Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton

Chapter 26
Little Rock School House, Goodbye

141141 Betsy-Wetsy, Marilyn's doll, joined the family Christmas day. What a mess she turned out to be. She left puddles on every chair, but we endured. Then one day, Betsy demanded more than water. When I went to feed the chickens, I overheard Marilyn's voice coming from the corral.

"Stand still cow. Come on cow, stand still. Betsy wants some milk."

Peering through the board fence, I saw Marilyn snuggled underneath the cow, squeezing a teat with one tiny hand and holding Betsy's bottle with the other. Obligingly, the cow let down a trickle that filled the bottle.

When the little rock school house, erected in 1906, settled and cracked, Ed Gubler and I were selected as committe members to go before the County School Board to appeal for a new building. Our pleas were unheeded. The board members informed us that the day of the one room school house was over. (Our building had two rooms, since the lean-to had been added.) We were informed that it was too costly to maintain a little school. Consolidation was the tide that was sweeping the school system from coast to coast. Bus drivers and school busses were more economical than heating and lighting, and employing teachers for little schools. A little school could not be equipped like a consolidated school could. Children in large schools had more educational advantages.

We told of the love of the townspeople for our little school, of the outstanding programs preparted for all special occasions, of the you of having children educated near enough to walk home for dinner, of how our little school was the heart of the community, of how our town would become lifeless without it.

The response was no, no no. LaVerkin could not have a new schoolhouse. So funds were allocated to erect a new Hurricane High School building, which had its grand opening on November 6, 1936. The old building became the Elementary, where eventually the LaVerkin children were to be transported. People grieved. Helen Bradshaw and Bryon taylor were the last ones to teach school in LaVerkin. I substituted two days for Bryon, and the old fever I had once felt for becoming a school teacher momentarily flared again.

After the eight grades gave their final program in the spring of 1937, the little rock schoolhouse was closed. Loren Squire was given the material in the building if he would tear it down and clean up the property. No more would the walls echo the sound of children's voices singing, "Good morning to you, we're all in our places, with bright smiling faces."

Winferd and his brothers and sisters had all attended the elementary grades in the little rock schoolhouse, but our children would never have the privilege of going to grade school in their own home town. When the yellow busses stopped in September to pick up the kindergarten children, it seemed like harsh cradle snatching.

142142 Heavy road equipment carved a highway through LaVerkin fields and orchards, and Hurricane's dream of being on a throughfare was finally to be realized. Up to now, Hurricane had almost been a dead-end street. Although there was an unimproved road between Hurricane and St. George, the main travel went by way of Toquerville and Anderson's Ranch, then down around by Leeds to St. George. There was virtually no travel through the "cutoff."

Road construction began in 1936. Simultaneously, cement was being poured for a new Zion Park Stake and North Ward Chapel, the sugar beet industry was building a new plant in St. George, and the 1.06 mile long Zion Tunnel that had been open to traffic for six years, was being reinforced with cement. In this case, beauty was sacrificed for safety.

On October 15, Hurricane and LaVerkin celebrated the dedication of the largest, one-span bridge in the State of Utah, the bridge that spans the Virgin River between the two towns. Not only was this the state's largest one-span bridge, but the State's highest bridge.

Statistics are sometimes interesting, so I shall quote them. the 194 foot high, 400 foot long bridge, contains 513 tons of steel, and 4,000 sacks of cement. Christensen and Gardner were the contractors, and W. E. johnson, the engineer, and G. P. Holahan, superintendent of construction.

Photo the 1936 bridge being refurbished in 2003 and a second steel bridge being added right next to it
A Second Bridge is Added
Photo taken in November, 2003 by Alice's grandson Aaron D. Gifford
Looking westward down Timpoweap canyon and the Virgin River. Pah Tempe hot springs is at the bottom of the canyon on the lower left (south). The old pony-truss bridge crosses the river at the hot springs, but it is mostly hidden by the Washington County Water Conservancy District pipeline that crosses the river just in front of that bridge. The sharp blind turn Alice mentions is bypassed by the road to Pah Tempe on the left side, very near where the sunlight is backlighting some trees. Across the canyon, the 1936 bridge remains and a new parallel bridge is being constructed. During the construction, the 1936 bridge was refurbished and resurfaced.

I'll not forget the day, when we lived in the canyon, that I had a wreck on the spooky blind point of the dugway as I was returning from Hurricane. (This point has since been chiseled through.) Usually i didn't mind the return trip from Hurricane, because I could hug the hill. On this particular day, as I approached the big point, I snuggled close to the bar pit for fear of meeting another car. Exactly at the sharpest, blindest point, a car appeared, nudging over on my side of the road. We scraped fenders.

Why I should have been endowed with such idiotic sweetness beats me, but by way of saying, "I'm sorry this smashing thing happened to us," I got out, looked at the six frightened women in the other car, and lamented, "Oh dear, look what I've done to your car!" That was my first lesson on what not to do in case of an accident.

I drove my dented Chevrolet on down to the springs, and the women in their bruised vehicle proceeded to Hurricane. Winferd wasn't home when I got there. in shock, I shivered and shook, then I began to cry. Howard Isom came for a swim and I sobbed out my sorry tale.

"I'll never drive again," I wept.

"That is the wrong attitude," he said. "The thing for you to do is get back in your car and drive every day until this fear leaves you."

A few days later, we received a bill for $30 on the other car. When I protested that I had been crowded into the hill, the driver of the other car said, "You admitted before six witnesses that it was your fault." We paid the bill.

143143 No one was more pleased than I to abandon that old dugway. Now I could go see Mama and Papa without having the urge to get out of the car and peek around the spooky point, before driving around it. Oh joy! Now I could breeze along above the river and the ledges. In fact, Hurricane became so suddenly close that I could walk it in minutes if I pleased. that's what I thought, but that was mostly a pipe dream, what with two little youngsters. Be that as it may, to me, amongh the greatest unsung heroes are road builders and bridge builders. Gratefully I salute them!

Winferd and I were both board members of the Stake Sunday School, with Frank Barber as Stake Sunday School Superintendent. Brother Barber's enthusiasm was a constant joy to us. He made each stake visit and each board meeting seem like a delightful social event. My position was a new one, Cradle Class Representative. My job was to get Cradle Classes started in the wards. This assignment brought a lot of fun, working with the women in our ward making rag dolls and stuffed toys. LaVerkin ward was the Pilot Ward in the Stake. Winferd was also serving as a trustee on the LaVerkin Town Board.