Written by Connie Moore, Frank’s mom.
PART II : 1930 / 1940
At 10 I was in the fourth grade at Madison School and making new friends on Wentworth Avenue. We had 2 neighbor girls, Doris Mooney next door and Sylvia Gigi across the street, near Lois and my ages and with whom we made close friends. We did have our little spats and I remember how jealous I would become when Lois would take the side of one of my temporary enemies. At one point, we made a pact to remind each other that we were sisters and had a special bond. We were to say “L&P”, which meant like and play, when things got out of hand. I don’t remember if that worked or not.
One day Sylvia and I found ourselves in a little trouble. We knew where we could find gunny sacks and we also knew where we could sell them. I can’t remember those details. But I do remember Sylvia and I going to a man’s house where he cut kindling wood and put it in gunny sacks. We were trying to sneak out some gunny sacks and the man came out. We ran like little thieves until we got almost home. I was ahead of Sylvia and didn’t know if she got away or not. In the middle of a field, I dropped and prayed as hard as I could that she would get away. My prayers were answered immediately. She walked into the field. I learned my lesson then and there and have never tried to steal since. It just wasn’t worth the worry.
At school, I had the usual crushes on the male teachers. The first was my fifth grade teacher, the one who blew my Santa Claus myth. He was a social studies teacher. My fantasies were of me passing out, thereby getting his attention. That was supposed to make him fall madly in love with this delicate creature who had to be protected from the harsh world. I don’t even remember his name. The next one was a Junior High teacher of Civics, Mr. Lewis whom I later learned Vera had a crush on as well. In retrospect, he doesn’t seem like much. He was tall and dark but handsome does not describe him. He had a head like a lemon with a weak chin. I don’t remember any fantasies but I did want to be near him as much as possible.
Then there was a woman, Elsie French. She was my English and History teacher. I would have done anything for her and it was acceptable to show her my devotion. That is why my history grade was above average, indeed, they were excellent for me who was a very average student. It was for her I made a scrap book for the Tribune Hobby Show on “Leisure Time and Human Progress” that won me first prize in the Hobby Show and a silver loving cup. The Tribune was and is a foremost Salt Lake newspaper. The sad end of that story was that on the day of the assembly when they were to award me with the cup, I was so sick I couldn’t leave my bed. Lois took my place to receive the cup for me.
In my earlier years at Madison, one of the classes that stands out in my memory was an art class where we made raffia baskets. I’ve often wanted to try my skill I learned there but was unable to find the material. I also wanted to take piano lessons offered in the sixth grade for only $1. I got my dollar and gave it to the teacher. But since I did not have a piano to practice on (I had an old organ), I was discouraged from taking the class and was given my dollar back. I have always regretted that opportunity missed.
My sixth grade class, along with other classes in the grade school, planted trees along the south side of Madison School. I had almost forgotten, but recently I returned to the site with Lois’s daughter Sherri who was getting ready for her second year’s teaching at Madison and was enjoying the shade of Lois’s tree outside her window. They have grown large and are tearing up the sidewalk showing their superiority over cemented over areas and the many years gone by since they were planted.
Grace Cowling and Esther Fillmore were my best friends at Madison. Later I became close to an interesting, beautiful girl named Lucille Holston. She was not living with her mother but with a sister, and the family was shady. By that I mean I didn’t know anything about them. I met the mother once later as our friendship continued beyond school years. Looking back, I think she must have been Jewish and I had never met anyone Jewish or who didn’t live with their family before.
While I was in Junior High School, Mother had to leave home and be with my sister, probably Reta, when she had her baby. She was gone for just a few days and I stayed home from school to keep house for Dad. I was taking cooking in school and enjoyed trying out some recipes and keeping the house. He told Mother what a great little homemaker I was becoming. That was the first and one of the few compliments from Dad.
I graduated from Junior High School in 1936. We had a formal graduation. My first formal was pink taffeta with ruffles on the neck and 3 rows of ruffles at the bottom. We had a dance following the graduation exercises. My date was Dewey Coombs who must have been my first date if it can be defined as such, but he was available and not much of a dancer. Who was at 15 years old? And what was I going to do with a formal? It was a big expense in those days, to fold up and put away for posterity.
Now I had a formal and Vera was going to dances at Coconut Grove in Salt Lake. I decided to join her. We went stag and stood in the group of wall flowers, if you didn’t have a partner, and waited and tried to look sufficiently attractive. I thought I must be beautiful in that new graduation formal and would have no trouble getting dances. Vera always seemed to. But there I stood, most of the time, hoping to attract a male of the species to choose me as his next partner. It was strictly forbidden for the female of the species to do the asking. They just stood, vulnerable, resting on non-existing laurels and hoping. Sometimes the experience was worth the admission price, but mostly not. I always went with someone who was not about to turn down a chance to go home with someone else (male). I often had to leave the hall alone, walk to the bus line and go home on the bus in a formal gown. Sometimes we did go home in a group. I don’t remember meeting anyone special at the dance hall. One night my friend left me with my bus fare and I had to walk the 17 blocks home alone after midnight. Cinderella at least had a chariot waiting. What a bummer!
These dances were on Monday nights. That was fine during the summer. But I continued to go after I started back to school at Granite High School. I had World History as my first class and on Tuesdays I would be sleepy and my mind was still on the night before. I was not interested in those ancient cultures. I guess I wasn’t very interested in any of my classes there. I took Book Keeping then, but nothing stayed with me. All I remembered was something called a trial balance. We had a swimming pool there where I learned to swim correctly and how to save someone. That has stayed with me though, fortunately, I have never had to try it. I do not have good memories of my first year at Granite High School. We lived too far away and we had to walk the almost 5 miles each way. Riding a bus wasn’t much help. We could go down State Street to 33rd South and then we had to walk the 4 blocks to 5th East. Or we could go uptown and transfer and take the streetcar on 7th East and walk the 2 blocks to Granite. These were large blocks, 4 to a mile. That didn’t make life easy or leave much study time after you got home. We were tired and hungry. I had a walking buddy named Evelyn Layton who, with her mother and dad, lived in the gas station on the corner of our street and State Street. They had fixed up an apartment right in the station. She became my best friend through that year and we were later to meet again in the same apartment house after we were both married.
We were a very poor family all through my school years as most families we knew at that time. Dad’s job with the coal company had dwindled to a few orders for kindling wood and sometimes delivering coal in his truck. As we grew older, it was harder and harder for Mother and Dad to buy school clothes and books. Consequently, we all dropped out of school to go to work, except Lois. Education had no value beyond junior high, certainly not high school. We were somewhat encouraged to think about career training in school, and I had an idea I would like to be a nurse or school teacher and went through my school years with that in mind. But I certainly did not expect anyone to support those ideas or be motivated to do it myself. There was no money. Times were hard. So, after my one year at Granite, I had to find a job to support my next year in school. I got a job in a laundry at the tremendous sum of $8 a week. I didn’t want to give that up to go back to school. I was underage and had to get a work permit from the Board of Education and thought my school days were over.
I really don’t know how Dad fed and clothed his large family. I know the older ones helped some. I remember Dad had chickens and he would go to the bakery for old bakery goods for the chickens. Some of the cakes and rolls were still edible and we used them for our lunches. He had a little wagon that he took to fruit markets and brought home fruits and vegetables that were too ripe to sell. We ate it. He had a vegetable garden for a while across the tracks which helped. But I don’t remember him getting much help from us kids when the harvest time came or any other time. That was below our dignity.
I had a couple of domestic jobs at this time, but I don’t remember why I left one job and went to the next. I lived with a family near 8th South and 5th East who owned a grocery store on State Street and about 8th South. I helped the mother with a big family keep house. I had my own room and radio. Another place was on the avenues where I mostly took care of the kids and the house while the mother and father worked. She was a maid for the president of copper mine at Bingham, and he was their chauffer. I was really low class: a servant to servants. I had a bed in the corner of the 2 boys’ room. But I liked the family and was like one of them.
At this time, I finally got to try my hand at a musical instrument. Reba, maybe remembering the piano lessons, paid for my lessons and a Hawaiian guitar. I did fairly well at it but didn’t have money or incentive to carry it on. But while I was there, their secretary/bookkeeper quit and I was offered the job so I quit my lessons and went to work. I didn’t have the experience for the job and it lasted only a week.
Somewhere back in my school years I met Velma Cole who was one of my best friends for several years. We went to dances together and we started roller skating together at Norm Grondyke’s rink on North Main which was later called The Broadway. Skating was much more fun than dancing because you didn’t need a partner to participate. We later started going to Wooley’s Roller Skating Rink at 450 South State Street. This was a more refined rink where we learned to dance on skates and do figures. I got quite good with both and seldom lacked partners. I joined The Waltz Club and entered the state dance contest in 1940 with James D. Wardell, a local barber, and we danced off with 2nd place and a silver medal. I also achieved a bronze medal status in figure skating without competition. Among these souvenirs are several copies of the rink paper called “The Waltz Club News”, which I submitted a gossip column with a friend, Helen Gleason, under the byline of “The Gold Dust Twins”. These papers obviously were not written for posterity as it is difficult to find dates on them. But one or two are dated 1938 and 39. Those memories are good. We had lots of fun and I had lots of friends. Lois joined the fun and we were both to meet our husbands there. One Christmas while she was still in High School at Granite, Lois made me a skating dress with a circular skirt in grey lined in red, with a military type jacket with red double breasted buttons down the front. It made skating more fun. I loved to spin in it as it gave me balance.
Some of the friends I made at the skating rink were going back to school in the fall of 1939 at South High School. I decided to join them and finish my high school. I couldn’t do this from my home on Wentworth Avenue because it was not in the city limits. But Eldon and Martha with baby Doug were living within the city limits just 2 blocks away. I used their address and was a school girl again. I liked South better for several reasons. It was closer, I had more friends and maybe I was wiser now that I was 2 years older. I enjoyed my studies more. I was a late bloomer but this time I kept at it until I graduated with the class of ’41.
At the end of the 30’s, I was going to school and would graduate; I was young, single and having fun. I hardly noticed the dark clouds of war hovering over us. Life was good. I was high. In Rantoul, Illinois, in 1939, a young man had enlisted in the Air Force at Chanute Field, and was beginning his hold pattern that was to bring him to Salt Lake Airport and into my life.