of questions about my life
by Evetta Sue Averett
Corina gave me this little book for Christmas 2014 with all the questions in it, so this will be fun to work on. I have decided to post it on my blog, Let's Have a Conversation, for my posterity, if any of them are interested. It is written to give back to Corina when I am finished. Since it is for my family, I will list my two sons and two daughters and grandchildren (underlined) and great-grandchildren right here so you can get to know them starting with my oldest son:
Andy, wife Debi - children - Carlos, Ileana, husband Nolan Morris, children Halle and Wendell, Laura, husband Aeryc, Marcia, currently a missionary in Argentina due home the end of June, and Alan
Annett, husband Jim Loveridge - children, Addie, husband Kyle Jackson, children Gabriel, Tatem, and Alex, currently a Service Missionary at Utah Valley University
Jay, wife Tammy, children - Jaylynn, husband Ryan Clark, children Trace, and Macie (due in May, 2015), Charlie and Samantha
Julie, husband Mike Cox - Corina, husband Jordan Sorensen, children Reagan and (baby girl due in May, 2015), Logan and Dylan
I will post the questions and answers as they come up in Corina's little book.
Question: Where were you born and when?
Oh good, it starts at the beginning. As they say, I was born on September 8, 1938 at 615 Flint Street in Laramie, Wyoming. Dad worked on the Union Pacific Railroad (which he did until the last day of 1969) and Mother was a housewife. They say I was born at home where two large chairs were pushed together for mother to lay on. Someone came in to help with the birth (a midwife-type, I'm sure) with the doctor stopping by the house a bit later. I was only 22 months younger than my brother, Franklin, so, I guess, it was an easier birth. We children were spaced out over a period of 10 years at that time with Joyce born in 1928, Velna in 1933, Frank in 1936 and me in 1938. Beth came almost 10 years later in 1947 when mother was almost 45 years old. We lived in that house until I was in the 8th grade, I think it was 1952. I would have loved to see it again as so many memories were made there, but it never happened. I did try once while I was in Laramie for a high school reunion, but no one was home.
Question: What is your full name and why were you named it?
Evetta Sue Black Averett - My parents named me Evetta--a name I never liked [hated] because it was so different. Eve after Eva Amanda Gribble and Etta after Eliza Rosetta King (called Ettie), my two grandmothers. I guess I wanted to fit in with the Barbara's, Jane's, JoAnne's etc. I remember being called E for elephant when I was about ten. So, at 16 years old I had had enough. A girl named Sue moved to Laramie from Texas who had a small Volkswagen bug and I thought she was neat. That's when I started changing my name to Sue. Many years later I wished I had just shortened it to Eve, which I like, but it didn't occur to me then. Anyway, I added Sue as my middle name. When I married Averett, that made it even harder (think Evetta Averett). I have always been glad I did change to Sue especially when I have to give a name for something in public. Velna still suffers with her name and Beth always says Mary when asked for a name to identify herself. Sue is so easy and common. There are three Sue's in our ward, so finally I fit right in.
Question: Describe the first Christmas that you can remember
I don't really remember any "first" Christmas. The Christmas's I remember over the years are mostly from the pictures Dad took on Christmas day. Our celebrations were pretty low key. It always started with the Montgomery Ward catalog. I remember pouring through it and marking the pages of the things I liked. We also visited toyland downtown in the Ward's building in the basement. Each year when I was a little girl, I got a new Effenbee doll. I know I got a doll buggy one year with blankets. The Santa present I remember most is the doll house. I have written about it in My Life So Far. I loved that doll house and have always looked for one like it just in case I might want to buy it. It disappeared in our move from Flint Street to the Sully house. I was an adolescent by then and didn't need toys any more. Mother bought all the gifts--I don't remember Dad participating very much. We always had real stockings filled with the same candy, chocolates and hard candy with soft centers. We didn't usually have a Christmas dinner as such. I know I ate candy all day which is pretty much what I do now. Looking back, Christmas was all about family and playing inside and out with our new toys. Sometimes Dad worked on Christmas, we never knew if he would be there or not, but Mother, Joyce, Velna and Frank were always there. The big Christmas's came when our kids were little, but that's another story.
Question: Describe your religious beliefs
The Church has always been a part of my life. When I was little, we went to Sunday School in the morning and Sacrament Meeting in the evening. I remember being the Sunday School Secretary when I was twelve or thirteen. I always liked the music the best and sang in the choir in Laramie when I was in Junior High and High School. I liked the testimony meetings too because the (University of Wyoming) college students always bore the most inspiring testimonies. I remember wondering why our Church was the only "true" church. It has been in my mature years that I have really studied the scriptures. In 2012 I read the entire Book of Mormon three times. I have summarized The Pearl of Great Price, the first half of the Old Testament, the sixty-six chapters of Isaiah and The Last Twelve Prophets of the Old Testament. My most ambitious project was summarizing the Four Gospels of the New Testament and the Book of Revelation. I believe in Christ and am trying to know Him and follow Him the best I can. I have heard the "still, small voice" many times and have been blessed beyond words. My greatest wish is that all my children and grandchildren will live worthy in this life to be together as a family forever when we leave this mortal existence. And that someday we may receive exaltation and be reunited with our Savior and Father in Heaven. I believe it will happen. It may take time, but we will have eternity to work on it.
Question: What was the first car you learned to drive?
In Wyoming the age for a driver's license was 15. So, when I turned 15, I got in Dad's old, black '37 Plymouth coupe and learned to drive. (Dad drove this car to work on the railroad.) It had a beige horsehair interior and a stick shift on the floor. I don't remember anyone teaching me to drive, I just got in and drove. I know one time at the Big Buy Drive-In I locked bumpers with the car ahead. We just got out and pulled the cars apart. I was not a very good driver yet. The other car we had was a '47 gray two-tone Chevrolet. It was a stick shift too but was not on the floor. Well, Dad decided to buy a newer, used Ford with one of the first automatic shifts made. It was a terrible car—absolutely gutless. I almost never got to drive that car and seldom got to drive any car. Two of my friends always had a car for us to ride in. I do remember driving the Plymouth to the Wyo Theater where I was working on February 10, 1956 when Wally came to the movie and rode with me to the Big Buy for a treat after work. Lynn and Janet took his '53 Olds and we met them there. I have been driving ever since in many nice cars. I think my favorite will always be my PT Cruiser. It's 14 years old this July and is still going strong. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord.
Question: Have you ever had surgery?
Surgery. I believe I hold the record for surgeries. My first big surgery was in 1972 when I fell off the top of a ladder in Casper and wrecked my knee. The doctor had shaking hands and put a staple into the bone to attach the cartilage. It's still there somewhere. That ruined my knee and changed my physical life. While living in Orem in our new house off of Palisade Drive, I had a hysterectomy. I was 42 years old. Annett says that changed my life and I say it changed my personality. No more hormonal ups and downs. In 1984 I had a stomach staple at the University Hospital in Denver that ruined my stomach. It was experimental and didn't work. Then in 2003, when I qualified for Medicare, and after needing it for 10 years, I had my first knee replacement on my right (injured) knee. That was soon followed in 2004 by a replacement on my over-used left knee. In 2006, I had a stomach repair and gastric bypass in Denver, which also didn't work (the story of my life). And finally, in 2013 I had a hip replacement which has been fine. Dr. Robert Jackson did both my left knee and my hip replacement in the Provo Hospital. I liked him but his follow-up care is non existent. That makes it harder to recover.
[See also "Have you ever been hospitalized?"]
Question: Has anyone ever saved your life?
Technically, no. I did have a traumatic experience when I had my first knee replacement at the hospital in Sandy, UT. In September, 2003, as soon as I turned 65, I made an appointment with Dr. Rosenberg, a famous orthopedic doctor in Park City. I had to wait for three months for the appointment and another six weeks for the surgery. It was the third week of December (I don't remember the exact day) which means it was almost Christmas when I finally had the surgery. Everything went fine except for the negligence at the hospital due to Christmas vacations and celebrations. Dr. Rosenberg left the country right after my surgery with one of his minions in charge. No one ever checked my blood or anything else before I was discharged three days later. That evening at home I fainted on the floor and vomited blood. Annett called the ambulance, I was in and out of consciousness, and we went back to the hospital in Sandy. When I got to the emergency room, the male nurse got my records from upstairs and told me I needed blood immediately or I would die. I was hesitant because I had not anticipated needing blood and didn't have my own blood stored. He was adamant and I immediately agreed. I had three or four pints of blood over the next two days. If anyone had checked before I was released that morning they would have known I was bleeding internally from an ulcer. They cauterized it while I was there and I haven't had any problems since.
Question: Have you ever been in a serious accident?
No. But, I was in a car accident just out of Lander, WY on our way to Lovell in the spring of 1956 with Wally driving his parent's new Olds 98. It was snowing and someone from the south, who hadn't been in snow before, slid into our vehicle and we went flying off the road half way through the field on our side of the road. Two college girls from Cowley, Mary Partridge and Eloise Givenrod were with us along with Orin Muller. The car was slightly damaged but we had to stay the night in Lander to get everything taken care of.
The only other bad accident I can claim is falling from the top of the ladder which I wrote about in the question about my surgeries. I thought I was invincible, like lots of kids do today, and did a stupid thing that affected me for the rest of my life. Moral: don't do stupid things. Think first.
Question: Have you ever been hospitalized?I have already written about my surgeries, all while being hospitalized. The only other hospital incidents I can remember was when I had my tonsils out at about eight years old, and the plastic surgery on my nose when I was thirteen. Neither were run of the mill. I was given ether for the tonsillectomy and was never really anesthetized enough to be out. I was scared and screamed so loud that it broke a blood vessel in my neck. I broke my nose when I was a baby by falling out of my high chair (I was told). Anyway, my nose was always misshaped. When I was thirteen, Mother took me to Cheyenne to see a plastic surgeon. (Dad was in Cleveland, OH attending the B of LE, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers convention). I was in the hospital in Cheyenne longer than planned because the first attempt was not successful. After a few days, the doctor tried again and I went home with bandages on my nose. I have been sad that my nose is still not like it could have been if we had had a better surgeon. I always wanted to have it fixed, but never did.
Question: Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
Yes, I have had my purse stolen twice. Once in Dallas and once in Draper. In Dallas I was with my friend, Jill Pehrson, shopping at Sam's Club. We were loading our groceries in my car in the parking lot when I put my purse on the ground next to my car. A car pulled up in back of us, a black woman got out and leisurely picked up my purse. I was standing right there. She calmly got in their car while I was pounding on it, and the driver drove away on to the highway next to the store. Police came but it was unsolved. The main things I lost were my Mount Blanc pen Wally gave me and my prescription glasses (total value about $600). I think I had about three dollars cash. Fortunately, the car keys were in my pocket. The second time I was in Deseret Industries in Draper when a man approached my basket, put something in front of me over the purse and took it with his other hand. I knew immediately what had happened and alerted the store but they didn't care. They just didn't want me to make a fuss. Unfortunately I had a $100 dollar bill in my purse that Wally gave me from the sale of his table saw. This was definitely a professional hit. Now I carry my purse across my body.
Question: Who was your first crush?
I don't know if I actually had a first crush. I have written about being boy crazy in My Life Story, So Far. I was not popular in high school and never had a steady boyfriend until Wally. I believe I am lucky to have found such a wonderful husband, father, friend, person when I was eighteen years old. I don't regret all the angst of dating different boys along with many crushes and heartaches. Annett and Julie both had various boyfriends, angst, and heartaches before they married. They both had boyfriends they "went with" when they were younger, but made their choice of a good man when it was for eternity. Everyone has different experiences with the opposite sex when they are young. Some are positive, some are not. All I know, looking back, is that you are blessed if you find your soul-mate, the one who will nourish and support you no matter what, when you are young. Those are hard to find.
Question: Do you remember your first date?
Question: Do you remember your first date?
Yes, I remember my first date. It was before the Church came out with no dating before sixteen. I believe it was the summer before I turned fourteen. L J Willis, from Cowley (his dad owned the drug store there), came to summer school at the University of Wyoming. He was only sixteen but was graduating from high school one year early so he could start college in the fall. I don't remember why, but that summer I enrolled in summer school at the university also. I took a history class and swimming. I soon discovered that we had the swimming class together. We were both retarded about the opposite sex, so it was really about friendship and my familiarity with Cowley. I had visited my cousin Travene there before they moved to Billings, and of course, my Grandma Lythgoe who was a pioneer of Cowley. Anyway, he asked me for a date to the movies. I was scared that mother wouldn't let me go, but she did. He walked to our house on Flint Street and we walked to the movie. He held my hand in the movie and we walked home. That was it. I went to a Lamba Delta Sigma dance with him in the fall, but it was uncomfortable. He was a college man and I was barely in high school. The next year he transferred to Logan and finished college there. I never saw him again but sometimes I think about him and wonder how he is.
Question: What was your first paying job?
Oh my goodness. It seemed like I always worked when I was young. Frank and I had paper routes in grade school and junior high. I wish I had a better memory of time, but one summer I baby sat for a church couple (R. Gardner) who had two kids (later divorced). I was a terrible baby sitter. One summer Mother's friend, Rose Eads, got me a job cleaning house for someone she knew in Laramie. I rode my bicycle to the lady's house over by Washington Park, (not a short ride). That didn't last long, thank heavens. I was terrible at that too. I worked a day or so at the Campus Shop in Laramie as a waitress which was miserable. I also cleaned rooms at the Branding Iron Motel one summer for Neff and Beth Tippetts. The summer after I finished my junior year in high school, I started working at the County Clerk's Office for Minnie Pearson at the Albany County courthouse in Laramie (thanks to Edna Moyle). I kept that job until I left to attend BYU the fall of 1956. Two summers were full time and the rest was part time. I learned a lot there and actually helped issue a marriage license to my friend Deanna Howe and Billy Despain (later divorced). One of my classmates, Edith Waters, worked with me the summer of 1956. I remember my full-time salary was $225/month but it was enough to save $500 for school that fall. That whole year I was a senior I also worked at the WYO Theater at night with my friend Janet Henberg for 50¢ an hour and all the candy I could eat. That's where I met Wally.
Question: Name a good friend that you have known for the longest period of time.
Question: Name a good friend that you have known for the longest period of time.
This is funny. I have an email relationship with my friend since junior high, Gloria Aegerter Rumbold. We were friends all through junior and senior high school. She used to live in Castle Rock and I saw her there a few times. She has since moved to Pueblo and I haven't been to Castle Rock in a long time so we stay friends by email. She sends me lots of funny, interesting, pictures and other mainly political stuff. I love getting it. Gloria was raised Catholic and I went with her to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve when I was in high school. I don't think she is active in her church, but she knows I am active in mine. I knew her mother and dad, as well as her brother and sister a little bit. So that is an important connection to the history of our friendship. She has been happily married for many years to her husband and her children are a big part of her life. Another long standing friend is Lana Wieberg Ennis. We have been friends for more than thirty years starting in Littleton, CO in 1982. She has her trials, but she is a good person at heart. The best friend I will ever have is Jill Pehrson. I met her in Dallas. We had more in common than any other person I have ever met. She is a true soul-mate. Unfortunately, I knew when I moved back to Utah that we would not maintain the friendship. She had lost several other friends this way and I knew that would happen to us too. She still lives in Dallas.
Question: Did you make enough money to live comfortably?
We had our trials. Money was always an issue in our marriage. The one thing your Grandpa couldn't give me was security. I learned to adapt to whatever condition we were in financially. Wally was a scrapper and always came up with the funds we needed. He was also generous to others. If he had money, everyone had money. Of course, the first two years of army life was hard. I worked and saved up enough money to get us through on army pay after Andy was born. Then, Wally worked for Mule Creek Oil Company for eight years. He started at $500/mo and ended up at $800/mo. Needless to say, we were not getting ahead. Through the years I remember the time when I went to the grocery store and was able to get almost anything I wanted. That was nice. Now, I try to live frugally with my Social Security. I have enough to live comfortably thanks to this house and Annett and Jim. I have been happy here.
Question: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child I didn't have any thoughts or ambitions for anything when I grew up. School was easy for me, except for math, and I more or less coasted through. I don't remember anyone encouraging me in any way to excel or work toward any goal. I had a good voice but didn't consider myself naturally talented and I didn't want to work for mastery. In high school, I thought I wanted to study music but that was mostly because I didn't have anything else. Over my lifetime I did take music classes both at NWCC in Powell and at Casper Community College. And I took both piano and organ lessons in Casper and voice lessons in Laramie from Mrs. Fern Jay and in Lovell from Lola Bowman. I can still sing the words correctly and hit the high notes, but my breath control is gone. When I went back to college, I found my love of English and ended up with a double major in Business Communications and English. It was a tough course as I had to take all the journalism classes, and the business core classes, as well as the literature, writing, and English classes. Finally I was motivated for success and graduated summa cum laude in a class of 1700. Once I grew up, everything in my life I did, I tried to do it to the best of my ability. Sometimes that is a hard row, but I can't do it any other way.
Question: What was your first job? What other kinds of jobs have you had?
I have already written about my jobs as a child. My courthouse job was probably my first real working job. I also mentioned before about working in Virginia while Wally was in the army. I cashiered for a men's store in Newport News for three months. That was pretty much a nightmare as all the men were Jewish and thought they were studs (I was a young Mormon girl from Wyoming, what did I know?) Don't get me wrong, I love and admire the Jewish people, but this was a culture that was foreign to me. My next job in Virginia was for the government, first in the laundry as a clerk and finally for the Corps of Engineers. I worked on base at Ft. Eustis until Andy was born. In Casper I managed our Turquoise Unlimited store and also did sales part of the week. That was a huge responsibility. I worked briefly for a real estate company in Littleton in 1987 but quit to return to school. After college with no job offers, Wally and I remodeled two houses (besides our townhouse which we remodeled in 1983) and I helped my friend Leslie with her new house. Decorating has always been my passion. In another life I would have gone to Design School and been a professional interior designer. As it was, we just kept moving, remodeling, and building houses. We remodeled one in Houston and built three in Dallas but only moved in to one of them. But, that is another story.
Question: Do you remember someone saying something to you that had a big impact on how you lived your life?
I remember Grace Waters in Laramie, when I was in Mutual, teaching us that we should always treat those of our family with the most kindness and courtesy—better than anyone else. I often wondered how that worked in their family. That was new to me as my dad was always two people—busy and sometimes grumpy at home and pleasant and friendly at church. However, when I married Wally I found out it was true as he was always positive and loving at home. Dad Volney said other hurtful things that have stayed with me through the years. I understand that his childhood was a life of poverty and hardship without a father for the most part. Even this week (2/25/2015) I thought about what he said to me when Wally and I got married. It was so hurtful and uncaring. One should never say ugly things to their children. Be like Annett is with Addie, no matter the circumstance, just be loving and helpful. Words do hurt, but we get over it and move on, sometimes with difficulty. We must learn to be emotionally healthy and live like our Savior would have us live every day. That can bring a peaceful acceptance and forgiveness to our lives.
Question: What U.S. President have you admired the most and why?
Franklin D. Roosevelt was president when I was born. When he died in 1945 that was the first time I saw my dad cry. Then Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) the vice president ran and won. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), a Republican and WWII hero, was next. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963), our first Catholic president, served almost three years before he was killed by an assassin. I remember that well. It was a tragedy for the country. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969), the vice-president, filled out the term and was elected once again. Then Richard Nixon (1969-1974) was elected. He resigned in disgrace in 1974, right after he was elected the second time, and vice-president Gerald Ford served until 1977. Then worthless Jimmy Carter was elected and had only one term (1977-1981) before Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) was elected—undoubtedly our greatest president in my lifetime. George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993) served one term and was not elected the second time. He was probably the most qualified modern president we have had. Bill Clinton came in riding on a white horse and served for the next eight years (1993-2001). He is an immoral man. George W. Bush (2001-2009) had the misfortune of the tragedy on 9/11/2001 which changed the course of his presidency. Finally, I have no words strong enough for our current president (2009-2017). He has done more harm to our country in my lifetime than all other presidents combined. He has accrued a huge debt, given the government control over our health care, offered amnesty to illegal's by violating the Constitution, and he has ignored the evil Islamic threat around the world. I'm not sure we will be able to survive his stated desire to "fundamentally transform America." He is the worst.
What wars have been fought during your lifetime? How did you feel about them?
I was only three years old when the United States entered World War II, but I can still remember coming home from Sunday School and hearing President Roosevelt declare war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese—December 7, 1941, "a date that will live in infamy." During those years everything was about the war. Commodities like sugar, rubber, gasoline, steel, and almost everything were scarce and/or rationed. We had black-out curtains for the windows in case the homeland was bombed. Mother hung the little star flag in the window indicating that members of our family were serving overseas. Uncle Jack and Uncle Billy (Dad's brother and half brother) were fighting and Mother's brother Max also. This was the last war our country fought to win. The Korean War (1950-1953) divided that country between Communism (north) and Democracy (south). It is still divided. I remember the National Guard from Lovell was activated and sent to Korea. The Vietnam war was another battle between the North (Russia and China) and the South (France and the US). For us, It started in 1960, peaked in 1968, and ended with the capture of Saigon in 1975 by the North Vietnamese. This was a turbulent time in our country because of so much opposition to the war. My feelings were mixed. I don't think we should fight wars we don't want to win. I supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but, again, it was not fought to win. It is easy to see the results of that policy—the increase of evil (Islamic terrorism) all over the world.
Question: Did you have a nickname growing up? Where did it come from?
Nicknames? No? No one has heard of another Evetta and no one can pronounce it correctly (it was usually pronounced E-veet-a). Why do people name their children names that no one has ever heard of? It makes us feel different when all we want is to be like everyone else. Names are important. We named our children Andy, Annett (spelled strangely, I'm sorry), Jay, and Julie. I liked phonics and alliteration in their names—Annett Kay Averett, Julie Ann Averett (Julie Cox is a "cute" name). How many Julie's are there? Answer, many. I was shocked when your mom and dad named you Corina. I said, "no, don't do that." I have since heard of and seen many Corinas pronounced the same with all kinds of different spellings. I really like the name now. When parents name their children strange names they assure their child that they will be different from anyone else. Sometimes that can be good, but only if you are extraordinarily talented, super intelligent, distractingly beautiful, financially wealthy or have famous parents. Then that works. Nicknames are often a good thing. Grandpa Wallace was always known as Wally which is better. Wallace is too formal. I have been happy to be Sue although, as I have said before, Eve would have worked and been less complicated. Oh well, it's too late now to start over. I am still Evetta but I feel like Sue.
Describe a favorite movie you saw in the theater as a child.
I have always loved the movies. When I was a child, Frank and I (and others) walked downtown to the Fox theater and saw whatever was playing (we had free passes from our paper routes). It usually changed every week or so. Later, I remember Mother dropping us off at the Crown Theater where Westerns and the serials were playing. Each week the cowboy had to fight the bad guys and then leave the audience hanging so we couldn't wait for the next episode. But, I liked the musicals the best. I loved Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) about the 1904 World's Fair. I also remember her in Easter Parade (1948). where she brought out her daughter (Liza Minnelli) at the end. The musicals of the '50's became classics. When Wally and I were dating, we drove to Cheyenne to see Carousel with Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. It and The King and I were both released in 1956. I also remember seeing Oklahoma (released in 1955). I have watched these movies many times since and know the songs by heart. One musical I saw as a child was I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now (1947) with June Haver. When I was young, Joyce bought the sheet music and played the popular songs on the piano while we sang. I still remember the words to most of those songs. Finally, I have to mention a scary movie I saw when I was young. I have remembered it all my life. It was called The Unseen (1945). I didn't remember the name but I knew the murders took place in Salem alley. When I googled it I found the name. A long synopsis proved that was my scary movie. Unfortunately, scary movies leave lasting impressions in the mind of a child. I haven't forgotten the fear I felt when I saw it so many years ago.
Question: What did you do in the summer as a child?
Taken from Part I of My Life Story So Far. Playing is what kids do when they are little. I was no different. In our backyard there was a small hill right outside the back door. It seemed the perfect place to play in the dirt. Frank and I used that dirt pile to create a fantasy of roads, hills, tunnels and whatever else we could think of. I spent hours of my childhood playing out there in that dirt. When I was five or six I started playing with dolls. Mother had Santa give me a new doll every Christmas, and, one year I got a canvas doll buggy. Most summer days included a trip to the old Stanton School playground where we got our elementary education. There was a big old metal slide, a set of swings and an old merry-go-round. It was probably dangerous, but we didn't know it or care. Later childhood play included lots of roller skating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Frank and I both had paper routes until we were maybe 13 and 15 years old, and at some point I was able to get a bicycle. My most vivid memory of bicycle riding is peddling to the University of Wyoming campus. I climbed trees in our yard, played pretend, went to afternoon movies on Saturday, listened to the radio, practiced piano, made scrapbooks, built tents out of blankets in the back yard, and, played games in the street with the neighborhood kids. It didn't matter to me if it was dirt or dolls, skates or bicycles; my job was to find something to do that was interesting and fun. And, I did.
Question: How tall are You? What color was your hair as a young child and then as an adult? What color are your eyes?
I'm glad you asked about my height and not my weight. I have always said I am 5 foot 6 inches tall although I believe I have shrunk while my children have all grown taller. They seem to tower over me now. I think my hair is naturally light brown or as I call it dish-water blonde. Even when I was young, I was fussy about my hair. I remember once in Laramie when I was about eight years old, mother cut my hair like a little Dutch girl's. It was short all around my head about to the bottom of my ears. I cried and cried and hid in the house, so she took me to Woolworth's and bought me a pretty piece of costume jewelry. Sometime in my youth mother told me I had nice hair. I always thought she said it because I wasn't very pretty and at least my hair was good. My eyes are mostly green, I think, although sometimes they look gray or blue. Dad's eyes were blue and Mother's gray/green. When I look in the mirror, see my Grandma Lythgoe. I think I resemble her especially since I have gotten older. All of my siblings look/ed different. Joyce (1928-1970), Frank and Beth have [had] the Sanders look with dark hair and brown eyes. Velna and I are blonder with blue-type eyes. I have always known I looked more like the Black family. I don't mind my looks—they don't make much difference now. I'm just trying to look my best although that is getting harder all the time. I am now letting my hair go gray which is a huge relief as I have hated coloring it myself after over 20 years.
Question: Did you live in the same place for most of your childhood? Do you wish you lived somewhere else?
Yes and No. I lived at 615 Flint Street in Laramie until the end of my 7th grade when we moved to 1322 Sully in Laramie. The Flint Street neighborhood was strictly a blue collar neighborhood. It was a nice place to grow up. The house was built in the 1930's, a small, typical house. Mother didn't do much about fixing it up, it just was what it was. I can remember every detail which I am still in the middle of writing about (all the houses I lived in and/or Wally and I remodeled/built). Our house was in north Laramie but the nicer houses and a better class of people (so they thought) came from the south side. West Laramie was where the Mexican population lived and those who wanted to live out of the city on bigger pieces of land. Two of my best friends lived there; Janet Henberg and JoAnne Clark. In some ways the little town of Laramie consisted of railroad families and university families. It didn't bother me as I have always had an indifference about any differences. The neighborhood kids were our friends even though only while we lived there. The Phillips girls next door and the Irving kids across the street were the ones who stayed. Others came and went, but we always had someone to play with it seems to me. The only wish I had about living somewhere else was when I had a pen pal in Old Washington, Ohio. I looked at the map and decided I would like to live in Indiana (close by). I don't know why, it was just a child's fantasy not based on anything to do with knowledge or reality.
Question: What did you do as a child that got you in big trouble?
I would say that I don't believe there was anything in my childhood that "got me in big trouble." That's not saying my childhood was perfect. Mostly I was ignored because I was the fourth of five children. I do remember one little incident when I was small, probably four or five. Dad always wore a felt hat like most men of the day. He was fussy about his looks and had bought himself a new hat. For some reason I can't explain, I took the scissors and made a slice in the brim. I don't remember any motivation for doing it other than the felt was nice to cut. Dad was furious and I got my first and only spanking that I can remember. Of all the many memories of childhood, I remember that one. I don't know why I did it, I do know that it was wrong. It must have taught me something because my memory of any other similar incidents is zero.
Question: How did you meet your spouse?
I have already written about meeting Grandpa in my Life Story-Part IV Love. For this, Corina's Book, I am trying to remember something different about that meeting. All I can think of is that I have always known that Wallace Johnson Averett and Evetta Sue Black knew each other in the pre-existence before we came to earth. How else would we have found each other—a boy (man) in his last year of college who was 23 years old and a girl not yet graduated from high school only 17 years old? And who could have known what I needed the most in an earthly companion? or an eternal companion? He wasn't perfect but he knew how to be a good, loving husband and father. That was what I needed most—someone who was always there for me; it wasn't easy for either of us. I was not the person I am now, but who is when they marry while yet a child? I had lots of growing up to do and he helped me with his example. He had all the kindness and love already in him that comes from a gentle, fully mature spirit. He came to earth like he was. He didn't need to learn Christ-like attributes—he already had them. Studying the scriptures was not his thing, but I know he loved the Church and often said he wanted to serve a mission. His health was always fragile. When he died suddenly it was with no regrets. He lived the only way he knew how. Everyone was his best friend and he loved his family unconditionally. How blessed I am to have found him and to have him with me for 47 years.
Question: Describe your general health as a child. What major illnesses of health problems do you remember having as a child?
There's not much to write about here. Our family, in general, was very healthy. I did have my tonsils out which I have written about earlier. We didn't have lots of accidents that I can remember and no serious illnesses. I don't remember going to the doctor ever, even when my arm went through the ringer on the washing machine. It mashed some of the muscles which you can still see on my arm, but it has never bothered me. Most years I had perfect attendance at school. I still remember the name of our family doctor in Laramie. It was Dr. Storey. However, that was not true of the dentist. I remember going to Dr. McCalla, I don't know if that is the correct spelling. I was deathly afraid of the dentist and my teeth were always a problem. Old-time dentistry was awful. I never did get braces and I needed them because my crooked bottom teeth in the front knocked against the top ones and eventually wore away the roots. If we had implants then, I would have needed them, as it was, later in my life the dentists kept trying to replace just the front teeth which never really worked. Anyway, thanks to modern dentistry, I am now OK.
Question: Did you have a favorite place to eat out as a child? What did you order?
Oh Corina, we almost NEVER ate out when I was a child. The only restaurant I remember eating at was once when we went to the Diamond Horseshoe. It was on the highway a little way out of town and was the only nice restaurant around Laramie. It must have been a special occasion, as we had to be celebrating something. I was such a picky eater, I can't imagine that I could order from the menu. And, Dad was tight with the money, so I'm sure I didn't order something expensive. That was probably in the 1950's or sometime after the war ended in 1945. When Wally and I started dating in 1956 he took me to a place downtown to eat. The family legend goes that I ordered shrimp and didn't know not to eat the tails. When I tried that, I said "I like them" although I'm sure I didn't end up eating them. Laramie had so few places to eat then. My girlfriends and I used to go to the Connor Hotel Coffee Shop once in a while, Wally took me to the Buffalo [something] Cafe, and we only had one drive-in called the Big Buy, a takeoff on the Big Boy chain. That was really the olden days. Here we are now with everything and anything that we could want to eat. I love it as I don't like to cook just for me. My favorite places to eat are: In 'N Out Burgers, Zupa's, Kneader's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Corner Bakery, Taco Bell, Five Guys, Firehouse Subs, and that's about it. Beth and I go out to lunch at least once a week. It gets boring eating the same things, but It beats cooking.
Question: Did you and your mother share any special interests?
No, Mother and I never shared any special interests. She was born in 1903 and was not a sharing or creative-type person. She was smart; she was valedictorian of her high school class in Basin, WY and received a scholarship to the University of Wyoming. She got her Lifetime Teaching Certificate by going to summer schools and teaching in the winters at Otto, WY. She liked poetry. In the Laramie Ward she served as president of the Primary and the Relief Society for long periods of time. She was in the Cheyenne Stake MIA after I left home. She was also president of the Stanton School PTA for several years. She was a remarkable cook; we had homemade bread, scones, pies, noodles, you name it. She was reliable and while I was in school she was always there when I got home. Later, she taught for five years at Harmony School, about 20 miles west of Laramie. She was almost 45 years old when Beth was born on the last day of 1947. That was hard. Dad was little help as he was always busy with his projects, so she kept the family going. She was soft spoken and rarely raised her voice. The only arguments I ever heard were about the farm at Cowley that Dad and Uncle Jack bought from Grandma and Grandpa Lythgoe. She always looked nice. I think I got that trait from her. She took care of her skin and sold Ex-Cel-Sis cosmetics for some years. They were made in Salt Lake City. She was frugal although not like Dad. When she started working, she bought sterling silverware and nicer furniture for the house. Sometimes I think I didn't really know her very well. Someday I will know her better. But, I am thankful for all she did for me growing up.
Question: How would you describe your sense of humor?
Question: How would you describe your sense of humor?
I don't think I have much of a sense of humor. Life is hard and we have to take it seriously. Most comedy escapes me. Maybe I just don't get it. Once in a while in a movie something will be funny, but usually not so much. I do like a good joke. My classmate Pat Wade used to email jokes once a week to all of us. I enjoyed them and think it's good to laugh. Some of them were really funny. I remember getting turned off of comedy routines when they became dirty and/or negative about everything especially about bodily functions and specific groups of people. Jokes about dogs and cats are OK because they can be really funny, but to ridicule other people or one's husband/family (like Joan River's did) isn't funny to me. Life's ironies can be funny or maybe a better word is strange. A good book may have funny things happen to the characters. Sometimes just plain happiness can be considered fun/ny. When I was growing up, I always read the funny papers on Sunday. I don't remember them being funny. Then, funny books became popular, but they weren't funny either. So to wrap this up, it's good to have a sense of humor, but life is about making choices that make your life better. Most of them are serious choices that require thoughtful deliberation. So deliberate on this: It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally; and this: Atheism is a non-prophet organization. These are all over the Internet, so if you get bored look there just for fun.
Question: Who was the person who had the most positive influence on your life?
Well, this is a no-brainer. It was, is, and always will be Grandpa Wally. When I met him at 17, I knew nothing, had almost no life experience, and had no idea about where I wanted my life to go. He on the other hand, knew everything about everything. At least that's what we always thought. He was knowledgeable on many subjects, especially about nature, rocks, animals, people, history, machinery, cars, tools, geography and lots of other things. He was always thinking about something new and working on ideas and inventions. He was ahead of his time in so many ways. He was the best petroleum engineer ever as everyone knew who ever worked for him. He solved problems. All this is good but what affected my life the most was his positive attitude. He never had a negative thought. That was his real power. He lived as though there was no tomorrow because today was all he needed. He was my mentor, my helper, my friend and my example of how to treat others. He always put me first. I have said before, because he was an only child, I think his greatest desire was to have his own family. You all were his greatest blessing. He loved you so much. I am sitting here listening to Anne Murray sing "You Needed Me." Listen to those words and you will know without a doubt who had the most positive influence on my life. I love that song! There will never be another person quite like Wally although I see lots of those same qualities in Jordan. You are blessed, Corina.
Question: Do you remember your childhood address?
Yes, I remember both addresses of the houses I grew up in. The first was the house where I was born at 615 Flint Street. The second was 1322 Sully—both located in north Laramie. I have written about these houses in My Life Story--So Far and will include some of it here. In my pre-adolescent years I shared a bedroom in the basement with Frank. It was pink and dark. The furniture was old—nothing matched, it only had one window and the small closet was under the stairway. Frank had metal bunk beds and I slept in a full sized bed with sagging springs. On the positive side, Dad hand-laid the oak wood flooring which was nice. When Joyce got married in July 1948, I moved across the laundry room to the other bedroom downstairs with Velna. Beth was still a baby and slept in Mom and Dad’s bedroom upstairs. The front bedroom in the basement was nicer and brighter as it had two windows out of the ground and was painted a soothing aqua color. The
Flint Street house was built in the
1930’s. The front of the house had a
nice wooden porch and wide stairs. The
front door opened into a tiny living room with a couch, chair, and a
combination RCA radio and 78 rpm record player.
The walls were covered with a very non-descript wallpaper—and it really
was just paper. I remember every detail of that house. In the summer of 1952 we moved to 1322
Sully—I was in 8th grade that fall.
When Velna left to attend college at BYU it meant, at least for a few
months, that I had a bedroom in the new house on the first floor by
myself. The room was small. On the street side were two side-by-side
double-hung windows. I believe the walls
were a rose color again and the woodwork was white. It had a nice walk-in closet on the inside
wall. The Sully house was a step-up from
Flint Street. On the west and north sides it was two
stories high. On the east and some on
the south it was mostly one story with a basement. It had blue aluminum siding and white wooden
windows. The original owner, an electrician named Ragsdale, wired the house
with a panel in the main bedroom that controlled all the lights in the
house. That was very modern for
1950. I was always proud of that
Question: Where have you always wanted to travel?
There's two places that I always wanted to travel. The first is to Israel; the second is to Australia and/or New Zealand. I always thought Wally and I would go to Israel, but it was not a priority and we just didn't plan well enough to save up the money. After we got older, long trips became too much. We had two wonderful trips to Europe in 1981 and 1988 while we were young enough to enjoy them; and once to Japan to pick up Andy from his mission and again to move him, Debi and Carlos back to the United States. Our first European trip started in Germany where Wally had a consulting job for a company there, then we went to Salzburg, Austria for a few days; then we flew to London where we started with a touring company. That took us to France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. It's hard to keep that trip separate from the one in 1988 when Julie and Wynona went with us. On that second trip we included Spain which was great. A travel agent in Denver planned this trip and did a wonderful job of getting us more into the culture as he was a naturalized American originally from Germany. We rode the train or rented cars. That was my favorite trip. Wally and Wynona went home from London while Julie and I spent a few days in England touring the countryside. Julie was just 18, but she drove the car on the wrong side of the road as they do there. She was great. Our first trip to Japan was good, mostly because Andy spoke fluent Japanese. We also went to Hong Kong which was a real experience. Andy had asthma so bad he couldn't breathe so we skipped Singapore and went straight to Hawaii to meet Annett, Jay and Julie. The second trip to Japan was painful with Wally and Andy leaving first and Debi, Carlos and me following later.
Question: What did you do on a typical Saturday as a child?
A typical Saturday as a child included many things or sometimes no things. Mostly, it seems to me, we got ready for Sunday. Sometimes Mother had me dust the wood floors on my hands and knees around the edges of the carpet. That was not fun. Sometimes I dusted the furniture, but I didn't do that much to help with the housework. She taught me how to clean the bathroom which I still remember. Sometimes we went to Safeway in downtown Laramie to shop for groceries. What I remember most is going to the movies in the afternoon with Frank and others. I remember it cost a dime, a nickel and an penny, 16 cents. We always had a little money for candy. In the summers we played games outside like kick the can or hide and go seek around the neighborhood, or whatever we could think of. Looking back now, life seemed so simple. We could play in the streets after dark without any worry. I started doing my own laundry when I was about 12, so sometimes I washed my clothes in the washing machine with the wringer and then did my ironing. It was years before automatic washers came along. All the clothes required ironing. Aren't we glad now that not everything requires ironing?
Question: What is the very first thing you learned to cook?
I never really learned to cook. I was oblivious as they say. The first time I remember trying to cook was when I invited Wally, Lynn Taylor and Janet Henberg over to our house in Laramie to eat. I was 17 years old. I think Mother fixed the main course, but I tried to make Jello and even that was a failure as it didn't go set. The first week Wally and I were married after our honeymoon, he brought me a pheasant to cook that he had shot. I told him no and he took it to his mother. I eventually learned to cook by carefully following the recipe which I still do. I was never a wonderful cook but I learned enough to get by. It's funny, now my favorite shows on TV are cooking shows. I think one of the reasons is because they are not violent or R-rated. The Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman are my favorites. Those shows have made me more aware of how to cook but I still don't enjoy it and don't really cook much. I haven't cooked for company for years. Christmas dinner in 2013 with Beth here was an attempt at cooking but didn't turn out, so that was the end of that. I can make soup and casseroles like a pro, but mostly now I just defrost.
Question: Would you consider yourself creative?
I found this quote on lds.org:
Question: Would you consider yourself creative?
No, I don't really consider myself creative. I know I am left brained which is the more methodical, logical, need to know ahead of time type of person. Things need to be planned. However, my interior design passion has elements of creativity. I always consider the facts first; budget, existing color, must stay items, personal likes, etc. Then, I look for creative ways to bring everything together. Lately I have been thinking really neutral with only bits of color (that is if I could start over). Browns are gone for now (except for shades of hardwood flooring, carpet is out) and white is coming on strong again along with the grays we see on TV decorating shows. My sandwich server collection gives me the ability to be creative with color in my apartment. Perfection is another consideration. In a perfect world everything could be done to perfection. In decorating it is possible with enough money and experience to know how to do it. Still personal taste will always be a variable. I believe I could decorate to perfection if I had the right conditions. As it is, I am able to take my personal likes and dislikes and make them work. Long ago I learned that if I like it that's all that matters. When I majored in English with a writing emphasis in college, I soon learned I was not a creative writer. So I added business communications along with English writing. It was the perfect combination. I can still write correctly but don't have to write fiction. I can't draw or do drama; I don't enjoy doing anything artistic free hand. Now, it's all about the computer and I wish I knew how to do it with creativity. I will just have to leave it to you, Corina.
Question: What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
(1) One of the scariest thing in my life was falling from the top of a ladder to the ground and ruining my knee. When I hit the ground my knee was totally out of the socket. I went immediately into shock and the kids called Grandpa Wally. He rushed home from work, gave me a blessing, and called an ambulance. It was another six or eight hours until I saw the doctor during which time I had no pain medicine. By that time blood clots were forming in my leg. The hospital and doctor situation in Casper was poor. The next day I had surgery and Dr. Nastasi stapled the ligaments or tendons to the bone. I was four months in a cast from the top of my hip to the end of my toes. When it was removed I had no muscle at all in that leg. I started swimming at the YMCA in Casper and eventually was able to walk almost normally. It hurts to write about it even now. (2) For many years I have had a memory of hiding from someone who was following me at night as I was walking home by myself when I was about 13 years old. I don't know if it's real or not. It's kind of a shadow memory I have repressed or it didn't happen at all. (3) I remember two storms where I was so scared. One I was driving to Utah out of Casper on black ice in the fog. The other Annett was driving over the mountains in Colorado to Utah in a snow storm with bald tires that wouldn't go up the hills. Both times I prayed constantly to myself and miraculously we were helped. (4) Finally, I was scared when Grandpa died at your folk's house in Castle Rock. I had never been alone, without him, ever, it seemed. I felt every pain of grief possible including fear. I always thought we would go at the same time but we didn't and here I am still. He was with me for a while helping me with my grief and sorrow. I'm glad now he died and didn't have to suffer any more than he already had.
Question: What things have you made that others have enjoyed?
▶My scripture summary books have been an endeavor to help my children learn the scriptures the easiest way. I don't think they read them though. So much of the Old Testament is hard to understand and often the words are repeated over and over. And I include helps and explanations from church manuals, scholars and modern church authorities. I still study them almost every day. It is interesting how much I have learned from my summaries of The Four Gospels this year as we have been studying the New Testament. I have also summarized Revelation to make it easier and more understandable. My most difficult project was summarizing the 66 chapters of Isaiah. Chapter 53 is my personal favorite chapter in the Old Testament. His words are beautiful but not always clear. Throughout Isaiah, he goes from his time to the birth of the Savior, to the millennium almost without stopping. I had a good background for Isaiah as I had already done The Pearl of Great Price and the first half of the Old Testament up thru 1 Samuel in 2010. I finished The Last Twelve Prophets of the Old Testament in 2013. ▶Also, Grandpa and I have built or remodeled numerous apartments and houses, or finished basements which have always been for someone else, except for this last one where I am now living. I always knew our work and money would not benefit us as much as it would others, but it wasn't about the money, it was about my passion. It was hard work, but we learned with each new experience and that no one can take away from you. It was all worth it. I have done painting, wallpapering, tiling, dry wall skim coating and taping and furniture refinishing. Grandpa did what we couldn't afford to hire done. Together we were awesome.
Question: What have been your hobbies throughout your life?
I have always been a collector. I think I was born with that trait. I collected stuff from school and other memorabilia as a child and made at least one scrapbook. As an adult the first thing I remember collecting was Indian treasures from our store in Casper. We had some really nice things which I lost interest in and gave to my children. In Denver I became interested in dolls, especially the old porcelain dolls originally made in France and Germany before World War I. They were way too expensive to buy, so I took classes and learned to make reproductions. I did everything except make the clothes. I got pretty good at painting the faces. It was an expensive hobby, but lots of fun. That was killed by all the cheap doll reproductions made in China that flooded the market. I still have a few dolls in a drawer in my bedroom. I also started collecting nativities while in Denver. When we moved to Texas, I had lots of fun collecting anything apple themed for my kitchen. When we moved to Utah, I sold all my apple stuff at our estate sale. In Utah I found a treasure trove of glass items at Deseret Industries and started collecting milkglass. It wasn't as pretty as the transparent glass of the Depression Era so I sold it on eBay. After Grandpa died, I needed a new hobby and the rest is history. I have over 400 sandwich servers/center handle servers in my collection, all bought on eBay. I still love this hobby. They are so beautiful and fun to have if a bit overwhelming because of the sheer volume. Corina, I want you to have them to sell for me on eBay. It takes lots of work, but some of them are pretty rare. Don't just give them away for nothing unless you want to donate them to the The Museum of Glass in West Virginia. I will continue to collect them until I die. Now it's hard to find something I don't already have at a price I can afford.
Question: What kinds of musical instrument have you learned to play?
I always knew my best musical instrument was my voice. I could sing well. I took lessons over the years and gained some skill. In the early part of my life I did lots of singing and I directed groups starting with the "singing mothers" in Lovell when I was in my twenties. I sang in the Wyoming State Choir in Casper when we went to Mexico City to perform two concerts in a huge building that was built for the Olympics. While we were rehearsing there, we were in an earthquake. I could tell something was wrong when the large chandelier over our heads started swaying back and forth. It didn't do any damage there but right by our hotel in the city, bricks from some of the buildings fell into the street. I also directed a stake musical in Casper. It had a cast of sixty people and I was not really qualified to do it, but the Lord does provide. I was ward choir director and music chairman in Littleton for years. That was a difficult calling. Talent was sparse and support was lacking.
I took piano lessons for about six years from Miss McKay as a kid in Laramie but didn't practice much. As an adult I took piano again and got some added skill and enjoyment from it. The most fun though was playing the organ. We bought a big Wurlitzer with foot pedals and I took lessons for a while. Like other things that I think I want to accomplish, it didn't last. Other more pressing things got in the way. Becoming a musician takes years of practice and dedication and I never had that discipline. I took two semesters of music theory at Casper College and two of Music History. I'm glad I did it. In my later life I lost all interest in performing, but I do enjoy listening to good music.
Question: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
The most embarrassing things are all about my failures and that is too painful to even remember much less write about. Some of my embarrassing moments I felt for years.
I found this quote on lds.org:
“Please don’t nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do in the best way you know how and the Lord will accept your effort.”—President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Rise to the Stature of the Divine within You."
I think early on in my life I did what President Hinckley advised: I did what I did best to the best of my ability and it was usually enough. After a few colossal failures, I remember making a conscious decision not to set myself up for failure again if I could help it. I know that is playing it safe, but that's what I needed then. That doesn't mean I had a fear of failure, I just liked success lots better. And, Grandpa brought enough challenge to our lives with his restless spirit. He was always thinking of new and interesting places to be and things to do. All my siblings and my husband were college graduates. So, I struggled with that failure. When your mother started college at Metro in Denver, I decided I would start too. And I did. I had enough credits from Northwest Community College at Powell, WY and some from Casper to qualify as a sophomore. Three years later I graduated with a 3.9 grade point average and a double major. I was almost 50 years old. My senior year I received a Colorado Scholar scholarship. It paid for all my tuition that last year.
Question: What was the most stressful experience that you ever lived through?
Question: What was the most stressful experience that you ever lived through?
My most stressful experiences were due to Grandpa's hip problems. He got his first hip replacement in the early 1990's. It kept popping out of the joint which meant calling the ambulance, emergency room, sedation, popping it back in and waiting for it to happen again. The next year, he had to have that repaired. After four hip replacements and none successful, I don't remember how many times we had to go to emergency to get it fixed. When he died in 2003, he had just had another episode and the doctors told him he needed the last one done over. He couldn't have survived another major operation, so he was spared that. -- A second stressful time was the years of 1993-94. We were in Houston and Grandpa started working for a company called Ceiba from Vancouver Canada. They falsely hired him to drill on a parcel of land located in Guatemala. He was excited and had several trips there to prepare. Subsequently, we discovered they were lying about any drilling activity and were using his resume to sell stock on the Vancouver exchange in their bogus company. He had a contract with them for $8,000/mo salary. However, they never paid him. They strung him out with a little here and a little there, just enough to live on. We had to drive to Denver every month where they had their US office to get any money at all. We finally hired a (bad) lawyer in Houston and settled it for $100,000 of which the lawyer got one third for nothing. We had to agree to monthly payments over three years. It was a bad deal. Then, we moved to Dallas where Grandpa had another job with another crook. What a nightmare. At least they paid him enough to live on and I loved Dallas. Finally in November 1997, we came back to Utah to help Grandpa Volney (95 yrs. old). Grandpa Wally turned 65 in March 1998 and was eligible for Social Security which I am still collecting. We lived in Dad's Orem condo until he died in 2000 when we moved here to Cedar Hills.
Question: Were there any fads during your youth that you remember vividly?
Fads? Are you kidding? I was a teenager in the 1950's. That was the period of mid-century modern style. Furniture was no frills, very sleek, made with steel or wood (think IKEA). Kitchen tables were chrome as were the chairs with plastic upholstered seats. Formica table tops and countertops were the newest modern thing. Drive-in movies were popular even though Laramie was still in the dark ages. Dancing was mostly with a partner and the jitter bug was just breathing it's last gasp (it started in the 1940's.) I never had one, but poodle skirts were supposedly popular. Levi's for girls were really boys—jeans for girls were non-existent. Sweaters were made by Jantzen and everyone knew the girls who wore them. (They were the popular ones.) We wore skirts and blouses with black and white saddle oxfords WITH bobby socks to school. The white had to be polished at least once a week. And, I pin curled my hair with bobby pins every night when I was in high school. Cars were big and had fins. I found this on the Internet: "1950s cars were some of the most classic, powerful and unsafe (no seat belts) cars ever driven. The modern designs and acceleration abilities were getting more and more amazing every year. If you ask someone who loves classic cars what their favorite car is, 8 times out of 10 they’ll say ’57 Chevy." That is so true. I still love those now vintage cars. Grandpa had a green '53 Olds 88 when we got married in 1956 that we had for many years before we bought a used 1960's Chevy Impala. Ant farms, hula hoops, coonskin caps, Black Jack chewing gum, and bubble gum cigars didn't appeal to me, but were part of the fads of my day. Though I'm not sure the fads of today are any better: TV, video games, laptops, iPhones, iPads, iPods. You get the idea. At least we were not just staring at a screen.
Question: How many years of education have you completed?
I have written about my college years in My Life So Far. For elementary school, grades 1-6, I attended Stanton School in Laramie. The school is gone now and in its place is an apartment building, so they say. Laramie High School was just about five blocks straight up the street from Stanton School. The building covered a whole city block and was grades 7-12. The building was big inside and I still have dreams about my locker not working, I can't find it, I don't know where my classroom is, etc. It's funny what one remembers from those impressionable years. Now about college I wrote:
--Ever since I can remember, I wanted to go to college. I planned and saved money my whole senior year in high school so I could attend BYU in the fall. I had my acceptance, my tuition paid, and my housing assignment all settled. However, after a six week start in Provo, I knew that college would have to wait. My life was about to take another path when on October 28th of that year Wallace Averett and I got married. I was barely 18 years old.
In 1985 at age 47, I was scared, but I enrolled at Metropolitan State College in downtown Denver (right along with your mom, Julie).
--During my Metro years I was initiated into, the Golden Key National Honor Society, “[in] recognition of scholastic achievement and excellence.” I was a Colorado Scholar recipient for 1987-1988, a scholarship program that paid the tuition for my last two semesters at Metro. I was on the President’s Honor roll in 1986-87 and 1987-88 for “an outstanding grade point average.” I was also a member of The Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi organization. My (double major in English and Communications) degree was granted Summa Cum Laude (with high honors) on May 15, 1988. My class had over 1700 graduates that year.
--In the end, education is about learning and being the best you can be at whatever you choose. We have to find the tools wherever we can to make our lives better and happier. Learning is not about college--it should be a lifelong goal. Then, if along the way, you find wisdom as well as knowledge, you will also find your place in the world. I have—and it’s a good place to be.
Question: Is there anything you have always wanted to do, but haven't?
I don't believe there is anything I always wanted to do but haven't. Well, maybe, travel the Holy Land or go to the American Museum of Glass in West Virginia. As I look back from the perspective of 76 years, my life has been great. I had parents who raised me the best they knew how. There was never abuse and very little punishment or harsh words. I found the love of my life when I was 17 years old. He was the best husband and father anyone could ask for. I never did anything big that I was ashamed of and I always knew I was a child of God. I have had many nice places to live over the years. Now, I have lived in this apartment in Cedar Hills for nearly 15 years—a place I can call home and do whatever I want to with. It is great for me with my own back entrance, my place in the garage for my car, my garage entrance, nice size rooms, a small but efficient kitchen with new granite countertops, stainless steel sink, and appliances that work. I have two bedrooms. I love my bedroom with the wall of glass trays, two closets and my soft bed and bedding. The jetted tub and large shower in the bathroom with its "inside" window is perfect. And, I have a storage room with shelves for my stored glass. I have decorated with my beautiful clear but mostly colored trays according to the seasons. And, I have the Church, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and my scripture study, which I enjoy. Everything we need to know about life is in the scriptures just waiting for us to find it. I read lots of books on my iPad and can search the Internet on the computer for anything and everything I need or want. I love my PT Cruiser car, now 14 years old but going strong. I don't drive much but it gets me around town wherever I need to go. I have Beth to do activities with and the family upstairs if I should get into trouble. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord.
Describe your wedding proposal.
My wedding proposal. It was so long ago. It was more of an assumption than a proposal. I was at BYU, a new freshman. It was a difficult transition because of my housing and my roommates—no room and no mates. After six weeks, Wally came to campus for a weekend visit. He had just received his draft notice from the Army after his college deferment ended because he graduated in August from the University of Wyoming in [petroleum] Engineering. We had been dating since February. He was 23 and I was 18. The future looked murky. I didn't like school and he didn't like going into the army. What we did like was each other. It was love. We spent every moment together in Provo that we could considering the strict curfew rules of the dorm. I have no memory of how it actually happened, but we both decided to get married right away. We went to Salt Lake and bought a wedding ring with diamonds all the way across the band. Those diamonds were later set in my wedding ring that Annett wears on her right hand now. Wally went home to Lovell, I packed up and went back to Laramie. I had two showers in Laramie, Mother bought me a wedding dress, and we planned a reception at the church. The next week on October 28, 1956, with his parents and Aunt Blanche in attendance, and my sister Joyce from Lovell, we were married by the bishop in a small ceremony at home. We had until December 10th in Lovell together, then Wally left for basic training at Fort Ord, California. He wrote every day and finally in March, we were together again on our way to Ft. Eustis, Virginia where we spent the next year and nine months (until December 10, 1958) of his two-year obligation. Thank goodness it was peacetime. No war to worry about. The rest is history.
What was the favorite place you ever visited and what was it like?
I have so many favorite places. However, my favorite place is right here, Utah Valley. The mountains are high and the scenery is beautiful everywhere you look. I am blessed to live in such a place as this. If I were to describe the most fabulously beautiful place I have ever been it would be St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican City in Rome. For one thing, it is huge. Marble is everywhere on the floors and the walls. Small chapels for worship are built into the walls on the sides and the nave soars to great heights down the middle. Also along the walls I remember the Michelangelo statue Pietà carved from Carrara marble. Mary is holding the crucified Christ in her arms. She is draped in robes so intricately carved it almost seems real. That was just one of many statues there. Here is one description of the building from the Internet: "The building itself is truly impressive. The largest church in the world, it has a 211.5 meter long nave (694 ft.). The basilica's dome is one of the world's largest measuring 42 meters (137.8 ft.) in diameter and reaching 132.5 meters high (more than 434 ft)."
Then we visited the Sistine Chapel there at the Vatican with the ceiling painted by Michelangelo. I can't begin to describe it but here is one description found on the Internet: "Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis of which The Creation of Adam is the best known, having an iconic standing equaled only by Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations."
Rome itself was filled with history and much to see. I loved it. We also saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris.
Question: What pets have you had?
What pets have you had? For this memory I have to go back a long way. When I was growing up the only pet I remember was Bo. He was a white bulldog. I know he grew old when I was fairly small. My oldest sibling, Joyce, was ten years older than I, so we could have had him a long time. My main memory of him was when he died. Dad made a wooden box out of boards and we took him straight north of our house, past Stink Lake (later called LaBonte Park) up to W hill and buried him there. Dad made a marker and we visited the grave many times before we moved to the Sully house. Frank and his friends used to hike around there. The last time I was in Laramie, that area was covered with new housing. Frank had two white Husky dogs that died of distemper. Later we got Carp (short for Carpenter because he did odd jobs around the house). He was some sort of a red Cocker Spaniel dog, I think. I never got attached to him and he was still there when I got married. My most treasured dog was TJ or Tyrannous Josephinus. She was a small red Pomeranian we bought in Casper. She was my dog, my pet, my friend and my companion. When she died I had to quit school at Metro in Denver to grieve. I watched the little path in the grass around our townhouse disappear over the summer. After that the family bought me a white Pom but I never got attached before we had to sell her because we sold the townhouse and moved where dogs were not allowed in Littleton. Now I have Addie's cat that adopted me, and Alex and I share Gizmo, the most wonderful Yorkie—Shitsu combination doggie ever. He is the best doggie, I wouldn't trade him for a million dollars which is what it's going to cost me if I keep having him groomed and buying him his treats and deli turkey.
Question: Where did you go on your first date with your spouse?We kind of didn't have a first date. It's hard to remember now, but since I worked from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Wyo Theater, he just started showing up at 9:30 to take me home. We always dated with his roommate, Lynn Taylor, and my friend who worked at the theater with me, Janet Henberg. I know after Janet and I quit the Wyo, we spent every spare moment with Lynn and Wally until school was out for them at the university in the spring of 1956. They went with us to our senior prom and also graduation from high school. When Lynn left for the summer, he and Janet broke up and he ended up enlisting in the Naval Cadets stationed in Mobile, Alabama where he met Bert (later divorced). We had so much fun as a foursome. I remember we went on picnics, hikes, dances (Jimmy Dorsey at the university), movies, drives to Cheyenne and Ft. Collins, and even the dog races in Loveland, Colorado (later in the summer). We did everything we could think of for fun. Wally and his mother were both going to summer school that year and Wally graduated from the College of Engineering in August. We dated every night and really fell in love. I didn't know anything about love and didn't think I would ever marry him. I was blessed beyond my understanding at the time as Wally was the best man I could have chosen. But, I think, he really chose me. Looking back that was the biggest miracle of my life.
Question: What has been your favorite vacation?
It's hard to answer this question. But, one vacation comes to my mind. After we picked up Andy from his mission in Fukuoka, Japan, we went to Hong Kong but, because of Andy's asthma, we ended up skipping Singapore and went straight to Hawaii. Annett, Jay and Julie met us there and we had a nice vacation. I believe it was 1979, Annett was in college at BYU. She was very responsible and old enough to get Jay and Julie there safely. We had rented a large villa on Maui that was totally wonderful. I remember we went snorkeling from a boat and had a great time. Andy was recuperating from a difficult mission and we were so glad to be together. Later, when my sister, Velna, and brother-in-law, Dwight, were living in Honolulu one summer, I rented an apartment in their same complex for a month where various family members and friends came and stayed. I also rented a Volkswagen car. We mostly picnicked and went to the beaches. Wally was working which was good, because it was expensive. I had several other trips to Hawaii, one with Beth, Annett and family in their timeshare after Wally died, but my favorite has always been the one in 1979. It was all about our own little family, having fun, rest, and being together.
Question: What is the longest trip that you have ever gone on?
I'm not sure how to answer this. I have had short long trips and long short trips, if you know what I mean. Probably my longest trip away from home was when I went to Houston to dog-sit Jay and Tammy's two doggies, Lucy and Lucky, when they were moving from Dallas to Houston. Jay was working at his new job and they had purchased a brand new house in Fulshear, TX but Tammy was still in Flower Mound trying to sell their home there. After they closed on the house in Fulshear, and moved some furniture in, Jay, the dogs, and I stayed there. The house was nice and new, they had a great TV, Tammy filled the refrigerator with everything I liked and the dogs were fun and sweet, especially Lucky, a big, black, gentle, rescue Rottweiler. Lucy was insecure, so she came in the room where I was sleeping after Jay left in the morning and got under the covers to sleep with me. I only got upset one time when Lucy dug under the fence and escaped. I didn't know what to do. I got in the car and drove around the neighborhood. She was about three blocks away in someone's front yard. When I opened the passenger door, she ran and jumped in. Boy was I relieved. Jay fixed the back yard so she couldn't dig out. Tammy came about every other weekend and Sam visited from College Station a couple of times. We ate out, went to the movies, shopped and went to Missouri City to see Jaylynn. I stayed about two months before I got antsy to be home. Soon after I left they sold the house in Flower Mound and Tammy moved to Fulshear. It was a hard time for them but I really enjoyed being there with not much to do but entertain myself, read books, shop on eBay, and take care of two dogs. I used to go visit every year in the winter, but with my neuropathy it's just too hard to travel. Sadly, Lucky died a couple of years later. I'm sure he is greatly missed.
Question: What organizations and groups have you belonged to?
The most obvious answer is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That has been a constant in my life. I can only remember one time when I didn't go to church. When Wally and I moved to Virginia, right after we were married, where he was serving his time in the Army. The nearest church was a long way from Newport News where we lived. I can't remember where it was now (Portsmouth comes to mind). We did try to find it and contacted the bishop but it was a time of transition for us and we didn't pursue it. In Lovell I joined a Homemaker's Club. All my friends were members and we had a good time together. I sang in the Lovell Women's Club Chorus, but mostly because my sister, Joyce, got me to do it. I have mentioned before singing in the Wyoming State Chorus when we lived in Casper. The only other organization I remember is the Society of Professional Journalists while I was at Metro in Denver. I'm not really a club joiner although I always thought I would be a supporter of the Cancer Society because Joyce died when she was 42 of breast cancer. It is a good cause. I have been asked to join the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers here but it isn't really of interest to me. I have attended various book groups in our ward, but it isn't my thing. I like book reviews and discussion and that isn't how they do it, so I read whatever I like and sometimes publish a review on Amazon. I have a blog that I am posting these questions and answers on. Blogging is now a popular way to express yourself. I don't think I have any followers, but that's OK. At least it's "out there." I follow facebook a little bit mostly to keep track of my family members. I hardly ever post anything there myself.
Describe a time and place when you remember feeling truly happy to be alive.
How about today. I was telling Beth, it is so nice to get up in the morning and know that I can do anything I want to, or do nothing, with my day. That is such a blessing. Like today—I haven't decided what my schedule will be, but I want to work with my glass that I still haven't displayed in the bedroom, I want to clean my floors, I want to study the scriptures, I want to read on my iPad, I want to exercise on the Aero-fit, and I want to take care of the pets. However, if I get too tired or involved with other projects, it can wait until tomorrow (except for the pets). I guess it's called freedom to chose what I do with my time. Probably the one occasion when I was happiest to be alive was when Wally and I were together again after his three months basic training in California when we were first married. And, after the birth of each child, knowing they are healthy and normal, is an especially happy time. Life is a gift. We are not here just to endure to the end but to try to be happy. It's really up to you to decide.
Question: Have you ever met any famous people?
Well, yes and no. In the 1980's Wally and I ate at a restaurant in Salt Lake. I can't remember the name of it now, but it was like Benihana's where customers sit around the table and a chef cooks the meal on the grill. We were sitting there eating and Robert Redford walked in with his daughter and was seated at our table. It was about nine o'clock. Wally was oblivious, so I kicked him and nudged him, trying to be casual, so as not to attract too much attention. We were almost finished eating, so we left before they were served. It was interesting. Redford is a small, short man which was kind of surprising, but very handsome. I saw Gene Hackman in the Salt Lake airport one time when I was there. He is a tall, good-looking man. I remember him being in the movie The French Connection. Finally, I had my picture taken with Sean Hannity before the Stadium of Fire one year. Same with Glenn Beck when he spoke at the Freedom Festival. I still have the picture of our group with Hannity, but the Glenn Beck picture never materialized. Both were not thrilling to Beth.
Question: What were the hardest choices that you ever had to make? Do you feel like you made the right choices?
This one is easy. When Grandpa died suddenly in 2003 I was pretty much lost. I had never been single (so it seemed), lived alone, or had to depend only on myself. It was a time of shock, fear, loneliness, self-pity, depression, despair, grief, pain and misery—all those emotions. I wanted to die too. I had gone to Texas with Jay and Tammy, but couldn't cope, so Annett got me a plane ticket and I came home to Cedar Hills. The choice I had to make was to accept Wally's death or to wallow in my grief and self-pity. (When I saw older couples together I felt sorry for myself being a widow.) Annett set me up with a counselor at Church Social Services and got me Prozac for my depression. After three months of grueling sessions, and one year on the drug, I was able to work through my grief and decide that I was not just Wally's wife, but that I could have my own identity as a single woman. I took the Prozac for about a year but had no problem quitting. I went off it cold turkey in one day. It only helps if you need it and I didn't need it anymore. I knew Wally was in a better place and that's what I chose for myself—a better place here in our little apartment. That choice made all the difference in my life. I gradually became my own person and don't really remember how I felt as part of a couple. It has been twelve years. I am so grateful for my life now. As I look back it has been a time of growth, acceptance, and happiness. It's not always easy, but it is worth the effort. In general, looking back, I have had a great life. The pain is gone and I am able to be emotionally healthy. I am truly blessed.
Question: Was there a chore you really hated doing as a child?
This is going to sound crazy, but I really like to work. I always have. I like doing it and I like the result of work. Not all work is fun. (That's a brilliant statement ha ha!) It's true. As a child I have written before, Mother had me dust around the edge of the carpet in the living room and the dining room. The dining room was bigger and the living room was small. The dining room had a nice table and chairs that we ate at on special occasions. What I remember most is that I had to lay on my stomach to dust under that table and any chairs on that side. We also had the piano in that room. I don't know who did the housework most of the time, but it wasn't me. I cleaned my room downstairs that I shared with Frank, and later the room I shared with Velna, but that was it. It's funny that I can't remember Mother cleaning. She didn't clean like I do, but it wasn't dirty either. It was a simpler time when we had less stuff. All the rooms were small so it was less work. I remember we had piles of shoes and coats by the back door which I hated and Dad hung his work clothes on hooks in the bathroom along with his shoes. I never left unorganized piles of stuff anywhere. I have often wondered why I want everything clean, organized, and put away. It was born in me—it is just who I am.
Question: Do you remember your family discussing world events and politics?
I was too young during WWII to remember much about world events, but I can still remember VE Day (victory in Europe) and VJ Day (victory in Japan). Dad, his Mother, brothers, and sister Irene were staunch Democrats. It rubbed off on Beth and Velna too. Dad's sister, Aunt Melba and Uncle Lee Nebeker, were Republicans. All I can really remember about politics is when Dad and Uncle Jack got together they ranted and raved about the Republicans. Dad didn't even want to accept Ezra Taft Benson as President of the Church because he served as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years under President Eisenhower. The Democrats of their day were the working class. Now that is no longer true. It is true that some minorities love the Democrats because they can get so much government money and don't have to work unless they have been educated and helped to value work from their parents example. I heard on the radio today that a single mother in certain states can get money from up to six government programs for an annual income of over $32,000. I am for self-reliance, smaller government, a balanced budget, more freedom and less regulation, an equitable tax system, and term limits for politicians. I believe most elected officials are corrupt and vote according to their own best interests. I'm kind of glad I won't be around in 20 years to see the destruction that will come if we continue on the same path as we are now. This is one thing I can't be optimistic about. We desperately need honest men and women of integrity who will serve the people not themselves in government. They are few and far between, I'm afraid.
Question: What were your favorite childhood games?
Games I liked best in my childhood were the after dark neighborhood games: Run Sheep Run, Kick the Can, and Hide and Go Seek. I think we played Monopoly sometimes at home and of course, Rook the card game. I was pretty good at Rook. Card games were the only games I was good at. Wally taught me poker, hearts, spades, gin rummy and others after we were married. I don't like competitive situations and never have. When we lived in Lovell, we played bridge with Orson and Katie Asay. We played with them so much that we had to quit because everyone cheated. We belonged to a pinochle group in Lovell that got together every month to play cards. It was fun and a nice bunch of people. When we moved to Cody, we found a new group, mostly originally from Lovell, who played cards also. We only lived there 18 months before moving to Casper. In Casper we did everything with Kent and Rose Wolz. They were our best friends and I'm sure we played games with them but I can't remember much about that. Wally loved the game Acquire. I know he played it with your dad, Mike. Mike is competitive and is usually a winner. Games nowadays come in all types but I don't like to play any of them very much.
Question: What do you consider to be the most important inventions in your lifetime?
During my lifetime almost everything has changed because of inventions. I remember our first computer from the '80's. It was cutting edge and yet so primitive in comparison to technology today. We had the Internet when we didn't have the foggiest notion how to use it or why. That was even before Al Gore invented it (that's a joke). Now everything at the grocery store is scanned for price. That means store inventory is tracked making supplies more readily available. All banking is computerized. Virtually everything is on the computer and I do mean virtually. Think of cameras. Who uses film to take pictures now? Images are all digital and stored and/or printed on the computer. I have watched the development over the years of what we earlier called the mobile phone. Wally had one in his car when he worked for Mule Creek in the 1960's. Phones are not phones any more or just mobile, they are called cell phones. They are computers that do everything from taking video movies to checking your email. Even the thought of texting on a phone was unheard of a few years ago. Listening devices can now contain hundreds of songs on an iPod. I still don't know much about iPads, but I know I can read almost any book ever written by downloading it on my computer from Amazon onto my iPad. I also use it on Sunday to pull up the lesson manual, scriptures, Conference talks, church magazines and almost everything else related to the church. That is miraculous. What an age we live in. Everything technologically speaking is wonderful. It boggles my mind just to think about it. I'm sure many greater and more amazing things will be invented in the future, but I can only imagine what they could be. It won't really matter to me. The future belongs to the young of today. I hope they use it wisely.
Question: Do you remember having a favorite nursery rhyme of bedtime story?
I'm trying to think of any nursery rhyme or bedtime story from my childhood. They weren't big in our house. I remember Mother and Dad bought a set of encyclopedias that came with a series of books for children called the Junior Classics. Each book was a different color. They were always there in the little bookcase your mom has now. I wonder what happened to them. As a child I looked through them and read some of the stories. In our house it was more about music. Joyce was a wonderful musician. She had a master's in voice from the University of Wyoming. She was always playing the piano and singing. That's what we did, sing while she played. I remember listening to 78rpm records on our RCA record player. We had an album with two young girls on the cover. I sang along with the music over and over. Songs I remember include: Playmate, I don't want to play in your yard, The little red school house and others long lost from memory. Here's some of the words to Playmate and I don't want to play in your yard found on the Internet:
Hey, hey, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me.
You'll bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree.
Cry down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door.
And we'll be jolly friends
Come out and play with me.
You'll bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree.
Cry down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door.
And we'll be jolly friends
I don't want to play in your yard,
I don't like you anymore,
You'll be sorry when you see me,
Sliding down our cellar door,
You can't holler down our rain barrel,
You can't climb our apple tree,
I don't want to play in your yard,
If you won't be good to me.
I don't like you anymore,
You'll be sorry when you see me,
Sliding down our cellar door,
You can't holler down our rain barrel,
You can't climb our apple tree,
I don't want to play in your yard,
If you won't be good to me.
—I can still sing the melody to these songs from long ago.