Sunday, October 23, 2011

Personal Journal of Leland Keith Stoker, Post 6

Moving mid-school year
Probably around the first of December, we were forced to move because someone else was to move into our place. Dad tried to find a place but was unable to find one that was appealing for a more permanent home. The house we had lived in in Springdale was vacant. So arrangements were made to move back into it for the winter. One of the problems with that was the fact that it was not in the Burley school district. It was a rural district with its own school. And no school buses.
We lived about three and a half miles form the school. There were four grades in each of two rooms at the school. My teacher was Miss Sarah Burgess. She was a super teacher. It was amazing what she was able to get done with four separate grades to teach. I got to know her even better because of the time I was able to catch a ride most of the way to school and back with her. That only left me about a quarter mile to walk if I got to the intersection before she went by.
There was a farmer/rancher by the name of Jim Bronson that lived about half mile west of the school. He ran sheep in the mountains in the summertime. One of his men had found a deer fawn and had brought it to Bronson's place. It had grown to probably a year or two old and was a pet at the Bronson's. It got started coming up to the school quite regularly. It was quite tame. Several of the older boys got started teasing the deer when it would come around. One day the deer had taken all of that it was going to take. It attacked one of the boys, knocked him down, then proceeded to give him a royal stomping. That was quite a memorable sight for a first grader. Needless to say, Mr. Bronson was required to do something with his pet besides let him come to the school. It was quite an adjustment to change schools. There was new faces, new surroundings and above all, different textbooks. It was challenging to come into a whole new environment that was in the midst of a scholastic year and get up to speed with them. Miss Burgess was very helpful and understanding with me. I feel that I owe her a great deal for not allowing me to get discouraged and lost.
Things were going along quite well until probably along in January. We got some very heavy snows and some very bitter cold weather. At that time there was no attempt made to plow out the country roads. They drifted full of snow. For awhile school continued. We had to ride horseback or go by bobsled to get to and from school. I remember Dad sometimes taking me to school on horseback in the morning and then coming for me after school during this time. Boy, that was a cold ride. Finally, it got so bad that the decision was made to close school down until the weather moderated. It was closed for about two or three weeks.
About March 1, 1937, my parents concluded a purchase of an 80 acre farm that was located just East of the farm we had rented the previous year. We immediately moved to that farm. I was again residing in the Burley school district. However, we were still only about a mile and a half from the Springdale school. It was decided that I should continue attending that school because of the extended time it had been closed because of bad weather. It was tough for a first grader to walk that distance to and from school each day. Especially when the bus usually passed by during the trek.
I pleaded to be allowed to change schools so the bus could be used. For quite awhile this pleading was ignored. Eventually, the message was received and I was allowed to change schools. What a shock! I went back to the same teacher and class that I had started the school year with. But things had changed. I was totally lost in the things they were studying. It was a real challenge to even know how to proceed, even with extra help from the teacher. Previously, in that class, I had been in the top group in all of the subjects. Now I was moved to the very bottom group and still struggled. It was a real ego blow also.
The problem was two-fold. First- they were using different books than those I had gotten used to. Second- we had missed about 3 weeks of school at Springdale. On the last day of school Miss Oberholtzer passed out the report cards. She saved mine till last and asked me to come to her desk. She handed me the card and said, “Keith, grade wise, I should hold you back because of the hard time you have had trying to adjust since you re-entered my class. However, I am passing you to the second grade because I think you can make it if you will work hard next year.” I had never even considered the possibility that I would not pass. That would really have been a blow. She then informed me I was being transferred to the Miller school for the next year. I then attended the Miller school for the next 5 years until I started junior high.
The first morning at the Miller school was full of apprehension. The faces were mostly unfamiliar. Just as the bell rang to signal the start of school, someone grabbed my shoulder. When I turned around, it was Miss Burgess from last year at Springdale. She told me I was to be in her class as she had transferred to the city school district. Boy, that was good news. From then on, school never was too difficult.

Lesson in Democracy
One lesson was learned in that class. A few weeks after school started, Miss Burgess said we should elect a class president. Nominations were opened and two of us were nominated, myself and Bonnie Hill. The names were put on the board and slips of paper were handed out for ballots. I wanted the job but didn't think it was right to vote for myself. I voted for Bonnie and when the ballots were counted she won by one vote. So much for the first lesson in democracy.

Telephone Poles and Targets
When we moved to the Warr place in 1937, it marked the beginning of residence there until November of 1946. Many memories exist of that nearly ten year period. Our place was located about one and one half miles from the Unity Ward LDS church. Each Thursday during the school year Primary was held after school. We would ride the school bus to Primary and then walk home after.
There were only gravel roads to walk on and a great many rock that were just the right size for boys to pick up. After they had been picked up there was only one thing left to do with them. That was to throw them. Anything that was in sight could be a target. There were power poles on one side of the road and telephone poles on the other side of the road.
These were favorite targets. The poles themselves were primary targets but the real challenge was to throw at the insulators on the crossarms. Particularly the telephone lines. Telephone poles on this route had three crossarms on each pole. Each crossarm had about 12 insulators on it with each insulator holding a wire. Also, the telephone poles were not nearly as high as the power poles. Fortunately young arms were not too accurate nor powerful. There were a number of insulators that did get broken or chipped however.
On one occasion when I was probably 12 or 13 years old, the folks had gone somewhere leaving Jesse and I home alone for the afternoon. Dad had purchased a .250/3000 high powered rifle to use for deer hunting. We were forbidden to use it without any supervision. On this afternoon we got it out with the intent to try it out. I was standing on the back step of our house with a clear view to the south toward the road. There about 40 yards away was that beckoning target of the telephone insulators. I took aim and fired. Bulls-eye! The insulator exploded- and the wires parted. The rifle was put away immediately and two boys were really worried but didn't know what to do.
When the folks came home they noticed the wires laying on the ground. They didn't ask what happened but simply called the phone company to report the down wires. The repairman came out the next morning and repaired the line. He then came to the house. I was in the field but Jesse reported to me what happened. He said the lineman reported to Mom that it appeared the line had been shot by a rifle. She called to Jesse and asked if he had shot the line. He replied that, no, he had not done it. In actual fact he had not done it but he was not asked, nor did he volunteer, that he knew who had done it. It was never brought up again and I was too much the coward to confess my actions.

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