Monday, October 29, 2012


Happenstance took me past this old house with its sagging roof caused by years of neglect and winters buried in deep heavy snow. It is obvious that it will not stand much longer and today will likely be my last photo op. My husband voiced those sentiments then stopped the car without being asked. I exited and made my way alone toward the rickety heap. I was surprised at the tears that filled my eyes as I snapped away. But you see, this house is not your ordinary old crumbling down house; something significant occurred within its walls. These aged log walls and crumbling roof had once been the scene of what I would term nothing less than a miracle.

Friday the thirteenth is considered by many to be unlucky.  Those who, for whatever reason, found themselves beneath the roof of this house on Friday the 13th of October 1916 found it to be a miraculously lucky day.   A mother, father and their seven children called this home, but their oldest daughter and the husband she had recently wed were staying there was well.  There was an unexpected visitor in the home that day serving in the capacity of midwife.  Her services should not have been needed for a few more months.  But she was there because the young bride had gone into labor way before her time.  The woman attended as the young mother gave birth to her tiny baby boy weighing in at 2½ lbs.  The baby struggled, but he lived.  He was placed on the oven door which played the roll of an incubator.  Family members were believers so many prayers must have been sent Heavenward in his behalf.  The struggling continued for a couple of months.  Then, he began to thrive after his parents discovered one of the cows gave milk that seemed to agree with their tiny son.  I think God knew that this little one would grow up and do some good in this world and so he put all the needed pieces together that let this infant live: the midwife, the oven door, the cow, the answered prayers and a goodly portion of stubbornness and determination that this young one would need to get him through more than this one close brush with death.

There was the visit to the dentist who had failed to clean his tools.  The result was one very sick boy.

It was a very scary day when the twelve year old lad and his aging grandfather had their milk truck broadsided by a streetcar on the streets of Salt Lake.  Both occupants were thrown from the truck.  The grandfather landed on the street while his young grandson ended up in the worst possible place, underneath the truck.  The boys pelvis was crushed and there were other serious injuries, but it could have been so much worse if not for a milk can that just happened to land in such a way that it took the brunt of the trucks heavy weight from off the boy.  Both grandfather and grandson spent an extended period of time in the hospital recovering from this brush with death.  But the boy did recover and return home to his family.  Another miracle in his life, this time in the guise of a milk can.

All these brushes with death were preparatory for what was to come.  The boy grew into a man at a time when evil threatened to overthrow freedom and he was called to serve.  He made his way up Omaha Beach two days after the initial D-Day Invasion of June 6, 1944.  All the soldiers equipment and personal effects were left on the ship to be delivered later. Instead the enemy attacked the boat sinking it and all its precious cargo into the depths of the sea.  It would be sometime before these items could be replaced and some were frankly irreplaceable   The soldier and those who were with him trailed behind General Patton's main army picking up paratroopers who had bravely landed behind enemy lines, and straggling soldiers who had become lost from their units.  They took prisoners and cleaned out pockets of enemy resistance.  Their march continued through all of July and into the middle of August.

August 17th  the soldier and his unit were nearing Brest, France when a nest of Nazi machine guns opened fire from the top of a hill.  A bullet found its way into the fleshly part of the soldiers left leg.  Two hours later two more machine gun bullets hit the same leg this time shattering the bone.  Some preliminary medical aid was administered, but the battle worsened and his unit had to retreat leaving him behind wounded at the bottom of the hill.  How painful it must of been as he silently drug himself to a nearby shell hole to take advantage of what meager protection it could provide.  The soldier was petrified as night closed in and he waited to see what was to be.  Would his Allied soldiers be able to make their way back to him or would the Germans get to him first?  During the night he could hear the cries of his fellow wounded soldiers, mingled with the voices of the nearby German soldiers. He dared not make a sound, he knew if he did he would be a goner.  During the long night he made some promises to himself and promises to God.  If he could make it home, he would never leave the hometown he loved, he would find and marry a good woman and raise a family and there were more promises that were deep and personal.  Morning found him still alive, hiding in the shell hole. The day drug on into afternoon with him still silently waiting for the result.  Finally, that afternoon the Allies returned and he could call out vocally for the help he so desperately needed.  His recovery was long and not without its setbacks.  He would carry the puckery scars on this leg for many years, until modern medical techniques could replace the missing parts. He walked with a limp and an ache in his leg, but he didn't complain, it was a small price to pay for the privilege to serve.

There were yet important things for this man to do.  He had nine younger siblings who  looked up to him.  He gave them guidance and direction even after they were grown.  He was the kind of man who went out of his way to help those no one else would.  He crawled out of his warm bed to go to the side of of his fellowman, beat up in a bar fight that resulted in cuts and scraps full of gravel and glass and took him to get the needed emergency care.  He befriended the loaner when no one else cared.  He always had a person or two that looked to him as a friend and as a helping hand.  They used his washer and dryer to care for their clothes, they used his tap to fill containers with water cause their home had no well.

He married that good woman and raised a family of three.  He taught them to work, to fish and to believe.  Believe in God, Believe in Family. Believe in country.  Fourteen grandkids joined the family and learned to love their grandpa. They loved to ride in the back of his truck in the mountains.  They loved to go with him to water his 40 acre ranch and most importantly this man loved his family.  He was not perfect, but he was perfect for them.

As I stood snapping photos of this falling down house, I was grateful that God had chose to place a miracle in the life of that tiny 2½ lb baby boy so he could survive a dentist, a street car and machine gun bullets and could grow up to be my dad.  So with tears and a moment of reverence I stood and paid respect to this miracle house.

Ordinarily, I would not write without names, but this piece wrote itself and this is how it came out.  So here are some facts to go with the story.
The baby's name was:  Cloyd Arthur Powell
Father: Arthur Enos Powell
Mother: Edna Powell
The baby was born at the home of his maternal grandparents home in Altonah, Duchesne, Utah.  The home was built in 1909.   Cloyd was actually the oldest of thirteen children, but only ten lived to adulthood.
Maternal Grandfather: Lott Powell
Maternal Grandmother: Mary Jane Burgess
Altonah was part of the Ute Indian Reservation that had opened up for homesteading in 1905.  There was no electricity, so the oven door was actually part of the wood burning stove.  There was no hospital or doctor in the area.

It was Cloyd's paternal grandfather who was driving the milk truck when it was struck by the street car.
Paternal Grandfather: Dan Thomas Powell
Maternal Grandmother: Emma Lozetta Higby
Dan Thomas Powell was not in good health before the accident and family believes that it played a part in his death that occurred less than 8 months after the accident. 

Notice a trend here?  Yes, unrelated Powells married. It is sure fun trying to keep them all straight.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this Marla. It is something my little family will treasure.


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