Family History and Stories!

Page updated May 23, 2014

My Father's First Years
The Baby Book...
After my mother passed away, my father married again...a lovely lady named Gerry.  Her health is not good, so they are preparing to move to her home town of Chicago to be closer to her children and doctors.  Dad is trying to de-clutter his life, so he brought me several tubs of books, pictures and papers to go through.  I found a lot of photos and keepsakes that I hadn't known existed.  In one of the tubs...a disk with Dad's personal history files was something I was very glad to find.  Now I can edit them into a book for my siblings.  But the sweetest and most precious discovery...the gold at the end of the rainbow...was Dad's Baby Book.  The book was a gift from one of Grandma Zetta's oldest and dearest friends and in its sweet pages I caught a glimpse of my father's life when he was very small.

Tad's Story Begins...
In  June of 1932, newlyweds Melvin and Zetta Devey moved to Fort Canyon, above Alpine, Utah, so Mel could work in William Andrew's apple orchards.  They stayed in a few rooms of Mr. Andrew's old home.  Zetta was expecting her first child in August.  But though her mother traveled from Ferron, Utah to be with her, the baby was stillborn.  Zetta was heartbroken.

The Old Wingenfield House

Two years later, in March of 1934, the couple moved further up the canyon to the Wingenfield Farm and later purchased it.  Two months later, on Saturday, the 26th of May, at 10:40 p.m., Thomas Albert (Tad) Devey was born in the Wingenfield house.  His from his initials, T.A.D.  He weighed 10 pounds! 

Gifts and Visitors...

I don't think Grandma Zetta had a baby shower...most likely folks brought a gift when they came to pay their respects to the new arrival.  The gifts were quite modest...this was during the Depression. Dorothy Elliot, who gave Zetta the book, was an R.N who became one of the highest ranking nurses in the U.S. Army during the Second World War.  Dorothy and Zetta met at Yellowstone where Zetta was working at the Old Faithful swimming pool. Dorothy's family spent the entire summer at the Park.  The two became lifelong friends.

It's so much fun to see the names of my great-aunts and old Alpine neighbors written in his book.


First Outing...
"June 16, 1934...Aunt Fern, Gale, and Mother took me for a walk to the creek and back.  I really didn't enjoy it much because they had me bundled up too much."

First Tooth...
"Nov. 2, 1934...Tad was discovered to have cut his first tooth, the left front on the bottom."

First Steps...
"June 1, 1935...took three steps for his Daddy, when he came home at noon."
"June 13...Walked all over, at times sitting down very hard...Can get up in middle of floor by himself."

First Words...
"What is it Mama?"
"Nov. 17, 1935, Tad says his full name...'Thomas Albert Devey'. He isn't quite 18 months yet."

Favorite Toys...
"Rattle...with rabbit face...with bells.
Brown Bottle
Mickey Mouse
Pasteboard Boxes"


Christmas card from "Aunt" Dorothy...December 1934

One Year Old...
At 78...Dad still wears this expression when he's irked about something.

First Birthday...
"May 26, 1935...Thomas Albert celebrated his birthday by going to Provo.  Stopped at Training School to see Stanley.  However he was asleep, so Stanley just got a peek at him for first time.  No cake.  Presents...Green sun suit from Gale and Ina. And blue material for suits from Blanche P. 30 cents from Daddy...overalls from Mamma."

Two Years Old...

Card from "Lola."

Second Birthday...
"May 26, 1936.  While asleep, I made his cake.  Got white icing, candies, blue holders and yellow candles.  Rode down to store.  Mrs. Marsh gave him ice cream cone.  Health fine.  Cutting double teeth.  Will soon have full set."

Tad's baby shoes.

When Grandpa Mel got the reward for finding the Lost Plane...he was asked what he would do with the money.  One of the things on his list was new shoes for Tad.  These little shoes were in one of the boxes Dad brought...the toes have been cut out to accomodate growing feet.  The Depression made it hard for parents to be able to buy shoes for their children.  More than one little boy went barefoot for most of the summer.

Another cute picture from the book.

And on to Five...

Fifth Birthday...
1939 was the year when Tad finally became a big brother.  On June 6, his baby sister Elizabeth Jane (to be known as Jane) was born at 1:30 a.m. in American Fork Hospital.  On September 5, he started Kindergarten at the old Alpine School.  His teacher was Miss King.

Cute Little Tad...4 Years Old

And So On...
These were the first few years of the life of Thomas Albert Devey.  This is a story not found in Dad's personal history, but on the pages of a little pink book in the careful handwriting of a loving mother.  Zetta lost another baby boy in 1936...his name was Aldwin, after her only brother...who also died young.  Zetta and Mel would have liked a large family, but their two children brought them a lot of happiness and pride.

Happy Father's Day!
Daddy, I am so glad you're still here...
I will miss you when you move away.
All my love,


Apostles in the Berry Patch
The Fruit Farm
Detail from Friendship Pennant
This summer, many of the bloggers I follow are exchanging pennant shaped tags that represent the personality of their blog.  Since my blog is called Zetta's Aprons in honor of my Grandma Zetta, I made my tags to reflect her life on the old Fort Canyon fruit farm. 

Apple Crate Label from Andrews Farm.
Before Mel and Zetta bought their farm they lived at the Andrews Farm and worked for Mr. Andrews and his son, Emery.  If you've read any of my "Lost Plane" posts, you will remember that Emery and Grandpa Mel were the first to find pieces of the plane. You can read about it here:  The Lost Plane

Zetta and her berry picking crew...
You notice in the picture that Zetta's workers are all young women and girls.  During World War II, they were unable to get men to work on the farm, so in the spring Mel would drive the old truck to Zetta's home town of Ferron, Utah to pick up a load of young women...and Zetta's stay with them for the summer.  My dad would often make the trip with him.  It was a long, dusty trip in an ancient truck that...if it broke down...could not be replaced in those war years.
Visitors were always welcome to stop by and visit the raspberry patch.

Apostles in the Berry Patch... 
Tad and Jane about the time of this tale.
When Mel and Zetta first moved to the farm in Fort Canyon, he had purchased a one-half share of the place on a contract and operated the farm jointly with the other part owner.  My dad wrote, "In 1939 we were able to get a bank loan and pay off both of the former owners.  To obtain a bank loan in those days [at the end of the Depression] was quite a feat.  Now I don't know just how much he was able to borrow but it was probably less than one thousand dollars. In those days a thousand dollars was a major debt."  In the story of the Lost Plane, many men searched for months for the chance at the reward thousand dollars.  Grandpa got his loan at The Peoples State Bank in American Fork.

Clifford E. Young.
The Peoples State Bank was organized by a man named Clifford E. Young.  Mr. Young was a very prominent man in town.  He was also the son-in-law of Heber J. Grant, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church.  Somehow or another, Grandpa Mel and Mr. Young became friends. 

At the time Mel applied for his loan, Mr. Young had been promoted to a high church position called Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve...which meant he worked with the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church.  These are the "rock stars" of our church.  Today there are 15 million Mormons all over the world who love and revere the current president and apostles and would love to see them and speak with them in person.  This isn't the best explanation, but I wanted to put some perspective on what happened later.

President George Albert Smith
Served from 1945 to 1951.
President  Heber J. Grant died in 1945. 

My dad continues the story," About 1946, he [Grandpa Mel] was conducting business at the bank when he was approached by Mr. Young. [He] wanted to know if Dad would be home later that afternoon.  Dad replied that he would and Mr. Young stated that he would like to bring some associates up to the farm.  He did not say who the associates would be.

 "That afternoon, Mr. Young arrived in his Model A Ford town car.  Another car had followed him up the canyon.  Dad met them at the barn and they all drove up to the farm.

Top:  Apostles Ezra Taft Benson and John A. Widstoe
Bottom: J. Ruben Clark, of the First Presidency and Apostle Harold B. Lee.
Ezra Taft Benson was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower.
Both Ezra Taft Benson and Harold B. Lee would later become Presidents of the Church.

"I had no idea who the men might be.  After a short time I became curious and walked up the road.  When I arrived at the strawberry patch, I found Dad and several men walking through the berry patch, occasionally stopping to pick and eat a berry.  As I approached I recognized some of the men from pictures I had seen in Church publications. On this day, there were five General Authorities in Dad's berry patch."  President George Albert Smith and the four men pictured above were those who visited Grandpa's farm.

I've only known this story for a few years, since Dad sat down and started writing the story of his life.  I am so grateful that he did.  How I would have loved to have seen those men...walking and talking to my grandfather...and eating strawberries on a sunny summer afternoon.


Memories of Michael
Michael Grant Devey
November 5, 1956 to January 3, 1994

A Twenty Year Anniversary...
While I was off on my Christmas holidays, an important anniversary passed without my noticing.  For some reason, I have never been able to remember the date that my brother Michael was killed in an automobile accident in Cedar City, Utah.  It was such a traumatic loss...the first close family death I had experienced...that the funeral remains blurry movie footage in my mind.  The casket was there was no real goodbye to be said.  Twenty years later, it's as if he never left Cedar City. 

 I gave the eulogy at Mike's funeral.  I kept it light hearted...a little jokey...because that's the way he would have wanted it.  One of my sisters recently asked me for a copy of my talk.  I promised her I would look for it, but it slipped my mind.  This morning I was putting my office Christmas decorations in the closet.  I don't know if it is just coincidence or a small miracle, but there it was, right there on top of a pile of papers!  I experienced a strong prompting to sit down and share those memories again with my family and friends.  I found a few photos of Mike as well, that one or two of my sisters may not have.

Mike and Shirley...about 1958

Memories of Michael...
I would like to share with you some of my memories of my brother Michael.  Since these are my memories, they may be distorted by time...and aging brain cells.  If you remember him differently, please indulge me.

Mike was the older brother I never had.  For some reason, when I was a little girl, I wanted a "big brother" to protect me from the evils of the world.  In those days I believed that the Russians were going to bomb our house...thanks to JFK!  Even though he was about 18 months younger than I, he was my "big brother."  We all looked up to him...literally.  In high school he shot up past 6 feet almost overnight.  I didn't win anymore fights with him after that.  But my friend, Charlotte, got a few good licks in.

Cute little guy!

Mike loved living in Cedar City.  He got a kick out of telling stories about the people he knew.  In fact, he was the Mark Twain of the Devey family...the teller of the "Big Story."  He could make an adventure out of every day experiences...with himself cast as the hero, of course!  Sometimes he would forget and repeat himself, but without exception...the story got better and better every time he told it.

Mike worked at all kinds of jobs in Southern Utah.  At one time he was the mighty tow truck man who rescued stranded skiers who tried to travel the snow-packed roads to Brian Head without chains or snow tires.  I'm sure he kept them entertained with tall tales of frozen people-cicles who weren't found until spring thaw.  I have a feeling those same skiers went to Aspen the next winter.

We sometimes called Mike "Opie."

He often talked about how much he enjoyed living out in the middle of nowhere.  The critters that turned up in his backyard were more ferocious...and the wildlife more plentiful...than found on any African safari.  And of course, he bragged that his daughter Hayley wanted to make pets of some of them.  "Hey, Dad, can I keep this bobcat that followed me home?"

The great outdoors was right on his doorstep and he spent as much time as he could there, hunting, hiking and just driving around to see what would turn up around the next bend in the road.  In this way he was just like our dad, a curious explorer with hundreds of miles of dirt road to travel...the dustier the better.

One summer Mike and Dad, took my daughter Melissa and Hayley on a grueling hike through the Zion Narrows...backwards...because they wanted to just hope into a car parked conveniently in a parking lot and drive away.  They spent most of the time up to their necks in water...Missy lost her wallet...but it was an unforgettable experience.  I'm just glad they didn't go the year before when the water was so dangerous.  (Note: The Narrows cannot be hiked if any rain is in the forecast, due to danger of flash flooding.)

Mike couldn't wait to go "huntin' with Dad."  One fall when we were young, Dad took us up in the hills for a little deer hunting.  Dad was starting to lose patience because Mike was too busy looking for brass and other treasures in the dirt and was constantly falling behind.  We had stopped to rest for a moment, when suddenly a buck leaped out of the scrub oak.  Raising his rifle to shoot, Dad stopped, biting off a curse.  For there, crouched in the weeds between him and the "trophy buck", was Mike.  "Dad, look at all the shotgun shells I found!"  I'm sure it's not the first one that got away, because I think my dad just loved the idea of hunting...and not the actual shooting...of deer.

The Barn...and it's "broad side."

That was the last time they let me tag along.  I kept telling Mike he couldn't "hit the broad side of a barn" and he kept proving me right, so they left me home.  I was an annoying little girl anyway.

An outing in the park in Lehi, Utah.

When I was a young teenager who wanted to join John Denver and save the forests, he was actually nice enough to give me a pair of his out-grown hiking boots.  I was so excited...until I discovered he had filled the boots with pancake batter and left it to harden to a substance harder than concrete.  It took me weeks to chip out the mess so I could take them to girls camp.

In high school, Mike fancied himself the ultimate expert on all things automotive.  But in truth, he was an enemy to any vehicle with a working transmission.  He had a favorite one mile strip of highway in Highland where he and his friends would the test the speed of whatever clunkers they happened to be driving at the time.   In lieu of organized sports...Mike and his buddies lettered in Joyriding.

Mike and Melanie...Prom!

I'll never forget the night of the Junior Prom.  George and I came back late from the dance.  It wasn't past my curfew, however, so I was surprised to see Mom sitting there in her favorite telephoning chair.  I thought I was in deep trouble, she looked so grim.  "Your brother and Melanie were in an accident tonight," she told us.

"Oh, no!" I cried.  "Did they wreck the Mustang?"  I had no thought for their safety or well-being...I LOVED that car! It was the coolest car we had ever owned.  It was the first car I wasn't embarrassed to be seen in when Mom drove me to school in curlers.

Mike's friend, Deverl, was chasing them in another vehicle on the back roads of American Fork.  The Mustang took a turn too fast and ended upside down in a canal by the Lehi Sugar Mill.  They nearly drowned.  Melanie's gown and Mike's tux were ruined.  I don't remember if they were hurt and I feel bad about that.  All I can remember is the sad, sad sight of that crumpled Mustang.  And I remember crying.  Teenagers can be so insensitive.

Visiting at Grandma Patta's

Mike never forgave me for going to BYU.  He called it the "B Y Zoo" and started calling me by the nickname "Zoobie" in 1973.  When I started college, Dad helped me to get a loan on a bright red-orange 1966 Volkswagon Beetle...the official car of BYU coeds.  That car was my baby and I named him "Adolph."  I thought that Adolph was true to me, but I found out that he lived a secret life.  Mike was taking him out for joyrides when I wasn't when I was asleep or working.

Not too long before he died, he confessed that my car was sought by police over twenty years earlier for doing "wheelies" on the putting green at the Alpine Country Club, where I worked as a waitress.  Had I know that, I would have been mortified!  I was the "goody two shoes" type that never got into trouble.  He said my car was also seen taking shortcuts through people's flower beds in American Fork.  Though he swore I was with him at the time...I doubt I would have forgotten doing something like that. Is it possible that the experience was so traumatic that I repressed the memory all those years?

Possibly my most recent picture of him.

He used to call me from Cedar City just to shoot the breeze...or he would pretend to be Ed McMahon trying to award me the 10 million dollar grand prize from Publishers Clearing House.  We would talk for over an hour and he would tell me a few tall tales and brag about his children.  "Uh, Oh!"  He would go suddenly.  "Better get off the phone now.  Melanie's home...she'll think I've got a girlfriend!"

Those were some of my favorite things to remember about my brother Mike...also known as "Bubba!"  I started calling him that when I was very small and couldn't say "Brother."  I couldn't help but smile as I retyped these stories into my blog post.   If you knew Mike, I hope your memories of him are happy ones.  Maybe he told you a tall tale that made you laugh.   I'm sure he's telling our mother a whopper right now.   Catch you later, Bubba!

Love, Zoobie


Tea Sets and Violets...Memories of Mother
"Sweet Violets
Sweeter than the Roses
Covered all over from head to toe
Covered all over with Sweet Violets"

I cannot hear this song, or smell the sweet scent of violets without thinking of my mother.  Violets were her special symbol, chosen when she was a young girl.  They were her Young Women's flower and painted on delicate china cups and saucers stored lovingly in her cedar chest with her wedding gown and treasures.

She was like a violet herself then, small and delicate with the dark eyes of a fawn.  I can see in my mind the sepia photograph of her as a lovely young girl of 12, gazing serenely into the camera's lens.

She was a pretty child and the darling of her family; the lone girl in a pack of boisterous brothers who alternately spoiled her or teased her mercilessly.  And boy could they tease!

When I was very small, Mother gave into my care the remaining plates of a green Depression Glass tea set.  This tea set had been her most cherished possession when she was pre-school age.  One day, as she carefully carried her little dishes into the living room, one of her brothers sneaked up behind her and yelled in her ear.  With an earsplitting crash, the little tea set was dashed to the floor.  Tearfully, she gathered up the plates that remained unbroken.  Somehow through the years, those plates survived.  How they survived my childhood is another miracle.

I was about five years old when she gave them to me and told me how special they were to her.  I am still amazed that she trusted me to care for them.  True to my stewardship, I kept the little plates carefully wrapped in newspaper and stored in a small box.  It was such a treat to occasionally unwrapped those treasures and imagine playing "tea party" with the pretty little girl from the Depression.

When Mother was a girl, Grandma and Grandpa made for her a wooden treasure box covered in pretty wallpaper that matched her bedroom.  As the oldest granddaughter, I inherited that box.  Inside were special dolls and toys that I kept at Grandma Patta's, safe from my boisterous brothers and sisters. Only I could play with the things in that box.

When I visited my grandparents I spent many sunny hours playing under a tree in the backyard, or on the upstairs landing on rainy days. My favorite game at the time was to imagine that my mother was still a little girl, just my age, and that we were friends.  We played for hours, her in an old-fashioned dress from the 30's and me in shorts and a tee-shirt, reading old issues of Children's Friend and designing our dream houses with pictures cut from Better Homes and Gardens. Sometimes she watched me make Barbie clothes from the bag of sewing scraps that Grandma saved for me.  She only watched...because Mom could not sew worth a lick!

My grown-up mom was not on friendly terms with her old sewing machine.  Any sewing project made her so stressed-out that we kids used to hide whenever she put in a zipper!  It's kind of funny, because her mother made beautiful gowns for antique porcelain dolls and I've made quilts most of my life.  I guess some things skip a generation.

But she loved collecting dolls almost as much as Grandma Patta did.  And the countless gifts of dolls from her children and grandchildren gave her a lot of pleasure.  Especially during those last years...that endless stretch of time when she couldn't go out, but could only sit in her doll room surrounded by memories.

I have many warm memories of my mother, but I always like to think of her as the small girl whose unsteady little legs carried her and her tea set into Grandma's living room.  And that memory is always accompanied by the scent of violets.

In Memory of Rhea Lee Gray Devey
April 7, 1935-November 6, 2006

I wish to acknowledge my sister Lisa, who designed the little memory pages.  She made each of the sisters a beautiful miniature scrapbook.  So much love and effort was put into them.  I will always treasure mine.

I am grateful today for the love of my Father in Heaven.
"I am a child of God
And he has sent me here
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear..."

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