History: Lillian Alcorn

We also came down to spend Christmas 1958 with Marjorie and the family. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed it very much. However, before we came down, Vonna gave birth to their second baby. Scott Calvin, their second son was born 19 December 1958. She was delivered by cesarean section, but got along really well. They were thrilled at his arrival. This made 10 grandchildren, now.

Hugh was getting anxious to go on a mission so he approached the Bishop there in Bountiful and talked to him about going. The Bishopric was happy that he wanted to go and started the ball rolling. Hugh left for the Argentina Mission Field on 9 February 1959. He flew to New York and to Argentina. Again my heart was full for this spiritual blessing of having sons go on missions for the Church. We were still receiving some of the insurance money left us when David was killed in Korea and that helped to support Hugh, as it had Ralph and Clayton.

I was called to be a Visiting Teacher there in the ward soon after we had moved and I do enjoy it very much. It keeps me in contact with the sisters and members of the ward. I also was called to be the Speech Director in MIA and this is another job I really enjoyed. Since all but Grant were gone now I enjoyed working with young people again. It was part of my responsibility to assign all the talks that were given by young people in the ward. This included 2 ½ minute talks in Sunday School, talks in MIA and in Sacrament Meetings. I also taught the lessons that were outlined. I like to feel that the young people liked me as much as I enjoyed them.

We missed Hugh as any parent would and Grant seemed lost without him, but we know he is serving our Father in Heaven and doing a good work. We loved him, all the more for doing it. Clayton was working for the Dixon Paper Co., in Salt Lake City and living home with us. Ralph and Aleene were in Texas and expecting another baby. Doug and Vonna are in Salt Lake City and of course Grace and Don are in Germany. Marjorie and Dwain are still in Provo and they come up to see us as often as they can and we enjoy going down to Provo to visit them. Marjorie comes up sometimes and spends several days or a week with me. We sew or have other projects to keep us busy and I do enjoy her companionship and being with her kiddies. In the spring of 1959 she and Dwain went on a little trip and we kept David with us for a week. We surely enjoyed it. Once before we had kept Dwana for two weeks while they went on a trip to California.

Douglas and Vonna also bring their children out and my they are sweet children. They are growing so fast and getting so big. We try to have family get-togethers as often as we can. We are looking forward to Christmas this year as we expect Grace and Don and their family to be here and all the other children who can come. We hope to have a very nice family get-together. It should be a wonderful day.

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History: Lillian Alcorn

Before we left Gridley, we had received word that David’s body was being sent home and we could plan a funeral. After we moved, we notified the Army and shortly after we had settled in Eureka, David’s body arrived. We moved in July of 1950 and David’s body came just a few weeks after. His body was escorted by a very nice military escort. We had a lovely funeral and because we didn’t know too many people we hadn’t expected many to attend, but there was a nice group of people there. The main speaker was Lowell Thompson, who has proven to be a life-long friend ever since we met him in Eureka.

David was buried in a lovely cemetery (Ocean View Cemetery) with full military rites. The cemetery was not far from our home in Eureka. There was a lovely view of the ocean from his plot and it was a restful place.

In August, we were attending MIA as usual and enjoyed the activities that it offered. The branch usually had a dance after class time each week. This one Tuesday evening in August Dave and I had danced a fast member. I was a little out of a breath when we finished, but nothing too unusual. I felt tired as I had worked hard that day and we decided to leave MIA early. When I got to the car I was having pains in my chest and by the time the family got there the pain was getting quite severe and spreading down my left arm. I told Dave that we had better hurry and get home as I didn’t feel at all well. I frightened Dave and he drove as fast as he dared. On the way home we passed the General Hospital and the pain was getting so bad that I could hardly stand it. Dave decided we had better stop at the hospital and find out what the trouble was. When we got there he jumped out of the car and came over to my side and opened the door to help me. He reached for me and I remember saying “Oh, Dave, I’m gone!” Then everything went black. I went limp and slipped right through Dave’s arms and skinned my knees on the gravel. In the meantime, Dave sent Marjorie and Hugh into the hospital for help. They were so excited that the attendants couldn’t understand them so they just followed the kids out to the parking lot. They got me into the hospital and into bed and contacted the doctors.

Dave called the chapel and President Walter Bingham, the Branch President came and took the children home. The doctors told Dave that I had had a heart attack, a coronary thrombosis. They also told him that the first crises would pass in 24 hours. I was in an oxygen tent. If I survived the first 24 hours, the next crises would be 72 hours. If I passed that I would probably survive.

An unusual dream came to me during this crucial time. I dreamed I saw my mother in an old-time buggy. She seemed to be very happy and was going someplace singing. I didn’t know just where it was she was going, but she was singing. I wanted very much to go with her and held out my arms to her. She told me that I wasn’t ready to come and that I was needed at home. I remember being very disappointed because I had to stay behind. Shortly after this dream I passed the 72 hour crises and was on my way to recovery.

Ralph and Clayton had been working in Montana at the time of this attack, and I asked Dave not to send for them, but of course he did. They came home as fast as they could. Dave also contacted my sister Melva and she came up for a few days to help out at home. Elder Delbert L. Stapley was in Eureka attending a district conference while I was still in the hospital so Dave arranged for him to come and give me a blessing. I appreciated this very much.

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History: Lillian Alcorn

Their beliefs of the life after death were so much different than ours, that it was a real testimony to the family and myself when we saw how distraught this other family was. As far as they knew this was it, the end. But we knew that someday we could see our son again. We received word in December that David had been killed and as soon as they could they would send his body home. We were all saddened by David’s death but we would prefer that to his being a prisoner and going through some of the experiences that we had heard that our prisoner were going through.

The children all enjoyed school in Gridley. Grant started kindergarten in Gridley the last year we were there, in the fall of 1950. The children all learned to like Gridley and had many friends and enjoyed their associations. Hugh had a paper route part of the time we were there, and Clayton worked on a dairy farm for a neighbor. We were able to have a garden here and I enjoyed that very much. I also had some chickens here and it just seemed more like home.

The boys were active in the Future Farmers of America organization in school and had projects of chickens and pigs at home. Douglas had the chickens and Clayton had the pigs. One Saturday afternoon, the boys had all gone to the movie except Grant and Hugh. Clayton’s pig was due to have a litter anytime and it happened while the boys were at the show and Dave was at work. I took Hugh into town and sent him into the theater to get the boys. When he found them they were in the middle of the row and Hugh couldn’t get to them so he said in a loud whisper, “Clayton, Clayton, come quick, your pig is having chickens!” Needless to say this brought down the house as all the people around the boys heard Hugh’s excited declaration and had a good laugh.

27 September 1950 was a day of mixed emotions for me. I received word that Grace had given birth to another lovely little girl the named Donna Diane; and we also received word that my father, Clark Alcorn had died (27 September) in Idaho, and they were having his funeral 3 October 1950. We wanted to go to the funeral, but we couldn’t decide whether or not to take the family. Dave remembered that at his Dad’s funeral, he was the only one without his family, so we decided to take the children and go to Harlem. We made arrangements to leave and had a safe trip. It was good to see many of our relatives and friends again, and all of my brothers and sister were together again for the first time in a long while. Even Verl was able to make it. It was a reunion, saddened only by the purpose.

Dave’s employers had both been drafted back into the Armed Services, and so his job was gone and in looking for the other work, we found that it was scarce around Gridley. So Dave went to Eureka, where his brothers Walter and Emerson lived, and found work there. He worked in Eureka the winter of 1950-51 and into the spring. Then I went over to see if we could find a house and move our family there. We looked at several, but we hadn’t decided on one when I had to go back to Gridley. When school was out, we knew we would have to make a decision on a house and we finally bought one located at 4217 Little Fairfield St in Eureka.

The children said their farewells again to many friends they had made and we picked up after selling our house in Gridley and made another move. We all liked Eureka, except for the undependable weather. Adjusting wasn’t too hard as Dave had been there for over six months and he knew the people in the branch quite well. We also had relatives there for the children to enjoy.

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History: Lillian Alcorn

Dave went to work for Fadel Construction Co., building a flying bomb base up in the San Gabriel Canyon. He worked for them for quite a while. While working for Fadel we received word that Dad Rowley had died, this was in 1948 (14 March). Dave prepared to attend his funeral in Montana. We decided not to take the family and when Dave got to Harlem he was sorry we all hadn’t gone with him as most of the other members of his family had brought their families.

There was a lot of violence and crime in the big city and so many influences that were not good for the children, that we decided it might be best if we looked for a smaller community to raise our family. We put our place up for sale and when it sold we prepared to leave for Gridley, California. We bid our friends goodbye and moved as soon as school was out.

We stayed with my Aunt Jeannette for a couple of weeks while we looked for a place we could buy. After about two weeks we bought the Melissa Clements home just off the Colusa road on Grace Ave. it was about three miles from town. It was much more of the kind of environment that we desired for our children. We made the move with six of our living eight children. David was in the Navy and Grace and Don were also in the Navy.

We sought out the LDS chapel, one of the first things, and enjoyed becoming acquainted with the good members in Gridley. The summer we got there, we were at a loss as to getting an income coming into the home, so Dave took the children and started to pick fruit. They would get up real early in the morning and work until afternoon. They picked peaches, prunes and other varieties. One day, just before school started, Hugh, who was only about 9 years old, climbed a tree to pick some fruit. He lost his footing and fell. He grabbed for another branch as he fell, but it was rotten and it gave away with him. He broke his arm and started school with his arm in a cast.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1948 Marjorie complained of a sore throat. The next day we took her to the doctor and he told us that she had diphtheria. There was only one other case in the whole town and we didn’t know the person involved. The family was put in quarantine for about three months. Dave lived with a neighbor during this time because he had to continue working. Most of the children were with us except for David, who had been discharged from the Navy. He stayed with another neighbor and went to school. We spent Christmas without daddy that year. Dave did come to the door and watch the children open gifts and play with some of them, but didn’t dare come in. Before we could get rid of the bug, both Marjorie and Hugh had to have their tonsils out.

In June of 1949 Grace and Don did have the baby they had waited so long for. It was a lovely little girl. Shortly after that, Don was discharged from the Navy and they came to Gridley to live. They named the baby, which was a girl, Cheryl Jeanette. Don couldn’t seem to adjust to the life of a civilian and he reenlisted in the Army. The Army afforded more time for his family than did the Navy. Just before this time, our son David also enlisted in the Army.

David was sent to Japan in 1949, and was there close to when the Korean conflict started in 1950. He was sent to Korea and we received word that he was missing in action as of 16 July 1950. We were very upset about this report and anxious for him to be found. We didn’t hear any more from the Army until December. In the meantime, another soldier had been reported missing whose family was Catholic.

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History: Lillian Alcorn

We had a wonderful group of friends in El Monte and we used to do quite a few things together. We would go to parties, movies and enjoyed being together. We were all members of the Church and attended Church functions as a group, too. There had been several surprise birthday parties given within the group and Dave said one time that it would take a lot of doing to surprise him. So the gang decided to put it to the test and they planned a surprise birthday party for him. We were going to have a get together on Dave’s birthday anyway and go to the Deardens’ home to make donuts and play games. What Dave didn’t know was that they were coming to our place first to surprise him. They all parked their cars around the corner and came quietly into the house. One of the ladies came in first and asked where Dave was and I told her he was in the bedroom, but to be careful that he might be dressing. Well she didn’t hear the last part of my sentence and the whole group, led by several ladies barged into the bedroom with a big “SURPRISE.” I believe they were as surprised as Dave was because he was just putting on his trousers and they were all very embarrassed. We had many good laughs about it later.

Grant had a little red wagon and a cute little puppy dog. One day he put his puppy into the wagon and went for a walk. He was about three years old or so and he walked with a pretty steady gait. When I missed him, I began to look for him and soon many of the neighbors were helping me. I finally found him about two blocks away in front of the Nazarene Church sitting on the steps. I gave him a good scolding and switched his little bottom a time or two and told him that he mustn’t go off like that again with his wagon and puppy! A few days later, Grant came running into the house and said, “Mommy, I went for a walk, but I didn’t take my puppy and wagon!”

Another amusing story about Dave happened here in El Monte. The ward had asked him to be a helper for Santa Clause at the ward Christmas party. The children happened to be around when they brought him the suit and were quite proud to tell their friends that they knew who was going to be Santa Clause at the party. The night of the party came and the children lined up to talk to Santa, when Marjorie got up to him she had the most astonished look on her face  and as she walked away she said, “that must be the real Santa, because it isn’t my Dad!” We had asked our good old neighbor, Mr. Hester to take Dave’s place.

In August of 1946, Grace was expecting her first baby and of course our first grandchild. We were very excited and anxious about the event. When her time came, they were unable to get in touch with her regular doctor and finally after she got to the hospital and was delivered, they discovered that the little boy had tried to inhale before birth and his little lungs were so congested that he had to gasp for every breath. They worked with him for fifteen hours but to no avail, he died. It was a terrible shock to all of us as we were all looking forward so much to the baby. Grace and Don were very upset about it as they had wanted a baby for a long time. He was named Donald Eugene Smith, Jr.

Our oldest son, David was about 17 years old now and really enjoyed going to dances and having good times. He was a very good dancer and was well liked by his friends. David became unhappy with school and was mixed up about a lot of things. He disappointed us when he decided to quit school and join the Navy, but we have to learn to accept the things which come. We had wanted him to finish his schooling and all, but he didn’t want to. He was stationed in San Diego, California.

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History: Lillian Alcorn

In the first stages of this winter, when the river started to freeze over Dave’s folks let their cattle water and they got down on the ice and it gave way. They lost around 15 head of cattle. Even though they got them out they froze to death. Some of them went under the ice and some froze to death right in the water and some after they got them out.

The children were growing very fast. Grace started to school while we were working for the Johnson’s. She went to a little white school house about half a mile away from home. She was such a cute little girl for her age and very responsible in doing things she was asked to do. She was my baby-sitter when I wanted or needed to go places. But David was just as mischievous as Grace was dependable. David had to be doing something all the time. One day about the time Grace started school my father and his mother came to see us so we were able to get this four generation picture.

In the summer of 1936 we found that the Spud Murphy place was up for sale by the owner, Mrs. D. M. Tait who lived in Pasadena, California. George Watkins had been renting it for several years and wanted to buy it. Dave wrote to Mrs. Tait and offered $2400 for the place. We got a letter right back from her and she said that Mr. Watkins had offered $3000, and that if we would split the difference she would sell the place to us instead. It seemed that Mr. Watkins has misrepresented the truth and taken advantage of her lack of knowledge of conditions. So Dave met her attorney in Helena and they signed a contract.

Dave then located a house out in the hills where he had been building reservoirs. The house belonged to Mrs. Zollicoffer. Most of the windows were broken out and most of the doors were gone, but Dave offered her $30 for it and she took it. So we moved it down on the place but didn’t get a chance to put it on a firm foundation. Instead we just blocked it up. We had become so involved with getting our spring planting done and all our crops in. we lived in a small house on the corner of Dad Rowley’s place. Then one day a big wind came and blew the two-story house off its blocking and some of the blocks went up through the floor. It completely ruined the house. So we had to postpone moving into our own place for a while longer.

Francis and Erma had been running the Thomas Everett place but lost the lease and didn’t have any place to go, so he and Dave made a deal. Francis took the west half of the Murphy place and he was to pay half of the cost of the place. It wasn’t long before Francis moved an old house onto his side of the farm and we lived in part of that house.

While we were living in this house I decided to go to an auction sale with some of my friends. My baby wasn’t due for another couple of weeks so I felt safe in going. It was late October and beginning to get cold. After I got home I fed the family and laid down to rest. At 8:00 p.m. that evening I gave birth to my sixth child, a very welcome little girl. It was 28 October 1936. She weighed about 8 lbs. and was an hour old when the Doctor finally got there. We decided to name this new daughter Margie but when Dave was up blessing her he named her Marjorie Ann Rowley. We were all thrilled with her and all wanted to take care of her. Grace didn’t feel so much alone now, as she had a sister whom she loved and cared for.

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History: Lillian Alcorn

Another time he became quite ill and we sent for the Doctor, but Dave and Brother Elmer Hulse administered to him and when the doctor came he said there was nothing wrong with him and he was well from that day on. But before the blessing we thought that almost every breath would be his last. It was through the wonderful power of the Priesthood that this precious little red-head was spared. He was our fifth child, all of which we are very grateful for.

That winter was a very hard winter and Dave rode horse back to and from work all winter long. Of course, I stayed home and took care of our four boys and one girl. In the early spring of 1935, Mr. Johnson fixed us up a small house there on the place and we moved over there. We were handy to the work and were better able to help with the chores. We worked for the Johnson’s for two years and our only trouble was with Bruce who was nothing but a small kid, but he thought he should run the whole deal. He was also full of mischief.

While on the Johnson place, David and Clair, one of the Johnson boys, were playing in back of the house. There was a lovely wooded area back there ideal for boyhood play. I looked out the window one day and the woods were on fire. David and Clair had set fire to the woods. We were fortunate to put it out and no one was hurt. It had certainly given me a scare though.

The winter we were there was one of the coldest winters we ever saw. The temperature would go down to about 56˚ below zero at night and then back up to 40˚ below zero during the day. The frost gathered on the walls in our bedroom, mostly behind the bed, until it was about half an inch thick. We had only one stove in the house and that was in the kitchen. It was a large Majestic range and then we only had one other room which was the small bedroom.

Dave made a figure four trap and during the worst part of the winter he trapped Chinese pheasants which we ate and canned. They surely tasted good. The snow was deep and they would come up to feed off the feeds lots when Dave would leave after putting the grain out for the sheep and cattle.

There were none of the children going to school the first year at the Johnson’s and I had to keep them in the house through those real cold spells. The telephone and electric wires would get so thick and heavy with frost that they looked like they were several inches thick and our windows had ice frozen clear to the top of them. There was sort of a swale behind the house in which grew some brush and small trees. They would get very heavy-laden with frost and it was one of the most beautiful sights one could imagine. Such beauty as you sometimes see in the early stages of cold weather on the window panes only it had a much deeper background.

We weren’t bothered too much with the cold unless the wind blew. When the wind would blow the cold was much more penetrating, but then we had both coal and wood to burn and a good stove to keep us warm. Most every morning during the really cold spells, Dave had to go out and cut the sheep loose from the ground. There would always be some of them frozen down. That is or their wool would freeze to the ground and they couldn’t get up off the ground until they were cut loose.

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