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Snapshots of Mormon Life, 1959

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 12, 2010

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Who were we, and what were we doing as a people, in 1959? Here are a few of us –

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Carlota de Yalibat, Relief Society President,
Coban Branch, Guatemala


Patrons in the library of the Genealogical Society
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Cleaning carpets in the Tabernacle
Benjamin N. Pearce – Hank Kolkman
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Constructing meeting houses,
Northern Mexican Mission
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Guam Branch Primary
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Entertainers at Gold and Green Ball,
Auckland, New Zealand
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Christmas Snowflake Chorus
Cottonwood 2nd Ward (Salt Lake Valley)
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Winning accordion quartet at Western States Accordion Festival,
Long Beach, California
Members of East Mesa (Arizona) Stake:
Frank Milano, Francene Milano, Sylvia Farnsworth, Mila Ann Milano
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Marion G. Romney inspecting site of future chapel,
Brussels, Belgium
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“Mormon Yankees” missionary basketball team,
Sydney, Australia
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Relief Society dramatic group,
Newcastle District (England) Relief Society
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Junior Council, segment on raising funds for
Primary Children’s Hospital
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Latter-day Saints aboard U.S.S. Ranger
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Staff of Genealogical Society examining Polynesian records
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Lamanite Primary of Ramah, New Mexico,
upon completion of 360 baptisms for the dead
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Emigration Stake (Salt Lake) Cub Scouts,
presenting two television sets to Primary Children’s Hospital
after conducting a successful fundraiser
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Sign built by Phoenix Air Scouts
indicating direction of emergency landing strip
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LDS servicemen stationed at Fort Ord, California,
excursion to Los Angeles Temple
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Las Vegas 6th Ward Trailbuilders,
Primary Baseball League
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Beehive Girls of Union 3rd Ward (Salt Lake City), who made neckerchiefs for these new Scouts in Tulao, Samoa
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Random man who is inexplicably pleased to find canned soup in his dinner pot
in every 1959 issue of the Improvement Era
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Stake Presidency and Stake Relief Society Board, Salt Lake Stake
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Reno, Nevada
Relief Society Sisters with their hand-braided rug
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First Presidency:
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.; Henry D. Moyle; David O. McKay
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Eyring Science Center, BYU, between classes
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Granite Seminary, Salt Lake City
Oldest in church (founded 1912)
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Aberdeen, Scotland, MIA Christmas party
featuring “treacle scones and apples”
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25 Comments »

  1. That picture of the Eyring Science Center brings back a flood of old memories. My father had been a member of the Chemistry faculty for three years in 1959, and we’d go up to see him at his office sometimes. That Foucault Pendulum in the center of the room was a mystery then (and still is today, frankly–I don’t understand why it somehow demonstrates that the earth turns).

    Of course, I don’t think I ever completely figured out what Umberto Eco was trying to say in Foucault’s Pendulum, either.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 12, 2010 @ 10:54 am

  2. And I wondered what kind of ship the USS Ranger was, to have that many LDS sailors (and, perhaps, airmen).

    It was an aircraft carrier, with a total crew of over 3,800 men. So the ratio of LDS men to the entire crew isn’t very high–about one in 200.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 12, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  3. That rug is fantastic- what on earth would they use it for though? Also, soup man is easily pleased. In my experience canned vegetable soup is ragingly mediocre and marginally edible. Maybe Rancho was taken from the earth because we weren’t ready for that kind of goodness ;-)

    Comment by Moniker Challenged — February 12, 2010 @ 11:10 am

  4. I can’t figure out Umberto Eco, either, Mark, but I hoped you’d get a kick out of that ESC photo. At least I guessed from what you’ve said before about your father’s tenure there that this would be familiar from later years even if you couldn’t remember as far back as this.

    Moniker, I wondered whether they had made that rug for their own Relief Society room, since the caption didn’t identify it as made for sale. The RS room wouldn’t have had wall-to-wall carpet in 1959 — wouldn’t it be cozy for a small group of sisters to sit with this underfoot as they met for RS? And thanks for noticing soup man. He became such a familiar face that I began looking for him as well as for the section of the magazine where I could expect to find photos for this post.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 12, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  5. The Genealogical Library scene immediately struck me as very unbalanced gender-wise. I copied and enlarged it and counted roughly fifty people, with six of them men. Is it much different today?

    Comment by CurtA — February 12, 2010 @ 11:32 am

  6. It’s still more women than men today in my experience, Curt, although not quite as unbalance as here. Of course we don’t have any information on the context of this picture — was it taken during the day when women were free to come to the library but men were tied up at work? was it a special occasion, a Relief Society outing, say, or some other event where whole groups of women went to the library together that day? and was it really that busy, all the time?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 12, 2010 @ 11:56 am

  7. Well, soup guy was pinged by my Spencer Tracy radar. False alarm ;-)

    Comment by Moniker Challenged — February 12, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  8. Cute picture of the accordion players. Milano is a well-known name in Mesa. The Milano family started a store in downtown Mesa which is one of the best music stores that I’ve ever been in, anywhere. I thought that the store’s name had changed, but I just looked at their website, and it’s still Milano Music Center, although it’s just called Milanos.

    Comment by Researcher — February 12, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  9. Me too Moniker Challenged–for a brief, shining moment I wondered why Mr. Tracy was reduced to selling soup.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 12, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  10. That Rancho Soup caption made me laugh!

    Loving these photos, and oddly enough, I’m loving seeing photos from later and later into the 20th century.

    Comment by Hunter — February 12, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  11. gotta love the specs. i got to have some of those, lucky me. as a matter of fact, some 40 years later i was so irritated by my new need for reading glasses that i found a pair that looked just like those: black with rhinestones on the sides. if i’m gonna wear them, i’m gonna wear some with pizzazz! =)

    Comment by ellen — February 13, 2010 @ 9:05 am

  12. typical Aberdonians- using newspaper as a bib, no laundering required!

    I’m really scared that I’m so old I’ll soon start recognising people in these pics :-)

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — February 13, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  13. Ha! I’m absolved of all guilt for Scottish jokes in the Funny Bones entries! Anne makes ‘em too!

    As for being so old that you might recognize people, here’s another picture that could have been part of the OP, but I’ve saved it so that only the chosen few who check back on new comments to old posts will see li’l Ardis, vintage 1959:

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 13, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  14. Talk about making your private life public, Ardis!

    Comment by Hunter — February 13, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

  15. Well, what did you THINK the middle initial stood for, Hunter? Wonder no more; it’s “Exhibitionist.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 13, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  16. #13 – You were one cute baby, Ardis! :-)
    And, while Anne (U.K.) may indeed be living in Scotland, she is no more Scottish than the majority of the posters on this blog, therefore her comment re. Aberdonian/Scottish meanness will be taken in the spirit in which it was given when next we meet…

    Comment by Alison — February 13, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  17. {cue the sound of a glove thrown at Anne (U.K.)’s feet}

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 13, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

  18. In fact the majority of posters on this blog are FAR MORE Scottish than I! it is my proud boast that, so far, I have uncovered not one Scot amongst my extensive family tree (although there is one black sheep of a great x nth grandfather who may spoil my Scot free record, dang)

    ‘Twas indeed a Scot (who shall remain nameless) who once told me a Church event was ‘quieter than Aberdeen on a charity flag day’… :-)

    Nice pic, Ardis!

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — February 14, 2010 @ 3:34 am

  19. Perhaps we should invite the best known Aberdonian Mormon–and the Chief Whip for the SNP (that’s the Scottish National Party for us Yankees) in the Scottish Parliament–to come and referee the fight!

    I don’t know what that whip looks like, but it might come in handy as these ladies re-enact the Battle of Culloden!

    Comment by Mark B. — February 14, 2010 @ 6:00 am

  20. Awe.Some.

    Comment by m&m — February 16, 2010 @ 12:50 am

  21. Ardis – do you know where around Phoenix that sign built by the Air Scouts was located?

    By the way, in 1959 I was a little egg floating in the ovary of my five-year old mother. Those were the days…

    Comment by Jacob F — October 4, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  22. No idea, Jacob, sorry. These pictures rarely have anymore identifying information than I give (once in a while the name of a missionary or of a Sunday School superintendent in a group shot, but that’s generally all).

    Me, I was a squally, wiggling, red-faced newborn when these pictures were taken. At least I’m not *quite* old enough to be your mother!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

  23. Jacob. The Phoenix sign is still there. It is right across the road from Usury Park at about the same elevation as Wind Cave. I beleve Usury Park is a Mesa City facility. I try to visit the park whenever I visit my daughters. It’s the most convienent “cactus” hike in that end of the valley.

    Comment by Wayne Miller — October 4, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

  24. Thanks, Wayne!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  25. Mark B. found this great Google Maps image of the Phoenix sign near Usery Park. It’s amazing!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2010 @ 9:29 pm

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