Friday, September 23, 2022

1995 James Gardiner on Growing up in Malta, ID

James H. Gardiner January 1995

Born 1 Jun 192? in Meadowcreek, a quiet suburb of Sublett, ldaho and a few miles east of Malta, Idaho. Malta is a thriving town of about 150 people. Location: about 20 miles north of the Utah/Idaho border and almost directly north of Great Salt Lake. Born in a 2 room log cabin, with the assistance of a country doctor, Doctor Sater. I am my mother's first child. 

Parents: Hope Hulet, a school teacher and Fred Gardiner a sheepman and rancher. Parents of 8 children, 7 reaching

Malta - 8 grades and High School - Fair student, shy,
good attendance record. Liked the. sciences and loved geometry. Did not do well in English until college. Loved to read and still do. Our mother read to us extensively from the very early years and our father read to us when we were ill. In the school year of 1940/41, went to Logan and began training in technical radio. This training was extended in Navy service in the Radio Materiel School, which was a great opportunity. In the late 40's, went back to Logan and satisfied some of my interest in the social sciences. In general, I loved school.

Health: Generally healthy but had almost all childhood diseases. My mother said I had Ricketts as a baby. My development seemed a bit arrested as a youngster. I was always the smallest boy in my class at school and seem to be built more on my mother’s family than on my father’s, who was very muscular. In my early teens, I suffered from rheumatic fever for most of one summer. I also had trouble with tonsils for much of my youth. The tonsils were removed by navy doctor. In 1989, I had cancer of the cecum and had it removed. In 1993, a second operation removed an infected section of bowel associated with the original operation. My eyesight has generally been on the nearsighted side. But for my last driver license test, I passed without glasses.

Until I was about 7 years old, we had no close neighbors with kids to play with, In about 1929, we moved to a farm a mile and a half from Malta. There were two families who had children
Our ages within a quarter of a mile. With these friends, we walked to school and church, swam, ice skated, hunted rabbits, played our versions of baseball and football, built stilts and had great sport walking on them. built our own system for pole vaulting and high jumping, rolled UP huge snowmen, made willow whistles, played kick-the-can, went horseback riding, etc.

From my earliest memories, we always had chores to do. When I was about 4. I remember carrying water from a neighbor' s well to help our mother. There were always cows to milk, horses, cows, chickens and turkeys to feed. When the creek ran dry in some late summers, we had to get water by hand from wells that frequently had to be dug deeper to get to the water. I remember looking up into the sky from the bottom of one of these wells and seeing the stars in the mid-day. The chores never ended. Cows always had to he milked twice a day. The animals suffered if they did not get their allotment of hay. The horses especial seemed to appreciate our feeding them. I remember trudging through the snow by kerosene lantern light, early in a frosty morning, snow crunching underfoot and hearing the horses nicker at our approach. They knew that food was not too far away.
We worked with horses. In those days horsepower was supplied Ly
horses. We raised our own fuel. I came to love those gentle, faithful beasts. I can remember seeing horses who had given all they had, quivering with exhaustion. but still willing to respond, with what little strength they had left, to our demand for yet more pulling. With horses we mowed the hay. headed the grain, hauled everything including our firewood from the hills, hay from the fields and heads of wheat and barley. Horses provided the power to unload hay from the wagons via, the derrick. Driving the derrick horse was one of my first opportunities for earning money. I got $1 for a 10 hour day and grew friendly with the derrick horse. We rode horses to search for lost cattle or just to go somewhere. In the springtime, the horses loved to have us curry out the long winter hair. I never was as good with horses as my brother Golden. He had a special ability to get them to respond.

Money: Shortly after I was born, my father lost his property due to foreclosure. For the rest of his life, he was on the brink of poverty. He was a very willing worker but the times were hard. Money was tight in those days b
ut a dollar would buy quite a lot compared to today. In the 20's, 1st class postage was 2 cents/oz. Then in the 30's it went to 3 cents. You could buy a pair of Levis for $1.75. A Pocket Ben watch cost $1 and ran for almost exactly a year. The Pocket Ben fit neatly into the watch pocket of the Levis. Any kid who had anything had a Pocket Ben. My father bought a 1926 Chevy from a man who was headed for Portland and had car trouble when he got to Malta. He bought it for $15. A friend in High School bought a Model T Ford for $5 and found $2.75 under the front seat. Gold was $35/oz. In. my mid to late teens I could pitch hay from the fields onto the hay wagons and got $2 for 10 hours. Those were adult wages. And save we must. We never went hungry but we never had enough money to keep up with any style or trend. My father bought me a pair of blue and white striped overalls to wear to church when I was confirmed. I was pleased to look that good.

Entertainment: We were pleased to have anything good to read.
Most of the family were avid readers. My favorite Christmas present, a book. Some neighbors gave us a series of old National Geographic’s which we almost wore out, reading and rereading and loving the black & white pictures. Once in awhile a movie would come to town but we saw very few because we did not have 25 cents
for admission. We tried to go to the high school basketball games, usually waiting until the game was nearly over, then the ticket taker would let us in for free. We loved to p1av with the neighbor kids, that was by far the best entertainment we had. We. entertained ourselves. In the mid-30's Grandpa Hulet gave us an old battery operated Airline radio. A whole new world opened up to us, when we could afford the batteries. My father liked to listen to the boxing reports on the radio. long before we had one. I remember going with him to listen to a neighbor' s radio for a Jack Dempsey fight. During the mid 30's we walked about a mile south to the highway checking station to listen to the Joe Louis fights. For General Conference, we went into town and listened, with many others, to the conference from the radio of one of the storekeepers in town.

We met in an old dance hail in Malta. It, was one big room hut had a stage, complete with curtain. It was heated by two big coal burning heaters which sat in the middle of each long side of the main hail. In the winter, with the wind blowing, they would glow red hot and still the ends of the hail were cold. Classes simply were distributed around the walls. During sacrament meeting, the nursing mothers occupied the last row and did not cover their breasts when feeding their young. We had no PA system and did not seem to need it. As a family, we were active, participating in most of the programs. I dreaded speaking in public, a dread I have never really outgrown. A few times I participated in temple excursions to Logan for baptisms. This was a real outing for us. We traveled there on a flatbed truck with sides installed and some benches and chairs for comfort. We stayed overnight in Logan and usually went to a movie in the evening.

Conveniences: While I was at home (thru most of 1940), we never had electricity or inside plumbing. We pumped water by hand, chopped wood for fuel, canned huge amounts of poultry, beef,
fruit and vegetables. Our light was from kerosene lamps and lanterns. Water would freeze by our beds at night but we were comfortable under mother's heavy homemade quilts and snuggled into a feather mattress. Mother would heat flatirons on the kitchen stove, then wrap them in a piece of cloth and put them at our feet when we went to bed. In the morning we would gather round the heater in the front room, trying to get a bit of warmth to start the day. On the farm at Malta, we had the great space of 4 rooms. This was better than we had known before but we slept everywhere except in the kitchen. My mother had a treadle operated sewing machine, a White. She had bought it while she was teaching school. She made do with clothes for most occasions. One time I was in a play for church and needed pair of white pants. There was no way we could afford a pair, She bleached some Sunny Valley flour sacks and made trousers. I have wondered since, whether you could still read the label. On one of our temple excursions I wore a set of her homemade underwear, I wanted to be in style like the others. My mother washed clothes by hand, a formidable job in those surroundings. She heated water on the kitchen stove and scrubbed and toiled to get things clean. Then she use a hand operated wringer to squeeze most of the water out and. then hung the clothes on an outside line to dry. When they did not freeze, the low humidity usually dried them in a hurry, helped by the wind of southern Idaho. My father said., 'If the sun goes down in the West, the wind will blow tomorrow. " We: bought a washing machine in the late 30' s.