Thursday, June 26, 2014

Moments in Time...Memories of the Old Alpine School!

Gone, but not forgotten...
In the misty landscapes of my dreams, the old Alpine School still waits at the top of crumbling steps.  Rough grass has sprung up through the cracks in the surface of the deserted tennis court and the merry-go-round has rusted in place. On the old flag pole, where we lined up at the bell, a tattered flag flutters like fingers waving goodbye.

A wild October breeze whistles and dances through the bones of the rickety fire escape as if laughing spirts have flown down from Cemetery Hill to play hide-and-go-seek.

Hide and Seek...
My friends, Kim and Cathy Pam, are inside the school somewhere, but I cannot find them.  I search for them through dark and dusty hallways.  Maybe they are hiding in Miss Greenwood's cloak room.  No...I must have just missed them.  The kindergarten room looks the way I remember if the children have only just gone out to recess.

The playhouse still sits in the corner near the Story Time Rug.  Empty milk bottles line up like little glass soldiers on Miss Greenwood's desk, next to the Magic Wand used to waken us from nap time.  I so wanted to wave that wand over the other children, but I was too noisy to be the Naptime Fairy.

The Stairs...and Mr. Nicholes...

Echoed giggles drift down the stairs.  How I hate those stairs when I dream.  No matter how badly I need to reach the top...they keep growing steeper and STEEPER.  I am so afraid I am going to fall that I crawl up them on my hands and knees.

If I fall and hurt myself, will someone take me to Mr. Nicholes' office and bandage my knee?  Little kids were taught (by the big kids) to be afraid of the principal.  But he was the nicest man in the world, I thought.  He always had a kind word for shy little girls.

In the picture on the left, Mr. Nicholes and some of his students bid the old school goodbye.  Alpine was growing and there were only four classrooms...for grades K through 3.  The older grades took a bus to school in American Fork.

An old photo of children playing Maypole.
The dream shifts...and I find myself in the old gymnasium, where the corners are hidden in shadows.  My imagination is working overtime because I see little boys in dungarees and little girls in shirtwaist dresses holding the tattered ribbons of a long-faded Maypole.  They skip gracefully in and out to silent music...never getting tangled in the ribbons like I used to.

The children disappear and I'm all alone in the gymnasium...where it's been festively decorated for my Aunt Jane's wedding reception.  It's a western theme...with wagon wheels and driftwood as part of the decor.  I'm wearing my flower girl dress, twirling around and around in the middle of the floor singing "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah" at the top of my lungs.  I only know one verse...but it's repeated ad nauseum.  It's a good dream.  I dread waking...because when I do the school will be gone.

A trip down Memory Lane...
The building was of red brick with a granite foundation.  The sign over the arched entry read "Public School 1899."  More than 100 years have passed since it was built with such high hopes for the children who would grace its halls.  A school may be only boards and bricks and mortar, but it is the caretaker of our childhood.  We spent more hours within its walls than any place other than home...and it's forever gone!  It breaks my heart every time one more landmark of my life is reduced to rubble.

The Monument...
One day, feeling nostalgic...I drove slowly down the street where the school used to stand and pulled into the parking lot at Kencraft...a candy factory that used to make candy canes and fancy suckers.  In a park-like setting stands a sandstone and bronze monument created by sculptor Dennis Smith to commemorate the old school and the children who attended it.

Running my finger down the list of names on the plaque, I'm pleased to find my Father's name and well as my own and my brother Mike's.  It feels rather strange, because people who have their names on monuments are usually dead historical figures...not middle-aged housewives.'s comforting to know that there is a little piece of Alpine history with my name on it.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip through the past.
Where do your treasured memories lie?

Note:  Before I start on my Father's school days stories I wanted to repost my story on the old Alpine School that both my father and I attended. The first four photos were taken from the book "Alpine Yestedays" by Jennie Adams Wilde, one of Grandma Zetta's oldest and dearest friends.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Day to Remember...Flag Day!


An American Summer...
An American Summer is red, white, and blue.  Beginning with Memorial Day and on into July, these colors are inseparable from our vacation days and celebrations.  Today is Flag Day and the streets of my home town are lined with flags.  The Boy Scout Troops in the LDS Wards set up the flags for each flag holiday throughout the year...this is how they raise funds for their activities.  They learn flag ettiquette and how to care for this precious symbol.  I'm so proud of these young people and I admire the example set by the boys' leaders.  Only the hardest of hearts could fail to swell at the sight of so many flags.


Flag Days Origins...

Flag Day was officially signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949, but has been celebrated for over 200 years.  But what are it's true origins?  From the National Flag Day Foundation website I found the following information:

"The “Stars and Stripes”, the official National symbol of the United States of America was authorized by congress on that Saturday of June 14, 1777 in the fifth item of the days agenda. The entry in the journal of the Continental Congress 1774-1789 Vol. Vlll 1777 reads “Resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be Thirteen stripes alternate red and white: that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”"

"In Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885 Bernard John Cigrand a nineteen year old school teacher
 in a one room school placed a 10” 38 star flag in an inkwell and had his students write essays on what the flag meant to them. He called June 14th the flag’s birthday. Stony Hill School is now a historical site. From that day on Bernard J. Cigrand dedicated himself to inspire not only his students but also all Americans in the real meaning and majesty of our flag."

God Bless Our Flag!

I am so grateful for the opportunity to live in this great country and for the flags flying over every home town reminding every citizen that today is Flag Day. May we each take a moment to consider the meaning of those colors....Red, White, and Blue.

Have a lovely Flag Day!
First posted June 14, 2012

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tad's Tales...Whoa, Nelly!

Horse Tales For Father's Day

Tag I made to illustrate one of my dad's stories.
I hope to make a card or tag for each story as I edit it.

From time to time the leaders of my church admonish us to keep a journal and write our personal histories so our descendants will know who we were and what we believed in. When I was a little girl I liked to sit on the porch with my Grandpa Devey and ask him to tell me stories.  I learned a lot about him. Grandpa owned a small fruit farm up Fort Canyon in Alpine, Utah. One of his hobbies was to do a bit of mining in the mountains of American Fork Canyon.  And he was first to discover the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Lone Peak.  I loved to hear his tales...and because I listened, I know a bit more about his life than some of my family members.  My granddaughter Alena has taken an interest in family stories and I have been able to share a few of her great-great-grandfather's stories with her.  This had me thinking...what will our grandchildren know about us if we don't share our stories?

The house in Alpine.
Grandpa and I sat on that front porch.
He would whittle while we talked.

I write a lot of stories about my life and family history in my blog, "Zetta's Aprons."  This has been a fun way to write my life story because it's not in chronological order, but memories prompted by holidays, vacations and other special events.  I would be bored to tears if I had to start my story from the "I was born..." and write it all in order.  I think this is what keeps many of us from even getting started.

Since Father's Day is fast approaching, I want to share a story about my dad, Thomas A.(Tad) Devey. I feel so fortunate that my father sat himself down and wrote stories about his life.  He wrote about cars he drove, mischief he made, deer hunts and his school years...all sorts of topics.  He has an amazing memory for detail and I hope when I am 80 years old I will be as sharp as he is!  I shared this story last week on my other blog Dear Sisters.

Tad's Tales..." Whoa, Nelly!"
Tad at 5...just a little boy.

Grandpa Melvin Devey worked on a WPA project called the Draper Tunnel during the winter of 1938-39.  He worked with another man from Alpine who had to move when the project ended.  The man owned a small mare named Nelly.  She was almost as small as a pony and had been fitted with a child-size saddle and bridle.  Grandpa bought the mare and gave her to my father in the summer of 1939 when he was five years old.

Dad wrote, "Now when a child turns five years old, he starts Kindergarten in the fall.  This was true, then as well as now; but it had only been true for a couple of years.  Kindergarten started in Alpine about 1937.   Not only was it a new program, but it only operated during a six week period each spring and fall."

The house in Fort Canyon
Dad and his family lived on a fruit farm at the top of Fort Canyon in Alpine. During the winter, Tad's family would often move into town because bad weather and snow on bad roads made travel down the canyon difficult.  He wrote, "The next winter, Dad was not employed off the farm so we did not plan to move from the canyon.  Nelly would be an ideal mode of transportation when I started school. I was not too excited about going to Kindergarten, let alone riding a cantankerous horse."

"Nelly, because of her size, had always been a kid’s horse and she had learned how to have her way with kids.   To get her to go where you wanted to go required a forceful hand on the reins and a small switch to be applied to her behind when she balked.   My five year old hand on the reins was none too forceful; however, I could wield a switch with the best of them." 

Dad spent the summer learning Nelly's quirks.  She wouldn't let him near her if he was carrying a he learned to stash a switch on top of the fence where she couldn't see it.  Nelly had also learned that she could get rid of unwanted passengers by simply sideswiping a tree or a pole.  Once free, she would head on home...except her idea of home was not "Fort Canyon," but the horse pasture in Alpine where she used to live.

School Starts...
The old Alpine Elementary School.

The rest of the summer Tad worked with Nelly and with the help of an "older and wiser" cousin (he was 7), was able to train her well enough so he would be able to ride her to school.


Tad wrote, "A few days before classes started, Dad and Mother took me to the school to meet my teacher and become familiar with the building.  While Mother and I were in the school, Dad was talking to Mrs. Booth, an older widowed lady who lived in the house on the corner across the street from the school.  In her back yard, directly south of the school, was an orchard with high grass.  A ditch of water also flowed by.  Dad arranged with Mrs. Booth to let me stake Nelly in her orchard while I was in school.  Not only was the school year limited to six weeks each, in the Spring and Fall, but it was also limited to about three hours each afternoon.  Nelly would be able to put up with three hours."

"Surprisingly, the six weeks were uneventful as far as my mode of transportation was concerned. Dad would saddle up Nelly and I would leave the house about 11 am.  It took about 45 minutes for Nelly to walk to the school.  I was still a little nervous about letting her go any faster. I would tie her up in the orchard with a rope attached to her halter."

"When I came out after school, I would check the cinch, untie the rope and start for home.  Sometimes she became a little difficult when we started the turn up toward the canyon.  She wanted to go "home” by going straight west.   After we got around the corner, she would usually behave and after a few trips she seemed to look forward to getting back to the barn.  I began to let her go at her own pace which seemed to be faster each time.   Dad finally told me to slow her down.  She was coming home in a lather every night."

The barn...not Nelly's idea of "home."

"The six weeks in the fall went by in a flash.  I decided that school wasn’t so bad.  The kids were fun and Miss King was very nice.   Miss King was a brand new teacher from Escalante in Southern Utah. To her, my riding a horse to school each day did not seem to be all that odd."

Family stories can be fun!
Until my dad gave me the disk of stories, I did not know about Dad's horse Nelly or his first days of school.  When I see one of my little granddaughters climb onto the school bus heading off to kindergarten for the first time, it is hard to believe my grandma sent her little boy off to school each day riding a horse.  These days we don't let our children out of our sight! 

I had a lot of fun putting this story together for the blog.  Father's Day is June still have time to write or share a story about your fathers with your families.  Every child should know their grandparents...I still remember mine and I want my grandchildren to know more about them.  We spend a lot of time with family during the holidays...the perfect time to share stories and family holiday traditions.  How did your family spend the summer...parades, picnics, Fourth of July fireworks? Your kids want to know!

Happy Father's Day, Tad!