Friday, December 31, 2021

Fred and Hope Gardiner

My Grandparents-Fred and Hope Gardiner
Kent: Much of my early life revolved around my father's love for his parents. Each summer dad checked the oil in the car, filled the gas tank, and piled us into the green 1954 Ford Station wagon and headed toward Malta, Idaho. In the early years there was no I-15 so he took highway 91 Highway most of the way. It was a long boring ride and we often asked, "Are we were there yet?" "Don't ask!" came the reply from the front seat. One time on a stretch of the Mojave Desert my dad got fed up with me bothering my brother's and sisters and pulled the car over and demanded I get out and walk. "The exercise will do you good." He was right. I walked for quite a while and along the way I found a pocket knife with a grey and white pearl handle of which I was very proud of.

We all yelled our approval when dad finally pulled into the dirt parking area in front of the Malta home. Grandma and Grandpa greeted us with hugs and smiles. During out visit we usually slept in the loft above the five small rooms that made up the downstairs. Upstairs included a view of the stream and cows grazing in the distance as well as books, beds and comforters to keep us warm and cozy. When the weather was balmy we slept outdoors next to the gurgling stream, called Cassia Creek, which ran through their property. Before we went to sleep we gathered with our cousins and had an old-fashioned bond-fire with hot dogs. In the glow of the embers we watched in amazement as Grandpa pulled out his pocket knife, told stories, and cut willow reeds which he fashioned into whistles. Our eyes widened as we watched a plant transform into a toy. I still remember the sound of the stream and the wind blowing through the trees as we settled in for the night. 

In the morning my sisters followed Grandma out to the chicken coop to feed the chickens and gather eggs. Chickens are not the smartest animals but Grandma knew how to round them up an get them back into the safety of the cage. She took the eggs, flour, salt, yeast and a bit of honey and made fluffy white rolls and white bread. The finishing touch was homemade peach jam. The fruity smell was intoxicating. The jam and bottled fruit were stored in the pump room under the house where it was cool and damp. Sometimes Grandma cooked up chicken, vegetables and potatoes. Our mouths watered as the chicken spat and sizzled in the skillet. 

The next day we eagerly followed Grandpa out to the open field to round up the cows. His dog did most of the work. A whistle from Grandpa and the dog nipped at the cow's heels, heading them back to his ramshackle shed. He cleaned each teat and clamped on the milker. Soon the rich creamy milk flowed.  Afterwards Grandpa shouted at the cow to move out, rapping her across the backside which encouraged her to go back to the field. The highlight of the day was watching Grandpa heft the milk cans into the back of his pickup and drive the 3 miles to town to sell the milk to the Whey Company with the big red sign. Sitting next to Grandpa as the pick-up bounced across the rutted dirt roadway with the cans banging around in the back was an adventure. On the way out of the parking area the pickup lurched and jumped. We bounced around but we weren't worried; Grandpa was driving. We hit the smooth oiled road with the sound of the pickup tires on fresh asphalt.

My favorite part of the trip was staying up with my aunts and uncles and listening to Grandpa tell stories. One night after all my siblings were in bed Grandpa gathered us around. He leaned forward in his blue overstuffed chair and told us that many years ago he had been praying about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He decided to go to General Conference in the Salt Lake City Tabernacle. Grandpa sat with his brother Charles downstairs toward the back. Apostle Anthony W. Ivans was speaking about the Book of Mormon and suddenly there appeared two beings on either side of the pulpit, standing in the air dressed in Nephite clothing. Grandpa turned to his brother and said, "Do you see that?" When he turned back the vision was gone. Grandpa looked directly at me and said, "Kent what I have told you is true, remember it." Note: Apostle Anthony W. Ivans spoke about the Book of Mormon in the April 1929 conference.

I don't think Grandpa ever threw anything away. It might come in useful someday. Once a tractor or a mowing machine no longer worked it sat in the yard beckoning to us to climb up and pull or twist the black knobs or see how far we could turn the tattered black steering wheel. Sometimes our cousins came over and we played on the farm equipment together. After dinner Mary and Gloria were very popular with us. We played Pit and Gin Rummy late into the night. Our laughter ran all around the room filling the house with a warm glow. 

Grandpa passed away suddenly on the morning of 26 December 1960, just three months prior to his eighty-second birthday and four months after my mother, Elaine Scholl, died of cancer. Fred had myocarditis which is inflammation of the heart muscle. That led to his heart attack. The family knew years before that his ticker had problems. A while before he died the doctor told a family member that Aunt Dawn should come home from her mission if she wanted to see her Dad before he died, but he lived a few more years. He never made much fuss about his condition. He used to take a teaspoonful of sulfur (his own remedy) for his health.  It was a sad time all the way around.  For years afterwards I asked people what Grandpa was like:

Frank Gardiner, (Fred's son): The Hitt boys were inactive non-believing Mormons in Malta. One day they said they were going to throw Fred into the creek. "Come on, I'm ready!" said Dad, but they decided against the idea. Dad was great at handling horses although he could be a little rough on them. Every year the Hitts hired him to handle the horses which pull the machine that cuts off the wheat heads. Dad said "You can drive these horses yourself, you don't need me." The Hitt boys said, "No we like the way you do it." I think the Hitts actually had a soft spot for Fred. They enjoyed his company.

A friend of Fred's named Bob Thompson (Taught school in Burley, Bishop Henry Thompson's son) from Malta tells this story: "Fred Gardiner was called as a Ward Teacher to the Hitts, first he would go to Jim Hitt and then over to John Hitt. When John was on his death bed Jim was there and here comes the home teacher. So Fred was standing there and John says to Jim. "If there is anything to what Fred has been telling us about this life after death I'll come back and let you know, Goodbye," and he died. 

James Gardiner: "In 1926 Dad was ordained a High Priest by Elder Orson F. Whitney, and was soon sustained as a member of the Raft River Stake High Council. During the time we lived in the Malta Ward, Fred served as ward clerk from 1933 to 1938 while Orson S. Sanders was Bishop, and as secretary of the Malta Ward High Priest Group. He had beautiful handwriting. He got so good that he was in demand as a secretary in the church. For many years he was secretary to the High Priests Quorum. He often practiced at the table in the front room after he was done with the chores of the day. He taught classes in Sunday School, Priesthood, and M.I.A; and was a Ward Teacher for many years. At the time of his death, he was first assistant to William Barrett in the High Priest Group. He was very faithful in his Church duties and active in the positions he held. He encouraged the family to be regular in attendance for Church activities. In his earlier years he studied books in the evenings but later it was just the scriptures. His scriptures were well worn from use and marked from study. Whenever he came in the house after working in the field at lunch and dinnertime he sat at the dinner table and ate with the scriptures propped open.

"Fred had a natural talent in music and enjoyed playing the violin, although he never had the opportunity to take many music lessons. While he lived at Meadow Creek, he often played for the dances at the schoolhouse, and was asked to play for dances at Malta. Flossie Smith usually accompanied him on the piano at Malta. One time a neighbor saw his team and plow standing in the field alone at midday. Concerned, he investigated only to find Fred in the house sawing away on his violin.

"Fred had amazing strength, he could hold two fifty pounds bags of wheat straight out on either side of his body. One time after Fred got back active into the church he went down to a bar and grill to talk to someone on business. The guys in there were rude. They said some derogatory things about those Mormons. He picked up the loudest of the group and physically put him on the floor. A year later the same guy got drunk on the 4th of July and said that he and Fred would take on the entire town. The Bishop in Malta for many years, Henry Thompson, said Fred was the strongest man he ever knew.
"Roadside repair, miles from any town or service station was a way of life. On many trips I helped my dad make an emergency repair to a knocking engine. We would drain the oil, (save it of course) drop the engine oil pan, take a few shims from a loose piston connecting rod bearing, check for bearing play, restore the pan and oil and we were on our way. One day coming home from Burley, Idaho, which was more than a forty-mile trip, my dad's Model T quit and he could not get it going again. So he decided to walk the remaining twenty-five miles home. After several hours of trudging, he was surprised when another Model T. stopped beside him, in a cloud of dust.
"Well, Fred, do you want a lift?"
"No thanks. I have walked 20 miles and I will finish the trip myself."

"Sometime in the 30's, in a different location Dad was walking a mile and a half to church. A non-LDS man gave him a lift. "Now Fred, if God wanted you to go to church, he would have provided a way." Dad said, “He did."" James Gardiner May, 2004
Corby: "My dad (Golden Gardiner) said Fred was good with animals. They once had a dog and Grandpa was a sheep herder and sheep herders don't like coyotes. One of his dogs got into some poison used to kill coyotes. It was strychnine. The dog was convulsing and foaming at the mouth. He administered Epsom salts and saved the dogs life.
"Everything I ever heard about my grandparents was positive. I was in a PE class one day and my PE instructor was Kay Harper. Out of the blue he started telling the whole class what a great Sunday School teacher Grandpa was. He was funny and had a great sense of humor and he was a great story teller. I remember sitting in the bleachers listening to this. Kay was the same age as Frank. My sister (Cathy Gardiner) died a few years ago and Bishop J. Cottle who was in the Malta First Ward for several years spoke at my sister's funeral and he paid a beautiful tribute to Hope and Fred. He talked about what wonderful children they raised, and that they were excellent parents; of course I knew that first hand knowing my Dad and Hope. It was a beautiful tribute." Corby Gardiner

Kent: Hope was an amazing grandmother. The summer after I got married in 1975, Suzanne and I took a trip to Malta so I could introduce Suzanne to Hope. Grandma gave up her bed so the two of us could sleep together. This was the same bed she and Grandpa had slept in for 40 years. We knew because the bed-springs creaked and rattled when we moved in the bed. Grandma wanted to please us and made white rolls and a peach pie. Suzanne loved talking to Hope. They talked for hours. 
From 1960 to 1981 Hope wrote at least 396 letters to her son James Gardiner and his children. She took an interest in everything we did including how we did in school, recreation, and church activity. Here are a few examples of what she wrote:
1963 Jan 7,  Thanks again for all you did to make our Christmas so wonderful. We did have a lovely Christmas although we likely all were thinking the same thoughts of what happened three years ago to be a lasting sad memory. Yet so many things remind me of Dad that I never feel that he is very far away and I often dream of seeing him.  Grandma Gardiner
1964 May 1, James must be pretty big now.  Would like to see him and all of you.  I’ll bet Janice is a big girl now and helps take care of Julie. Am happy that all the children are doing so well at schoolwork.  It really pays to do our best each day in school to prepare us for the work we have to do or the jobs we will want to get when we are ready to look for jobs.  They all have what it takes if they will make use of their talents. Grandma Gardiner
1964 July 20, Dear Mark, A very happy birthday and many happy returns of the day.  Wish we could have a birthday dinner all together but I am sure Mommy Carol will do a fine job like she always does. I enjoyed the food so much while I was there and was sorry I couldn’t have done better for you folks while you were here.  Have you forgiven me yet for pushing you in the creek: that was a mean trick wasn’t it?  But I know how much you like water and just wanted a little help to get in.  Grandma Gardiner
1965 August 18, We are fine here.  Mark and Frank are out working on the grain.  Durward Hall is doing the cutting now.  The old machine seemed too slow for Frank.  Mark is right on the job all the time.  He says he wants to stay until the end of August.  He is surely a good boy to get along with.  Kent was too.  He knows what it takes to get along with Frank too. Your family is very good about looking on the best side of things.  If any one said things to Frank that he says to others he would be upset but he thinks folks ought to take his guff and like it. He wouldn't like me to say this either. Grandma Gardiner

1965 September 2, Congratulations Kent on being ordained an Elder and getting your call for a mission.  I am sure you will be a very good missionary.  Our prayers will be in your behalf and am sure you will put your trust in the Lord to help you in the great work that is before you. Grandma Gardiner
1973 October 25, Halloween The widows (most of them) meet at Edwin Paskett’s home each Monday evening for a Home Evening lesson. He gives a very good lesson and I enjoy it.  But going out in the evening doesn’t suit me too well.  I dread coming back to the lonely house.  Myrtle Hutchinson usually goes and takes me to the meeting.  She then has to go home alone to her lonely house. Grandma Gardiner
Kent: In her later years Hope worked on family history and was an avid journalist and genealogist. During the last 4 years of her life she suffered from blindness which was a sore trial. Hope lived to be 94 and is buried in the Malta Valley Vu Cemetery. Hope: "There have been many years without Fred, but what a blessing my family has been to me. All have been kind and considerate, and what a satisfaction it is to see them all living good, honorable lives."

To see the Malta home on Google Maps, go to "1700 Idaho Hwy 81"

Many more of Hope's digitized letters:


1954 Fred and Hope Gardiner

1954 Hope, Fred, Mark, Kent

1954 Fred, Janice, Mark, Kent