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Boy Owen

Owen as a young man

I shall start this history by using the word(s) of Nephi:  Having been born of goodly parents and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, I feel I have a heritage to be proud of, a line of ancestors to try and make them proud to own me as a descendant.

I was born the 13 day of May 1899 here on the farm just a few rods from where I now sit to write a brief history of events of my life.  I started school in Leavitt, walking 1 mile to and from school.  I never liked school, which is probably the reason I was so slow in school.  But I passed each grade until I was in the seventh grade, when I left and started to work on the farm.  I could hitch up six horses to a plow or cultivator and go in the field, do a days work, tend my horses, take a pail and help milk some fifteen cows.  I went in the field many times with four horses on a harrow and would walk behind the harrow all day. I would make ten rounds in the morning and eleven in the afternoon, or a half mile making twenty one miles in a day in the soft ground. I went to the timber many times with Father for wood.  When I was 14 years old I would take one wagon Father would take one.  He would cut and I would use a horse and drag the timber out of the brush to the wagons we would go up Pass Creek, cross the Waterton river just above the registration office.  The water was so deep I would have to stand on the bolates of the wagon that I might only get my feet wet.  I enjoyed being out with Father, he learned me a great deal about cutting and loading timber.  Later I would go by myself to get a load of timber.  I used to like to break horses and did break a great number at one time.  I only had one horse, so I got an Indian to let me have some to break.  In two weeks I was driving six of them abreast on a rod weeder.

I used to like (and still do) all sports, especially baseball.  I won the Ice Cream several times for being able to throw the ball the farthest at celebrations.  One time I was playing center field in Cardston against a picked team from Aetna, Mt. View and BeazerThe ball was knocked out to me.  A man ran from 2nd base.  I put the ball from deep center to home and caught the man before he got in.  I used to take an active part in the church activities.  I can’t recall when they had a Choir in Leavitt that I was not a member of the Choir.  I used to get with the Drama group mostly as a teamsterI had a part in the drama quite often.  I was advanced in the Priesthood regular and today, I hold the office of High Priest.

When I was younger, before I got married, I helped my brother, John, break quite a lot of land when he came back to Leavitt and built a new home.  I used six horses and hauled a lot of gravel for his house.  We used a cement board and mixed all the cement for his basement by hand.  I hauled the rest of the material from Cardston for his house.

On the 6th of September 1919 I married Pearl Haslam.  President E.J. Wood married us with William Whitehead and Mother as witnesses.  From there life took on a more serious form.  Within a week, I went north near Edmonton to ship hay into the district.  I did not make any money but (Oh Boy) the experience.  Bishop W.G. Smith said you boys will not get much but experience, but of this adventure how right he was.

Our first baby, a boy, was born 10 August 1920.  Then a girl 19 April 1922.  These two were born at home without the aid of a Doctor.  However, when our third baby came, they had a Hospital in Cardston, so Pearl went to the Hospital and had a Doctor.  This time it was an extremely difficult time.  It seemed like nature refused to work.  She was in the Hospital for two weeks just waiting.  One day when I went in to see her, the nurse met me at the door and said, “Your wife is not good at all.  If I could have got word to you I would have called you in.”  I hurried to her room.  She seemed to be gradually choking.  She did not recognize me.  As I went in I heard Pres. Wood talking to another patient.  I hurried back and asked him if he would come and administer to Pearl.  He came right in.  As soon as he saw her, he handed me some oil and asked me to anoint her.  He sealed the anointing, gave her a blessing and told her, “This night you will bear a living baby and on the morrow your condition will be such that your doctor will be utterly amazed.”  When he finished, she was breathing as normal as she ever did and recognized both of us.  About four hours later, labor started again.  She called the nurse who called another to get the Doctor as soon as she could.  She told Pearl she would have to go into the delivery room.  Pearl said, “Can Owen go with me.”  The nurse refused and said that was not permissible.  Pearl said, “Then I shall stay right here because if he is with me I know everything will be alright., if he is not, I don’t know.”  They allowed me to go in with the threat; if I caused any confusion or disturbance, they would put me out even if they had to chloroform me to do it.  After about seven hours, the baby was born with assistance of 2 doctors and 2 nurses.  The doctor told the nurses you need not bother to wash or dress her, you will have plenty of time tomorrow.  They took her back to her room.  I stood by her bed and held her hand and prayed the entire night for the Lord to spare her.  The nurse came in every 2 or 3 minutes.  One time she turned to me and said, “I am sorry Mr. Redford.”  Then she looked down and left the room.  When she came back she had a mirror which she held over Pearl’s mouth to try and ______ or see if there was any film to show she was breathing at all.  After a few more times, she found a very weak pulse.  She said, “That is better.”  About sun up Pearl came to enough to ask about the baby which she was not allowed to see.  The Doctor came in about 8 o’clock.  He just came to the door and stopped and asked me if Mrs. Redford was asleep.  I said, “no” so he came in and asked her how she felt.  She answered, “not too bad Doctor, in fact I feel pretty good.”  He gave an oath of exclamation and said when I left you last night I was sure you would have no need for any one but the undertaker.  She improved steadily.  In a couple of weeks she was home.  It was a great disappointment to lose the baby, but we were ever grateful for her life.  Glynn was our 4th baby.  His was a normal birth, a boy we were always proud of, never a problem with him, always so obedient and considerate of his mother.  He was only two months old when our home burned down, took everything we had.  Pearl grabbed the baby in a quilt and the other two children and got out with no clothes for either.  I had just stepped out to get a bucket of water for her to prepare breakfast.  It was a new home, not quite completed.

A couple of years later in the spring I had seven horses.  I and Arvin had been plowing for a neighbor, it started to rain.  It was the later part of May or the first of June, so we turned our horses out, 14 head.  During the night, the storm switched into the north and a raging blizzard blew in driving the horses about a mile away.  Before it let up we had 30” to 3’ of snow and very cold.  When I could get to the horses, eight of the 14 had perished.  Some just leaned up against the fence, others just dropped.  These things tell what kind of neighbors you have.  One man heard about it, he came to see me and said, “bring your halters up to my place and we’ll see what we can do.”  I went to his place, he had a bunch of horses in the corral.  “All right boy,” he said, “just go in there and put a halter on anything you think you would like to drive.” I went in, caught five and lead them away.  Used them all summer till I could get more of my own without charge.  I worked each fall at harvest time for G.J. Calhoon for about 18 years.  When he sold his thresher, I purchased one and did his thrashing until he retired.  I also cut and thrashed the grain on the welfare farm for several years for a credit slip.  Many years I cut and threshed my own grain.  I would haul in the bundles then start the machine.  Pearl would sit on the tractor to start and stop of need.

In 1941, Father died and the Mortgage company started to foreclose on his estate.  The judge had appointed a man, gave him power of attorney to sign the papers before I was advised of what was going on, as I had interest in the place.  I went to a lawyer and asked him if he could get me named defendant, which I did.  I then proceeded to negotiate with the Mortgage Company.  I finally had to raise several thousand dollars, which I did, and cleared every claim anyone had against Father as there is someone who tries to make things unpleasant.  I had to have the place foreclosed against myself to clear the title for me.

In 1940 I went into the logging camp some 35 or 40 miles west of Pincher CreekWe had only been in there a few days when it snowed, closing all roads and trails.  The only trails open was just around the camp.  One morning the foreman said to me, “Take Dora (a horse) and make a drag trail around a certain place to where the men are cutting.  I went to work about 4 o’clock.  When I finished, I was so tired and wet.  I put the horse in and went to the bunk house to put on some dry clothes and wait for supper.  I had only relaxed a few minutes when I turned sick.  I knew I was in for a troublesome time because the Doctor had told me I must have my appendix out.  So I knew what my trouble was.  I did not go to supper that night but was up all night.  Next morning I was really sick.  I did not go to breakfast.  After breakfast the foreman came and asked if I was not going to work.  I told him I was too sick.  Another man with him said if I was running this camp, he would get out of here on the next truck.  He would not lay around here and eat the food these men working should have.  About noon, the cook came out with a cup of tea.  He said, “It’s hot and strong, but it represents the only medicine the camp can boast of.”  I told him to put it on a bench that was handy and I would take care of it when it cooled.  He did and left.  I crawled out of my bunk, took the tea and poured it down a crack in the floor.  As I raised up, a pain struck me and I thought every fiber and tissue in my body was being torn apart.  I can remember giving a cry of pain and cried to my Heavenly Father to send me relief as I could not stand it any longer.  I threw myself across the bunk of the lineman which was handy and there I sweat till my clothes were as wet or more so than the day before.  After a while, the men came in for dinner.  The boss wanted to know if I was going to work after dinner.  I told him I was too stiff and sore to work that day.  But next morning I went to work awful weak and shaky.  He put me to taking care of the sawdust.  I had to shovel it out of a pit about as deep as my shoulders, throw it into a box on wheels of an old binder truck, wheel it out about 30 yards and dump it.  I was just trying to push my first load away when the Coleman came along.  He said, “Well, I used to use a horse, but I see this outfit as more modern, they use a Jackass.  Well, he helped me push the cart out and dump it.  I had just got back down in the pit when the whistle blew and the sawyer got down on the saw to inspect it to see what went wrong.  He found a bearing on the saw broke.  This meant a trip to Cardston for repairs.   As Coleman’s truck had broken a road open, they could now get out.  So I said, “Well, I’m going out too.”  They loaded some 2500 feet of lumber on the truck and left about 2:30 or 3 o’clock.  I had to ride upon the top of that load until they got nearly to Ft. McLeod.  About 10 o’clock at night when they stopped and let me in the cab out of the cold.  That made three of us in the cab.  I got home about 1:30 that morning.  Pearl got up, made a fire, got some hot water bottles in bed with me, got me quite comfortable.  Next morning Sidney drove me to town to see the Doctor.  This being Saturday, he told me to go to the hospital the next day to be operated on Monday, which I did.  In 3 days he had me on my feet and taking care of myself.  In 10 days I left the hospital and walked 5 blocks to where mother lived.  The morning after I was operated on, the Doctor came in and said, “You know Redford, according to all signs, you should have been dead a couple of days ago.  When your appendix broke, instead of the puss going out through your bowls, it went all through your body.”  That’s when I sweat so while in camp.

I’ve had many experiences.  One day while bailing hay, the shield on the power take off broke.  I only had a few days to finish, so instead of repairing the shield, as I should, I proceeded to finish up.  John was with me.  I got on the tractor to move it up to another pile of hay.  As I went to get off to pitch the hay to the bailer, my overalls caught in the power take off.  I had the tractor idled right down, which gave me time to grab a fender in each hand and brace myself, which forced it to rip my clothes all off my body, but part of my shirt.  John jumped and stopped the tractor, but not before I was left completely nude.  So tight when my clothes twisted around me before they ripped, my body was black from my hips to my feet.  John had to go to the house for more clothes for me.

I’m not in the mood to write.  I don’t seem to be able to concentrate tonight.  However, I am very grateful for my wife and children and grandchildren.  Leola married Ray Zemp, they live in Layton, Utah and have eight of the finest children anyone could hope for; three lovely young ladies and five very lively young boys, which we miss very much.  If they would only write more, it would help a lot because we are here alone so much.  We are expecting them up this summer on their vacation.  Glynn married the finest girl a man could ask for.  They have four boys and then a sweet little girl.  She is about nine months old.  We got a lot of comfort or enjoyment out of their company while they lived in Cut Bank, but now they have moved to Utah.  It’s terribly lonesome here.

John is our last, he just returned from a mission down in Colorado.  He returned with a wonderful testimony.  I should have mentioned, Glynn filled a mission in Mississippi.  He was a wonderful missionary and is doing a wonderful work in the church.