I was born in the year 1916 (September 9th) in Grouse Creek, Box Elder County, Utah, to Amanda Tanner Paskett and George Paskett. At that time we lived in one room of a house shared by Dad’s brother (Sid Paskett) and family. His sisters are: Rhea and Afton.
Not having kept a journal, I must depend on my memory.
Some time during the first year we moved into our second home which was located at the lower field about a mile from our first home. I have very vivid memories of that home — of the corral, the sheds, and the two wells we used as we had no power. We had no running water; no lights. We had a wood burning stove to cook on, heat water and all. I can see in my mind the wood pile and the root cellar, as it was commonly called.
Dad had a beautiful matched team of Blue Mares that we drove on a white top buggy — a snappy
fit in those days. I guess that’s when I learned to have a real love for horses. I learned how to drive a team before I was six years old. I was riding before I was a week old. Of course, my memory is a little foggy at that stage of life.
I do recall my parents walking to church every Sunday, a mile and a half each way. It was an all-day schedule. We ate breakfast at home, lunch with some of the relatives, and dinner with one of my grandmothers. Then the walk home usually after dark.
I don’t remember when we moved to the home where I spent the rest of my single life, but it was sometime in the first five years. I do know that we were in the home on the 8th of September 1921 that being the birth date of my younger sister Afton.
These were lean years, but very informative years. Dad and mother were always active in church duties, and I have a very deep impression and memory of my primary and Sunday school teachers. We were there at every meeting if our health permitted.
It was common practice to have a family in for Sunday dinner.
It was a real treat for us to hitch Babe and Doll to the white top and go spend an afternoon and often the night with Uncle Del and Aunt Alice Hart. They raised such lovely berries. Uncle Dell was a good gardener. He had about an acre of vegetables and berries, also melons and cantaloupes and some fruit trees. It was always a contest to see who could see the roof of the house when we came over the ridge about a half mile from the house. We always got a warm welcome and good hot meal. It was only about ten miles, but then the trail was never long to a friend’s house.
I seemed to be the most enthusiastic kid in our community about school before I was old enough to attend. I had a horse to ride as far back as I can remember. The two of us together were just tall enough to look in the schoolhouse window, where I spend a lot of time looking in. Then, when I was old enough to attend school, the teachers said I spent more time looking at what was going on outside than I spent getting my schoolwork done. I think they picked on me because I think I was the model pupil. Of course, I knew how many sheep they were feeding across the street, and I had a fairly good count of the herd of cattle that were brought back into the valley after they wintered over the hill, as it was referred to. It was hard to get my eyes on the books. I guess that’s why I was always in trouble with my teachers.
We were never in the best of finances. My dad worked away from home a lot. His best resource was freighting, where he used a four-horse team most of the time. I not only had to take a lot of the responsibility of the chores at home, but I learned how to handle a four-horse hitch while I was still just a kid. I learned to ride well.
I also learned my church duties. I was expected to attend primary each week; my Sunday meetings as well. I can recall very clearly when we went to the hot spring, and I was baptized at age eight. I believe it was in October. I was baptized by Winfred Kimber, who is still a resident of Grouse Creek (1980).
The only time I was out of Grouse Creek during these years was when I was taken to a doctor with blood poisoning in my leg from a blister on my heel, caused by a new pair of shoes. Funny, isn’t it, the only new shoes we got a year, and they would rub me the wrong way. I was just a few hours away from having my leg amputated. I’m sure it was my parents’ faith and prayers that saved my leg.
It was these tender years that the seeds were planted for the testimony I have today. Maybe it was because our lives were lived with the Gospel as a central interest – all activity was built around some auxiliary function.
There was one very impressive activity we had as a group. When I was twelve years old, we had a temple excursion where we went to the Salt Lake Temple and were baptized for the dead. Yes, that was the farthest I had been away from home. What an experience that was! I had the pleasure of seeing and shaking the hand of the living Prophet (Heber J. Grant). Of course, I couldn’t appreciate the greatness of this experience, but I shall never forget it. It is with great pride that I have had the privilege of shaking the hand of each of the prophets since that time.
I was active in the priesthood quorum as a deacon, teacher, and priest – taking the responsibilities as serious as most teenagers can be serious.
As I stated before, we were isolated from society — out in the sticks sort of — so our social life was what we created for ourselves. We didn’t have drug problems or alcohol or drinking parties, but we did have a good and lively social group of teenagers who had a high moral standard. I cannot recall any who had to get married because of their conduct. I wouldn’t want anyone who reads these notes to think I was perfect. I had my hang ups just like everyone else. How thankful I am for the principle of repentance and forgiveness.
I had experiences in my early years that are precious to me though they may not be to anyone else. I believe I spent more of my time on a horse than I did on my feet. I used to spend weeks out gathering horses and herding them on the mountain. I always had counsel from Dad, but I also was left to my own. Heading horses, this was our own way of breeding our mares as this was the source of income for the family.
It was when I was eleven or twelve years old that we were gathering horses to sell for chicken feed — this was a community project. We, the Paskett’s, had one outfit in the south end and the other camp in the north end of the valley. Dad was with this north outfit. As we had horses from one end of the valley to the other, it was our responsibility to represent our interests at both camps
(Just a bit of explanation to the city folks who have only seen the modern west where man or beast know what real life is all about. They think a rough-out boot is factory made, but really it was made rough by being dragged through the trees and brush so much.)
As I was saying, Dad was with the one outfit. I was with my Uncle Sid with the other outfit when we got word for me to bring my saddle horses or my string, as it was called, to the north camp as dad had broken his leg, so I had to take his place. I was proud to be able to fill the space of my dad. This told me a lot about the confidence my dad had in my ability to take the responsibility of a man. So much can be said by the actions of others. This is the way my dad taught-by example.
In there was a bit of humor in this particular experience, not worth putting in, but I will anyway. When we got our horses together we had about 250 head of every description you can imagine — old, young, wild, gentle, and anything else you can think of. We had to deliver them to the railroad to be loaded and shipped to the eastern market. Uncle Sid (Paskett), Newell Richins, George (kid) Blanthorn, and myself were the four elected to do the job. It was a real job to get the horses to think the same as we did, but we got the job done with a couple of near catastrophes. Like, when we crossed the railroad track the first time we had a train come right through the herd and scatter them from hell to breakfast. We were good at our job, so we got them all back together without any loss.
Things went well until we got within five miles of our destination. We were driving the horses parallel to the tracks in the home-stretch with the nice stiff breeze blowing in our faces, so we were as surprised as the horses when a passenger train came by full throttle, and guess what! They exploded! Well, when Uncle Sid and I got them rounded up, Newell, a kid who was riding chicken feed horses, was right in the middle of things looking a little silly. But, as usual, they made a joke of it, and we had many good laughs about it each time the story was told. It, like other things, got better with age.
I became a hero as soon as we landed and got the gates shut. Every kid in town was sitting on the fence around our herd. We were giving away all the colts we had because the buyer didn’t want them; neither did we, so I roped them and gave them away.
That was probably my first night spent in a hotel room. We stayed at what was called the Railroad Beanery Hotel and Café.
This is only one of my many youthful experiences as I have shared the beauty of pleasant summer nights with my faithful horse as my friend — me sleeping in my saddle blankets while he grazed nearby on the tall spring grass. I thank God for my heritage and pray I have passed the good parts on to my sons and daughters and grandchildren.
This is typical of my early years. I went away from home to work in the harvest when I was sixteen years old, but always returned to work with Dad every summer until I was twenty-one.
I had to quit school when I was in the 10th grade because I had to take care of the harvest because Dad was working away from home to give his family a good living. This was just after the depression of the early thirties when we all had to do our share to keep the wolf away.
I was thirteen years old but was tall and lean and was able to find work at one dollar a day and lunch. I was very fortunate because I was never very long out of work. We cleaned ditches by hand, I mean with a No. 2 shovel. Dad used to say, “Son, you just keep the back half of that shovel full and the front will take care of itself,” and “Put a little more grease (elbow grease) on the handle, and that dirt will move much faster.” Well, I got the drift of what he meant and learned to shovel left handed as well as right handed.
I also punched cows, or as the kids might say, represented different outfits, riding range and feeding cattle in the winter for $30.00 and board. With this I helped feed the family. But these were years of growing up and learning to appreciate what we had.
I was never accepted in the sports activities, I guess I had the wrong name, so I grew up without any of the sports activities. I knew how to dance. I knew how to behave in any kind of social group because I was active in the primary M.I.A., scouts, and priesthood activities. I spent a lot of my social hours with the older crowd. My Uncle Ted Tanner and I were almost inseparable when we were not working. He was four years my senior year and he always kept me aware of it.
Ted had the privilege of attending high school in Ogden as we had no local school above the 10th grade. He (Ted) took speech and drama in school, so a lot of our social time was spent in putting on three — and four-act plays. We had a lot of fun, and it was educational for me also. It took us to other surrounding communities where we could broaden our experiences a little bit.
I spent a few days every spring and fall with a few of the men from my home town chasing mustangs. I don’t mean to boast or anything, but I was pretty good at my trade. I couldn’t drive a nail or take out your appendix or hook up a light switch, but I could ride and rope and do the things I was expected to in life. I could churn butter in the milk bucket from a good cow. Oh, yes, I was good at what I was trained to do. It wasn’t always a job. It was a pleasure, an accomplishment, and sometimes just plain fun.
I could tell stories that are almost like fiction stories you read in novels. Like the year we went after the wild one in early spring. Snow drifts were on ridges and the deer were yet in the winter range and in large numbers. Six of us decided to have a go at the mustangs. So, we set up camp at one of the Utah Construction Ranches where no one was living that early in the year, and the wild ones were still on their winter range. The first day out we did pretty well. We roped three nice colts, yearlings they would be, and we were taking them back to camp. It was getting rather late in the day so when they rode into an old trap or corral we had built the year before, we decided to just leave our catch there for that night and pick them up the next day. We put this little plan into operation and went on to the camp in the dark.
The next day we rode back to our little game to find a bunch or herd of too infrequently the mouse out-smarted the cat, so we came up the second day without a catch. We were riding back to the corral where we left the colts. Three of us were out in the lead a hundred yards or so, when we saw some deer in a little bunch of cedars about a quarter of a mile from the corral. Well, now here was a challenge-putting them into wings of the horse trap and seeing how many we could get to the corral. Strange, what people will do for just a bit of excitement. Well, we, in the lead, fanned out as we moved in closer to the herd. They were getting more nervous as we got closer to the herd. When they moved, so did we, with about 250 head of deer headed right where we wanted them to go. Of course, they couldn’t see the corral nor the net wire wings. So, we had them running full speed ahead when they broke over the ridge into a good heavy snow drift and smack into a well built stockade fence. Well, we were right in front of the herd when they came back, but it was a sight! If the gate had been open like it was the day before, we would have filled the corral and had a few left over.
Well, all I have left to show for such times are memories. My children and grandchildren and so on down the line can see that maybe the best things in life are free — primitive maybe but free.
I couldn’t get Ted to share the wild horse chase, but we had no differences of opinion about the gals. We had a lot of parties and dances and other homemade entertainment. I had access to a car that would only run half the time – that was when I had the money to put gas in it because it always seemed to be empty when I put the “B” on Dad to use it.
One of these parties was a chickery, as we called them. We would get together and decide what kind of game we wanted to play that night and then put the plan into operation. Well, this night we had about twelve couples together. So, six of the guys went north and the other six went south. Well, I was with the north gang and had to requisition a half dozen fryers from the north end of the valley where lived the old tight-wad that I worked for, who had a very hungry German shepherd that didn’t like anything but human hams. Well, I got the chicken and thought I had gotten away with it. We had a lovely time and enjoyed the fry. But, the next day when I got to work, Jim just looked me right in the eye and said, “You know, I had some chicken thieves on my place last night, and I know who did it because you and Byron Roberts were the only two that could get by that old dog out there.” He didn’t fire me or have me sent to jail, but he never let me forget it. I got the rest of the fryers from home. My folks were like that, they would rather have me ask for what I needed than steal it. I guess they were just plain folks.
Our home was always open for the gang to have a party. I don’t remember ever having a “booze” party. Drugs weren’t even a thought in those days. I remember well when playing cards were a no-no. President Grant was very much opposed to wasting time playing cards all night. And the Bishop had to come to our house to get boys and take them home. “Well, it was funny then.”
It seems that one’s life history is some act that has been a lasting monument of success. Unfortunately, that has not been my lot. I have not built bridges, buildings, or highways. I planted a few trees, put up fences, planted grass, helped build a tennis court, and got playground equipment for the school at Grouse Creek while serving as PTA President. Of course, the credit must be shared with others, a few of whom are still living in the dwindling but still prosperous community. Trees that we planted have grown from 3- to 4 foot starters to large, beautiful spreading shade trees surrounding the old schoolhouse. A dusty and rocky playground when I was a student is now a nice well-sodded green grass-covered area with a nice fence around the perimeter.
And then there was the year we were asked to host the Box Elder County Chamber of Commerce on a good-will tour. I was on the committee and asked to work out a program for the day. We had the Cassia County Sheriff’s Posse as the featured event of the day, which made a lasting relationship between the two counties and especially between the communities of southern Idaho and Grouse Creek, Utah.
Now, of course, we, or I should say Grouse Creek Ward, is a part of the Cassia Stake. That I had no part in except to sustain the General Authorities in the change made. We were formally of the North Weber Stake where we had been for several years, where we as a ward were active in athletics and other programs stake-wise. I probably made a record as I was likely the only one who went through Weber Collegein less than three hours. It was a lot of fun.
These are some of the things and events of my early married life. Nevertheless it was a very important period in my life — I was beginning my own family. In 1938 (May 27th) your mother (Beth Marie Craner) and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple, spent one day on our honeymoon driving from Salt Lake City to Burley, then on to Grouse Creek where we had our first home to move into — just rented two rooms, but that’s where we started. We gave the town a wedding dance to climax our honeymoon, and we’ve both had to work like the devil ever since to pay for it. My family included two sons and three daughters, Dwayne, Darwin, Connie, Betty, and Rosemary.
This is the beginning of some wonderful experiences for me. I have moved to a lot of different places and trades, such as the move to Nevada where I worked in the mines for a couple of years. I was asked to start a Sunday school there (Mountain City), but I just didn’t have the guts to live the way I needed to to take that kind of responsibility. I was inclined to live the way of the world and did just that. I did have some very fond and faith promoting experiences while I was living there.
It was during the time I arrived in Mountain City — I was trying to get work in the mine, being at the hiring office at the beginning of each shift. This was an everyday program or routine. So, I had a lot of time during the day to do nothing except sleep or watch the softball games. In this sport I became their official umpire for no pay, but I did enjoy it a great deal.
It was on a nice spring day. I had just returned to the camper where I stayed and had just laid down to take a nap at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I was lying there with my eyes closed but not sleeping when my Granddad Tanner called my name twice just as clearly as could be and said, “Robert, Roni died!” That’s all he said. I was off the bed and at the door of the camper in one leap, but there was no one in sight. Two days later I got a letter from Mother. The mailman had found Uncle Roni, Granddad’s brother, sitting in his chair on the porch dead about 2:30 or 3 o’clock the day I received the message from Grandpa. I don’t have any explanation as to why it was given to me. I always had a warm spot for Uncle Roni (Moroni) as we all knew him. I guess because he was always the underdog so to speak — very unpolished with little education, but he had a heart as big as all outdoors. He could play the Mandolin pretty well. That I have as memory to him. I wish I could play it like he did. Music comes from the heart and is a universal language. It comes from the heart and is received the same way.
In 1941 we were brought into the war with Japan’s on Pearl Harbor. Many of my friends that worked in the mines with me were on the island when the bombing was going on. I was just about there with them, but I decided to stay in the states.
It was the spring 1942 that I moved back to Grouse Creek to live and work on the farm with Dad. We bought a house in Grouse Creek where we lived for a couple of years. We still had no electricity and very little money, but we had a lot of fun. And we still continued to raise our family. We still spent a month in Nevada each year contracting hay harvest with the W.C.C. It was during one of these summer escapades when Darwin, only in his second year — just able to run around pretty well, decided to take a swim in the Salmon River. He just about scared his mother out of her girdle. By the time they found me, and I did the mile in record time on one of my work teams, Mother had him on the clothes line to dry. Everything went back to the normal grind.
This same year I moved to Burley for the winter to find work in the spud warehouses and eventually to Stibnite, Idaho, where I spent the winter. I made this move with my family in order to have more L.D.S. families and priesthood to have a Sunday school at this mining town. We did this and had a good attendance for a few months, when the presiding elder moved to Oregon for better employment. After he left, we soon gave up the program.
Early in the spring I got my notice from the draft board to report for my induction into the service. When I told the employment office of the call, they got a 30-day deferment and asked me if I wanted them to have me put on their producers in the world. But, I chose to be a man and do my duty — be a hero and all that stuff. Well, I got a few months’ reprieve and didn’t have to go in until May. I spent my wedding anniversary in the Induction Center in Salt Lake City.
I should go back a few months and just tell you of the experience I had on the first visit Mother had with her sister Sarah at Stibnite. Don, Sarah’s oldest son, was going to high school in Burley. Beth and Sarah were close, so Mother was going with Don to spend Thanksgiving. Of course, Dwayne and Darwin were small at that time. I had to work everyday except Thanksgiving Day, so I stayed home. Don and the family left to start their vacation about 5 a.m. It was a cold, frosty morning, and the bridge across the Snake River was exceptionally dangerous under these conditions. The car had pulled out of our driveway, everyone as happy as one can be at 5 a.m. on a cold, frosty morning. I had gone back to a still warm bed and snuggled down for a couple hours of sleep when something prompted me to say a prayer for the safety of the family on their journey. I slipped out of bed and kneeled to pray, petitioning our Father for their safety. I went back to bed contented that everything would be fine. Mother called me when she got to Sarah’s and said they had a good trip with the exception of one near tragedy. When they were crossing the Snake River Bridge out of Burley just minutes after they left the house, their car hit an icy spot and slid sideways and when it stopped, it was crossways on the bridge with the bumpers almost touching the rails on both sides of the bridge. I have not talked about this very much, but I have always been content about the power of prayer and thankful for it. Oh, yes, I took the bus the next day and spent Thanksgiving with the family at which time I was given employment at the mine, where I worked until I was induced into the service.
I spent seven months and ten days serving my country and seeing the world — the little pieces in the Pacific, and I did see Pearl Harbor and Tokyo Harbor, but only set foot on shore at Guam where I spent about 2 ½ months. It was here dear old Daddy learned to cook the army away. It was a good experience I shall never forget.
These moves from one job to another, also going into the service, all seem to be a bit of progression and growing in my life. I was given the opportunity to experience leadership and responsibility — nothing great, but just a brick at a time. I was exposed to a much different life than my growing-up years. I had some experiences in the carpenter trade. For instance, I was hired at the mines in Stibnite as laborer. The foreman asked if we had a hammer we could bring to work. After the interview with the other men, I asked if I would need any other tools as I had received for Christmas the year before a carpenter’s tool box, saw, square, tri-square, level, and a few other items. The boss asked me why I didn’t sign up as a carpenter. (You didn’t have to know anything about the trade during the war, just have the tools.) Nevertheless, I was given the title of carpenter’s helper and got retroactive pay back to the first day of employment, an experience that was advantageous later on in my life.
I learned how to drive a 15-ton diesel truck, use a jack hammer, and prime and set dynamite for blasting. All this was a bit of temporal, or should I say I did grasp the knack of every job I was given. I learned, for instance, a bit of knowledge about blacksmithing, tempering steel, melting down and molding metals into useful mechanics tools. I guess I had been schooled to learn to do what had to be done because I grew in an isolated area where we had to make-shift, as Dad called it. I have thanked my Father in Heaven for this blessing many times.
I am sure that being exposed to a different environment has given me a much broader view and understanding for others; especially for their problems of great mystery or that it is quite complicated. Where, if they could just know how uncomplicated life is if we could just cooperate with it. I believe our lives are just as complicated as we make them.
I guess I am different, because I believe a person can be trusted and can be fully dependable until they prove themselves otherwise. Trust is a prerequisite of love. Love is the base of society. Not the type of love we hear everyday, but the type of love that one can give of himself — an unselfish, non-sexual outpouring of generosity with no thought o what someone can repay you for any act rendered. If we could do this, I believe many of our own mountainous problems would be resolved.
The few months of military service gave me new experiences and broadened my perspective of life. I met a different type of individual almost everyday — people of every walk of life, different religious outlooks, and different societies. There are those who felt they were persecuted, and I think they were getting better meals and better housing, though it may be militarized, but it’s better than they had at home. The food is pig slop, they had to make their own beds, and they had to be disciplined. It gives me opportunity to get a better understanding of the world around us.
I was assigned Sergeant-at-arms — chain of command that puts one just below the platoon leader and the bottom. The brick stopped there, so you get all the guff from above and below. The company commander was about my age, I guess, so he took it easy on the elderly. I didn’t have to take the 20-milers or swim the Pacific. He’d say, “Pask, see that the barracks passes inspection and stay out of sight.” This kind of treatment is fine until the muster for your finals. Dear old commander lets you shake in your well-polished boots until you are ready to go on the parade field, then he whispered out of the corner of his mouth, “Hey, Pask,” (he called me that all the time), “you passed the finals. See that we pass inspection.”
I just happened to be with the group of men from Burley, Rupert, and Boise. It was kind of like being home. We had one thing in common — we were all married and had a family started. It was ironic, when we finished boot camp I was the only one of the bunch that shipped out with the replacements that went where I did.
We were outfitted for cold country. We first went to Pearl Harbor, then Tokyo Bay, and then wound up in Guam. Well, we sure didn’t have to wear our cold-weather gear in Guam — only to keep the mosquitoes from eating us up.
Life goes on about the same in the service as it does in human life as long as you live by the rules. Just get up, hurry and get dressed, fall in line, get your breakfast, hurry and fall in line to get your orders to hurry and wait, to hurry and wait, and so on until you hurry to hit the sack before you hurry to drop dead from fatigue.
This was my lot for only a few months, when by the point system and having a sweet blonde baby girl (Connie) at home, I was packing my bags and waiting to go home. Getting home only took a couple of months or so, but I got out of the service in January 1945.
It was now time to decide what to do with my life as a breadwinner and father. I could go back and work on the farm with Dad or find a job of some kind that would take care of my family’s needs. That old story of the boys who defended our country would be given priority for the jobs they left is a lot of bunk, if you’ll excuse the language; but jobs were not too plentiful.
I decided to go to work for a dairyman close to home because I didn’t have the car to travel far. I could walk a mile without any problems. This kind of hurt my dad’s feelings. He had expected me to go back home and share with him the farm and everything to help him do what he dreamed of. It was this decision that prevailed. We moved back to the ranch and spent the next five years there.
It was in this period of time that we experienced the worst winter I had ever lived through – when I had to get out of combat the elements everyday. It had brought back the memories of the winter of 1922 or 1923 when we had had to make our short legs carry us to school through the snow drifts that reached the top of the fence posts with the snow moving 90 miles an hour across the fields. We thought it was tough but came through it in pretty good health. We lost a lot of our livestock that winter because we couldn’t get out on the range to save them. The winter of 1948 and 1949 was much the same. But, with modern equipment and everything we came through with little loss of livestock. But it cost a lot for feed, airlift to fly over the range and scatter hay, and often these airlifts helped us locate isolated cattle and horses so we could trail them out to feed.
It was at this time I was feeding for an outfit, z brand. For 90 days I rode my horse nine or ten miles to feed the cattle I was in the care of, and I usually had to break trail everyday because of the bad winds and snow. And many times I would carry the hay out because I couldn’t keep the hay on the hay wagon to haul it out. I could usually be back home by 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon. And if the boss could find me, he would have me haul hay or other feed from the railroad to the ranch.
Some ranches were so isolated that the army would airlift hay out to the cattle for days. It didn’t happen to us, but the outfit Dad was feeding for did have one bunch of cattle that had to have feed flown out to them until they could trail them in to where Dad could haul hay by team and sleigh. It was a memorable time to say the least.
We lived in Grouse Creek until the fall of 1950 or 1951 when our help was needed at the Craner home (Mother’s parents). Grandpa needed, or should I say had to have an operation on his ulcers or not live many months as he had bleeding ulcers and had almost lost his life once. Grandpa was a very thrifty man but was just beginning to see the fruits of the harvest and refused to have surgery until after the crops were harvested. I was told of the situation and went to Burley, Idaho and told Grandpa if he would have his surgery I would move to Burley with my family and take care of the farm work. This seemed to satisfy him. He just took my hand and with some shedding of tears agreed to go as soon as we could take over – I mean as much as we could under his supervision. I know he had a lot more savvy about row-crop farming I did, but we got the job done in good shape.
The next two years were spent in Burley. I worked at different jobs. Sometimes I had to work three jobs to make a living. But with each job I had an experience. I was exposed to opportunities that were of use to me in later years. If nothing else, I learned that my knowledge was limited. So, I tried to apply myself to each opportunity to learn something new. It was during the two years I drove school bus for Burley School District, worked in a service station part-time, and worked in a mortuary — I am pleased to say. I had some good experiences in all these jobs.
I had the experience with young people because of driving the school bus. I had to learn to discipline myself as well as the children, and I do mean learn to control my temper or bottle it up at least so I could take it out on my family — when I got to see them — which was very little because I was working about 18 to 19 hours a day.
I spent two years in Burley doing these various types of work. I was active in church work, but not putting my best efforts into what I was called to do. I did learn one thing about this attitude — you only get out of it what you put into it. I was given the opportunity to join a singing group that did a radio broadcast every Sunday morning. This I enjoyed greatly.
During the two years we spent in Burley, I had not had my church records moved from Grouse Creek Ward, Cassia Stake. It was at stake conference that I was notified to be at the stake priesthood meeting at Oakley, Idaho. Milton R. Hunter was the General Authority that was to preside over the conference. I guess we all wondered what we were going to be interviewed about when this situation arised. So it was with me. I wasn’t kept in the dark long of course because Elder Hunter was an outgoing individual, straight to the point, and had a very warm spirit. He said, “Brother Paskett, your name has been p
ed for consideration to be called to the office of Seventy and accept the responsibility of that office. How do you feel about that?”
By the time he finished, I knew what my answer would be. “Elder Hunter, I’m not ready to take that responsibility. I am not living as I should and I can’t be a minute man to leave home and family to teach the Gospel to the world I can’t accept the call under those conditions.”
He was very kind and understanding. He gave me some good counsel and excused me. I had something to thing about. I knew personally others who were called as I was to the office of Seventy. I knew they had some of the weaknesses I had. I do know I can’t pass judgment on their decisions or commitments.
I continued on in this situation and state of mind. I was indifferent and considered what I did was my own business and felt that I was not hurting anyone but myself. This is a folly, or a misunderstanding I guess every individual has – not knowing what or who we many influence for good or bad conduct. This we must remember: Who may want to be just like me? I mean by this, who wants to follow my example? This was the beginning of a change in my way of life. It was an uphill course I had to follow. But, as I ponder on it, I am pleased with my decision. Of course, I must give credit where it is due. Mother and I decided to look at the other side of the mountain. We went on a long overdue honeymoon. We decided to take a trip to the Pacific Northwest — the Seattle area to be exact. It was a land of opportunity both spiritual and temporal. Here we spent the next nineteen years of our lives and where our family grew up.
To say the least, this country boy moved into a new way of life. You see, I had never seen a ship built, a steel tank put together, or an amphibious army tank built. This was a new world to me. We decided to give it a try. It took all the money we had to make the move – even though I didn’t move my family until school was out. I had an apartment rented and everything needed for them. But, that move was most memorable. It was a sight to see, and we had everything happen to us that could. We had three blowouts on the trailers; a broken trailer tongue; a bunch of five bawling, screaming kids; an empty pocketbook, a flat checking account — but we had a conviction that this was the right thing to do, so we did it.
It was the beginning of a wonderful experience for my whole family. But, I’m sure I benefited more than my family, though all of us were blessed. I was not living as I should. I was not keeping the Word of Wisdom. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t do anything about it until I was put to the test. I was called to the presidency of the Elder’s Quorum. In my interview with a member of the Stake Presidency, I told him what problems I had, and he said, “We need you in this office.” This it the thought that came to me, the words of Evan Stephens:
Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be,
For this God will force no man to heaven.
He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light.
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.
You know, life in the Gospel can be likened unto the endless belt. We know that in life we don’t stand still — either we progress or we go back. This endless belt is eternal progression. We climb aboard; we are facing progression coming toward us; we must go forward and as long as we keep a steady pace, we gain and advance forward. There is always a helping hand, a word of encouragement, an act of kindness to give us strength to progress.
This call was the beginning of a great spiritual experience for me. My next call was Assistant Ward Clerk. I had a wonderful Bishop who could get his ward family to answer calls with a feeling of a great feeling that they were doing him a favor when they were getting the rewards. He first asked me if I would visit his families that he “ward taught.” This was a monthly favor he asked of me. I didn’t realize that he was just getting me acquainted with the ward members, so I didn’t have an excuse when he asked me if I would take a companion and visit his families. How could one turn down a request like that?
My family learned to share their blessings also, when while serving as an assistant in the Elder’s Quorum, we found a family out in the back country who had been converts to the Church. They were baptized and then forgotten, at least there had been no fellowshipping or follow-up program. I might add this was just before the fellowshipping program was introduced to the Church — as such a program we were blessed with the joy of working with in its infancy.
I must correct the statement I just made. Gordon Beeles was an elder but had become lost from the fold. The family was within the boundaries of our quorum with some of our members 5 of to 100 miles away, but we tried to visit them at least once a month either in a group or individually. LeGrand and Roy found things so bad they recommended immediate action to move the family down out of the woods, find him a job, and a place to live; but this needed to be done in the order I have mentioned. Well, this was the beginning of the growth of our family, as our house was open to everyone who needed a bed or a home until their needs were met. It does sort of make things a bit crowded when you add a family of seven in a 3-bedroom home of a family of seven. It can be done, and can be enjoyed.
It didn’t take very long for me to realize the opening up of a great field of opportunities. I was exposed to people in all walks of life
My first real challenge was to take care of the welfare garden which was a ward project. I was a farmer. I know what it is to get dirt under your fingernails and have a little mud on your overalls. I know what back problems are, what it is to be out there working before the sun comes up in the morning and the work in the twilight hours. It gives one a good feeling when you know you’re serving the Lord and your fellowmen.
Our ward was also assigned by the stake to produce five hundred pounds of berries for jam. Five hundred pounds of berries isn’t much, is it? We had a membership around three hundred. Now, a simple bit of arithmetic — this is only two-thirds pound per member. Of course, all members are not active, so you divide again by two to give them the benefit of any doubt. And, of course, some who don’t believe in welfare — they have a comfortable income — so everyone else should be able to support themselves. This was my challenge in Washington. The population is blessed with an abundance of wild berries, tasty and usable. There is one problem — the have thorns on them. Well, to make a long story short, we did meet our assignment. I was told by one of the bishops on the welfare committee that this was the first time the ward had filled its quota. That was a boost to my ego. We all like a pat on the back, don’t we?
I would be the first to tell you if everything went smoothly during the first few months in Washington. I was persuaded by two forces. I mean in plain language, the force of the devil worked overtime to have me continue on the path of least resistance — down. I always tried to get my family to Church, but I could always something to do instead of going to priesthood and other meetings. I became more aggressive with my bad habits and as one does, the Holy Ghost does not work with him. It withdraws as we have been promised it would. A kind and loving bishop never seemed to give up. He knew my weakness but never mentioned them. He gently got me turned around to the point where I told Mother we had a decision to make — either we change our way of life and live the Gospel or ask for our names to be taken off the records and live the way of the world.
After a lot of prayer and meditation, I did change my course. I promised the Lord if he would give me the will to overcome my bad habits I would be a faithful servant and serve any place I should be called to serve. I testify to you the Lord won’t let you down. Be sure you keep the line open. Listen to that still small voice, the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
I was called after this to serve as second counselor to Bishop Wesley Duce, being called and set apart by Elder Mark E. Peterson. This was a humbling experience. Little did I realize the roles we play in the building of the Kingdom of God here upon the earth – the way we live, the way we act, and the way we do things. I witnessed a great change in my own life. How much easier it was to look people in the eye and bear my witness to the truthfulness of the Gospel, and my concern for my fellowmen. I was hooked with that driving spirit to be a teacher of the Gospel both by word and action.
It was a wonderful experience, the eighteen of nineteen years in Washington. I was in the bishopric for three years. I learned that we never ask to do anything in the Lord’s work that we will not be given the strength and guidance to accomplish these things. I was exposed to every type of people and every faith, I believe, but was never inclined to apologize for being Mormon. I got needled and joked about, but not by anyone of importance. But, I also gained the respect of many important people in the community. I was directed by the spirit on many occasions when I had used the resources of my own thinking and labor. During my time in the bishopric, I was given the welfare assignment and, of course, our quotas went up to as much as 3500 pounds of berries. We were asked to get strawberries and raspberries.
We had to make a decision as to whether we wanted to buy land or just find someone who would let us pick and buy the berries. I was still a country boy. I still believe that we should help our fellowmen and cooperation and pool our resources as much as we can. Our ward was a poor ward — I mean financially. But, we had some good, steady and spiritually endowed families who supported the Bishop in every way. I must tell you how this particular assignment was accomplished. I had been looking over the berry farms for several days as the season was coming on, and I had nothing encouraging at all to report. As I made plans to continue my search, I remember one of our high priest group who was pretty well confined at home. He was active but limited and dependent on someone to drive him around. I called him and invited him to go with me to look again. When he got in my car, before we left his driveway, I asked him to join with me in a word of prayer. He agreed that he felt this would be a good idea. This was the way we started our day.
We had looked at a number of fields that had put ads in the paper for U-pick customers, and it was easy to see why – you could hardly see the plants for weeds or berries were not fully matured. We had driven by a number of farms — well-groomed farms. In fact, I had looked at them several times. I had driven by this one farm about a half mile when something told me to turn around and go back and talk to the owners. I did so and found a lady running the farm in her husband’s absence — Mrs. Hammer, very business-like and yet easy to talk to. I told her what our problem was and what I would like to do. She had a beautiful field of berries. She also had her problems. She couldn’t get pickers to harvest a beautiful crop. It was ready and you lose berries by the ton if you don’t stay on top of your crop. I told the lady we would like to pick on shares and we would be glad to start as soon as she was ready. I had in mind maybe we would get not more than half for picking, but I didn’t tell her that was my thoughts. She said her husband would be home that night and they would have an answer the next morning. I went home and started to organize our working forces. The response was great, but not only did we have the berries to pick, but we had to clean and sort them and put them in cold storage. We had pickers in the field the next morning and an offer of 60 percent of the crop. What a peaceful feeling and grand feeling I had to see the power of prayer in action. This was the first of many faith-promoting experiences.
I witnessed the changes in so many peoples’ lives. I was blessed with having many talents — not boasting, but I am so thankful for them. I was able to relate to the young people as well as the adult generation and was privileged to work with all ages. I worked with the different auxiliary organization, all except the relief society. That was the Bishop’s privilege. I’ll never forget his remarks in ward conference one day when he praised them and thanked them for their compassionate service.
I was released from the bishopric after three years of service to serve on a stake mission. When these opportunities come, we find ourselves needing more knowledge. The more we learn, them more we find out we don’t know, “You can’t get water from an empty well.” I was smart enough to know what he was talking about. It was a great feeling of missionary work. But, I didn’t last long in this work. I was called on the Stake M.I.A. Board — to act as Ensign Leader. This was the beginning phase. What a choice experience! I was able to attend June Conference and attend all the seminars. What a feeling I had!
I was permitted to work with the stake missionaries during these many months. Also, I was privileged to join a singing group — male chorus — in Seattle, where I traveled the thirty miles every Saturday morning for practice at 6 A.M. You must enjoy what you are doing to get up that early when you don’t have to. I was called again on a stake mission, also to teach the investigators’ class, and was General Secretary for the Aaronic Priesthood adults, and I also taught them. I was an active member of the ward choir all these years from the time I was thirteen years old.
In these years we had exposed several people to the Gospel. I had baptized several individuals and some families — people who we were as close to as family. I learned the meaning of the Gospel of Love as it is referred to so often anymore. There was the Darringer family, Grandpa and Grandma Bleifus, the Bergers, the Lerivold’s the Lewis’s and many others. When I was General Secretary I had 10 percent of the entire adult Aaronic members active — ten out of eighty. The Lord and I worked with these brethren and witnessed their progress in the Gospel to high positions in the Church – bishops, high councilors, and other important offices. It saddens me to recall a few who fell away and went back to their old habits. Others are still active and helping the Kingdom to grow.
I was released from my second mission to accept the position of Y.M.M.I.A. Superintendent in the ward. I don’t have the date when I got the call, but I do remember I was told to take the leadership of M.I.A. on the authority of the priesthood because they felt that the young women were assuming too much authority. Now, how can you accomplish such a thing without making an enemy or two? It wasn’t easy.
In the early 60’s I was not too secure as far as employment was concerned. I had a few good sales opportunities, but they always interfered with my Church duties, which had first priority. I went into the cabinet business and quit a good job working for Scott Paper Company that didn’t work out. I worked construction for several months – that didn’t last too long, but I was learning something new and meeting a lot of good, honest (most of them) people.
We had moved into two homes that we were buying. (One at a time.) I worked at construction, as I mentioned, several months — mostly on church buildings. It was on these projects where I met the Earl family whom we have stayed close to until this time. Joe passed away, but his presence will be with me always. Alice is still living and just as close to our family as ever.
I had a family to be proud of, and our home was always open to their friends. It was an open house to the missionaries who were away from their homes. Never a dull moment. It was a home where a few families moved in with us until they could find a place to settle down. I’m happy to say each experience was a pleasant one.
Life isn’t a bed of roses; it’s only what you let it be. My dad passed away; I can’t give you the date, but it was in the mid 60’s. This left an empty place in my life, though I had nothing to regret for him. He lived a good life” and like he often said, “I hope I am able to wear out and not be an old broken-down machine and just rust away.” He was a man who lived the way he taught. He always put himself in the third priority: service to God, service to his fellowmen, and third to himself, but never failing to give the family their daily needs. He was the patriarch of the family. He was the pilot of the ship. He never told me he loved me, but I could feel that love and concern always. I still do.
I must say the best tools I had for seeking out investigators was a good family. All of them had a good personality and made friends easily. We’ll first refer to the Berger family. They became curious about their neighbors because Rosemary’s mama didn’t drink coffee — she was a Mormon. That led to a period of missionary lessons and finally to baptism of the family. Skip Bradley, the same age as Rosemary, had a sad home life and found joy and love with his neighbors and was baptized. Betty, who always had a bunch of giggly girls and boys around brought people to the house, I mean young people, same results — some were converted, some were not. But, you can’t win them all. Darwin was the beacon (light) at the classes he attended in his school. He was courteous and well-mannered. I guess he was an example of good living. He was a good athlete, hot-headed at times, but I’m happy with his accomplishments. Dwayne has always been an out-going and aggressive individual, never without a lot of friends. Being the oldest, he was always ready to accept responsibility. Dwayne played a great role in our missionary experience because of his way of life. He also was active in athletics whenever he could. It was he who brought the Darringers into contact with the Gospel. It was a family thing — both theirs and ours. I was privileged after several months of teaching, to baptize and confirm all seven of that family — a beginning of missionary work that has mushroomed to where I dare not guess. I am sure after these many years it would be up in the hundreds.
I’m proud of the family and am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a firm and lasting testimony of it. I am happy to share it with you.
Just a side note to my family. I guess you sometimes feel Dad is just a bit narrow-minded about the Gospel and some of its principles. If you do feel this way, I still love you and respect your right to think as you wish. I am thinking of the statement or the answer the Savior gave when asked which of all the commandments is the greater. The answer was, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength; and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
How often have we heard this statement repeated? How often have we heard what we wanted to hear and never given a thought to the words spoken or the true meaning of them. We joke about how we can love our neighbor but leave his wife alone. Fine, but do we ever ponder on the meaning and depth of what they mean?
Faith, hope, and charity. What is charity? What does it mean? How should it affect our lives and give us an outlook on the eternal goals we have worked for? The Doctrine and Covenants talks about charity in 4:5 and 18:19. Also, “…now abideth faith, hope, and charity,” and “Let all your things be done with charity.” In Col. 3:14 “…above all these things put on charity…” Charity must be an important part of our full job and happiness. It means almsgiving benevolence, compassion, generosity, love of God, love, mercy, poor, welfare. Charity is the pure love of Christ – “I am filled with charity which is everlasting love” – “except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved.” Again in D & C 88:125 “…clothe yourselves with the bond of charity…” and in 121:45 “Let thy bowels also be full of charity toward all men…” Think of these meanings of what kind of love we talk about. This is the way to get the joy that is for all mankind. All these quotes are linked to a law which is love. Obedience is the key to it all. Every promise we are given is linked to this one word “obedience”.
I would like to say one thing. Don’t try to “con” your way through any situation. Don’t just help those who will be able to return the favor. Don’t feel that they are indebted to you. Love is everlasting. Serve even your enemy with love. If you do this, you will find you have no enemies but only true loving friends. Try and not offend anyone. If you do, face them and make things right with them.
There is no place in a solid family relationship for jealousy or mistrust. These two things are just like a cancer — eating away at our spiritual convictions and destroy our very souls. It very often leads to apostasy from the church. It most certainly dampens the spirit and destroys many peoples’ testimonies. I have never found a charitable fault-finder. We all have a tendency to see the weaknesses of others. Ponder the words of Phillip Paul Bliss:
“Should you feel inclined to censure Faults you man in others view,
Ask your own heart, ere you venture, If that has not failings, too.
Let not friendly vows be broken; Rather strive a friend to gain;
Many a word in anger spoken Finds its passage home again.
“Do not, then, in idle pleasure, Trifle with a brother’s fame;
Guard it as a valued treasure, Sacred as your own good name.
Do not form opinions blindly. Hastiness to trouble tends;
Those of whom we thought unkindly, Oft become our warmest friends.”
This gives us something to think about, and we could spend a lot of time thinking about it. If we can’t say something good about someone, then ponder the words of an unknown author:
“Nay, speak no ill; a kindly word Can never leave a sting behind;
And, oh, to breath each tale we’ve heard Is far beneath a noble mind.
Full oft a better seed is sown By choosing thus the kinder plan,
For, if but little good is known, Still let us speak the best we can.
“Give me the heart that fain would hide, Would fain another’s faults efface.
How can it please the human pride To prove humanity but base?
No, let us reach a higher mood, A nobler estimate of man;
Be earnest in the search for good And speak of all the best we can.
“Then speak no ill, but lenient be To other’s failings as your own.
If you’re the first a fault to see, Be not the first to make it known,
For life is but a passing day; No lip may tell how brief its span;
Then, O the little time we stay, Let’s speak of all the best we can.”
I can’t say it anymore plain. Let’s become united and be sure none of us are neglected in spiritual and material needs. I love all of you equally and don’t want any resentment or misunderstanding among you. Don’t be afraid to let each other know of that love. I give you my love and witness to these truths in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
He died at age 65 on Wednesday, August 11, 1982 at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and is buried in the Provo City Cemetery.