Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton
Chapter 23
Marilyn
(1934)

132 "Winferd," I called, shaking him out of a deep sleep. "Wake up. You'd better get McIntire quick."

Something had jolted me wide awake, just after midnight on the eleventh of January. Winferd jumped out of bed, ran to the kitchen and vigorously cranked the power company phone. At the power plant, LaVina Brooks answered.

"Sister Brooks, get the doctor quick. Our baby is coming."

Shivering, I huddled in a blanket on our homemade couch, while Winferd built a fire.

When Dr. McIntire arrived, he asked, "Is the baby to be born on the couch?"

"No. We're going to move the bed in here," Winferd replied.

"Well, somebody better move fast."

The doctor and Winferd lugged bedding, mattress and our homemade wooden bed into the front room by the fire. By the time the top sheet was on, our baby had arrived. Sweat poured down Winferd's pale face, but he was grinning.

"Go get your nurse," McIntire instructed. "I'll wait until you get back."

So Winferd awoke Mira Lemmon in the night, and stood over her while she gave the baby an oil bath, and swirled soft curls in her sikly black hair. Sister Lemmon wrapped her in a soft pink blanket and laid her in my arms. Our darling little daughter!

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Winferd gazed tenderly at her. "You know," he said, "I've always thought a baby wasn't worth looking at until it was at least six weeks old. But our baby doesn't look at all like a mud fence. She's beautiful!"

Every morning for two weeks, Winferd went in the car after Sister Lemmon, who bathed the baby and me. My cousin, Hazel Spendlove, was the hired girl who did all of the housework. If I even so much as leaned up on my elbow, someone would say, "Lie down! If you don't lie still, you'll be sorry."

133 Old ladies frightened me with tales of invalid mothers who either died early, or suffered a lifetime of misery because of their foolishness during the critical two weeks after childbirth. I lay still and suffered. On the fifteenth day I was permitted to sit up a little. My head spun. On the sixteenth day I tried to stand. My feet tingled when they touched the floor. When I tried to walk across the room, I staggered. Hazel left at the end of six weeks, and I almost cried in the dish pan.

Marilyn was fed every four hours, and even if she cried her little eyes out, we didn't futch one minute. She was never picked up when she cried. The Government Bulletin said babies learned to get attention by crying. So she was changed, or picked up only when she was good. She wasn't neglected. She never stayed wet a minute. I washed two dozen diapers every day. But the thing Marilyn protested most was being put to bed after her six o'clock feeding in the evening. She wanted to play. The book said to put her down and leave the room, so I did, and she cried until eight every night.

A germ wouldn't have dared get near her. I wouldn't even take her to Sacrament meeting to be blessed, for fear someone would breathe on her. She was blessed at home.

The baby kept me so preoccupied that I had no time to think about leaving the canyon. But another June was approaching, and with it, the end of our contract. The little mud house in LaVerkin was looking more homey each day, for now it was plumbed, and the kitchen cabinets installed.

As we anticipated moving, I realized that life at the springs had been an adventure. There had been sweet times, like family gatherings at baptisms, and funny times, when we were awakened to the laughing and splashing of swimming parties that came in the night.

We had a system for checking up on spontaneous parties. The light switch to the pool was just inside our kitchen door. One of us, usually Winferd, went to the pool, then the other one flipped the switch, flooding the building with lights.

One night, when the plunging and splashing awoke us, I went ahead, and Winferd turned on the lights. Moonlight, streaming through the doorway, revealed a group playing back-out in and out of the water. As the lights came on, four nudes came racing on the wet cement toward me. Seeing me, three men dove into the water, but the man on lead skidded, landing on his back, with his feet almost touching mine.

Bewildered, he grinned and said, "Hello."

Winferd had arrived by that time, and I retreated.

"We didn't want to disturb you," one of the men said. "We left the money for our swims on the little shelf by your office door."

And they had. They were business men from Cedar, returning home from a convention in Las Vegas.

The next time squealing and splashing awoke us, Winferd went first, and I turned on the lights. Pink bodies, screaching and running, disappeared out the back door. Clothes hung on pegs in the dressing rooms, but no one returned for them until the afternoon of the following day.

134 Chagrined boys and girls had climbed barefoot and naked, up to the canal, through boulders and brush, and waded home. Some of them lived on the opposite side of Hurricane.

On Easter weekends, there were more people in the pool than water. This was the busiest time of the year—the one time when the money rolled in. Pleasant memories lingered as I recalled the Sunday School classes, Scout Troops, and family gatherings at the pool. I thought of Will and Maria Simpkins, the people we lived with the first year I went to college.

Sister Simkins came to bathe for her arthritis. Will also needed to soak his black and blue face. When asked what happened to him, Will replied, "Maria hit me."

"Honest Will, did she do that?" someone asked.

Sister Simkins' hands were so crippled with arthritis she couldn't have hit anyone. What really happened was that when Will started to hobble his milk cow, she kicked him before he was through, and the loose hobble struck his face.

Their granddaughter Glennis stayed at the springs for two weeks with them. Every afternoon, she and I went in the pool, where I tried to each her to swim. She was such a skinny little kid that she never even learned to float, but trying to teach her was fun.

For the past two years I had been swimming daily, except for the time when Marilyn came. Now I wondered—was I hooked on swimming? Could I stand not to swim? Each time I went to town to look at our little house, and to breathe the smell of fresh plaster and new pine lumber, I had no question where my heart was.

Johnny Larson took over the springs on the first day of June and we moved into our home.

Aside from the stove, refrigerator and radio, the furniture in our home was made by Winferd. The couch was made from old barn boards and car spring seats, firmly padded, and covered with an Indian blanket. He made the Early American cabinet for our books and radio, and he made the table and our bed. Kate painted a wood scene with squirrels and a little boy, on unbleached muslin curtains, that served as a closet door beneath the high fruit shelves. Our new little home was as cleverly and compactly arranged as a sheep wagon, and we loved it.

President Roosevelt had some kind of surplus buying program going, and the government bought our little range cow that Grandpa Gubler had given us, for $14.00. With the money, we bought a crib for Marilyn—our first real purchase since moving to LaVerkin.

My first ward job was to teach Trail Builder boys in Primary. I taught the Blazers, Helen Glendenning the Trekkers, and Aunt Harriet Woodbury the Guides. We planned all of our activites together—kite tournaments, cook-outs, and home coming programs. Day after day, our boys molded clay animals and little farmers from the smooth, sub-soil from our basement. When the little models were cured and dried, they painted them with poster paints and shellacked them. Aunt Harriet designed a farm yard, buildings and all, making tile roofs from corrugated pasteboard. The Home Coming display was cute and clever. Aunt Hattie and Helen were two of the most tireless and devoted Gospel Teachers that have ever touched my life.