Saturday, September 7, 2013


Fern Rust Powell
~8 July 1917 - 7 September 1995~

Lavon and Fern Rust at the home
of their Bracken Grandparents
in Roosevelt, Utah. Photographer unknown
Today marks the eighteenth anniversary of my mother's passing. She has been much neglected in this blog. Mom descended from pioneer stock. Her grandfather was with the second wagon train who entered the Salt Lake Valley the summer of 1847.  Her father was one of the original homesteaders when the Ute Indian Reservation was first opened for settlement in Utah's remote northeast corner.

Mom was born in the small  town of Boneta, Utah.  When she was a young girl her family  moved across the Lake Fork River to the town of Mount Emmons, Utah. She lived there most of her life except for the eighteen months she spent serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ  of Latter-day Saints.  She served mostly in California with a short stint in Tuscon, Arizona. She was serving in California on  December 7, 1940 when Pearl  Harbor was bombed. Because she was close to the coast she experienced blackouts and the events caused her worry about what would happen to  the many young male missionaries who would be called to serve their country. She spent time in Salt Lake City during the war making radio tubes.  She came  home for good when her mother became seriously ill and  needed help to care for the family.  The family consisted of two  young grandchildren her parents were raising after the death of their daughter.

Fern Rust at the time of her mission.
Photographer unknown.
 After Mom and Dad married, Mt. Emmons was their home, but Dad's employment took them temporarily to the oil fields of Montana and a dairy in Lehi, Utah. Mom's greatest claim to fame was as a wife, mother  and grandmother.

 I wish I would have appreciated her more during my teenage years, but am grateful that as I matured, I
 learned how truly special she was. She had the true grandmotherly touch.  She could calm a crying child  by wrapping them securely in a quilt and holding them in her arms and rocking them. She would get their  attention by patting the bottom of their bare foot and reciting the poem, "Shoe the old horse, shoe the  old mare, but let the little colty go bare, bare bare."  They would snuggle closer when she would bring  an  imaginary dog into the room by saying something like this, "Go away bad dog, you can't have my baby.  Go lay down doggy."  If the above didn't work she had one last surefire trick, her false teeth.  She would push them out of her mouth and when the child tried to grab them, she would put them back in her mouth. The teeth would appear and disappear and soon the child would fall asleep.

Fern Rust Powell. Photographer unknown.
She had the gift to teach things that you didn't know you were learning mostly about living life.  She was patient in working with her left handed daughter, me, and discovered it worked well to sit across from me as I learned to knit, crochet and other such things.  She didn't want me to write like other left-handers, upside down.  When my sixth grade teacher wanted me to write with a slant like a right handed person, mom was wise and told me to write that way for my teacher.  She then went onto tell me that when I was not writing for that teacher I should not write that way.

Although a natural teacher she was not much for giving advice.  The one piece of advise I got before my marriage was to buy a good mattress. The salesman assured us we had bought a wonderful mattress, but as it turned out, it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

When my mother passed, she took the many words spoken to her in confidence with her, unspoken.  She is missed daily, but leaves a legacy of love, humor and service to others.  Oh, how I love and miss my mother.


Saturday, May 4, 2013


Original Gelatin dry plate negative; 17.78 x 12.70 cm. (7 x 5 in.) held at L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Used by permission.
A few years ago, I was looking for information about my maternal great grandfather, Lott Powell. I was delighted to stumble upon the most precious picture of his two oldest children including my grandmother, Edna Powell and her younger brother, James Lott Powell. My grandmother was described in part as, “A small girl with short curly hair...” I consider this photo to be my most prized internet find and maybe my most prized genealogy find ever.   

I was once asked how I knew the photo was of my grandmother.  Well, there are three pretty important clues that point to it being Grandma:                      
Copy of Photo in possession of author

  1.  The picture was listed under their father’s name Lott Powell. We won’t get too picky that the site misspelled his name as Lot in one spelling.  This photo is obviously tied to my maternal great grandfather.
  2.  The coloring of the two children fit that of Lott's oldest children Edna and James.
  3.  Even though she was just a little girl, a girl knows her grandmother.  Just look at this photo of my adult grandma. This is the grandma that I knew and loved and who knew and loved me back. 

Try telling me the girl in the photo is not the person who grew up to be Grandma and you'll be in for a fight.

 1. Harold B. Lee Library Number SS P-1 # 10728 Title : Lot Powell Photographer: Anderson, George Edward, 1860-1928 Publisher Digital: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University Owning Institution: Brigham Young University Identifier: MSS_P_1_10728.jp2

Friday, February 1, 2013


My simple five letter name, M-A-R-L-A, was never misspoken or misspelled during the first 17½ years of my life. That's what it's like growing up in a tiny farming community.  If people didn't know me, they knew Dad because he ran the feed store. The elementary and high school, I attended, educated the kids from eight small towns. Pretty much the same kids attended school with me all the way from kindergarten through graduation. Our grade usually numbered somewhere around thirty students, give or take a few. My classmates knew me well enough that whenever scissors were passed out, I was given a pair of left handed scissors. I would then have to go to the front and exchange the lefties for a pair of right handed scissors because, although I'm a lefty, I use my right hand for scissor cutting. That was the closest I came to having an identity crisis as a child.

I had a second tiny crisis as I approached the age of twelve.  The family who owned and ran the movie theater knew about how old I was because their grandson/son was a grade ahead of me.  I was tall for my age so as I got close to eleven, the person selling tickets began to ask me if I was twelve yet. It was with relief that I turned twelve and purchased an adult ticket for 75¢ instead of a child's ticket for 25¢.  This little bump in the road was more irritant than crisis.

Besides the increase in cost of a movie ticket, turning twelve meant that I would soon be a lowly 7th grader trudging the halls of the high school along side the mighty seniors.  Each year there would be a few new teachers move in to fill the vacancies of those who moved on or retired, but still my name was always correctly spelled and spoken year after year.

Each fall I watched as the halls of the high school were graced by the presence of the quintessential slick salesman who came selling class rings to the junior class and graduation announcements, name cards, caps and gowns, etc to the senior class. A Hollywood casting director couldn't have cast anyone better to play the part.  After watching this man's performance from afar, it was at last my turn, as a junior, to purchase my class ring. That purchase was but a preparation for all the purchases required my senior year. Our senior class orders were placed and we waited for the goods to be delivered.

At last all the paraphernalia was personally delivered to the school via Mr. Salesman.  We were told to look things over and make sure that everything looked right.  If there was a problem, we were to meet with Mr. Salesman in the tiny bookstore.  My graduation announcements looked great as did the other stuff: except, when I checked my name card there it was, "M-A-R-I-A".  For the first time in my life someone had misspelled my name.  Oh joy, I was going to have to have a one on one with Mr. Salesman.  I approached him and explained that my name cards said Maria instead of Marla.  Rather than saying he was sorry for the error and they would correct the mistake, he began to sing, "Maria, I just met a girl named Maria*" from West Side Story**.  Now, thanks to Mr. Salesman, all these many years later, whenever I hear that beautiful song, I find myself seated next to Mr. Salesman in the small bookstore being sung to and yes, I still cringe.

So when you are involved in Family History or life in general:
1. Double check the name.  There may be only a one letter difference between MARLA and MARIA, but the differences are huge.  If your doing family history, misreading one letter can lead you barking down the wrong family tree.

2. In everyday life, people appreciate it if you get their names it's always courteous to double check a name.  Does the last name end in sen or son? Is that the letter "l" or an "i?" And on it goes.

3. If the inevitable happens and you do misspell someones name, no matter what the circumstances or how good  a singer you think you may be; do not, under any circumstance, serenade them. You are already on shaky ground and you might just ruin a beautiful song for them for the rest of their life.

*Song Maria Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Soundheim published in 1956
** Westside Story was a Broadway Play and Movie.  The play was first produced in 1957 Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Soundheim.  The movie was a 1961 adaptation of the musical directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Roberts released through United Artists.