Family Memories: Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Questions

“Didn’t you live a couple houses down from your Grandma?” I asked the question almost out of the blue in a phone call with my Dad while I was driving down the freeway. “Actually we were right next door until someone built the house in between us,” was his reply. “Did you get together with your cousins a lot?” Suddenly he was telling me things I had never known before! Family memories were being revealed.

Just this week David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) tweeted “If a great-grandparent was alive today what questions would you ask? Write your own reply for the future.” This got me thinking. There are so many stories locked up. They are locked up inside the living memories of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. They are also locked up inside our own heads. Are we recording answers to the unspoken questions that will be asked of us a generation or two from now?

So, I asked, “Dad, would you be willing to write down a few childhood memories and send them to me?” He said he would; what follows are his memories.

Alma R. Taylor III: Family Memories

Alma Taylor Sr and sons

Alma Taylor, Sr. with (first) seven sons.

“I love to read or hear stories of my ancestors. I find them interesting and fascinating. However, I have never thought there was anything interesting in my life that I should write and leave for my descendants. But lately I have noticed that a lot of my past has disappeared: the church I first attended is gone, the home I grew up in has been razed and another bigger house built in its place, the school I attended has become a museum… So I decided I would try to recapture a few memories from my earlier years growing up in Lehi, Arizona.

Beginnings

“I was born June 25, 1950 in Mesa, Arizona (just up on the hill or “mesa” from Lehi). I have been told that my father was building a house for his family at that time and we moved in when I was about two months old. This home was on [644 E.] Lehi Road just west of the church and school at the corner of Lehi Road and Horne. (Editor’s note: This home stood until just a few years ago when the property was sold and the original house was razed. Thanks to Google Street View you can see the new house, but you can’t travel back in time to see the old one!)
Florabel in Lehi, AZ

Florabel Tiffany Taylor in front of new home in Lehi, AZ

“My Dad (Alma “Junior”) was the oldest child of Alma Reeves Taylor and Florabel Tiffany Taylor. There were eight sons and one daughter. Dad was just 17 when Grandpa was killed in an auto accident in 1943. I do not know when they acquired the property-whether prior to that accident or after-but Grandma had 20 acres of farm land on Lehi Road. The boys had built Grandma a brick house on that land–while the family lived in tents! The house Dad built for us was on two and a half of those acres–next door to Grandma.

Lehi

“It was a rural community at that time. I remember there were only six houses on the north side of Lehi Road between Mesa Dr and Horne-ours being one of them. South of Lehi Road was almost all farm land. There were two houses across from Grandma’s and down a lane that were occupied by the Shill’s, who owned all that farm land.
“Lehi Road was a dirt lane with [irrigation] ditches on both sides-the larger one on the south side of Lehi Road. Our address back then was Route 1 Box 259. Friends were few and far between! During the summers Dick Shill’s family stayed across the road with his grandparents. It was great! He was my age and we had great fun playing on his farm. We would catch June bugs and dragonflies and butterflies and play cowboys and Indians. (he had the BB gun so I was the Indian. That was fun too–until he shot me with the BB gun!)

Childhood Games

“Before I was old enough for school, I spent a lot of time on my own. I played cowboys and Indians–having to imagine the other characters. We had a large propane tank out by our house that became my horse for these adventures. I would also wander the fields chasing rabbits or birds. The fields were not all under cultivation. Sometimes I would be out by the ditch catching tadpoles-or just watching them change. First they would grow legs and then the tail would eventually disappear as they turned into tiny frogs! The ditch across the street was lined with cottonwood trees and I might be found under them daydreaming in the shade.

“I remember one birthday–not sure how old I was–but I was very happy. We had a wienie roast under the mesquite tree on the vacant land next door. We also roasted marshmallows over the fire. It was just our family–as I said there were no friends close by.

Cousins (and More Cousins!)

Taylor cousins

Taylor cousins and friends in front of “tent house” 1943

“I had a ton of cousins. The nine children of Alma & Florabel begat a total of seventy grandchildren for them! I was the oldest grandson. I had a sister older than me and two older female cousins. Weekends, some of them-if not all of them- would come to visit Grandma Taylor. As soon as someone showed up, we would be over at Grandma’s also. The family was quite close and I knew all of my Taylor cousins.

“[Grandpa] Alma and his brother James had dated and married twin sisters. James married Oradel [Tiffany] and Alma married Florabel [Tiffany] – at a double wedding on a Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 27, 1924). On special occasions-like Thanksgiving Dinners-both families would be together. As the families grew, we had to meet at a church building for these gatherings.
“Grandma [Florabel]’s birthday was in May. I remember everyone showing up at her home. The adults would sit in the house and talk while we kids played outside. Usually some kind of game where we chased each other–like witch or tag, etc. But the part I liked the best was when they brought out the crank ice cream makers! It seems the Taylors all loved homemade ice cream!! (I did anyway!) The youngsters would crank until it got too hard for them and then the adults took over.

Community

Old Lehi Chapel

Old Lehi Chapel

“We attended the old Lehi Ward building for several years. I was nearly fourteen when the new building was dedicated. I remember the old scout room down in the basement of the old building. We met there when I was in Guide Patrol in primary [forerunner to 11-year-old boy scouts]. But as a deacon, we were in the new building–although it was not dedicated yet. Another memory I have of the old building was of some scouts/deacons playing poker on the front steps(when no adults weren’t watching!). Of course, I just watched–it was considered evil to play with face cards!

“My uncles and aunts would sometimes spend an evening at our house playing cards–not face cards, of course! They would play Rook all evening. And we would visit them. As I said, the family was very close.

School

Lehi School Building

Lehi School Building

“Because the school was so close, I was able to walk home for lunch. My Mom was always prepared because I would often bring a friend home with me! I did have a few friends in the ward too. Carl Johnson only lived a half mile away and I would walk over to his place. Jay Jones was only a mile away the other direction-if I cut through fields. Jay and I would often swap sandwiches if I did not walk home for lunch. Both our mothers baked bread. My Mom used white flour and his used whole wheat. We both thought the change was a treat!

Childhood Friend

“I looked up to Marc Bunker. He was a year older then me. Some of the other boys called him a “Goodie-goodie”, but I respected him and his convictions. Some of us spent some time at his place also. His folks had a small dairy on the corner of Horne and McDowell. I remember a large hill of dried manure. It must have been 12-15 feet high. We would climb on it, wrestling each other and trying to toss each other down the pile until one remained at the top as “King of the Mountain”. Of course, the winner never remained alone at the top very long. Soon he would be surrounded by three or four other boys who tossed him off and then battled to be the one remaining. Seems laughable now-the things we thought up to have “fun”! By the way, their dairy is now gone also-removed to make way for progress–as a freeway was extended through their property.
“Well, I realize now how different my life was than the children and youth of today. Maybe some will find my reminiscences interesting. Amazing how many little things come to mind, but I think this is enough for now. I will see if I can find some photos of those bygone days and places.”  – Alma Reeves Taylor III

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

I am glad I could record these great family memories.  The pictures were an added bonus! Your challenge today is to ask someone older than you some questions and record them! Comment on your experience.

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