Written History of Bert N. Whitney
Many men were being discharged from the service at that time, and I was really getting anxious, but I had never done any of the things that gave me “points” qualifying me for discharge. But the number of points required for discharge were being lowered periodically, and finally the day came when my name appeared on a shipping list to go to Fort Douglas in Salt Lake, the very place I was inducted three years before. After holding my breath for nearly a week, I finally walked out that front gate, a free man. My discharge date was 22 February 1946.
I hadn’t lived with my parents since 1940, but when I was discharged from the service in 1946, I went to the ranch to stay. My activity there consisted primarily of clearing and leveling some new farmland below the reservoir at the ‘second well.’ This was done with a team of horses and the limited equipment available. I can’t remember what I planted or how well it grew, but it was good therapy for me, to help get rid of some of the tensions I had built up in the military. My two older brothers, Calvin and Howard, had also been released from the service, and they came to visit on occasions, but did not live on the ranch. We had some good fun together.
It was several months before I came out of that seclusion and decided to do some socializing. I bought a 1926 Dodge two-door sedan for fifty dollars; this car proved to be ideal for the desert country. It could go almost anywhere in the desert even where there were no roads, much like the modern day dune buggy. I also used it like a tractor to pull the farm equipment, and it worked well. I didn’t use it much for dating, but usually borrowed a newer car.
When I decided to call a girl named Anne Christensen, I was very doubtful that she would accept a date with me, so I kept talking to her on the phone non-stop, and she didn’t have a chance to answer me until I paused for a breath. She quickly said, “Yes, I’d love to go.” She later told she was wondering if she would ever get a chance to accept that date. I had known Anne’s older brothers for several years and also knew her father through church associations, but my friends and I referred to Anne and her friends as “The Cradle Roll.” Now she was all grown up, very pretty, and had a nice friendly personality.
That first date was to go to the Lake Mead to swim and was on the 4th of July, 1946. We were together a lot from that time on, sometimes double dating or going places with church groups. There were also several dances at the church which we attended. It was the custom at that time to fill out a dance card at the beginning of the dance so you knew who you would be dancing with for each dance (each had a number). It was also the custom for the church leaders to exchange dances with the youth, so most of the time was spent dancing with the wives of the bishopric, the young men leaders etc., with only the first, last, and one in the middle with the person you came with (usually).
On one occasion during our dating period, I was involved in the pouring of a sidewalk at a ranch called “Warm Springs,” where I worked part time. We were late getting it formed up and poured, so the concrete wasn’t ready to finish until past time for a date I had with Anne that night. There were no phones in the area, so I couldn’t call; we were planning to go to Charleston Mountain with a group for a cook-out. She told them to go on without us, and she waited for more than an hour for me. When I finally got to her house, she was there alone, and I was very unsure of how I would be received, but after I explained what had happened, she forgave me, and we had a fun evening playing games together.
All the time we were dating we talked about when we would get married, never if we would. We decided that I would go to school in San Luis Obispo, California and study electronic engineering on the G.I. bill (A veteran’s benefit which paid tuition and books, and a stipend of $120 per month). We chose the date of August 20, 1946 to be married so we could pursue this goal together. The St. George Temple was closed at that time so Anne’s parents and her brother Don drove us to Salt Lake for the event. We received our endowments and then were sealed (married) by Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Council of the Twelve. Elder Peterson was a friend of Anne’s parents and grandparents.
The trip to and from Salt Lake along with the other stresses of the occasion were very tiring for both of us, so it took a while to recover. We stayed about a week with Anne’s parents and had a reception there in the meantime. Her parents gave up their bedroom for us so that was our honeymoon, I guess. When we loaded up our 1935 Chevy two door sedan with all our worldly goods and were on our way to a new adventurous life together, I finally had Anne all to myself. It was a great feeling.
It was early September 1946 when we left Las Vegas so that I could attend college. Why we waited so late in the day to start, I don’t know, but we traveled all night, using a road map and highway signs to find our way. The excitement of the adventure, along with our newly married status, kept us wide awake, and we soon found ourselves in the beautiful little coastal town of San Luis Obispo, California. With us we had a letter, written by Anne’s father, offering us some good advice for the life ahead of us. It read as follows:
Dear Bert and Anne:
I suppose we’ve said most of the things to you that we should. But we do want your marriage to be happy and successful. Most married couples have differences and difficulties. But it’s lots of fun to make up. Most people think they are willing to go half-way, but the best people go further. It’s not too difficult to give in when you know you are wrong. It’s very hard when you know you are right, but in married life it frequently pays big to do so. There are not many difficulties that kneeling together in prayer won’t surmount.