Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Life Among the Mormons, 1970

Life Among the Mormons, 1970

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 01, 2008

During the last few years of The Improvement Era‘s run, the editors paid $3 per story for funny, true incidents from Mormon life. Here are some of my favorites from 1970:

In leading into our priesthood lesson concerning family growth and the role of the mother, our instructor asked, “Why do we exist in the human family as two different sexes – male and female?” Without hesitation the elders quorum president answered, “So there’ll be opposition in all things.” – Brent Farley, Tempe, Arizona


In the mission field people often ask us, while we’re tracting, if we are insurance salesmen. One of my companions, exasperated at being so frequently questioned, finally said, “Yes, we’re with Eternal Life!” – Elder Elvin Frank Jones, Texas Mission


After a few days of school with a new teacher, my seven-year-old daughter reported, “I don’t think my new teacher is a Mormon.” “Why?” we asked. “Because she is never in a hurry,” was the reply. – Patricia Butitofer, Rigby, Idaho


Before I joined the Church, a friend took me to Relief society one morning. When she introduced me to the bishop’s wife, she said, to no one in particular, “She’s an investigator.” Not knowing latter-day Saint terminology, I took this as a subtle warning to me to be careful, that the bishop’s wife would investigate me before I could join the Church. For quite a while after that I was most cautious and on my best behavior when in the company of the bishop’s wife, so her report on me would be favorable! – Kathleen N. Slater, Tooele, Utah


Bobby, a four-year-old boy who had heard the golden questions discussed in his home, was traveling with his parents on a bus. Becoming restless, he walked up the aisle and got into a conversation with an elderly man. His father heard him say, “What do you know about the Mormons?” When the man answered that he didn’t know much about them, Bobby posed the next question. “Would you like to know more?” the man answered, “Yes.” Bobby, somewhat bewildered, faltered, then appealed to his father: “What do I do now, Daddy?” – Della Bennett, Meadow, Utah


The San Bernardino Stake holds its girls’ camp each year in the nearby San Bernardino Mountains. I have goen for two years – and each time have been sent to the infirmary. When I told a friend my illness had been diagnosed as altitude sickness, she exclaimed, “Well! What are you going to do when you get to the celestial kingdom?” – Debbie Coleman, San Bernardino, California


In our early morning seminary class, our teacher asked for a show of hands how many had ancestors who had crossed the plains. Several hands shot up, including that of a Lamanite boy of the Cheyenne tribe. Aloud he added, “Many times!” – Basin City Ward Seminary, Mesa, Washington


Since the YWMIA organist was absent, the president asked a young Beehive girl to play the piano. Consequently, our opening hymn was the only one she knew: “Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing.” – Carolle Denton, Sterling, Utah


Because of previous commitments, one family was finding it increasingly difficult to hold family home evening. After numerous postponements, the father awakened his children at 5:00 a.m. “Everybody up! it’s family morning!” It was amazing how swiftly the children were able to arrange their schedules to accommodate family home evening. – Carma Rossi, Centerville, Utah




  1. Well, it looks as if the Era folks saved $27, since not one of those is funny!

    Comment by Mark B. — August 1, 2008 @ 6:41 am

  2. Not even one? Not even a little?

    Then I have succeeded in my nefarious plot to render you giddy with glee when we return to the yuk-yuks of an earlier generation …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 1, 2008 @ 7:03 am

  3. Well, I guess I am easily entertained, but I laughed at each one. Thanks for helping me start my morning the right way.

    Comment by S.Faux — August 1, 2008 @ 7:25 am

  4. Then, S., I have succeeded in my nefarious plot to render you giddy with glee when I post the stories from 1969 …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 1, 2008 @ 7:32 am

  5. Ardis, keep ’em coming. Some of these are quite funny, and all of them are sidesplitters compared to what passes for humor in the church magazines today. While others may look for the moon to turn to blood, or earthquakes in divers places, I think a sign of the apocalypse is our inability to see that we are often funny.

    My wife and I have sometimes used the one about opposition in all things on one another. When there is an uneasy silence in the house about a commitment not kept, or a difference of opinion that is threatening to become a full-blown argument, that little bit of humor has lightened the mood and brought the sun out again.

    Comment by Mark IV — August 1, 2008 @ 8:00 am

  6. Thanks, Ardis.

    I’ll have to try the last one. I think my kids would react the same way.

    I’m trying to decide whether or not to share the “She’s never in a hurry” one with me wife. I might get slugged, so I’m not sure I will do so. My wife will appreciate, however, the “opposition in all things” story.

    Also, as someone who sings the same half-dozen songs in Priesthood meeting, since those are the songs the pianist knows how to play, I can relate to “Lord, Dismiss Us With They Blessing” – even without the irony.

    Comment by Ray — August 1, 2008 @ 8:09 am

  7. Then, Mark and Ray, I have succeeded in my nefarious plot to … to … to amuse you this morning. (I’m running out of nefarious plots.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 1, 2008 @ 8:13 am

  8. Ok, I overstated my case a little. I don’t want to spoil anybody’s fun.

    And, I’ve doubled over in laughter at things that would just make others groan (like most of the tales above). I guess you just had to be there.

    One day while tracting in the southern part of the lovely seaside village of Sakai, Japan (it’s actually a gritty industrial city of about 1 million just south of Osaka, a gritty industrial city of 3 million), a woman we met was surprised at the low cost of the Book of Mormon we were offering her–I think it was 250 yen, under $1.00 at the exchange rate back then. As she went back into the house to get her money, my companion said, in English, sotto voce: “Yeah, we’re not out here selling books for a profit.”

    We sure thought it was funny 34 years ago.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 1, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  9. Well, I appreciate your nefarious plot, whatever it is. And since we are sharing laughs….
    We just moved from Maryland to Tennessee. On the way home from church on that first Sunday, my nine year old son says to the missionaries riding in our car. “Look at all the Jew cars”.
    Shocked, embarrased, and a little confused we asked him what he meant?
    “Right there” as he points to the strip mall parking lot full of cars. Our old church was in the countryside. Our new church is in a major shopping district. So this was his first sight of other people shopping on Sunday. And in his mind people who shop on Sunday must be Jewish.

    Comment by BruceC — August 1, 2008 @ 9:19 am

  10. Well, um, uh, er, at least he’s giving everybody, Jewish and Christian alike, the credit of assuming we all honor our own Sabbath!

    And yours is still funny 34 years later, Mark.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 1, 2008 @ 9:30 am

  11. Those are interesting. I think Church magazines should do that more often.

    My mother had a great one that she should have submitted (although, I’m not sure that the IE would have printed it due to its subject matter). I remember when my mother enrolled me in Kindergarten. It was 1970 and just a few months after Woodstock and Altamont. When the enrollment form asked for religion, my mother nearly wrote LSD instead of LDS.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 1, 2008 @ 10:01 am

  12. A clarification on my previous post–my mother was a straight arrow. There was so much in the media at the time about illicit drug use and my mother in her haste to fill out my enrollment form got confused.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 1, 2008 @ 10:06 am

  13. Suuuuure, Steve, suuuure. (I’m guessing she was really a closet Trekkie, prophetically aware that Kirk would explain Spock’s odd behavior in ST IV by saying he had done “too much LDS in the ’60s.”)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 1, 2008 @ 10:21 am

  14. Mark B, your number 8 reminded me of a time as a freshman in college when I mentioned something about a church activity, with no charges involved for attending.

    One of my non-member friends responded with “You don’t need to make a profit, you already have one!”

    And this was, indeed, 1970. Seemed very funny at the time.

    Comment by kevinf — August 1, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  15. Doesn’t the business school at BYU have the informal motto “I’m a Mormon, and I believe in a profit”?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 1, 2008 @ 1:01 pm

  16. [Self-edited unkind comment about the B School and people who go there.]

    Comment by Mark B. — August 1, 2008 @ 1:31 pm

  17. Lol, Ardis, these are wonderful! =) (/easily amused)

    Comment by Tatiana — August 1, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

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