Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton

Chapter 34

202202 "Shirley," DeMar said, "When I'm a man I'm going to be bigger and stronger than you."

"Will you be fat like I'm going to be?" she asked.

"I'll be so big I can talk a whole lot of ladies down."

"Will you love me?"

"Naw. I'll go way off and marry my own mother. I don't know who she'll be though."

203203 On April 1, our number four son, Terry, was born. Early that Sunday morning he announced his intended arrival, but by the time I was ready with my suitcase, he had changed his mind. After all, this was April Fool's day. Besides, our nurse, LaVell Hinton, was to be out of town until the next day. But "just in case," we made emergency arrangements to go to the Bradshaw Maternity home in Hurricane.

Sunday evening, our baby became serious about coming, so Winferd hustled me and my suitcase into his rattle-trap truck. As he turned onto the highway, the irrestible sight of two hitchhikers greeted him. Winferd could never resist hitchhikers or hobos. Often he presented them at our dinner table, or brought them home for the night. This day was no different. Slamming on the brakes, Winferd squealed the truck to a stop.

"We're only going two miles," he called, "but if you'd like, you may hop aboard."

They hopped up behind the cab.

As he stopped to let them off, Winferd said, "This is where we turn. By the way, where did you say you were from?"

"Shreveport," one of them replied.

"That's green country, isn't it? You're a long way from home." He leaned leisurely back and proceeded to get acquainted.

Heavy pains, like the weight of a landslide, bore down upon me. I dug my fingers into the ragged upholstery of the car seat, clutching onto the bare springs.

"We're going to Phoenix," one of the hitchhikers was saying.

"I used to know a fellow from Phoenix—let's see, his name was—"

"Winferd," I whispered, "hurry!" I was doing my best to appear calm, but this little kid of ours—owe! Are hitchhikers any good at delivering babies, I wondered?

"Guess we'd better be going," Winferd said. "Have a nice trip."

At Bradshaw's, Emma ran to the phone. "Annabelle, we need the doctor quick," she said to Mrs. McIntire.

"He's in LaVerkin. Joe Gubler has had a stroke. I'll try to get him."

"Well," Winferd said, when he got the report, "I'll just run along home and get the kids their supper. I'll be back in plenty of time."

What a serene man!

Breathing shallow and holding a baby back doesn't sound like much. It's about as mild as trying to hold the world together under a bombing attack. Dr. McIntire and Terry both arrived at the same time. By the time Winferd returned, Terry had had his oil bath and I lay on my cool pillow thinking, "Thank Heavens!"

"Uncle Joe is pretty bad," Winferd said.

Uncle Joe Gubler, Grandpa's only brother, died on May 3.

Then came word from Germany that Willard Duncan had been killed by a booby trap on March 26.

"Oh no," I cried as Winferd brought me the news. "How can our family 204204 be hit so hard again so soon? First LaVell loses her companion, then Tell, and now Ardella! Which one will be next?"

I recalled the night the family had had a get-together to bid Willard goodbye as he went into the service. Ardella wept openly. As big tears slid down her cheeks, she sobbed, "I know he'll never come back." We tried to console her in vain. Her premonition had been correct. How sad we were.

While I was at Bradshaw's, Elizabeth Burgess' baby Robert was born there also.

In the afternoons, Bishop Bradshaw would sit by my bedside and read the daily paper to me. On April 12, Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage just 83 days after he had taken office as President of the U.S.A. for the fourth time. Within four hours, Harry S. Truman became the 33rd President. President Roosevelt had said he did not want a 4th term, but he felt that it was his duty to run so there would be no shake-up in leadership in the middle of a great war. Many people were opposed to the idea of one man being president for 16 years, and the Republicans had used this issue in their campaign. F.D.R. was the only president who had presumed to run even for a third term. The Democrats emphasized the danger of "changing horses midstream," and stressed the idea that an experienced man was needed to finish the war and establish lasting peace. President Roosevelt's fourth inaugural address was one of the briefest in American history—15 minutes. He did not live to see the Allied Victory in which he played so great a part.

On the 13th of April, Addie Naegle had a baby girl, Annette. Addie had chuckled about me having a baby on April Fool's Day. Now I chuckled about her having one on Friday the 13th.

On April 28, Italian patriots killed Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy. On May 1, it was announced over a Hamburg radio station that Hitler, "fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism, fell for Germany this afternoon in the Reich Chancellery." British intelligence officers later reported that Hitler had committed suicide on April 30, in the shelter of the Reich Chancellery, a day after his marriage to Eva Braun, who also chose to die by her own hand. However, despite this report, many persons who knew him, continued to believe that Hitler was alive. Whether he was dead or living in hiding, his dreams of a master race had collapsed, and Germany was humbled. The places connected with Hitler's rise to power were either completely destroyed, or left in ruins. Hitler had risen to dictatorship by the so-called "blood purge," in which he executed 1,100 persons. He had the Jews brutally robbed of their property and civil rights, and many hundreds of thousands were murdered. There was no question but what he was Satan's greatest ally.

On May 7, German emissaries entered a schoolhouse in Reims, France, where General Eisenhower had his headquarters. There they signed a surrender document, which was ratified in Berlin the next day. Germany was divided into four zones, occupied by the Soviets, British, French and the United States.

Just one week later, on May 14, President Heber J. Grant passed away. I will always remember President Grant most for his slogan, "That which you persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but the ability to do has increased." He visited our stake often. 205205 The church was smaller in those days, and always at quarterly conference time, we either had visitors from the First Presidency or from the Council of the Twelve. After President Grant's passing, George Albert Smith became the 8th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

On August 6, we had a George and Annie Isom family reunion at the old homestead on Kolob. The day was clear and sunny and the children had fun racing in the meadow among the pines. We pitched out tents early in the afternoon, then spent the evening around the campfire. The pine trees began to bend in a rushing wind that swept in with dark clouds, blotting out the stars. We hustled into our tents, and then a downpour came. The cracking of lightning and the clapping thunder made a deafening din, with the pelting rain. Finallly it subsided, leaving only the patter of gentle rain, and we slept. But somewhere in my subconscious, I could hear digging and splashing the whole night through. Morning found ditches dug around every tent. Kate had spent the night shoveling in the rain to keep us all from being washed away. Seems like she would have batted someone she knew over the head with the shovel, but she didn't. She just dug on. What love!

On the afternoon of August 7, Mama's birthday, we returned home. When we turned on the radio to get the 10 o'clock news, we got a ghastly report of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. A United States warplane had dropped an atomic bomb on this city of 343,000 population. Three days later, they dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, a city of about 200,000. 66,000 were killed in Hiroshima and 39,000 killed in Nagasaki. Thousands of others were injured. The reports of devastation were too terrible to think about. As awful as this was, it was still a life-saving effort. The United States figured the war would have lasted at least eighteen more months, with the loss of millions of lives, if this action had not been taken.

On August 15, Emperor Hirohito told the Japanese people, by radio, that Japan has lost the war. On Sept. 2, Tokyo time, the Japanese signed the formal surrender aboard the battleship U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay. Under MacArthur's direction, American troops occupied the Japanese home islands.

My brother William was a Lieutenant in the South Pacific. Ovando had served his time as radio technician and had returned home, and Donworth was still in the Air Force as a bombardier. Rationing was dropped on everything but sugar, after the fighting stopped.

On the home front, we had vacated our little house. We were moved into our new home. Instead of this being one big thrill, it was a culmination of a hundred thrills. Each time a closet was finished and painted, or a book shelf installed, or windows put in, Winferd would say, "Come and see." And we'd celebrate. And now, all of the individually finished parts became one great whole—a home, though admittedly, parts of it had already mellowed. But we didn't owe a cent. It was all ours, built without going into debt, except for tiny piece loans that Winferd paid off immediately.

What fun it was to cook our first meal in our new, sunny kitchen. Marilyn was cute the way she took over. Dishes were promptly done, and lovingly she swept up the crumbs, then thoroughly dusted the house.

Best of all, we had SPACE! Serene, beautiful space! No longer were we bumping into each other. With room to stretch, dispositions became sweet. When we were crowded, people were irritable, and meal time was often a devastating experience, because the whole house had to be cleaned again. 206206 When every inch of a house is lived in every minute of the day, a woman has to be cleaning and setting to rights with every breath she draws. Now, housekeeping was a breeze. It was as though we had burst from our cocoon.

But even a butterfly might possibly look back at the empty cocoon with some degree of tenderness. Often, while I was busy with the baby, Gordon, just barely turned two, would disappear. Usually we found him in the vacated mud house, sitting on the couch, his feet sticking out in front of him. On his solemn little face was a look of homesick longing. Sometimes in the evenings, both Gordon and Winferd vanished. We'd find them sitting together in the old house, listening to the radio that had remained in its forgotten corner.

Gordon was an independent little soul. He never troubled to ask for a drink when he was thirsty, but slid a chair up to the cups, got one, then climbed down, sliding his chair to the tap for his drink, then he'd slide the chair back to the cups and put his away. Whenever he opened a drawer, he shut it. He always put the spoon back that he had been digging in the sand with, dirt and all. At meal times, he slid everyone's chairs up to the table, then he'd go outside and call the others. Sometimes when the kids dawdled over their food, Gordon would say, "Eat, eat, eat."

Winferd had a small, red-handled scythe that was light and easy to swing. One Sunday afternoon, as we sat enjoying the cool shade of our front porch, Gordon took the scythe, swinging it at the weeds along the ditch.

"Look at him," Winferd exclaimed. "He's really cutting them down."

Persistently Gordon worked, the weeds falling under the scythe's sharp blade.

"Ah, he's my boy," Winferd observed. "He is going to be my companion and helper."

I am sure he little realized how prophetic his words were.

Gordon was a picture, in his short, blue linen pants, buttoned onto a blue and white striped shirt. His face glistened with perspiration, and his damp, thick hair curved softly on his forehead.

"He's a handsome one," Winferd said.

Chief Tillehash, of the Shivwit Indian Tribe, brought his family to LaVerkin and pitched camp in Grandpa Gubler's pear orchard at pear picking time. The Tillehash family harvested the crop for Winferd. The little papooses played among the trees, and the babies were laced up in their cradle boards and stood against the tree trunks on the shady side. The little tykes endured the gnats and flies patiently. Only their little hands were free. Indian babies are a marvel to me.

After the fruit was harvested, Winferd bought a second hand piano, and from Marilyn's beginner lesson book, I learned where middle "C" was on the keyboard. Now our house really became a home. We had a fireplace, which is the heart of a home, and now a piano, which is the pulse beat.

At MIA we often lacked a pianist to play the march tune for the classes to reassemble, so I decided to learn one piece, so I could pinch-hit when necessary. Secretly I practiced every time I found myself alone. Diligently I struggled to learn "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and 207207 was quite impressed when I could play it clear through without a mistake. Then the great moment came. Our pianist was absent. Max Woodbury was YMMIA president by now, and both the Young Women's and the Young Men's executives were holding a meeting in the recreation hall during class period. It was my turn to take charge. The time came to sound the chord on the piano. My heart began to pound. I wondered if I dared. Bolstering my courage, I walked to the piano. Pretending to be calm, I sat on the piano bench as if I'd been playing in public all my life. I struck the first chord, which was masterful and beautiful. Out of the side of my eye I saw my counselors suddenly sit up to attention. Then it was time to play. To my horror, the piano keys began to swim. And so did the room! Extreme stage fright gripped me. I could not see one single note on the keyboard. Still, I knew that I knew how to play. Sliding from the bench, I'm not sure whether I walked, or crawled back to the others. The only thing that prevented me from perishing with a stroke was everyone's hearty laughter. I laughed too.

"I've practiced for weeks for this moment," I confessed

"It was a great start," Max assured me.

With the first frost in the fall, I brought my household plants inside. When the plant stand in front of the south windows became crowded, Winferd built me a wire glass greenhouse over the southwest basement windows. From these open windows, I could work inside with perfect ease. Verbenas and geraniums bloomed all winter, filling the basement with their fragrance.

On December 30, Bishop Loren Squire was released, which meant that Winferd and Leonard were also released from the bishopric. Winferd's brother Horatio was sustained as the new bishop with Roland Webb and Carl Church as his counselors.