Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Sister Missionary, 1946-48: Part Two

Sister Missionary, 1946-48: Part Two

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 28, 2010

Part One of this series followed sister missionary Evelyn Taylor as she prepared for her mission to the Northern California Mission in 1946 and trained at the Missionary Home in Salt Lake City in November of that year. To that post I would add one more image just found in Evelyn’s papers, of a card I think probably allowed her access to the Lion House cafeteria during her days in the Missionary Home:

She evaluated her Missionary Home experience in her new diary:

The ten days in the Mission home in Salt Lake were in themselves worth coming. I have never enjoyed anything so much, learned so much in such a short time. And time never went by so fast. Pres. Colton is wonderful, he is a very good instructor and a good sense of humor. I liked him as soon as I saw him. There was such a good feeling there, too. Everyone was anxious to learn which made the classes more interesting.

Evelyn left early on Thanksgiving morning. Because her family lived in Salt Lake City, she was able to stop by the family home the afternoon before and say goodbye; her mother sent her off with a box filled with turkey sandwiches to feed Evelyn and her seven traveling companions as they took the train across Nevada, headed for the mission home in San Francisco – six of the group were headed for the Northern California Mission; one would go to Hawaii; and the last would continue on to Australia..

On the following Sunday, Evelyn wrote home to tell her family about her travels:

Dec 1, 1946

Dear Mom & kids,

Today is Sunday and the beginning of a new month. So far everything has gone well.

We had the car practically to ourselves all the way out here. One couple got on at Ogden and they were the only other ones with us.

All of the elders made it a special point that I should tell you how much they enjoyed their turkey dinner. We had a good time on the way out – I didn’t want to leave them all and come up here alone.

One of the elders [Elder Spurrier] had his accordion with him – he played for us and we sang a while. The brakemen and conductor were in our car quite a bit – especially one of the brakemen. While we were singing he asked who we were & where we were going. Spurrier started to tell him. He said we were Mormon missionarys and started to tell him what the missionary work was when the brakeman said “Excuse me” and dashed out.

We started laughing about how quick he got cut off. But he came back in a few minutes & said he had to make an appearance about then so Spurrier finished his story.

I saw plenty of Nevada and it’s the same from one end to the other. We arrived in Oakland about seven but it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything. however, by the time we got on the ferry it had lifted some and we saw the Oakland Bay bridge & Treasure Island. There were sure some big seagulls there. We went down on the lower deck while we crossed – it wasn’t a very long ride.

When we got to San Francisco we couldn’t see anyone to meet us and walked out to the front of the depot. Everyone was wearing a hat so pretty soon a couple of fellows walked up and asked us if we happened to be Mormon missionaries. And sure enough we did.

They left everyone’s baggage but mine in the depot & we went up on the trolley (and I mean up) to the mission home. I think everyone had it all picked out that I was to stay at the mission home, including me.

The San Francisco architects certainly don’t waste any space. There’s block after block of tenement houses (I guess) built right smack against each other. Every time you come to an intersection the road either goes up or down.

The mission home is beautiful. It’s on top of a hill and across the street from Buena Vista Park. The park looked so pretty – it’s built sort of up hill – all we could see was the green foliage – we wanted to go over and see it but didn’t get the opportunity.

And the home is simply lovely. I’ve never seen anything like it. When it was first bought – about 4 yrs ago – the furniture in one of the rooms was so beautiful and fragile it was sent to the Salt Lake temple. But you couldn’t ask for anything better than what they have now. It’s too pretty to live in. Pres. [German E.] Ellsworth took us in all of the rooms. He and his wife [Mary Smith Ellsworth] are very nice. They served us dinner – it was really good.

I left Friday afternoon at 3 on the bus for Ukiah. I keep forgetting how to say the darn thing. Elder Burton (from the mission home) took me to the depot. They treat you so good.

A man sat by me on the bus and after we’d been out a ways he started to find where I was going & if I had relatives there. When I said I was a missionary he made a funny noise and looked like he was going to get up. But he said he had been in Ukiah quite a while and knew about the Mormons.

Anyway, he pointed out interesting things to me along the way. We went over the Golden Gate bridge & saw Alcatraz. I had expected it to be farther out than it was.

The trip took four hours – the sisters met me and we went to a lady’s home who is a member where a group of people were practicing for a Sunday evening service. After that we went to the hall the church rents (it’s above a pool hall) to do some decorating for a party the next night.

It was a box lunch party – all of the women were to bring lunches in a box all decorated up and they were auctioned off to the men, the proceeds to go into the building fund. there were about 20 boxes and they brought $260.00. and there were only 40 or 20 people there – a couple of non-members whose wives belong to the church bought 2 each – the highest went for thirty dollars. There was a short program, too, and dancing.

Evelyn adds in her diary:

The women eat lunch with the man who buys their box. Everyone had a good time, the bidders had the most fun of all, I think. It was sure fun to watch the men push the bids up when someone wanted a particular box.

There was a Hawaiian orchestra and dancing. And we had the banquet hall decorated. There was white paper on the tables, a wide strip of green crepe paper down the center & three red candles with white cotton and snow sparkles on them. The lights were turned off and the candles lit.

The candle-sticks were made of little blocks of wood with holes bored in the center.

Back to her letter –

Monday. You don’t get much time for yourself.

Sunday morning we went to Sunday School. There are three classes – adults – 2nd intermediate – and children. Right after Sunday School we hold sacrament meeting. Sunday night we went to a meeting in a home. Afterwards Pres Call (branch pres) took us to his home & showed us a fish he caught – salmon & weighed 20 pounds. Gee it was big. He had gone fishing the night before and caught ten. He gave us one for our dinner Sunday & Mom Hastings baked it for us.

Then we sat around and talked for a while – sang for a while and finally went home.

Bro. Williams, a member, comes and gets us every time we are going anyplace (meetings) and brings us back. we’re treated good.

Friday after we were through at the hall Bro & Sister Jordan were taking us home when they decided to give us some pie. So we had a piece of pumpkin pie with a big slab of ice cream on top. Sure was good. While we were there he shined our shoes for us.

Today we went to the army surplus store in town & got me a WAC raincoat – my companion has one, too. Then I got a pair of boots that you don’t have to wear shoes with. So I’m all set for it to rain.

We also had Primary today. There were three children there. They’re making tanks out of little blocks of wood. They paint them gray, nail them together, use bottle caps for wheels & nails for guns.

We sure walk a lot. I’ll be glad when my other shoes get here. …

The couple we live with are non-members and their name is Hastings. They’re sure nice. Before the missionaries started living with them they said they didn’t want religion talked to them. They’re Methodist. Pop has some very decided ideas and once he gets going there’s no stopping him or getting a word in edgewise as I’ve already found out. We can come and go as we please & do what we want. We fix our own meals & wash our own clothes. The rent is $11.50 per mo & groceries come to $10.00 per mo apiece. Which is quite cheap. I think the Hastings made it cheaper for us because of our work.

My companion is Lucy Durtschi from Driggs, Ida. She has a twin sister [Lucile] in the same mission. She’s a red head & we get along fine together. …

Sis says Ukiah has a pop of 6,000. Anyway it’s quite a bit smaller than Salt Lake. There isn’t a local bus system. We live in a good section. It seems to be quite a well to do town – I haven’t seen any houses that are run down – they’re all so neat and clean. It’s in a valley – the mountains on the west – the town is right at the foot of them. Everything is getting green – as soon as the rain starts I’m told the mountains will be green as grass. There was a rain a week before I came and the sidewalks (dirt) are covered with little green grass & where there’s pavement it grows up in the cracks. So I should have a green Christmas.

I must close now.

Love –


Evelyn May Taylor left for her mission to northern California on Thanksgiving Day, 1946. On the eve of Thanksgiving Day, 2010, she completed her earthly mission, passing away in Bountiful, Utah. She will be missed on this side of the veil.

Next in the series: The daily life of a lady missionary in Northern California, 1947.



  1. Thank you for sharing this, and I am sorry to hear of your aunt’s passing.

    Comment by kew — December 28, 2010 @ 7:25 am

  2. I enjoyed reading the little details in her journal and letter: the accordian on the train, the park across from the mission home, the meeting place above the pool hall (why is it always a pool hall?), the pumpkin pie, and the homemade candle holders at the banquet. Also, Sister Taylor seems to have a good sense of humor.

    I didn’t know where Ukiah was, so looked it up (Google Map here).

    Comment by David Y. — December 28, 2010 @ 10:13 am

  3. Thanks!

    I’ve just contacted a son of Ev’s companion Lucy Durtschi, about the possibility of exchanging information about their common mission experiences.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 28, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  4. Your aunt was a marvelous correspondent, Ardis. That letter is so lively and entertaining! The particulars David Y. mentioned tickled me too. I also loved the Branch President showing off his salmon and the kind Brother who shined their shoes—such a homely and touching detail.

    I can’t wait to read the next installment. I would buy the book if her letters and diary were published!

    Comment by Mina — December 28, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  5. Ev was always so quiet — you couldn’t pry two words out of her in an afternoon if she didn’t feel like talking. These chatty letters and her charming diary are really surprising me.

    I’m seriously thinking about preparing her mission papers for publication.It isn’t just that they show a Mormon woman missionary’s life, the kind of life that hasn’t really been looked at too closely before — it’s that they show that life in such lively detail. Thanks for confirming my impression of these papers!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 28, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  6. Ardis, that would be extraordinary. I love this series. It is as you note simply insightful.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 28, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  7. Ardis, you’re awesome, a real treasure. Thank you so much for doing this. I really love this kind of history. It’s why I love the USU “Life Writings of Frontier Women” series do much.

    It seems like most of the history and biography I have learned and read over the years, especially in the church, is about “The Big Boys,” presidents, kings, generals, apostles, prophets, etc. I love history that comes from the perspective of “ordinary people.” I especially love the long overdue opportunity to hear from women like your aunt. The voice and perspective of women have been woefully neglected in history and biography. Thank you for helping to correct that inequity.

    Comment by Andrew Hamilton — December 28, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  8. I left Friday afternoon at 3 on the bus for Ukiah. I keep forgetting how to say the darn thing.

    For those who have the same problem, Ukiah is pronounced “you-KY-uh”. I have friends who lived there, and have visited on several occasions.

    These posts on Evelyn and her mission are compelling. Keep them coming.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — December 28, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  9. What Andrew said +100.

    Comment by Mina — December 28, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

  10. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the account.

    Comment by David M. Morris — December 28, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

  11. How about that…my mother was missionary companions with a Sister Durtschi (can’t remember her first name; must go look it up), also from Driggs. Must be a sibling or cousin! My mom served in the North Central States in 1941-1943.

    Comment by Julie — December 28, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  12. I agree that you should write up Ev’s experiences using her letters and diary. They are priceless.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — December 28, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

  13. I’ll second what Maurine said!

    Comment by Researcher — December 29, 2010 @ 7:10 am

  14. Well, then it’s a done deal! (All that’s left now is to, you know, actually DO it. :) )

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 29, 2010 @ 9:25 am

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