Transcript of Voice Recording Interview with Doris Elizabeth (Nay) Whitney

DORIS ELIZABETH (NAY) WHITNEY
June 2, 1969

VOICES OF REMEMBRANCE FOUNDATION ORAL HISTORY COLLECTION, DIXIE STATE COLLEGE OF UTAH ST. GEORGE, UTAH #69-110AB

The format of this interview and the questions asked were designed by the interviewer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dixie State College of Utah. Great care has been taken to transcribe the recorded words as accurately as possible. Editorial corrections are shown in brackets. Final editing was completed in 2011. For written permission to use any part of this transcript contact:

Special Collections Librarian
The Val A. Browning Library
Archives and Special Collections
Dixie State College of Utah
St. George, UT 84770

Special thanks to Dana Tischer for providing this transcript.

INDEX

Alamo, NV 8

Allen, Randle [uncle] 13

Allen, Rail [maternal grandfather] 14

Allen, Susan Elizabeth (Collins) [maternal grandmother] 14

 

Baptist Church 28

Bunkerville, NV 9

 

Chaparral Tea 12

Counsel 35, 36

Courtship 18

 

Dances 16

Delta, UT 13

 

Earl, Milton 34

 

Faith 15

Father’s Death 19

 

Genealogy 34

 

Hansen, Laverne (Whitney) [daughter – twin to Lorraine] 20, 24, 26

Hansen, Scott [Laverne’s husband] 26

Horseback Riding 16

Hovey, Helen [teacher] 9

 

Jean, NV 20

 

Leavitt, Mary 10

Leavitt, Nettie 10

Logandale, NV 9

 

Mann, Marjorie [Overton teacher] 11

Mesa, AZ 8

Moapa Valley, NV 8

Move to Flagstaff, AZ 7, 8

Move to St. George, UT 33, 34

Music 17

 

Nay, Anita [sister] 14

Nay, Earl [brother] 14

Nay, Grace [sister] 14

 

Nay, Herbert Allen [brother] 10, 14

Nay, Iris [sister] 14

Nay, James Calvin [brother] 14

Nay, Louise [sister] 14

Nay, Louisa Ann (Earl) [paternal grandmother] 13

Nay, Myrna [sister] 14

Nay, Ormus Bates [paternal grandfather] 13

Nay, Ormus Calvin [father] 5, 12, 18, 19

Nay, Sarah Melinda (Allen) [mother] 5, 14

Nay, Virginia [sister] 14

Nelson, Clayton [Lorraine’s husband] 26

Nelson, Lorraine (Whitney) [daughter – twin to Laverne] 20, 24, 26

 

Paradise Valley, NV 20

Parties 16

Primary 31, 32

 

Relief Society 32

 

St. George Temple 33, 34

St. Thomas, NV 9

School 6, 11, 12

 

Virgin River Floods 13

 

Whitney, Ann [Bert’s wife] 23

Whitney, Bert [brother-in-law] 20

Whitney, Bert [son] 23

Whitney, Calvin [son] 21

Whitney, DeLila (Gillespie) [Keith’s wife] 30

Whitney, Doris Elizabeth (Nay) 5

Whitney, Ellice (Henrie) [Howard’s wife] 22

Whitney, Elsie [daughter] 27

Whitney, Howard [son] 22

Whitney, Keith [son] 29

Whitney, Luke [brother-in-law] 20

Whitney, Ralph Emanuel [husband] 18, 33, 34

Whitney, Stowell [brother-in-law] 20

 

DORIS ELIZABETH (NAY) WHITNEY

Doris Elizabeth (Nay) Whitney was interviewed on June 2, 1969 in St. George, Washington County, Utah by Fielding H. Harris, a representative of Voices of Remembrance Foundation. She related her personal history of living in various parts of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

FH: What is your full name?

DW: [My name is] Doris Elizabeth (Nay) Whitney.

FH: That is N as in nothing instead of M as in mother. What is your birth date?

DW: [I was born] February 7, 1902.

FH: Where were you born?

DW: I was born in Key West, Clark County, Nevada.

FH: What was your father’s name?

DW: [His name was] Ormus Calvin Nay.

FH: What was your mother’s [full] name?

DW: [Her name was] Sarah Melinda (Allen) [Nay].

FH: Where is Key West located?

DW: It is about ten miles south of Bunkerville, Nevada in the mountains.

FH: Can you tell about your early childhood, before you started school?

DW: I believe my first memory was when I was [about] four [years old]. We lived in Virgin City [Washington County] Utah. My father was drilling for oil. I always remember when they struck a pocket. They thought they had oil and he went around slapping everyone [who] was helping him on the back with his oily hands. My next [memory] was when we were going to leave. It was just a pocket [of oil], so we had to leave in a covered wagon to go to Alamo, Nevada.

FH: Is this [town of] Virgin that you speak of the one up near Zion Canyon?

DW: Yes.

DW: Yes, we were there a year and a half, maybe two years. I had been having some trouble with my eyes. I don’t know what it was, but mother said on the trip I could not be in the sunlight at all. She put a quilt over my head during the daylight.

FH: This almost sounds like you might have had the measles or maybe an eye infection.

DW: I had the measles later, so it wasn’t that, but it might have been an eye infection.

My father bought a home [in] Delamar [Nevada], dismantled it and rebuilt it [in] Alamo. I don’t know how far Delamar is from Alamo, probably forty miles. I still continued [to] have eye trouble. I was probably five [years old]. I can remember laying there with tea leaves that mother put on [my eyes].

FH: I have heard of that remedy.

DW: Finally, by the time I was old enough to go to school, [my eyes] were fine. I have never had any trouble with them since.

FH: It was a good thing [that] your mother knew what to do.

DW: Yes. [Laughter]

FH: Could you tell a little bit about your [education]?

DW: I always remember [that] I loved school. I loved to read and loved to go to school. We had a [very] small school because it was a small town.

FH: [Were] all [of] the grades in one room?

DW: All the grades were in one room. I remember how much fun it was to go [by the] canal [that] ran along [the road]. We would get a big jumping stick and jump back and forth. That was my delight of the day growing up. [Laughter]

FH: You didn’t fall in?

DW: Yes, quite a few times, all the way home. [Laughter] I was more careful going [to school] and didn’t have any accidents, but coming home — I was supposed to come right home.

FH: What did your mother say when you would fall in?

DW: I would get a scolding, but it was so much fun. The next day I found myself still jumping the ditch. [Laughter]

FH: It sounds like you were normal.

DW: I think so. I was baptized in this big canal. [My] father baptized me.

FH: [Do] you remember that?

DW: Yes, I remember that.

FH: Tell a little more about your [education]. How much [education] did you [receive]? Maybe [there are] some teachers you would like to mention.

DW: I was nine years old when my father went to Flagstaff, Arizona [to] lease a ranch about six miles outside [of town]. He sent for the family to come. We went by train. It was our first train ride and that was certainly a thrill. We went by wagon to Caliente [Nevada] and [boarded] the train [there]. We had to change trains [in] Barstow [California]. I remember the porter helped us children get off the train. That was the first colored person I had ever seen.

FH: I bet that gave you something to think about.

DW: It did. My father met us in Flagstaff and took us out to the ranch. That was the most wonderful summer I have ever spent.

FH: That is beautiful country there.

DW: Yes, beautiful.

FH: Did you continue with your [education in] Flagstaff?

DW: No, we just stayed that summer. That fall we started on the wagon [and] train trip down to —.

FH: Tell about this trip. What brought it on?

DW: My father did not like cold weather. As soon as it started to look like it was going to snow and be cold, he said, “Let’s go south.” He wanted to check the Mesa [Arizona] country [area]. The Salt River Valley [area] was just opening for farms. He loved to farm [and] said to mother, “Let’s go and see if we like it down there.” She agreed [to go]. We had a baby, [Iris, who] was about three months old and six others, so there were seven [children].

FH: That was a good-sized family.

DW: Yes it was, to travel in a covered wagon; you know how crowded they can be. That was one of the most wonderful trips as a child, to me, because we went slowly, took our time and camped. What wonderful experiences we had. I know it was hard on mother, with a young baby and to keep the rest of us as clean as she could under those conditions. When we got to Phoenix [Arizona] that was [the] first big city that we had seen. We were all anxious to see all we could. My father drove right down the main street [Central Avenue]. We all had to lift up the wagon cover [and] peek out. Mother was proud [and] told us to keep our heads in, not be looking out and acting like regular hoodlums. [Laughter] We could not resist; we kept looking out all the way through Phoenix. We went out to Mesa and camped out. I believe my father had cousins down [there] where we visited. We did not stay because my mother didn’t like that country. She was used to [a more] sheltered [environment]. She was raised in the mountains, not too far out of Flagstaff, at Pine, Arizona. She said that was too big of wide-open spaces. She just could not feel that she could be contented there.

Father gave up and we came back to Moapa Valley [Nevada]. We got as far as Needles, California for Christmas. That was how long it took. We camped out by the [Colorado] River and my father went to town. He came back with a pack on his back to play Santa Claus for the children who [still] believed. We older ones knew. It shows what a wonderful father we had, to be that thoughtful, to see that we had a Christmas when I know they must have been quite short on funds after that long a trip. We came on to the Moapa Valley and he leased ground there to farm. We missed all of that year of school. We stayed that summer [and] he [grew] cantaloupes. [He] did [very] well with the melons. After that, we moved to Alamo because we still had our home there.

FH: [Was this] back to [your] old home?

DW: Back to the old home. I went to school there, probably two more years. Then my father went to the upper Moapa Valley and leased a farm. There were not enough children up there for us to have school, so we would start [school] a little late. [In] October he would take us to Alamo and leave us [there] until spring, until he felt like we had [finished] a grade of school. Then we would come back to the upper Muddy [River Valley].

FH: Was this quite usual in that day?

DW: Yes, I think it was.

FH: A lot of people wouldn’t [think so].

DW: By the time I was twelve years old, more people had moved to the Muddy [River Valley] and we had our own little school. That is where we really had fun. There was one room and sometimes there was just five or six of us in school.

FH: The teacher had a ball then. [Laughter]

DW: Yes, she did. [Laughter]

FH: Did you enjoy that kind of school?

DW: Yes, I did. I loved country and ranch life. I think that really suited me.

FH: How do you feel now, in later years, about the quality of [education] that was given you in those earlier years? Do you think that it was good, high-quality teaching?

DW: I feel it was; we had excellent teachers. One [teacher] stayed two years. I only remember one teacher we didn’t care for too well. I guess she was a good teacher, but she did not join in with us and seem like one of us like our other teachers did.

FH: Some teachers are just naturally gifted for it.

DW: That is certainly true.

FH: Were there any of those teachers that you want to mention? You went on further in school, didn’t you?

DW: Yes. Miss Helen Hovey was the one [teacher] that we all seemed to favor. She stayed for two years. I [had] her for the fifth and sixth grades. We had a man [teacher when] I [was in the] seventh grade.

My father could not get his lease renewed on the farm so we came back down the valley to Logandale [Nevada]. I went to the eighth grade in Logandale. I remember there were only four or five girls in the class. We had a wonderful teacher, because she taught us to tat and crochet and things that I have always been grateful and thankful for.

FH: That was a little different from now-a-days.

DW: Yes, it is. We had time; we all took our lunches and would be there at the noon hour.

FH: Did you go [to] a couple of years of high school?

DW: Yes. From there we moved to a ranch about three miles out of St. Thomas [Nevada] on the Virgin River. The high school had just started in Overton [Nevada] that year. My folks thought perhaps it might not follow through for the entire year, so they sent me up to Bunkerville to [for] my first year of high school.

FH: Is St. Thomas the community that is all under water now?

DW: Yes, it is. Before that, the main highway went right through St. Thomas. They called it the old Arrowhead Trail then and it went to Bunkerville. Instead of letting me go up on the stage like — the mail stage was a little open Model-T Ford that ran every day — I wanted to go horseback, because I loved to ride horses. So my oldest brother said, “Alright, we will take you up the river by horseback.” I don’t know how my things went up, I don’t remember that part. My brother is a big tease. I had a horse that I had ridden a lot. I knew he was gentle, but when I got on he started to buck. I didn’t get thrown off, but when I finally got him stopped, I was looking for the cap I had on my head and I was sitting on it. You know I didn’t stay in the saddle very [well]. [Laughter] [My brother] was just laughing his head off. I knew then he had done something. He had put a cocklebur under the saddlebag.

FH: It is a wonder you got the horse stopped at all!

DW: Yes, it is. I said, “If it had thrown me and hurt me, you would have still laughed, wouldn’t you?” [Laughter]

FH: What was this brother’s name?

DW: It was [Herbert] Allen [Nay], my oldest brother.

FH: Then [did] you [go] up to Bunkerville?

DW: Yes, I went up the [Virgin] River to Bunkerville.

FH: Did you stay in Bunkerville?

DW: Yes, I worked for my room and board. [I] helped this lady that had three small children.

FH: What was her name?

DW: [Her name was] Nettie Leavitt.

FH: Did you feel that high school was quite special?

DW: Yes, I really did. I made lots of fine friends there, especially the family of Aunt Mary Leavitt. She is ninety- two years old now and still goes to the temple and does sessions almost every day. I see her on my days there. Her home was like my second home, because some of her girls were about my age, and she treated me wonderfully. I always called her my second mother.

FH: Is she still clear of mind and going strong?

DW: Yes.

FH: Isn’t that wonderful? In these years that you are talking about, were you able to go to church? What was the situation there?

DW: Yes, in Bunkerville we were able to go to church [and] I attended.

FH: Were you away from the church [during] a lot of your growing-up years?

DW: Yes, like on the upper Muddy [River] of Moapa Valley, we were unable to go to church. There was one school teacher [who] came, a Protestant that had a Bible class for any of the children [who] wanted to come. Mother let my sister younger than I attend; the two older boys didn’t want to go. We attended that [class] and I remember enjoying it very much.

FH: That was good. As far as attending Primary and Sunday school [at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] when you were [very] small, was this quite difficult?

DW: Yes, very difficult.

FH: [Were you able to go] once in a while?

DW: Yes. [During] the few years we were in Alamo, I know we attended Primary, because my mother was Primary president.

FH: Your mother was Primary president?

DW: There isn’t anything that stands out in my mind, about the classes or teachers, but I know we went those few years.

FH: Did you participate in sports activities in school?

DW: Yes. For my second year of high school, I went to Overton. The second year, [my folks] decided the school was alright there. Our ranch was three miles from town, and there were not many cars in those days. We would have to go by horseback or buggy across to St. Thomas. We rented a little place in St. Thomas [and] mother let my sister and me stay there most of the time. She would come over once in awhile. We rode the school bus from there to Overton [to] high school. She was in the eighth grade, which they had up there at that time, and I was in my second year of high school. That was when I played basketball and volleyball. The teacher, Marjorie Mann, was athletic and loved to get out and play with us girls. I think she was [very] good for us, because she did take part with us and we all loved her. She [was] in touch with me a year ago. She telephoned me [as] she did not have time to come down and see me. She was at the city office, inquiring about another teacher [who] taught at the same time she did. She understood that she lived here in St. George. The lady at the city office told her she thought that I would know whether she lived here or not. The [person] she was hunting was one of my teachers too. I was able to tell her that she had passed away three or four years before. She had never lived up here.

FH: It is nice that a teacher remembered and called.

DW: Yes, it is. I am writing to her now.

FH: Tell about your father’s personality and [what] you remember about him.

DW: I [will] always remember him very well from the time I was quite small because I was his first daughter and he did not have any sisters. Mother said that he always spoiled me because he had not been around girls for so long [laughter] and I was extra-special to him for some reason or other. Maybe he did spoil me. I won’t say for sure about that, but I loved my father very much. [I] loved to be outdoors with him. I loved horses and dogs and so did he. We had [activities] that we loved to do together. I can remember when the horses would get something wrong with them, he would call to me to come out and boil up some chaparral tea to soak their feet in to get them better.

FH: [Is] that good for that?

DW: I have heard so much [about] how chaparral tea is good for us. All I know about it was that is certainly helped horses’ feet when their ankles [were] swollen.

FH: [Did] you make a tea out of that?

DW: Yes, we would boil it outside so it would be strong and bitter. I suppose [it was], I didn’t taste it, but it surely did help. That was one of my duties to help him do that. My father was tall and broad-shouldered. He wasn’t a heavy man; perhaps he was five foot eleven. He had dark hair and big dark brown eyes [with] fine features. He loved the soil. He was a miner in his younger days. He was out working in the Key West Mine when I was born. I think farming was his first love and choice. He loved to work with the soil.

[When] we lived on [the] Virgin River ranch, I loved to be out with him. I was a girl [about] fifteen [inaudible]. I know it was after I went to high school. [It was] probably the summer before I went to high school. I would go out and help him in the fields, sow corn and stay right along with him all day. When we would come in the house, he would tell my mother, “Doris has done [very] good work with me all day. You see that she does not have to help with the housework.” That aggravated my younger sister. She said, “You are dad’s special one, so he humors you.” [Laughter]

FH: He favored you?

DW: Yes, favors you. Mother said, “No, he doesn’t. She has been out helping him do all that work and he thinks it is more than fair that she not help with dishes and [chores] in the house.” My sister couldn’t see it that way so we had some fusses about it. [Laughter]

I should tell about a little trip that they took. They left [the] ranch and went up to Delta [Millard County] Utah, but I was not home. I had gone up to work for an aunt [who] had triplets in Delta. She was mother’s sister. Mother had one more sister living in Delta. She wanted my father to go up, look this country over and see if he would like it up there. He came up the summer I was working for [my] aunt and looked things over. He decided perhaps mother would like it up there by her sisters. He didn’t care too much for [the] ranch on the Virgin [River] because it was [very] hard work. The [Virgin] River would take the dam out. My father and the boys had to go back —

FH: [That river] caused lots of trouble.

DW: — and put [the dam] back in. It was sort of uncertain too. It was [for] good crops when you could keep water on them. When he came back, he moved the family to Delta, Utah. By that time, I had left [home] and gone to Wallsburg [Wasatch County, Utah]. It is a little town above Provo Canyon. [I went there] to work for one of mother’s brothers, [Randle Allen, who] had young children. At Christmastime, she wrote and asked me to come home, as they had decided to [move] back to Las Vegas [Nevada]. My father couldn’t take the cold weather; he was all right until then. They were coming by train back to Las Vegas. She told me the day they were going to leave. So I made arrangements to be brought down to Provo and [boarded] the train [for] Delta. It was in the middle of the night when I [arrived] in Delta. I thought I would not try to find where the folks lived [that] night. I [would] just get a hotel room and then go [find them] in the morning. By the time I got up and hunted up where they lived, they had gone on an early train. Their furniture was all packed and outside of the house, ready to go. I think that was the first time I was ever really homesick. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had spent most of the wages I had made on Christmas presents to bring home to the children while I was in Provo waiting for the train, so I didn’t have enough for a ticket to Las Vegas. I ran into a friend [who] lived close to my aunt that I had stayed with [earlier]. He took me out and I got settled down so it wasn’t too bad. [Laughter] Instead of going on back to Las Vegas, I went back to my uncle and stayed until March, when the babies [were] older. By that time, my folks had moved back to Moapa Valley; they didn’t stay in Las Vegas. I came home. By that time, I was engaged to my aunt’s brother.

FH: Could we hold that back for a bit? I want you to tell me the names of your father’s parents. What do you know about them?

DW: My father’s parents were Ormus Bates and Louisa Ann (Earl) Nay.

FH: Were you acquainted with either of these grandparents?

DW: Yes. When we lived in Alamo they used to come visit us. I remember how I loved to have them come. My grandfather would carry me around. We would go to Ash Springs [Nevada to] swim. My father liked to tease, like some men do, and he would dive under. I thought so much of him — I was perhaps five years old by then — that I would cry and jump up and down on the bank, thinking he wasn’t going to come up again. I remember my grandfather picking me up, consoling me, taking me off for a little walk and telling me everything was all right, that he was just teasing me. He would [come] up out of the water in a little while. [Laughter] My grandmother was extra-special to me, because we lived around her in Las Vegas after I was married. We did see them a few more times. I believe they lived at Washington [City, Washington County, Utah] for awhile. In 1907 my folks came to go through the [St. George] Temple. I was five years old.

FH: [Did] you go to the temple with them?

DW: I remember staying in Washington [City] with grandmother. She fixed a big, long pillow on the floor, beds on the floor, so all of us children could sleep together. Those things stand out in my memory of grandmother, how good she was to us. After I was married, we moved to a ranch just outside of Las Vegas. She lived in Las Vegas [and] we visited with her quite a bit. [When] we had our first baby she was a big help to me.

FH: Tell about your mother.

DW: Sarah Melinda (Allen) [Nay] was my mother’s name. She was born in Washington [City], but her parents were called by Brigham Young to help settle Arizona. They moved to the little town called Pine [and] settled it. I believe my grandfather [Rial] Allen built the first cabin there. He was the first bishop of that ward; perhaps it was a branch ward. She was raised in the big pines. It was a beautiful country, with big pine [trees] all around them. This town was situated in a sheltered little valley.

FH: Can you tell us your mother’s parent’s names?

DW: My grandfather and grandmother were Rial and Susan Elizabeth (Collins) [Allen].

FH: How many children did your parents have?

DW: My parents had ten children: seven girls and three boys.

FH: Can you name those children?

DW: Yes, [Herbert] Allen, James [Calvin], myself, Louise, Anita, Grace, Iris, Earl, Myrna and Virginia [Nay].

FH: Are they still living?

DW: They are all living, but two [of them].

FH: That is a good record.

DW: Yes, I thought it was very good.

FH: Have they all been quite successful in life?

DW: Yes, I feel so.

FH: Good. [Did] you say [that] your parents came to the [St. George] Temple after you were seven years old?

DW: I was five [years old]. They came in 1907 and I was born in 1902.

FH: Can you remember this trip?

DW: Yes, I remember it very well.

FH: Is there anything in your life that [has been] faith-promoting? Have you believed in prayer or had your prayers answered?

DW: It seems to come natural for me to have lots of faith. I did not realize I had as much faith as I did [while] bringing up my children. [When] my husband was [very] ill, my youngest son said to some of the other children, “I know it is going to be hard on mother to be left alone, which we know she will have to be, but mother has lots of faith,” and he is not going to worry about her. I looked at him, startled, but I guess [while] growing up [as] he was the youngest, he had noticed that I did have lots of faith. I had not realized it myself, although I know that I believe in prayer and have had many of my prayers answered.

When I was just eight years old, I remember teasing mother to let me take this special pen she had to school to show my friends. [It was] under the condition that I not lose it and [bring] it back home. One day she let me take it. On the way home, I was throwing it in the air to see how shiny it was — it was [had] a sparkly, gold handle and looked beautiful in the sun — but about the fourth time it came down, I couldn’t find it. I was frantic. I hunted and hunted and did not know what to do. It came to me to ask the Lord to help me find it, so I did. I went right over to a bush and picked it up. It had landed in the bush instead of on the ground. I felt that was [very] good, since I had recently been baptized.

FH: [Did this] strengthen your faith?

DW: Yes, I know it did.

FH: Tell about this earlier part of your life. Did you have any fun?

DW: What years?

FH: When you were growing up, before you were married.

DW: Yes, I am sure I did. As I stated before, I loved ranch life, horses and dogs. I believe I learned to ride when I was twelve [years old]. From then on, I would [have] lived on a horse if they had let me. [Laughter]

FH: You really liked horseback riding?

DW: Yes, I really liked horseback riding. All through my teens, we lived where it was necessary to have horses. That was the way we traveled. I wanted to go to a dance in Overton, when I was sixteen [years old]. Mother said, “How are you going? Nobody has time to take you in the buggy. Dad needs it to take things.” I said, “I can take my saddle horse and go that way.” She said, “I don’t know how you can go to a dance and ride. You will have to ride quite a ways.” I said, “I will take the shortcut up over the mesa and it will bring me right into Overton.” She said, “What will you do for a dress? Where will you go to get ready?” I said, “You have friends in Overton; I will go to their place.” I put my dress carefully in a sack, tied it on the back of my saddle, went to their place, got ready for the dance and had a wonderful time. [Laughter]

FH: [Did] you liked to dance?

DW: Yes, I loved to dance.

FH: What were the [activities] that young people did for fun in those days? Did you have parties?

DW: Most of our parties [were] outdoors. We called them Dutch oven cookouts. The boys would furnish the chickens and cook them for us. We would have outdoor games. We all seemed to love those.

FH: [Did] you make your own recreation?

DW: Yes, in those days we made our own [[fun]. Perhaps the dances were planned, because they had to stop at midnight sharp. We always had a floor manager.

FH: What kind of music did you dance to?

DW: It was two violins, maybe a drum. I can not remember for sure.

[END OF TAPE ONE – SIDE ONE]

DW: — crowds and keeping.

FH: A lot of good, clean fun.

DW: I think so.

FH: Have you enjoyed music in your life?

DW: Yes, I have always enjoyed music. I remember staying at this place in Bunkerville where they had a phonograph. They had a lot of Hawaiian records, and I loved Hawaiian music. I guess I about wore the records out! [Laughter] I loved the piano too. I had a friend in St. Thomas [whose] folks had a hotel and I helped her at the hotel. I could get her to play and she [would] sing some evenings. I really enjoyed it.

FH: Even though you haven’t played [an instrument], you have enjoyed music.

DW: Very much!

FH: Have you enjoyed reading?

DW: I [have] loved to read ever since I learned. I think when I was a child I was naughty. There were things I should have been doing in the home, but living on ranches I could hide out where mother could not find me. I could not hear her calling [me] or I pretended I could not hear her. I loved to read and I know I should not have done that. [Laughter]

FH: Were you almost a bookworm?

DW: I think that is what you could call me! [Laughter]

FH: That sounds familiar; I am guilty of the same thing. What do you like to read the best?

DW: I love all the church books. I have quite a collection of those [books] and I like to read them over.

FH: [Do] you like serious reading?

DW: Yes, besides [reading] The Book of Mormon. I had never been able to settle down and read The Doctrine and Covenants clear through. I would check with it and read parts, until I taught it in the theology class in Relief Society. I really got a lot out of it. At the temple this past year our project for the women [who] work is reading The Doctrine and Covenants. We are almost finished. That has [made] us all reading and discussing it. It [is] just a little [time] before we start our work.

FH: That is a nice activity.

DW: I think so and I have read The Doctrine and Covenants much more.

FH: Talk about your courtship, your marriage and [events] that happened in that part of your life.

DW: We courted on horseback because we lived on [the] ranch. My husband lived in St. Thomas. [When] we got quite serious, mother said I was not old enough. I was only seventeen [years old]. My husband is ten years older than I am and he figured he could take care of me. Mother was at [the] place that we rented in town [and] we went to ask if she would consider letting us get married. She said, “Heavens, no! She is just a spring chicken.” [Laughter] I will never forget that. My husband said, “We will talk to her dad.” She said, “It won’t do any good. I just won’t agree to her getting married this young.” My husband said he was quite sure my dad would give permission because he liked him [very] well. My dad seemed to like Ralph and they got along just fine.

FH: What was your husband’s name?

DW: [His name was] Ralph [Emanuel Whitney].

FH: What happened?

DW: I think my husband was wise. He said, “If your mother is so set against you getting married, we won’t do anything about it right now. I am going out with a surveyor gang on the Colorado River [to] work for two or three months. When I get back, maybe she will know for sure whether she will let us get married.” He went and was almost due to come home when [a] sister of my mother’s in Delta had triplets. She wrote to see if my younger sister could come up and help her. She didn’t ask for me. My mother thought: this is a good chance to get Doris up there so when Ralph comes back [they] won’t be serious any more. I said, “I won’t go until he gets in from the hills. He is due any time now and then I will go.” I felt like I wanted to see him first. So she agreed to that. When he came in, I did not know him. He had a big, black, full beard. [Laughter]

FH: [Did you almost change your mind?

 

DW: He said, “I would have shaved it off, but I was too anxious to see you.” We talked things over again. He said, “You go ahead and go. Then we will see how it works out.” I think I would have gone right then and married against mother’s wishes, if he had not said what he did. He had an uncle [who] ran the store in St. Thomas. [He] said, “Ralph, you are crazy to let her go up there now. I will loan you the money if you don’t have it. You can go to Las Vegas to get married now before you let her go. Then let her go.” He would not do it, so I went up there and we broke up while I was gone. When I came back two years later, I was almost nineteen [years old] and engaged to another fellow. It was my aunt’s brother. I had been back about two weeks and we had a dance in Overton. I went to the dance and Ralph asked me to dance a couple of times. Almost the minute I laid eyes on him at the dance, I knew I had made a big mistake. This other engagement did not mean a thing to me. I knew that he was the one I wanted to marry, so I wrote and broke [the] other engagement. I did not have a ring yet.

FH: Was it just an agreement?

DW: I wrote and explained the situation. He wanted to come down and talk it over with me, but I wouldn’t let him. I said, “No, I know now.” That was in March and from then on we started planning our marriage. We courted on horseback. That summer, in August, my father was killed in a well accident. He was digging a well to get better water. We had to haul our drinking water from St. Thomas because the Virgin [River] water was so bitter and muddy. That is one more experience I could put in right here. The boys were somewhere else and dad did not have time to go get the water. We had a big tank on a wagon [and] we used two-span of horses to go over this windy road and down into St. Thomas to get water. He said, “Do you think you could drive those two teams?” I had never driven two teams. He had taught me to drive one and I could handle [that]. I said, “I can try.” He said, “You go get the water this time.” I got along fine. I had a little bit of trouble on some of the turns, but I did not get too frightened and [came] back with the water alright. Those are some of the things I was used to doing [because] he taught me how to do [them]. Things broke and all of us knew how to fix them.

At the time my father was killed, August 20, 1920, I was in St. Thomas helping my friend run the hotel because her parents had gone to Salt Lake [City, Salt Lake County, Utah] for two months. My sister came over with the bad news [that] the well had caved [in]. My oldest brother [Herbert Allen] was with him. He was on top and my father was down in the well. The timbers had caved in with the sand and covered him. Perhaps he was down about twenty feet. My sister came on horseback to tell me. I jumped on the horse she came on and ran him all the way to the ranch to get there as fast as I could, but there was nothing anybody could do. All the men from town, as fast as they could, came over and started to see if they could dig him out. That was in the afternoon and it took all night, until 9:00 the next morning [before] they got to him. They said not to feel too bad; he wasn’t smothered, but his neck had broken when the timbers fell. He didn’t suffer at all. Even if they could have [rescued] him out sooner, he wouldn’t have been alive. It was quite a terrible shock to mother.

Ralph and I had been planning to [be] married by Thanksgiving time. Then we decided to postpone it. I suggested we wait until [the] next June. I said to mother, “We will postpone our marriage until next June.” My oldest brother [Herbert Allen] heard it [and] came right in and said, “Mother, do not have Doris postpone her marriage. Let them go ahead with it, because I can take care of this family.” I felt I should help [as] I was working at the hotel and getting $75.00 a month. That would help with the groceries. I was turning my wages right into the store. She said, “Alright, but if you will wait until Christmas, we can get things ready a little better.” So we waited with our marriage date set for Christmas.

FH: That was an unusual date for a marriage date.

DW: Yes. We did make it December 23rd. We came here for a reunion and my husband-to-be said, “Why wait until Christmas day?” [Laughter] We [were] married on December 23, [1920] by the bishop in his home. The only reason I know [that] we did not get married in the temple was my husband said, “I do not know for sure if I can get along with her in this life. I want to be sure that I can and we will go to the temple later.” Mother didn’t press it. I do not believe in those days that they pressed [the issue] quite as hard [for] marriage in the temple. So I agreed with him.

FH: How long was it [before] you did go to the temple?

DW: It was three years [later] when we came back, in January. We went to the temple and had our two babies —

FH: Was this in [the] St. George [Temple]?

DW: — one [Calvin] was fifteen months old and one [Howard] was three months [old].

FH: You brought them with you. Where did you make your home?

DW: [We made our home] in St. Thomas to begin with. My husband had cattle. The drought came that year. He could see that he did not have [enough] money to go through a drought. He sold his cattle and we moved to a ranch outside of Las Vegas. He worked with his brother for awhile. Then we went down on what we called the Lower Ranch. It belonged to Clark and Reynolds, big Las Vegas businessmen. We ran the Lower Ranch and his [three] brothers [Luke, Bert, and Stowell Whitney] ran the Upper Ranch for a few years.

FH: Was he working for wages on this ranch?

DW: Yes. Then we bought our own ranch while we were doing this.

FH: Where was it located?

DW: It was in Paradise Valley [Nevada] not too far from what we called the Upper Ranch. It was nine miles south of Las Vegas, eighty acres, with three flowing wells. We lived there until our third baby, a boy [Bert], was born. We saw that we could not make enough off of the ranch to make our payments each year, which was $500.00. In those days, that was a lot of money. He went to Jean, Nevada, which is about nine miles from the mining town of Goodsprings and about forty miles south of Las Vegas. We lived at Jean for three or four years. He loaded ore on the [railroad] cars that [was] hauled down from the mine. We had our twin girls [Lorraine and Laverne] while we lived there. I went into the hospital in Las Vegas to have them.

FH: Let’s stop at this point and have you tell about your family. How many [children] were there?

DW: [We had] seven [children].

FH: [Would you] name them one at a time and tell about [each one].

DW: Calvin [Whitney] is the oldest. I named him for my father. He went in [military] service when he was quite young, eighteen years old. He had been in a couple of years when World War II [began on December 7, 1941]. The Japs hit the Hawaiian Islands while he was shipping over. They were going to Australia on a big boat. He was in the [United States] Air Force. He wasn’t a flier [pilot], but he was a good mechanic and helped to keep the planes in shape to fly.

FH: He was in the service before Pearl Harbor?

DW: Yes. He was just a day out of Pearl Harbor when they hit. They went to Australia, and you know how the Japs took Java [Island], so they went to Australia. He was with the 19th Bombardment group. The Japs waded in and took Java. [The United States military] got out on a boat by the skin of their teeth. There was bombing all over the island. He said bombs hit [very] close to the boat they were [using to leave] on. They were [very] lucky and got out. He stayed over seas, perhaps two more years, and then the 19th Bombardment group was sent home. They had really had it, to begin with, in the war. They were not equipped with guns on their planes and they really took a beating. They sent them all back home. He was stationed in Texas for quite awhile. He had married before he went overseas. He was stationed at Randolph [Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas].

FH: How long did he stay in the service?

DW: He made it his career. He retired about seven years ago. He is living here now [and] is a TV [television] [repair] man. After the war, he was sent over to Okinawa for two or three years. His wife got a divorce and remarried somebody from her home town that she had known all of her life. You know how those things happen sometimes. They had three little girls and it was [very] hard on my son. I think he is eventually going to adjust. He has remarried since, but it has not been a happy marriage. [The marriage] was in Mississippi, while he was stationed there. Since he retired, he has been here in St. George.

FH: Sometimes this is a [very] tough [situation] to readjust.

DW: Yes, it is. He [had] a lot of fine schooling in radar work [and] that makes him a good TV man. He is [also] a good electrician. That is what he is doing now.

My next son [Howard Whitney] was a [United States] Navy flier. He volunteered [enlisted] before they drafted him because he wanted to be in the Navy. I believe he [received] his wings in Corpus Christi [Texas]. He was sent to Vancouver, Washington to practice [take offs and landings] on the carriers. In some of his letters he said that the first time he came in to land on a carrier, it looked like a postage stamp. [Laughter] He had [very] good luck and no accidents, except one. He was flying from Vancouver to another town in Washington. He doesn’t know what happened. Something went wrong with the airplane he was flying and he crashed. It came upside down. He drew a little cartoon on his letter — that was all he said about it — he had a big lump on his head, but he walked away. He was not hurt.

He was sent to the Hawaiian Islands for [more training]. They were put on what they called going to war. They were put on a carrier that was going right into the action. They called the carrier The Fighting Lady. He was in action all during the time they were taking back both islands of the Philippines. That was their mission, to leave the carrier, bomb and then go back to the carrier. He said after a year of that, a fellow in the higher-ups came [aboard] the ship and said, “So many of you pilots are going back to the states to train for night fighter pilots.” He went you, you and you and picked [the group] out of this whole group. My boy was one of them. He had a thirty-day leave when he [came] home. He had a girlfriend in Panguitch [Garfield County, Utah]. I think they were engaged by then. He had time to have a wedding.

FH: Just took care of that. [Laughter]

DW: They were married in the temple and he was sent to Florida for his night fighter pilot training. She was able to go with him. They drove in their little car.

FH: What was her name?

DW: Ellice Henrie. He went to [college] after the war was over. Now he is a high school teacher. He taught in Delta for a couple of years. His younger brother, [Bert], was teaching in Upland, California and found him a job teaching in the same school, so they moved there. They taught together for three years. That boy, [Bert], moved to Boulder City, Nevada, and the second boy, Howard, went to Lone Pine, California. They have been [very] active in church and he has been the stake president for three years. He is busy with his school and his church work. There is [a] lot of missionary work [to do] there, because the district is branches.

FH: Is he still there?

DW: Yes. They have seven children. One [boy] just went over to Viet Nam. He is in the [United States] Marines. The oldest boy filled a [LDS] mission and now he is in Texas. He is in [the] regular [United States] Army. He finished school and now he is teaching in San Antonio, Texas. His oldest daughter, the third child, is married and the rest are still [in] school.

FH: Who is [your] next one?

DW: That is Bert [Whitney]. He lives in Boulder City now. He was drafted. He did not want to go in if he did not have to, so he was drafted when he was eighteen [years old]. They were taking all eighteen year olds at that time. We [were] living in Las Vegas on our ranch. He took all the advantage he could of [United States] Army life. He went to school and had some stiff training in the engineering group. Living on a ranch and raised like he was, he was able to take that [training] okay. He was sent to St. Louis [Missouri] for training and, while there, he attended all [the classes] he could. He had just gotten out of high school when they drafted him. He was sent to a town in Washington — I can’t think of the name — and he was able to go to [classes] there quite a bit. When he [was discharged from] the Army, he had almost two years of college, a year and a half that counted. When he [was discharged], he married and went to San Luis Obispo [California] for one year. He finished [his education] in Mesa, Arizona.

FH: [Did] he finish college there?

DW: Yes. Then he moved to Las Vegas to live and went into business for awhile with an uncle of his wife, [Ann Whitney]. He didn’t care much for that kind of work. He was trained to teach. That is when he went to California and [taught] in [the] Upland schools. He was teaching in [the] high school. He taught there until they had four children and then they moved to Boulder City.

FH: Is he in Boulder City now?

DW: He is teaching high school in Boulder City. They have had six more beautiful children. He has been the bishop for seven years and is busy [with] other work.

FH: [Does this] make you proud of him?

DW: Yes, I am [very] proud of him. He is the son I lean on the most since I lost my husband. Being a bishop, I suppose he feels he understands my problems, and I can talk them over with him.

FH: He is close enough that you can [do that].

DW: I lean heavily on him about so many different problems that I have and I need to consult with him.

FH: This is a great blessing to you.

DW: Yes, it is. I am [very] happy to have him living that close. He has one married girl and they have a baby. He has two [children] going to school in Provo, a boy and a girl. The [others] are still [attending the] Boulder City schools. He has a lovely family [of] eight girls and two boys.

FH: Who is next [of your children]?

DW: That [would be] my twin daughters.

FH: What are their names?

DW: [They are] Lorraine and Laverne [Whitney]. Lorraine was born first, five minutes before Laverne. We [were] living in] Jean. We did not go to the doctor until I almost had to. It was a month before [their birth when] I came see the doctor. I told him, “I don’t know what is the matter with me this time, but I have never been so awkward or felt so heavy as with this child. [With] the others I [could get around fine [and] do my own work. I could run and do everything like I could at any other time, but I can not now.” He said, “That is alright. You are just probably getting a little older, so you got a little heavier.” I had an old-fashioned doctor too and he never examined me. He did not know about all of that.

I will have to tell about the experience we had at Thanksgiving. [It was] a little over a month before the twins were born. We lived in a big hotel in Jean. My husband was loading [railroad] cars and a fire started in the attic between the roof and ceiling. We had wood stoves in those days. I was on the back screened porch making [a] pie. I had a chicken in the oven and my husband was reading something about a fire that happened to a couple in Idaho. He read names [of] people we knew in St. Thomas. That wasn’t true; he was putting that [in] for a joke to me. I looked out the window and said, “I believe our house is on fire.” I could see a shadow of all that smoke going [up]. It was more than the stovepipe should make. He jumped up, ran out and the whole roof, by then, was blazing. Down there, everything is dry and there was no fire department. He ran first for help, which was probably a half-mile away. In the meantime, I thought: I will get out what I can. Instead of using my head, taking clothes and pictures and things, throwing them maybe into my trunk, which I would have had time to have done, I grabbed a fifty-pound mattress off the bed and went sailing off down a big long hall, and outside [the] front [door] with that. My husband said, “Why in the world did you do something like that?” I said, “I guess I thought I had to have a place to have my baby.” [Laughter]

FH: You don’t think [correctly] at a time like that.

DW: No, you don’t. He wouldn’t let me come back into the house at all, but with the help he got, we saved most everything we had, except those personal things like our pictures and our clothing.

FH: You were very fortunate to get it out.

DW: It was a big building and took some time to get [the fire] out. I believe one man even thought to grab the chicken out of the oven. We didn’t get the stove, so that was quite an experience. I had a little trouble walking for a while. I strained myself too much, so I came to Las Vegas to stay with my mother. My husband would not let me come back until after the babies were born. This doctor still said, “You will be fine. Just stay in bed a week and you will be able to walk again.” I was, but I wasn’t able to get around very good.

FH: Were they a real surprise when they [were born]?

DW: Yes. The doctor was as much surprised as I was. I had the one without much trouble, but I was still moaning around. He said, “What are you groaning about? You have your girl; that is what you wanted.” I said, “I know it, but I do not feel good yet. I just do not feel good.” I put my hand on my stomach and said, “I am going to have another baby.” He looked and felt and said, “By Jove, you are!” [Laughter] He was as surprised as I was. [In] another five minutes the second little girl [was born].

FH: This was a real blessing.

DW: Yes, a real blessing because we really had fun raising our twins.

FH: How old was the next one [older] to them?

DW: Bert, the third boy, was four years old by then, so I did have a little chance to just raise the twins. They got along [very] well. One was [very] patient; she would wait for her bath and her bottle. I nursed them up until they were six weeks old, and then one got sick. I lost part of my milk and had to put them partly on a bottle. Until this [baby was] well, the doctor told me to be sure and not nurse her first and give her all the breast milk I had. After two or three more months, they would not take the breast at all; they wanted the bottle. They were the first ones we raised on the bottle. [Laughter]

FH: What happened to the twins?

DW: They went through high school and didn’t seem to want to go to college. We talked about it and we were in a position that we could have sent them. They didn’t seem to want to [go]. They said, “No, we will just get jobs.” One [worked] in a bank.

FH: Do they look alike?

DW: No. They did when they were little. I could always easily tell them apart, but other people said they looked alike. After they [were] a little older, I could see one was darker than the other one. When they [were] eleven years old, one [was] a little taller. They were not a bit alike in disposition. One was very patient and the other wanted things when she wanted them.

FH: You might have trained her that way.

DW: Perhaps so, because rather than hear her cry while I gave the good one her bath first, so it always was that way. With her being the younger [one], maybe she took advantage of that. [Laughter]

FH: It is possible.

DW: The oldest one learned to walk first. She learned to walk when she was ten months old. The younger one didn’t learn until she was about thirteen months old.

FH: [There was] quite a difference.

DW: She was a little bossy, the one that was still crawling. I remember giving the one [who] could walk two pieces of bread and butter. She would always ask for one [and] hold up her hand for “one for Sissy.” Anything the older girl had, the patient one, the other girl would come crawling after it and take it away from her if she could. Before she could walk, she would sit there and hold it up, “No, no, no,” because she knew the minute the younger one got there, she would get it. She was a little bit aggressive. Rather than fight with her, the older girl would try to keep it out of her way.

They got along [very] well after they [were] older and in school. They had a cousin they ran [around] with [and] the three of them together were almost like triplets. The younger one [Laverne] married first. Now she is now living in Coolidge, Arizona and has seven children. The other one [Lorraine] lives in Las Vegas. Her husband is a carpenter and she only had two children, a boy and a girl.

FH: What are their married names?

DW: The one in Coolidge married Scott Hansen. The one in Las Vegas married Clayton Nelson. When their youngest little girl was ten [years old], they adopted a little redhead [and] now they are raising her. She is eight years old now and my daughter says we spoil her.

FH: That is alright.

DW: Yes, we are having fun.

[END OF TAPE ONE – SIDE TWO]

DW: — depend a lot on this daughter that lives in Las Vegas. She comes up quite often [to see me]. She said, “I get homesick. If you do not come down within a month, you know I will be up.” She is a wonderful daughter. She works in [the] church and has all her married life.

FH: It is nice to have her close enough that you can visit.

DW: Yes. They have always lived in Las Vegas, close to us where we lived on the ranch. Her two children are almost like my own.

FH: Plus there is the one they adopted.

DW: Yes. I tell my little adopted one — I do not call her that, but she knows she is adopted now — when she comes up [to see me] I say, “Susan, your sister, never got to be spoiled like you are. There are so many things you do that she did not get to do and would not do. Everybody loves her now; would not you like to remember that and the things that mama tells you to do. [Then] do them willingly instead of fussing like you do? Sometimes you cry because you get asked to do something you don’t want to do.” After she went home, my daughter said, “Those talks you give [Cindy] when she is up there do her more good than all the spankings I could give her.”

FH: Many times, you appeal to their reason.

DW: I [can] get close to her that way.

FH: It is good for you to have that influence.

DW: I told her now that she is eight years old, “You have to answer for everything you do now, so you want to remember that.” She is [very] good about listening.

FH: [Are] there two more [of your children]? Who is the next one?

DW: The next is Elsie [Whitney], my youngest daughter. She always was a sweet baby, easy to raise until she got to school age. Then she had a mind of her own. [Laughter] She liked to spout off, that was all it amounted to and she was easy to be teased. Her brother [who was] younger loved to tease her. Those two gave us quite a bit of trouble in that respect. We did not have that with the other children. I used to tell them I wanted to ship them both off somewhere. [Laughter]

FH: There always [has] to be a little fun in life.

DW: I tried to explain to her, if she would not get so angry when he teased her, he would not tease her so much. “I just can’t help it,” she would tell me. She is a tall, slender, dark girl; a beautiful girl. She met a fellow [who] was in the [United States] Air Force. She went to visit the oldest boy [who] was living near Luke [Air Force Base] outside of Phoenix. She met him. My boy came [home] about a month after she had met him and brought him home. We all met him. He is not LDS, but he is a [very] fine fellow. He has been raised in the Baptist church and didn’t have any bad habits, like smoking or drinking. We all liked him [very] well. In the fall they wanted to be married. We decided it would not do any good to fight it — she was old enough to be married — so we let it go. I feel that someday he will accept the gospel. I do not know when or how, but I have that wonderful feeling. They are living fine, good lives, active in his church.

FH: Both of them?

DW: Both of them. He did not want to come to our church and, rather than make a lot of friction, she felt it made a better, more congenial marriage, to go to his church. She has three boys and they are [very] active in that church. I said to her one day, “What if the elders get a hold of your boys and teach them the gospel?” She said, “That will be alright with me; whatever they want to do, that is up to them. Now, we have a happy, congenial life because they are active in this church and so is my husband. We do not have that friction all the time.” I feel good about it. At first, it bothered me a lot to think that she had decided to do that. I [went] down to visit them during Christmas holidays. They have a ranch about 100 miles outside of Dallas [Texas], raising cattle, and he is going to school finishing his college [education]. He retired [from] the [United States] Air Force [and] has a good retirement. He was a major when he retired.

FH: Now he is going back to school?

DW: Yes, he started back to school in January.

FH: That is a big undertaking.

DW: He is a fine, ambitious fellow. I felt [very] good after I [went to their home]. I went to church with them [and] met their friends. I never was in a friendlier group of people [who] didn’t belong to the LDS church than that small group. I felt so much better when I came back and saw the friends that they had and the kind of life they are living. They are training their boys, just like we were doing only they do not have the fullness of the gospel. That was the only difference that I could see.

FH: Possibly, sometime they will decide to look into it.

DW: That is the way I feel. I think that was better than to be antagonistic towards my daughter. That would have made friction between us and [her] husband. My husband said the same thing, “I am going to treat him just the same when he comes to visit us as if he belonged to our church.” We have always made [it] a point to do that. We really think a lot of him. That is what they are doing now.

FH: Who is the next [child]?

DW: That [would be] Keith [Whitney]. He is our youngest and lives in Las Vegas. He was a fine, easy boy to raise [except] when he got older [and] teased his sister. [Laughter] I told him it [was] the only thing I used to scold him about. He completed his [education] in Las Vegas. Perhaps I should put in here about the school bus driving job I had. He started [the] first grade with me [driving] the school bus from Paradise Valley. We had to drive [the students] to Las Vegas at first on a forty-passenger school bus. He started first grade when I started to drive. He went through the eighth grade. By the time he was in the sixth grade, we [had] schools in Paradise Valley, but I still had to [drive] to Las Vegas to take the high school [students]. He went on through grade school and high school on the school bus, so I got quite close to that boy. [Laughter]

FH: You drove the bus all through those years?

DW: All during that time, [for] twelve years.

FH: That was an experience for you.

DW: That was a fine experience; I enjoyed all the children. My children talk about those days sometimes. They said, “Mother, we will never forget when you said you had to put off one of your own children.” [That] was Bert, my third boy. [Laughter] I had to see that they behaved on the bus. If I didn’t [have] discipline from my own children, I couldn’t expect it from the others. He didn’t listen or mind, so about three miles from home, I put him off. I said, “I will see you at home for suppertime.” [Laughter]

FH: That made the others notice, too.

DW: That made the others [notice]. I had good [control] that way by disciplining my own children.

FH: You have to have discipline when you’re driving a school bus.

DW: Yes. Keith went to college [for] a year and a half in Reno [Nevada]. [He was] going to [be drafted, but he wanted to be in the [United States] Navy, so he volunteered. In March of his second year, he left [college, enlisted] and went in the Navy. He did not train [to be] a pilot; he was on the ship.

FH: He got what he wanted by volunteering.

DW: Yes. He was in [military service] during the Korean War, but he did not get into any action. They went over to Japan and places [in that area]. After the war, he [was discharged]. He [had been] stationed for awhile [in] Long Beach [California]. The other two boys were at Upland [California], so they [were able] to visit back and forth. Keith was always a home boy; he did not like to be away from home too long or too far. When he was in Long Beach, rather than wait until he had a furlough when they had a three-day weekend he would hitchhike to Overton, where we lived. He always had good luck, but it was worth it to him to be home for a day, then he would hitchhike back.

FH: [Did] he enjoy that?

DW: Yes, he said he did. He always had good luck and good experiences. Now-a-days, I do not think he could do that, but during war years they could. He did not go to college anymore; he wanted to go on a [LDS] mission. He was called from Overton for a mission [to] the Southwest Indian Mission. He was there for two years. He was in Monument Valley, Arizona for awhile and then he was sent to Albuquerque [New Mexico]. He was in Albuquerque for probably six or eight months [and] they sent him to Sanders, Arizona — a very small place. He and his companion would sometimes ride horseback [or] sometimes they would walk to get to [the Indians]. Finally, he bought a motorcycle and they would go that way to visit the outlying districts. They were quite scattered. He loved the Navajo people. He mainly worked with them. He said they had fine home lives.

FH: [They are] a strong people.

DW: A strong people; if they do not touch liquor. They were [very] fine people, but [liquor] bothered them.

FH: Liquor has been —

DW: — a real enemy to the Navajo, or any of the Indian people. He said sometimes the Catholics would be [there] and [the Indians were] superstitious, so it was hard to get [them] over that. He said, “I do not know that I made any converts,” but he really enjoyed his mission. I said, “I am sure you planted a lot of seeds.” When he came home from his mission, we still lived in Overton, and he started wanting to go to BYU [Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah County, Utah], to finish his college [education]. He was a homeboy [and] seemed to want to be closer to home. He said, “I believe I will go to Dixie [College in St. George].” I said, “It is your decision.” He said, “I can come home weekends then.” He had a car, so that is what he did. He finished his college [education], what [classes] he could get here. [After] another year he went to Cedar City [Southern Utah State College] to finish. While he was here, he met his wife. She was preparing to go on a [LDS] mission.

FH: Who was [she]?

DW: [Her name is] DeLila Gillespie. He liked to go to the temple so he went [to] all [the] evening sessions and met her there. They [became] a little better acquainted and the next thing we knew, they decided to get married. President Snow telephoned the General Authorities to explain what had happened and they released her from her mission call. They were married six weeks after they met. They had lots of adjustments to make. I told my daughter-in-law, “I know my son is a fine boy and a good boy, but I would not even dare to marry a fellow I did not know any longer than you have known him.” [Laughter] It has worked out fine [and] they get along.

FH: When you know it is right, you go ahead.

DW: [They are living] in Las Vegas now and have six children. They adopted one [child].

FH: What is his [line of] work?

DW: He is a carpenter. He trained to be a grade school teacher. In the summertime he would go down there to work. He loved building, so he stayed with it. It is better money,

FH: [Is] that all the children?

DW: Yes.

FH: What about your own life. After you were married, were you quite active in church work?

DW: Yes. [I worked at] all the chances I had. I taught in Primary while we lived on the ranch. Before that, we had been in the mining camps for seven or eight years, so I could not be active. When we came back to the ranch, I [continued] taking my children to Sunday school and Primary. The boys were past Primary age and into Priesthood age by then. I explained that to the bishop and he said, “That is fine. We will put them into the Priesthood work.” They were [at the age] where they could not go to Primary and graduate. I kept them [attending] and active. I taught a Primary class for quite awhile. I had the boys that you take out on trips, that older group.

FH: [Was it] the Trailblazer boys?

DW: Yes, the Trailblazer boys. It was fun to pick them up and take them out to the ranch and to different interesting places on some of their trips. I enjoyed that very much.

FH: Have you taught Primary through the years?

DW: Yes, I seemed to be partial to Primary work. I love children and loved to work with them. [Then] we came to Overton; we had not been here more than a year [when] I joined a genealogical group, but that was all I was doing. [At that time] our stake divided. It used to be [the] Moapa Stake [and] took in Las Vegas and [surrounding areas]. They divided and made the Las Vegas Stake [and] the Moapa Stake was Moapa Valley, Virgin Valley and Alamo [Nevada]. They asked Sister [Lola] Bryner to be Stake Relief Society president. She [asked me to be] her second counselor. She told the stake president that she didn’t drive a car. She said, “With our outlying districts we have to go to Alamo, Bunkerville [and] Mesquite to visit. What will I do?” He said, “You get some counselors [who] know how to drive.” So she thought of me. I had had all that bus driving experience and drove a lot. I didn’t know whether to say yes or not. I felt [that] a position like that was way over my head, because I had not built up to it. I came as a Primary teacher into something like that.

FH: All it takes is a willing heart.

DW: It is a call, that was what I decided and I would do the best I could. Through prayer and [with] the Lord’s help, I certainly enjoyed the work. I would get to go to conference.

FH: Was she nice to work with?

DW: Very nice. We would always go to conference in October. That was another way I was a help; we would either take her car or my car and I did the driving. We were able to go sometimes when it would have been inconvenient because our husbands didn’t like to go up [to Salt Lake City] for that many days. Brother Bryner and my husband said, “We have divorced our wives to the church.” [Laughter] That was after we were called as stake missionaries. Our stake president said, “You keep your Relief Society [position].”

FH: [You had to do] both [positions]?

DW: Both [positions].

FH: No wonder Brother Bryner said that.

DW: That was right. [After] I was [a] stake Relief Society counselor the three years, one of the bishop’s counselors said, “They want you to be a Primary teacher. It does not matter if you are in stake work.” I said, “Alright, if you want me to be, I can do them both. I am sure I can.” I was given the five year olds to teach and I loved that.

FH: It seems like you [always] gravitated to the Primary.

DW: Yes. I worked with them [for] about three years until we [received] the stake mission call. They decided that was too much to [be so involved]. Sister Bryner and I were still visiting teachers all during this time. [Laughter]

FH: [Were] you a visiting teacher through most of those years?

DW: [I was] practically all my married life.

FH: You have been a busy [person]. You have done other things in church work; your mission and knowledge were [very] important. Have you done quite a bit of genealogical and temple work?

DW: Yes. Since 1944 I have always been very interested in genealogical work. I should have started earlier so my mother and grandmother [would have been] alive to help with so many of my problems. I did not seem to [become] interested in it until after they [were] both gone.

FH: Is that where your heart is?

DW: Yes, I am sure it is. Something keeps after me to [do] a little as I go along [and] when I have time. I enjoy it. I feel the temple work is a real blessing to both my husband and me. He was rather timid in doing church work. He was [very] good at it, but he was [very] timid about it. We had that seven or eight years out in the mining camps when he was inactive. He could not seem to get back into the swing of things.

FH: It is hard, isn’t it?

DW: Until we [moved] to Overton, he did not participate in church work at all. He seldom would even go to church. One day he said, “I believe I will go to church with you today.” I had not said a word [about] trying to get him to come. I would just let things go. I felt if I had enough faith that he would. From then on, he started to come back into church work. He was asked to be the genealogical chairman of the Overton Ward. [This was] after Milton Earl left to come up here to do temple work. He got into that [very] well. We had been in Overton for seven years and he said, “Let’s put our house up for sale and move to St. George.” I was astounded!

I thought he really loved it down there because he loved to fish and he was close to [places to] fish. I said, “If that is what you want, I suppose that [will be] alright. I would like to wait until this mission call is over. I have about three more months.” He said, “We will just put [a] for sale sign up on the lawn and it will take longer than that to sell it.” By Christmas, we had people [who] wanted our place. [They] wanted to move in during the Christmas holidays. I said, “It will be February before my mission is up.” I talked to President [Grant] Bowler about it. He said, “If he wants to leave and you have sold your place, we will have you released from your other two months of mission work.”

We went ahead [and] made plans to move up here. In fact, we had moved up and went back down to the valley to pay our telephone and power bills. President Lyon had the telephone [company]. He was the second counselor to President Bowler in the stake. When my husband went in to pay [the] bill, he said, “President Bowler at the high school wants to see you. If I was you, I would go see him.” [Laughter] My husband came back out to the car, kind of grinning, and said, “President Bowler wants to see me. I don’t know what he wants to put me on the carpet for, but I had better go see him. President Lyon said I had better.” We drove to the school and he went in to see him. He was gone quite a little while. When he came back, he still had a little puzzled grin on his face. He said, “Do you know what they want us to do?” I said, “No, I haven’t the slightest idea.” They called us to work at the temple three night sessions [a week]. We [received] our official letter in the mail later. My husband seemed to really take to that work. That seemed to be what he had been waiting for all his life.

FH: Was that was something he didn’t feel afraid of [doing]?

DW: That was it. He had a very good memory. Milton Earl said, “I have not had a man in here since I have been at the temple helping to train, that learned their parts as well as he did within a year. He had learned them all within a year and was able to take part. It was just about a year and a half that we [were able to do this] work [when] he had a stroke that affected his word power. He could not go on. I guess he and the Lord must have known that he didn’t have much time. Perhaps that was the main reason he did get his part so well.

FH: What a blessing that he had this experience.

DW: I told Brother Earl, “I can not figure out why it had to happen when he was the happiest I have ever known him since we had been married.” He said, “There is a reason.” I said, “Maybe we will be called to do temple work during the Millennium now [that] he is all trained and ready for it. That is the only thing I can console myself with a little bit.” It was a [very] sad experience to have that happen.

[Ralph Emanuel Whitney died November 16, 1966 in St. George, Washington County, Utah.]

FH: Is this where your heart is, with genealogy and temple work?

DW: I am sure it is. I am the happiest, most contented, [and] the most peaceful hours of my life are when I am in the temple. People say that is a long day; I go at 6:00 [in the morning] and it is nearly 3:30 [in the afternoon] when I [am] through. Two certain days I have a special assignment [inaudible]. I say, “It does not seem long to me. I am so contented there, that I enjoy every bit of it.”

FH: That is nice. Since you have had such a wonderful life experience and a lovely family, it would be [good] for you now to give counsel and advice to those who [will] come after you. Tell them how you feel about life. Maybe you would like to conclude it with your testimony.

DW: The main thing [that] I feel will bring happiness to all my children, their children, and the posterity following us is to live the gospel as closely as they can. I know that brings happiness to us in this life. We are preparing for eternal life. I can not think of anything I would rather have my children doing than living the gospel as closely as they can. Keeping active in church, helps them, I know, to live the gospel closer. I know in my experience, when we were away for that seven or eight years in mining camps, I know it was harder to live the gospel. I felt I did not teach my children the gospel as much as I should have [while] they were unable to go to Sunday school and Primary. I have regretted that since. Perhaps they got some [instruction]. I am sure we were setting good examples. Their daddy used to read them stories out of the [Holy] Bible in the evening when they [were ready] go to bed. I am sure that all helped. I can think [that] so many times I could have taught the gospel to them a little more fully then [and] that would have helped. It is too late to think of those things.

FH: Be grateful for what [has] happened.

DW: I am. I am very grateful for the way they are living. They all seem happy and they are such wonderful children. I know that the gospel is true and I know [that] it has meant, all through my life, a lot to me. I doubt if I could have gone through the sad experience I had during my husband’s illness and losing him. We were so close together [and] associated with each other. It was not just around home or at church; we liked to do the same things so much. We liked to get out in the mountains and the hills, fish a lot and travel together.

FH: Were your lives congenial?

DW: Very congenial. When you lose your companion, it is a big, vague place in your life. I know having such a good, strong testimony of the gospel has helped me to go on. That is [why] I felt I needed to get back and do things that I was not able to do while he was ill. The last seven months of his life, [our] boy would come from Las Vegas and stay with him. [This] let me go to Sunday school or church, and that was [the only time] I could get out at all. I know that it has meant a lot to have a strong testimony of the gospel. I have enjoyed the work since he [has been] gone. I am a Primary teacher again, [a] visiting teacher and a Relief Society magazine representative along with my temple days. I keep very busy, and that is good for me. I do know that a testimony of the gospel means everything to me and I am sure it does to anyone with a good strong testimony.

[TAPE RECORDER TURNED OFF]

DW: [Fielding H.] Harris has been trying to get me to make this recording for quite awhile. I hesitated, thinking I did not have anything very interesting to tell [and] wouldn’t know how to tell it. I did not feel that anybody wanted to hear the story that I had to tell. It came [very] strong to my mind about a recording that my nephew made at one of our reunions at the Nay Ranch. My husband was still with us. My brothers, two of my sisters and I were reminiscing. Our husbands and sisters-in-law were with us. We were reminiscing about the old times out on the ranch [and] the fun we used to have, the tricks and jokes we used to play on each other [and] the water fights. My husband would pipe up and say some experience or trick he had played on my oldest brother. It was wonderful to hear his voice. I did not realize that it [would] mean so much to me later. Three years ago, at one of the Whitney reunions, this [nephew] brought this recording and played it for us while my children were there. I thought I would have to leave when they got to the part when my husband was reminiscing with us, but I didn’t. It seemed so wonderful to hear his voice again. Now I feel this recording will mean more to my children and my posterity than I thought that it would. I thank Brother Harris.

[END OF TAPE TWO – SIDE ONE]

 


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