A business tourist named Joseph Lauer visited Salt Lake City while on a 1909 business trip and reported his visit in his hometown newspaper. In every way his was an ordinary visit, and he describes sights and events with which we’re all familiar. What interests me about this particular account, though, is that it came at a time when Mormonism was still recovering from the negative publicity of the Smoot hearings; more bad times were just ahead when various religious and women’s groups would raise a remarkable fuss over the silver service presented to the battleship Utah,to be followed by investigations in Great Britain, foul movies like “A Mormon Maid” and “Trapped by the Mormons,” and on and on – acceptance and peaceful times were still years away.
But as this report demonstrates, some tourists were capable of visiting the Mormon capital without a social or political agenda. Joseph Lauer was just a curious tourist. Through him we can see an ordinary day on Temple Square, and see what tourist guides were saying – even witness the famous “dropping of a pin” demonstration in the tabernacle that tourists still see today. We already know everything he’ll report to us – what’s fun is watching him report it without any hint of political commentary.
From the Relief Society Magazine, May 1952 –
It Happened One Day
By Edna Rae Madsen
Spring in Arizona is cool and pleasant. Bright cardinals flash everywhere; yellow grosbeaks fill the shrubs and bushes; mockingbirds sing all night long. The children go to school with no coats on. They skip and sing, play jacks and marbles, and hopscotch, long before their northern cousins.
However, I felt a bit lonely and dispirited in spite of the lovely weather; but that day something unexpected was to happen to change all my feelings.
Frank, my husband, taught music at the junior college, which was just down two houses and across the street from our place. As a special event there, Mr. Paul Bliss, the well-known pianist, was scheduled to play a concert. He was expected to arrive about noon on the bus from El Paso, and play at eight o’clock in the evening.
Forty-six years ago tomorrow, the newspaper of Corby, England – the Leader – published a front-page story under the headline “Pestering Mormons Under Fire.” The article featured the comments of Jack Stevens, the town’s councillor, who “called for a stop to their [the Mormons] onslaught on unsuspecting people,” and of the Rev. Ted Bale, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Andrew, that Mormon missionaries were “more difficult to get rid of than a door-to-door salesman.” He also claimed that we were not accepted as a member of the World Council of Churches “because of [our] ‘outrageous’ beliefs. … the Mormons are plausible and dedicated, I cannot help but admire their enthusiasm – but far from the Christian.”
One of the readers of that front-page story was James McFarlane Crawford, a man who lived in Paisley, Scotland. Mr. Crawford was not a Mormon, and as far as I know he had never even visited Corby. But he knew one young man working there, and he wrote a letter to the editor of the Leader in defense of that young man.
My Son Is a Mormon – and Proud of It
I have just read your article of the “Pestering Mormons” in the Corby Leader (February 21), to which you gave a front page spread.
I am a Scotsman born and bred. I was married in the Church of England during the last war, while in the Indian Ordnance Dept., to a Military Nursing Service Sister when we were both in service in India. We are the parents of one of your “Pestering Mormons.”
Our Temple Mothers
By James Kirkham, Sr.
Mothers of virtue, truth and right,
Adorned in garments pure and white,
They’re guiding stars for those who will
Battle for truth and Israel.
Aiding those who enter in
To temple courts for blessings holy,
Redeeming souls from death and sin,
Their reward in heaven only.
Cheering those who are poor and aged,
Counseling our favored youth,
Helping up the lost and fallen,
Teaching them the ways of truth.
Then blessed be our temple mothers.
Ever cherished may they be,
Clothed in robes of righteousness,
Crowned with immortality.
And how do your ward’s band uniforms measure up?
Back row, left to right: Heber Brewer, George Cheshire, Herbert Van Dam, Stephen W. Alley, Robert B. Miller.
Middle row: James Eardley, Thomas Roberts, John W. Andrew, William Case, Jacob Neimoyer.
Front row: Hyrum Case, George W. Symons, Conductor, Thomas Croxall.
The first book I ever owned came to me on the heels of near tragedy. It was at a Community Christmas Tree party in our little country town. The huge tree lighted with hundreds of burning candles and a human Santa Claus bedecked in this regalia consisting of a padded suit amply trimmed with fluffy cotton set an ideal stage for that which followed. Before our horrified gaze Santa caught fire and as he ran frantically out through a rear exit he swept along with him trimmings, candles, presents, and even a part of the tree itself. Following the completed distribution of gifts, while the pseudo actor rested comfortably under hospital care, I returned home to inquiring parents, disconsolate and dejected because no gift was on the tree for me. The next day from out of the ruins of the fire a book, half burned, was found with my name in it. That book was Tom, the Bootblack, by Horatio Alger, Jr.
From the Improvement Era, June 1953 –
By Ora Pate Stewart
Janice Potter raised her sleeping baby and pressed her face against his fat little neck. He smelled so sweet with powder rubbed into the top half of him and oil smoothed over the lower half. She usually didn’t bathe him at night; but lately she had taken to putting him in the big tub last thing and letting him soak and splash and get a last workout, then rocking him to sleep. Most of the girls she knew just put their babies to bed at night and shut the door; but she had found that he slept better after this ritual; and it was something to do. There was plenty to do, but this was something you could do with somebody. The evenings weren’t so lonely this way – not until eight o’clock anyway!
Janice laid the infant tenderly in his crib and drew the sheet and one blanket up over him. It was spring now. One blanket would be enough.
In 1922, the Deseret News photographer couldn’t get a good picture of the scenery erected inside the Tabernacle for a pageant that was then being staged … so they just drew the scenery onto a photograph of the Tabernacle interior.
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We’ve talked about this kind of thing before, and I hope you don’t find it monotonous, but I remain fascinated by the early 20th century tendency toward adding unnecessary ritual to the administration and passing of the sacrament. This account from 1933, from a ward in the Salt Lake Valley, adds several details – positioning the deacons according to height, for instance – to what we’ve seen in previous accounts. I wonder how far it would have gone had not the Presiding Bishop, two years following this report, to avoid the formalism of deacons’ uniforms?
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