Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton

Chapter 32
Gordon
(1943)

199 With the exodus of farmers from our area, our ward suffered a man shortage. The Young Men's Mutual Organization had been dissolved, and Vilate Hardy carried on as Young Women's president, with Geneva Segler and me as her counselors. Although our numbers were few, we had a lot of good times together.

Vilate and her husband, George, were in the turkey business at this time. In the springtime, Vilate asked us to come to her home to an officer's and teacher's meeting, which also included the bishopric. Actually, it was a surprise party for all of us. She had prepared a most extravegant turkey dinner for the crowd.

In April, Bishop Squire and his two counselors attended conference in Salt Lake City. This was a special occasion for Winferd.

Percy and LaVell Wittwer had moved from Las Vegas to Orem, Utah, where Percy worked as an electrician for Geneva Steel. One day in April he was killed in an accident at the roller mills. We were stunned at the news. It seemed impossible that our ranks would ever be broken. LaVell was left with four little children, her baby being only three months old.

Shirley was a cute littler talker by now, but she had one real hang-up. She hated to have her hair combed. It was so curly that it took the two of us to get the job done. Winferd would hold her on his knee while I brushed and wound her shining ringlets around my fingers. Winferd's eyes lit up with admiration as he looked on. Then he'd set her down, and she'd take hold of his hand, and together they'd walk in the yard, Winferd chuckling at her constant chatter. She'd stoop to watch the ants among the leaves, and make little beds for them in the grass.

"There now, nice little bug, go to sleep," she'd purr.

She couldn't pronounce "Gubler," so she called herself, "Shirley Booger." This always brought gales of laughter from the kids, which pleased her, so she'd say it over and over. Even after she learned to say "Gubler," she still referred to herself as a "nice booger."

One day she shut the window on two of her fingers, taking the nail off one. Her crying stopped as she watched me wrap each finger. "Nice dollies," she cooed. "Shirley Booger's nice dollies." She kept the rags on her fingers a day or two longer than necessary, because she loved her "dollies."

And my how she loved DeMar. Although he teased her to tears every day, she always coaxed, "Come on DeMar," when she went out to play.

On July 28, our little boy Gordon was born. When LaVell Hinton placed him in my arms, I felt like all the angels of heaven rejoiced. Cute! Oh my yes! His dark hair hung down over his flannel nightgown, and the quizzical look on his little face let me know he was eager to find out what life was all about. Gordon was born at LaVell Hinton's maternity home, and of course McIntire was our doctor.

200 When Gordon was a week old, his cousin, Leon Duncan, was born at LaVell's also. Ardella and I had one full week togther there, with our husbands visiting us in the evenings. The event took on a social atmosphere.

The Fruit Grower's Association had imported Japanese help, and peach picking was in full swing when I came home with my baby. John Judd hired a Japanese merchant from San Francisco, who came to pick fruit during his vacation. The man and his wife lived in the northeast basement room of our new home. My cousing, Sylvia Gifford, was our hired girl. She did our cooking and housework, but since it was peach bottling time, there was an extra load.

As I prepared to help, the Japanese lady said, "Oh no! In Japan a mother never puts her hands in water until her baby is one month old."

She stayed right in our kitchen and helped Sylvia until our bottling was all done. Her husband was right at Winferd's side as soon as his day's work in John Judd's orchard was done. Landscaping was the man's hobby. Our garden and yard never got such a grooming as it did at this time. Both the man and Winferd seemed to be having an unusually happy time together. These people were of the very highest calber. So were the four Japanese boys who picked Winferd's fruit. They lived in a tent under the poplar tree on the square.

The Secretary of War had marked off military areas to provide for moving American born Japanese, as well as enemy aliens. Under the office of War Relocation Authority, camps for displaced Japanese were set up, some of them in Utah. This is how the Japanese happened to be working in our area. With their help, the Fruit Grower's Association shipped 107 carloads of fruit from here in 1943. It takes 528 bushel to make one car load.

I was absorbed with bathing the baby, when Bishop Squire entered. He didn't come to see Winferd, as I had supposed, but to see me.

"The Lord has directed us to ask you to be YWMIA president," he said simply.

I gathered my baby in a blanket, and sinking into a chair, gazed silently at the bishop. Was I hearing right? How could I think of MIA with my baby so new? Did the Lord really know about this?

Seeming to read my thoughts, the bishop said, "We discussed this in bishop's meeting, and your husband approves. You will be blessed in the selection of your counselors and will find joy in this calling."

What was there left to say but, "I'll do it."

Belva Sanders and Ellen Woodbury were sustained as my counselors, and Lucille Gubler as secretary. The YMMIA was also organized, with George Sandstrom as YM president, and Horatio Gubler as both counselors, and Walter Church as secretary.

On October 21, Tell's wife, Audrey, died. Her passing was as sudden as Percy's had been. This came as a terrible shock. It seemed incredible that our ranks could be broken again so soon. Audrey left four little 201 children between the ages of ten and two. Tell was returning from a scout training school in New Jersey. Audrey died from a heart attack in the morning, and he arrived home that afternoon. Since Tell had to be away to earn a living, Grandma Gubler took care of his children.

At the close of 1943, ration stamp books were still in force. Many canned goods were rationed, as well as sugar, meat, butter, fats, oils, gasoline, tires, and building materials. Rents were frozen at the July 1 level. Americans were urged to buy more war bonds and U.S. savings stamps. School children gathered scrap metal and scrap rubber for the war effort. People were urged to turn in all of their bacon drippings and every spoonful of grease. In fact, they were almost made to feel guilty if they used any to cook with. One patriotic woman proclaimed, "It is better to give the fat to our country, than to carry it on our hips." Thus was the state of affairs with the people.

The world itself was restless. This was the year the little spiral of smoke curled up from a Mexican corn field, and the volcano Paricutin, was born. This was the first recorded volcano where man actually witnessed its birth. It built its cone 1,200 feet above the plowed sod.