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I was born on September 14, 1922, in the only family home I ever remember in Orderville, Kane County, Utah. My mother never did go to a doctor or a hospital when she had her ten children. The midwife who took care of her when I was born was an old woman who had served as a midwife for the United Order when it was in operation in Orderville during the 1870‘s and 1880’s. Her name was Lydia Fackrell. She wasn’t really our aunt, but since everybody in town called her “Aunt,” we called her that too.

Looking back, I can’t remember much about Aunt Lydia Fackrell except that she was an old, old woman when I grew old enough to know who she was. I do, however, remember the old two-story house she lived in set off by itself up in the northwest corner of town alongside the central irrigation ditch for the town and with only barns for neighbors. I can recall that my parents told me that the old house used to be the tithing office for the community when tithing used to be paid in kind – in the form of loads of hay, carrots, chickens, calves, turnips, eggs, etc, and that on the big empty lot where the big old house in which she lived stood there used to be a big barn and corrals for taking care of the tithing contributions.

Although I, of course, can’t remember the events of my birth, I have a few fleeting memories of when my younger brother, Donald, five years younger than I am, was born, and these suggest to me somewhat what conditions might have been like when I was born. I can remember that when Donald was born Mother’s bed was put in the parlor in order, I suppose, to give her privacy inasmuch as there was another bed in her and my father’s bedroom in which some of us children slept. I can remember also being taken care of by my older sisters, Lenna and Emily, during that time and the special pleadings they made every time we children entered the house to be quiet in order not to awaken the new baby and my mother. I can remember also that mother was sick in bed for several days, quite a contrast to the present day when new mothers get out of their hospital beds a few hours after giving birth to their babies. I can remember my sisters taking dinner and supper into the parlor on a tray, and their going in there with a pan of water to wash her at night before we all went to bed. All in all, the house was in disruption for the time that my mother was sick in bed.

My father was rather a slight man but a vigorous and energetic one who got things done. He was about five feet eight inches tall, weighed around 150 pounds and had sandy hair and blue eyes. At the time I remember him, he was about 50 years of age and much of his hair had receded back so that he was mostly bald on top of his head. His slightness in build, however, did not interfere with his ability to get things done. He was a doer who was constantly on the move – up early in the morning and the last to go to bed at night. Although he looked small he apparently possessed considerable physical strength, and he was in addition always an active thinker.

Active throughout his life in the church and the community, my father held numerous positions of trust and importance. He served for a number of years as a counselor to Bishop Edward Carroll, and when Bishop Carroll was released he was made bishop. And in the community and the county he was a leader. He served two terms as representative for Kane County in the State Legislature and for short time was a Kane County Commissioner.

More importantly, however, my father was a doer who got things done without having to be elected to a position or to be asked to do something. My mother frequently recalled how many times father would hitch up his team after a snowstorm and clear sidewalks and roads so people of the community could get around, and he was always active in the planning that went on among various groups for improvements in the community. I recall that he was always active in the irrigation company, serving at various times as its president and its secretary.

My father was a serious man when I knew him, an indication I fell, of how tense and intense a life he led in his daily round of activities as a community and church leader and family head and supporter. Rarely do I remember him smiling, and “small talk” and pleasantries were not a part of his personality. For this reason I am always somewhat surprised every time I see a particular photograph of him that was taken when he was serving his first term in the Legislature, for this photo reveals a smiling face that is quite different from the unsmiling father I mainly remember. As I recall the story behind the photograph, father had worked very hard for approval of the bill authorizing Utah’s participation in the Boulder Dam project, and now upon passage of this bill he was delighted and pleased. In memory of this event my father had printed underneath his picture the words “When the Boulder Dam Bill was passed.”

July Fourth was a big day for me when I was a boy growing up. Orderville joined in whole heatedly in celebration, and for the young people particularly it was a big day.

The day would start off at dawn with the shooting off a cannon, followed by a serenade by the Martial Band in the back of a pickup or the bed of a large truck. This would be followed by a program from 10:00 to noon, sports from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., and a dance that evening. In between there would be activities of all kinds – shooting off firecrackers, spending the fifty cents allowance at Chamberlain’s Store of the Co-op, eating dinner with the family at noon, and socializing with friends. It was a full, big day.

One special feature of the Fourth also was sleeping in the evening of the Third of July out on the lawn just outside my Mom and Dad’s bedroom window. It seemed as if that was the highlight of the occasion for me - the sleeping with my brothers and my friends on the night so filled with expectations for the great day on the morrow.

The Martial Band was an institution that had been around from the earliest days of the community. Five or six fife-players, a snare-drummer, and a bass-drummer would serenade the town in the early morning. I still remember the sound of the Martial Band playing as we would lie in bed before getting up, and the sound of the music getting gradually louder as the pickup in which the band was riding would approach nearer and nearer and finally get right there, and then the sound of the music gradually getting fainter and fainter as the band would ride on away from us.

The Martial Band also had a featured part in the morning program. They would always play two or three numbers in this program, which also featured somebody giving a talk on the meaning and the significance of the “The Glorious Fourth.”

I remember the Martial Band especially because, as I developed and grew into a teenager, I was asked to become a member of the band. I played the snare drum two or three Fourths of July when I was in high school. Several evening rehearsals during the two weeks preceding the Fourth would get the band in shape for the bid day, and these practices helped to get the townspeople primed up and ready for the occasion. The music of the practice, often done in the old ward hall or else outside, as Bishop Henry Chamberlain’s or the home of some other band member would be heard for a block or town on either side of the place where the practice was going on. Hearing the band practicing reminded one that the Fourth of July was near.

Sometimes too there would be a parade through the street of the town prior to the program. The Martial Band riding on a truck would head up the parade, followed by two or three decorated trucks, boys on bicycles, a little wagon or two decorated in bright red, white and blue crepe paper, a horseback rider or two and some automobiles. The parade, unlike the program and the sports, was sometimes held, sometimes not, but it was held often enough that one missed it if it was not held. Always the featured float in the parade would be the one on which the girl designated by a title such as Miss Liberty, Miss Stars and Stripes, or Miss Independence Day would ride, usually the first one in line immediately after the Martial Band.

The favorite pet in our family when I was a boy growing up was a dog named Bingo. He wasn’t my dog or anybody else’s in the family particularly - he was just a family dog. And some members of the family didn’t like him. For instance, my brother Roland, who worked closely with the sheep, seemed to have only scorn for Bingo, who didn’t have any skills in herding sheep. In fact, as I think about Bingo, he didn’t have any skills at all except the hang around the home place, chase cars, and be fed and petted. He was a town dog in contrast to the long-haired sheep dogs that stayed out to the sheepherd the year around and whom we rarely saw except when we went down to the Dipping corral to meet the sheepherd when it came north from the Arizona Stoys in the Spring and headed south in the late fall. These dogs were lean and hard and unplayful and cold to the pats and talk of strangers.

But Bingo was different. He had nothing at all to do all day long but lie around and be sociable and friendly, and , until his last few months of life, he remained that way.

When I was a boy I remember a comical yet painful experience that I had. We were going to make a batch of ice cream and my older sisters had gone to the store to get something to go into it. While I was climbing around on the woodbox next to the stove, I slipped and knocked over the cream. Everything fell to the floor and ran together in a great big mess.

Immediately my mother came running, but instead of feeling sorry for me, she scolded me. And when my sisters got home from the store, they in turn scolded me too.

Worst of all, however,was the fact that we had no ice cream for there was no milk and cream and flavoring for a second batch.

Needless to say, I was an outcast around our house for the rest of the day. I was the one person responsible for everyone’s being deprived of ice cream and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

Many reminders of the United Order lingered about the little southern Utah town of Orderville when I was a boy growing up there during the 1920‘s and 1930’s, for the days when the settlers of Orderville lived the United Order actually were not very far away. Although the heyday of the United Order in Orderville was roughly between about 1875 and 1885, management existed until 1900. Consequently in 1922 when I was born, the United Order way of life was less than twenty-five years in the past, and so numerous reminders of it still remained in the streets of Orderville and among its people.

Some of these reminders included the Big Ditch, the irrigation canal built by the United Order pioneers to carry irrigation water from the creek, (the East Fork of the Virgin River, to the gardens and fields of the town; the old tannery within the town and the clothing factory five miles above Orderville)both falling into dilapidation during my boyhood. The old rock school building, which was still being used as a schoolhouse when I first started to school in 1928 but with an additional two frame wings which had later been added; and the graves and grave stones of the pioneers of the Order who had passed on, ever-present remainders to us on Memorial Day and when we held a funeral that Orderville had been the site of a noble and a heroic experiment in communal living. More important as reminders, however, were the last remnants of the United Order pioneers themselves, old men and women who had been a part of that way of life - “Grandma” Meeks, and old, bent woman who people said had come across the plains with pioneers as a young girl and had then been called by President Brigham Young to settle, first the Muddy Mission and then, Orderville, and who had been the wife of “Priddy” Meeks, the United Order physician; “Grandma” Meeks’ daughter, Grandma hoyt, an old lady herself when I first remember her, who without fail used to get to her feet each Fast and Testimony meeting to bear her testimony, at least every other time reciting the poem, “One Day the Lord Had a Job For Me;” my own grandfather, John J. Esplin, an old man but still actively farming his irrigated and dryland farms in the cove, a mile south of town; and Bishop Henry W. Esplin, my grandfather’s old brothers. Bishop Esplin, who after the breaking up of the Order had served as bishop of the Orderville Ward longer than any other bishop and, in addition, had served during the time of the Order as a bishop’s counselor, still was active although he was now growing very old. His garden was weed-free and productive, and he never failed to let us know, as he passed by our place, that our garden wasn’t was free of weeds as it should be and that we were not getting up early enough in the morning to do things the way they should be done.

There were abundant reminders, too, of the days of polygamy about the town. My grandfather, for instance had two homes - an old-fashioned turreted mansion (very big it seemed to me then, but now much smaller it seems) where he lived with my grandmother until her death when I was a boy of just five or six; and then the other, and ever bigger house, big enough in fact to become at a later date a hotel and inn, where after my grandmother’s death he lived with his other wife, Aunt Mora, a tiny, white-headed lady who lived a remote and withdrawn life and who never seemed to me to be any more than a distant relative because she was “the other wife.” This situation also was true of Bishop Henry W. Esplin. Like my grandfather, he maintained two houses in the town in each of which lived a wife, Aunt Kezia and Aunt Philenea.

In addition to the people and the physical objects of the town there were abundant legends and authentic historical anecdotes about Orderville in circulation, and ever-present reminder of Orderville’s past. There were also memories of the United Order, which the older members of the community never ceased to reminisce over and repeat. The area near the older communal dining hall had stood they would point out, and everyone from the toddler age on upward, for instance, knew that the Sand Street area, where my parents’ house was located, was the place where the United Order gardens and orchards had been located, snuggled up against the sandstone cliffs to the north of town. Garden Hollow so named because of the location of these gardens and orchards; a narrow canyon to the north and east of the town cut its way down through these cliffs. And on the northwest there was Town Hollow, with its narrow, twisting wash winding through the center of town. Down this wash a flood swept in May, 1880 flooding the Order kitchens and damaging the cooking facilities to the extent that it was not judged expedient to repair them and thereafter each family did its own cooking at home and ate its meals there even though each drew its supply of food from the common storehouse.

Among the anecdotes that one heard about the United Order days one or town stand out in my memory, one of these is a story about Howard O. Spencer, the second president of the Orderville United Order and the first bishop of Orderville. Following his release from being bishop and president of the Order, Brother Spencer served for many years as a counselor in the Kanab Stake presidency, and then at last he was released from that calling. AS a private citizen again, he was on one occasion called upon to dismiss a session of the Kanab Stake Quarterly Conference during which Apostle George Albert Smith had sternly called the members of the stake to repentance and had spiritedly encouraged church member to give sincere but brief prayers. Brother Spencer so the anecdote goes, gave the following benediction, a classic in succinctness, “O Lord, take us now, and make something of us it you can. Amen.”

And then there was the story that was commonly repeated among the townspeople bout the enterprising young man in the days of the United Order who saved lamb’s tails until he had accumulated enough wool to buy himself a pair of store-bought trousers. His action, however, precipitated a crisis in the order, for all the other young men of the order and some older men too demanded that they be able to have a pair of store-bought trousers also, and according to the story, the problem was not solved until the leaders of the United Order appropriated the store-bought trousers and forbade such “moonlighting” activities in the future. The stories and traditions from the United Order were ever a part of us in those days growing up in the small town of Orderville. But these years also brought the Great Depression of the 1930‘s, a time that had a great influence on us. It was a time when terms such as “recession,” “depression,” “unemployment” and “bread line” were common household words. A time when there wasn’t much money around, prices were low, but money was tight and hard to come by. AS a boy of eight maturing during the decade to a young man of eighteen, I remember vividly the Great Depression, although time, as it inevitably does, admittedly had colored over my memories with a golden haze so that much that was painful or bad has been forgotten while much that was pleasant and good became better than it ever was in real life.

In those days a quarter or fifty cents was considerable money, and I still remember how much money it seemed I had lost when I accidentally dropped a quarter enroute to a movie. Try as hard as I might, I couldn’t find that quarter, and therefore I never got to go to the movie.

On the Fourth of July and the Twenty-fourth I usually received the princely sum of forty or fifty cents as spending money, and that amount went quite a ways, for prices were low. Soft drinks were a nickel, as also ice cream and candy bars, gum, etc. And fireworks were not much more expensive. A “coke” at the soda fountain at Chamberlain’s Store was as low as a dime. Therefore a small amount of money went a long ways.

Another thing I remember about finances when I was a boy was the practice of taking eggs to the store and trading them in for items. An egg would bring one or two cents, and with these pennies one could purchase a considerable amount of candy. Penny candy in those days was abundant, and the portions of penny candy bars were large, almost the equivalent of what we pay a dime or fifteen or twenty cents for nowadays.

I remember the experience of being allowed to take an egg or two to the store with which to buy some penny candy. It was one of the pleasant experiences of being a country boy, walking barefooted through the thick dust, an egg in each picket and no worries on my mind. The interior of the store was always cool and dark after the brightness of the outside. I remember particularly the Orderville Co-op. It seemed darker and cooler and Chamberlain’s Store and usually had fewer loafers and loungers hanging around it.

In those days no one had a private telephone. There were only two telephones in the entire town - one at each of the two stores. If someone received a telephone call, it usually meant trouble - a death usually or perhaps bad sickness. Therefore if a person happened to be at the store when the telephone call came through he naturally listened attentively to hear what the nature of the call was, who received it, and from whom he received it. All talk among the loungers and hangers-on would abruptly stop as soon as anyone started to talk on the phone. The phone in Chamberlain’s Store was more public than the one in the Co-op, it being in the back office of the Co-op instead of in the store itself. Therefore one could usually overhear what was going on much better at Chamberlain’s Store.

The Depression certainly was a time when there wasn’t much money around. Prices were low, but money was tight and hard to come by. Ours was not a home of much money, to be sure, although we had as much as anyone. My father, a farmer and sheep-breeder, had enjoyed several sessions of prosperity prior to the onslaught of the Depression, but, like most livestockmen and farmers, he was hit hard by the Depression. His 1932 lamb crop, for example, did not bring in enough money to pay for shipping the lambs by truck to the feed-lot operators who bought them and wool brought the lowest price in years that next spring. Consequently our household was chronically short of money.

The fact that we provided a majority of our own food supplies was responsible, I am sure, for a part of the sense of security we enjoyed. Like most rural families, we had a large vegetable garden, from which we got much of the food we ate throughout the summer and fall months and, in the form of carrots, cabbages, and potatoes, and bottled vegetables and fruit, a considerable part of our wintertime bill of fare. Mutton and lamb, as you might expect, we had in abundance, and each year in the late autumn, either during Thanksgiving vacation or at Christmastime, we would butcher two or three hogs. Also we always had two or three milk cows to provide milk for us and also a few chickens for eggs. Ours was simple food, but it was sufficient, and we never had to worry that there would be nothing to eat at our next meal. During my boyhood, visits to the local store were infrequent.

The springtime ordinarily was the time when food was least available. This time of scarcity usually occurred just after the gardens had been planted and before anything had matured enough to find a place on the dinner or supper table. My mother invariably, however, had recourse to some supply of food, no matter what the season. During the early spring, for instance, dandelions, for want of anything else more palatable, could always provide a savory dish of greens for dinner, and more than once I recall going out to the weed patches on our lot or in the street to pull “red-root weeds” for greens. Springtime too was a time when wild asparagus growing on the sides of irrigation ditches was a source or food for the family meal.

In spite of the Depression these were not melancholy and unhappy years for me. In part they were not, I am sure, because youth is a time of buoyant optimism and lightheartedness, no matter what the outer circumstances may be. I am certain that many pioneer boys and girls pioneering a new and inhospitable land were happy and carefree just as I was in spite of their hardships. But also another reason why I was not unhappy, discouraged, and worried was because my mother and father made ours a happy home; we felt wanted and secure there; and each one of us had a secure place in their affections.

One night a week we usually enjoyed a family home evening together which we played games and read from the scriptures climaxed by a special treat of some kind such as homemade ice cream ground out by hand in the ice cream freezer.

The early days of the Depression we didn’t ever have radios to provide commercial entertainment for us, and so whatever entertainment we had in our home, we had to provide ourselves. Later, to be sure, almost everyone had a radio, and , just as in the present with television, each family member had his own favorite program - “Gangbusters,” “Amos and Andy,” “The Hit Parade,” or “The Lux Radio Theater.”

A similar kind of closeness prevailed also throughout the ward and community. Social life and entertainment were centered around the school and the church. I recall that each family was asked to purchase a budget card, which would admit all family members to all theatrical productions, dances, and parties put on by the ward during the year. I can remember how secure it made one feel to know that our family had a budget card for the year and that our right to attend and participate in these different events were assured.

Before the coming of talking movies to the Orderville area the ward and school plays and the sporadic performances of the traveling theatrical companies were the sole sources of dramatic entertainment in the town. Those plays still linger in my memory.

Even though we never had much money, I felt secure and wanted in my family and the church and the community, and that, after all, is what matters most.

In a vague sort of way my memories of growing up in Orderville during the Depression are linked inextricably with two nighttime sounds - one, the sound of water dashing out of the Big Ditch, the community irrigation canal which ran along the hillside directly in back of our house; the other, the reverberations of truck motors in the night echoing against White Mountain as they passed through Orderville and Long Valley on their way to their far-off destinations. Both of these sounds remind me now, looking back, of the sense of security and of belongingness that I felt then.

The sound of the falling water provided a musical accompaniment for my going to sleep through out most of the summer and autumn months. All is well. That sound used to reassure me. Water to keep the gardens and lawns and fields alive is running through the night, and the even tempo of life is continuing on. All is well. Similarly, the motors of the trucks, although they suggested the romance of faraway places, suggested to me also that here within the walls of the old-fashioned family house I was safe and well; here was security, belongingness, contentment.

Whenever I recall my boyhood in Orderville my thoughts invariable focus upon the Big Ditch, the irrigation canal that carried the water from the East Fork of the Virgin River north and west around the town, providing water for the lawns and gardens of the town itself and for the fields above and below it. I speak of the Big Ditch in the past tense because it no longer exists although traces of where it ran still remain. A few years ago a new irrigation system based upon principles of gravity and water pressure that the ordinary man-in-the-street cannot understand or explain to others took its place. And nowadays one doesn’t see the water flowing between banks of green grass and tall shade trees because it goes through and underground water pipe and never sees the light of day until it gushes out upon somebody’s garden or lawn or reaches the thirsty fields. Such a system probably has given increased efficiency to Orderville’s irrigation system in that not nearly so much water is now lost by evaporation and seepage, but much of the romance and poetry connected with the Big Ditch of my boyhood have been lost in the process.

For, you see, in my boyhood the Big Ditch was romance personified. I recall it as one of my first memories, the water flowing steadily along through the cool shadows of the late afternoon summer with her and there shafts of sunlight glinting on the water through the rifts in the shade of elm and cottonwood trees, and the donkey devils flitting here and there on the water. It seemed tremendously big to me as a child, but later when I saw it didn’t seem large it all. It is funny how as we grow older the things that once seemed so large to us when we are children become increasingly smaller and smaller. That is what happened to my Big Ditch.

Part of the reason why the Big Ditch of my childhood seemed so romantic is, I believe, because it suggested vividly to me and others Orderville’s past. Even before the first Orderville pioneers set to work to build houses those first pioneers in the early spring of 1875 surveyed and, by dint of much hard labor, dug the Big Ditch. For, you see, water was the lifeblood of the community, and nothing could exist without it. They who surveyed and dug the Big Ditch did their job well for they channeled its course around the town high enough up the northern cliffs and slopes so that the water could reach the town and the fields when it was needed.

So long after the old United Order tannery was a ruin nearly ready to fall down and other treasured mementos of the United Order days had almost disappeared from the community, the Big Ditch remained to remind us of the days when the United Order had flourished there in Orderville years before. I’m sure that part of its charm was because of its past.

All of us, even when we were very young, knew the story of the Big Ditch. Before the days of tractors and motorized cutting equipment digging that ditch must have been a heroic labor indeed, and keeping water in it had been a never-ending task in those days before the CCC boys during the Depression built a permanent dam in the stream. In fact, on of my earliest memories is of being with my father when he and other men of the town were trying to get the water back into the Big Ditch after a flood had washed the temporary dam out. I can still remember watching the tumbling weeds drift leisurely down the current of the stream behind us as we dragged logs and scrapersful of dirt into the stream bed in an effort to build a makeshift dam.

Another of my first memories has to do also with the springtime and the cleaning of the Big Ditch before water was put back into it for the summer irrigating season. As early as a week before, notices would be sent out of the work to be done, and then early that designated Monday morning men and boys of the town would flock to work with shovels and grubbing hoes and pickaxes over their shoulders. By mid-forenoon of that first day of work the work crew would usually have reached our hose, and when I was a boy too young to go to school I can remember hearing the men and boys at work in the Big Ditch out of sigh behind the high ditch bank in our back dooryard. I recall that I longed for the day when I would be big and old enough to help clean the Big Ditch and the spring, and before not too many springs had passed by I was there. One of my first jobs, in fact, was helping to clean the Big Ditch. As a boy of just twelve, I didn’t receive a full day’s wages in ditch credit for our family, but I felt like a man nevertheless. I can remember how long that first day of work seemed, and I wondered seriously in mid-forenoon if the day would ever end, but it died eventually end, and I returned to work the next day and the next until the entire length of the Big Ditch clear down into the fields was cleaned.

Water had been a valuable, precious commodity to those early pioneers, and it was still to us during my boyhood. Associated with the big Ditch were legends of quarrels over water that had erupted in pioneer days, in particular a shooting death involving two Mt. Carmel men over who had the better right to the water on a particular hot summer day. Therefore I think something of the aura of a legend hovered about the Big Ditch with its precious water slipping noiselessly through the shifting shadows of shade trees.

It was in the Big Ditch that I first learned how to swim. Back of our house there was a three-enclosed hole in the ditch that was deep enough to swim in, and it was here in midsummer that my brothers and I, before we graduated to deeper, more sophisticated swimming holes would swim. We couldn’t possibly have swum much more than a stroke or two, but swim we did, and it was cool and shady and enjoyable there. NO thought of wearing a swimming suit ever entered our heads, and I can’t think of a time that any member of the female sex entered our domain so that we ever felt a need to wear a swimming suit.

When the male members of our family graduated from swimming in the Big Ditch at around the age of eleven or twelve, the accepted place to swim was about a mile father north at a place called the sluice, a much larger and deeper place in the Big Ditch designed to collect of the silt and debris of the water before it was carried on down into the town and the fields beyond it. Periodically this sluice would be cleaned out by lifting up a gate down near the bottom of the sluice and washing the accumulated silt and debris out into the nearby creek bed. After the sluice had been cleaned the water would be as much as ten to twelve feet deep in places, and one could swim for as much as thirty or forty feet without touching bottom if he swam in the direction the Big Ditch was headed and didn’t try to swim across, for this sluice, although it was deep, was narrow. Here on lazy summer afternoons boys from all over Orderville would congregate to swim in the coolness and the shadows, and here, as in the much more private hole neared my home we would not wear swimming suits. The sluice came as near to filling the requirements of the old swimming hole for Orderville as any place I know if, and I, and many of my contemporaries I’m sure, have many fine memories of experiences we enjoyed there.

Eventually, however, there came a time in the life of everyone who lived in Orderville when he became too old to swim in the sluice. It may have been about the time he graduated from high school and went away to college - that is about when it was for me. At any rate, this time came for me when I no longer went with carefree groups of friends to swim in the sluice and, instead, watched other younger boys make those midsummer pilgrimages without me.

Ceasing to swim in the old sluice, however, did not end my experiences with it by any means. One experience I had stands out vividly in my memory. It was during the early years of World War II during the summer of 1941 or 1942 when manpower was short around Orderville. Though only eighteen, I had been asked by the Orderville Irrigation Company to be ditch master that summer, a job that required me to patrol the ditch every day or so to watch for signs of seepage or gopher holes and breaks and also periodically to clean out the sluice. Early one Saturday morning I and my brother Donald set out the clean the sluice. Having borrowed a mechanical jack from Heaton’s Garage we commenced to raise the gate of the sluice by attaching a chain to the sluice gate and putting it up over the jack while we jacked it up. Suddenly, unexpectedly, however, the jack slipped and before we could catch hold of it, it fell into the water. I can still recall the heartsick feeling I felt as I watched that jack splash into the water and sink out of sight. WE didn’t know what to do. First Donald and then I took off our clothes and dived into the water in a vain effort to find the jack, but we could not feel tit anywhere in the murky water, for it had sunk down into the soft mud at the bottom of the sluice. What could we do. We wondered.

At last we decided on what to do. Getting a crowbar we lifted the sluice gate up so that the water could rush out of the opening, for with the jack we had managed to move it somewhat and then after the water had washed the mud of the sluice was probed around in the accumulated mud until finally, almost miraculously it seemed to us, we found the jack. That experience taught me the necessity of persevering in spite of great difficulties and of the need for ingenuity in solving practical problems.

The Big Ditch from my childhood was always very near to me because it ran right across our backyard. One of the most important headgates on the Big Ditch was, in fact, located on our property, and at least two-thirds of the time a stream of water would be running out of that headgate to somebody’s lot or garden. In the daytime the sound of water dashing downward from the headgate four or five feet to the ditch below would sound for a swim or of just sitting at the edge of the stream dangling his feet in the water, a cool breeze lightly touching his cheek and shade tree shadows shifting restlessly in the breeze around him. But at night the sound of that falling water was romance personified. I still remember nostalgically going to sleep with the sound of falling water in the darkness up the hillside from my window, and awakening the next morning to its music. I never hear falling water but what I think of my boyhood and the Big Ditch.

It would be nice to be able to go back to the past for just a glimpse or two of memories we treasure, but we all know perfectly well that we can’t do that. Orderville’s Big Ditch now no longer exists, just as my boyhood days also are no more. It is good to be able to remember these memories, however, and I do. My boyhood in Orderville is forever inextricably linked with the Big Ditch I know and loved many years ago.

As I look back at my high school experiences, the thing that stands out is the leadership experiences I had. I was president of my class at least two years (when I was in the eighth grade, I believe, and when I was a sophomore) and student body president my senior year. Also I was active in drama and music while I was in high school, taking part in school plays, school operas, the high school band, and the high school chorus. Consequently, I had many opportunities to take and active part in the life of the school.

Bookwork was of secondary importance to me during those years, but I managed to graduate with a good grade average and earned a scholarship to Dixie Junior College at St. George, Utah.

The class that stands out most in my memory is a class in algebra when I was a freshman. I had always been afraid of math classes, in part because I had such a hard time memorizing my times tables and always felt deficient when it came to mathematics. Consequently, I went into Golden L. Allen’s algebra class with much fear and trembling and was intimidated even more by the way in which Mr. Allen would give oral drills in math before each class started in something of the following manner; looking directly at us, he would give us a problems something like this - 5 plus 5 minus 2 divided by 4 time 10 time 20 minus 50 equals what? And we could have to figure out the answer in our heads and give him the correct answer. Sometimes he would leave the answer up to the one who raised his hand first, but more often he would call upon us by name, saying, “check!” in a particularly challenging way as he said it. The first time he did this I was very frightened, but gradually I became accustomed to Mr. Allen’s manner and less cowed by his manner.

I recall the closeness of our class membership of about 25 students and the project we worked on together. The theme of our freshman class was “Dance among the whispering pines,” and we decorated the high school gymnasium with pine trees which we cut down and hauled from the canyon. It was a big success. Our Sophomore dance, however, was another matter. I forget the theme of this dance, but I recall that we spent considerable on decorations and a Kanab orchestra, and the attendance was low so that we lost money rather than making it. Our Junior Prom, set to the theme of “April Showers” was only a moderate success financially but a big success in its decorations. The circles of different shades of color scattered periodically across its surface, representing vari-colored umbrellas I supposed. It was a lot of work but worth it because of the success we had. I can’t even remember the theme of our senior dance.

This ends the Life History of Ross Esplin.