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.

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