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The Personal Histories


Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride




As a child, I was never inclined to do evil, but, to the contrary, to be a better person with the passing of each day. As a boy at an age to reason things out for my self, a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ has continued to grow ever stronger since that time. As I served in the church, I have had some inspirational and spiritual experiences, about which I have been very selective in sharing, and have shared with but few people. To “cast pearls to the swine” to be trample, I have carefully avoided. However, the three interesting experiences that follow, I desire to share with my posterity.


Brother Owens, a firm minded man and a wonderful father to his large family, always treated me like a son: due mostly that my mother had been widowed, and left at a young age with a large family to raise. Also his son and I were great pals. Often when he needed extra help with the schoolhouse and around the grounds in Thatcher where he served as custodian, he would give me first opportunity for any job.  How I welcomed the chance for a little pocket money and the boyish desire to help with family expenses. At that time Clark and I were twelve or thirteen years of age, but knew well how to work.


One day we boys were helping the custodian top a large cottonwood tree that had grown too tall for its location. With saw and ax Brother Owens climbed the tree where he immediately assaulted the unwanted limbs. As each was cut they crashed to the ground, some of them were as large as twelve inches in diameter. Clark and I would trim off the small branches, and then cut the log into lengths that could be easily handled and loaded into the wagon. After we had taken care of two or three, we found it necessary to wait a few minutes for the next one to come down.


As I watched the man high in the tree at work on one of the larger limbs, I suddenly realized that his position in the tree placed him in danger of being struck by the limb if it should fall in a certain direction. His foot and knee could be crushed by the cut end of the seven or eight hundred pound giant, and would cause him to fall. From where I stood on the ground, I could see what he probably couldn’t see because of the angle of his position in relationship to the tree. The limb towered almost straight up above him.


Already the limb was beginning to sway. His foot was wedged in the crotch directly below the heavy dangerous thing. A few more good healthy strokes of the saw would start its fall. Horrified, I became certain it would go the wrong way for him. Now a young boy doesn’t tell and older man how to do his job. Brother Owens, though a kind and fair man, was a little sharp with us boys. I had always been careful not to cross him. That’s probably one reason why he would call on me to help with the odd jobs. As badly as I wanted to shout out about the danger I perceived him in, I couldn’t bring myself to say a word, though they were on the tip of my tongue and flooding my agonized thoughts.


At that moment Brother Owens stopped sawing, turned his head to look straight at me, and then pulled his foot and leg from the crotch below the teetering limb. A few more strokes with the saw and the limb shuddered, twisted slightly in the breeze and fell, the cut end landing exactly as I had previewed it in my mind, burying itself into the crotch where Brother Owen’s leg and foot had been only seconds before.


Clark went immediately to work on the fallen giant. I hadn’t moved, just stood and stared. It seemed for some reason or other I had to convince myself that what finally happened was true. As I picked up my ax to join my friend at his work, Brother Owens called from the tree, “Thanks Darvil! If you hadn’t yelled when you did I could have lost a leg.”


I was never able to tell that good man, or his son that I had not uttered a word that I could claim, and have always wrestled with a feeling of guilt, harrowed by the thought of what could have been the outcome if the Lord had not come to his rescue—and to mine.


When serving as branch president of the Huntington Beach Branch during the 1940’s, a beautiful, young, talented woman attended the branch. Marie Lockhart, about thirty years old, had not married yet. Everyone in the branch loved her and knew of her desire to marry in the temple and become a mother. It came into my mind that she would make an excellent primary president. However, discussing it with my counselors, both expressed some negativity, saying she should be serving in another capacity that would associate her with men of her own age. They did agree though that if called to the primary, she would undoubtedly be excellent.  But they opposed my suggestion; I had to agree their reasoning was conscientious logic.


I went to sleep that very night, only to be awakened in the middle of my rest. I began again pondering over who we could call to the position. Suddenly, it rushed into my mind that she should be the one. Thus confirmed beyond doubt by the Spirit, a new and comforting thought came to my mind that there was additional, unrevealed reason, above the need for her service to direct our primary organization. Without further opposition from my counselors, after expressing my final decision, we called her to the position.  Thrilled with the calling she said to me, “President McBride, there is one thing that I desire before being set apart; I want to receive my patriarchal blessing.” I told her that her request would be simple to arrange. Jo and I went with her to the patriarch’s home where her desire was fulfilled. In the blessing, she was promised that she would find a husband that would take her to the temple and that she would have children and raise them in Zion. As we left, with her in our company, tears filled her eyes, and she cried softly as she reviewed with us that special promise. Though I needed no additional confirmation for calling her, it was a sweet re-affirmation. 


She served wonderfully well. The Church Semi-annual June Conference for the auxiliaries loomed in the near future. To my great satisfaction she decided to go. After returning home, she sought a short visit with me. She explained with delight, that while in Salt Lake City, she met a former friend with whom she had attended all her school years up through high school. He, like her had not yet found a mate. She said that they found each other very desirable and had come to the agreement that if all continued to work out through correspondence and another visit, and that they planned to be married. She was sure, though, that her patriarchal blessing of temple marriage and children would come true. Thus, I received another re-affirmation of the still small voice whispering in the middle of the night.


Marie’s courtship continued via correspondence and a visit or two over the next few months. She married her love and moved to Salt Lake City to make her home. We corresponded periodically for the next few years sharing in her happiness. The last time we heard from her was a letter announcing the thrill of the birth of her first child. She expressed thanks to all her friends left behind in the branch. It was the kind of letter that could be shared from the pulpit in sacrament meeting, which I did—to the great enjoyment of the members. From that point, with our changes of addresses, we lost track of her physically, but never in our memories.


The other unusual experience occurred later in the 40’s: We were living in Wilmington attending the Wilmington Ward where I served at the time as the gospel doctrine teacher. Asked to speak in sacrament meeting, I chose to address the subject of the prophecies and miracles of Joseph Smith the Prophet. At the conclusion of the meeting, while making my way out of the chapel, a Sister Becker stopped me and asked, “Brother McBride, is your father still living?” I replied that my father had been killed many years before when I was just a young boy. I asked her why she asked. “I think I saw your father.” I asked her what she meant. She continued,: “While you were speaking, to me, you became another person. The new personage, instead of standing at our large, wide pulpit that’s here in the chapel, stood behind a small, narrow, black pulpit. He looked much like you, but he had snow white hair and mustache and was dressed in a dark suite, much like the missionaries wear, which caused me to think that he was a missionary. I really couldn’t tell what he was saying, even though I felt like I should know. He was more mature than you, appearing to be in the perfect prime of life, a little fuller and broader than you, (I was a young man then, very thin at the time.) but since he looked so much like you, I thought he certainly could be your father. 


“Then, behind him I noticed the stand, it was different. Behind the speaker, the stand was a beautiful white color with white chairs, but they were empty. I wondered what on earth was happening to me, so I looked over to the side where the choir sat. They were all attentively listening to the speaker. I again looked back at the pulpit and found the personage still there. It was apparent to me that the man was delivering a gospel sermon. I looked down and felt my mind becoming a little hazy as I tried hard to understand what was happening. Soon I looked up at the stand and found that the personage was gone.  I was only seeing you as I had seen you when you started. You were there speaking behind the regular pulpit, with the members of the bishopric and others seated behind you on the stand in their normal places as before.” My brother, a year older than I, had died a few years before. Unbelieving I asked her if she thought that the personage might be of an age that he could be my brother, rather than my father?  She said, “I don’t know for sure, but the man did strongly resemble you and appeared to be older than your brother would be.” 


It has never been given me to know with assurance who the personage actually was, but I tend to believe it was my father. The reason for the appearance of the personage would be two-fold. It strengthened Sister Becker’s testimony, for I knew her to be a good and humble person. And it let me know how thin the veil is between the spirit world and our mortal habitation. I know that it gave me assurance that family in the hereafter was concerned and loved me. I sensed that they expected me to hold to the iron rod and remain stalwart and faithful to the end. I feel that Father’s appearance there in my stead, (if it was he) was indeed a stamp of approval for the kind of service I was giving to the church, my fellowman and my family.

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