Friday, July 29, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 42: Writing about the students covered with sores and being ignored

I was beginning to have such reservations about writing anything for Ghiselin that could possibly impress him I wondered if I should not major in theater after all, with English as my minor so I could teach both.  I had learned that Ghiselin was married and with children, but he just seemed too unacceptably remote to female writers.  I felt that Sharon was never going to get through to him, and probably neither was I, as brilliant a poet as he unquestionably was.  He was as hard to decipher as his poetry, he seemed beyond my reach. I hated to give up on Ghiselin but something soon happened with Laurence that did convince me to declare my major in theater rather than English. 
I was having to take some education classes, too, required to teach high school, which were very uninspiring.  Laurence sympathized with me as he had taken them, too, even though he was going to get his masters and said he was planning to teach at the college level if he was able to secure the opportunity.  I wondered if that was why he was interested in talking to a bookish student like me.  Was he thinking that a connection to a wife might make finding opportunity easier? And he might be able to tolerate one who read books better?  There still had not been one spark between us!
I found out all too soon that he did indeed have this in mind, as after several meetings, he told me he wanted to tell me a secret that he did not want me to tell anyone. Since Sharon was the one who had introduced him to me and was the only person at the University we both talked to I assumed he meant especially not to tell her.  Then he said that he was in love with me!  I was dumbfounded.  He had never touched me and showed no signs of ever wanting to.
I immediately recalled what I thought was rather a bad dream I had had about him about a month before.  I dreamed that he held his hand out to me and when I looked at him again I saw the face of Lucifer. The dream ended with me now hesitant about taking his proffered hand. 
I didn't care what he had tried to make me promise I told Sharon what he said as soon as I saw her.  I could see that she was also very disturbed by his declaration of love for me.  Especially when I said that he was not attracted to me.  She was afraid for me too, but I assured her that I had to have a man that was wildly attracted to me, so there was no danger of me becoming dangerously confused by what he had said to me, not like that other girl must have been.
I made up my mind for sure then that I could not make English my major.  Ghiselin would be my most important mentor as a would be writer. And he was sure to upset and disappoint me just as Laurence was doing. 
That spring I also read a short story Laurence had written, published in the student literary magazine Ghiselin mentored.  It was about feeling guilt over a sacrificial lamb.  I thought at once that I had been the sacrificial lamb he had in mind! 

I thought if Lees, head of the theater department, proved to be a disappointment, too, at least I would have fun doing plays and performing.  I had not been able to get another role in big productions after the plum one in "The Great Aunt Sits on the Floor" which I hoped the actors did not remember, as I did not want to be identified with an old lady.
I did, however, try out for the leading role in "The Mad Woman of Chaillot" during my sophomore year.  I thought she would be an ideal part of me to play.  Lees however cast his wife in this role, but asked me to work on the production to fulfill one of my requirements in theater.  I played a bit part and did some tech, walking home at night after rehearsal to my convenient room at the Phi Mu house.  I also got to observe very closely Lees' relationship with his wife whom he all but ignored.  She reflected his lack of interest in her acting I thought by giving a very uninspired performance.  The only person he worked with was a young comic who was so good that he seemed to be a lot of fun for Lees.

I had by then found out that nearly every teacher in the theater department had benefited from roles Lees had given them in his productions.  He appeared to be keeping everyone happy by throwing them a bone now and then in the form of a part. They talked about these parts in their classes. It was no wonder there were few left over for the students, who would be here today and gone tomorrow.
One of my speech teachers did the big Shakespeare parts whenever Lees could not secure a Broadway or Hollywood actor.  I was very conscious of this teacher's voice, which he seemed very proud of, but I always found it annoying when an actor relied too heavily on velvet voice tones and not enough on thinking through the role.
I did not even like Orson Welles in MacBeth who Lees had been able to persuade to come to the university my freshman year.  He was just too Orson Welles in the part, I thought.
On the other hand I got extremely excited about the intense acting of a war veteran named H.E.D. Redford, who I thought out acted them all.  Everyone was mesmerized with H.E.D whenever he appeared on stage.  You could not only understand what words he was saying, but you could also take in the meaning which I thought happened all too seldom in Shakespeare plays.  I had been to plays where it was almost impossible to decipher what anyone was saying through all the bombast.  However, if every Shakespeare play had been performed by actors of H.E.D.'s caliber it would have been a different story.

I was unfortunate enough to be cast in a one act play by Saroyan chosen by Miss Utah that year for her student production. She went on to become Miss America by virtue of her performance of a speech out of Shakespeare.  I heard it on television and thought she was of the hammy actress school, but it appeared that the judges were so impressed with a beautiful contestant who would attempt such a difficult feat that they awarded her the grand prize.  She was a tall striking beauty who reminded me of my beautiful cousin Cheryl more than anybody.
But I knew Miss America's limitations because she had previously directed me to perform in her production in that hammy style she favored.  I tried my best to please her in rehearsal but in the performance I reverted to my more naturalistic style.  She watched me very closely and hissed at me when I came off stage, "You didn't act the part as I directed you! I would never use you again!"
She and I both tried out for the part of Cleopatra in Shakespeare's play.  I thought it was a foregone conclusion that she would win the role.  She strode about the stage in glorious fashion but I doubt if anyone understood a word she was saying, as she acted the part clear to death, and nobody was able to stop her.
So I could see that Lees was old and tired and even sick and the actors pretty much acted the way they wanted to in his plays now days.  He had given another choice Shakespeare role in King Lear to his wife and she had not been very inspiring in that role either, so I figured that she more or less demanded these roles which he for some reason kept giving to her.  I had so far not seen any sign that he was particularly attached to any male actors as Archie had not yet come along.
Another theater student did point out to me an older male actor she said had been around acting for Lees in Shakespeare plays a long time.  He looked as though he would have been perfect in a part like Iago. He had a wife and six kids, she said, but he was still to put it delicately 'decadent'.  I assumed this meant that he was suspected of being homosexual, but I did not blink at this information since I was used to men who married and had children without letting it interfere with their decadent ways.
Perhaps the most disturbing fellow who had been one of Lees' acting proteges was a professor everyone called Robert. He was simply a sadist.  There is no other way I can put it.  He proceeded to try to break down a male friend of mine in class who seemed helpless to defend himself.  His object seemed to be to make him cry.  I took it as long as I could and then got up and walked out.
I was forced to go back, however, as I was only a sophomore and could not complete a theater major without taking more of his classes.  He was supposed to teach the first play writing class the University was going to offer in my junior year, and I couldn't miss that.  But I doubted very much if he and I would ever get along again.  Such men are apt never to forgive a slight no matter how they might treat others, and he proved to be one of them. 
He had also been hired to do the experimental theater-in-the round and it was said was going to produce some original plays including some of his own. Lees gave him plum roles, but Marilyn, my most knowledgeable informant about the university theater world, said that the woman Robert married had suffered a nervous breakdown and was still in a psych ward as far as she knew.  That was rather stunning news, as I had thought that Robert was clearly the most outwardly gay of all the professors who might be in hiding.  He seemed the most bitter about the need for subterfuge, I had thought.
I was prepared to sympathize but I could not take his meanness.  I thought hiring him had been a mistake no matter how brilliant he was. He was too embittered and disturbed to be teaching the young without damaging them someway. 
I knew he would never cast me in a part just because of that one protest.  I could not take sadism.  No, I couldn't, but the worst upset I experienced in my sophomore year was in Lee's Introduction to Theater class, required for theater majors, during my last quarter that year.  He asked us along toward the middle of the quarter to write something personal about ourselves.  As I started to write I thought that I would take a chance on Lees.  Indeed I could not keep from writing what I did.
I wrote that the students at this somewhat fictional university I made it sound like were all covered with sores, but nobody paid any attention and acted as though they were all perfectly normal.  My point was that no matter how abnormal anyone acted in school, this was not going to be acknowledged by anybody.  I was thinking that the professors might exhibit sores, too, which Robert had certainly done in his theater class, trying to make a male student cry.  But nobody tended to respond to signs of mental disturbance in the professors either, let alone the students.  I could just imagine Robert going through college covered with sores which nobody addressed, and then being hired to teach, still covered with sores that nobody addressed.  It was the way students had always been treated.  So how could they not help but end up as professors who were shockingly disfigured with running sores, too?
Lees did not return my paper when he returned the others and asked me to come to his office.  When I got there he pushed my paper across the desk to me and said, "I can't grade this paper.  This is not what I asked for."  I thought he sounded quite plaintive.  Why was I creating problems for him?
I took the paper and said, "That's all right."  I meant that he could fail me but I was not going to offer to rewrite it.  If he was going to be that careful not to ask me what this was all about!
He gave me a B at the end of the class, so I guess he decided he would not fail me because I refused to rewrite the paper.  Well, poor man, there were still rumors going around that his ulcers were killing him and he might have to retire.  Perhaps it was understandable why he just ignored the gauntlet that I must have appeared to have thrown down.  I wondered what he would have done if I had revealed a deep stab wound on my body somewhere.  Looked the other way as I bled my way out the door? 
I could still go on a while I thought.  But I was going to have to get out the fact that I had been molested in childhood and concealed it, not once but twice, while I was still going to college.  I needed to have as many people as possible who might help with my cause.  I desperately needed to have more people aware, for I feared my father too much not to try to get a whole army of supporters.  I just did not know how I was going to go about surfacing the facts in these events in which my father was involved, as part of the reason the men targeted me.
I felt I was seeing intrigue of a similar sort here at the university, and in this theater department. I suspected Lees of leading a somewhat double life just as my father had always done, but he was no longer active, so I could not point to any current behavior that seemed to damn him.  But that paper was meant to break through his defenses if possible.
I meant to call him on his behavior and any college professor's who favored young males unduly over females while married and presenting respectability and family to the world.  I did not have a chance at this university for a fair assessment of my talent or intellect when being taught by such professors.  Heterosexual professors favored males enough without married homosexual ones who felt forced to marry because universities would not hire openly gay professors. If a male heterosexual professor had been a womanizer, ogling and favoring certain female students, his behavior would have been unacceptable, so what was different about a married bisexual professor favoring appealing young males?
No wonder Robert was bitter.  And no wonder his wife had suffered a nervous breakdown not long after marrying him.  He seemed to be saying with every angry word he resented what he had to do to be hired to teach at a university no matter how brilliant or creative he was.
Well, I did not expect Dr. Lees to talk to me about all this, but I was serving him notice that I had something on my mind that went a lot deeper than what he wanted to read in a paper.  The truth.  Why not the truth.  Oh, no, more lies and coverup was what he was really asking for.  Well, I had had enough of writing to please the professors.  And society.
I had a plan in mind I was going to carry out in my junior year after I thought about Lees' reaction to my paper.  Why didn't I just write the truth as I saw it in every class.  Treat all my professors with the same dose of truth I had written for him.  I needed to write from the state of mind I had reached after years, an eternity, of covering up to protect men like my father, who Utah society could not bear to acknowledge were practicing bisexuals.  The religion was too dominating in Utah for one thing.  Acceptance of gays and bisexuals too abhorrent to the Mormon faction.  No, they needed to be either cured or persecuted into leaving or they needed to go on covering up.  That was their solution.
Yes, a university greatly needed to debate this question, so I thought that in my junior year I would make my contribution to the cause and see what happened!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Memoirs: Chapter 41: Meeting the genius students and teachers at the University

Somewhere along the way I met Sharon, a hardy poet from Ogden with a genius I.Q. who was so world weary even though only a year older than I was, she seemed considerably older than her years. She suggested she had been sexually active since childhood, although I did not know if I should believe her.
She also turned out to be practically a professional roller skater. I could hardly believe this either until I saw her expensive roller skates on a visit to her apartment to see some of her art work.  She said that she and another genius student, Dick Layman, had been going together for two years or more.  She said that Dick smoked heavily and got no exercise, but he and still another genius student named Laurence had taken over the University student newspaper and were practically putting it out themselves.  Plus, Lawrence, a very good poet, was the favorite student of Ghiselin, a modern poet and professor, who she said they all regarded as the most brilliant teacher in the English department. He was also adviser to the student literary magazine staff.
I resolved to take a class from Ghiselin right away although the fact that he was a modern poet with a couple of published books of poetry was somewhat daunting, since I regarded writing as well as reading modern poetry as my weakness.  My forte was really dialogue. But at first I loved Ghiselin.  He seemed extremely intelligent.
Sharon said that she would introduce me to Laurence as soon as possible who had simply read everything because she thought he and I would get along famously because I was such a book reader.
But she said Laurence was still trying to recover from a traumatic divorce from a freshman girl who had gotten pregnant almost at once, which she indicated might have been entrapment.  When she mentioned her name and the fact that she had lived at the freshman dorm I recalled the girl who had been simply crazy about this guy, a tall veteran.  I heard she left college to live with her folks when their quick marriage in order to legitimize the coming child did not work out.  Sympathetic freshman girlfriends said this savage older guy had simply ripped her heart out with no qualms at all.
So I did not know if I was too eager to meet this ruthless individual, even though Sharon seemed to think that the whole problem was the girl not reading enough books.

I had not known Sharon very long when she called me up and told me that she had fallen in love with someone else, and was now in the process of halfway killing her boyfriend, Dick, who was taking it very hard.  She said that he was positively suicidal and she had given him my number at the Phi Mu house, so if he got desperate enough to do away with himself, could he call and talk to me first? 
Wouldn't you know it, Dick did call me and asked me if I please would not come out and talk to him.  When I told the Phi Mu housemother I needed to respond to this call she told me I would have to call up the Dean of Women to get permission to leave after hours.
So I called the Dean of Women who tried to talk me out of this mission of mercy.  I told her if she did not give me permission I was going to go anyway, even if I had to move, so she reluctantly agreed that I could go.  I was not sure that I was any comfort to Dick who said that he was dropping out of college and going to the northwest where he hoped to get a job working on a newspaper, that he had layout expertise and just as well be making money instead of doing it for free. He felt he had to get away from Sharon before he could stop wanting to commit suicide.  I hastily agreed that leaving might be better. 
Dick looked so unhealthy I just knew that Sharon had probably been enticed away by a more vigorous genius who would probably go roller skating with her.  After Dick left I met her new boyfriend, who was Jewish and even more wild acting and bold talking than I envisioned.  I was immediately envious because I had always wanted to meet some young Jewish intellectuals who happened to be very scarce in Utah.  She admitted he was so different from Dick, that she had to try to keep up with him, rather than the other way around.
I was very impressed because later on her Jewish boyfriend even started bringing her down to visit me in southern Utah. He would leave her and return to Salt Lake while we went camping.
In the meantime, she said she had another former genius student pal for me to meet who she revealed had been part of a quartet of geniuses in their circle their freshman year.  His name was Phil and reluctantly she told me that he had been so upset at Laurence's sudden marriage, he had left the University, even though he was only a freshman.  I gathered from what Sharon did not say that he might have been in love with Laurence.
If Laurence was a bisexual and had broken the heart of the beautiful freshman girl as well as that of a brilliant freshman male student, wasn't he rather dangerous? After she told me that, I had doubts about Sharon's match making proclivities. Was she setting me up with Laurence just because I might make a more knowledgeable wife for a veteran ten years older?  It was hard to tell, but Sharon, more than any other girl I met at college, put me in touch with interesting intellectual geniuses, and for that I would be forever grateful.  These were the kind of guys I hoped to meet in college. 

As for Phil, he was just in town for a short visit, but he wanted to write to me, so I agreed to correspond with him, since Sharon had declared he had read almost as much as Laurence, even though he was considerably younger.  I know he used so many big words and such turgid language I had a very hard time making out the meaning of what he was saying.  I thought he was probably just talking around and around the subject of being attracted to males.  He did wonder if I might be the lost chord which I thought might mean I could be the one girl who could possibly restore him to normalcy.  Did Sharon think I was Laurence's lost chord, too? 
I hadn't really told anyone anything about my past experiences with bisexuals, but apparently I conveyed a greater understanding and tolerance of this breed than most girls my age.
But words could be used to obscure as well as to reveal, and reading Phil's letters caused me to start developing a theory that these genius poets I met in college wrote modern poetry to hide the true meaning of what they were saying from almost everyone except those who had the experience to know what they were talking about.  I had looked through some of Ghiselin's books of poetry and found that each poem required such a depth of study I did not have time to figure out hardly any of them.  Either that, or I was singularly untalented at interpretation.
I was not sure my new theory was going to help me write modern poems that would impress Ghiselin either.  I would probably be considered suspicious and even intolerant. He would not like that at all.  
But I was really enjoying getting acquainted with Ghiselin, as he was clearly the genius mentor of the genius student writers. He had very penetrating powers of analysis.  At first he made a great deal of sense to me.  Sharon said Ghiselin seemed far less impressed with her poetry than with Laurence's, and so far had not accepted any of her submissions to the student literary magazine. She was, in fact, getting so annoyed with not getting her poetry published, she started talking about starting an underground publication of her own so she could get read on campus some way.
Toward the middle of my sophomore year, she said that Laurence, she called him Larry, was finally ready to meet a new girl. When we met, Sharon introduced him to me and left for a class while Laurence and I proceeded to talk fast and furious about books for close to two hours.
It was true, Laurence had read simply everything. And he talked about literature extremely well I thought, making his meanings perfectly clear which I appreciated.  He found out I had not read Proust's "Swann's Way" which he said I simply must read.  I was able to tell him I had already found the journals of Andre Gide in the university library in which I said Gide was far more explicit than most American writers about his taste for young males, as was Genet, some of whose novels and plays I had also found and read. I told him I could not get over what Genet had the nerve to write.  It was hard to believe in suppressed Utah, that a writer could be so frank and disturbing as this French novelist and playwright. 
We did not talk a lot about the subject in these books, but Laurence must have observed that I had a marked interest in reading writers who wrote very frankly about homosexuality. As a matter of fact.  I learned from these writers, so I was always trying to find the ones who dared to write about it.
He must have wondered what that indicated, but I figured that since I was still so young, 18 at the time, he decided not to scare me off by interrogating me too deeply.  I told him I knew the girl he had married, which he said was still a painful subject, but I decided there was no point in hiding the fact that I had talked to her when she was still so in love with him, she could think of nothing else.
Sharon indicated that he found her to be too intellectually shallow for him to tolerate!  So why had he pursued the girl so ruthlessly that an unwanted pregnancy resulted? Oh well, I was still a virgin, and I knew I better stay that way if I expected Father to keep paying for my expenses.  Besides I would not have wanted to be in Laurence's poor young wife's shoes.  I had even talked to the girl about the divorce, and she could hardly keep from crying.  I didn't tell him that, though.
He was ten years older than both of us were.  It was obvious these returning veterans going to college needed to be regarded with some sense of caution.  This guy had been to war.  What did he care about the broken hearts of silly college girls who unwisely got pregnant prematurely, after all he had been through.
One of Laurence's eyes had been pierced.  I pictured some horrible war wound, but Laurence, said no, when I dared to ask him about being shot, that he had been hit in the eye with an arrow when he was a kid.  He said he had managed to get through his years in the military without a scratch.
But gosh, how was I going to compete as a writer with this guy?  Oh well, this could be my sacrifice to the war effort, having to take a back seat when a seasoned veteran returned to compete with me for publication in the student literary magazine.  What a great opportunity for editors to publish such guys! 
No wonder he was Ghiselin's favorite student writer.  He would have been mine, too, I was sure, had I been a faculty adviser.  In fact, I began to wonder if anything I wrote for Ghiselin could ever attract his attention, it might seem so callow to him.
I didn't tell Laurence about my dismay at having to compete with him as a student writer.  I thought that would have been very unpatriotic, and could have contributed even more to his air of disillusionment with life.  He did not seem to have much hope for mankind.  Nor did I feel a single spark emanating from him to me.  I could not imagine how he had gotten the other freshman girl pregnant if he had shown no more interest in her physical charms than he did in mine.  
I compared Dean's healthy interest in any opportunity to neck with me.  I thought that Laurence's experience with the other freshman girl had probably dampened his ardor, but his sexual feelings seemed strangely dead.  Maybe this was the real Laurence damaged by war and possibly by the restricted life he indicated he had been forced to lead in rural Utah where he was from.  I figured we were destined just to be friends, and agreed to meet him now and then just 'to talk.'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 41: My new boyfriend is a troubled soul

When I came home from college after my first year, Pole, a young guy from Escalante, heard Margie was going to school in Escalante so thought to to be the first one to date her.  He brought his cousin Dean with him for me.  Dean was my age, a couple of years older than Pole, and had just graduated from high school that year and was trying to decide what he was going to do next.
I recalled being very impressed by him the year we were nine.  He came from Escalante with a group of men related to Alf Black who was living on the ranch at the time.  Alf was about Grandpa's age and he had told him he had a home for the rest of his life on that ranch. Alf would help with the chores but was generally company for Grandpa.
Among the men in the group of visitors to see Alf was his rich son-in-law from Salt Lake.  He had taken it upon himself to hire Dean to sing for them as they drove around the country seeing the sights.  I just could not get over a boy my age being hired to sing for this group of partying male tourists all day.  I could hardly bear it because they drove off after picking up Alf and did not give me any chance to hear this boy sing.
Now here he was, a blind date for me, to help his cousin Pole look good.  The two of them were very entertaining without yet singing for us.  Pole was a great story teller and Dean was the appreciator who would remind him of more stories to tell about their relatives and other characters in Escalante these boys seemed to have studied for years.
Best of all I was physically attracted to this boy as I had been to no other.  I had begun to wonder if I was even normal I had not gotten with a normal heterosexual boy until I was so old.  Eighteen years old that summer, having had only one or two dates with Alvin from Escalante who had been physically appealing to me, too, but not like this boy.  I feared however from hearing them talk that they were both quite bad drinkers.  I knew from what had happened to some of the Boulder boys that you could become an alcoholic at a very young age.
I don't recall either one of them drinking on our first date.  Possibly they were trying to make a good impression, but when we met them in Escalante a couple of weeks later to go to the annual mutton fry at Posey Lake, Dean was so drunk he was not even making sense.  He was sitting in the back of the car saying some very hostile crazy things.
I sent Pole a sharp questioning look.  He said, "Oh, he's all right.  He gets like this sometimes when he's been drinking."
I got into the car very warily.  This kind of alcoholic behavior I had not wanted to see from this guy so soon.  I thought it was a very bad sign.
I saw my friend Connie from Escalante later at the dance and she sort of hinted at why Dean might be upset enough to get drunk out of his mind.  He was beginning to sober up some by dancing, but he still was not his appealing self.  Connie said that Elaine, the girl who had more or less been his girlfriend in high school, was very upset with him because he was taking me to the Mutton Fry.  Connie was very hesitant to say much as she said that Dean had quite a temper and she did not want him mad at her.
Sure enough I saw Dean dancing with Elaine and after a couple of dances had gone by and he was still dancing with her I went by them and said something to him.  I had no intentions of ever dating him again. I did not like being humiliated on a date.
He immediately dropped Elaine on the sidelines and came over to me.  When I started to raise hell as we were dancing, I saw a look of such icy fury in his eyes I immediately shut up.  Well, so maybe the guy was suffering over what he was doing.  He obviously wanted to see more of me, but knew he was breaking his high school girlfriend's heart.  I knew how hard girls take those things. I didn't say any more to him about Elaine, but I was wary the rest of the evening.

Dean was soon acting as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  He said that as soon as I went back to school he was going to Montana to work on a dam.  An older guy he knew was taking him who could get him a job even though he had had no experience.
I was surprised as I thought going to Montana and working on a dam with winter coming on might be a job from hell.  He said he had to have a job and he could make more money there than any where else.
Well, September came as always, and I went back to school, with some relief.  Although I was attracted to this young guy as I had been to no other physically, I thought we were wildly incompatible every other way.  It was almost like he had street smarts but admitted to having loafed his way through school, hardly doing any work at all.  He bragged about being passed no matter what he did because of his popularity.
I told him I was very different.  I looked on every school I went to as an opportunity and always earned top grades.  I thought it was a waste of time to loaf your way through any school.  After all, you were only hurting yourself.
He looked at me as though I were the nerdiest girl he could imagine, but I did not care.  I wasn't going to dumb myself down for anybody.  Let him marry that other girl.  She seemed crazy about him.
I found out that Elaine's aunt on her mother's side as well as an uncle had married Dean's older brother and sister. Dawn and General, Petersen girls I had known quite well, had married Pole's older brother and Dean's older brother.  The two cousins had dated the Petersen sisters just as Pole and Dean were now dating two King sisters.  I was sure that Pole had set his cap for Margie the way he acted.  And he wanted company so he did everything possible to promote a match between his first cousin Dean and me.
The whole thing seemed increasingly absurd. Margie soon became impatient with Pole's manipulating too.  At first she welcomed a place to stay in Escalante with a friendly soul, which Pole provided with his sister Melba's help.  They all loved Margie and treated her like a million dollars.
Dean started writing to me, too, as soon as I got back to school.  I agreed to this mostly out of curiosity, but was shocked when a letter from him came in the most perfect handwriting.  I could see that Dean was very proud of his penmanship which was probably one reason he wanted to correspond with me, but he had very little to say.  And I came to think his handwriting was so rigid he would have a nervous breakdown if he had to scribble.
A far cry from my own handwriting which he complained he had trouble reading, so I began to send him typed letters instead.  It was not in me to turn down a willing penpal.  I was too fascinated by then with the letter form which is what I had come to rely on so heavily for connecting to the family.
I had taken to writing long analytical letters to all my sisters, whenever they responded to mine.  If we were going to talk and be good friends, we had to do it this way.  We certainly could not use the telephone.  Daddy was far too frugal a provider for our needs to allow that.
I was soon including Dean as a regular correspondent.  He did not tell me, but I found out years later that he was exchanging letters with Elaine all the time he was away from home, too.  There is nothing like making doubly sure you have devoted girl friends who will comfort a poor fellow far from home for the first time.
I took it that Dean found working on the dam at Hungry Horse extremely trying and difficult.  Along toward spring he said that he was going to join the Air Force as he thought that would be better than working on dams as a laborer.  And of course he would need lots of letters when he found out where he was going to be sent to do his basic training.

I was so excited when I found out he was being sent to a base camp not far from Los Angeles.  I had such a longing to get to California somehow I decided going to see him would be the perfect excuse.  This was of course probably something that the less aggressive Elaine would not even have thought of.  I was afraid Utah was going to become increasingly inhospitable for a rebellious girl like me.  I needed to find a place outside of Utah to land just in case there was trouble down the road.
I called up my cousin Winolia living in Woods Cross who I knew had a cousin in Whittier, California.  I proposed we go down there for the summer to find work, confessing that my new boyfriend Dean was motivating me to go to California to visit him.  She thought we could stay with her cousin, agreeing that this might be a great adventure.
I informed my parents that I would not even be coming home where they were sure to take me prisoner and hold me captive to hard labor, but wanted to go to California to seek employment for the first time.  I pointed out how I had sacrificed every summer to come home and help, and had never had the chance like other young people go out and get job experience.
It is possible that they thought I might be getting too outspoken for Utah, too, so they agreed to pay for my bus ride and gave me $100.  When that was gone and I still didn't have a job I would have to come home.
Dean must have been surprised at my devotion to him when I announced I was coming to California so I would be able to see him when he could get time off once in a while.  But he was quite agreeable.
He did not realize I was also scouting a new location just in case Utah did not continue to work out for me.  I was still worried about staying employed as a teacher even if I should become one.  I thought I needed other options.
Winolia and I were given the spare bedroom at her cousin's in Whittier who was very nice to Winolia, an unexpected but welcome visitor. Winolia soon found a job candling eggs.  I was hesitant to go after this kind of job. It sounded too much like ranch work to me.  In fact, after I had visited with Dean a couple of times, who made his way over by bus to the cousin's house, I was ready to bide my time until I had run out of money and had to go home.
Winolia had proved to be a very good chaperone.  She made it plain she was agreeable to Dean coming to visit me, but neither one of us were to get carried away if we were to keep in her good graces.  She did all this as my Uncle Joel would have done, quite diplomatically.
She seemed somewhat relieved when I said that I had better go home and visit with the family and do some work to earn my university expenses before I went back to school.  She said she was going to stay with her job another month and then would probably return to her family home in Woods Cross, either going to school or finding a higher paying job.
I held on to just enough money to take the bus home, or as close as I could get by bus. A family member met me as they had missed another hand doing the summer work.   They were glad to see me as bottling season was on.  It wasn't as though there wasn't a lot to do.  We never ran out of work now that Daddy's operation had gotten so big.  Nobody hardly even saw Mother, she was so busy.
All in all I was very satisfied with the adventure of going to California I had managed with the help of a connection to Dean.  I could see how he might continue to come in handy when I wanted to travel.  I fell so in love with the jacaranda and the bougainvillea and the palm trees around Los Angeles.  I kept thinking I must come back there. I wanted to go to New York but Daddy would think I was going to the ends of the earth and would not be safe, but California was within reach!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 40: I meet dorm mates who will be my good friends my freshman year

I met only my roommate whose name was Darlene from Tooele while I was busy rehearsing and going on the road with the play, "Great Aunt Sits on the Floor".  I was having great fun touring with the play.  The cast was terrific with a number of the most accomplished performers in the theater department. I was very surprised that the head of the theater department, Lowell Lees, directed and traveled with us and seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.  Being of a suspicious mind, I immediately began to wonder if part of his motivation for touring was just to get away from home.  I heard almost immediately he was married and had three children, grown now with one attending college and majoring in theater, too. I also learned that he was famous for his direction of Shakespeare as well as Broadway hits, drawing actors from both places to the University to be in his plays. Well, he could do what he wanted to do.  Perhaps going on the road was therapy for him as I also heard he was plagued with ulcers and was considering retirement he was suffering so much from his ailment. 
I decided not to declare my intentions to major in drama as I knew English teachers would be more in demand than drama teachers, simply because more were needed to teach English every year.  I decided to make drama my minor since I intended to write plays, so I wanted to be in as many as possible so I would know how to write them.
 My first experience with director Lees was a happy one, so I just hoped for the best.  When the play was over I was able to get acquainted with the two girls next door, one of whom happened to be from Panguitch in my county.  She was surprised to find out I was the niece of her brother's Frank's good friend Kent.  He and Kent were in the same year of medical school and Zelda said they were talking about establishing a practice together when the time came.
Zelda, a warm affectionate girl, was trying to recover from what she regarded as a humiliating experience taking her placement tests.  She scored so low in nearly all categories that she was forced to take remedial classes in all of them to stay in school, but she said bravely that she had always intended to be a home economics teacher so she would do whatever she had to do to stay to the university. She bemoaned the fact that Panguitch Hi had not prepared her well for the University as she had never gotten anything but "A's" in her life!
I had scored high enough in all my English tests that I got into the class for top English students, but I pointed out to her that I had scored a very low 14% in math, and had not done so well in geography and history either, which reflected the inferior teaching I had experienced in those classes at West Hi.  I could have had a better history teacher in Miss Woodside had I stayed to Bear River High school.  I had no doubt that she was one of the outstanding American history teachers in the state.  I loved history so that was my loss.
Norma, her roommate, was an attractive blond from the fishing town of Seldovia in Alaska, so she was able to tell us some fascinating stories about working in a fish canning factory in Cordova. In fact, she missed Alaska so much that she decided to return and finish college there after her freshman year.  
Zelda, Norma, Darlene, and I became fast friends that year.  Norma and I even went to visit Zelda in Panguitch a weekend or so.  Zelda was in love with Panguitch, the county seat.  She especially adored Zion's National Park.
I tried to persuade her that Boulder, in the eastern part of the county, was just as beautiful, but she was not at all interested in spending any time visiting me. I came to believe that the citizens of Panguitch really did view themselves as superior to the rest of the people in this relatively poor county.  But still spectacularly beautiful.
Zelda was one of the most affectionate girls I have ever met.  All the girlfriends I had had previously had been quite reserved.  She was very popular with girls, and in fact, told me years later that after she became a teacher girls got crushes on her and it troubled her.  She wondered if she invited such feelings.  I told her I thought she was just an unusually warm person, but I didn't think that meant that was anything to worry about.
That spring however she ran into my marked aversion to pledging a sorority.  I stated quite strongly I did not believe in them, that this was a way that more popular girls discriminated against others.
At Bear River High School, the clique had girls in it who would go around claiming to be one of the 'popular thirty'.  I knew without even having to look on the list I had not made it into the popular thirty.
Aunt Neta had talked too often about how popular her boys had been.  She seemed to think striving to be popular was important to become a success in life.
Book worms like myself who had been called 'two eyes' because of my thick glasses just might never qualify I wanted to point out to her.  If I had told her that, she would probably have advised me to quit reading, it was not doing me any good!
Anyway Zelda did not join probably only because we were all still good friends, but after we parted ways at the end of the year I heard that she pledged a sorority late, and after that she just sort of forgot about me. I always felt that trying to go along with some of my ideas stressed and strained her, and that was the main reason our friendship never made it beyond the first year. She came from a family of 12 kids, and what with her sorority sisters and students, she would not have been able to keep up our friendship very well either.
I did not pledge any sorority but found a room in the most unpopular sorority house which I rented only if I did not have to join.  I decided I would study the sorority girls that year and see if I was missing anything.  I rented a room there because my roommate, Darlene, joined, and she told me that they had a good cook and had not been able to recruit enough pledges to fill the Phi Mu house.  I needed to be very close to the campus so I would not be in danger if I walked home at night from rehearsal, if I was lucky enough to get more parts in plays.
My roommate at the Phi Mu house called herself Torchy.  She informed me she was the daughter of the head of the psychology department, and she admitted that she lived to torture this man for the presumption that he really understood daughters like her.
She had the most beautiful strawberry blond hair and did not hesitate to borrow my most attractive clothes even though she had more. In fact, she wore my new black velvet strapless sheath I bought for Christmas before I did.  She looked so spectacular in it, I could not turn her down.  I was just glad to get it back without a fight.
She said she had had any number of nervous breakdowns, so she was the first to introduce to me up close what a girl diagnosed with mental illness looked and acted like.  I was very glad I had known her as her experiences helped me to get through what happened to me later.  By then she was long gone from the university.  I thought she had father issues just as I did but I was not able to be frank with her as she was with me. That was my problem.  I felt I had been completely silenced and it seemed to become more risky rather than less to break my silence.  Nobody, it seemed, wanted to know what secrets I was concealing.
Every attempt I made to speak about them some way or another was thwarted.  Starting with Lowell Lees, the head of the theater department, who disappointed me very much when I took a chance and wrote a paper in the first class I took from him that I thought would provide an opening to talking about my hidden experiences. We were invited to discuss our pasts in a personal way, but he was not the least bit encouraging in response to what I wrote. The way he reacted to that critical paper was the beginning of my disillusionment with university life.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 39: First date before I leave for the University life

My date was a cute guy, just a year older, tall, dark, and handsome.  Just right for the first real date I had ever been on in my life.  I recall that he came to pick me up in Salt Gulch in his truck where I was working that day tromping hay and cooking for the hay crew.  He drove over from Escalante where he was from.  I don't know what we did, but I was in love for a little while.  I went off to school and he started dating someone else.  Alvin was always a big flirt.
I was very interested in him because he was the son of Varney's brother, my Aunt Nethella's beloved first husband, who had been killed in an accident sliding off the haystack in the barn.  She had been unable to see anyone else for years, and all who knew him said he was an outstanding man.
My summer in Boulder had been very satisfying that year. The sisters at home were getting old enough to do a lot of work.  I turned seventeen in July, Margie, sixteen, and LaRae was twelve, Ann ten, and Linda nine.  We had been able to get through our summer bottling season in fine fashion with so many hands and an electric stove.  It looked as though Mother would soon be able to make good on her intention never to do a speck of housework again with so many daughters.
I was impressed with how neat the house always looked now with the younger sisters taking turns cleaning it up.  I noticed that Ann especially was a good worker around the house.  She was always willing to volunteer to go help Dad, too, so more than likely after I was gone, she would become his right hand daughter help.
Margie was going to Bear River High school one more year and then she was coming back home to take the bus to Escalante high.  LaRae was already eager to take the bus to Escalante.
The younger sisters were all sewing up a storm, too.  Daddy had told them he would buy them any material they desired if they would just sew their own clothes.  You would have thought he was related to a professional sewing teacher. I had been impervious to such bribes, but I could see LaRae was going to have a very cute wardrobe, thanks to her speed when she sat down to a sewing machine.
LaRae was showing signs of being a talented artist, too.  She even declared that is what she intended to be.  She had always been the funny one in the family, and her cartoons showed it. There is always somebody in a family other members look to to make witty comments, and in our family that sister was LaRae.  Uncle Reed had been the witty one in Daddy's family, despite his insanity or maybe because of it. Uncle Kent was the scintillating wit in the Wilson family.  The family wit is usually so funny nobody else bothers to joke until it becomes necessary after the family has grown up and split apart, if anything funny is ever going to be said again. 
My sister Ann was the appreciator as well as the family work horse.  She laughed at all of LaRae's witticisms, and she loved the stories I made up to tell her. She just appreciated and appreciated and I think she had already decided she would probably become a teacher like Aunt Neta and Aunt Nethella, as she would be a natural to bring out other people's talents.
Linda was so busy walking on her hands and turning somersaults I am sure she entertained ideas of running away to join the circus. I thought she could definitely be a performer of some sort since she had never been able to talk without sitting high up in the door jamb like a monkey.  She had started jumping off increasingly higher edifices, first the car, then the porch, and somebody kept her from jumping off the barn where she had lost some brand new shoes and made Mother very mad.
She was already having to be rescued from ledges, trying to keep up with LaRae, three years older, who was also the family daredevil.  LaRae never got ledged.  It was just those who were too young to follow in her footsteps that did.

I had gotten disturbed because Mother informed me during the summer that Daddy had agreed to pay for my room and board at the University only if I studied to become a teacher or a secretary.  "A secretary?" I moaned.  Nobody could even read my handwriting, so that was out.  Even if I learned shorthand, I would not be able to read it.  That left becoming a teacher.
I reminded Mother that I had lost my job as a Sunday School teacher because the parents decided I was criticizing Mormon teachings.  Teachers were not strictly expected to be good active Mormons, but it was greatly to be desired. I had a way of calling attention to whatever I said.  I suppose it was the actress in me.  I tried to make what ever I said interesting if not fascinating. And people were already implying I was too opinionated and outspoken for my own good.
Wouldn't that be cute if I lost my job the first year just the way I lost my Sunday school job? Nobody in Utah would ever hire me again.  Mother thought I was just borrowing trouble worrying about such possibilities.  But I was mad because Daddy was laying down the law about what I was even to become!
"I told Daddy I wanted to be a writer!" I snapped. I thought the very qualities that might put me in jeopardy as a teacher of the young were just what a good writer needed.
"Oh, he doesn't think that's practical at all," said Mother. "Nobody makes a living as a writer."
"Oh, yes," I said.  "He had to quit studying law and become a rancher because they can drink.  He couldn't be anything else, but I can't come home and run a ranch.  Look at what Aunt Nethella is doing.  She is trying to run Grandpa's ranch, and she has to depend entirely on the hired men now that he is old."
"I know," said Mother.  She agreed that life was rough for a woman.  Men were always bossing them around and telling them what they could and couldn't do. But she advised me that I had better take education classes so I'd be qualified to teach, just in case.  Nobody could stop me from writing if I wanted to, but I should be able to do something to earn a living after I had graduated from the University if I expected Daddy to pay for my expenses.
Well, at least I wouldn't have to go out and find a part time job and could maybe try out for some parts in in some plays. In fact, that is the first thing I did after I secured a room in the freshman dorm back in Salt Lake.  I noticed on campus tryouts were being held for a play that was going on the road to outlying towns and cities. The notice said it was part of a children's play program, the famous Shakespearean director, Lowell Lees, was initiating. When I got to the tryouts, Lowell Lees, a slim spritely man with an intelligent look in his eyes asked me to read for the Great Aunt.  I groaned.
There it was again, my fat nose earning me a chance to try out for a character part instead of the young romantic lead I longed for.  I was just as stunned as anybody else when it was announced that I had won the largest part in the play, which was called, "The Great Aunt Sits on the Floor".  My picture was taken for the Salt Lake Tribune.  It looked as though I was off to a great start at the University of Utah in theater when I had just barely gotten there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 38: My horse Blackie falls down three times on one of my cattle drives, once with me on him!

When I came home from school after I graduated I was as mad at Daddy as I had ever been.  He had not attended my graduation from high school when I was just sixteen years old.  I was not surprised he tried to wiggle out of that but it was the smart eleck remark he made that bothered me which Mother told me, who had attended. She ordered him to come but he wouldn't do it.  He said, "I always knew she would graduate!"
I felt he had not come close to comprehending the sacrifice I had made that year to work for my room and board for a couple who left quite a bit to be desired as wholesome guardians.  Besides that, West High school had 2,000 students and only a junior and senior class, so I had made it nearly to the top student of my class as salutatorian.  I thought if only Miss Nelson had let me write my own speech and Daddy had attended, I would have said something that made him sit up and take notice.  He thought I had been thoroughly subdued, but he did not know how the many indignities I had suffered throughout my life as his daughter rankled.  I was like a little volcano building steam.  Sooner or later I was going to blow. 
Daddy I could see as soon as I got home to Boulder was mighty harassed with all the work he was having to do with the additional ranch property.  He asked me if I wouldn't go over to Salt Gulch and help out a couple of days  He was still gathering cattle from the winter range in Sand Creek and there were other tasks that needed doing around that ranch.
He had saddled his horse and went out west on the Sand Creek trail to bring a fairly small bunch of cattle home.  Pretty soon he came racing back and said he needed me to go do a cowpunching job for him.  Blackie, the horse his hired man favored, was over there for some reason, so he saddled him for me to ride.  He said that he had to take me out to where he had left three old cows.  As we rode out there to he told me that when he went back to get the last of the cattle he had been gathering yesterday, instead of trailing into the ranch, the three old cows got tired and laid down, and before he could get back out there this morning the other nine head split and went off toward Sand Creek.  He said another cow was probably leading them on a short cut to the mountain.
Cattle don't know they have to come home to get tagged so they will not be trespassed on the mountain range.  They just think get to the mountain anyway they can.  Daddy wanted me to track the runaway cattle up Sand Creek and turn them around and bring them back down the creek.  I was to take the trail back over to where the three old cows were poking along, pick them up, and bring them all home.  He said the old cows would probably still be there when I came back with the runaway cattle. I asked him why he didn't take those cows home with him, and he snapped that he had too much to do on the ranch and didn't have time to trail some old slow cows.
I noticed after he left that Blackie was beginning to act logy.  The hired man preferred to ride him for some reason, and probably had not traded horses enough to give him some good days of rest.  Usually a good cowhand's best horse was never that logy.  I was surprised.
Daddy's horses were usually spirited and fun to ride.  Well, Blackie was so rode out probably from the spring round up on the other ranches in Boulder that a dangerous thing happened.  We came out of Sand Creek up a sandy wallow, and I will be darned if Blackie did not fall down with me.  I felt him falling just in time to pull my feet out of the stirrups.  When he hit the ground I stepped off him.  I thanked God I'd had on my good cowboy boots that kept my foot from going through the stirrup. I always wore them if I had to do any riding. 
This fall was exactly why it was always wise to drive cattle in pairs so if one rider gets hurt, the other one can ride for help.
I shuddered to think what would have happened if I had not been able to jump off in time.  I could have laid out there all day if the horse fell on me before Daddy came to find me.  Somewhat shaken, I mounted Blackie again and kept tracking the runaway cattle.  It seemed like I had to ride quite a ways north to the mountain before I ran into them.  I did not dare push Blackie too hard trying to catch up with them.
Finally I sighted them. I managed to head them off, as they were tired, turned them around and headed them back down the creek.  I was moseying along down Sand Creek thinking how far I was going to have to drive these cattle to get back to the Sand Creek trail. 
I don't know what madness overcame me, but I suddenly decided I would just take this herd of nine animals, including quite a few heifers, up over the top of the long bench next to our ranch.  I figured we were coming onto where it was located, and within a very short time I could have these cattle back to the Salt Gulch ranch.  And I would not have to make that long drive.  Which later I thought showed I was too impatient to be a cowpuncher for life.  I had better find another profession.
Well, the nine head of cattle got rejuvenated with the chance to take off in still another direction, and pretty soon they had run up to the top of the hill which proved to be steeper than I expected.  That's when I noticed that one heifer was lingering behind, completely exhausted.  I had killed a heifer down on King's Bench by pushing her too hard on the trail to Sinking Water when I was twelve.  She fell into a deep canyon.  I sure didn't want to kill another one.  Daddy cussed about that one all the way home.
I jumped off Blackie and leading him, I started pushing that heifer up over the last little incline. She still had enough strength in her and enough fear of me to make it to the top. I mounted Blackie and we crossed the top of the bench quickly, me in a panic wondering where the rest of the cattle had gone.  I finally caught sight of them clear on the other side already tumbling down some steep shale hills that were not meant to be traversed by cattle or horses either.  The trembling heifer went tumbling after the rest of the herd, but I got off and started leading Blackie down the steep shale incline.
Just in time as pretty soon he fell down, too.  Oh my God, if something happened to this trained cow horse as a result of me taking this short cut, I just as well leave home, Daddy would be so mad.
Valuable trained horses regularly got lamed by falling in this rough country.  I held my breath as Blackie got up.  He seemed okay but pretty soon he fell down another steep shale slope!
I was praying by then, "Lord, please don't let anything happen to Blackie, and I will never take a short cut again." 
The sun was just starting to sink behind the western hills when the cattle ended up safe in my father's fields, coming in way to the north.  Well, at least I had saved myself a long cattle drive, and both Blackie and I were okay.
I finally found Daddy and rode up, meaning to tell him about Blackie's first fall, but not about his second or third one.  Once he heard I had found the runaway herd and they were back in his field, he interrupted me and asked if I had picked up the three old cows.
I swear I had forgotten them completely!  "Didn't they come home?" I stammered.
"Course they didn't!" yelled Daddy.  "In fact, as soon as they get rested up, they will head over to Sand Creek to the mountain.  You are going to have to go after them, now!"
Yes, he sent me back out on the Sand Creek Trail after those old cows.  It was almost pitch dark before I found them.  I was just lucky they were still on the trail and not headed for Sand Creek.  I rode along thinking about what an incredibly hard driving dad I had, when a silent dark shadow on horseback joined me.
He never said a word.  We just rode along driving the cows together, like two tired cowpunchers after a long day on the trail. Too tired to talk, but satisfied that another hard day of ranching and punching cows was done. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 37: Dumbing down of high school kids aggravates me in a big Salt Lake High School

I began to detect a systematic dumbing down of high school kids at West which aggravated me because I had gone to Salt Lake in the hopes of going to a really good high school.  I did not know if it was because West Hi was where minorities went or if it was a Utah thing.  Whatever blacks had been intrepid enough to move to Salt Lake where Mormon doctrine kept them from holding the priesthood lived mostly in the South High school district.  But I suspected that East High School where the majority of the wealthy citizens lived would not be a whole lot better.
As I was tediously copying animal body parts out of a book in biology, I wondered if I ought to rebel, but the thought of missing college kept me from becoming a protester in high school before I had done everything the conventional way I could do without getting too disgusted. Nearly all my classes were so easy, they were downright boring.
The history teacher would simply write parts of the next chapter on the black board, which we would copy and study for our tests.  We could even look at our notes if we wanted to.  I heard the history teacher was a former coach so he was not expected to be a good teacher, having failed at coaching but still needing a job to support his family.  The only good teacher I had was in my English college prep class.  She drilled us in grammar all year, but she did not allow us to write anything, so I got no chance to express my creative urges or my ability to think in any class in high school.
I wrote synopses of short stories for my junior English teacher, who seemed aggravated to think she had to read more of mine than she expected. She had not put a limit on how many short story reports we could do, but she acted as though she was going to have to in order to prevent an overflow from a student like I was.
I was even getting aggravated with Miss Nelson, my speech and drama teacher, who was beginning to act very controlling when it came to picking out pieces to take to the meets around the state.  She practically assigned a piece to me to memorize that I thought had little merit about a mean old man. I was asked to do that piece everywhere, and I always felt uncomfortable doing it as though I were demeaning myself.
She practically wrote my speech for me after she urged me to try out for a regional speech competition. I entered it because I thought I would have the chance to express a few of my own thoughts on the subject.  Miss Nelson was so in the habit of thinking for her students that she ignored my cool reactions to such 'help' from her, but the time I really got angry at her was when I was slated to give a speech to the whole high school as the salutatorian.  I had barely missed being valedictorian, but I thought the girl whose grades proved to be higher than mine deserved to win, since her A's were in chemistry and math.  I don't know if anyone helpfully wrote her speech for her, but I was completely disillusioned when Miss Nelson, as my adviser, told me not to worry about the content as she would be writing the speech for me!
Was she really that afraid to give one of her top students the opportunity to express her own thoughts?
It looked like it.  She wasn't going to be able to accompany me everywhere the rest of my life writing my speeches for me, if I ever got another chance to give one!
I didn't think this was a very good sign.  It looked as though I was going to have a tougher time than I thought surfacing any of my own conclusions let alone telling anyone what had happened to me at the hands of predators.  I had found it impossible to tell anyone up to now, and these dark secrets were eating away at the very fabric of my being. They were going to have to be told some day before they gave me such a soul sickness I could not be happy.
But when and where?  At the University?  Now that I had finished high school while still being completely suppressed, I would have to find a way to talk about the harsh realities of life in probably the last school I would ever attend, the University of Utah.  I hoped that the English professors there appreciated great literature enough to realize that the writers were very often the ones who called attention to what ordinary society always tended to suppress.  I was still reading a great many books, many of them written by the masters. I wasn't going to miss any writer's work that illuminated some dark heavy problem to the rest of the world.
That would be my mission as a writer I thought.  But in order to get my stories out there I would have to find people willing to publish difficult material.  I wondered if I would find anyone willing in Utah to take those risks. In high school I had encountered more men willing to take advantage of the young if they could.  I was not lacking in predators to write about.

Every summer when I came home I studied my dad's cowboy culture as an example of men who took advantage of ignorant women and made them feel they did not deserve honesty.  I noted that my dad had hired another cowboy to help him on the new ranch property.  The new man was married to a strange little woman who I doubted ever questioned anything he did, so however he and my father acted, her husband would never be challenged by his wife.
At least the new man left us daughters strictly alone.  He always tried to act as distant with me as possible.  But I noted that when a gay photographer became great friends with my dad, this hired man always went along with my dad and him to help cook and show him the sights on their week long treks into the canyon country.  The photographer took photos of my dad and the hired man looking especially happy.  I asked Mother if she was suspicious of what my dad and the photographer might be doing, they had become such devoted friends.  She said, "Oh no, he is gay, he told me so!!"
I guess she thought I meant did she wonder if  my dad and he might find some women to party with when they were gone!  Even when I said what I did it did not seem to occur to her that my dad and the photographer might have a physical bond.
This happened again when a Hollywood filmmaker came to town who my dad was soon taking about scouting for locations.  Mother tried to take him, the filmmaker reported to me, but he 'liked my dad', so he said he told my mother he had become impotent! Which was not true he laughed making eyes at me.   He seemed to assume that I knew my dad was bisexual.  I pretended I didn't know because I was not going to discuss this matter with a Hollywood filmmaker when I had not discussed it with anyone else up to that point. But I was always suspicious, noting whatever my dad and his partners were getting away with, hidden in the shadows of their wives' ignorance.

It might take a long time for Mother to wise up, but at least she would still be alive.  The most dangerous thing a wife or even a male victim could do, I had already discovered, was accuse one of these men of hiding the fact they were 'connected'. I looked on it as somewhat like being in the Mafia.  Perhaps men in the Mafia also kept that kind of secret.  What might make the men look bad and prove to be a disadvantage in their dealings with society was not to be discussed.  I could not even imagine the trouble I would have gotten into with my dad had I accused him.  I would have put myself at high risk, so I didn't do it.
I just kept notes.  If I wrote anything in my journals about it, I made sure my handwriting was illegible and I periodically burned them, I became that paranoid.
This still remains a loaded issue today as I write these memoirs, and I am 80 years old, so I don't think we have solved all the problems connected to this issue by any means.  The struggle is still ongoing because men with homosexual tendencies are still marrying women and hiding that fact. I have always thought people who had the kind of experiences with shadow men I did needed to write about them, in order to further progress.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 36: Fun times in Escalante before I had to go back to school and live with strangers

 It is funny what sticks in your memory years after the fact. I did have my fears realized when I went back to Salt Lake and found some strangers who needed a hired girl.  Mrs. K hired me who was a little bird like woman who said she had raised canaries all her life. She said they took so much time she thought she could use a girl to do light house work for her room and board. Mr. K was away at the time on his shift as a conductor on the railroad.
I thought Mrs. K was as harmless as one of her canaries and moved in, but as soon as I laid eyes on Mr. K I knew he was different. I came to think Mr. K had been a very dangerous man when he was younger but now he was like an old tiger who didn't have any teeth.  He tried to molest me under the table whenever I joined them in a game of cards, but he wasn't determined enough for me to really fear him.
I thought if I left to get away from him, I would just have to test out a new couple.  I decided if Mrs. K had been able to tolerate him for over 45 years, I could put up with for 9 months. Besides that he still worked for the railroad and spent half his life away from home, waiting to work his way home on the incoming train.
I might have left if he had been retired but as it was, my time with the Ks was still going to be shadowed by his ancient habits of exploiting women.  I even suspected that he visited the woman in private who came to play cards with the Ks two or three nights a week.  She was a pleasant widow quite a few years younger than Mrs. K.  I could not imagine him not molesting her under the table as he tried to do me.  It would have been easy for him to visit her coming to and fro from work, too, as he had Mrs. K so well trained she would have accepted anything he said or did without question.

In the meantime in the summers, Margie and I went to all the dances in Escalante and everywhere else we could find one.  Boulder always had a dance on the 4th of July and there was the Mutton Fry and dance in the old CCC camp up at Posey Lake we would not have missed for anything.  Connie's date came from Panguitch one year who happened to be a very funny guy.  He fell into the lake off a boat and kept Connie and me laughing all night talking about how dangerous it was to leave home and go over the mountain for a dance among such wild primitive people as we ignorant natives were on this side of the mountain.  In fact, this guy thought so well of himself I was afraid he was going to break Connie's heart when someone he thought was better came along.
I had not realized that people living in the county seat of Panguitch considered themselves better than the people in the other towns, even though we were all from the same county.  I was having enough  trouble finding boyfriends in the city without being rejected by one from Panguitch.
I thought Connie was very brave to keep trying to land this guy for a husband.  But if he already thought he was too good for her, wouldn't that make marriage rather difficult?  I thought he was the main reason Connie had made up her mind to go to the University of Utah when the time came for her to go. I suspected she hoped to impress him.
I tried to suggest to her that the University of Utah required high school prep classes if you were to do well.  I feared she might be disappointed, as I doubted if she could have picked a harder school. I had heard that you had to take tests to determine the level of your high school education and smarts, too, and that could be so disconcerting to country kids who got low scores they might give up on a higher education altogether.
Margie was talking about changing high schools so she could go to high school in Utah.  She was anxious for them to start busing the Boulder kids to Escalante high school.
I told her I would not be in any hurry to go to Escalante if she intended to go to the University of Utah.  I knew she would get better college prep classes at Bear River High , if she came back to Utah.
High school students from Bear River very often went to Logan to college.  Margie decided she would ask Aunt Neta if she was willing to take in another niece, as the parents had not been able to secure busing to Escalante.  Aunt Neta said yes, and as I expected, she and Margie got along famously.  Margie had always declared she would be a seamstress, until she found out they were starting to phase sewing teachers out of high school.  So she decided to become a nurse, instead.  In the meantime, she was soon sewing everything Aunt Neta asked of her students and very well, too.  The other students recognized a born seamstress when they saw one and elected her president of the Homemakers, so when the parents in Boulder finally did secure busing to Escalante the following year, Margie decided to go another year at Garland so she could attend the convention in Kansas City as the Bear River Homemakers President. Aunt Neta could not have been more pleased and she and Margie remained good friends the rest of their lives.
I was afraid Connie might think I was trying to keep her from attending the best school, so I stopped discouraging her from going to the U of U.  She had mentioned business school or perhaps going to stewardess school so she could work for the airlines. At any rate, she would not be graduating from Escalante Hi for another year, so we would cross that bridge when we came to it.  I would have been attending the U of U a year by then, so I would know a lot more about what she was up against than I did now.
Connie, Marion, my cousin who was Uncle Reed's oldest daughter, Margie, and I had gone on several camping trips together, and when we did we were very apt to get into a heated argument over religion. Connie and Marion fell naturally into the good Mormon camp and Margie in spite of herself showed the influence of the King skeptics.  I was a little alarmed about these big arguments we started having.  I was afraid they might spell the end of a good friendship between all of us eventually.
Connie hadn't seemed particularly religious to me up until then, but I found out when the subject of religion came up she was a staunch believer as was our cousin Marion.
I already knew Margie and I did not get along most of the time at home.  We might not stay friends either.  As long as we were having fun we could keep from fighting, but wouldn't our basic disagreements about anything and everything keep us drifting apart even if we were sisters?  I was prepared to lose friends on a regular basis, and even the friendship of cousins I wasn't around very much, but I had already been separated more from my sisters than I wanted to be.  I just hoped that this early separation would not make it too difficult for us to have a good relationship down the road, even if we didn't share the same interests, even if Margie declared herself a homemaker and I didn't.
I had always planned to be a writer.  For years Margie refused to read books because I did.  That was carrying childhood reactions to an older sister's interests quite far, since when she finally did start to read, she was perfectly smart.  All she had done was lose the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom found in books at an early age.
With parents like ours, I had always thought we daughters needed to read books.  Otherwise they might prove to be bad influences.  I was always saying to myself I am not going to act like them.  I found my examples of how to act in books, but I wondered where Margie was finding her examples.  Well, Aunt Neta was a better one, but she was inclined to be a bit judgmental.
Once when I had been idly naming the books I had read in a book cupboard Aunt Nethella had left there, Aunt Neta flew into me and pecked me good for bragging.  I wondered how hostile she might be to Aunt Nethella, the English teacher, who owned these books.  Was this hostility generated by her sister or by books?  Margie and I were very similar in our contrasting interests to Aunt Neta and Aunt Nethella.
I never dared argue with Aunt Neta as I would have done with my dad.  She seemed unable to brook any disagreement at all from poor nieces she took in. She did not realize that was the reason I left.  I couldn't live there four years never able to express a single doubt about the religion, alone, to say nothing of talking about a problem in the family, like the alcoholism of her brother for example.
What was it with her?  I could see now a person could be irrational even if they did not drink.  They could be downright unreasonable, but if they were old, what could you do about it?  If I had thought she was approachable at all, I would have stayed.  I didn't think she was.
I hoped Margie's temperament was different than Aunt Neta's.  We had always quarreled.  I attributed some of Margie's irritability to her asthma attacks.  So I always cut her some slack.  Her wheezing even caused me to feel irritable.  I am ashamed to say I would sometimes chide her, "Quit sneezing!"  As if she could help it.  Her wheezing scared me, to tell the truth, so I hated to hear the signs of one of her attacks coming on.
Well, it was good that Margie and Aunt Neta could have the chance to become friends.  Margie did not react to her at all the way I had.
Life in the family of five sisters was getting more complex as we grew older.  I was always thinking about how what we were doing was going to affect our relationships.  I was glad Margie was going to Garland for high school.  I might see her more than I had when she was in Washington with Aunt Vesta for sure, but she liked Aunt Vesta, too, and seemed to get along well there.  I thought she was going to make a good nurse because she knew all about how her little cousin Jim had had to have his blood exchanged when he was a baby because his mother, Aunt Vesta, had R-H negative blood and was allergic to her husband's blood which was positive.  The blood types of the parents being different caused some of their children to have severe difficulties if all their blood was not transfused.  In fact, they would die if not treated.  Jim was a miracle baby who had survived the transfusions for the condition that might have contributed to the death of his parents' first born.  He did not seem to have suffered any impairment either.
Margie had apparently asked a lot of questions to be so knowledgeable about what had happened to our little cousin Jim.  She said Aunt Vesta desperately wanted more than one child, but was almost afraid to try to have another one for fear of this clash between the blood types.
I had never heard of such a thing.  A couple whose blood was not compatible.  Margie also had R-H negative blood, too, which probably caused her to take even more of an interest in Aunt Vesta's troubles.  If her husband to be were to have a certain blood type she could have the same trouble with her children!  So now she not only was prone to asthma but had R-H negative blood!  Margie probably needed to become a nurse so she could keep better track of herself.
I didn't tell any of the family about Mr. K, now an old weak molester, any more than I told them about the others.  I seemed to have been resigned to the fact that there would always be molesters around for the young to contend with.  What else did Mother and Dad expect when they sent their daughters out in the world to live with strangers.  I expected the worst rather than the best, so I was prepared.  Hired girls had to take their chances.  Beggars could not be choosers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 35: Goodbye to Grandma's place and hello to Giant Slew ranch, a property Daddy bought where the work helped him cut back on his drinking at last

I met so many Wilson relatives dropping in to see Grandma that I had never known before I thought my year of staying with her was well worth it. Her sister Janette from Tropic brought her beautiful granddaughter who was trying out for Miss Utah and stayed several days.  Aunt Janette was very unlike Aunt Sue, Grandma's card playing partner, who lived just down the street. She was very religious as were some of Grandmother's younger brothers. Aunt Sue and Grandma as the oldest and the youngest sisters did what they pleased.  Aunt Sue still pretended to sell real estate. Mother said she remembered Grandma and her sister Julia used to come to the family reunions and squaw wrestle very year.  Which means they got down on the ground and tried to throw each other using one leg. 
Anyway Aunt Anne told me when I got ready to leave that the family had decided it was time to start taking turns having Grandma live for a few months with them.  She said she hoped I would be able to find another place to live all right but every time I went somewhere Grandma would call up and fret about my being gone. 
I said I understood and that I was sure I could find some other place to stay so not to worry.  I thanked her for making room for me in their lives. 
Cheryl, my beautiful cousin, was to move into the nurses' dorm very soon.  Poor Uncle Hyrum was not expected to live but a few more weeks. Once he was gone and Grandma was alone, the big old fashioned house on Gordon Place would be sold.  With two entrances in front, it had probably been built in the days of polygamy.  There would have been living quarters for at least three wives. 

So everybody's lives on Gordon Place were about to change.  I went home to a change there too with my dad buying another ranch property in upper Boulder. The rancher owner was getting old and peckish and suddenly decided he had to sell before he up and died. My dad got Grandpa to sign with him and jumped in to buy the ranch. Mother said he thought he could pay off the ranch fast if he bought it when cattle prices were high. 
None of the old rancher's nephews even got the chance to buy the ranch. They had been coming there for years learning to cowboy, but none of them had money at the ready, so their loss it appeared was my dad's gain.  Most of the nephews had had to go in the service to defend the country.  There were some hard feelings at first over my dad's opportunity because he had been just the right age to escape the draft. 
His older brother was drafted to fight in World War I, but my dad had just gotten too old to fight in World War II.
It seemed like every opportunity my dad got to buy a ranch property caused some hard feelings in somebody. As for me, when Daddy told me he wanted me to go up to the ranch so he could show me around, all I could wonder when I saw it was why a man who already owned Sinkhole ranch would buy Giant Slew ranch, too.
Straight out from the ranch house the property contained this giant slew running down the middle of it, starting with a spring that fed it. I walked out a little ways on it, and it shook like a big bowl of jelly.  Scared the hell out of me.  It was a very strange feeling to have the ground jiggle under you. 
Daddy said to be sure to stay on the narrow road someone had built across it to the hayfields.  Creating a solid base for a road in that slew must have required a great deal of work.  I never did find out how they did it, but if you drove off the road, whatever vehicle you were in would start sinking. 
I know because the first time Margie drove our jeep across it, she decided it was safe to go off the road when we got close to the house. The jeep sunk so deep in the slew we had to go ask the neighboring rancher if he could please bring his tractor over and pull us out. 
We knew Daddy would have a spell if we waited to ask him because he had warned us not to do what we just did.  The neighboring rancher, knowing Daddy, took pity on us and pulled us out.
I was to encounter that slew in an even more dangerous way that same spring after I came home when Daddy told me he wanted me to go up  to the ranch with him to help do something with some cattle.  First he gave me a skittish little bay mare that had belonged to the former owners to ride.  He said Wissy was now my horse, but to be very careful when I was driving cattle on her as she had been badly gored in the side by a cow with long horns. So if a cow with horns got anywhere near her she would jump sideways so high, a  rider taken by surprise could be pitched off. 
I thought Wissy acted pretty skittish without even a cow with horns in sight.  I wondered how long it had been since she had been ridden.  Daddy started toward the big slew to take care of his cattle.  The pasture did not have a road leading to it.  It looked like he intended for us to cross the slew! I pulled Wissy up.  "We aren't going to cross this slew on these horses are we?" I asked in frank disbelief. 
If a jeep could sink to the hub caps that close to the house, what about horses I was thinking.
Daddy said airily, "Oh don't worry.  These horses were born and raised here on this ranch. They have been crossing this slew to the pasture all their lives!"
"But I haven't been!" I said sharply.  I frankly started begging, "Daddy, let me ride down there outside the ranch. I will meet you to the pasture gate."
"We haven't got time for that!" snapped Daddy. "Come on." He always hated cowgirls related to him acting like craven cowards on horseback.
Well, we soon came to a place in the upper part of the slew where the water from the spring could be seen openly pooling. The horses plunged into that part, lunging as though their very lives depended on it. As for me, I had not been that scared in a long time.
In fact, I could not even enjoy the work with the cattle which I usually did, I was so worried about coming back through that slew.
Well, we made it back alive, and I resolved that the next time Daddy had some work to do with cattle up to Giant Slew ranch I would have something else very important I had to do instead.  I was never going to ride a horse across the Giant Slew again, and I never did!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 34: Visiting Grandma and Grandpa Wilson and little Uncle Bill and playing Chinese checkers

I would go down once in a while to visit Grandma and Grandpa Wilson.  Grandpa, little Uncle Bill, and I would play Chinese checkers.  Bill was doing better in Salt Lake than he had in Boulder with the kinder gentler people in Grandma's ward in church who were more like she was, with lots of patience which slower kids need. Grandma had told me the Boulder kids made fun of Bill and Ben both. Ben was his best friend who lived just a block away, and their insults made Bill feel bad.  As for as I knew, this was the main reason Grandma urged Grandpa to sell the small ranch, so they could  take Bill back to the city. 
Boulder was a more dangerous place for kids, I thought, too.  Ben, Bill's friend, was already deceased from a hunting accident he sustained when he went duck hunting with a bunch of eager kids.  A kid in his excitement at seeing wild ducks fired a gun before he had entirely raised it up, and a slug went into Ben's head and killed him instantly.
Just a few months before I happened to have gotten in on another accident Ben had with his dad's runaway team.  I was driving a herd of cattle up the road to the mountain on Sorly when the team and wagon went thundering past.  I saw Ben clinging to the hay pole on the wagon the team going so fast he could not jump off.  I turned Sorly around and chased after them not knowing if I could do anything to prevent Ben getting hurt.
Just as I about caught up to him, the wagon broke in two pieces and when the yoke fell to the ground, it slowed the horses down enough Ben was able to turn them off the road and jump off.
I turned Sorly around and raced back up the road to catch up with my cattle for fear they got lost before I had driven them up on the mountain as far as Daddy said to take them.
Ben was only twelve when he was killed.
I had always worried about Grandpa buying a rogue Jersey bull when he was in Boulder, which he had to keep chained to a post as this bull would try to charge anyone who came near him.  Grandpa had been able to get him cheap probably because he was mean, but he was hoping to expand his herd of pure Jersey milk cows which gave the thickest cream.  Food loving Grandpa naturally loved delicious rich cream.
But I had nightmares about that bull somehow breaking loose and killing someone.  He could have killed Grandpa when he was trying to handle him, breeding him to the cows. I had never seen such a mean bull.  He had it in for humans.  And the more he had to live on a short chain the more dangerous he was going to get.
I just did not think city life that I had witnessed so far was as dangerous as country life. But every time I saw little Uncle Bill, I could not help but think about his best friend laying on the couch in his mother's house, cold and dead, after he had been shot.  I recall her holding his feet and saying, "but his feet are so cold, they are so cold."
His mother was my friend Barbara's oldest sister.  I don't think there is any more raw grief than that of a mother who has lost her first born son.
But I was glad Mother had decided to park me at her grandmother's house instead of at her own mother's and father's.  I am sure she remembered her dad's bad temper as she had often complained about it to me, and somehow did not want her own daughter to be exposed to it.  And Grandma would have insisted I go to church.  She would never have been able to tolerate me ever staying at home, as young as I was, if I had lived under her jurisdiction.  Although their son Kent, who was now in his first year of medical school, had fallen away from the church.
Kent had gone on a mission like his other brothers, but I always got the idea his heart really was not in the church.  Now he told his mother he was too busy to attend anymore and besides, his wife, a nurse, was from back east and did not belong to the faith.  He had met her in the service.
Grandpa and Grandma loved Kent's wife who was helping put Kent through medical school by working full time.  Their contribution was a free apartment.  He was also using his G.I. bill from his stint in the navy. He was a poor boy who was being helped by a lot of people to realize the impossible dream of becoming a doctor.
I was very curious about Kent who I had not been around very much while growing up.  He was so popular in medical school he had been elected the president of his class.  I thought he was very good looking although he was starting to go a little bit bald like Grandpa. He had written letters to Mother when he was on his mission and in the service that were very amusing, making fun of all he saw.  I thought he had the most sophisticated sense of humor of all of Mother's brothers.
I visited Uncle Kent and his wife, Emmy,  a time or two and they were very nice to me, but once when I went down to Grandpa's, I knocked on their door and Kent was home alone.  We had not talked  long before I started feeling not only affection but a very strong attraction to him as he did for me, but I felt uneasy, as I knew this was not what I should want from a relative.  He was probably more than a dozen years older than I was. 
So I went home determined to keep a very tight rein on myself so that nothing could ever happen between us that should not.  I knew I was very lonely, but I was only fifteen, and anything going on between us would be incest as well as a violation of his marriage.
The next time I saw Kent I was prepared to be distant even though he greeted me with anticipation.  When he perceived the change in me, he immediately backtracked and was never that nice to me again.
Mother's family was extremely sensitive to slights, so now he was reading rejection in my demeanor. I just could not be too friendly.  I simply could not stand another molesting incident in my life. I had to be distant, not because I did not need love, but because I had to be able to trust.   
I had always thought that Kent was somewhat disturbed, and that he might have been Mother's only brother to have experienced marked attention from both sexes.  I wondered if he had succumbed.  If that was the meaning of his rather indifferent attitude toward his faithful wife and willingness to explore other possibilities so readily.  Some of Mother's family crossed forbidden lines easily. It was sometimes hard to tell why.
I did not know if Grandpa Wilson had been the bad influence there. I knew that Grandma had always fretted about his possible womanizing after she found evidence that he was having an affair when Mother was about 12. She opened a letter addressed to him. Mother also searched the house until she found the letter and read it, too.
Proof of the affair had a very profound influence on her, I know.  When she was tempted I figured she might have thought straying was in her blood and she could not resist going down the same road.
Kent had always been an extremely attractive young man and such young men are often exposed to temptations from every direction.  I wished I had been able to talk to him very frankly.  We could have had a deep relationship if that had been what he valued.
Didn't he realize I was too young for any manifestation of desire from him? In the first incident neither one of us had crossed the line, but when he greeted me the second time with the implication that we should go ahead and explore the possibilities of our attraction, I was somewhat disillusioned.
Mother and her people could not take any implied criticism when they did not check their emotions.  And now I was never going to be special to Kent again. A handsome charismatic Wilson male who was intelligent enough to aspire to be a doctor did not like to be rebuked however subtly I tried to do it.   
Oh well, such was life.  Mother's most restrained brother Crae had been killed in the war.  Her brother Guy was very busy with two jobs trying to earn a living for his wife and four children.  He had to get married while he was still in high school. Mother would take me to see him, sometimes, too when he was running up and down refereeing basket ball games, another part time job he had.
Guy seemed rather reckless.  Using up his life force running day and night, even when he was not working.  I don't know when he ever got any rest.  He was perpetually sleep deprived and I thought he he paid for it by developing stomach cancer when he was 34 just as Great Grandma did when she was a young harassed widow with eight children to raise alone.  Only not surprisingly in his case there were no miracles.  His brother Kent, a doctor just barely in practice a year, helped operate on him and thought he only had a couple of months to live and he was right.