“Didn’t you live a couple houses down from your Grandma?” I asked the question almost out of the blue in a phone call with my Dad while I was driving down the freeway. “Actually we were right next door until someone built the house in between us,” was his reply. “Did you get together with your cousins a lot?” Suddenly he was telling me things I had never known before! Family memories were being revealed.
Just this week David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) tweeted “If a great-grandparent was alive today what
#genealogy questions would you ask? Write your own reply for the future.” This got me thinking. There are so many stories locked up. They are locked up inside the living memories of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. They are also locked up inside our own heads. Are we recording answers to the unspoken questions that will be asked of us a generation or two from now?
So, I asked, “Dad, would you be willing to write down a few childhood memories and send them to me?” He said he would; what follows are his memories.
Alma R. Taylor III: Family Memories
“I love to read or hear stories of my ancestors. I find them interesting and fascinating. However, I have never thought there was anything interesting in my life that I should write and leave for my descendants. But lately I have noticed that a lot of my past has disappeared: the church I first attended is gone, the home I grew up in has been razed and another bigger house built in its place, the school I attended has become a museum… So I decided I would try to recapture a few memories from my earlier years growing up in Lehi, Arizona.
“My Dad (Alma “Junior”) was the oldest child of Alma Reeves Taylor and Florabel Tiffany Taylor. There were eight sons and one daughter. Dad was just 17 when Grandpa was killed in an auto accident in 1943. I do not know when they acquired the property-whether prior to that accident or after-but Grandma had 20 acres of farm land on Lehi Road. The boys had built Grandma a brick house on that land–while the family lived in tents! The house Dad built for us was on two and a half of those acres–next door to Grandma.
“Before I was old enough for school, I spent a lot of time on my own. I played cowboys and Indians–having to imagine the other characters. We had a large propane tank out by our house that became my horse for these adventures. I would also wander the fields chasing rabbits or birds. The fields were not all under cultivation. Sometimes I would be out by the ditch catching tadpoles-or just watching them change. First they would grow legs and then the tail would eventually disappear as they turned into tiny frogs! The ditch across the street was lined with cottonwood trees and I might be found under them daydreaming in the shade.
Cousins (and More Cousins!)
“I had a ton of cousins. The nine children of Alma & Florabel begat a total of seventy grandchildren for them! I was the oldest grandson. I had a sister older than me and two older female cousins. Weekends, some of them-if not all of them- would come to visit Grandma Taylor. As soon as someone showed up, we would be over at Grandma’s also. The family was quite close and I knew all of my Taylor cousins.
“We attended the old Lehi Ward building for several years. I was nearly fourteen when the new building was dedicated. I remember the old scout room down in the basement of the old building. We met there when I was in Guide Patrol in primary [forerunner to 11-year-old boy scouts]. But as a deacon, we were in the new building–although it was not dedicated yet. Another memory I have of the old building was of some scouts/deacons playing poker on the front steps(when no adults weren’t watching!). Of course, I just watched–it was considered evil to play with face cards!
“Because the school was so close, I was able to walk home for lunch. My Mom was always prepared because I would often bring a friend home with me! I did have a few friends in the ward too. Carl Johnson only lived a half mile away and I would walk over to his place. Jay Jones was only a mile away the other direction-if I cut through fields. Jay and I would often swap sandwiches if I did not walk home for lunch. Both our mothers baked bread. My Mom used white flour and his used whole wheat. We both thought the change was a treat!
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
I am glad I could record these great family memories. The pictures were an added bonus! Your challenge today is to ask someone older than you some questions and record them! Comment on your experience.