Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer of '76 and the Bicentennial Baby!

The Bicentennial Baby! 

Happy 200th Birthday, America!

George and I were married November 13, 1975.  After less than a month of marriage we discovered that we were expecting our first child.  We were so excited to be parents and began making plans for our growing family.  George was in the Army ROTC at Brigham Young University...on track to becoming an officer at graduation.  One day he came home and gave me some kind of upsetting news.  George would be going to Fort Lewis Washington in June for ROTC Advanced Camp, which is basic training for officers.  The bad news was that he was scheduled to be gone until after our baby's due date, which was the end of July.

Wedding Day!

This was quite a disappointment!  George would probably miss the birth of our first child.  There is only one first child.  But we decided to make the best of things...who knew, maybe the baby would be late.

So George packed his gear and went off to basic camp and I prepared to spend the summer without him.  We wrote a lot of letters that summer.  I forgot all about them until I found them recently.  Those letters are a window into our young married life that I am so grateful to look through again almost 40 years later.

George's letters to me.

Amber's 38th birthday is this Saturday and I have transcribed all the letters and put them in order with pictures as a birthday gift to her.  I won't be including the letters here...maybe just a few excerpts here and there.  But I have a few pictures to illustrate that summer of 1976.

Our cozy first home in American Fork.

Our first home was a cute one-bedroom trailer nestled on a tree covered lot on 400 east in American Fork, Utah.  I loved decorating it with vintage items I found at the thrift store and patchwork pillows and quilts.  I loved my cute little "bug" and made patchwork seat covers for it.

Max the cat and friend Moses

George knew I would be lonely without him so he got me a cat that we named Max.  Many of my letters referred to Max as a "she."  I didn't discover Max was male until later that summer.  My letters spoke of missing him, doctor appointments, bills I paid and cute things Max did.  I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but I found out that we were living on just $200 a month!  We didn't know we couldn't afford to get married and start a family...we just did it!

GI George

George's letters gave me a good picture of what life was like for him.  He spoke of the great guys in his platoon and their nemesis, Captain Corey who...according to them...made it his life's mission to make their lives as miserable as possible. 

The Barracks

Life in the barracks with his squad wasn't miserable at all.  They ate well and had a lot of time to joke around and share news from home.  George told his bunkmates that his wife looked just like Audrey Hepburn...and after showing them a picture of me they agreed.  He was so sweet!  I don't resemble her at all...but I did try out for "My Fair Lady" in high school.

M-60 A-1 Tank

 I got to hear all about the latest tanks and weapons that they got to fire.  George reminded me of a little boy who got a lot of really cool toys for Christmas and invited a whole bunch of other little boys to come over and play.  They ran a lot and had difficult maneuvers at night.  Some of the tests sounded terrifying to the "girl he left behind."  But he was having the time of his life.

Log Walk Drop

Rappelling off 60 ft. Tower

The Viet Nam War was over by this I really have no idea what it was like for those families waiting for their boys to come home.  But I just know that I missed him so much I could hardly stand it.  He missed me too and told me so in every letter.  He ended one letter like this:  "I have a few requests:
    A.  Write me every day on the day and NO EXCEPTIONS.
    B.  Send a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.
    C.  Don't forget me.

I love you and don't worry, it's not bad at all here.  We'll see you in 5 weeks and take it easy.
Love,  Cdt. George"

The "Uglies of Pregnancy."
How I described myself at the time.

 And so it went...the weeks passed by and I became more and more anxious that he wouldn't make it home in time.  In my letters I worried about whether I was being selfish, wanting him to come home no matter what.

What Happened Next...
The letter dated Monday July 19 was the last letter I sent to George.  On July 25, I started having labor pains that wouldn't go away.  I think it was Mom who took me to the hospital.  George's mom got on the phone with the Red Cross and was able to contact George in Fort Lewis.  He wouldn't be able to leave until the 26th, which worked out just fine because I was in labor until sometime on the 26th.

The Old American Fork Hospital

After a long night of painful labor that wasn't going anywhere, I was beginning to give up hope of ever seeing my husband or baby.  Then suddenly he was there by my side, giving me a kiss and letting me know that everything would be okay.  Since George had completed the pre-natal classes with me, he was able to be in the delivery room and didn't miss a thing!

Beautiful Amber Lee Hatfield
Born July 26, 1976
7lbs. 12 oz.

It was all worth it.  She was a beautiful baby and I didn't have to name her Fred or Geoffrey George.

John Denver's "Aerie" Album

We had planned to name our baby girl "Aerie Anne" after our favorite John Denver album, but when I saw her for the first time I just knew her name was "Amber Lee."

Daddy's Little Girl

She was such a beautiful child...a head turner in the grocery store, and always...her daddy's little girl. Every child should know the story of his or her birth, how much they were wanted and how eagerly they were anticipated.  I never knew how much I could love someone until I looked at my baby Amber's face for the first time.  She was our blessing and made us into a family.

Our beautiful daughter Amber all grown up!

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!
Mom & Dad

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Heart Mushrooms, Gnomes and Fairy Gardens...and Kitschen Clowns!

Oil Can Fairy Gardens...
I kind of went overboard this weekend on the fairy garden front...but Hobby Lobby had these really cute rusty oil cans in their "Man Cave" department...and they were 50% off!  I have wanted to make a fairy garden for some time.  I collected a bunch of ideas on my "I Heart Mushrooms, Gnomes & Fairy Garden" board on Pinterest, but just couldn't seem to settle on anything...until I found the cans.  Normally I would have used old coffee cans, but that would have required trolling the aisles of every antique store for reasonably priced rusty cans...and you know how lazy I!  I saw the perfect can in a cool store in Boulder City, Nevada, but they wanted $75 for Hobby Lobby got my money this week.

 My first can...I liked how it turned out, so I went back and bought a few more.
The mushrooms are tart pans and sticks.

The gnomes are cake toppers...Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
I bought them from one of my bloggie buddies.

This can uses a Christmas ornament I've had for a few years

I thought Quaker State would be a good match for this gnome.

Snow White finds a wheel barrow full of "poison apples."

She doesn't look all that intelligent...she may eat them.

By the fourth oil can, I was running out of ideas, but there is a cute deer hidden in the weeds.

Steel Days Inspired...Kitchen Clown!
I found this clown's head in my pal Paula's booth at Treasures Antiques and stuck it
on one of the tins I painted for mushrooms.

Daughter Sascha said this tin would be perfect.

More circus figures from Paula.
Spice tins and a glue's starting to come together.

Come one, come all!  It's a Kitschen Klown!

Hope you're having a crafty week!
I've had a lot a fun with all this!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vintage Vacation...Come to Steel Days!

Steel Days!
"In the summertime when the weather is high
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find."
Mungo Jerry

In your youth was there a summer song...a special anthem that so typifies summer that all you have to do is hear the first line and you flash back to the sound of kids splashing in the neighborhood pool, the scent of coconut suntan lotion and the feel of hot concrete on your bare feet?   For me that song is "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry.  Just thinking of it...I saw myself at the pool in American Fork flirting with an older boy...and almost falling for his pickup line.  Not today, Romeo...I need to get home and get ready to go to the Steel Days carnival with my friends.

City of Fun Carnival...2010

Is there a small town in America that doesn't celebrate itself every summer with parades, rodeos and a carnival?  Usually the celebration focuses on an industry or crop or something historical.  Here in Utah County we have, for example, Strawberry Days, Lehi Round-Up, Onion Days, Pony Express Days, and the Ute Stampede.  Highland...where I live...has the Highland Fling.  Some of Highland's first residents were Scotts.  But in my heart I have always been an American Fork girl and our days are Steel Days!

Steel Days 2014 is going on now!

American Fork's celebration has evolved over the years.  In pioneer times it was Timber Day, an all-day picnic held in a grove of trees near town,  known as "The Timbers."  Eating and horseshoes competition, along with ball games and foot races were the main activities.  This tradition continued from 1865 until about 1904.

 Liberty Day...
Parade entry for Tennessee.

Liberty Day was a patriotic July celebration held either July 4 or July 24, which is Pioneer Day...or Days of '47... in Utah.  The dates alternated to please both the patriots and the pioneers.  This began in 1905. The biggest addition to the celebration was the grand parade.  Whether in horse-drawn wagons or decorated automobiles, parade participants moved very slowly over American Fork's gravel paved Main Street.  The parade of 1925 honored the various states of the Union.  A Goddess of Liberty was crowned to reign over the festivities.

Poultry Day
Poultry Day Parade...

Poultry Day began July 1927.  American Fork raised a lot of chickens in those days. The day began with a Sunrise Salute of cannon fire.  A free lunch of over 10,000 chicken sandwiches were passed out...our trademark product.  Pleasant Grove served strawberries and cream to their townspeople.  The first Poultry Day Queen was Miss Mary of American Fork's most beloved citizens. The last Poultry Day was July 1941; then Pearl Harbor was attacked.  There would be no more city celebrations until 1945.

Steel last!
A Nicely Dressed Family at Steel Days!

By 1945, the mayor of American Fork decided that Poultry Day no longer reflected the economy of our town.  World War II brought a lot of change to the area with the construction of the Columbia Steel mill...the largest employer in Utah Valley.  So Steel Days it would be!
I have many fond memories of Steel Days... but my very first memory is of leaving the carnival with my very own pretty balloon and watching it slip from my little four-year-old fingers.  I remember crying as I watched it fly away growing smaller and smaller until I could no longer see it.  That was the summer of 1959.  Would you like to take a Vintage Vacation trip back in time to Steel Days circa 1959?  Find a spot for your folding chair and wait for the parade to begin.

Note:  Photos are courtesy of Don Hansen from his grandfather Joe Hoglund.  These pictures are a mix from 1955, 1958 and 1959.

Steel Days Parade and Carnival 1959...

Blurry...but every parade has to start with the Color Guard
The background looks like a 50's classic car show.

American Fork High School Marching Band
I was in this band in 1971.

Miss American Fork
As a child my goal was to be Miss American Fork of 1973...just to ride on the float in a pretty dress and wave a princess wave.

Many floats were religious in theme.

Still 10 years from walking on the moon.

A Cornucopia of Blessings...or Prosperity I guess.

Devey's Float.
Devey's was an upscale shop owned by a distant relative.
My second choice float to ride on in a pretty dress.

Ship of Dreams.

The Cold War...or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.
Just a couple of years before our air raid drills.

Carnival Time
LDS Wards had food stand fund-raisers.

The Giant Ferris Wheel!


Scary Clown Ride...yikes!

The Big Show!

The climax of Steel Days is the Big Show and Fireworks.  These days American Fork is able to attract major country and pop stars.  I don't know exactly when the Big Show started, but in 1962, my relative who owned Devey's...C. Richard Devey...was the Steel Days chairman.  The head of the entertainment committee approached him and asked if he could have $60 from the fund to hire a group of young kids from Ogden to perform for the evening.  The group was....

Osmonds in 1962...Andy Williams show.
...the Osmonds, with cute little Donny as well.  This was before their appearance on the Andy Williams Show in December.   I saw them perform at the Utah State Fair when I was in the fourth grade on a field trip.  They were singing barbershop music which I thought was pretty lame.  After all...who could compete with the Beatles?

One Last Parade Picture....

American Fork High School Marching Band 1971.
I am somewhere on the left in front of the drummers.
We played in every local parade all was a blast!

Happy Steel Days!
Note:  I found a lot of information about Steel Days in "American Fork City...The Growing Years" by Betty G. Spencer.