Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton

Chapter 15
Wedding Bells

8282 We knew that eventually our ranks would be broken, but it was good being one of six sisters who were always home for Christmas. Five of us could wear the same size of shoes and dresses. People, meeting any one of us on the street would say, "Hello Kate," or "Hello Mildred," or any one of our six names.

Since Annie started working for Charlie Petty, we had anticipated her coming home each evening. She and I had packed many a lunch and hiked miles together. She had been good to the family too, making payments on the washing machine, cream separator, and sewing machine, and bringing home luxuries the family had never been able to afford. Conscientiously, she had managed to add a little at a time to her trousseau too.

When her wedding day was finally set, she bought a wonderfully beautiful wedding dress. On the l7th of June, she and Rass were married in the Salt Lake Temple, and Cedar City became her new home.

8383 Working in the Parks in the summertime serving bus loads of tourists made Kate sparkle in my eyes. The girls in the Parks serenaded the tourists as the busses arrived, and whenever Kate came home for a short visit, she sang for us her Grand Canyon songs. She enjoyed her job.

During one of Mildred's interludes at home, Mama and Papa took Edith, LaPriel and the boys to Oakcreek to spend a week with Grandmother and Aunt Emma. Mildred and I were left to milk the cows and feed the pig. Never before had we had the whole place to ourselves. To us, it was a vacation. Mildred made a layer cake with cream filling and icing, and we ate cake everyday. Deciding to transform the place, we housecleaned from the upstairs to the cellar. Instead of being work, it was fun and the house looked beautiful. We could not have had a happier vacation.

After the family returned, a blustering wind broke a limb in the mulberry tree. Willie decided to chop out the broken limb. Elton Stout carried the axe and Stirling Isom came along. Clinton started up the tree ahead of them. When Willie demanded that he come down, he refused.

"Shall I chop his toe off?" Elton asked.

"Yaw," Willie replied.

Elton only meant to scare Clinton, when he swung the axe, but instead, he chopped right through his big toe. Horrified, Elton dropped the axe and he and Stirling streaked for home. Willie, white as a ghost, helped his howling, bleeding brother into the kitchen. Mama grabbed Clinton, whose toe was still hanging by the skin, and sat him in a chair, while Willie fell in a dead faint upon the floor. After cleaning Clinton's foot, Mama bound the toe in place, where it healed, but it still has a hump of a scar across the top of it to this day.

Each September brought a particular dawn when we were awakened by the clinking of chains and the clopping of horses, as a caravan of wagons clattered up the Hurricane hill. This was the day the winter's wood was gathered to heat the school and the church building. At night, after the cedar and pine wood was piled high behind the schoolhouse, the town's folks celebrated with a Wood Hauler's Dance. In spite of the fact that I was afraid to dance, there was still a deep longing within me. I was glad to be asked to help serve. I loved the feel of being dressed in viole, and in patent leather slippers. (Childhood days of only one pair of shoes were past.) As I served the cake and cocoa, guests made flattering remarks and I loved being sixteen.

That winter I took a lead part in the school play "The Burglar." In it, I had to scream. I'd never really screamed since the lightning struck me. Now, when I tried, it wasn't clear, beautiful and pierce but mostly a squawk. I wanted to scream pretty, so after the evening milkinq was done, and the hay pitched into the manger, I stayed up in the barn to practice. One night, Howard Isom came running to see who was being murdered. Two days before the performance, I became hoarse.

"Oh no," I moaned, "my first rea1 part in a play, and I'm losing my voice!"

Anxiously, I gargled with salt, listerine, lemon juice, pepper-sauce, soda and aspirin—with anything that anyone suggested. I tried so many remedies that I became sick. The night of the play, I went on stage, forcing my voice to the limit. I squeaked, instead of screamed. After the 8484 final curtain, members of the cast patted my back sympathetically. My head throbbed and I went home to bed. For the next two weeks I couldn't speak. I learned what it was to die trying.