When You Are Eighty
By Peter Gottfredson
If the years before have been lived aright,
Your legs will be nimble, your eyes will be bright,
And you will be loved, though your hair may be white,
When you are eighty.
But should it be, you are faded and worn
By battles you’ve fought and the burdens you’ve borne,
By a smile you’ll win more than by looking forlorn,
When you are eighty.
If you plant with care and good seed you sow,
You’ll have pleasure ahead in the crops that grow.
The things I am telling you are things I know,
Because I am eighty.
This is the New Year’s greeting sent out by Mormon artist J. Leo Fairbanks at the opening of 1921:
Until I saw the entry on the Church History Library Catalog the other day, I had no idea there was any uncertainty about the identity of the woman in the following photograph, but the catalog identifies the picture as “a black woman, possibly Jane Manning James.”
The other day I invited you to guess what kinds of questions Church members in the first half of the 20th century wrote to ask Church leaders – what was on the minds of Latter-day Saints of that era? While I haven’t kept anything like a statistical record, here is my subjective impression of the most frequently asked questions in the correspondence collections I have surveyed:
(It’s worth noting that many people wrote simply desiring to know the answer to their question, whatever the answer happened to be. Very often, though, it’s clear that some people had become embroiled in arguments in their families or wards and were looking for ammunition in the form of an endorsement from a General Authority, less for genuine information than for winning the argument. And in a small but significant number of cases, people really did try to set Church policy by calling on leaders to adopt and teach the letter writer’s personal philosophy.)
Without question, Word of Wisdom-related questions were the most frequently asked.
Sometimes these were simple requests for explanations (“What are ‘hot drinks’?”); other requests concerned the history of our understanding of the Word of Wisdom (“Section 89 doesn’t mention tea and coffee – why are they forbidden?”)
Good Night, My Boys, Good Night!
By Pvt. Riley C. Tison
Good night, my boys! Your busy day is past,
The twilight’s here, and sandman calls at last;
Your toys have served you well, and you’ve been told
How Christ brought back the lost sheep to his fold –
A bed-time truth which makes your clear eyes glow –
Tonight he’s watching o’er the lambs, you know.
Your prayers are past! your Bible verse is said;
I’ve kissed your locks and tucked you both in bed.
So rest and dream sweet dreams, ‘twill all be bright
When you awake. Good night, my boys, good night!
Good night, my boys! You’ve both reached manhood now.
The war and duty calls – and we must bow;
Your train is waiting – let me kiss each head,
As I did when I tucked you both in bed.
Just read your testament, be brave, and pray
That God will bring you safely home some day;
Don’t mind your mother’s sobbing, and her tears,
They tell of love that’s grown through all these years.
I dedicate you now to truth and right …
Good night, my boys, good night!
Workers from all over the world flooded Eureka, Nevada, in the 1870s.
They came together in the unique way a mining town formed, with representation from a broad spectrum of trades and professions. There were miners and coal burners, woodchoppers, rag pickers, saloon owners, brewers, two newspaper editors, one printer’s devil, professional gamblers, physicians aplenty, an undertaker, a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, and a multitude of prostitutes.
Prostitution in the Old West had a loose racial hierarchy. Scholars of the sex trade noted that the most desirable prostitutes were French, followed by all other whites, Mexicans, Native Americans, African-Americans, and, last of all, Chinese. (more…)
Today Church members are asked not to write directly to General Authorities, but to speak to their bishops and stake presidents, and let those local leaders decide whether it is necessary to contact a higher authority.
I don’t know all the reasons for that change in practice, but I can guess at some of them – I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past 15 years through collections of correspondence and seeing what members have written. Many people have asked for personal advice (or favors, or cash, or jobs) that are either completely inappropriate or which could hardly be answered without a personal acquaintance with the letter-writer. Responding to letters, even when Church members ask questions that a General Authority can reasonably respond to, must have been terribly time-consuming. Because Church members tended to ask the same doctrinal questions over and over, year after year, some leaders found themselves dictating the same answers over and over again.
Sometimes General Authorities took these questions and answers and turned them into books. John A. Widtsoe wrote his Evidences and Reconciliations first as articles in the Improvement Era and then compiled into book series. Joseph Fielding Smith did the same thing, answering questions in the Improvement Era and compiling many of those columns into his series Answers to Gospel Questions.
From the Relief Society Magazine, March 1949 –
By Mildred R. Stutz
Muriel watched her daughter Connie walk up the path toward the front door. Her books were tucked under her arm, her saddle Oxfords scuffed the wet pavement slightly. Her blonde head was stiffly erect and she gave no indication that she was aware of the girls walking down the sidewalk behind her. Muriel sighed and turned from the rain-drenched window. There was no sense in letting Connie know that her lonesomeness was not a secret.
The door opened and Connie came in. “Hello, Mother,” she said, “mmmmm, something smells good – baked ham?”
“Yes, orders from the boss. Is it still raining?”
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Published in the Juvenile Instructor in 1918, L.A. Ramsey’s “Liahona” is a simpler, less busy depiction of a scene we’re more familiar with in Arnold Friberg’s style —
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