Sunday, December 14, 2014

In the Beginning

So, it has been almost a year since I started this historical blog and I just noticed I have commented on different parts of my past but I have no cohesive form. I will now try to replace this chronologically chaotic stream of consciousness with a more sequential story. But, if I decide that is to constraining, I will once again bounce around as I see fit. Besides, this is my history.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – The Aftermath

Well, with summer camp now behind us, we prided ourselves in surviving our adventures and in the process completing four out of five merit badges. The Camping merit badge requires a lot of nights that we knew we couldn’t meet on this activity. But they did add three nights to their total.

So, on paper, this was a great success. The boys were completely involved in the planning, preparation, and execution the camp. They learned skills that they had to use and they had great time in the process. We came back from this experience a close-knit group having shared a common challenge. But this experience reinforced in me that my skills did not include scouting.

True, we had great experience. But I knew that scouting would always be an obstacle for me. I enjoyed the camaraderie that comes from the experience. Yet there was no way the troop would succeed as a scout troop if I were its leader. So, the Sunday after we got back, I asked Bishop Carroll to release me as soon as possible.

He was reluctant to do so. He told me that the boys had never had such a good time with scouting. But I could read the writing on the wall. I had given it all I could. So, I was released. In less than two years I was working with the youth as Young Men’s President. That was where I belonged. 

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 3: Pioneering

Our last merit badge to work on was Pioneering. We decided to build a tower that had a ladder to climb up and a platform where you could stand once you made it to the top. Now, we had practiced our lashing and knots for weeks ahead of the camp. So we know what to do. But we had never built anything that we would actually climb on.

Luckily, Dave Freeman was the expert and he came up Friday afternoon with the ropes and poles. As soon as he arrived we started building. First we lashed together the platform. Once that was done we started on the structure that would support the platform. Finally, we built the ladder that would allow us to climbed up. The platform of the tower was about 10 feet off the ground.

The boys had a great time building it and Burt and Dave did a fantastic job working with them. In few hours we were ready to hoist the tower from the ground and test our great pioneering skills. The test would come by having each boy climb up -- one of a time, of course.

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 2: Wilderness Survival

Now, this was the day I was dreading and the one the boys were looking forward to. As part of the requirements for Wilderness Survival, we and to make our own sleeping structure from items we found on the ground. No axes, no hammers, and no tents were allowed. Although, the merit badge pamphlet stated we could we a tarp to avoid sleeping wet.

The BSA was also trying to advocate leave no trace camping so we could not cook any food. We had to eat whatever was in our packs and we had out to haul out all garbage. Indeed, after we left, the campsite had to look more natural than it did before we got there. Well, we didn’t do well with that part of the requirement, as you will see.

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – Day 1: The Prelude

So the day the of the summer camp finally arrived. It was not going to be a full week. Rather, it went from Wednesday through Saturday. On Wednesday, we did the following

  •   Arrive
  • Setup camp
  • Start the Environmental Science observations

The boys needed 30 hours of observation so we had to allow that in our plans. But, get real. Can you image a group of young, teen-age boys standing for 30 hours in some natural habitat documenting the flora and fauna? No way. So my job was to walk around visiting each little group of boys and pretending to find value in what the requirement stated. Mostly, we just chatted.

To help with the Cooking merit badge the boys had full responsibility for each meal. They planned the meals before we left. I went shopping with them to procure the food. Finally, they had to prepare each meal and clean up.

It was great having Burt there to help in this area. Not only did we avoid starving, we ate fairly well. The cool part was the preparing, cooking, and cleaning took time and planning so this became structured time that kept the boys involved.

We had a campfire that night and I tried to be my dad. But that didn’t go over well. Burt contributed much and the boys wanted to do skits. We had a reasonable good scouting time. But my real apprehension was brewing. The next day would bring Wilderness Survival to the forefront. Did I mention that I have camping?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Summer Camp at Blackhawk – The Preparation

As I mentioned earlier, when I was called to be Scoutmaster I was also informed that the boys were to have a troop sponsored summer camp and not to attend a council sponsored camp. There is a great difference between these two types of camps – at least from the Scoutmaster’s point of view.

At a council camp, the council is responsible for the merit badge classes, activities and other items designed to occupy the boy’s time. The busier the boys were the less trouble they would get into. Well, that’s the theory. They get into enough trouble even when their schedule is full. Twelve to thirteen year-old boys are the epitome of chaos.

With a troop sponsored camp, the entire burden of the camp rests upon the shoulders of the Scoutmaster. Well, I should say the Scoutmaster and the troop committee. But the troop committee rarely exists and when it does exist, it rarely contributes in any way to the troop.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What? Scoutmaster. Me!!!

One the cruel twist of fate in my life was being called a Scoutmaster. Now, I had been raised never to turn down a calling. I had also been raised that all callings came from God. I had assumed, growing up, that “coming from God” meant God spoke directly the church leader extending the calling as He did to Joseph Smith.

Well, that illusion lasted until I served in Bishopric and saw how most callings were really extended. The Bishopric looks at the likes and interests of the person, discusses what positions are open, determines if the person has the time and can contribute positively to the dynamics of the proposed organization, then prays about it. Absent a lightning bolt, earthquake, or other tangible manifestation supporting or opposing the decision, the Bishopric extends that calling.

Now we can debate the true nature of inspiration or the vagaries of revelation, or we can just move on. I suggest we move on and have that conversation face to face.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Actual Ax Accident

Pardon the assonance, but how could I resist?

One of the verities of Scouting is that you will have injuries. While most are minor, there have been incidents of serious injuries and even deaths. Luckily, I have never been a witness to either of these two tragedies.

But when you take a group of boys to the outdoors and add fire, knives, axes, saws, bows, arrows, guns, canoes, swimming, and hiking all together you have a perfect recipe for injuries. I have learned when a scout or scout leader starts an activity with the words: “Watch me do this…” it is better to call 911 first, and then watch the crazy stunt that is sure to follow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Royaneh Raccoons

When Dad was Scout master and I was still too young to attend Boy Scouts, I had the pleasure of going to two days of Scout Summer Camp as Dad’s guest. Because I was the Scoutmaster’s son, none of the older boys ever teased me and, to be honest, they were all quite nice to me. This made me feel great.

At school, I did not have too many friends. I was small, skinny, and less than coordinated when it came to sports. Sports was the key social outlet for a young boy. So, I was either excluded or purposely excluded myself. Of course, it didn't help being pigeon toed either. Anything that makes you different than others leads to uncomfortable social ostracism.

But scout camp was different. There I was included. I mattered. No one made fun of me. So I really looked forward to going there with Dad.

Of Knives, Fires, and S ’mores

I hope I made it clear that not all of my scouting placed a horrible scar on my young psyche. I had many enjoyable and sometimes laughable times as a scout. So now that I have bored even the hardiest of readers with my personal scouting experiences, I want to take the time to reflect on some of my more happy memories.

The first one that comes to mind was our day hike at the Sunol Park just east of Fremont. Jim and Carol Harris were the Blazer Scout leaders and drove our small patrol out to the park. This was our first true scouting experience as young boys. Our parents weren't with us. He had on our uniforms. Better yet, there was to be a camp fire.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Made Eagle: The End of my Boy Scout Adventures

As I stated earlier, I was on track to make Eagle Scoutbefore my 14th birthday. Well, it took me almost four years to get my last three merit badges and to complete my project. Why? Well, to be blunt, earning my Eagle Scout meant nothing to me at all. In fact, I was resolved not to pursue that award. But I was so stinking close that I had a change of heart.

In February, 1978 I was contemplating what to get my Dad for his birthday on February 26. I had a job and I had money. But for a teenager to find an adequate gift to give to his parents is always a challenge. If parents truly want something, they have the resources to go get it. So, I was stuck with no idea of what to get my Dad.

Then it hit me. What if I gave him my last three merit badges? By now, the challenge of earning a merit badge was over. These requirements were designed to challenge 12 year olds. I simply had to swallow my pride, read the dumb merit badge book, perform the requirements, (making sure I chose the easiest ones possible), and need go see a merit badge counselor. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Scouts: The Beginning of the End

At last, after three years of Cub Scouts and one year in the Guide Patrol/Blazers I was finally a real Boy Scout. But, as I said, just before I turned 12, Dad was released as Scout Master and made Elder’s Quorum President. The new Scout Master was Steve Barnes.

Steve was a towering figure in the ward. Well, he was about seven feet tall and wore size 18 shoes. So, he was physically towering – his size made quite the impression on us. He was a great man and we enjoyed him as Scout Master and he enjoyed being with us. But he didn’t have the spark that made scouting fun. I had seen how Dad had made scouting a joy. So I had a benchmark and the troop I was part of fell way short of my expectations.

Of course, being the overzealous person that I am, during my first year of scouting I was totally into it. By the time I was 13 I had all but two or three merit badges for Eagle. I was on a pace to meet or exceed Matt’s accomplishment of being Eagle before I was 14. But then I stopped.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guide Patrol: A Time of Transition

Once a boy reached 11 he was done with Cub Scouts. But Boy Scouts officially starts at age 12. So there is this transition year when the boy is no longer a Cub but not quite a Scout. When I was growing up, that transitional state was called the Guide Patrol. But my time in the Guide Patrol was more than a transition between Cubs and Scouts; it was also a time of transition of the Scouting program at the Church level.

Now, trying to change an entrenched Scout culture is not a simple thing. But looking back, I can see a trend developing among the Church leaders. Primary and Jr. Sunday School were staples of the pre-youth group. But little doctrine was taught there. The Church could see that the youth needed to be better prepared for the challenges that would face them so they gradually changed the emphasis of Primary. 

Weblos: The Turning Point

I am forced to admit that I loved being a Cub Scout. I loved the crafts we made, the uniform, the advancement, the recognition, and most of all, I loved my Den Mothers. But when a Cub Scout turns 10, it is time to leave the Den and become a member of the Weblos.

What in the world is the Weblos? Well, it comes from the combination of the phrase: “We’ll be loyal scouts.” Up until today, I thought the acronym was:  “We be loyal scouts.” But a quick check in the web corrected my decade’s long journey in Ebonics.

While Cub Scouting was maternally based, Weblos was male dominated, well at least it was for me. I think that was the first great shock to my strong Cub Scout spirit. I can’t recall for sure the name of my Weblos leader, but I think it was Br. Larsen. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Joy of Cub Scouts: Random Crafts

A previous post was supposed to tell about the fun crafts we made as cub scouts but it wound up being solely about the Pinewood Derby. While it was fun reminiscing about the derby, and perhaps exaggerating a bit (though not much), the Pinewood Derby was only once a year. My two years in Cub Scouts were filled with other fun things.

With November being about Thanksgiving, we made a turkey from old Reader’s Digest magazines. I looked all over the web and could not find an image of the turkey, but I remember carefully folding each page of the magazine, opening it up and stapling the front cover to the back, and then gluing the turkey head, feet, and tail feathers to the base.

The Joy of Cub Scouts: Rocket Derby

One year, I think while I was a Bear, we did the Cub Scout Rocket Derby. Though not nearly as competitive and famous (or infamous) as the Pinewood Derby, it was way cool to create a rocket that would glide down a taut wire by a rubber band propeller. The best part of the Rocket Derby was that I could use this rocket at home.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Joy of Cub Scouts: The Pinewood Derby

Ah, the halcyon days of cub scouts.

To be honest, I don’t recall a single scouting skill I learned while a Cub Scout. I earned my Wolf  and Bear badges as well as all the arrow point that are associated with each rank. But I don’t recall any pure scouting skill. Rather my memories are tied to a handful of fun things we made.

Of course, there was the Pinewood Derby. Cub Scouts in not complete without the Pinewood Derby. To be honest, however, the derby is more of a contest for the father’s than for the boys. But the boys do feel that utter exhilaration of the competition including “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” There are always many tears shed as only one Cub Scout can triumph.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cub Scouts: My Good Deed

My guess is that after all the posts about Dad’s scouting experiences and all the good he did to mold the lives of the dozens of boys that passed through his troop you would assume that I would be the world’s greatest advocate for Scouting. However, I started the series of posts lambasting the BSA and calling them irrelevant. An odd sentiment coming from one so steeped in Scouting.

I still hold firm to my assertion of the need to jettison Scouting from our culture. But, I say this not as a critic from the outside looking in, but as a person who has been inside and is now looking out. To that end, I will now share some of my memories of Scouting to help you, and me, better understand why I feel the way I do.

To be sure, I have many fond memories of being a Scout. In fact, my initial experience as a Cub Scout provided some of the happiest childhood memories I have.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Eagles by the Dozen

As I mentioned earlier, the highest rank a boy can achieve in Scouting is Eagle. This award can take from 2 to 6 years to accomplish. While the ratio of boys who join the Boy Scouts and achieve Eagle is about 5-7 percent, in Dad’s troops, those that ratio seemed much higher. It is likely that in his 16 years as Scoutmaster Dad has lost the exact count of those who achieved this rank under his leadership, none of us will ever forget the day he had 12 Eagles at one Court of Honor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Trail to Eagle

As I mentioned in a previous post, Dad never had advancement through the rank of scouting as his prime motivating focus. But, it was still a focus. And advancement plays a vital role in the process of scouting.

When a boy first enters the scout program he must earn the rank of Tenderfoot. This rank is designed to introduce a young 12 year-old boy into the culture of Scouting. He needs to learn the Scout Law, Scout Oath, Scout Motto, and the purpose behind Scouting. This rank is rather simple to obtain but helps cement the boy into the program with the sense of achievement.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Frank Heiss and Scouting: The Golden Age – Part 3: Changing Lives

As much as Dad saw importance in the scouting program, I firmly believe he always had a higher purpose in supporting this program. To him, scouting was more than merit badges, camping, hiking, and advancement. To Dad, scouting provided him the context, for over 18 years, to positively impact the lives of the boys in his charge. 
I also believe Dad saw scouting as more than “the activity arm or the Aaronic Priesthood.” He saw it as a way to instill core gospel principles into the lives members and non-members alike. Perhaps his greatest work was done by creating a program that excited his member scouts to willingly invite their non-member friends. 
At one point, Troop 106 was almost half member and half non-member. True, this was in California and not in Utah. So there was a much greater pool of non-member boys to include. But to have so many community members attending Mutual each week, being made aware of the youth activities, interacting with adult youth leaders and, perhaps more important, the LDS girls yielded nothing but positive results.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Frank Heiss and Scouting: The Golden Age – Part 2: Creating a Troop

So, Dad was now Scout Master of Troop 106. Now what?

He had never been Scout Master before. It is easy to know exactly how to do something, like being Scout Master, until you face the abyss of actually being in charge. The transition from theory to reality can be a challenge. But Dad did have one thing to his advantage – there was no legacy of scouting in the Fremont 3rd Ward.

This made things easier because expectations were low and there was no one’s shadow that dictated his course. Dad was free to experiment. His first troop became his laboratory. But, where to start?

The first thing he had to do was create order from chaos. The boys had no concept of what a scout troop should be and how it should act. They had no idea why needed a uniform. They did not understand the trail to Eagle. So that is where he started – the basics.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Frank Heiss and Scouting: The Golden Age – Part I: The Beginning

Times were different in the 1960s and 1970s. America was brushing off the façade of the 1950s where life was seen through a glass darkly. The world of Leave to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and the simplicity of Lassie was over.

These weekly television classics gave way to The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and All in the Family.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Opa and Scouting: The Beginning

I had the occasion to spend some time with Dad recently to get his input on the connection the Heiss family has with scouting. I knew it started with Opa, but I didn’t know how or why.

When Dad was about to turn 12, the bishop of the ward asked Opa to serve as Scout Master. Now, Opa had no experience with scouting. In fact, he didn’t know the first thing about the organization or the history the church had with this program. But the calling came as a perfect storm.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Scouting and the Church: My Perspective

I will not try to recite the long history the Church has had with scouting. It is has been a 100 year relationship.

To be fair, scouting advocates many positive things – faith, loyalty, honesty, service, and so on. So it made sense that a Church, trying to find a vehicle to engage its young men that was positive and exciting, turned to scouting.

Scouting had its heyday in the church up until about the 1960s. But from the 1960s to the 1980s, the nation’s attention towards scouting as well as that of the young men of the Church began to wane. Life changed and scouting fell behind. That is not to say the values of scouting were any less important. These are still great values.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Scouting: Time to Face the Abyss

The Heiss family has a rich and lengthy tradition when it comes to scouting. But I have a feeling this tradition will end in the next generation. To be honest, I don’t think that will be a bad thing. I feel that Church has outgrown its need for scouting and in the years to come, I hope we will wean the North American Church from chokehold of this antiquated programs.

So, if we have such a familial connection to scouting, why am I such an advocate for abolishing this vestige of the past? First, I feel scouting takes a lot of church, resources in time, manpower, and money, to support this program with a very small return on this investment.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tanner Larsen

Now that I have completed my posts about the bishops in my life, I can return to the chaotic ramblings of my history. As you may have noticed by now, I do not do to well in sequentially presenting events in my life. That is why I chose to use this blog. I feel this blogging medium is a forum that is open to the chronological as well as the immediate posts.

To that end, I am now including a post about an experience I had with a young, sick boy named Tanner Larsen. First, let me provide you some background.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm in the New York Times!

I realize this blog is dedicated to Heiss History, but in this fast-paced world, sometimes history happens fast.

 Here is a portion of an article published in the New York Times about young women, Jessica Sagers, who was recently accepted for a PhD program at Harvard.

 Jessica was in my BYU Singles Ward for a year as I served as bishop. She was interview by the Times as part of an article to help paint a picture of the changing role of Mormon women. Here is what the Times wrote:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bishop Tom Elder: The Activist

Bishop Kelsey served his five years and was replaced by Tom Elder. Unique is the best way to describe Tom. Tom and his family came into the ward the same way the Kelsey’s did – through a small boundary adjustment.

Before the boundaries were reorganized, Tom’s parents moved into the ward. The house belonged to Norma Humphries when we first moved into this ward. The odd thing about our ward is you are identified by the former occupants of the home where you live. For example, we moved into the Stanton’s home. Which meant that when we introduce you for the first while we had to tell people we live in the Stanton’s home? It just makes things easier.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bishop Forrest Kelsey: A Truce

Bishop Gardner stayed in his calling for five years and kept me and Jim Graham as his counselors for the whole time he served. This is not rare, but typically bishops change at least one counselor during their time. Because he didn't make any such changes, we were all deeply invested into the ward and its people.

That has a positive and slightly negative aspect. The positive is that leadership is most effective in this church when the leaders establish strong personal relationships. The negative is that when the calling comes to an end, those relationships, which had a lot to do with the calling, suddenly, and quite eerily, change.

When I had a time to think about the transition, it was as if my head, once filled with the voices of all the ward members, went suddenly silent. It is a hard thing to experience. It is quite lonely and you feel as if you will never be a contributor to the cause again.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sustaining Church Leaders: A Conundrum

I want to pause in my posts about the bishops in my life to focus on a more sensitive subject.

I realize this blog is to be historical and that it is not intended to be a forum for ideas. But I believe that the stories we share should provide the listener, or reader in this case, a glimpse into our souls. We need to share stories so that others come to know us better. In that process, we come to know ourselves better as well.

I use this as a prelude to a post about my interpretation of what it means to sustain church leaders. As I mentioned above, this is a sensitive topic because there is no real training for LDS people on what it means to sustain a leader. Likewise, there is no training for church leaders on how to be sustainable. What complicates this issue is that one of the covenants made in the temple is that we will not speak ill of those called to lead us.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bishop Richard Gardner: A Friend and Mentor

I remember the day that Bishop Carroll was notified of his release. I was sitting outside his office in my capacity of Executive Secretary, as he was interviewing his daughter, Mandy. When he was done, I went into his office to see who was next and he had a glazed look on his face. I asked him what was wrong and he said that the Stake President just called him to extend his release.

I am now quite familiar with the range of emotions that hit Bishop Carroll upon learning of his release. It is, as he said, a bitter sweet experience. But mostly bitter.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bishop Ron Carroll: Compassionate Incarnate

Apparently, Bishop Dowling had a deal with President Perkins that once his son, Chris; left on his mission he would be released. Not long after we arrived in the Northridge 2nd ward, young Chris Dowling had his Farwell. At the end of that Sacrament meeting, Bishop stood and announced that he would be released the following Sunday.

I know that President Perkins was fully aware of this. President Perkins knew how to run a stake. But the ward was quite stunned that Bishop Dowling would announce his own release. But that was Bishop Downing for you. The question the ward had for the next week was who would replace Bishop Dowling. Who could?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bishop Chris Dowling: Redefining the Role of Bishop

We left our little corner of Zion in the Chapel Hill ward to return back to the west after eight years. Brad Kramer and Mike Tullis left a year or so ahead of us to go work for WordPerfect in Orem, UT. They opened the way for me to get hired on.

For me this as a complete career change. I was working at Duke University as a programmer and IT specialist. The job at Word Perfect was for a Technical Writer. They wanted me because I had eight years’ experience as a user and that was quite rare in the technical writing world.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bishop Richard Rust: Taming the Hill

When Bishop Scholes was released, Richard D. Rust was called in his place. Both men were entirely different and Bishop Rust had a huge task ahead of him.

In our stake, the Chapel Hill ward had a reputation of being a maverick. Our ward was the anchor of the stake and we staffed many of its positions. But the Stake President, Pete Bennett, was suspicious of our ward. I am not exactly sure why.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bishop Joseph Scholes: Coming to Zion

In April, 1985 I graduated from BYU. I had a degree in History and was itching to get to graduate school and pursue a PhD. After many twists and turns along the way, I was accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It took a while to get all the move plans set, but in the summer of 1985 we hopped in our nine passenger Chevy Impala station wagon, which we bought for $500, and made our way east.

A nine passenger station wagon with Andrew, Karen, and me. We did have the car packed full with the stuff we felt we needed for that long trip is a young baby. Everything else we owned was in part of a larger truck that was slowly making its way to Chapel Hill. We had to get there before the truck and find a place or we would have to pay extra.

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.