Tag Archives: Family History

Courage at Twilight: Sunday Afternoon Drive

Mom asked me almost sheepishly after church, “Do you think, perhaps, we could take a drive today? I would so like to see the old Bawden home my grandparents built.”  “Of course!” I answered.  “I’m sorry the thought did not occur to me before.”  Dad’s faithful Suburban lead us by the back roads across the Salt Lake valley to historic Granger, my mother’s hometown.  We noted fondly the orange-dotted pumpkin farms and horse corrals and vegetable gardens, and commented on the architectural eras of the homes—1930s bungalow was our favorite.  Mom suggested we drive by the house where Dad lived from 15 to 26, from junior high school to his 1962 marriage to Mom.  “I moved here 70 years ago,” he observed flatly.  Many of those years were unhappy and traumatic for Dad and his siblings due to trouble at home.  But Dad was blessed by the influences of Isabelle Bangerter, Grant Bangerter, and Ella Bennion, all of whom built him up, treated him kindly and with respect, nudged him toward a path of personal fulfillment, and influenced his concepts of self-worth and the life worth living.  The tension and sadness I felt in the car evaporated as I drove away.  A few miles away, there sat the old Bawden house, strong and modest and pretty, built by the family in the late 1800s.  I met my great-grandparents there when I was a little boy as the family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner.  In the 1930s, Mom’s father Wallace built a bungalow nearby, for his new wife’s wedding gift, and there Mom grew up, in the new Bawden bungalow near the old Bawden homestead.  Granger was all farmland then, with homes separated by miles of farms.  Now it is deteriorating strip mall suburbia.  I spent many days in Mom’s childhood home, roaming the empty dusty old chicken coops, breathing the soothing old smell of the oil-and-dust garage, pumping the hand well, hunting giant night-crawler earthworms for trout fishing, and roasting hot dogs on the outdoor cinderblock grill at family parties.  When my grandma lived in a nursing home in her mid-90s, the family sold the house to the car dealer next door, who razed the prime half-acre and put in a parking lot.  I can’t help thinking of Joni Mitchell’s famous Big Yellow Taxi from 1970: “They paved paradise, Put up a parking lot.”  I feel grateful I have memories and photographs of that old paradise.

My great-grandparents’ home in Granger, Utah.

Courage at Twilight: Gathering for the Sunset

In July, just before I moved, Mom told me about how she and Dad sat in picnic chairs in the driveway every evening at 8:45 to watch the sun set, enjoying the colorful clouds.  I texted her one night that I would go stand by the apartment complex fence at 8:45 to see the sun set over the Tooele valley, in solidarity with her.  While she gazed toward the Oquirrh mountains to her west, I looked toward the Stansbury mountains to my west, each with peaks over 11,000 feet.  As July moved into August, our sunset time came earlier and earlier, today already at 7:45.  Sitting there in the driveway, the three of us, on our picnic chairs, we waved at neighbors driving or walking by, talked about the day’s work and news, and admired the brilliant colors.  With the worst California fires in history, Utah’s sun became an orange-poppy sphere that we could stare at without discomfort for the thick smoke.  As the sun dipped behind the mountains one evening, Dad announced, “I can see Venus!”  I looked and looked for several minutes, but could not see the “first star.”  His cataract removal and lens implants seem to have given him telescopic eyes at age 85, while my 20-20 eyes (thank you Lasik) still searched for the pin point.  As the sky darkened, Mom told of when she was six years old and sang at a neighborhood talent show, in the church building, and for the occasion her mother made a dress for her out of rolls of white crepe paper stitched together, with red paper trim and pink paper hearts.  Then Dad led us in a round of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and told me how wonderful my mother is (which he tells me every day, and she is).  Soon the automatic sprinklers popped up, and the quarter moon shone a rich orange through the smoky sky.

Rag Rugs

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(Large rag rug crocheted by my mother for my kitchen–October 2015.)

When my mother, Dorothy Lucille Bawden Baker, was a child, perhaps age 6 or 7, she accompanied her mother, Dorothy Erma Evans Bawden (born 1915), and her grandmother, Dorothy Ellen Beagly Evans (born 1895), to visit her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Esther Pierce Beagly (born 1875).  Grandmother Elizabeth was crocheting an oval rug from strips of cloth cut from old clothing.  My mother noticed it and told them she liked it.  Looking back, what caught her attention most was the notion of making something so beautiful from practically nothing: rags. My mother’s matriarchs encouraged her interest and offered to give her a crochet hook and strips of cloth.  Grandfather James Edmund Evans (born 1889) carved for her an oak crochet hook.  Her mother cut some cloth strips from old clothing for my mother, and taught her the crochet stitch.  After my mother’s marriage in 1962, she began her serious crocheting of rag rugs, for she and her new husband, Owen Nelson Baker, Jr., had no carpet or rugs in their home.  For her first project, she sat on the floor and crocheted an enormous round area rug.  After retiring and moving to Utah in 1998, she began crocheting again in earnest.  She found her sheets at the Deseret Industries thrift store, and bought a cutting board and cutting wheel.  Her rugs can be found throughout her home and the homes of her children.  She has given away many rugs as gifts to family and friends.  I recently asked her to teach me to crochet.  These small rugs, intended as prayer mats, are my first efforts to crochet something from nothing.  I made them for my three daughters and my daughter-in-law for Christmas (2015).  I hope that my girls find enjoyment in them, and in knowing that they hold a humble work of art six generations in the making.

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The beginnings of Hannah’s rug, with a sun at the center.

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Ringed with a light sky, ready for a darker ring of sky.

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The sky is complete.

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Ready to be circled with dark, rich earth.

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Hannah’s rug completed.

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Laura’s rug: blue evening sky trending toward sunset and night.

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Erin’s rug: sun, sky, and atoll surrounded by ocean.

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Avery’s rug.

Chapter 16: Around the Fire Pit

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–I’ll help you learn to walk.–
(Erin-10 to Hyrum)

One Monday evening after dinner, the whole family walked on Rabbit Lane.  The sun was setting large and red, and the chilly Spring air settled upon us as we returned home.  We gathered around our new fire pit to tell stories, sing songs, and roast apples and marshmallows, sitting on camp chairs and logs. Continue reading