Written History of Doris Elizabeth Nay
“At the dances,” I said to my children, “you didn’t have the experience we did.” They started this dancing with the one partner they went with almost all during the dance. The girls were on one side of the hall and the boy used to come tearing after us. We were lucky if the fellow we went to the dance with got the first dance and the last dance and maybe one in between the whole evening. I think that was more fun, mixing with the crowd.
I was my father’s first daughter and he didn’t have any sisters. Mother said that he always spoiled me because he hadn’t been around girls for so long so I was just extra special to him. Maybe he did spoil me. I won’t say for sure about that. I loved my father very much. I loved to be outdoors with him a lot because I loved horses and dogs and so did he. There were those things that we liked to do together. I remember when the horses would get something wrong with them, he’d call me to come out and boil up some chaparral tea to soak their feet in to get them better. I’ve heard so much how chaparral tea is good for us now I knew that it certainly helped horses when their ankles got swollen. We would boil it outside and it would be strong and bitter, I suppose, I didn’t taste it then, but it really did help.
Once the boys were somewhere else and Dad didn’t have time to get the water. We had a big tank on a wagon. We would use two span of horses, four horses, to go over this windy road and down over into Saint Thomas to go and get the water. Dad said, “Do you think you could drive those two teams?” ( I had never driven two teams before.) He had taught me how to drive one OK and handle it. I said, “Well I can try.”
He said, “All right, you go get the water this time.” I got along just fine. I had a little bit of trouble on some of the turns but I didn’t get too frightened. I got back with the water all right. He taught me how to do things. If things broke, he taught me how to fix them.
We lived over on the Virgin River ranch. I loved to be out with him as a girl of 15 or so probably the summer before I went to high school. I did go out and help in the fields, hoe corn and stay right along with him all day. When we came into the house, he’d tell my mother, “Now since Doris has done real good work with me all day, you see that she doesn’t have to help with the housework.” This aggravated my sister just younger. She said, “Now you’re Dad’s special one and he favors you.” Mother would say, “Well no he doesn’t, she’s been out helping him with all that work and he thinks it’s more than fair that she hadn’t ought to have to do the dishes and things of the house.” But my sister couldn’t see it that way, so we had some fusses about it.
The spring I was 17 I met Ralph. He had just gotten out of the army, after World War I. We fell in love almost at first sight and started going together quite steady. We courted on horseback. We lived over on this ranch and my husband lived in Saint Thomas. To start with I guess we got quite serious and Mother said I wasn’t old enough. I was only 17. But my husband was 10 years older than I was and he figured that he could take care of me. So we went to Mother. She was at this place we had rented in town that day, to ask if she would consider letting us get married. She said, “Heavens no! She’s just a spring chicken.”
I’ll never forget that.
My husband said, “Well, we’ll 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, he was quite sure that my dad would give permission because he liked him real well. My Dad seemed to like Ralph fine.
I think my husband was wise, he said, “Well, if your mother’s so set against you getting married we won’t do anything more about it now. I’m going way out with a surveyor’s gang out on the Colorado River and work for a couple or three months. Then perhaps when I get back she’ll know for sure whether she’ll let us get married.” So he went out there and he was almost due to come home when this sister of my mother’s up in Delta had these triplets. She wrote down to see if my sister younger than I could come up and help her. She didn’t ask for me, but my mother thought, well here’s a good chance to get Doris off up there so when Ralph comes back they won’t get any more serious. So that’s where she sent me. I said, “I won’t go until he comes in and see how he feels. He’s due any time and then I’ll go.” I felt like I wanted to see him first. So she agreed to that. When he came in, I didn’t know him, he had a big black full beard.
He said, “I would have gone and shaved it off, but I was too anxious to see you.” So we talked things over again and he said, “You go ahead and go and we’ll see how it works out.”
I think I would have gone right then and got married if he hadn’t said what he did, against mother’s wishes. He had an uncle that ran the store in Saint Thomas and he said, “Ralph, you’re crazy to let her go up there now. I’ll loan in you the money if you don’t have it and you go into Las Vegas and get married now before you let her go.” But he wouldn’t do it. So I went ahead and went up there.