Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog
 


Advent: Santa Came on Wheels

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 18, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1941 –

Santa Came on Wheels

By Larene King Bleecker

It was early in December when father first told us of his job at the logging camp. I was sitting between my two brothers on the long, rough slab seat near the fireplace. A back log blazed on the andirons, and the flames leaped up the chimney with a cheery sound. Outside, in the early winter evening, the snow was white on the ground, and the quaking aspens made a dark wall against the clearing.

“Hoggan’s Sawmill is such a long way, John. it must be sixty miles, or more,” said Mother, wiping her eyes on the corner of her apron.

“Will you be able to come home for Christmas, Father?” I asked.

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Christmas Thoughts, 1964

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 17, 2014

To Daddy with Love

by Janice T. Harris

It’s the Christmas season, and again I’m puzzling over gifts. I’ve tried to recall the gifts given last year, and I find I can’t entirely remember. In further contemplation I realize there are few presents I remember as vividly as the gift I gave and the gift I received in return when I was seven.

I had carefully selected gifts for all the family with my little cash. I had left only a nickel for Dad’s gift. With the confidence of the very young, though, I reasoned that I could find something suitable if I just looked carefully.

During the few remaining days until Christmas, my search for an appropriate gift yielded only frustration. The afternoon before Christmas came, and the gifts under the tree were sharp reminders that I had not finished my Christmas preparations.

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Mormon Stuff to Give for Christmas, 1965

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 17, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1965 —

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Antique Office Technology; or, Inviting JimD into the Archives

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 17, 2014

Yesterday’s post was based on a question asked in a letter sent to a general authority. I hoped to sneak by without anyone’s noticing that I didn’t mention any response to that letter. But nooOOOooo! JimD noticed. JimD couldn’t let me get away with it. {grin} So this post is for you, JimD – I’m taking you into the archives with me.

Depending on what survives the years, archives very often have both the incoming and the outgoing correspondence of the figures whose papers they collect. The Brigham Young collection at the Church History Library, for example, has both the original letters that were received by Brigham Young, and the retained copies of letters that he wrote to others. (Visit history.lds.org, click on the link to the Church History Library catalog, search “Brigham Young office papers” — its call number is CR 1234_1 — and then click the “browse collection” button. You’ll see listings for both incoming and outgoing general correspondence, as well as other specialized subcollections.)

Archives – not just CHL, but most archives – seldom file 19th century incoming and outgoing correspondence together. One reason for that is the office technology in use in the 19th century – incoming correspondence is usually loose sheets of paper that can be arranged in an appropriate order and stored in file folders. Outgoing correspondence, however, is very often preserved in bound letterpress copybooks.

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Advent: A Snowbound Christmas Dinner

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 17, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1943 –

A Snowbound Christmas Dinner

By James P. Sharp

Slowly, and almost silently, the mail train pulled out of Denver late in the afternoon of December 24, 1891. Outside, a two-day-old blizzard raged unabated.

My father, Bishop John C. Sharp, of Vernon, Charles R. McBride, Charley to everyone, of Tooele, and I had been to Chicago with a train load of sheep and had left that city in what we supposed to be ample time to reach home before Christmas, but a freight train in Iowa was wrecked just ahead of us and we were delayed for twelve hours. From then it seemed that every time the wheels turned we lost time until, coming up from Omaha, Charley remarked he thought the Pioneers of ‘47 had made better time.

In those days, few trains carried a dining car, but the train would stop for twenty minutes at meal stations. We had learned this – about the time the waiter brought our food the conductor would call, “Board,” and it was up to us to miss our dinner or our train. So before leaving Chicago we purchased one of those “chip” baskets, you know, the kind with a handle over the top and two lids that are raised from the ends, and in this we had put bread, butter, some cheese, a stick of bologna, some hard-boiled eggs, a sack of gingersnaps, a shaker of salt and a bag of raw onions, for both Father and Charley did like onion sandwiches.

Just before we left Denver, Father succeeded in purchasing a loaf of bread and a small apple pie which we ate for supper. Outside the blizzard raged and blew the snow in around the windows but inside we were comfortable, for the brakeman kept the two coal stoves, one in each end of the car, red hot.

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There Are No Unknown Dead

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 16, 2014

There Are No Unknown Dead

By George H. Brimhall

Among those who go forth to perish
That peace may come to earth,
There are no unknown dead.

The All-Seeing Eye beholds them;
In His book of Love is written their lives
And the manner of their death;
And when the reveille of the resurrection shall sound,
They will awaken to the enjoyment of a millennium
For which they gave their all!

(1922)

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The Case of the Infant Elder

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 16, 2014

In 1890, a boy – past his eighth birthday, but not yet baptized – fell gravely ill in Fountain Green, Utah. Doctors told his parents that he could not live. His parents were beside themselves. What would happen to their unbaptized son? They sent for the elders … but not for the reason you might expect. Oh, they undoubtedly did ask for a healing blessing, but they asked for something more …

-oOo-

Ever since I began doing work in Mormon history, I have focused on collections of correspondence, beginning with the letters received (and to a much lesser extent, letters sent) by Brigham Young. People wrote and clerks saved thousands upon thousands of letters, which add up to a fascinating and thorough picture of Church history during those years, coming, as they did, from all kinds of people and all kinds of places with every kind of problem or report or request. I’ve continued to search correspondence collections of church leaders, missionaries, and “ordinary folks” whose papers have ended up in the various archives to which I have access – nothing, to me, is more thrilling than the discovery of another collection. Opening the first box, turning the first pages, anticipating what I’ll find – okay, I get goosebumps just thinking about the possibilities. If you didn’t already know it, I’m a little odd. Or maybe a lot odd. Anyhoo –

One pattern I’ve noticed in correspondence is that when someone – anyone, man or woman, general authority or local leader – gets a reputation for having “the answers,” Latter-day Saints write to that person in droves, asking doctrinal and historical questions. Usually, I’m more interested in the questions people ask than in the answers that are written – answers tend to be remarkably stable over the decades, reflecting what any of us would expect to be said according to our familiarity with Church teachings. The questions, though, reflect what is on the minds of the Saints, and are sometimes surprising. Quite possibly the four most frequent queries of the 20th century have been “What is the status of the negro?” “Am I at risk for becoming a Son of Perdition?” “Is Coca-Cola against the Word of Wisdom?” and “Is my sister/daughter/friend [always a woman] going to hell because she was widowed after a temple marriage and then married a non-Mormon?”

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Advent: The Closed Circle

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 16, 2014

From the Relief Society Magazine, January 1956 –

The Closed Circle

By Beatrice Rordame Parsons

Eight-year-old Kenny came rushing into the kitchen from outdoors. His galoshes dripped messily on Sybil’s newly scrubbed linoleum. His face was alight with eagerness.

“Can we buy a Christmas tree? They’ve got ‘em in over at the store! Can we … Mother?” There was a tiny, uncertain pause before the word.

Sybil’s heart twisted. She wasn’t the children’s mother. Not their real mother. But she so wanted to be. Not that she wanted to take their mother’s place in their hearts. She only wanted to earn a love of her own.

Kenny was already on his way into the living room. “I’ll ask Daddy,” cried Kenny, and in another moment Sybil heard his voice urging his father to buy a tree before they were all picked over.

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Christmas Thoughts, 1899

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 15, 2014

Holiday Thoughts and Wishes

George Q. Cannon

The ceaseless round of the seasons has brought us once more to the end of a year, and to the holiday time that marks the going out of the old and the coming in of the new. We trust sincerely the season may bring much happiness to all our readers; gladness to the downcast, relief to the oppressed, health to the afflicted, and the holy spirit of light and truth and righteousness to everyone. We hope also, as a fitting beginning to the new year, that each one as he looks back over his record for the year now closing, may be able to find that he has done better as a citizen and as a Saint than he did during the year previous; that he has been more dutiful, more humble, more willing in the performance of good, and more sturdy in the resistance to evil, than ever before.

The contemplation of our past is what enables us to class the years as good years or bad years. As a matter of fact the years themselves are much the same; but to each of us they are fraught with peace and joy, or sorrow and regret, according as we have done well or done ill during their progress. In this view each succeeding year ought to be better than those that have preceded it; for we should be continually going on to and striving after perfection. If every one would make this his aim, how rapidly the world would improve, and what giant strides it would make toward its preparation for the advent of the reign of complete righteousness!

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Books for Christmas, 1948

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 15, 2014

From the Improvement Era, December 1948 —

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