Mary Lucille Wright

MARY LUCILLE WRIGHT

Lucille, as she was always called, was born 26th of July 1906 in Lindon, Utah.  As was the custom of the day she was born at her parents home.  She was the second child of Hyrum Isaac and Mary Jane Bezzant Wright.  Even so, with their combined families she was the thirteenth child and would eventually have one younger sister and two younger brothers.  She immediately became the much desired property of her older sister, Eileen.  Eileen loved to dress her up and play house with her.  They shared the same bedroom until Eileen married.

Her family consisted of her father, Hyrum who was a farmer and nurseryman; her mother, Mary Jane; a younger brother, Harold; a younger sister, Emily; and the family baby, Don.  Both parents had families before they married each other.  Four older brothers; Reuben, Bert, Cliff, and Leon were still at home as well as an older sister, Eileen; Eilee was her idol.  One of her fondest memories was playing with her brother, Bert.  He always seemed to have time for her.  He later drowned in Idaho when she was six years old.

Harold, being one and a half years younger, was her playmate.  One time they were playing butcher shop on their front porch using milkweed pods for meat.  They ran out of the milk weed pods and couldn’t find any more for the butcher shop, so Lucille went into the house and got a sharp knife and proceeded to prepare to cut Harold’s wrist for the badly needed meat.  Her mother caught her in the act and this was stopped immediately and for good.

Emily was three years younger and was the “little” sister.  As big sisters do, Lucille sometimes objected to her “tagging along” whenever she went anyplace, and was constantly trying to ditch her.  When they both became teenagers this quickly changed and they became very close sisters.

Don was seven years younger, so Lucille was his baby sitter.  The day he was born, the Doctor came down the street; Lucille, with Harold and Em in tow, went over to their Aunt Hattie’s to play with their cousins.  When they returned home they had a new baby brother.

On the horseshoe shaped street where she lived there were cousins by the dozens to play with and she was always allowed to go to play at one house or the other.  Roaming up, down and around the street was okay by her mother as long as she came when called or sent for.  Grandma Bezzant lived right across the street and down a little, living in a house built on short stilts.  Lucille knew well the adage “if Mama and Daddy say no, ask Grandma”.

Lucille was surrounded by cousins.  Aunt Hattie and Uncle Sam Bezzant lived down the street from her house with two girls about the same age and a boy just a little older.  She spent much of her younger life at their home.  She liked to spend the summer in their summer kitchen, it seemed there were always pies and cakes cooking and in the winter time it made a fine playhouse.  Oh, the good times she had with Clarissa and Chloe and Floyd.

On the top of the hill lived Uncle Jim and Aunt Annie Wright.  They also had children the same age.  One son Lafe was just a year older than Lucille and was one of her favorite cousins.  Vera, his sister, was one year younger.  They all picked Sego Lilies in the sand hills across from these cousins home, and made sand castles , tunnels, bridges and forts there.  Aunt Annie made the best chocolate pies anyone ever ate.

Up the street a ways lived Uncle Joe and Aunt Elva Bezzant.  That house had been Grandfather and Grandmother Bezzant’s home originally.  One day with cousins Mary and Elva D, Lucille crawled under the house to find ant furniture,  Lucille’s knee was cut on a piece of an old glass bottle which she knelt on and the adventure was canceled.  Elva and Lucille often were mean to Mary and aggravated her.  Once when Mary was angry, she decided to take Lucille’s rocking chair to her house, so Lucille and Elva D climbed on top of the barn and threw rocks at her.  She left the chair in the middle of the road and went home, which was what they wanted her to do..  Of course, the chair was retrieved and played with by Lucille and Elva D, which made them very happy as this was what they wanted in the first place.

Everyone in the family liked to play house on the haystack next to the barn.  The playhouse always extended to the attic above the barn.  That was the best fun.  The haystack was soft and they liked to play on it and slide down it.  This behavior was unacceptable to their father but sometimes they did it when he wasn’t around and ran the chance of punishment—they really weren’t too frightened as he was the gentlest, kindest man ever.

When Lucille started school her two older brothers, Lynn and Cliff, were assigned to carry her on their shoulders one mile to her friends house and then she walked the last mile to school with her.  In the winter sometimes her father would take them to school in the horse drawn buggy.  If the snow was too deep, he drove a sled.  There was no central heating in homes but there was at the school, so in the cold of the winter she wore two or three wool flannel petticoats under her dress, a panty waist (this looked like a vest) to hold up her heavy socks, long underwear (to the ankle and to the wrist), high top button shoes, boots, mittens, a muff over her hands, a heavy winter coat, a scarf over most of her face, neck and head, and a hat.  For the usual school day when the weather was warm she still had to wear high top button up shoes, long stockings, one petticoat, a dress and a cover-up apron.  One day she decided she didn’t want to wear the apron and hid it under the bridge after leaving home.  That afternoon she couldn’t find her apron when she returned.  Her mother gave her a scotch blessing and the punishment was such that she never did the stunt again.

The biggest thrill of all was when she would board the train alone and go to visit her Aunt Em and Uncle August Peterson and their family.  Her father would flag the train and see that she got on O.K.  Then the journey was up to her.  Aunt Em’s family always met her in Salt Lake City.  What a thrill to be in the big city.  Aunt Em was truly a second mother to her.  She lived on 2nd West and 8th South in Salt Lake City.

Lucille and her cousins walked to town to see the shows, sometimes they rode the trolley car.  It was great fun for a country girl.  The block was filled with children to play with and all were glad to see her again.  Lucille grew up as much with these cousins as she did with her friends in Lindon.  There were four girls and one boy in Aunt Em’s family.   Gene the boy was 11 years older than Lucille, Edna was about three years older, Tess one year older and Hazel one year younger.  Aunt Em’s husband, Uncle August, was a policeman at Liberty Park.  He would get tickets for the rides on all the concessions and at different eating places for free.  Did everyone ever have a good time!  Sometimes these visits lasted three or four weeks.  Then Lucille and one of the cousins, usually Tess, boarded the train for Pleasant Grove.

Just before her High School years started (seventh grade) her Dad sold his farm and moved to a fruit farm in Pleasant Grove—right next to the High School.  (This school later became the Third Ward meeting house).  It was here she met the young man who would become her husband.

Theirs was fruit farm with raspberries and gooseberries planted among the apricot, apple, pear, cherry and peach trees around the home.  Her father developed a strain called “Uncle Jim Hale” peaches.  She became a very proficient berry picker.  She would put on a large brim straw hat, a cover up apron over her dress (heaven forbid a lady wore pants), tie a lard bucket with an old silk stockings around her waist, and go out at dawn and stay until the two acres of berries were finished.

Her folks planted a rose bed with peonies around the edge of the garden on the east side of the house.   He father liked crossing different varieties of roses and this became a hobby of his.  (When Calvin and Lucille later sold this place to the Alpine School District, she would insist these roses go with her to their new home.)  There was a large lawn around the house on all sides.  In the front (south) lawn was a large evergreen which everyone seemed to want to have the cones from, they looked like small brown roses; across the lawn and down a little was a forsythia bush which made a good hiding place and a great playhouse.  Also on this side of the house were three walnut trees along the irrigation ditch.  On the west side of the house was a long hedge with a white and a purple lilac tree between it and the house.  In the back yard (north) was a Bartlett Pear tree and a Bing cherry tree next to the clothesline.  Here close by was also a shanty (coal bin, wash house and fruit shed combined), chicken coup, granary and carriage barn, and a barn for the cow.  When the family got their car (the first one in town) her Dad built it a garage.

At this time her father bought her a piano and she took lessons from A. R. Overlade. Originally he lived just through the Church House property and one more block west.  She became very proficient at playing the piano and during her last few years in High School she accompanied a lot of the musical performances and people in town.

When Lucille finished High School she immediately enrolled at the Brigham Young Academy, desiring to receive her normal degree and teach elementary school.  After finishing her first year, she couldn’t find a job close by so she went back for one more year.  She then got a teaching position in Lehi and rode the “Leaping Lena”—the urban back and forth from home to work.  All this time she corresponded with Calvin who was at the U.S.A.C. (Logan) and dated his buddies while he wasn’t around.

One story she would later tell to her daughters about her schooling was about a genealogy class she enrolled in during her second year.   She went to the class on the first day and was instructed what was expected of everyone and how the class would proceed.  The instructor gave the quarter’s assignment that day, told them they would take three trips to Salt Lake to the new Library the church had opened for research, and said as long as they were gathering their genealogy they didn’t need to come to class but he would be there for consultation during that hour for any who needed him.  Of course the grading was discussed!  For an “A” they would need to turn in all the family group sheets they now had and a pedigree chart and then at the end of the quarter they would need to have   eight new facts to the sheets.  For a “B” up to six new facts on the sheets were necessary, a “C” at least four new facts, a “D” was just two new facts and any thing less was an “F”—flunking the class.  She went to the next class and turned in her incomplete family group sheets belonging to her Grandparents.  During the rest of the quarter she faithfully studied “lawnology” with the boys and girls outside on the grass.  She had a great quarter during the genealogy class.  Then came finals!  She hadn’t even thought of the class assignment!  In desperation she asked the “lawnology” class for help.  She had just one hour before she would fail the class.  They all put their heads together and came up with a beautiful solution.  On her Grandfather Bezzant they gave him some brothers and sisters, the turned in sheet didn’t have any so why not.  So Mathew received brothers named Mark, Luke and John and two sisters named Elizabeth and Mary.  They were half way to an “A”.  So to complete the Cook sheet it would need two events so they “died off” two of Maria’s brothers.  Then her father’s family—oh yes—his father gained and lost a child called unknown.  All this was done via correspondence with the parishes they came from.  Excellent strategy except the instructor took all the work done in the class and submitted it to the new “Genealogy Library” in Salt Lake for all posterity to use for future research.  This would trouble her until all facts were corrected many years later.

When Calvin graduated from USAC with a teaching degree, they immediately got married and moved to Duchesne to teach.  Lucille had been considered the family old maid at the age of 23.  They were married in the Salt Lake Temple and honeymooned on their way to Duchesne.  While in Duchesne they spent a lot of their time with the Madison family who were originally from Pleasant Grove.

When Lucille got pregnant with her first child she discovered fish didn’t agree with her.  Calvin would fish for dinner and she would try to cook it.  It soon became her husband’s job to cook the dinner if they were having fish, the smell made her nauseous.  She never could stand fish, again.

The next year they moved to Lehi for two years and then to Pleasant Grove.  Lucille’s father passed away in 1937 and a short time later they bought her folks home.  Once again she was back to the fruit picking and canning all summer.  Summer canning was always a big deal and she organized her family to help her as soon as possible.  The older ones pealing the vegies and fruit, the younger one rinsing the food off and carrying their bowls of produce to the peelers.  By the time it got to the peaches and pears everyone was sick of it and everyone got silly.  Lucille would end up with side aches laughing with her children at nothing.  If someone got her going she couldn’t stop.  But it got the work done in a good mood.  You would think her children would learn that she was out of commission when her side ache got bad and they would have to finish the job by themselves but they just couldn’t help themselves.

She tolerated and enjoyed a good, clean joke among the family (April Fools day was always a big deal and you hardly dared to eat breakfast for fear of what was in the pepper and salt shaker and the sugar bowl).  She even encouraged the boys by looking the other way when they tied Grandma Wright to a chair with her apron strings.  (Even Aunt Hattie and Aunt Tish were fair game for the kids.)  But the minute it got out of hand she immediately put a stop to it, “enough is enough,” she would say and her children knew she meant it.

She was a mother that believed in bribery.  “If you will clean up the kitchen, I will talk your Dad into a picnic on the west side of the lake,” she would say.  Or maybe it was a trip to their cousins in American Fork Canyon for a picnic or a trip to the town dump going fast over the bump in the road on the hill.  It was a treat so everyone pitched in.  Picnics were a family tradition.  They went places like the Big Springs Farm, Aunt Josie’s, Uncle Tom’s house up the canyon, Uncle Austin’s and Provo City Park, Tabiona for pine nuts, West Canyon, Battle Creek, Granite Flat, Pittsburgh Lake, Tibble Fork, Mutual Dell, and the top of the Divide.  The list could on and on.  Frequently friends and cousin were taken so everyone sat two deep,  “what difference can a few extra mouths make with this crowd” was her answer to her children when they asked to take a friend.

Every fall when Calvin attended the UEA convention, she took her daughters and went shopping.  Usually there was $10.00 in her purse when she started out and $5.00 when she finished for lunch had to be bought.  But every hat, coat, dress and shoe anyone wanted to try on was tried on.  It was always a day to remember and a day to look forward to, after all the boys were left at home baby sitting.

She felt she needed to teach all her girls to sew, clean a house, can, and cook.  The funny mistakes made like greasing a pie pan, burning boiled eggs and putting a left sleeve in the right armhole were laughed at by both and corrected.  Many times a dress or blouse wanted was seen in a store and then the sewing machine went to humming as it was made like the one in the store, but in a favorite color, at home.  Even the boys were taught and knew how to cook and clean a house if they ever need to do so.

Christmas was a big thing to her.  The house was decorated on Mary Jean’s birthday and the decorations were taken down on Della’s birthday.  Not many families could brag of a full month of the Christmas Tree or Valentines on their tree.  On Christmas Eve the family gathered to open Christmas presents from each other; that was as big as Christmas and everyone had a lot to be thankful for.  Grandma Wright always chastised the family for opening presents before Christmas Day and then went to her room to get presents to open besides what the family had given her.  She always wanted to be with us for Christmas because it was such a joyous occasion.  Grandma Josie Walker loved the tradition and after Ben married and left home she would often join the family for the festivities

During the years as her family was growing up, she was active in her church.  She served in the Primary, Sunday School, Relief Society and YWMIA as a teacher and in the Presidencies.  When her husband was Bishop she was one of the very first Cub Scout Den Leaders of the ward.

As the years moved on the children started to marry and leave home.  Each one was hard for her and also a joy because of who they married.  Many moved away and that meant trips to parts of the country she had never seen.  She was able to see the historic country and church sites and attend many church pageants.  They even went to Israel, walking all over the country.  Now she and Calvin were back at the beginning, just the two of them at home.  They worked in the Provo Temple, which they loved doing.  She cooked and cared for her first and only love and kept up their home.  They bought a Volkswagen Bus and went fishing.  She still didn’t like to eat fish and wouldn’t fish but she had her own pole given to her as a present from her husband.  She always took her crocheting and tatting along to keep her busy and a book just in case.  No one ever knew what “just in case” meant.

When Calvin died in 1980.  She stayed in their home and continued keeping it a home in which her family could gather.  Sunday evenings were full of people visiting her.  She still traveled a little bit to visit her two daughters who lived in Arizona.  When she was there she pitched in and helped with many project—wedding plans, high school homecoming dance dresses, and canning.

Life had lost its light with her eternal companion gone.  The years rolled on without much difference in them or in the long days and lonesome nights.  Della and Dean stopped by regularly to see how she was and worried about her weight loss.  One of Dean and Della’s daughters would stay at night so she would have someone there in case of a need.  They also helped fix breakfast and eat with her in the mornings.  Then the family found a gem by the name of Joy.  Joy became a live-in companion to Lucille, tenderly and lovingly caring for her.  She soon became the information center for the whole family and she got to know the family almost better than the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren did.  Lucille and Joy lived together in the big house many years and the family would go in to visit and give encouragement and love to both of them.

Lucille got so feeble that she finally needed to go to nursing facility.  The family that was close to her home gathered together to help with the move and she went with dignity to the Orem Care Center and later to the one in American Fork.  Here she received visits from family and friends.  She ate better and seemed to thrive but she still was lonesome and she would have rather be at home with Joy, but Joy had re-married and was no longer available.  She lost her desire to crochet and to read.  After all Calvin wasn’t out there fishing, anymore.

Lucille died on the 15th of December 2001 with all her children there except Mary Jean.  At the time of her death the children, except Glen, had gone to eat and she said good-bye to him and raised her arm up to someone and moved on.  Though sad for the family, she had been alone for twenty years and wanted so bad to join her sweetheart, Calvin, that all felt her happiness at the ending this separation.  She left behind a wonderful posterity of 8 children and their mates, 57 grandchildren, 147 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild.

(from the files of Mary Jean Caldwell)

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Author: Heather Hoyt

I'm a stay-at-home mom living in Wyoming and I like to write, take photographs, and play with my kids.

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