Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog

The First Presidency Speaks on Universal Military Service, 1945

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 15, 2014

After long years of war, after watching the effects of military service – even service in what was and is almost universally seen as a just war in a righteous cause – the First Presidency responded to national discussions about the possibility of compulsory universal military training in a letter to Utah’s congressional delegation (two senators and two representatives) with this letter, dated 14 December 1945:

Press reports have for some months indicated that a determined effort is in making to establish in this country a compulsory universal military training designed to draw into military training and service the entire youth of the nation. We had hoped that mature reflection might lead the proponents of such a policy to abandon it. We have felt and still feel that such a policy would carry with it the gravest dangers to our Republic.

It now appears that the proponents of the policy have persuaded the Administration to adopt it, in what on its face is a modified form. We deeply regret this, because we dislike to find ourselves under the necessity of opposing any policy so sponsored. however, we are so persuaded of the rightfulness of our position, and we regard the policy so threatening to the true purposes for which this Government was set up, as set forth in the great Preamble to the Constitution, that we are constrained respectfully to invite your attention to the following considerations:

1. By taking our sons at the most impressionable age of their adolescence and putting them into army camps under rigorous military discipline, we shall seriously endanger their initiative thereby impairing one of the essential elements of American citizenship. While on its face the suggested plan might not seem to visualize the army camp training, yet there seems little doubt that our military leaders contemplate such a period, with similar recurring periods after the boys are placed in the reserves.


Advent: The Sweetest Sound

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 15, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1944 –

The Sweetest Sound

A True Story of Pioneer Life as told by Rachael M. Jensen to LaRene King Bleecker

The evening before Christmas 1855, Martha Middleton stood before the fireplace in her one-room cabin, stirring meal into an iron kettle. The day had seemed endlessly long with Charles away with the herd in West Weber.

She shivered as she thought of the dangers surrounding her husband – the intense cold of a wintry blizzard raging outside which would send the hungry wolves in droves to attack the starving cattle. Men had to stay with the diminishing herd day and night. There was nothing to feed the cattle except the bark of young trees and occasionally the meat, cooked over campfires obtained from the carcasses of dead stock. Their own herd of thirteen cows had been reduced to five.

Martha was young and pretty, with pink skin, gray-blue eyes, and hair as golden and fine as corn silk. She loved to dance, and ride, and with all the fervor of a child, she loved Christmas. She wondered, now as she stirred the meal, if Charles would be home.


In Our Ward: Lesson 46: “A Kingdom, Which Shall Never Be Destroyed”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 14, 2014

Lesson 46: “A Kingdom, Which Shall Never Be Destroyed”

Daniel 2
Doctrine & Covenants 65

Purpose: To strengthen class members’ testimonies of the restored Church of Jesus Christ and encourage them to help build the kingdom of God on earth.

Scripture Discussion and Application

1. Daniel receives a revelation in which he is shown King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and given its interpretation.
2. Daniel describes and interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

Write Millennium on board; ask for its meaning. Underline Mill and en and explain, if necessary, its literal meaning; accept with little comment class ideas of what will occur during that period.

When will the Millennium come?


Advent: The Spirit of Love

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 14, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1927 –

The Spirit of Love

By D.C. Retsloff

Ten-year-old Mary Eleanor was happy. Christmas was just twenty days away. There were so many wonderful things to do, so many secrets to share with mother, grandmother and Aunt Alice.

Mother was helping her make needle cases for grandmother and Aunt Alice. Every half hour was delightful for her as she sat in mother’s room and they sewed together. What fun it was, putting the work away, if they heard grandmother or Aunt Alice calling from the flat above where they lived.

Two afternoons a week Mary Eleanor went up to grandmother’s flat and worked on a luncheon set for mother. The yard square cloth of white crepe was blanket-stitched on each side with blue floss, and there were blue forget-me-nots in two of the corners. Making the pongee silk handkerchief for Uncle Harvey was harder than the work on the luncheon cloth. Sometimes Mary Eleanor was almost discouraged over the handkerchief, but Aunt Alice was always close beside to cheer her up.


Advent: The Christmas Pinata

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 13, 2014

From the Children’s Friend, December 1960 –

The Christmas Pinata

By D.P. Barnhouse

When the sun dipped behind the western edge of the Sierras, Juan drove the goats down into the valley. Lupe, the white goat, wore a leather collar hung with copper bells. They made a pleasant tinkling sound when she moved.

It reminded Juan of the coins in his pocket. Without looking, he knew that they added up to less than four pesos. He had been saving ever since his father said that they must do without a Christmas pinata this year.

Now Mexican children do not have a Christmas tree. Instead, they hang from the ceiling a colorful human or animal figure fashioned from crepe paper. Inside the figure is concealed an earthenware pot filled with treats. On Christmas day, each child is blindfolded in turn and given a stick with which to try to break the pinata.


Advent: The Blue Spruce

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 12, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1930 –

The Blue Spruce

By Ivy Williams Stone

David Lockwood the first had shaggy, beetling eyebrows, from which steel blue eyes glared at his enemies and repulsed would-be friends. When beaten men stood before the mahogany desk marked “president,” they expected and received scant mercy from those cold, calculating eyes.

David Lockwood the second had dreamy, visionary brown eyes that saw beauty in every sunset and converted commonplace meadows into pastoral scenes. He paid little attention to matters of money, for there were too many beautiful pictures that needed to be painted.

David Lockwood the third had deep blue, mischievous eyes that dared you to kiss the dimples in his neck. Mortgages and interest, canvas and pigments caused him no concern. His greatest anxiety was keeping track of his building blocks, and finding hidden sweets in his daddy’s pockets.


That Lad

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

That Lad

By George E. Gibby

When I come home all tired out,
No pep left in my knees,
And throw myself upon the couch,
That lad begins to tease.
He takes my pencil from my coat,
My watch fob from my vest:
He smears my order book with jam
And climbs upon my chest.
He wants to ride a bucking horse
So grabs my new silk tie;
And when I see those eyes of his –
I simply have to try.
We tumble o’er the couch and floor
And make an awful noise –
Then mother says, with pleasing eyes:
“I’m glad we’re not all boys.”
I’ve seen rich men with childless wives
Grow surly, old and gray –
Ah, I am glad I have a lad
Who coaxes me to play.


Mormon Stuff to Give for Christmas, 1965

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1965 —



Letters from Washakie, 1903

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

In 1903, during his first year of school teaching, Daniel Horace Lillywhite (1880-1962) of Beaver and Salt Lake City, lived in Box Elder County, Utah, teaching children and teenagers of the Washakie (Shoshone) people. Wanting to showcase the progress of his students, he selected four letters written as a classroom exercise to send to a Latter-day Saint publication. The four student writers were all Latter-day Saints, as was teacher Lillywhite.

In introducing his set of letters, he addressed his presumed readers as those “whom the Lord has blessed with intelligence, and beautiful white skin and surrounded with every comfort and advantage necessary to their becoming what it was intended they should become – little helpers to each other, bearers of each other’s burdens, comforters to those whom sorrow has bowed down, bringing joy and gladness when they come and shedding rays of light where all is gloomy darkness.”

By contrast, the “little Lamanite brothers and sisters” whom he was introducing “do not have pretty white skin like most of us; but they have jet black hair, sparkling, eager black eyes, and half sad, half smiling countenances. … The Lord in His infinite wisdom and goodness is opening a way for these little dark children to become intelligent and useful, that they may redeem themselves by works of goodness and acts of kindness, and merit the smiles and favor of our Heavenly Father.”


Advent: “Beat Glad Drums!”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 11, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1948 –

“Beat Glad Drums!”

By Mary Knowles

Ruth held tight to Jake’s arm and looked at the gold and white drum set in the window and then with trembling at the sign that said $150. “There they are, Jake!”

Jake didn’t say anything, just looked, his old felt hat pushed to the back of his head, and she thought, $150, and just a bit over two weeks until Christmas! She could hear Jerry’s excited voice, “Oh, golly, Mom. You should see the drum set in Kimball’s window. What a Christmas present that would make!”


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