Friday, January 31, 2014

Bishop Kent Harrison: Second BYU Married Ward, Normalization

The small apartment we rented as our first married home quickly became unbearable. Our queen-sized bed touched almost all the walls in the bedroom. The second room was L shaped and quite skinny. The living room/dining room was good sized but the kitchen was a sliver of a space.

Behind the kitchen was the bathroom and we had to finagle a shower in the tub. We put up the shower panels and that is where I did my famous caulking job. Ever since that experience, almost 30 years ago, I have been banned from a caulk gun.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bishop Allen: First BYU Married Ward, Awkwardness

I can recall very little about Bishop Allen except that he was small in stature, very quiet, and owned a family camera store. We lived in that ward for a very short time and found it challenging to make the transition from a singles ward to a married ward. I don’t think either of us was aware of these challenges.

Marriage is a vital part of the BYU experience and one of the main purposes of the singles ward is to help along the way. So, singles wards, by their very nature, are dynamic. Their goal is to make you feel wanted and important even those, like me, who bravely resisted.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bishop William Swinyard: Singles Ward Phase 2, The Transition

At the end of the Winter semester, 1982, my life changed forever. I had no way to anticipating such a dramatic change. I was in the same singles ward. I was still at BYU. And two of my three roommates were the same as well. Things looked good for continued anonymity.

We did move from our ratty old apartment at Le Chateau to a different complex a few blocks south. And I did get Brian Price as my new roommate. I served with Brian on my mission. But neither of those two events had anything to do with my dramatic life change.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bishop Stephen Durrant: Singles Ward Phase 1

I readily admit that I was not well integrated into my first singles ward. Well integrated… I was not even close to being integrated. So I had absolutely no relationship with Bishop Durrant. I may have met him once as a get-to-know-you type interview. But my goal was to fly completely under the radar and I accomplished that goal.

Why was I such a devoted introvert? Well, being non-social comes natural to me. It is my comfort zone. Why? Because it takes minimal effort and I was a strong advocate of expending a minimal effort at that time of my life. But let me go back in time a few years to provide some context.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bishop Robert Wotring: My Hero

To go from an intimidating bishop in Bishop Glenn to a shy, introverted bishop in Bishop Wotring was a huge change in my life. But the best part of this change was that Bishop Wotring was the father of my childhood friend, Bob.

Bishop Wotring was the exact opposite of Bishop Glenn. But don’t get me wrong; when it came to pure intelligence, there were few smarter than Bishop Wotring. It was just hard to imagine that this soft-spoken, blue-collar man had a PhD in Chemistry.

Perhaps the word that best typifies Bishop Wotring is conundrum – a confusing or difficult problem or question.

Bishop James D. Glenn Jr.: The Essence of Intimidation

Now, that title may seem a bit harsh. It is very likely that Bishop Glenn was indeed a kind and compassionate man. But when one is 13 and trying to sift through the complexities of life, Bishop Glenn was that type of person that easily intimidated me.

To start with, he was a lawyer. Not just a lawyer, but a very, very smart lawyer. I perceived that he knew everything about every topic. He could talk about sports, current events, cars, the gospel, and, of course, the law.

To add to his overpowering persona he was tall and had a commanding voice. He was not one to get down and interact with the youth. It was not his in is nature.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bishop Harold Clayson and the Law of Chastity

Bishop Clayson had the dubious distinction of being both my Bishop and my elementary school principal. Perhaps he is the reason why I spent my childhood doing all I could to avoid bishops. Seeing the bishop was literally like going to the principal’s office.

As I was quite young during his tenor as bishop, I really didn't get to know him that well. In fact, I have only one Bishop Clayson story. It may not be so appropriate for this blog, but I would tell it often to my BYU ward when I was bishop, so I might as well tell it here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


In the LDS world, especially when you are young, one of the most influential people in your life is the Bishop. I grew up with the idea that the Bishop is the person best to avoid. You only had to meet with him once or twice a year. When you advanced in the Aaronic Priesthood you couldn't avoid him. But other than that, if you stayed out of trouble, you could get by without ever having to go to his office. 

In fact, I was of the opinion that anyone who visited the Bishop for any other reason than your annual or biannual advancement interview was to be avoided. Frequent visits meant that person was having serious problems. No one wants to be that person.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Road Show #3 – The Dunky and Moron Show

Okay, now we enter a less positive time in my Road Show history. But before I comment on this, I need to explain how things changed from the last Road Show to this one.

In the mid-1970s the Church noticed that the Youth Program was completely run by adults. Each youth class had a presidency which meant a leadership structure. But the youth leadership was almost completely ignored. The adults thought up, planned, and executed all activities. The youth simply went along for the ride.

So, rather than being an experience to help cultivate leadership, the Church youth program simply entertained us. All we had to do was show up and something happened. This was especially true when it came to Road Shows. They were all completely controlled by the adults. The youth neither had say or wanted say when it came to being in charge. We were all pleased with the status quo.

But the Church was not. They could see great potential in taking a program that already had a rich history, MIA, and making it a training ground to develop youth leadership. Scouters would argue that is what Scouting had done for years. I beg to differ. I was a scout an I learned very little about leadership during all those years. But my disdain for Scouting is a topic for another post.

So, the Church introduced the concept of Shadow Leadership. This was interpreted to mean that the youth were to take over the entire youth program with the adults working in the shadows. A great concept in theory, but what happened in our ward was that the adults became absentee leaders and the youth had full reign. It was a disaster --  most notably in the realm of the Road Show.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Road Show #2 - Snow White

My second Road Show, at least the second one I remember, was a spoof on the Snow White story. Once again, this Road Show took place when there was still a strong adult influence on its production. That meant there would be a script writer, choreographer, and lyricist. It also meant there were going to be auditions.


Once I heard there were auditions, I knew my role in that Road Show would be limited. I was too young and way too awkward for a speaking part. I couldn't sing, so any part that required a solo, duet, or any amount of people singing was going to be way outside not only my comfort zone, but my talent zone as well. There was dancing again, but our cast was to be a lot smaller than the Monopoly Road Show, so I did all I could to shy away from any part that required dancing.

I cannot dance!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Road Show #1 - Monopoly

The first Road Show I participated in was clearly my favorite. I have no clue what the theme of the show was. But it involved almost the whole ward and was short on script and long on dancing and singing.

The beauty of this show was its simplicity. We had one prop -- a massive Monopoly board. That board dominated the entire back of the stage. Along the border were dozens of light bulbs so the board was not only prominent, it was extremely bright as well.

During the play the main characters made their way around the board. At each block of properties a different group of participants would come on stage wearing brightly colored costumes. They would sing and dance about their portion of the board. So, rather than changing stage sets, we simply had different groups performing.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road Show

The Church (LDS Church for those wondering) was quite different when I was growing up then is it today. First, we did not have the consolidated meeting schedule as we do now. The new schedule did not come about until February, 1980.

So, during my childhood, Church was an all-consuming event. All Priesthood holders went to Priesthood meeting sometime in the morning. Later that day was Sunday school which was split between Junior and Senior Sunday school. Sometime later there was Sacrament meeting. So most the day was spent getting ready for church, going to church, or being at church.

Primary was held mid-week. For us it always seemed to be on Wednesday. At Primary we all met in the chapel for opening exercises and then split off our different classes after that. Each class had its own distinct name like Sunbeam, Merry Miss, Gay Note (I think that one died an ignoble death), the ever popular Blazers.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


When Rachel and Miriam lived with us I would laugh, to myself of course, at the silly things that scared them. They were afraid of any animal or insect even if the insect was either dead or on the other side of a window. They were afraid of the vacuum. They were afraid of loud noises. Of course, they were afraid of the dark and of potential monsters. 

Nancy recently posted about taking the family to the museum and having poor Miriam afraid of an open fish tank. If it didn't have a lid, then surely it would spill. The great thing about most childhood fears is that we all eventually grow out of them. But as this is a somewhat historical essay, I want to review those things that frightened me when I was young and see which of those fears persisted.

I was never afraid of furry animals. I loved cats, dogs, hamsters, and almost anything that could be considered a pet. However I was and still am afraid of bunnies. Okay, not the fear that causes me to want to run away should a bunny hop in my path. I fear petting a bunny or, worse yet, picking one up. I am convinced it will scratch me with its hind legs or bite me with its large, razor sharp teeth. To be honest, Monty Python and the Holy Grail did not alleviate my fear of rabbits.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dad is alone with the kids!

A long time ago, I think I was about 7 or 8, my Mom went to a Relief Society Enrichment Night and left us children alone with Dad. We were having a grand old time, eating popcorn for dinner and jumping on the trampoline in the backyard. We even convinced Dad to join us on the Trampoline. I believe that Andrew was inside doing dishes but I have no memory where everyone else was.
As Dad and I were jumping on the trampoline he started to see if he could interrupt my bounce. Well, needless to say, it worked and if I remember right I was bounced off the trampoline and my arm got caught in the bar. I started screaming and crying. Dad flew off the trampoline and called for Andrew to bring a blanket to wrap my arm in.
Dad then rushed me to the Instacare or something close to that since I don't remember an actual E.R. This was a time before cell phones so Mom had no idea that I was hurt yet. While waiting for the Doctor to see me a nurse came out to write down what happened. They asked my Dad and I the same questions but I, being the emotional wreck that I was, told the nurse flat out that "My Dad broke my arm". Dad looked at me with a little panic in his eyes and clarified that I fell of the trampoline and it broke. After she finished asking the questions they took me back for an x-ray. My arm was indeed broken.

They didn't put my cast on until I think the next day. They wrapped my arm with a splint and sent me home. When we got home, Mom wasn't home yet so Dad let me sleep in the guest bedroom. I think I remember Mom coming home and her looking in on me and then talking to Dad to find out what happened. I know that she was there when the doctor set my arm and put the cast on it. But to this day I still say that my Dad broke my arm.

My Big Toe

I hate power tools.

Ever since I was young I had a mortal fear of them. This seems odd because Dad loved his power tools. He was always using a jigsaw, power drill, or the ever-so-frightening circular saw. I hated the circular saw. I mean there you are holding a loud tool ready to rip off any body part that even looked at it.

With this fear already entrenched in my psyche, I have no idea why I took metal shop and wood shop in Junior high. Here they had tools like a the band saw, lathe, and worse yet, the table saw. My theory is that the table saw harkens back to the Middle Ages when they would use the rack to torture people and then a saw to vivisect them.


Over the years I have taught many Family History classes at church. It was always odd to me that I would be called upon to do such a thing. I really have no great fondness for genealogy. But, this call keeps coming my way.

Rather than teach about the IGI, pedigree charts, and family group sheets, I focused more on personal histories. On the first day of the course, I ask each class member to share their first memory. I caution them that the truth of that memory is less important that the memory itself. I say this because one’s first memory is usually when one is too young to understand what is really going on. At least, that is how it is with me.

My first memory has me sitting on a conveyor belt of some sort and I am wearing almost nothing. On that belt is a needle that comes around over and over again and pokes me on the bottom. An odd memory, to say the least.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Dead Bee, Some Mud, and Blood Poisoning

I had never been stung by a bee in my life. When I was at Camp Royaneh as a scout, I was bit by a yellow jacket while playing Indian field hockey. It hurt, but there was no allergic reaction.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Of Tennis Shoes, a Dirty Sock, a Rusty Nail, and Blood Poisoning

Okay, two broken arms and now blood poisoning. I guess I have to redefine my interpretation of not being accident prone.

I am not sure how it happened. It was most likely at ward service project. But I stepped on a big, old rusty nail. The nail went through the bottom of my shoe, grabbed a piece of my dirty sock, and penetrated the soul of my foot.

Yeah, it hurt.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Of Baseball, Bobby, a Bicycle, and a Broken Arm

I seem to be in the mood to explain all my injuries after clearly stating that I lived a mostly injury free life. Now I am starting to doubt that myself.

My best friend in my early childhood years was my across the street neighbor, Bobby Gonzalves. He was a year younger than I was but we got along great. And we loved playing sports.

During football season we would play tackle on our front lawn. We couldn't play on his lawn because it was sloped and his father, Bob, loved his lawn. Our lawn was expendable. If we didn't have enough kids for tackle, we would stand out in the street and play catch.

Now we lived in a very residential area of Fremont so playing in the street was a mostly safe endeavor. That was until you fell down on the hard asphalt. I had a number of scraped knees and elbows from that wonderful street.

We had a safety system that worked quite well. If I saw a car coming towards us, I would warn Bobby. If he saw a car coming towards me, he would yell out the warning. Mostly it was our neighbors who drove on Higgins way, our street, and they learned long ago to be mindful of us during the day. Typically, we could play for hours without seeing a car.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Of Fourth of July, Tall Beds, and a Broken Arm

As I mentioned on a previous post, I was not a sickly child, nor was I very accident prone. I mean some children grow up spending many hours in the ER for some reason or another. Not me. I never went into the ER during my childhood for any personal ailment.

One reason may have been that Mom was reluctant to accept that we were hurt bad enough to warrant a trip to the ER. I guess that is where I get my “walk it off” mentality. Not that mom was insensitive to our pain. When Matt broke his arm it was obvious that something was wrong. When Rod was an infant and not eating or sleeping, again it was obvious that an ER visit was necessary.

When I got hurt, I was never that obvious.

A New Year's Surprise

Emily and Morgan moved into our home on Friday, December 27. Emily had completed her coursework at BYU-I and had secured a student teaching position at a school in South Jordan, UT. As they have very little income, it made sense for them to live with us during this transitional time.

To add to the complexity of the move, Emily as also 8.5 month pregnant. She was due on January 11, 2014. I guess she and Morgan wanted to reenact the Christmas story by travelling a long distance while very, very pregnant. Only, instead of a donkey they brought their little dog Sadie. (I am thinking a donkey would have been way cool.)

Andrew's Sick Christmas

I think it was the Christmas of 1986 or 1987. We are living in Durham, NC in our house on Revere Rd. This was to be the first Christmas that Andrew would be old enough to be less impressed with the wrapping paper, bows, and boxes and more involved with the concepts of presents.

I can remember how excited he was as the presents under the tree magically increased but this year we didn't have to watch him like a hawk to prevent him from opening gifts too early. So we were excited as well.

On Christmas Eve, we likely had a bunch of ward members over for dinner. That was our tradition. The Chapel Hill Ward was a home away from home. Most people our age were far away from family so the ward became the family. This was especially true around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Krampus - The "Real" Story

In typical German fashion, there is a companion to St. Nicholas known as Krampus, the Black Santa. I say this is typical for the Germans as they excel is scaring children into obedience. In my mind, the entire macabre suite of Grimm Fairy Tales was designed by these rather grim brothers to warn children that if they stepped out of line they will be dealt with quite harshly.

In that same vein, Oma and Opa had a children's book called Max und Mortiz. It was in German, of course, but it had lots of pictures so when we were young, Oma would tell us the story in English.

Max and Moritz were two mischievous children that would play tricks on the villagers. Their final trick was on a farmer who was carrying sacks of grain for his ducks. The boys poked holes in the bags causing the farmer to lose all his feed. Angered by this prank, the farmer put the two boys in the bags, ground them up and fed them to the ducks.

Ah, to be German....

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I just want to know if I'm the only one who remembers hiding under the kitchen table after hearing the story of Krampus from Grandpa? I was so scared to move or do anything bad. Krampus scared the crap out of me when I was younger and now scares Kayl just the same.

Jacob's First Heiss Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas memories was the Christmas 1996. This was the first Christmas with Jacob in our home.

We don’t know much about the first four and half years of Jacob’s life and I am not sure how much he remembers of the time before he came to our home first and a foster child then later as an adopted son. But my best guess is that he had very few fond memories.

As usual in our house, the Christmas decorations started going up just after Thanksgiving and it all started with the tree. During the weeks before Christmas, more and more presents appeared under the tree and Jacob would check each morning to see if any new presents had arrived. He couldn't read at this time so he didn't care if the presents were for him. He just wanted to see if there are any new ones there.