Written by Connie Moore, Frank’s mom.

Constance “Connie” Chidester Moore

PART I : 1920 / 1930

In the beginning, an 8 pound baby girl was born to James (Matt) Madison and Cornelia Terry Chidester’s already large family on the cold morning of November 20, 1920, at 3am, in the little town of Venice, nestled along the Sevier River in Sevier County, Utah. Being born at the beginning of the decade helped her remember how old she was as she grew up. She learned early on that to subtract 20 from the current year gave her her age if she remembered not to change until November. This little girl was named Constance, shortened immediately to Connie, by her brother Gordon who would be 20 the next day. He chose the name of his current girl friend. Connie was number 8 of that union and counted three more brothers and sisters from Matt’s earlier marriage. Her baby book says she got her first tooth at 10 months, sat alone at 6 months, said “by by” and “dack dack”, whatever that meant, at 9 months, “slid” (I guess that anticipated crawling) at 7 months, walked at 15 months, shortened at 5 months. I assume shortened meant to shorten the long dress. She could say anything she tried at 15 months. That is the extent of the one page record in a 38 page book extolling Imperial Granum baby food which Connie ate at 1 month.

During her 4 years in Venice, this little girl was given a baby sister born right after her second Christmas on January 7. They named her Lois. That must have been a wonderful gift for a little girl. I see this little girl with her little sister in her doll stroller pushing her around a cement slab outside the kitchen door at her second home in Delta where the family had moved November, 1924. This is my earliest memory. I left Venice behind forever as I have no memory of the place. I go back to Delta in my memories of my childhood where I am playing dolls in what must have been an unfinished upstairs. I remember my brothers, probably Eldon and Terry, sleeping at the head of the stairs that wasn’t really a room. But the doll room I shared with Lois seemed spacious and wonderful. The whole house seemed spacious to a little girl. We had a big yard enclosed in a row of tamarack bushes. At a much later date, when I returned to reminisce, it was so disappointingly small. Behind the house and across the field was an irrigation canal where we went swimming on warm summer days. I remember mud crawling at first and then swimming free of the muddy bottom. Before I could swim, however, we had ventured to a spot where the water was over my head. I had inadvertently gotten into the deeper water that threatened to engulf me and end my short life. My sister Vera pulled me to safety. My sister Thelma knitted me a swimming suit so I wouldn’t have to wear an old dress. I was so proud of it and they got a picture of me proudly modeling it before it got wet. Then I got into the water. The heavy water stretched the suit down to my toes. Oh well, it was a good idea and I am sure Thelma learned something.

I remember walking to school. We (don’t remember who) walked 2 blocks west and 3 blocks north. If I went that way, I could always find my way. One foggy day I was walking alone and took the shortcut through the field across the street. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me as the fog closed in. I got hopelessly lost. I found my way back home and went the familiar 2 blocks west and 3 blocks north and there I was.

I see a little girl in the first or second grade learning money. She is using coins to draw circles the size of the coins. This little girl had probably never had real money in her hands and she couldn’t resist slipping the coins into her pocket and going to the bathroom to tie them into her handkerchief. That money, probably 15¢, must have represented candy at the nearby store. That picture is blocked. If the teacher missed the money, and I am sure she did, or if the teacher told her mother, nothing was ever said to the little girl. I am sure she was too afraid to mention it to anyone.

Of course there was an LDS Church in town and we were of the faithful. I see my mother teaching a class of young children, to have been a part of that class. One Christmas party at church Santa Claus appeared with a dented mask. Horrors! I could never really believe in that myth again. But I didn’t want to give it up entirely and clung to a maybe until a fifth grade teacher dealt the final blow. But that Santa Claus never knew what he did to a little girl’s faith.

The Carey family with mother and 3 children lived next to us. Franklin was my age and Lois and I played with him a lot. I remember him as rather effeminate which he probably outgrew. His older brother, Charlie, lurks in my memory slightly. One day stays in my memory as maybe being the closest I ever came to being raped. That is a harsh word, but he had gotten me into his car behind their house when Mother called me home. I was too young to know what was going on and nothing was ever said to me about it, but I was left with the feeling that it was not all above board.

I see me, probably about 8, sitting on the porch of my grandparent’s house while Mother and Dad were inside. It is summer and someone was sick inside. I don’t remember my grandparents at all, but my grandfather, David, died in March, 1929, and his wife, Rebecca Ann, died the following May. From this bit of genealogy, I gather that it was my paternal grandmother dying inside that house. I had accompanied Mother and Dad when they went to see her. I vaguely remember a funeral that summer and I was 8 years old. I did not attend.

It seemed we lived in the yellow brick house in Delta for a very long time, but it must have been about 4 years. When I was 8, the family moved to another house outside of town to the south, far enough to warrant our taking the school bus. This house had large trees out front where I fantasized flying. This house had a sink with no piped in water or drain, but it was a status symbol. I loved to wash dishes there even though I had to empty my dish pan wherever we emptied our used water. I had a play house between the house and a large unfinished barn where I practiced the role I was to play as an adult. I found this place recently in my mind as a quiet place I went in my childhood to just be me. We weren’t to live in this house long. Before the end of the year, in November, 1929, we packed our belongings on a flat bed truck and, like “Grapes of Wrath”, moved to the big city a full days travel north. My brother Glen had a coal business and my father was to join him in the business and give up farming. I mourned Delta, the only town I had known and made friends, for a long time. But it took me many years to take the time to go back.

Salt Lake City was a much better organized town than Delta. We had numbers on our houses, street cars down the middle of State Street, which I learned much later was the longest straight street in the world. It ran from the point of the mountain entering Salt Lake Valley on the south to the State Capitol Building high above Salt Lake where you could trace its way across the valley. For a nickel, you could ride the street car almost the full length of that street. We shared the number 2250 South State Street with Benion Gas and Oil on the street. Behind that were gasoline storage tanks and then the house. The house was big enough to house two fairly large families. Gouldings lived in the best part with the plumbing and we sort of camped temporarily in what were intended to be bedrooms all with fireplaces. We finished out the winter there in the bedrooms. It was during this winter that I got both scarlet fever and diphtheria. I had to have a doctor and he made me stay in bed for a long time. He nailed a quarantine sign on our door and Dad had to live someplace else so he could work. The scarlet fever damaged my heart which has plagued me through my life. I got a pretty dress for Christmas that year and got to sleep in the bed. Most of the time we little ones slept on the floor because we did not have beds to go around. I remember trying on my new dress and defying the doctor’s orders to get up and dance around in front of the fire. I felt like a princess. I lost so much school that year, I had to take summer school to pass. They seemed to have summer school that year just for me or maybe there was a lot of scarlet fever and diphtheria around.

Gouldings had daughters for each of ours: Maida was Reta’s age, Erna Thelma’s age, Dawn my age, and Maxine Lois’s age. Vera had one her age but I can’t recall her name. Dawn and Maxine were Lois and my closest friends until they moved away from us. They soon moved out of the big house and into an apartment on State Street over the coal business. We moved into the whole house, plumbing and all. The plumbing did not include a toilet, but it did have the bathtub and sink complete with running water and drain. It was an interesting house reminiscent of an old southern plantation house with 2 long porches on two sides and a smaller on the third side. Outside the kitchen’s north door and down a half flight of stairs was a cemented area like a patio. Down from that was a cellar. Up a half flight of stairs from the kitchen was an attic. We skated and played house on the patio and used the attic and barn at the rear for theatrical adventures. Behind us was a meadow where we took picnics. Someone in the house on the next street had dug a swimming pool in their yard that we used probably unasked. One day our dog Ponto (all of our dogs were named Ponto, it seemed) followed us over and was watching us swim. In his excitement, he jumped in while I was swimming across, landed on my back and on to the other bank. I was pushed under and didn’t know what had hit me for a little while. It must have been a funny show from the banks.

One summer some Gypsies came to camp on our meadow. I don’t really know that they were Gypsies but they were different from us and thinking of them as Gypsies was romantic and exotic. This house had 2 large chestnut trees in the yard. Someone had put up a hammock between them where I spent many hour lying reading, sleeping or just watching the sky and letting my mind wonder. We also had a long hallway separating the bedrooms and connecting the living room with the east porch which made a wonderful spook alley on Halloween.

Thelma and Reta had an apartment in town but I remember Reta coming to this house to tell us she was going to marry Emory. It must have been at this time she was sewing on Mother’s sewing machine and run the needle into her finger. Mother had to take her to the County Hospital a block away. I’ll always see that needle in Reta’s finger and it comes back to me when I sew.

The Mormon Church was as well organized as the city. There were stakes and wards. We lived in and so were assigned to the Burton Ward, named after a prominent family in the neighborhood. Burton Avenue was also named after them. All of our social life was divided between Madison School and Burton Ward where I was learning the doctrine of my faith. I had already been baptized in the “swimming hole” in Delta and confirmed into the faith the next Fast Sunday. The memories of my Burton Ward days are numerous but not outstanding. As I got older, I did not want to go. For our entertainment, the Ward had Friday night movies for the youngsters. I got my first introduction to silent movies there. I remember a lot of Tom Mix and Hop-A-Long Cassidy cowboy shows riding across the screen cheered on by a noisy audience.

We got our first radio at this house. I remember Dad’s favorite program was “Amos ‘N Andy”. One of mine was “One Man’s Family”. There was Walter Winchell to give us the news. That brought the family together in the living room in the evening and broadened our horizons.

At the end of the decade, we moved for the sixth and last time before I left home to marry. This move was across State Street to 140 Wentworth Avenue. Dad rented for a while and then bought his first home which gave him a lot of satisfaction. He wanted a home his children could always come home to when they needed to. It was from this home I finished school at Madison and where I was married by our new neighbor. I did come back “home” several times when I needed a place for me and my family for short periods of time.

In back with the cap, Frank’s grandfather on his father’s side, Frank Moore.