The following is a brief life history written by Lee to one of his sons who requested it dated 26 Jul 1975:
Born in Ogden, Utah of February 4, 1914. My parents only other son died as a baby. I can not remember Ogden at this time, My parents moved to Pocatello, Idaho, and my earliest remembrances are of Pocatello. My dad was Agent for the Pacific Fruit Espress Company there.
My family had many friends in Pocatello. They visited in our home, and we in theirs. They played cards, mostly, since the radio was an infant and TV un-dreamed-of. We also went to the old silent movies and on picnics at a place called Inkom. When the war was over we watched the men come home in their uniforms. They had a parade when a unit would come home again. One of Dad’s friends still had his army 45 and he would shoot it when we went on picnics.
In Pocatello we rented a big house with a huge front lawn. It had a very large lava boulder in the front that I liked to sit on. One time I remember throwing apples with some other small fry and we hit a car. The man was very mad and I remember him yet coming up that long front walk. I also remember that the neighbors on one side were named Crum and they that were Scotch highlanders. Mr. Crum had a brother in town and they got together and played the bagpipes and sang scottish aires. One night they got into a fight and his brother James a gun barrel into Mr. Crum’s eye and put it out. Another time, their maid was attempting to light the coal stove with kerosene and it exploded. We saw her run onto the front lawn afire. The neighbors rolled her into a blanket, trying to save her.
While we lived there the town was small and there were hardly any cars on the streets. The Indians from the Blackfoot reservation nearby used to knock on the door and ask for “biscuit”, but really they wanted anything to eat. They used what money they had to buy tiny beads that they sewed onto mocasins and clothes. They sat on the curbs doing bead work. The Indians used horses sparingly and we mostly walked to where we wanted to go.
We bought our first car while we were in Pocatello. It was a Jewett touring car. A touring car has removable side curtains and, whenever we took a trip it was bound to shower and we had to put up the curtains. One time my Dad ran into a horse, which rared up and put its hooves thru the fabric top when it came down. We took camping gear along when we went on trips usually. This included a tent and cooking utensils. We also took spare tires and tubes when we went anywhere. The old tires were high pressure and they punctured and had blowouts frequently. It aws not unusual to have four or five flate tires on a trip. You went prepared for them. The roads were mostly dirt graded, some were gravelled, but very few had any pavement on them. When we went to Ogden to visit we rode the last few miles on pavement. When I was 12 years old I joined the Boy Scouts of America. The summer when I joined I went by myself on the train from Pocatello to Oakland, California to spend a summer vacation with Charles and Charlotte Wilkins, friends of my parents. I called them Auntie and Uncle. They had no children of their own and thought I was a special article. They also thought my folks spoiled me, so Auntie gave me a rather strict regimen, including housework and lawn moving, etc. But they were fine people and treated me to all the wonders of the big city. They sent me to Scout camp for two weeks, for instance. I can still remember Camp Diamond and all those strange kids. I can remember the straw tick they gave me for a matress. I filled it so full of straw that I rolled off oit and had to take it back and empty most of the straw out.
The highlight of my vacation in California was the 4th of July. We went to Chinatown and bought all the fireworks we could carry. Then, when it came time to go back home, I did not return to Pocatello, but to Ogden where my folks had moved while I was in California. I did not see Pocatello again until six years later.
Our new home in Ogden was a big two story house. My Dad’s parents had come to live with us in Pocatello and Grandpa Lee Enlow worked making boxes in the Kraft cheese factory there. When the folks moved, so did Grandpa and Grandma, to the place right next door to ours. The grade school was in the same block, and across the street was a large park, named Lester Park. I had a dog named Rowdie and he and I and all the kids played together in the park. We skated on the sidewalks and around the park and enjoyed the place. Dad brought Rowdie home one day in Pocatello in a shoe box and he and I were great friends. He learned tricks and played games. He played hide and seek with the kids from school at recess and chased his tail for them. He was the hit of the town. He was just a ball of fur when I got. He lived to be eighteen years old.
The year I went into Junior High School we moved to the house on Cross St. It wa san old farm house, with three rooms and a back porch. It had water piped in, but no hot water, no inside plumbing except one tap. The outhouse was 200′ away at the back of the lot. Heat was from a pot-bellied stove in the front room and a coal stove in the kitchen. But it was a well built house and the lost was large with fruit trees and irrigation water.
Dad could get lumber that was usually thrown away by his company and we started to improve the place. Grandad was a carpenter and blacksmith, among other skills, and he helped us. One thing at a tome was changed. The back porch was screened in. We glassed it in and made one end into a bedroom for me. Cold, but all mine. The first winter I had spent on the porch in below zero weather. I got snowed on. A heated bag of salt went into the bed before I did. It stayed hot for a long time and I started in a ball with it at my feet and gradually pushed it down and straightened out until the bed was warm. It was easy after that with the featherbed and the down comforters keeping me warm. I wore a knit cap on my head and wool socks on my feet. I really dressed up to go to bed. And stayed by that old pot-bellied stove as long as I could, soaking up heat before I went.
After the glassing of the porch we also put in a furnace but had to dig the basement larger first. Here again, I did the work for the most part, but Grandad told me how.
The furnace hardly helped the situation on the backporch, although a heat vent went out that way. I left the bathroom door open and got some heat from there. We went on with the improvements, building in a front porch onto the house, which was L-shaped and needed the corner filled in. Then we re-built the front to have a bellied-out sort of window, rebuilt the kitchen cabinets, built an “Embarkadero” as my mother called it, to separate the kitchen portion from the dining part. The house got carpeted in the meantime, I took off the old shingles and put on new ones and we made a summerhouse of the lathe and 2 x 4′s. Dad and all of us worked on the chicken house which must have been at least sixty feet long and twenty wide. We put in a chicken yard fence and were in the chicken business. For taking care of Dad’s 1000 chickens he bought me 100 Rhode Island reds. We sold eggs and I got the proceeds from mine. I remember two special Christmases in this house. One of Dad’s friends gave me a mechano set when we first moved in and had our first Christmas. I thought this was the best present I had ever seen. I made things you wouldn’t believe. The other highlight was when I was in my last year of junior high and Dad and Mom gave me a bicycle for Christmas. It was not new except for a coat of red paint, but I loved it. The next year I got a pair of skis and spent many hours on those, too. The bike I rode to high school, about two miles away, when the weather was good.
At High School I was a better than average student, but I became sort of a celebrity by learning the French horn well enough to take a second place in the State competition. I was also an officer in the ROTC my last year there and joined the Order of DeMolay. All in all, I was a social success. If you believe it yourself, it is so, they say. At least I managed to attract a little Junior girl who I met in Harmony class. Seems prophetic but our seven years of “going together” was not always harmonious. But it did lay a basis for the future marriage with Fay Cardon. The seven years included school time separations while she went to Utah State and I went to Wyoming Universities. We both managed to graduate and she even had a teaching job in Fillmore, Utah when we got married.
During my highschool and college years I worked at various jobs. My Dad got me the first job in the Del Monte cannery in Ogden, then I got work during these depression years on Public Works projects, digging ditches, working on building construction, even driving a dump truck. On alternate years I went to California where Uncle Charley Wilkins was in charge of the large dry-yard and packing-house for Balfour-Guthrie Co. I worked for B.G., usually pushing a handtruck full of field lugs of fruit, but sometimes loading trucks and so on. During one summer I went to Kansas and helped my Uncle Ray Snavely build the foundation of his new house. He was building it to bring a new bride, Thelma, to a new home. I mixed concrete, plowed and cultivated his corn field, fished and hunted rabbits and went with him visiting the other neighbors and relatives. He never took me along to court the new bride-to-be for some reason.
After getting graduated from Wyoming U. I went to the U. of Colorado for two years, one on a scholarship and one on a fellowship. I did experimental work with Dr. Muenzinger, who was a very fin gentleman and teacher. After this, failing to get a fellowship at California U. and not wanting to go to U. of Indiana, where I was offered a job, I quit for a year and started a book on psychology.
While Iwas on this year of loafing and Fay was teaching in order to pay off her education, we decided to get married. A hitch was that she would lose her job, so we went up to Evanston Wyo. one day and got married where the newspaper would not get read in Fillmore and she would have to explain her change in marital status. We did not tell our parents, either. But the Supt. of Schools gave her permission and we broke the news to our folks and I went to Fillmore for the rest of the school year.
This ended Fay’s teaching career. We went to California so I could enter C.U. in Berkeley. We were getting financial help from my folks. We lived in a garet and my eyes gave me trouble so I quit school for good and went to work. Mike came along about this time, too. I worked for a year for the Singer Sewing Machine Co. and we were not making it. We were homesick too I guess. We wanted to see the lights of Washington Avenue in Ogden. So we left Oakland when Mike was just a few weeks old and put all of our belongings in the Model A coupe, stopped off and had Thanksgiving dinner with the Wilkins in Sacramento, and started off through Nevada for Utah. It was cold and the new car heater I had installed in the coupe hardly made up for the cold air coming in through the sides. And the road was mostly detour through the mud, but we got to Ogden. Washington Ave. lights were not quite as bright as we thought they would be.
I worked where I could find a job. finally, a man at Dad’s office mentioned that they were building a large ammunition plant at the arsenal. I got a job there with the contractor, and then with another contractor, and finally with the Ordinance Dept. of the Army, working in the Arsenal. This was engineering work for a road project, locating the roads, designing them and building them. After that we did mapping work. It was interesting work. Finally, though, work tapered off and I asked for a release from the Ordinance Dept. and sent out a lot of letters for other jobs.
The main reason I wanted to leave the Arsenal was that I had caught the flu during the last winter there and went back to outside work too soon and had pneumonia. This left me with a cough which the Dr. said was bronchitis. He recommended that I go to a warmer climate. So I applied for work in Arizona and New Mexico. The best offer was from New Mexico Highway Dept. and I took that. It was instrument work and I liked that type of work. I was taking an ICS course in Engineering, too.
When I left on the bus from Ogden, Mike was small and Marian was not walking yet. She was born while I was out of my head with pneumonia and I did not walk the hospital floor waiting for her. The bus took me to Denver and then through Raton to Santa Fe, where I was supposed to go to work. I got to Raton, but the military was filling up the transportation in those days and I got a number in the Raton bus station that would entitle me to a ride out in two or three days. So I hitchhiked to Santa Fe and got there ahead of my bus. I managed to lose my trunk, though, and had only a small suitcase with me.
It turned out that they wanted me to go to Loving instead of Santa Fe, so I got back on another bus and took off for Roswell to report. I got there in 100 degree heat but found the Asst. Dist. Engr. and he found me a place to stay. This was around the first of Aug. 1943. For the next thirty-two years I have worked for the Dept. The A.D.E. was Tom Card Sr., my present Boss’ father. My project Engineer when I got to Loving was Tom McVarty. I was Instrumentman on the project and the Boss’ right hand man. I found that the brush there all had thorns, the insects stung, the snakes were poisonous, and there were racial discriminations all over the place. The little town had a negro, a Mexican and an Anglo part. I worked for Tom McCarty until winter shut-down and a lack of bridge timbers brought the project to a suspension. Then I went on Location as instrument man for the next three or four years. Then in 1947, the family having been enlarged by one more boy named Bruce, who was born in Albuquerque, we were finding the trailer a bit cramped and Mike was having to go to different schools each six weeks. I applied for work on construction and we went to Gallup. We stayed in Gallup for three years. During this time in location I had been studying engineering at home and while in Gallup I took the test for licensing and became a registered professional engineer. This brought me more pay, for one thing. It also brought me assignments in the four corners area and in Taos, where Mike made friends with the natives but Marian got the rheumatic fever and was given lots of bed rest, to Lordsburg where the twins were born and finally to Grants.
Grants was the scene of both good times and bad times. I had important projects to build. But the Mexicans out-numbered us and gave us all a bad time. The Uranium boom caused us to have a hard time house hunting. But Mike learned music and made the football team and Marian was picked as the most beautiful girl and Bruce had a good time playing around the big old house we rented. But the worst thing in our lives so far happened there when Bruce was killed in an accident. To help us all get over this shock somewhat we built a house at Bluewater ourselves and worked together. It was good therapy and brought us all together. And then Bart was born and brought us a bit more of hope and peace. The Bluewater location was well chosen because the older children were interested in the LDS church group and joined. The people there were mostly LDS and were fine to us.
Our move to Albuquerque was because I had no other way open to advance in this department. I became Assistant District Engineer under Jim Bird, D.E. (He has just been named by the Highway Commission to take Stretch Boles’ job as Chief Engineer, temporarily at least.) I have enjoyed the Assistant job as District Construction Engineer. I was Project Engineer on the first two Interstate jobs in the Albuquerque District and have, as Assistant, seen most of the Interstate built, including the only Big I in this state. There are not many in the entire country.
My move to Santa Fe as Plans Engineer was partly for the same reason, advancement, but partly to help an old friend, Tom McCarty. I guess I could have had his job on his retirement, but we did not like Santa Fe and I felt it was time to get out of the office again. It was a sort of fluke that landed me back in my old job again. I am in the midst of finishing up most of the remaining Interstate projects now and will feel that I have managed to fill a needed part in construction of highways in New Mexico.
Some of the times that stand out in my memory of life as a kid I seem to have left out of this narrative.
When I graduated from high school my best friend and I decided to hitchhike to Yellowstone Park from Ogden. Everyone was skeptical about our ability to get so far and back, but we started out one morning at the edge of town and were at West Yellowstone that night. As we prepared our camp using shelter-halves and other National Guard equipment, we got acquainted with a couple of fellow a bit older than we who were waiting to work in the wheat harvest. It appeared that this would be some two weeks and they decided to go with us through the park. Since they had a Model T. Ford stripdown (no body, no fenders, no bottom, only engine, frame and wheels connected together) this was a boon to us. Less walking. They rode in front in a plank seat and we rode backwards on their box of provisions. We had a whale of a good time and saw everything the Park had in it. After two weeks, they left us off alongside Yellowstone Lake opposite the southern Park entrance. We walked for miles, through the Park entrance on to Lake Heart. A baby bear trailed us through the gate and out a ways, but the sagebrush country soon discouraged him, just as the Ranger had predicted.
We went to bed that night with rain threatening and the weather turning cold. We had build a large fire and then covered the coals with beach sand. This will normally keep you warm when you put your bed down on top. But this night was different. The first rain drops hit us and woke me up and I discovered that the Lake water was also lapping at our feet. We got up and took shelter under nearby trees, but the damage was done and we were wet and cold for the rest of the night. We walked on for miles before a couple of girls picked us up and we rode on to Jackson with them. The miles of walking were on a dirt road and we had enough of that.
The next day we went up the Teton Pass, steep for car of hiker. No rides. We had trouble finding a place level enough to camp, finally making up our bed uphill from a large double pine tree. I was most uphill and spent most of the night sleeping on top of my buddy, Si Taylor. The next morning we woke up in a cloud with everything dripping wet. We couldn’t dry our packs until about noon and then we trudged on to the top of the Pass without having had one lift. But on top we got a ride on a hayrack, slow, but easy on the feet. Then a ride on a truck carrying a threshing machine. When we came to a truss bridge we found out why we got that ride. We had to work for a few hours to get the rig across the bridge, which was too narrow to take it.
We finally got home and this was a major experience in our lives. Si went to work for the Post Office, carrying mail and I went to college. We always remained friends until he died in a tragic gun accident years later.
When I lived at home we had family home evenings just about every night. Dad would read out loud. We planned our work around the place together. We enjoyed just being together at home. Radio played very little part in this.
I enjoyed music and practiced a lot on the French horn. In the summer we all sat outside and just enjoyed the nice evenings. My dog and I were inseparable. With my friends I played ball or went on hikes or went swimming or skiing, depending on the weather. My dad played baseball with us. He knew all about the game, as he had been semi-pro in his youth. In the days when we lived in Pocatello we always watched the world series on a board at the newspaper office, standing in the street and watching the operation of a board which showed where the ball and the batter went. This news came to us by telegraph as the games were played. We also went to the games when our town team was at home. Many of these players went on up to the big leagues after. Dad was a real fan.
I took many trips on the train, since we had annual passes on the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. We usually went to Kansas to visit my Mother’s family, or to California to visit with the Wilkins. Many times I just prolonged the visit and came home alone.
In Knasa I had a favorite cousin, Violet, just a day older than I. She was a farm girl stricken by movie star adoration but real fun to be with. We spent many hours together dreaming of what was to be, or riding her pony or swimming. We enjoyed the fish fries that brought all the country neighbors together, too. I had some cousins, the Thompsons, that Violet and her folks did not associate with, but my Mom and I like to go visit them. There were a dozen kids in the family on a large farm and they kept me as amused as they were with me. One of the girls was named after my mother, Louise, and she had red (auburn) hair like my mother had, and was Mom’s favorite.
In California I was cock of the walk with the Wilkins. They thought my folks spoiled me, but they did the same thing in a different way. They took me everywhere and when I was older left me to go on my own in the City of San Francisco where there were many sights and things to do. I walked all over the place and enjoyed it all.
One time Mother and I went to the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. It was a real experience. This world fair was famous for Sally Rand and her fan dance, but we didn’t take that show in.
Altogether, I could wish for no boy a better childhood than I had. This was due in part to the good times I mentioned, but was also due to the teaching of my parents who made me recognize and appreciate the things that were done for me and the things that I was able to do for them in return. Good living, I learned was not neccesarily through having everything, but by appreciating what you do have. I still carry the same philosophy with me and hope that you and all my children have something of this philosophy of life. You can not be physically nor spiritually poor when you believe this. It may not be exactly on the level of the teachings of Christ, but it is a workable attack on life.
There are many tales that all old men over 60 can spin. Just call on me again and I will let loose.