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.
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.
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 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.
"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
To see the Malta home on Google Maps, go to "1700 Idaho Hwy 81"
Many more of Hope's digitized letters: https://gatheringgardiners.blogspot.com/2013/07/hope-hulet-gardiners-letters-to-james.html
|1954 Fred and Hope Gardiner|
|1954 Hope, Fred, Mark, Kent|
1954 Fred, Janice, Mark, Kent