Page 44 – Edith Johnston – part 2

I Introduced you to Edith Johnston in my last submittal to this fine old small town newspaper. Edith grew up in this neck of the woods, living in several small southeastern Utah communities.

Some of them, like Danish Flat, are now only memories. Speaking of memories, Edith had plenty, and she wanted to share them with the next generations of her family. Perhaps she didn’t know that what she wrote would tweak the interest of some of us non-relatives who grew up in the same country and wanted to understand our own roots better by reading her history.

That was certainly the case with me as I often dream of what it would be like to go back in time and drop in for a cup of coffee and have a chance to chat with the folks who were living in my own backyard and working much harder than I ever had to in an effort to make a living for their families.

Our neighbors from just a couple or three generations back knew how to work hard, play hard, pray hard and appreciate the very little things that too many of us nowadays don’t think twice about. It took Edith 36 years to put her life down on paper, completing it at the age of 85. Would you call that endeavoring to persevere or persevering to endeavor? Following are some excerpts taken, hit and miss, from her memoirs:

One time while living at Cisco (probably about 1925 when she was 14) we borrowed some sheepman’s horses to go riding. We were short one, so I saddled up a pack mule. He was gentle, had been packed, but never ridden. I got on him and we started out. Out a ways from town, he decided he didn’t like the bridle bit and me trying to guide him. So he brayed a couple of times and took off.

We went for a ride, just the mule and I. The others couldn’t keep up with us. I couldn’t guide him. So we visited the old sheep camps and that night come back into Cisco. I rode all day till he took me back to Cisco. I knew if I ever got off, I could not get back on, and I’d have to walk back. So I just stayed on him till he took me home.

On November 12, 1929, I turned 18. I was old for my grade. I was in the 10th grade. Wayne Johnston and I decided to get married as soon as I was 18. So he worked till the 17th, got his two month pay check, which was 90 dollars and rode a horse from Castleton to Cisco.

There he caught the four o’clock train for Grand Junction where I was going to school. I had a terrible cold, but I got up early the morning of the 18th, bathed and washed my head. Then I caught the bus as usual.

Leda got up when I did, and she didn’t have to go to school as early as I. I knew Wayne would come to the school to get me. So I was waiting anxiously for them to call me to the office. It seemed like ages before they did. So when he arrived, I just told them at the office I was getting married and was dropping out of school. We went down town to the court house and got our license and found a preacher.

Wayne had all my wedding clothes at his room. We went down there and I changed clothes. He hadn’t said anything about a ring. I was really bashful, but I asked him finally if he had one. He said, “No, do you want one?” I said “Yes,” so we went and bought a ring, engraved band, cost eight dollars.

It was just noon when we got to the preacher’s. His wife went across the street and got a neighbor lady to come and witness along with her. The preacher had a little boy about two years old. He entertained us while they were all getting ready. Then we were married and went and ate lunch.

When I didn’t come home that night of the 18th, my mother thought I might’ve stayed with Aunt Kate. The next day Wayne hired a little old guy to go out to the place and get my clothes, etc. I had two trunks. I had packed them as well as I could without mother getting suspicious! So we went out.

As soon as mother seen us, she knew what we’d done, and she was pretty upset. We both stepped up on the step. She opened the door and yanked me inside and shut the door in Wayne’s face. She tried to keep me from taking my things, but I went ahead and took them anyway. I pushed the trunks to the door, and Wayne and the little guy loaded them. It was quite a deal.

Then we went home, on the train, the next day to Cisco. I think we had about 85 dollars, and that was it. The Johnston’s ran the hotel then, and they helped us get started. They had some small cabins. We moved into one of them. I think we ate some of our meals at the Hotel. Mother Johnston served family type meals at a big long table.