memory is not as good as it use to be. I’m trying to hit the hot spots of our life and have a record of the most important things of my life. Even though I will write a life story for Sike because he did not write one down. Our marriage was very wonderful and I always figure it was a very unusual happy life together. Our children love him and me, and we had three children that turned out so well. We have been in the temple with all of our children, and they have honored us. I am very grateful for them now.
Anyway after we had 10 years with the camper. Then my husband decided that we would sell the station and he did. We thought that we would really be free to go in the camper. So he retired when he was 65 yrs old, and then he worked for Bev for a few months. Janis was down here visiting with us and Sike had a heart attack. We don’t know what brought it on as he had not been sick much. He had this attack and he was floored for a while. This happened in January and by May we were able to go in the camper. By August he was very well and for about five years after. Once you have an heart attack, life is different. It absolutely changes things, and we had to be more careful. At first we watched his diet and everything and then got to feeling pretty good.
Five years from the time he had his last heart attack, he had another one. He was going to play golf. He had been trying to play golf everyday in order to keep himself healthy. They told him he needed exercise and so that was the best way for him. He was in the bedroom and putting on his golf shirt and he had one stocking on and the other one was in his hand. I was in the bathroom combing my hair to take him up to the golf course. I got my hair combed and walked out of the bathroom.
He was sitting up on the floor in front of the velvet bench we had at the end of our bed. I went into see what was the trouble, and he was dead. There was not a sound or anything to warn me that he was having an heart attack. He died quietly and I screamed and tried to lay him down on the floor. I rushed to the phone and called an ambulance. The doctor and Bev were all there within a few minutes; but there was nothing that could be done. They took him up to the hospital but he was dead on arrival. So it was a sad, sad time and it was a great shock. I guess dying like that I have always felt it was his time to go. What a blessing because he did not seem to suffer in anyway. After his first heart attack, he had five years of good living. He had to be careful, but he did not have any discomfit.
So here I was a widow at 65 years old, and it seemed too young to be without Sike. After I was alone, I knew I had to face it; and it was pretty rough. However, I had some friends that were widows, too; and we decided to take some trips. The first trip we took was down into Mexico. Eight of us went and had a very fine time. We took two weeks on the trip and really enjoyed just seeing the country. We just got home and one of my dearest friends was Minerva Adams , she was a widow, too; and the next trip we decided to take was to the Caribbean. We went with a tour always because we didn’t want to worry about making arrangements and went for ten days and it was a great trip.
When we returned, I took a trip without Minerva for twenty one days through the Mediterranean. We took a ship tour put on through the BYU and it was just miraculous how we were able to go. It was with Grant and Janeal Stewart and my companion was Mildred Mercer. The four of us at the last minute were able to get on that beautiful tour. It was a tour with President Kimball, and many of the apostles. We flew in to Greece and boarded a ship and went to Egypt for about 4 or 5 days, then we went to Israel and spent a week. We visited all the important places we had learned about Christ and the Holy Lands. I remember one time I was so thrilled. There about six large busloads of people leaving the ship to tour around the interior of Israel and on this one day they has me to give a prayer on the bus before we left. It was quite an honor, an honor for a woman to give a prayer when most of them were Stake Presidents and General Authorities.
Then we came back to Greece by boat and then flew home. We had just arrived home when Minerva and I left and went to Canada on a tour. Then a few months later, we took a trip to New Zealand and Australia and just had a great time. They were marvelous trips and a good thing we did while we could because we have had things happen to us since then. While on my trip to New Zealand, my knees started to hurt really bad and it made me limp. I bought a cane in New Zealand and I really used it because it hurt so much. We came home and I started going to doctors. I went to three doctors and they all told me that my hip joint had just worn out. So I had to have a new hip. I went into surgery and Dr. Hess put in a new hip. So I recovered from that just wonderfully, it has been about two years since then and the hip is recovered fully.
Mission to Florida:
I had thought of a mission but I thought I had gotten too old (70 yrs old) and it is not for me now. But this next story I am going to record is true and is one of the most extraordinary stories that I have had to strengthen my testimony. Because I now know that God is standing next to me or if not Him, my guardian angle is watching over me and guiding and direct me to do righteousness. I know that the Lord has a hand in my life and directs me.
This story is one special time. My husband had died and it seemed I couldn’t settle down even though I went on many trips. I was in stress and I did not have the peace and comfort I needed. So I decided I would go to the Lord and pray about my depression. As I prayed one night and asked my Heavenly Father if he would grant me the peace and comfort I wanted. I said if there was something special that he wanted me to do, I would be willing to do it. I would do anything to get out of this discontent and gloomy feeling that I had. It was about two weeks later, I was sitting in the living room; and about 8 p,m there came a knock at the door. I went to the door and there stood Bishop Elwin Elkington. He is a cousin of mine and a very fine man.
He greeted me and came into my home and sat down. He said the Lord wants you to go on a mission. Well, I was astounded; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But I knew in another way that it was an answer to my prayer. Well, of course, I will go; but I am pretty old to be going on a mission. However, if that is what the Lord wants, I am willing.
Then he told me his story. He said he was lying in bed one night thinking about the problems of the ward, and it came to him about a week ago to send Sister Gillette on a mission. He said to himself that I can’t do that. She is too old and it will be too hard on her. I just can’t do it, but it stayed with him and was all the time on his mind. He even came down to my house one night. A bunch of cars were around, and he thought I was having a party and too busy for him to call. He was so relieved about it. One time he came down and was in my drive way, and he talked himself out of it. He just did not have the courage to tell me to go on a mission. Tonight I was shaving getting ready to go bishops meeting at the church. I was not even thinking about you and got ready and backed out of my driveway to turn east to go to the Church. Instead I turned west to go to your house just six doors west of my house. I found myself in your driveway again, and I knew I had to go and do something about it. So here I am, and I want you to know that the Lord wants you to go on a mission.
I was very happy to agree and spent a month in the Provo Mission Training Center. Then I was sent to Florida and I spent a year down there as a missionary and met many wonderful people. I feel that I did some good work. My companions were younger than me, but we had lot of appointments and kept busy. We were able to show a lot of films and talk about the gospel as we learned in the MTC. It was a very interesting experience and the time passed very fast. I had such a wonderful time because I did have the knowledge of the gospel having studied it all my adult life.
First I was assigned to St. Petersburg and I was with a young sister from Ogden. I was with her for three months. Then they transferred her away and made me the Senior Companion which was unusual because it usually took more time to learn things. However, I had the background to be called; so they put me in charge and put a young sister to work with me. Now while I was there I kept a diary with pictures and kept track of my activities. If any of the family wants to know exactly what I did on my mission, they can read it, so I won’t go into that.
However, one conversion stands out as one good reason why the Lord wanted me to go on this mission. We were visiting a part member family and the husband was the non-member. He agreed to the lessons and after meeting with him for several weeks and having very serious discussion on the gospel principles, we had a lesson on baptism and afterward I said I think it time to get baptized and he agreed. We set a baptism date and he was baptized and I have learned after my mission that he became a bishop and later was in the Stake Presidency.
I spent a year there. I had bought a car there to proselyte in; so Kay and Don came down to Florida by plane drove me back to Utah. When I came home, the ward had a homecoming; and I was so thrilled to be welcomed home. I can truly say that this one year mission was the most wonderful spiritual experience I ever had. I found myself very happy for the experience and was able to settle down. I know more about what life is all about, and I don’t have that stress and uneasiness that I had before my mission. So the Lord answered my prayer, and I was able to fulfill my agreement with Him for which I am so thankful.
Then one day I went to the temple to attend Paula Gillette’s marriage about a year and a half ago. I came home from everything and went to bed about 10:30 p.m. and slept all night long, all day long until 6 o’clock that evening. The telephone next to my bed rang and my very good friend, Ethel Shields, called me to hear how the wedding was. I said, “What wedding?” I was awake but very confused and I had bruises on my shoulders that I could not account for. From then on I started to have examinations why I would go into these deep sleeps and pass out in my sleep.
During this last year I have been in the hospital about four times. The same thing would happen, I would pass out and Kay would try and call me and couldn’t. Then this one neighbor would come over and see if anything was wrong. They would find me in bed in a deep sleep. I went in and had a CAT scan and about every thing the doctors could think of. I even had a angiogram with special new equipment. I have never had such a thorough physicals to go through to find out what was the matter. Then Dr. Johnson said that there was no way I could live in this house alone because I was passing out and it is too big of a worry.
So I put my house up for sell, and the children came down and cleaned every thing out. I took the furniture I needed and the family took the other furniture for their homes. I am living presently in the Harrison Regent in South Ogden. It is a retirement center, million dollar building just like a hotel. I have an apartment, and they come and clean my room every week They have a big dining area with prepared food. That is one of the problems living alone, you don’t fix the right foods. You don’t feel hungry and skip meals. Anyway I am feeling a lot better now.
I decided that I needed a doctor and so I started to use Kay’s doctor, Dr. Gardner. Last Friday I was having these feeling coming over me like I was going to pass out. Kay talked with the doctor and he had gotten my medical records from Tooele. He said to give me two aspirins one to regulate the heart. From then on I have been feeling just great. They have decided that my blood needed a little bit of thinning, and aspirin is a natural blood thinner. So I am taking one aspirin in the morning and one at night. It has only been a week but I feel just fine and feel that is going to be the answer to my passing out.
I am going to see the doctor next week, but I am so grateful that they found something that has helped me because about every three months I pass out and go to intensive care. Every thing is great– I feel that my health is better, I live in a lovely apartment and my family is closer to me. I am still free, my car is parked outside and I can go places if I want. It isn’t a rest home, it is a retirement center.
Since I have been here at the Harrison Regent, it is known that I have been on a mission and very active in the Church, so I have been asked to be on a committee to organize the church things at the regent.
Epilogue: Fern then decided she didn’t need that much service and moved to an apartment in Kaysville where Kay and Paul could watch out for her. Kay and Don took her on many fun trips. For her eightieth birthday, a big dinner was planned at the Lion House; but just the day before she fell and broke her upper arm in two places. The party was cancelled. It was her right arm and it did not mend. She refused to have an operation to take a bone graft from her hip to try and mend it. The reason was, it did not hurt her; and she feared the pain of the operation. In the later years, it became a big problem because she could not use a walker, only a cane.
Kay was having problems with her heart again which eventually caused her death. Then Fern moved to an apartment in Burley to live near Janis. Her problems with passing out was diagnosed as seizures. Up there a doctor figured out that she was low on potassium from the high-blood pressure pills and gave her potassium and Dilantan which helped a lot with her problems.
Then it was decided she should not live alone. Her grandson, Jim and Gloria Jensen, made a mutually beneficial arraignment and brought her to their home in Clearfield. She helped them financially and they provided needed care for her. When they built a new home in Clearfield, they gave her the master bedroom suite. Every day, Gloria showered and scrubbed her every day as well as preparing excellent food for her, while holding down a job. Jim gave her lots of love and affection while holding down two jobs.
We were able to hold a ninetieth birthday celebration for her at the Bountiful 30th Ward. She was so thrilled as all the relatives came. We displayed her poetry and mementos of her life. She was especially touched when her son Paul and his three sons sang “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” to her. It had always been special to her as her husband Sike had all been Sigma Chi at University of Utah and they had sung it when he gave her his pin. Her son, Paul, and grandson, Danny were also Sigma Chi’s. We also brought out Grandma Anderson’s old hats and all the women put them on for a picture.
By then she was living with her daughter, Janis Moss, near Rexberg. She helped them to add on a lovely apartment for her–husband Val doing the remodel work. She was very happy there. She and Val loved to share the candy bowl together. It was from there that she spent the final year of her life in the Rexberg Senior Care Center. She was not happy about it but the broken arm made it impossible to live at Janis’s any longer. She couldn’t use a walker, only a grabber cane, and it finally became too unstable. She said she would will herself to pass on but it didn’t come as quickly as she hoped.
She passed away on September 8, 2002. Her funeral was held at the Tate Mortuary in Tooele, Utah. Even though she had been away from Tooele for years, many friends as well as relatives were in attendance. She then made the long trip to Brigham City to be buried next to her beloved Sike and his parents. Memorial Day at Brigham city had always been very important to her and now we make that trip to honor her with a flower on or near that day.
Writer of Poetry–taken up in her later years: One year, her niece, Linda, sent her a book about poetry. Fern said, I can do that. Her mother had written poetry. She started writing free-style poems about incidents and important people in her life. They are very wonderful, concise, and historical. She was so pleased that her first poem about “My Life” was included in a special book of poetry.
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