Leah Pettingill Kimber

I was born on February 3, 1918 at Brigham City, Utah in the Dr. Pearce Hospital.

My father was Keith Lavious Pettingill. My mother was Nora Adalaid Pettingill.

There were five boys and five girls in our family, Don, Farren, Bob, Blaine and Dennis, Rhea, Delores, Ruth and Maxine. I am a twin sister to Rhea and we are the eldest children of the family. (Whenever I refer to “us” in my childhood, I refer to my twin sister, Rhea and myself.)

When we were born, we were seven-month-old premature babies and were very small. She weighed less that two pounds and I weighed two and one-half pounds. We were placed in incubators for quite a while (Rhea longer than I). Dad told us he could hold us in the palm of his hand. Dad was an Army Bugler in France during World War I and Mom and Rhea and I lived with Mom’s mother and sisters and I guess we had lots of good care. After Dad returned from the Army, we lived at Howell, Utah on a dry farm owned by Dad’s Mother, Grandma Pettingill. We then moved to Honeyville, then to Ogden, where Dad accepted a job with a good friend of his, Will Barnard, who owned a laundry.

While in Ogden, we lived in a duplex with Mom’s sister and her husband, Aunt Lucy and Uncle Bill. Mom and Aunt Lucy were very close and Dad and Uncle Bill had been in the Army together and we used to do many things together as a family.

We used to go fishing almost every night and on weekends we would pitch our tents and sleep near the river.

In about 1925 when we were about seven or eight years old we lived on Tyler Avenue in Ogden. I and Rhea and Blaine and Bob lived and played together in the scrub oak that abounded in the mouth of Ogden Canyon. One time we made a bed for our little “Brother Baby” and put him in the bed. He was about two years old and a couple of days later our “baby” was very sick with poison oak. We had made him a bed of poison oak and he had this poison oak break out on him every year until he was a teenager.

We used to go to the circus that was camping about four blocks from where we lived. Blaine and Bob would work carrying water to the elephants and they would sneak me and Rhea and our friends under the tent to see the show. Great fun.

We used to spend lots of time playing hide ‘n seek in the alfalfa field next to our house and it was always I and Rhea against Blaine and Bob.

I caught diphtheria and almost died. I was very sick. Dad decided to move out of the house into Aunt Lettie’s house so he wouldn’t get the disease but he was the only other one of us that got it. The doctor said Mom saved our lives by “swabbing” our throats with cotton on a stick and then painting our throats with Mercurochrome.

Once we kids were playing outside and it started to rain. We all got soaking wet before we quit the sand box and came inside. A few days after, Blaine became awfully sick and they took him down to the hospital, which was only three or four blocks from where we lived. He had gotten pneumonia. He was very sick and we were very scared.

In 1929 we moved to 1929 Grant Avenue. I always remembered the address from the year and the year from the address.

I and Rhea were really good writers and won several certificates at school for our hand writing. We represented our school in a city spelling contest and Rhea lasted to the last round and misspelled “hippopotamus.”  How sad we were.

In the winter we would build snow forts and bombard each other with snowballs and have lots of fun. We had barrel-stave skis too and would take these skis and our sleds up to Dee Hill and the city would block off the street and put ashes at the bottom so we wouldn’t go out onto Washington Blvd. The boys would build a big “jump off” that we would ski over.

The Summers on Grant Avenue were fun also. We would get together with the neighborhood children and play run sheepy run, Hide ‘n seek, jacks, marbles, singing, or just tumbling on the lawn.

Mom and Dad loved to dance and he wanted us girls to learn to dance also, so he would take us to the dance hall, one at a time, to teach us how to dance. We thought it was neat that our Dad would teach us where big people were.

Times were tough then, money was scarce. Many people were out of jobs and we didn’t get much for Christmas, but I remember Mom and Dad saving up “coupons” to get one doll for us and then they saved enough money to get another so we both got a big doll.

To get to school we would take a shortcut through the railroad yards that were between us and the Grant school. We would climb over the couplings of the two cars and lots of times would just get over when they would start slowly to move. It was dangerous and we were told not to go that way, but we would. Years later one of the neighborhood boys was killed by climbing over those cars.

We would go to a show almost every Saturday. It cost a whole dime to get in and five cents for a bag of popcorn.

We would go to the cemetery across from Dee School and catch chameleons. We spent lots of our Summers at Lorin Farr Park, where we learned tap dancing, harmonica band playing and acting. We later played our harmonicas with the Dee School Harmonica Band, which was featured on a radio program.

We would save our pennies and usually on Saturday the ice cream man would come. He pushed a cart and we could buy ice cream for a nickel.

We would stay with Grandma Hadley in Brigham sometimes, to help her pick beans and haul hay. We would put citronella on our face and hands to pick beans because when you moved the plants a horde of mosquitoes would come out at you. In 1932 Grandma died and Dad gave up his job and we moved to the farm.

What a transition it was, living on a farm. In Ogden we lived in a nice house that had hot and cold running water, indoor plumbing, kitchen cabinets, warm rooms and many neighborhood kids to play with. The farm made us all grow up in a hurry, I believe. In the winter we would have to make sure there was a bucket of water in the house so that in the morning we could heat that bucket of water to thaw out the well so we could pump water for the house. We had no kitchen cabinets, just a cupboard to work on and had to heat dish water for dishes. We would have to go outside to the toilet and take baths in a big tin tub by the stove. We would wash hands in a wash basin on a stand. The boys chopped wood to keep the wood stove going for cooking and to heat the large kitchen and usually in the evening Dad and Mom would make a fire in the front room and we would gather in there around the piano or stove and chat, eat ice cream, etc. The boys learned to milk cows  and we all pitched in and hauled hay, thinned beets, picked beans all summer to buy our clothes to go to school.

My parents had quite a struggle as these were the years of the Great Depression and there were no jobs, no money and much misery. The Farm Security organized “Cooperatives” for farmers to share machinery and work for each other and Dad would take whatever job came along. A few years after this Dad had a good job with the U.S. Dept. of Defense at Hill Field and Ogden Arsenal and we got along well.

Rhea and I graduated from High School in 1937. Mom and Dad took us to the ice cream parlor for an ice cream sundae. This meant it was an important occasion. We made our own graduation dresses in school. Our graduation was in the Brigham City Tabernacle, where  important functions were held.

After this I attended Smithsonian Business College, while working at a Woolworth 5 & 10-cent store.

In 1939 I worked for Attorney Morrison, who later became a judge.

Blaine, Rhea and I moved to Brigham in two rooms of an upstairs house. We had to go downstairs to the bathroom and didn’t have any water upstairs, no cupboard, nothing. We had to make a fire in a little stove to heat it. We didn’t stay there long though, because Blaine married Betty Crowther and Rhea and I moved to another two room apartment near the old high school East of town. Rhea was going to Weber College and I was working as a secretary at Farm Security Administration, a job I enjoyed very much. It was while working here that Charles and I decided to get married.

I had been going with Charles Kimber for sometime. He was from Grouse Creek and my Mom and Dad liked him.

In 1939 I had to go to a Democratic meeting, followed by a dance, in order to keep my job, so Mom went with me and at that dance, I danced with “Junior” and we dropped him off at his sister’s, Chloe Tanner, with whom he lived. He was a bookkeeper in the First National Bank.

I had to have a partner to take to my Sorority Leap Year dance in Ogden and the girls in the Sorority wanted me to bring a Brigham boy so Mom suggested that I ask “Junior.”  It took a lot of courage but I asked him and we dated for two years after that.

Our boss at the Farm Security was going to California past the World Fair at San Francisco and Hannah Nicholas and I went with him and his wife and we stayed at Sugar City. When I came home, Charles had a diamond waiting for me.

We were married on October 11, 1940 in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. I wore a white satin dress with a “Dirndl” waist that I put long sleeves in to be married. This was the dress I had worn when I was Gold and Green Queen of the Harper Ward. We lived in an apartment at Hillams.

I also worked as a Clerk in the Box Elder County Draft Board and was working here when Charles was drafted.

On June 4, 1942 Charles left for the Army and was stationed in Alabama at Camp Rucker. I and a friend decided to go to Alabama to be with our husbands.

They found out we could play musical instruments (me the cornet and Beth, my friend, the clarinet). We taught band in the High school there. We taught those kids so well that they got some uniforms for them and went with the team to Montgomery.

Rhea had kept our apartment at Hillams for us while we traveled around and when Charles’ unit was transferred to Tennessee and then Arizona I came home to live. My first baby, Kaylene was born while Charles was on maneuvers in Arizona. Charles came home for three days to see her.

In 1943 I took Kaylene and went to Pismo Beach. I did not like it there because it was cold, foggy and noisy from the booming of the waves in the sea wall. We then moved to the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountain to Grass Valley. It was summer there and was beautiful.

I worked at Bushnell General Hospital as a confidential psychiatric secretary. While there, we received word that my brother Don had been killed in action at Cebu, Philippines.

Bob was seriously wounded in the Pacific. Charles was somewhere in the Pacific, New Caledonia or some other Island. We did not know where Blaine was. Gil was a Test Pilot in Africa. Arland had more or less been shot down in France. My Father, true to the patriotism displayed by this family, worked as a guard at Second Street, as well as Rhea, and Bob’s wife, Doris.

In 1945 the war ended and Charles returned to Utah and our home at Hillams and we went on with our lives. He saw Kaylene for the first time in three years.

I worked as a Society Editor for the Box Elder News and Journal for several years and loved it. It was very interesting work and good people to work with.

In 1949 we moved to a house on 1st North and 1st West, across the street from Delores and Gil and had a lot of fun. Connie Gail was born on July 22, 1949  while we lived there.

On December 28, 1950 Chuck, our only son, was born at the Cooley Hospital.

In 1950 Dad and I organized a Drum and Bugle Corps for the VFW. Dad taught the kids the bugle and I helped with drums and was band leader. This organization was made up of about thirty-three local kids. We went to the East Coast, the West Coast and all over Utah, marching in parades. They won first place, twice in National competition.

In 1951 we moved to Idaho on a homestead. We were young, thirty-three years of age and it was a real experience.

In 1956 we returned to Brigham, after selling the homestead and Charles went to work for Box Elder County Bank. We bought our home from Aunt Sarah Siggard.

About 1957 I went to work at the KBUH Radio station as manager of an auto insurance company, also owned by KBUH.

In 1957 I went to work at Thiokol Chemical Corporation as an Executive secretary to the Manager of Engineering. Our office was above Deseret Industries building in Brigham. I  was transferred to the plant west of Brigham and I did not want to be that far away from my children so I transferred to Personnel and interviewed females for hire for the TCC plant. They moved to the plant also, so once more I transferred to Procurement, who had then been moved to the Thiokol building now located North of Brigham. I was secretary to the Manager of procurement for the duration of my employment there. I finally had to transfer to west Brigham,  when the section of TCC was moved there. I worked at the plant for one year and finally decided it wasn’t work being so far away from the kids, so I terminated in 1967.

I then went to work at Cooley Memorial Hospital as a medical secretary. I then worked in the bookkeeping for the Call family, who owned the hospital. I was terminated in 1972 when Cooley sold to the Brigham Hospital, that had built a new facility Southwest of Brigham.

I love art, music, sewing and housekeeping. I took oil painting lessons, studied writing from a correspondence course at Utah State University and wrote several stories, for which I won some awards.

I am crocheting an afghan for each member of my family; to date I have ten done.

I taught machine quilting at many of the Ward Relief Societies and I made eleven quilts for my grandchildren and children for Christmas. I am starting all over again, and this Christmas they will all get another one, fourteen in all.

I love to read. I have read 179 books in the last five years via tapes that I receive through the Utah Blind Association.

I like to be outside in the garden and flowers. I love the wide-open spaces of this Utah; the trees, mountains, rivers, and the sage-covered expanses, with the purple mountain in the background. I see many beautiful things on the way to Grouse Creek that perhaps many people think ugly. They aren’t to me.

I have done a lot of genealogy on mine and Charles’ side. I was Relief Society President, taught in Mutual and Relief Society, was MIA President and Stake Secretary and at the present time I am the Home Management Teacher in Relief Society and help with music whenever asked. I also was Stake Music Director at the 16th ward.

I have taught myself to play the piano, and also learned to play the zither and the electronic keyboard. I have had no formal musical training; only from my father, who loved music. He taught me the cornet.

My favorite thing to do is to get my children and grandchildren together. We have many traditions for that reason. At Christmas time, Kaylene traditionally has us all at her house and we eat and Santa comes. At deer season we all go to Grouse Creek and spend time at the ranch. After the first of the year, we get together and go out to eat. Easter is another time we traditionally go to Grouse Creek and the little ones all love to go out there, as do Charles and I.

We have a wonderful family, Kaylene and Larry Seager, Connie and John Swanson, Charles and Cathy Kimber, Barbara and Douglas Davies and thirteen grandchildren.

Leah died on December 25, 1993 after a valiant battle with cancer and she was interred in the Brigham City Cemetery.