On a bleak, wintry day, January 4, 1926, in a very humble, small, weather-worn log-cabin, at Grouse Creek, Utah, there came the gustachous wail of a newborn, buxom baby boy. So entered the object of this narrative into the second estate.
This vibrant infant came into the home of a very lovely, and loving, couple, two more generous parents could not be found up and down the valley. (Or was it that all of the others had voted in the negative?) Thomas DeWitt and Clara Ethel [Frost] Warburton, were the proud parents to their fifth young ‘un, respectively, Irene, Ira, Belle, Calvin, and then, I. The sixth youngster was still trying to make up his mind if he needed this sojourn. As a matter-of-fact, it took him four years to make up his mind to enter upon the scene; and then, he (Ernest–Ernie) had to come in first-cabin; via the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. This, then, constituted the tight-knit little family of Tom’s and Ethel’s. Again, no more doting parents could one want! The kinship and discipline that they fostered and nurtured grew in intensity over the years. What a nice surrounding in which to spend this mortal probation.
It will be necessary for me to rely on secondhand accounts of my infancy. The impressions and thoughts of my kin, who have since departed the scene, are my only source of reference for this period. In brevity, I have been told, by Mom and Irene, especially, that my early tenure was relatively quiescent. So long as I had a full belly and a dry bottom, there wasn’t a whole lot to squawk about. (Those facets haven’t changed materially over the many decades since.)
At the age of three, I was taken to the LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, to have some gross tonsils snipped out. I distinctly remember two things about that occasion: (1) My very first impression of height . . . as I looked from an upper floor of that building; and (2) strawberry ice cream, for the first time, became an instant second-heaven.
Not too long thereafter, I recall staying at home with my two older brothers and sister, Belle (I’m not able to bring Irene’s whereabouts into focus) while Mom and Dad were away conning Ernie to put in an appearance. At that time, we were living at Etna, in a modest home, basically, known as the Morris Place: No electricity, no indoor facilities, a wood-burning kitchen stove, and in the dining room, a pot-bellied heating stove. When the wind really got to cutting-up, the house would shiver and creak. One could hear the chinking-plaster, from between the logs, as a piece of it broke off and rolled down behind the muslin-backed wallpaper. Over the years, we moved in and out of that home as many as three times. (Others that I recall were the Clarence Richins house at Grouse Creek, the Horseshoe Ranch on Goose Creek, the big, rock house (home place) at Etna. On the last tenure, much had changed. I was the proud owner. Good fortune had smiled upon me. This ranch we operated in conjunction with Dad’s lease on the Rosebud Ranch, some fifteen-twenty miles east. Jointly, they provided a good winter and summer livestock-producing entity. The “good fortune,” a lovely lady, (Marion Elizabeth Muir) had stepped off the train in Montello, Nevada to teach school. She became my wife (at my sister Belle’s home in Morgan, Utah – June 18, 1949; later solemnized in the Idaho Falls, Idaho Temple in 1953) and joined me at Etna. What a thrill! – Not to get a head of the narrative, ok?
Essentially, the days of my youth were spent as were most other lads’ of that vintage. Work and play around the ranches doing odd jobs that young people do, milk cows (Strangely, I recall, to voice a few, milking cows with Irene and Cal’–began when I was about five or so. I do not recall, to ever doing so with Ira [don’t recall him ever stooping under one], nor Belle); feed the horses, slop (always hated that term…and the long-carry of the five-gallon bucket) the pigs–and herd them; herding horses; change the water on the pasture; cut the lawn and rake the yard; chop (chop, chop, chop) the wood; shock the grain, sort the spuds, pull the sagebrush, and tag along with the men, on horseback, whenever their activities were relatively local in nature. Vividly, do I recall riding along behind their horses ahead of me, in the darkness, as we would wend home after working cattle in one of the distant fields, and watch the sparks fly as their shod hooves struck the rocks.
Any account of my youth, without reference to my very best (ultimate) buddy, Ernie, would be void. How often have I (do I yet) recount the hours and days of pleasure that we derived, whether running around haystacks, through corrals, under sheds, and the like,…to playing marbles in chalk-circles drawn on the linoleumed living room floor (to mother’s chagrin; bless her, she stood it well) while the gale-like, wintry, nighttime blasts made the windows rattle. I have no doubt that the bond born of this early association was germination to the lifelong mutual respect and admiration that has grown ever since..How fortunate! I need to relate one humorous incident that happened while we were Summering at the Horseshoe one year. Ern was small enough that he had to have Mom unlatch his suspenders in order for him to go to the toilet. So-o-o-o, she had done so on this occasion; there went Ern plodding along the gravel path down to the outhouse. I had my BB-gun at that time, and I thought that it would be a superb opportunity to spook him a little bit. I took careful aim at the pathway, about ten feet behind him, and pulled the trigger. Man-a-live! He jumped and squalled like a banshee Indian. (Apparently the BB had skipped and plastered him on the bare-behind.) Bottom-line: Mom came rushing out of the house to find out whereabouts lay the trouble. Into her hands went the BB-gun; and I didn’t see hide-nor-hair of it for many a day, believe me.
Later youth came on early. By ten, I was running a dump-rake in the hay crew as it moved from ranch to ranch stacking the wonderful meadow hay. From that time on, adolescence turned essentially into manhood. (From the age of fourteen, I have been at least six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds.) Most of my associations were with the fully-adult men as they handled the cattle and horses that meant the livelihood for several families residing in the valley.
School days during this early life were at Grouse Creek. Transportation was by automobile, when the weather permitted, by bobsleigh, when the snow proved too great a challenge. Great times! As schooling at Grouse Creek came to an end (with the tenth grade), one of the people who influenced my life grossly was Whitney Young, our teacher and principal. Let it be said: He warped-it-to-us! “Midnight-oil” was a common factor. Of the two or three people who have influenced my life positively, the most, I certainly thank him for being in my itinerary. Studies since have been a bonanza.
High school at Bear River High School was two-years of most enjoyable experiences. A vote of confidence placed me as runner-up for Student Body President. President of the Boys’ Club followed-on. Football and basketball were participated in and first team status achieved. In May 1943, it was my pleasure to give the Valedictory Address for our graduating class…Not to be overlooked, during the last year of this sojourn, I became totally enamored with a sweet, young lass from Garland. Alas! Providence saw fit for it not to follow through to fruition–months of anguish and sorrow were my forte.
My endeavors returned to ranch life until February 1945, at which time I was inducted into the U.S. Navy. Subsequent to this stint in the military, I returned to the ranch, became a husband, and took on the responsibility as head of the house. 1950 found us sold out at Etna and at the Rosebud. Marion was teaching school at Granite High School in Salt Lake City. I was enrolled at the University of Utah. January 1951 was kind enough to provide me with a [greetings from the president] and recall to military service for a portion of the Korean War.
By the time that we returned to the Ogden area, Marion was in a family-way with our anticipated first one. A move to a ranch (farm) at Richfield, Idaho (Marion’s expectancy terminated on January 16, 1953 with the advent, at Twin Falls, of Mark Richard Warburton, our son.), followed a temporary stop in Riverdale, Utah. Our joint venture at establishing a couple of sections of pasture land and feeding-out cattle was less than successful. In 1953, we moved off the ranch and into Twin Falls, Idaho. This, too, proved to be a temporary stop. In 1954, Firestone Stores allowed me to transfer to the Salt Lake City store. I would work for them in the daytime and attend LDS Business College at night. This was pretty much the routine until an opportunity presented itself for Ernie and me to venture forth in private enterprise again, a Union Oil dealership in Roy, Utah. Marion and I, with Mark and Gwen Mary (a pretty little fixin’, with an abundance of curly, red hair, had put in her appearance on the 2 June, 1955), moved to Ogden to make ready to take over the dealership. Ernie and his family, at that time, were with Firestone at Missoula, Montana…Again, providence frowned upon our venture, necessitating our pull-out in early 1957. Reynold Philip came to join our family while we were living in Ogden on November 24, 1956.
It might be apropos to enter a comment or two about a feed yard that Ernie and I assisted Dad in constructing during our off-time. The yard was located between the two mills in West Ogden. Dad operated it until the State came along and condemned it for the passage of the I-15 freeway, necessitating a less than true-value sale.
Hereafter, we, (Marion and I) determined that it would be beneficial for us to capture the benefit of time already invested in military service. Mid-1957 found me enlisted into the U.S. Coast Guard. Outfitting was completed at Alameda, California and orders placed me at Base Seattle within a month’s time. Shortly thereafter, Marion sold our home in Ogden and moved to Seattle.
In January 1958, orders directed me to report aboard ship–USCGC Sedge at Cordova, Alaska. Some four months later I was able to get the family moved there, also. (Rest assured, the ensuing year-and-a-half promised many, many pleasant experiences; concurrently, for sure, there were many trials not so pleasant…Overall, it was during this assignment that I met one of the other men-in-my-life who shaped it positively for the future. A tougher taskmaster I have never known, the Skipper, Kevin L. Moser–Captain Midnite; second-best was not acceptable. His discipline and requirements set the tenor that made all subsequent duty assignments pretty much common-place.
November 1959 found us winging our way to Seattle to pick up our car which had been in storage while in Alaska, no place to drive in Cordova, the longest stretch was a dead end, thirteen-mile drive. Thence, to San Diego for six months of advanced training in medical and surgical procedures at the U.S. Naval Hospital. This experience was really gratifying. At graduation, I placed third in a class of fifty or so. The first place went to a two-year medical student; second place went to a graduate pharmacist; the grade spread between all three of us was less than one-tenth of a point.
Graduation precipitated orders to Boston, Massachusetts for duty aboard the USCGC McCullough, a 311-foot cutter utilized for ocean-station patrol. This tour of duty allowed me to visit all the mid-Atlantic ocean-stations Bravo through Echo, Bermuda, Newfoundland, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Pierre, and Guatemala, Cuba-to say nothing of sundry east coast U.S. ports. In mid-1961, I reported to Base Boston for duty; shortly thereafter, to the U.S. Public Health Hospital at Brighton Mass. as Coast Guard Liaison.
During this eastern tour of duty, we lived in Hingham, Quincy, and Boston, Mass. The stay in Boston was an experience that we could well have done without. Marion had let a girl friend con her into taking over the management of an apartment building on Beacon Avenue, close in…Happy day!
Mid-May, 1962, found us en route for Ogden, Utah. I placed the family in a home on Jefferson Avenue and continued on to Alameda for transhipment (Connies still in vogue) to Matsumae, Japan for “isolated duty,” of a year’s duration at USCG Loran Station Matsumae. (On a reasonable-clear day we could look across to the Russian mainland.) Not all of you can understand how grateful one felt as the plane landed at Midway on the return; and ultimately, Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, California. A month of compensatory leave, and one of regular leave, did much to restore acquaintance with my young family and wife.
July 1963 found us wending our way to Seattle for duty at Base Seattle. In 1964, I was ordered aboard the Cutter Klammath for Alaskan Fisheries Patrol in the Gulf of Alaska, and north in the Bering Sea, returning to Base Seattle upon it’s completion. July 1965 handed me a set of orders to report aboard the Icebreaker Northwind for “Atlantic-East Patrol.” This was indeed a unique experience. Through the Panama Canal, with a stop at Panama City, to New York City, at which time the World’s Fair was going on, to vicinity of Greenland for oceanographic work (At one place, a charge of dynamite was towed in the ship’s wake at a prescribed depth, and exploded according to predetermined schedule so that it could be monitored for record at the Ice Island Scientific Station on the other side of the globe. ..Conjecturally, might well have been one of the ways of confirming the extent of the Prudhoe Bay oil field.) We continued on across the southern sea lanes of Iceland doing similar oceanographic studies. Thence, into the North Sea and down into Copenhagen, Denmark for three days of “R and R.”Departure from Copenhagen found us wending our way up the coast of Norway. Rough weather rolled in upon us and during the ensuing battle, the chopper-hanger door came off its moorings and fell on one of the airmen. We attended him in sickbay to the best of our limited ability. Our accompanying Doc’–name eludes me at the moment–for this trip walked up to me as I stood at the rail watching the movement of the elements surrounding us (utterly awesome, and beautiful, at times) and asked me what I thought. About all I could do was explain to him that I thought that our patient was “going sour” (subluxated pelvis) and were we to continue on, at some point, the possibility probably would present wherein we would have to recommend to the Skipper that the mission be aborted to get him to appropriate treatment. (Skippers do not cotton lightly to such interference with their mission.) The Doc’ subsequently advised the Skipper that an opportunity should be made to off-load the patient at the earliest. Early next morning, we sailed down one of the most beautiful fjords in the world to Tromso, Norway. One of our planes from Stuttgart, Germany was on the airfield and took the patient off of our hands.
Not too much later, we had the misfortune of taking out one of the drive shafts (bearing froze up and scored the shaft). The vessel was ordered to Newcastle On Tyne, England for shipyard dry docking. Another of our major cutters was dispatched from the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Maryland with a new shaft for our vessel. Two weeks later, the job completed, we sailed on. (What a stop! If ever anyone got the red carpet treatment, we did. No American vessel had been in port in over twenty years.)
Our continuance found us in the Kara Sea (Russian domain) doing oceanographic studies. We were the first American vessel to ever enter and do so. Thereafter, we continued, essentially, north through the Barents and Laptev Seas across the top of Nova Zemula. (Keep in mind, this was at the height of the cold war.) I cannot explain the feeling that hit me when I awoke early one morning and stepped out the door to the catwalk railing. There, off the starboard quarter, about a thousand meters distance, steamed a Russian frigate/destroyer. Thereafter, we had one of their warships with us constantly while we were in adjacent waters. Daily over flights by one of their Badger bombers became routine.
The Skipper, even though it was charted as barely wide enough, could not take the chance of initiating an international incident by transiting the channel between the mainland (of Russia) and the island of Nova Zemula. Accordingly, we transited to/across the north and radioed into CG Headquarters, Washington, D.C. for permission to continue down through the Arctic Ocean/Chuckchi Sea, the Bering Straits and Sea, the Aleutian Chain – Unimak Pass, and across the Gulf of Alaska to Seattle – a relatively benign and short-termed voyage, by comparison. (Not so inconsequential, it would have constituted a circumnavigation of the globe by an American Icebreaker.) The immediate rejoinder was that we were not to cross the 100th degree of longitude under any circumstances. (At the time, no one could give a reason why; nor do I, to this day, have the slightest inkling as to the reason. Assuredly, there were many conjectures voiced, any one of which could well be valid.)
Our return brought us across the Arctic to the vicinity of the St. Joseph/Spitzburgen Islands, down the coast of Norway and a three-day R and R at Oslo. Crossing the Atlantic, we hit nasty weather, as did other ocean going vessels. One particular, The Orion, with a load of wheat radioed that it was taking on water. Water and wheat don’t mix well, right? We were dispatched to assist them, our skipper having seniority, obligated to on-scene command. In the interval, airdrops of pumping equipment were successful to the extent that they radioed that they were able to continue under their own power. We were released by Eastern Area Commander and steamed onward to New York. Luck wasn’t with us. Within 48 hours, The Orion radioed for assistance. We were ordered to make an about-face and come to their assistance. Ultimately, we made contact, and in moderating seas, we were able to get-by by mere escort duty in standby. Damn! what a slow voyage. After two or three days, they had completed enough damage control to ensure they could make New York without assistance. We were released and journeyed on our own to New York. Had to go into Brooklyn Naval Shipyard for minor repairs to one of the main-mast stays. Thence, back through The Canal, up the coast, and into Seattle some five months-plus later.
December 1965 gave me orders to the U.S. Public Health Hospital, Seattle, Washington as Coast Guard Liaison. Certainly, this was a most pleasurable period. Home with the family every night for a change. Concurrently, there was much pleasure working with professional people in such close proximity.
Since moving to Seattle in ‘63, we had lived on Queen Ann Hill (rental); Renton Washington (home rental). Marion had taken a school teaching job with the Renton School District, as all three of the kids were of school age. Renton (bought a home); Renton (bought a bigger, nicer home).
1968 provided me with a set of orders to Avendale Shipyard, Louisiana for pre-commissioning detail attached to the USCGC Boutwell. By hook ‘n crook, I was able to make a “lateral change” with another Chief, of my same specialty, who was then serving shipboard on the USCGC Staten Island, another icebreaker, homeported there in Seattle. He went to Louisiana (his family was on the southeast coast), and I reported aboard the Staten Island. To make the stories palatable, sufficeth it to say that the ensuing two years provided many varied experiences in the Arctic. One such occasion was with a scientific ice-exploration team, headed by the then leading “iceologist” in that field, Dr. Frankenstein (for real). One of our other icebreakers, Northwind was assisting exploration in the vicinity of Ice Island and needed resupplying. During our encounter in this task, I happened to be standing on the fantail, on a super-mild, sunny day. I glanced back at our wake. Holy mackerel! One of our screws spun-up to stand about half out of the water, then laid over on its side and sank. Unbelievable, right? We limped back to Seattle to drydock.
The subsequent year, ‘69, the Northwind, having petered-out as escort to the Manhattan, on her Northwest Passage attempt, resulted in our being resupplied at Port Clarence (we had been doing oceanographic studies in the Western Arctic Ocean/Chuckchi Sea) and thence to Barrow, Alaska to relieve the Northwind. In concert with the Canadian Icebreaker, MacDonald, we provided escort to that ship (a 1,000-foot plus tanker that had been fitted out with an ice-breaking bow to enable it to brave the icefields across the top, presumable enabling it to transport oil from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields across and to refineries on the east coast. In any event, we transited across Melville Sound, through the straits and into Davis Straits and Baffin Bay. Thence, to New York City. During the transit of Davis Straits, the Manhattan had rammed an iceberg with sufficient force to turn it sidewise like you would turn a shoe. Inspection after we arrived at New York revealed a hole in her that “you could drive a Mac truck through.”
From New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, through the canal and up the coast to Acapulco. Ouch! During a swimming session, I became overzealous and dove into the pool bottom. When I came to the surface, my hair was parted and bloody, both hands felt like pie-plates. You can bet your life, I was scared silly. I returned to the ship (Come hell or highwater, I wasn’t about to be confined in some rinky-dink Mexican hospital) and continued with my routine duties. (The voyage doctor and several of the paramedical personnel had left ship at New York. I was on my own.) Twelve days later I turned in at the Seattle Public Health Hospital with a fracture-dislocation of C-7. By that time, I had lost function in my left hand. Specialist consultation determined that autofusion had gone far enough that surgical intervention at that time was not feasible. Not too many days later, I felt a sharp twinge in my shoulder, my left hand began to work properly again. Hot dog!
After three month’s convalescence, I returned to duty and orders to the Public Health Hospital, San Francisco, California. Marion and I, after considerable searching and disappointment at what we could find as a place in which to live, along with the injunctions/petitions of our children now in High School, determined that the family should remain in Seattle and I would commute to and from as able. This continued for three years. Most of this time, my orders had been changed to the CG Training Center Dispensary, Alameda, CA incident to a Bonfiglio Bone Graft of the right hip, which placed me on crutch, non-weightbearing for one complete year.
In July 1973, I was again able to return to the Seattle Public Health Hospital Liaison assignment until retirement on the 1 November, 1976, culminating combined military service of 29-plus years.
During the summer of 1971, Mark was accepted and enrolled in the Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut. While there, he acquitted himself (and us) well, graduating with a double major in Nuclear Engineering and Marine Engineering and Ship Design. Subsequent to the required five-year stint in Service, he returned to civil employment with General Dynamics at Electric Boat, Groton, CT building nuclear sub’s.
Gwen completed a five-year master program in accounting, in 1978, at Brigham Young University. She was “romanced” into entering employment at the Coopers and Lybrand accounting firm at Newport Beach, CA. After spending a year or two at that establishment, she ventured forth into a more private sector. Currently, she has hung up her shingle at Fashion Island, Newport Beach, as a private entrepreneur specializing in taxes.
Reynold flew-the-nest and has (pretty much like his Dad) tried a myriad of different professions. He is skilled in the operation of heavy equipment and has enjoyed employment as a long-haul trucker. Health reasons have prompted him to retool into a more sedate skill. This he is currently effecting, yet living in the Seattle area.
1977 rolled around and found this lad enrolled at Seattle University. Three years later, 1980, a 54-year old, frocked duck emerged with a degree in Health Information Systems. (1981: the hip had to be replaced with an interim partial arthrotomy, to buy time for the-then new ceramic-coated appliance to be proven.) Ultimately employment was found as a civil employee at the Department of Surgery, Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, Washington until 1989. At that time a second retirement was enjoyed and a third trip to the hospital for a total hip replacement effected.
Would be well, perhaps to interject that we moved from Renton into a townhouse in East Kent, WA, in 1981. It was in a beautiful setting and we throughly enjoyed our stay there until our move to St. George in 1990. The grey skies finally did us in.
Our town home in Bloomington was spacious, window-laden with an expanse of view and snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug.
Marion’s health began to fail seriously in 1991; for two years it was nip-’n-tuck. She seemed to have made a modicum of recovery, however, then passed peacefully while asleep, on December 4, 1994. By prior, mutual arrangement, she was interred in the Brigham City, Utah Cemetery. Not by coincidence, she lies only an outstretched, arm’s distance from her sister-in-law, Irene–who had predeceased her by a mere two months. The two of them had become endeared, close friends, and confidants.
My tenure continued at our home in Bloomington until June 1996. In concert with our daughter’s recommendation, a move to Dana Point, CA was begun. Of course, so many excess keepsakes had to be disposed of beforehand. A burgeoning, garage sale captured a call from a sweet lady asking about a cedar chest that was advertised. This happened on May 24. On July 10 we were married in the “Old Courthouse” at St. George. (The move to Dana Point had gone through, in the interim, only to result in a turn-around [before the goodies were unpacked] return shipment to Diamond Valley, Utah, where Marty–Martha A. Nelson- owned a home, three horses, two dogs, a cat, chickens and turkeys, and about an acre of tumble weeds. Together, we have conquered the tumbleweeds, made some changes in the animal and fowl populace/habitation, refurbished the unfinished portions of the home, and ridden our horses over the countryside with gusto and much pleasure. (The forty-year lapse since last I had ridden a horse was overcome with little transition. Strangely, all the old skills returned without hitch.)
It would be well to advise that my church affiliation has waxed ‘n waned over the years, thanks to many, many conscientious, kind benefactors who have continued to encourage me to activation and participation. Perhaps the last couple of decades have witnessed the most conscientious effort to walk in accordance with the priesthood precepts of our religion, Latter-Day Saint. My understanding has grown enormously, I enjoy sitting and studying the possibilities that portend our tenure here and hereafter, to say nothing of discussing it with others. (In that respect, Brother Ernie and I, on most occasions when we can sit down together for a period of time, hark to one subject of another of a religious principle for vigorous exploration and discussion. A distinct pleasure.) Sufficeth it to say that I am happy to hold the High Priesthood, I have been involved in many year’s of Gospel Doctrine teaching, several years as Membership and Ward Clerk, several years as officers in both the Elders and High Priests quorums/groups. Not so strangely, I guess, it seems the more I study doctrine, the more I come to realize how very little I really know.
Now, all of this history depicts a lifetime of positive, pleasurable experiences. It brooks us well to be conscious of the fact that life just is not a bowl of cherries. Assuredly, there are a number of disagreeable, negative instances in this writer’s past. They are personal, inconsequential for the purposes of this writing, and same shall be relegated to that Personal History to which a select few are privy. Sufficeth it to espouse the concept that each disagreeable set of circumstances encountered, through the years, in retrospect, served a very definite purpose for progress and as preparation for things to come, in the long run. There can be no sweet without tasting some bitter, right?
As to this documentation, and others by this author, respecting our family members, it is fully understood that what is said might be acerbic to the itinerant reader. Accordingly, in-so-far as control rests with me, do I acquiesce to corrections, and/or extractions, in composition, grammar, and punctuation (by other writers who compose in their own rights) only in-so-far as they do so within prescribed constraints; those depictions clearly acknowledged and documented as to any such changes, including addition-to or extractions-therefrom.
C’est la vie.
Submitted by Richard Neal Warburton