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The Personal Histories

of

Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride

 
 

(JOSEPHINE)  MEMORIES OF MY MOTHER

 

Eliza Arnette “Jones” Phillips, was born in Heber City, Utah, October 2, 1882. A precious, special woman, she enlightened and gave joy to my life. Neither of my parents ever demeaned themselves by being mean, ornery, cross or cranky with me. Mother deemed it necessary to slap my mouth more than just once because of sassiness with her, but Dad never ever laid a hand to any of his girls.

 

Once, when the Harry S. Payne family lived across the street, Eleanor and Virgil went over to play; Mama sent me to tell them to come home. Well, I got side tracked and none of us returned as supposed to. But when we finally did get back, Mama had a slender, willowy switch waiting for me. I mean to tell you, I never forgot how that switch tingle-stung the back of my bare legs. That one switching, plus an occasional slapping of my sassy mouth summed up the only physical punishments she ever dished out.

 

Eleanor, with her straight, brown, well-kept hair never allowed Mama to curl it. But she would let her shampoo it, and Mama knew how to do it right. She always rinsed it with lemon water; and she even collected runoff rainwater especially for rinsing. She often heated the rinse because it left our hair even softer. One day, Eleanor complained to Mama, "Well Jo has curls." Mama, always tender in handling delicate feelings looked at her lovingly and said, "But you have brown eyes and dimples," which of course was true. Indeed she had been endowed with beautiful brown eyes and dimples: beautiful Eleanor always a sweet big sister to me. And whenever we got into a ruckus, I'm ashamed to say—I always struck first.

 

Mama, so kind, treated her own mother with such consideration. When Grandmother Nonnie died, I had just turned ten. She’d lived just a block away up the street kitty-corner across from the church grounds where Uncle Spencer W. Kimball, with his brothers and sisters grew up under her wise direction. (The home, now dedicated as an historical landmark, has a conservative mortared-rock monument inlaid with a bronze plaque. It stands at the front edge of the home’s lawn, and has been purchased by Brent Cluff, a best friend of Mac’s. His wife is a sister to Brose Hanchet, my longtime friend since youth, mentioned several times in this history.)

 

Mama told me that her mother let her be traded around a lot among four aunts and her grandmother Jones. Her aunts and her grandmother loved her, always pleading with her mother to let her visit them. The three full sisters (Mama's aunts) lived in Ogden, and Logan and the other lived in Idaho, and a half-sister lived close by in Safford—her grandmother Jones lived in Heber. The aunts’children were mostly boys and the women constantly begged Mama's mother to let them borrow her. It was especially a pleasure for the several boy cousins close to her age to showoff their gorgeous, charming cousin. Mother liked the bouncing around and looked forward to the fun of taking turns in the several households and, never resented in the least being shared among her loving family.

 

Her mother, (my grandmother Nonnie), taught school fulltime. Gifted and experienced in drama, she was solicited for roles in many plays: a major source of involvement and entertainment in those days. She was an outstanding dramatist and actress, and because of her slight, almost pixie stature, she could play the role of a youngster or even a child. She held many church positions: She served as the Stake Relief Society President for nearly two decades when the stake stretched from Miami, Arizona to El Paso, Texas. Because of multiple responsibilities, Mama gave relief to her mother by visiting the relatives who continued pleading for her company—much to Mama's satisfaction.

 

Mama related the following story about when she and her mother visited Aunt Maggy's: Money for Aunt Maggy's family was scarce, and they were running short of butter at the time. Before the children were ushered off to bed they were given milk and bread with molasses—but without butter. Well, somehow the children could look through a window from where they were and saw the grownups eating their bread and molasses—with butter. The kids loved butter too and weren't at all happy with what they happened to see.

 

Overall, her visits were happy ones, but she remembered with irritation another episode with an aunt. Her cousin and she had washed all the dishes and put them away in the cupboards. The aunt arrived on the seen just as they finished. She asked if they had scalded the dishes. They said they hadn't; so the aunt made them take every dish back out to re-wash and scald before putting them away the second time.

 

Years later, visiting Grandmother Jones in Heber, she told of the nostalgia that welled up within her as she saw the little highchair, cradle and table and chairs that were hers before she moved to Thatcher. 

 

Mama and Uncle Wallace, Mama's brother, two years younger, spent a lot of time with their dad. They loved their dad, and he adored them. Their father, a specialist in mining, worked throughout Utah and Arizona. At times he was called on by the old Dominion Mine in Globe, sixty miles west of Thatcher, for his services. Since the owners of the elegant and beautiful Dominion Hotel were personal friends, he roomed there. On occasions, she and Wallace were invited to stay a few days with him. Each time it was an exciting adventure for both to make the trip, but of more importance, to be with their dad.

 

Sometimes her dad visited them in the Valley, and each time he would bring gifts. On one visit he brought a bicycle and on another, for Mama, a quart-sized crock of jelly. It's the cutest, glazed-clay container I've ever seen and Mama cherished it throughout her life. Darvil and I happened to find one at a yard sale: exactly like it, except it lacked the wire bail handle, but Darvil duplicated one like the original. I have it right here in the kitchen, and it is so precious to me. I believe Sally Jo has the one with a lid that belonged to Mama.

 

At their house in Central, the family kept a flock of chickens. Free-running without a pen, the hens would steal away and find a secluded hideaway to use over and over as their laying site. Her brother, Wallace, and she, found one of those nests, but they kept it secret from their mother. They gathered the eggs and went to the little country store to sell them. After a season they saved enough money to buy, as they supposed, a special treasure for their mother's Christmas present. With the hidden earnings they finally purchased four beautiful, small, hand-painted, china plates. She opened the present on Christmas Day—indeed, they were treasured by her. Before she died she gave them to my mother, who in turn gave them to me. I gave two of them to grandchildren I knew would appreciate them. I have the other two here next to her hot chocolate service set.

 

Mother cared for all the many, lovely things she treasured, and when she would entertain—it was not like these days—she would do it as no other could: with a conservative flare, in her own style she’d entertain. The times I have in mind, she set the table with that beautiful set of twelve cups and saucers and the delicate lovely pitcher filled with hot chocolate. She used the set to serve her women friends. The set is in my glass cabinet. It is beautiful, and each time I see it, it fills me with nostalgia.

 

Mama told a story about a dance that she attended before she married. A large crowd attended because those memorable occasions were few. It seemed everyone came, because the night’s entertainment included dinner. Mama wore a white, wool dress that night. She sat across the dinner table from a girl that didn’t like her much. She attributed it to jealousy for some reason she didn’t know. On the table a bowl of pickled beets in juice, in the process of being passed around reached the girl, she dumped the whole bowl of staining liquid in Mama’s lap. She apologized profusely for the accident, but most present believed it other than accidental. Mama’s dress was ruined, along with a big part of her evening.

 

Mama had a much greater education compared to others of that time. She had teaching credentials and taught kindergarten and loved the children. Her educated mother had provided her early on with advantages to stimulate learning. She had memorized numerous nursery rhymes and in turn taught them to each of us when we were young. She repeated them over and over while we practiced them until put to memory. She loved to read and had a commendable variety of books. Her small library shelves were chocked full, especially of children’s books she had made good use of during her teaching years. I wish I had them today. A book I especially remember and learned to love recounted a great number of stories of the ancient Greek and Roman mythical characters. If I could find a copy of it I would buy it no matter the cost, I read it many times. I don’t remember of Mama reading to us as little kids—Dad returned home from work late, he had to close down the business of the store and lock up. Consequently he was served a late dinner, it left little time for Mama to spend bedtimes entertaining us. She had bought two songbooks and a couple of the songs I remember were Angels in Heaven and Daddy Did a Wonderful Thing. 

 

Too often, I acted like a big baby with my mother. My parents probably thought they would never wean me away from her. When she and Dad, on rare occasions, would go off together, I hated it. One day, they were just ready to leave with another couple to go to Hot Springs. (One-hundred-twenty-degree water gushed up constantly refreshing the large concrete swimming pool. Earlier, dirt banks simply confined the warm pond. After the improvement of lined concrete, and with other nice additions, for that desert area in those days, it became a comfortable, popular, western hotel with nice amenities, which included a health facility.)

 

This place was the most for me, and I stubbornly determined not to be left. I stood bawling at her bedroom door on that hot summer day like a silly calf. (I remember the doorway was a full foot thick because of the width of the adobes, and it had a screen door on the outside and a solid door on the inside.) I was a big old kid, and I knew better, but I wanted to go. In spite of my spoiled antics, off Mama went with Dad without me—I was terrible, a big booby.

 

My parents would entertain their friends on some evenings inviting as many as five other couples. Three card tables were set up to play Gin Rummy or Pitch. The parties lasted till late, so one time, Mama encouraged me to invite one of my best friends, Alberta, to stay all night. Eleanor never minded being alone, for she was older, but Mama knew I could be a nuisance unless I had a friend. We stayed back in the kitchen until bedtime. Mama was always thoughtful and kind, never cranky or cross—so good to us—she accommodate her children in every reasonable way. She loved her girls and her boys; nevertheless it was a love not deficient in appropriate discipline.

 

She was very slender during my growing-up years. The doctor gave her medicines hoping to improve her appetite. Before Eleanor was born, while Dad was on his mission in South Africa, Dr. Platt stopped by every week to check on her health. She stayed slim all her life and enjoyed good health for most of it.

 

Nearly five-feet-six inches tall, Mama appeared taller because of her slender build. She had fine facial features, dark brown hair and the complexion of a porcelain doll. Always very stylish and willowy, her proportions and shapeliness were beautiful. She aged with calm grace and dignity and retained her beauty exceptionally well until the end of her life.

 

While Dad worked for the Big Six store, for Krupps, and later for himself in his own store, he traveled to Los Angles on buying trips. Mama loved beautiful clothes, and each trip he brought back something elegant for her. When the Egyptian tomb of Tutankhaman (King Tut) was discovered; much-to-do was made of it. The newspapers and magazines filled their pages with the wondrous information, the style of women's apparel shifted toward a trend of ancient Egyptian, and the latest fabrics, many and varied, reflected the same.

 

Just home from the Coast on a buying trip, Dad had brought a presented for Mama: a beautiful, dark green dress of Egyptian print. She made it look the greatest. Naturally endowed with conservative good taste, she dressed with modesty, style and refinement, and her selection of shoes accented her likings. I have a beautiful pair of her high-healed, high-laced shoes in my closet. I proudly wore them a few years ago as part of a costume to show the style of that day for a special Relief Society program in our ward. (Corona Del Mar Ward, Newport Beach Stake.) As we children went through the different grades of school and church and had parts in numerous programs—she never failed to be there and always gave of herself in assisting and helping.

 

Whenever Dad went to California on his buying trips for the store, and she couldn’t go, she’d keep the store going with some help from the two oldest boys, and at the same time tended to the needs of the family. Eleanor, myself and Rodney still needed her supervision and Virgil and Dee helped. Each trip, it was evident that she worried about Dad’s safe return, though she said little. I think too, she was a little jealous of what her husband was enjoying in wonderful Southern California. And I know that Dad missed her too, partly because of her intuition on what haberdasheries (men’s clothing and accessories) would sell best in little Thatcher—which was appreciated and respected by him—for she had a eye for what would attract buyers.

 

Together on those trips, they loved going to “Boose Brothers” to eat in that beautiful and famous cafeteria. Whenever they took us along, we always ate there too. Eleanor, Rodney and I were along with them the time Mama lost her ring at the cafeteria. It was set with the large, red ruby that Dad had brought to her from South Africa, he’d had it set in a tiffany for her. She had taken her ring off and put it in her jacket pocket while washing her hands in the rest room. For a brief moment, she draped her jacket over the door. We were less than a block away from the restaurant when she remembered the ring, searching her pocket she discovered it missing. We rushed back but were too late. A thief had robbed her of the treasure; search as we might, with help from the management, the ring was lost to us for ever.

 

Mama held many responsible positions in the Church. She studied the scriptures regularly and was a prayerful woman. She prepared well for her duties in her callings. Mama exemplified careful preparation of lessons, training and talks. With the scriptures and other works, she studied, made notes and outlined her thoughts; she would work for hours during several days; she gave herself too little credit for her conscientiousness and preparedness—but she always was prepared.

 

As a small child, I took part in everything. I had been chosen for the role of Snow White in a school play at a time when Mama had been assigned to go to Salt Lake City for the Semi-annual April Conference. As a counselor in the Stake Relief Society, she had to leave and lacked time to make my costume. Nevertheless, before she left she bought the material, delivered it to Irene Woods—a superb seamstress—and Irene made it to fit me perfectly. (Irene and Dad were first cousins, grandchildren of my great-grandfather, Christopher Layton.)          

 

Mama had one real fear. While visiting Jenny Brooks in Long Beach, California, a moderate earthquake struck. Boy! She was on that bus and out of that city, and I think home in Thatcher prior to the earthquake news reaching us.

 

Mama loved the Pacific Coast—except for earthquakes. On the trip when we brought her to stay with us for awhile, after Dad had died, driving, we were getting closer and closer to San Diego, she kept her eye on the sky. Still many miles from the ocean she suddenly said, “I can see the ocean mist.” And it could have been, for there was a low, long bank of clouds in the distance. She insisted it had to be; for she said she could smell the salt-laced fragrance of the ocean. Dad had been just as crazy about the ocean and the wonders of Southern California as she.

 

When we lived in Newport Beach area in the late 1940’s, she would come to stay with us, she cherished every moment of it. She also loved having Jean with her and loved being with our kids, Mac, Jon, and Sally Jo. She loved walking on the beach—usually alone, in her private thoughts. She did more walking after we moved from 31st street in Newport down to 7th street on the peninsula in Balboa. In the early evenings she walk the entire distance to the Newport Pier and back. She never returned to the house with a dry skirt; she would take off her shoes and tread as close to the lap of the waves as she dared. As her thoughts wandered, now and again, the wash of the waves surprised her—a little quicker than she, and she was never a slow one at anything.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[A letter written to Josephine (Jo) Phillips, by her mother,
probably several years before her courtship and marriage to Darvil.]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

To Josephine on her wedding day: 

            A girl’s dream of her wedding day dates from the first moment she is aware of romance in the world. Perhaps it starts with the vision of a storybook heroine—“and so the beautiful princess married the handsome prince;” or perhaps she is stirred by a picture of a bride touched with silver glory by her wedding veil. In that hour is born in her own heart a secret dream: of herself floating rapturously toward a waiting prince, while for a brief, imperishable span of time stands still in a world that is all hers, an enchanted, softly lit world filled with fragrance and music, all for the purpose of ushering her graciously into a wonderful, new life. In those early dreams the groom is likely to be a vague figure, a hero still undiscovered, who, however, will surely be there when the right time comes.

            The years slip by. The time is now. The little girl of yesterday is finding her shadowy dream-of-husband turning into a real young man. And he is indeed a hero—a veteran of the world war. [Possibly because of difficult past wars, she believes it probable that the young man will be a veteran or involved in a heroic effort to make the world safer and better.] And this bride places her future confidently in strong, male hands that will not only fend for their personal happiness, as a man has always done for his wife, but beyond that for the safety and beauty of the whole world.

            It brings a double responsibility. Your wedding day. Josephine [my daughter], the young wife must not only meet her time-honored obligation of marriage, but must also bring to the new life the greater understanding that will enable her to share her husband with democracy [defending rights, religion and freedom].

            Your wedding day is more than ever the most important day in your life. You become a partner in the greatest enterprise in the world—a good marriage. You acquire, also, a tremendous personal share in that worldwide enterprise—the defense of liberty.

            Everything that happens to you for the rest of your life will be affected by the philosophy and courage you bring to your marriage day. Common goals and interests as well as much spirituality are needed much—and must be included in this philosophy. Love? Yes of course. You would not be taking this step if that were not already warmly and deeply rooted in your heart. But love, because of its very intensity, is not enough by itself to assume a steadfast marriage.

            Getting your man is one thing, understanding him is quite a different matter—understanding and sympathy pulling together, cooperation, unselfishness, tolerance and kindness are all everyday assets that will wear longer than emotional love. If it is possible for every couple to make an keep—a resolution never to do or say an unkind thing to each other, that would be all the rule ever necessary for successful marriage.

            That is a lot to hope for Josephine, but remember, on the day of your marriage you start with a clean slate, and the longer you can keep a vow never to say the first unkind word, the more solidly you are building for the future. Habits of courtesy and consideration are exacted in business as a matter of course. In marriage they are very more important, and more rewarding.

            Another gift you bring to your husband is beauty. Beauty, in the larger sense of the word: the transforming touch that adds flavor to daily living and makes commonplace surroundings glow. Men are accustomed to the prose of life. For centuries they have faced the stern realities of fighting and breadwinning. Most men look to their wife to provide life with color and poetry, and have touching faith that the wife will make the effort. A home, a dependable husband, healthy children and three regular meals a day are solid foundation for a good life, but they are not all of it, any more than a good serviceable garment is a party dress. The imaginative wife gives the “party touches” to living that adds spirit and beauty to the basic pattern.

            She brings beauty of person too. As the central figure in a successful home, she sets the standard for loveliness. This has nothing to do with the conventionally pretty features. It has everything to do with the sense of beauty which is in her power to convey, if she will.

            It begins with the day of her wedding, for never was there a man in love who did not believe his bride beautiful. That picture is fixed dazzlingly in his mind, and men are extraordinarily loyal to their visions. The bride who, by intelligent effort, keeps herself as close as possible to the sweet, groomed and gracious girl her husband married is wise. The one, who tries not only to uphold this standard but to raise it, is inspired. And beauty like kindness is a lovely, wide-spreading force for good. And Jo, remember some of the things your mother dropped, like pomander balls, casually into your heart, they gather fragrance with the years. 

            So, in closing, please read these verses I found: 

They told me love was rapture
And ecstasy and pain,
They told me love was bitterness,
A poison in the vein. 

But love is washing dishes
When our cozy meal is through,
It’s lamplight and it’s firelight:
It’s laughter shared by two. 

Security from loneliness
Protection fro all harm.
And my head on your shoulder
Comfortable and warm                               [Bracketed words are by the transcriber.]

 
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