Veda Sorensen Interview

A nice interview taken in November 1980 by Elaine Thatcher with aunt Veda here at her home, in Mendon, Utah.

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Veda SorensenVeda Sorensen

Elaine: Are you a granddaughter of Isaac Sorensen?
Veda: Yes, I am a granddaughter.
Elaine: So you were born and raised here in Mendon?
Veda: Yes, I was.
Elaine: I think you mentioned to me on the phone that this is the family home, is that right?
Veda: Yes, my father was Joseph Christian Sorensen, and he built this home. We lived down near my grandfather [Isaac Sorensen, and across the street at 112 South Main Street] until I was about six years old. Then we got this one, this home up here [at 76 South 100 West]. My grandfather was so proud of it, he brought everybody over from the church to see, my mother got so tired of showing people through. She never knew when they were going to come.
Elaine: Then about what year was it built?
Veda: It would be about sixty-three years ago, about 1917.
Elaine: Do you remember that?
Veda: Yes, I was six years old. I remember going to school in the red brick [school] house over there. [Approximately 25 North, 100 West, across the street from the LDS church.] My principal lived across the street, and when the snow was too deep, he would always carry me on his shoulders. I remember my first year over there very well.
Elaine: The things that I would like to talk about are what it was like at home when you were a child, who did what kinds of work around the house, and around the farm? Was your father a farmer?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Did he do that full time?
Veda: He was a full time farmer, so he did not have time to help around the house, until he retired. We helped on the farm all the time.
Elaine: How many children were there?
Veda: There were five [Veda; Owen; Hazel; Edgar; Eldon], three boys and two girls. We all live in Mendon but one, and he is at Manhattan, Kansas. (Ted, he developed a special weevil resistant alfalfa.).
Elaine: Do any of your other brothers and sisters have college degrees?
Veda: No, I am the only one. I have six years. [Dr. Edgar L. “Ted” Sorensen also graduated from college.]
Elaine: A Master’s?
Veda: No, I was an elementary school teacher.
Elaine: Where did you teach?
Veda: Logan School District, and I taught in Box Elder County, Tremonton. My first experience was here in Mendon, I taught all my relatives. With eleven brothers and sisters (her father’s siblings) we always had plenty of relatives, until recently in Mendon.
Elaine: Tell me a little bit about life at home.
Veda: Well, father bred his own horses, and all his cows, and he raised sugar beets and wheat and alfalfa and did it all with horses.
Elaine: How many horses did he use?
Veda: Sometimes he just needed the two, but when he was plowing he used four.
Elaine: And did he hold on and?
Veda: Yes, he did that at first, but then he got the other kind of plow, the gang plow. They called it a gang plow, and they could ride it, and still be pulled by horses. He raised a lot of sugar beets because he liked to keep us busy.
Elaine: Do you think that was the main reason?
Veda: Yes, I know it was the main reason.
Elaine: What did you have to do?
Veda: We had to thin them and then, we hoed them three times a year and then we had to top them. We had to irrigate them, and it kept us busy all summer long. Besides, we had two patches of raspberries we had to pick, plus a big garden.
Elaine: Was there any difference in, kind of whose job all these things were? Was one considered more women’s work and one more men’s work?
Veda: No, I worked in the fields and my mother even worked in the fields hoeing beets. She would go down with us, and take the babies and put them on a rug, and let them play.
Elaine: Do you think that was fairly typical in Mendon?
Veda: Yes, everybody did it.
Elaine: All the families would get out and help?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Did the men work in the kitchen gardens?
Veda: Yes, my father always helped in the garden. He was such an ambitious man, when he came up for dinner, he would hoe a row of potatoes, on the way up to the house, and then he would hoe a row on the way back.
Elaine: That probably wasn’t typical, was it, of all the farmers?
Veda: No. We always had a scythe, we didn’t have the kind of mowers we have now, and he’d scythe down all the big weeds.
Elaine: Do you remember any mechanization when you were young, on the farm or in the house?
Veda: Yes, when we changed to the tractor.
Elaine: Do you remember, was that a lot later? About when?
Veda: That was later; let’s see, after the last World War, we had our first tractor in 1945. My youngest brother [Eldon] bought it, and owned it. He took the farm over, because my father retired, from active farming.
Elaine: How old was he?
Veda: He was sixty-five. He’d had very good health up to that point, and then all of a sudden something went wrong, and so he was limited, but he still helped the boys. But they took the initiative. He never did run a tractor though, operate one.
Elaine: Would he have kept working if his health had held up?
Veda: Yes, he would have.
Elaine: Most men kind of did that?
Veda: Yes, they kept working until they died. He worked, he helped my brother [Eldon] build his shed and things like that, he was always doing something.
Elaine: When did they build buildings? Was there a certain time of year they would do that?
Veda: When it was warm.
Elaine: I remember I was reading in the history of Isaac and Mary Sorensen at the library, something about building a chicken coop or something in winter.
Veda: Yes, they’d build those, but they didn’t build their homes because it was too cold to work inside. But they would build a chicken coop, or part of a barn of something like that. They couldn’t plaster or anything like that. My father always, what was interesting about him, all winter long he was either hauling wood out of the mountains for fuel, or he was hauling manure to the fields to put on the farm. He would haul a few loads of manure and then go after the wood.
Elaine: He did that how many days?
Veda: He did it every day. Tom Muir, our neighbor, used to say he always had a good entertainment because Joseph C. was always going by with a load of manure or a load of wood, or something all winter long.
Elaine: What did Tom Muir do, was he a farmer too?
Veda: He was a farmer, but he didn’t farm, he had his boys come. He was retired at that time. He was a commissioner and director in the bank; he did that kind of work. And when he couldn’t get out, his entertainment was watching Joseph C. go by with a load of manure, or hauling wood. They always chopped their wood by hand, and we had a great big woodpile. My mother, we had a kitchen coal stove up until 1949.Eldon & Owen Sorensen unloading coal for the winter.
Elaine: You used the wood in it?
Veda: Yes, it would cool down faster than the coal.
Elaine: Did you ever buy coal?
Veda: Yes, we bought it in the fall.
Elaine: Every year?
Veda: Every year and about enough to last us.
Elaine: So how did you determine whether to use wood or coal in the stove, or was it two different things?
Veda: In the summertime we always used wood, because it cooled down faster. Then in the wintertime, we always used the wood in the wood stove. Because we did not have a furnace.
Elaine: Where was the wood stove located?
Veda: Right here. (Pointing to the chimney projection in the south living room.) The bedrooms were always cold; we would run out in the morning and dress by the fire. We always got ready for winter that way, by having enough coal and enough wood, and we always had enough potatoes and enough flour to last the winter. We always killed a beef, and we always had two pigs. Part of those always went to A. N. Sorensen, dad’s brother.
Elaine: Did you trade him something?
Veda: I don’t know what the deal was.
Elaine: Did your father inherit his land from his father?
Veda: No, he had to buy it.
Elaine: Where does he fall in the family line-up, with William? Was Will the oldest?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Was your mother also from Mendon?
Veda: Yes, she was a Ladle, they had twelve children, so I’ve always had lots of relatives.
Elaine: Let’s try to reconstruct a day in each season.
Veda: A summer day? Well, when the hay was ready to haul and everything, he was always up, they were always up at 4:30 a.m. and they would milk the cows.
Elaine: When the hay was ready, was that all summer long, usually?
Veda: No, you have three crops. The first crop, the second crop and the third crop with a lull in-between, but usually they were harvesting the wheat between the second crop and the third. They were always up early and they had to milk the cows. And mother would always clean up the house while they were milking the cows, then she would have breakfast ready, then they had to take the cows to the pasture.
Elaine: Who did that?
Veda: The boys, Owen did it most of the time, and then when they were busy, when they started to help, then we did it. We had to take the cows.
Elaine: Did you have to stay with them?
Veda: No, just take them to the pasture and then come back.
Elaine: That was after breakfast?
Veda: That was after breakfast, and then sometimes they would haul about five loads of hay a day. All they could get to, because it took so long. Didn’t have bales of hay then. And then when they got the hay here, they had to put it in the barn, so they had to have a derrick horse, we ran the derrick horse. Mother ran it until we got big enough and then Hazel, my sister, ran it, and I ran it.
Elaine: Did you have a horse, and did you ride it?
Veda: You could ride it or else you could just guide it, and tell it when to stop. But the horse was on one side of the barn [south], and the hay was on the other side [north] of it, they were putting [hay] into the barn, and so then you had to have one person in between to tell them, so you could hear. When my dad had it loaded, then he’d yell, and so, if anything went wrong you had to have a middleman.
Elaine: So it was usually one of the girls that ran the horse, and the men would do the loading?
Veda: Yes, one of them would have to stack the hay in the barn. So it took a lot of people.
Elaine: That was three times a summer?
Veda: Yes, and then they did the same thing when they planted the wheat. They planted wheat early in the spring; sometimes they planted in the fall, and had fall wheat. Sometimes they summer fallowed it. And then weeds would grow on the summer fallow, and we would have to hoe the weeds off the summer fallow.
Elaine: Which is just a field without anything planted? How often did you leave a field fallow?
Veda: One year, then you planted it the next.
Elaine: Every other year?
Veda: Yes, every other year. Now they have special rotations that they do, so they’re planted all the time.
Elaine: You said that your mother would clean the house and get breakfast while they milked the cows. Did you go out and milk too, or did you stay in the house?
Veda: I never learned to milk, Hazel did.
Elaine: So the girls would go out?
Veda: If they were needed, mother milked all the time my brothers were in the army.
Elaine: What kind of things would she do around the house during that period?
Veda: She would make the beds, and she always brushed up the rooms with the old broom, and did the living rooms. She never did the kitchen, but she’d have all that done.
Elaine: Did you have rugs on the floors? Braided, or carpet?
Veda: We had just the rugs that are in the middle.
Elaine: That you bought like at a furniture store?
Veda: Yes, we didn’t have any old fashioned ones.
Elaine: So then, would they come home for lunch?
Veda: Yes, always for dinner. And mother always, for breakfast you’d never believe, we always had either ham and eggs or bacon and eggs, and we always had potatoes. Either she’d make potato cakes, or hash browns, or French-fry them and besides the cooked cereal, and that always used to be Germane or oatmeal, and then she had chocolate and fruit. We always had fruit, bottled fruit, three times a day, and jam or jelly. But they had to have this much food because they did such hard work, and they weren’t heavy, none of them were heavy.
Elaine: Was lunch a heavy meal too?
Veda: Yes, and lunch was the big meal of the day, and then for supper, we always had potatoes three times a day in the summertime. I guess that’s how we survived. You know, because we didn’t make enough money to buy steak or things like that.
Elaine: And yet you did have ham?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Did you have meat at dinner, at midday?
Veda: We didn’t always have meat, no. We would have soup or salads or something like that for supper, and we usually had the last meal, if we could catch them before they milked the cows, then we were lucky. But if they started milking the cows, sometimes we were doing dishes until ten-eleven o’clock at night.
Elaine: An at that time, did you, lets see, Mendon got a water system in 1912, so did you have running water at that time? And a sewer, so you didn’t have to haul water out?
Veda: No, I can’t remember not having a bathroom, you know, where a lot of people in Mendon didn’t have one.
Elaine: Even when you were growing up?
Veda: When I was growing up. But because we had a new home, the bathroom was in it. But my dad, you know, when they built “Eleanor’s” before the second world war, you know, they called these outside toilets Eleanor’s, my dad had to buy one, because he still didn’t believe that you should always use the bathroom in the house!
Elaine: Something crude about it, I guess.
Veda: When we could we should use the outside toilet, and that made us kind of happy, because we could go down there and read magazines when mother needed us, and she couldn’t get us.
Elaine: That’s good.
Veda: The Montgomery Ward catalog and the Sears were always down there.
Elaine: So they’d read the catalogs?
Veda: But everybody in Mendon had an Eleanor.
Elaine: Is that right?
Veda: Yes, whether they had indoor plumbing or not.
Elaine: How did your mother keep busy, and the girls, you did help on the farm, but what about, where there interior-indoor things that had to be done?
 Veda: We kept most of the garden, and picked most all of the raspberries, and then mother was always sewing, you know, and cleaning house. Then they washed the curtains in the spring and fall. We always had to wash all the curtains in the house. And she always did fall and spring-cleaning, and she did a lot of needlework, and washing and ironing.
Elaine: How often did you do that?
Veda: She always washed on Monday, she had a schedule, come hell or high water, you washed on Monday, and you had to get it out before anybody else.
Elaine: Before any of the neighbors?
Veda: She had to be the first.
Elaine: Just a matter of pride, is that what it was?
Veda: You couldn’t be late getting the wash out in the morning, and then Monday afternoon, when it got dry, we would start ironing sometimes. Then Tuesday, she always went to Relief Society and did the ironing. So we had Relief Society in the afternoon and finished the ironing in the morning. Then on Wednesday, she did a lot of baking; of course she baked eight loaves of bread every other day. And then A. N.’s family would come over and eat, but on Wednesday she did a lot of baking.
Elaine: What other kinds of things did she bake?
Veda: Pies and cakes and cookies.
Elaine: Did you pretty much have them around all the time?
Veda: All the time, put them in gallon buckets, you know those old gallon buckets that used to, when you got syrup in them and honey in them, and they had a handle on them.
Elaine: Metal?
Veda: Yes, and she would fill those and they’d stay nice and soft.
Elaine: Cookies?
Veda: Yes, she would fill those full, a gallon bucket full, you know and she’d have to hide them sometimes to keep them away from us. She was a good pie maker and cake maker, she made everything from scratch.
Elaine: Lets’ keep on this line of thought, did she have special things to do on Thursday, Friday and Saturday?
Veda: Yes, on Thursday, that’s when she had time to go visiting, if she needed to go somewhere. On Friday, that was sort of a free day, Friday she always swept out under all the beds and did part of the cleaning, and then on Saturday we did, you know, all the scrubbing, and cleaning out cupboards and in the afternoon when we had the cars, we’d go to Logan shopping.
Elaine: When did you get a car?
Veda: It was a Dodge, I guess it was about 19[29], it was before I was teaching school and that was in 1933, I guess it was about 1932.
Elaine: Did you get to Logan very often when you were younger?
Veda: Never, only about once a year.
Elaine: That went for the whole family?
Veda: Yes, I meant they’d take us and outfit us for the winter. You know, they’d buy all our clothes at one time. That’s why we believed in Santa Clause until we were in about the eighth grade, we never saw one.
Elaine: Did you feel like Mendon was a little place unto itself?
Veda: Everything happened in Mendon. We didn’t know very much at all about the outside world.
Elaine: Did you ever, write letters or have any correspondence with people outside?
Veda: Yes, we had relatives. We corresponded with relatives. We knew there were other places, but we didn’t get to them.
Elaine: Did you get a newspaper?
Veda: Yes, we took the Deseret News, as long as they were married, and the Herald Journal, as it progressed. We always had two newspapers. My dad always read it before he went to bed, no matter how tired he was.
Elaine: So, by the end of this summer day, then, what happened?
Veda: We would go to bed.
Elaine: Well, if you get supper before the cows had to be milked.
Veda: Well, we’d sit out on the porch, or, we always had games around here, there were a lot of children around here, and we’d play “kick the can” and “hide and seek,” and all kinds of games that we would dream up. We even had shows, Ivan Barrett got the shows together, and he always had to have the lead, and so we would put on shows for our families and charge them a cent to come and see us.
Elaine: Where would you put them on?
Veda: Over in Mrs. Barrett’s basement, [113 South 100 West] she never missed, she always came. I’ve teased him [Ivan] about it once in a while.
Elaine: I like that.
Veda: He says, that was not true.
Elaine: Did you have a lot of parties as a ward, or as a town?
Veda: Oh, yes, there was something always going on, and we even had, when we became Mutual age, we had a lot of candy pulls, and we’d meet in each other’s homes, and what do you call those where you go from one place to another?
Elaine: Progressive dinner?
Veda: Progressive parties.
Elaine: I know that Isaac mentioned a lot of, he called them sociables.
Veda: On, we’d get together and dance, you know the Mendon Jazz came from [Mendon], they played all over.
Elaine: That was a band?
Veda: They don’t play any more because they’re all dead but Hilda Whitney, but they played for years and years and years and years, everywhere, all around the valley and they always played the _____?
Elaine: Thirties, or earlier?
Veda: Earlier, Twenties.
Elaine: Mendon Jazz?
Veda: Everybody danced to the Mendon Jazz. They played at Hyrum, all over. They’d get drunk at intermission. During intermission they usually got drunk and from then on, you know, it was quite hilarious to hear them play.
Elaine: So would you say there was something going on in the community once a week?
Veda: All the time, we had dramatics; they always had two or three dramatic things in the winter. We always had more things to go to in the wintertime than we did in the summertime because everybody was too busy to do much in the summertime. We had wiener roasts and things like that, and hamburger cookouts up in the mountains, and down in the meadows.
Elaine: How would you get there?
Veda: Walk, we had a lot of accessible places, we could go and have a good time. One thing that I know, we were all the same economic level, you know, and there was never anyone who was better than someone else. We were all about he same, and so we never knew what envy was.
Elaine: Do you think that applied on back?
Veda: I’ve heard people complaining about these snobs, you know, we didn’t have those kinds of feelings.
Elaine: I noticed there were people who had paid more taxes if they had more land, but that didn’t seem to make a difference to people?
Veda: No. I can’t remember, this was one thing that was interesting about our growing up, is that we weren’t jealous of our friends. Since you know, I’ve met so many other people who were always jealous of what other people had, and they were always on a lower status, they always thought, but we were, seemed to be equal.
Elaine: That helps; I had a question about that.
Veda: I remember Henry [C. Sorensen] got the first car in Mendon.
Elaine: Now, was this your brother?
Veda: No, that was my father’s, he was Bishop Henry, he was my father’s brother. But he would take us all for a ride in it, you know.
Elaine: Was this when you were quite young?
Veda: Very young, and he’d come along and pick us up and take us for a ride. I meant people shared what they had. And my uncle and aunt across the street, they used to live across the street, they had one of the first phonographs in Mendon. So we all, everybody came in to hear the phonograph.
Elaine: Again, was that when you were real young?
Veda: Yes, when we were real young, and when the radio first came, the first people that got the radios, they had their houses full, people listening.
Elaine: When would that have been? I don’t know when the radio?
Veda: Let’s see, I think Orval Bird had one about 1920; he made it himself, down in his house. He’s the first one that I know about. Maybe somebody else had it in town, but he’s the one I remember, he had earphones. You couldn’t, you know, you had to use the earphones.
Elaine: About the things you had to buy, has there always been a store here in Mendon?
Veda: Yes, as long as I remember.
Elaine: Was there ever more than one?
Veda: Yes, there were two.
Elaine: Would that be, who owned them?
Veda: There was Stauffer’s Store, and C. S. Barrett had it before him. So Barrett owned one, and Anderson’s, John Anderson.
Elaine: Yes, I found some railroad receipts made out to both Barrett and Anderson. About 1916-17-18.
Veda: C. S. was, lived right here [20 South 100 West], the one that owned it.
Elaine: Where were the stores?
Veda: Right there side-by-side, (on Main Street). That old one that’s falling down was the Anderson’s, they’re right together. Now, that’s all I remember.
Elaine: Do you remember from when you were young, quite young, the kinds of things that they stocked, or the kinds of things you bought there?
Veda: Well, once in a while, my mother would send me for a loaf of —and she called it loafer’s bread— when she ran out of bread. I don’t know where she got the name, it was store bread, but she called it loafers’ bread. Then we would buy, and we had to buy sugar. We bought our, everything down there. We didn’t go to Logan at all, until we got cars.
Elaine: But apart from what you raised yourself, what?
Veda: We bought all the spices, except sage, we had to grow our own sage, and sugar. We would even buy material there, and stockings, Anderson’s had stockings and shoes, and material, and chocolate.
Elaine: What do you mean, cotton or nylon stockings?
Veda: They had nylon, and cotton, and if we wanted things, Mrs. Anderson, Coila. Mrs. John Anderson stayed over here most of the time, she would bring it, she came back and forth from Logan, and so if she didn’t have it, she would stop in Logan and get it for us.
Elaine: I noticed that on the railroad receipts, a lot of things like, raisins, oranges, lemons, did you usually have those things, they weren’t too expensive or anything like that?
Veda: We always had lemons because they used them so much for colds. And we had oranges, not like we have now, in abundance. We always had an orange for Christmas in our stocking.
Elaine: We did too.
Veda: And bananas, we had bananas. But we didn’t ever have any fresh vegetables like lettuce, we had to wait until spring, about in May, and we always went, we took our eggs, we raised chickens, and all the egg money went for groceries.
Elaine: Did you sell the eggs directly to the store?
Veda: Yes, they bought them. We even took a, we’d take one egg down and they’d give us a whole sack of candy, you know. One egg would buy it.
Elaine: Did you ever do that on the sly? Go steal an egg and?
Veda: Yes, that’s what we’d do, that’s what reminded me of how much it would cost.
Elaine: So, as far as the clothes that you wore, how many of them were homemade, and how many were store bought? When you were 6–7–8 years old?
Veda: Everything was made except for my coat, and we didn’t have very many. But no one else had very many either. We had a May Day dress, and a Christmas dress, special you know, and then for school, we had some school clothes, I was always so skinny, my mother never liked me to wear skirts and blouses because my blouse was always hanging out. So she got a pair of suspenders, I was the only one that wore suspenders.
Elaine: Me too, I was skinny.
Veda: Were you? She didn’t like me to chew gum. Those were the one things she was always telling me I shouldn’t do, is chew gum and giggle, and wear skirts and blouses.
Elaine: Was that when you were a teenager, or younger?
Veda: I was a teenager.
Elaine: What kinds of expectations did most boys that were your age or thereabouts, older or younger, have as far as their future?
Veda: Well, they expected to leave Mendon, because the farm, those that didn’t have any, their father didn’t have enough land; there wasn’t enough for both of them. So most of them left, and some of them worked on the railroad, they had to go were employment was.
Elaine: But there were some, you would say it was a minority that became farmers?
Veda: Well, I’d say over half of them became farmers, but there were a lot of people that didn’t own land, you know. The ones that didn’t own land worked on the railroad or worked for the farmers. Worked for other farmers like my oldest brother, he worked for Bernard Hardman.
Elaine: That was basically his career?
Veda: Well, he’s a farmer now, he took over my dad’s farm and he rents some of his (land).
Elaine: Was that very common in the early days? A lot of farmers rented?
Veda: Yes, but they, most of them, Mendon was really a dairy community to begin with, and had plenty of pasture and plenty of hay. But they’d need help in the summer, and so the young fellows would have jobs hauling hay. Most of them would help milk cows and got a dollar or two.
Elaine: Is there a difference now between what we’ve talked about as far as the summer day, is the fall day different? What month would you say we’ve talked about? June, July, or August?
Veda: The harvest, that was usually in August. Because they were getting in their second crop of hay and cutting the wheat and barley, and then they’d have to turn right around and plow the same land again.
Elaine: Right in the fall?
Veda: Right in the fall, we used to have a lot of apple orchards and picked apples in the fall. We don’t have many any more.
Elaine: What about bottling fruit and preserving food?Fresh Bottled Fruit
Veda: Oh, heavens, we did it all summer long.
Elaine: All summer long?
Veda: Yes, all summer long.
Elaine: Would you say that was done on Fridays, Saturdays or Thursdays?
Veda: When it was ready.
Elaine: Just whenever.
Veda: That is when your schedule changed, and we grew our own raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries and blackcaps.
Elaine: Did you bottle them?
Veda: We bottled everything, blackcaps, we had everything, apples.
Elaine: I noticed on the railroad receipts, there were a lot of peaches coming in from Brigham City for people. Did you buy any peaches in Brigham City?
Veda: We bought; they usually brought them right to Mendon. They would come with wagonloads, and you’d go out.
Elaine: The farmers from Brigham City would bring them up?
Veda: Yes, then you would go out in the street and choose what ones you wanted.
Elaine: And pay?
Veda: Yes, we never went down to Brigham City to get them until we had cars, and they would Jew, I remember my mother trying to Jew them down in price, and at one time they had a, lets see, the Daines’s brought meat over here in a cool van, has anybody told you about that?
Elaine: No.
Veda: They used to come around to every house and honk and people would go out and buy their beef. They had weenies and hamburger and everything.
Elaine: Did they run a packing plant?
Veda: They had one over in Hyde Park.
Elaine: Is that the same family as the doctor’s from?
Veda: Yes. That was in the summer, we didn’t have any refrigeration, and in the summertime we would run kind of low on meat.
Elaine: Was this a horse drawn van?
Veda: No. (tape ran out)
Elaine: (from notes) They dried beans, leave them on the vine, and wouldn’t pick them until they were dry, then they would let the children stomp them in a large pan to loosen the covering, or they would do it by hand, then they would remove the covering and store the beans. I asked what other items they dried?
Veda: Dried corn, I got so sick of dried corn.
Elaine: How did you eat it?
Veda: When they would dry it outside, and bring it in and they would put milk with it and boil it.
Elaine: So that’s creamed corn? That’s the origin I guess, I didn’t know that.
Veda: Dr. Hayward was asking me where he could get some, he just loves it. Mrs. Hardman used to sell it, to President David O. McKay, and Dr. Hayward and a few people. He misses it, he likes it, I hate it.
Elaine: How did you dry it?
Veda: You just spread out a piece of cloth, and put a screen over it.
Elaine: On the ground?
Veda: No, you would have to have it on boards up off the ground. Some people put it on the roof’s of their chicken coops, you know, put the white cloth down and put the corn on it, and they dried apples the same way, and prunes, same way. They made their own mincemeat, their own sausage.
Elaine: Was that women’s work, in the kitchen basically?
Veda: Yes, and they made their own lard, didn’t ever buy shortening, got that from pork.
Elaine: How did you do that?
Veda: They rendered it, melted it down.
Elaine: Did you store grain?
Veda: Yes, we always had that.
Elaine: In the granary?
Veda: Yes, in the granary.
Elaine: Did you store anything else out there, or just grain?
Veda: Just grain, they had to feed the cattle grain, they had to feed the chickens, so we always had a lot of grain. Oats for the horses, and barley.
Elaine: How much of it was for human consumption?
Veda: We didn’t’ ever use any of it. Of course they would take a load of wheat over and exchange it for flour, and bring the flour back.
Elaine: You would exchange it, and then just leave it, so you didn’t have to wait for it to be ground?
Veda: They always took the wheat over and brought back the flour.
Elaine: How often?
Veda: In the fall.
Elaine: Once a year?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Anything else that we should include there?
Veda: Well, the church was the center of activity.
Elaine: How much time a week, did you spend?
Veda: I don’t know how my father ever lived. He always taught in the Sunday school, he was in the bishopric, he was a high councilman, he led the choir for twenty years, he taught in the mutual. I often wondered, he would come flying in with a load of hay, when he had choir practice, and that was on Thursday nights, I think, or Wednesday nights, they’d go to priesthood on Monday nights.
Elaine: Oh, is that right?
Veda: Yes, and he always had choir practice, I thought, on Thursday night.
Elaine: I think that is fairly common in other areas, other churches.
Veda: Sometimes, he’d have to milk his cows after he went to choir practice. He didn’t get in from the fields until late, and he wouldn’t have time to milk, so he’d have to come up and get dressed for choir practice, and then come back and undress and then go down and milk the cows.
Elaine: And the same for priesthood? Did he go to priesthood every Monday night?
Veda: Yes, they always had it; they usually timed it so that they got the cows milked and everything.
Elaine: Did you ever spend time together as a family in the evening?
Veda: Yes, we spent many hours. He’d tell us stories, and mother, when he was gone, my mother would tell us stories and we always had a pan of corn, or apples to eat, you know.
Elaine: So this would be what, more in the fall and winter?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Did you get many stories in the summer?
Veda: No, the summer was to hectic, no, but all winter, he read to us, and mother read, then he’d help us with our schoolwork. We’d have lessons every night, he had a terrible, I mean, he wrote terribly, but he made us practice our writing, you know. One time I copied over a talk he’d written for my brother to give, and on the typewriter, and when I brought it home, he said it wasn’t what he had written at all! So he never let me copy any of his talks again.
Elaine: So he should have practiced his writing?
Veda: He should practiced his writing, he loved to write, he loved to write poetry. He and my aunt Eulalia exchanged poetry every Christmas. He’d spend a lot of time on that one poem he would send to her. She’d spend a lot of time on, that’s Edith Morgan’s mother. I wish, I’ve often wondered if she kept hers of dad’s. We didn’t keep aunt Eulalia’s, they would have been priceless, you know, to read those poems, because they had a different one every [year], and aunt Eulalia was just, she was so clever.
Elaine: That would have been a treasure.
Veda: I don’t know why we threw them all away, but I guess we had family home evening every night, like everybody has on Monday now.
Elaine: In the winter.
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: What else went on in the wintertime? What was a day like in the winter, chores and so forth?
Veda: Oh, just get up and milk the cows.
Elaine: Did you have to get up at the same time, 4:30 a.m.?
Veda: Yes, you know, the milkman came at the same time winter and summer, and you had to have your milk ready for the milkman.
Elaine: In big cans, like those cans that you see?
Veda: Yes, dad had five or six cans.
Elaine: Would he pay you for the milk right then?
Veda: No, we’d have a milk check, it would come twice a month. And then we’d go to school, I always taught, or was going to school. (Either was in college or school or something). And so we’d all go to school and my mother would, that’s when she’d make her quilts and crochet her rugs and do the sewing, you know, a lot of sewing, and catch up on the patching and darning, and then, she always had three meals to get the same. We left here at seven in the morning when we went to high school. We rode on the U. I. C. Railroad to Hyrum, and so we had to leave by seven. It was dark, most of the winter, then we wouldn’t get home until dark also. Then we’d come home and get the wood and the coal in for the night, feed the chickens, pigs, and milk the cows, and then start over!
Elaine: What kind of chores did you father occupy himself with in the winter?
Veda: He chopped wood.
Elaine: You told me that.
Veda: He’d haul wood and then he’d have to chop it. He’d haul manure, and shovel snow; there was always plenty of snow to shovel in those days.
Elaine: What about fence building and so forth, did he do it in the winter?
Veda: Not a much as in the summer and spring, early spring, as soon as they could get out.
Elaine: What kind of fences did they build?
Veda: Barbwire, not “bob,” that’s what they call it, barbed. I remember I wrote a thing, “Who was it up there?” and I called it bobwire, and they corrected it on my paper, “barbed.”
Elaine: Did they buy that wire at the store here, or did they have to go to Logan for it?
Veda: They bought it down here.
Elaine: I guess by the time you were growing up you were pretty well able to buy everything you needed, weren’t you, if you couldn’t make it. Because I have questions, do you know if there was ever a potter in Mendon?
Veda: Was there?
Elaine: I don’t know? Somebody that made pottery and dishes and so forth?
Veda: We made a lot from clay, growing up.
Elaine: Just for fun?
Veda: Just for fun, we didn’t use them, we didn’t fire them. We had a lot of red clay.
Elaine: So that was just kind of for children, a pastime for kids?
Veda: Yes. When we went to high school, most every winter we were quarantined with some kind of a disease and would have to stay in. They quarantined you in the house for— everybody had to be quarantined and you couldn’t go out.
Elaine: Who quarantined you?
Veda: The State department. You’d have a big sign on your house, “Smallpox,” “Chickenpox,” or “Measles.”
Elaine: Was that when you were real young?
Veda: Yes, so we’d miss a month of school sometimes. Whooping cough was six weeks, before they’d let us back.
Elaine: Did you have trouble catching up?
Veda: No, the teachers were real patient, and they sent us work home.
Elaine: Do you remember any home remedies or anything that your mother would give you, or your father?
Veda: Tea settled your stomach.
Elaine: I’ve used that.
Veda: What’d we used to have, oh; they used to have a good cough syrup.
Elaine: A homemade one?
Veda: Yes, brandy, honey and paregoric.
Elaine: Wow!
Veda: I think it was paregoric.
Elaine: That was for a cough?
Veda: That was for a cough. Mustard plasters, we made those up.
Elaine: How did you make one?
Veda: You put, well I don’t know whether it’s two tablespoons of flour and one of mustard or— mix it together very thick and spread it on a white cloth.
Elaine: Was this prepared mustard, or?
Veda: Yes, regular mustard. They spread it all over a white cloth and put another one on top, and put it on your chest. They put a kerosene rag around your throat for croup, or rubbing alcohol sometimes.
Elaine: What was the mustard plaster for?
Veda: Just when you had pneumonia, congestion. A lot of people still use them; you can buy them ready made.
Elaine: So would a mustard plaster and a kerosene soaked rag be interchangeable? For the same thing?
Veda: No, you wouldn’t have them both on at the same time, you might blow up!
Elaine: No, I mean were they for the same kind of treatment, for the same problem?
Veda: When you got croup, ________ inhaled the fumes. What else was I going to tell you, we always used paregoric for everything.
Elaine: Where did you get it?
Veda: In the drug store, and you didn’t have to have a prescription. But we were never without paregoric, and they’d give it to the babies who had colic, and everything that was wrong with you, they’d let you have some paregoric. Any pain, honey candy, honey candy.
Elaine: (At this point, Veda’s brother Owen, comes in and we talk with him for a while in the kitchen. I will fill in what I can of some of the things he told us.) He told about pranks some girls would play on the boys when they were courting, such as smashing down a load of peas so tightly that the boys couldn’t dig them out. [This prank was played on Eldon by his soon to be wife MarDene Christiansen.]
They used to take their horses (twelve head of work horses and two riding horses) over to Wellsville to be shod. One day Owen and his brother [Ted] rode over to Wellsville to get some horses and there was a total eclipse of the sun. As it got darker, they got more scared, and egged their horses on, and he says they made it to Mendon in seven minutes flat, and when they got there, there were people looking through smoked glass up at the sun watching the eclipse.
He still refers to the “Plantation,” which is a tract of land, which his grandfather Isaac bought in cooperation with several other men. (See the history of Isaac and Mary Sorensen) He says they wanted to buy a threshing machine, and it cost $1500, and they had to have five co-signers to get the loan for it. Threshing was usually done by hiring a man with a machine to come. Then they’d work their way around to everyone’s fields. He was in charge of the water wagon, and he would go get water for the steam engine.
He says the men in the family would go to Logan every two weeks or so in the winter in the sleigh. They would tie the horses in a feedlot while they went and did their business. Veda says she never got to go; she had to stay and take care of the younger ones.
He tells of a time he went out to get some hay just before Christmas. He struck the fork in, and it hit a sled, his Christmas present, but it was a little narrow one, not a “Flexible Flier,” which was the kind he wanted, it made him “So damn mad I didn’t care if Christmas came at all.”
Mr. Sorensen also spoke with sadness of the change in how the community interacts nowadays as compared with when he was younger especially before TV. He said they used to visit each other in the evenings, but now, they stay at home and watch TV.
Elaine: I did want to check with you, now we’ve been talking about all the winter and stuff, did you always use a sleigh in the winter to travel?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Everywhere you went? How many horses were there?
Veda: Two and after we got our car, for years we didn’t run it in the wintertime, you know, and jack it up, take the tires off and jack it up. You did not want to have to put your water in every day, we didn’t have any antifreeze, and the snowplows didn’t come around and you couldn’t get out.
Elaine: I have the feeling that Mendon hasn’t changed, well, especially didn’t change much up to 1945.
Veda: In fact, all these new people who are moving in, they get up and bear their testimonies, and rave on and on about what a unique town this is, and we have a hard time believing it. I mean, we’ve lived here all our lives and we never appreciated what we had. We never did appreciate the feeling of close fellowship and that, that we had here until they divided the ward. Now thing are changing. But we knew everybody’s business, and everybody, you know, there was nothing, everybody was interested in everybody else, and it was just one happy family, most of the time. Sometimes we had factions, you know, and the Bakers and the Sorensen’s would argue over who settled Mendon first.
Elaine: Is that right?
Veda: They’re still going to town on that one.
Elaine: Is that right?
Veda: My dad would always say, “What does it matter? We’re settled, why argue?” My dad, he’d argue with A. N. on politics all the time. He’d be a Republican just to tease A. N., and they’d argue, sit out here on the steps and argue.
Elaine: Well, I have the feeling Isaac was a pretty dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.
Veda: He was, they were all Democrats, the whole works. The only time they, well, I guess they voted for the man, but one time, you know, my grandfather said that one of the general authorities came up and said you should vote Republican, and that’s the only time my dad said he ever heard of grandpa voting Republican. But he did it because the church told him to.
Elaine: I have one question; did you have a lawn, a yard?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Who took care of it, did you have a mower?
Veda: We did.
Elaine: And you kids did it?
Veda: Yes, we didn’t have as much lawn then.
Elaine: What about trees, have there always been a lot of trees in Mendon?
Veda: Oh, we always had a lot of trees. We used to have poplars; this lot was just full of trees.
Elaine: Can you think of other typical trees?
Veda: Well, Box Elder, there have always been Box Elder.
Elaine: Have you ever, I’ve noticed a few spruces and pines.
Veda: We always had those, but they planted mostly fruit trees, you know, because they lived on the fruit.
Elaine: Did you keep them; I mean you didn’t necessarily have an orchard? They were in your yard? Or what?
Veda: In an orchard, all were in an orchard, everybody had a little orchard, and we raised our winter apples and summer.
Elaine: There was a winter apple, is that different than?
Veda: The Golden Delicious is a winter apple, the Red Delicious, and the Permian, we have a Permian yet, it isn’t good until February.
Elaine: It doesn’t come off the tree until then?
Veda: Well, we pick them early in the fall. We haven’t picked them for years, but it is in January and February when they’re good. The Golden Sweet Apple too, and Strawberries, they were just delicious Strawberry Apples.
Elaine: I haven’t heard of these, was that another winter one?
Veda: That’s a summer one.
Elaine: Was the Golden Sweet a summer one too?
Veda: It was a summer one, they were good for preserves. You didn’t have to add too much sugar, and they had Green Gage plums, Potamie Watamies, they were the little red ones with a, mostly stone.
Elaine: Plums?
Veda: Yes, plums, and they used to get the serviceberries out of the mountains.
Elaine: Who did that?
Veda: The kids would go out and get them.
Elaine: Did you kind of make a party of it, or just go?
Veda: Just go, and we’d gather watercress out of the creeks, in the early spring. We didn’t have any green lettuce in the wintertime, so it tasted so good. Chokecherries, we’d make chokecherry jam and jelly.
Elaine: Were those from the mountains also?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: It sounds good; it sounds like life was pretty good.
Veda: It was.
Elaine: Even though you worked hard.
Veda: Just like all of us. The summers were long and the winters were long. Now the summers are so short and winters are short, everything’s short for me.
Elaine: Why do you think that is?
Veda: I don’t know. I’m busy all the time, I do a lot of things, maybe that makes a difference, but I look back and the summers were so long! All the work we did, you’d think the summers would’ve gone faster, but I remember how long it was from when we got out of school until we went back.
Elaine: Was it like it is now? The year, the months of school?
Veda: We used to, years ago we were out the first of May, and we went back to school the middle, the end of September, about the 23rd.
Elaine: So it was a longer summer.
Veda: It was longer, it just seemed like, time just, I can turn around and it’s a week.
Elaine: Was that when you were little?
Veda: No this is now.
Elaine: No, I mean the longer summers, was that what you mean?
Veda: And the winters were so long. My mother made so many rugs and so many quilts, and crocheted so much. In the wintertime it seems like we spent an awful lot of time around the fire, you know, in the stove and now we don’t spend any time.
Elaine: Now we have central heating.
Veda: It doesn’t seem like we have much time to spend.
Elaine: Yes, maybe you just had to make the time then, to do all those things.
Veda: Yes, I was just trying to analyze it, and everybody says the same thing. We always had a two-week’s beet vacation, that was in October.
Elaine: When was that?
Veda: The last two weeks in October.
Elaine: And that was so you could harvest the beets?
Veda: Yes, and they had it in Logan too.
Elaine: Well, I guess that’s probably one of the manifestations of the agrarian orientation.
Veda: Box Elder had it too.
Elaine: Does this go back, has it always been this way?
Veda: We don’t have it now, when we were small.
Elaine: Did you help with the beets then, when you were young?
Veda: Yes, we’d make the place where they’d throw the beets, we would make a pile. They had a round pile in the middle, you know, they’d plow about ten rows, and within the ten rows they’d pull out the beets until they had a pile, and didn’t have any beets in the middle, and then you’d top them with your knife and throw them into this pile. Then they they’d come along with this wagon and load them on the wagon, they were so heavy.
Elaine: How did they load them? Were they able to use a fork or shovel?
Veda: Yes, they had a fork. It’d speed it up sometimes, but the beet dump always closed at five o’clock, so you had to get your load in there by five.
Elaine: Where was that?
Veda: That was way down at the bottom of the turn, the O.S.L. Railroad. They have cars parked along there now like they used to have waiting for beets. [On the west side of the Union Pacific tracks there was a siding that was removed in about 1985.]
Elaine: So you’d take them, so the beet dump was the railroad, and you’d just take them right down to the railroad?
Veda: They had a place where they had a big pile and they’d load them up. So we’d all pitch them on, one on one side and one on the other, and pitch them. Owen always operated the beet wagon. I used to tease him because he didn’t have to top them
Elaine: Because he drove?
Veda: He drove.
Elaine: And he ran the water wagon too, right? What did he have to do, to run the water wagon? What was his job?
Veda: Well, they had to come into Mendon, in on the creek; he’d go to this creek on this side of town, and the one that comes out of Deep Creek on the other side. There are only two creeks he could fill up at, and so they’d have to go all over. He’d have to take water up into the mountains.
Elaine: So that was his job, to get the water and bring it back? Did he pour it in too?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: The water wagon, was that owned?
Veda: By the threshers, Lynn [K.] Wood, he’s the one that, we used to have a threshing bee over here when he was alive. He’d put on an old time threshing bee. That’s how the Jensen [Historical] Farm began.
Elaine: When did that stop?
Veda: When he died. My dad died in ‘61, I think it was about ‘68 or so. But one time I registered 4,000 people for the threshing bee.
Elaine: You registered, did they sign up?
Veda: Yes, they signed up.
Elaine: What went on at the threshing bee?
Veda: They had a stack of wheat there, and they went through the whole process of putting in through the threshing machine.
Elaine: Was it more ceremonial or?
Veda: Yes, and the first threshing machine was run by horses, you know, the horses went around and around, and they had one of those. They had the different stages.
Elaine: So it was more, he did that just for historical purposes, it wasn’t a real threshing bee, as far as actually getting your wheat threshed.
Veda: No, it just showed how it used to be done. The people in Mendon didn’t appreciate it, all they did was gripe because they had to provide food, you know, they had to have food to sell there, so they’d have something to eat. They were so sick of L. K. Wood and his tooting whistle, his tooting threshing machine, all they did was gripe. And here it was the greatest thing, you know, before he was through with all his threshing bees, he had people from all over the United States, every state, coming to see it.
Elaine: May Day is another time like that.
Veda: But see, nobody in Mendon appreciated poor L. K. [Wood].
Elaine: Does May Day have a better reputation in town?
Veda: Well, we’re getting so many new people here, and we don’t have so many people left to follow the traditions that we have to fight to keep it. I hope they don’t let it go.
Elaine: I hope so too. Now, is T. K. [Sorensen] your cousin?
Veda: Yes, all the Sorensen’s are related, and all the Ladles are related.
Elaine: Well, is there anything else here that we need to talk about? Is there anything else you want to add? Just about basic work roles and sexual roles as it related to work.
Veda: When I was growing up, we went around in gangs. We didn’t pair off very much; there was a whole group of us. The cemetery was a good place to go.
Elaine: The cemetery? What did you do there?
Veda: Scare each other. Oh, another thing they did is, in the community, they’d all get together and kill pigs, you know, five men, would gang up together to kill the pigs. You could hear them squeal, every day you’d hear the squealing pigs, they would catch them and kill them.
Elaine: What time of year was that?
Veda: Well, it was usually in November, the first of November.
Elaine: How many days would they go?
Veda: Oh, they’d just go until they had everybody that needed one killed at that time.
Elaine: Would they go to each farm?
Veda: Yes, they’d go to each place, and string them up. They’d take the hair off by dousing them down in the barrel; they had a great big barrel of hot water.
Elaine: How did they kill the pigs?
  Veda: They would stick it in the throat.
Elaine: In the artery?
Veda: Yes, and they always had such a hard time catching them. We always felt badly when we killed our pet.
Elaine: So they’d go around and?
Veda: They’d get together and kill them. One man couldn’t do it by himself.
Elaine: You said they would dunk them?
Veda: They had a great big barrel, you know the wooden barrels? And they would have real hot water, they fill it with hot water, and they’d douse it up and down in this hot water, and scrape the hair off.
Elaine: Is that right after they killed it?
Veda: Yes, that’s the next thing they would do. Then they strung it up in a tree with ropes, you know and did like they do with the deer, then they would make sausage.
Elaine: So they would butcher it then?
Veda: Yes, they’d cut up their own meat, and then put it in a brine, a salt brine. You had to have the brine salty enough that it would float an egg.
Elaine: A raw egg?
Veda: Yes, and I think they’d leave it (the meat) in about a month. And then after they had it in the brine, they smoked it, we had those smokehouses. They’d hang it up and have apple wood underneath and smoke it, and that’s how we kept meat all winter.
Elaine: So then did you just keep in it the smokehouse?
Veda: No, we took it out, mother always hung ours in, you know, they put these white sacks over it, and would hang it up in the granary where it was cold. Some of them used to hide it in their wheat, you know, dig a hole in the wheat and put the wheat over it, because it always had the sack over it. That preserved it see, we had no refrigeration and that’s why we could have ham in the summertime.
Elaine: So that was kind of a typical summer meat dish? What about beef?
Veda: Beef, we always killed at the coldest time of the year, and then hung it outside.
Elaine: Right around January maybe?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Did that take several men too?
Veda: Yes, helping each other.
Elaine: How long would that last, they’d have to finish it?
Veda: They’d eat it quite rapidly, before summer. Some bottled beef, they bottled chicken.
Elaine: Did you do that?
Veda: Yes, but we always had chickens to kill, kill them and eat them.
Elaine: Why would you bottle them?
Veda: Well, that’s just in case you had company, mother would always say, you know, you’d have some bottled. We couldn’t run to the store to buy meat.
Elaine: It took too long to kill a chicken and pluck it?
Veda: Well, if you had company, you couldn’t catch it and pluck it and get it ready in time for dinner. So that was just preserved for special occasions, but beef was very good bottled too.
Elaine: Then how long would you cook it?
Veda: They cooked it five or, I think it was seven hours.
Elaine: Bottled?
Veda: Yes, you’d put it in a boiler, you know, you had a big boiler, and you’d put it in a water bath and cook it five to seven hours.
Elaine: That’s a long time; I guess you’d have to, though, and then when you used it, would you have to put it in a casserole or something like that, was it soft?
Veda: No, it was still chunky, we cut it in chunks.
Elaine: Did you bone the chicken?
Veda: Yes, mother didn’t, mother put the legs in, I guess she boned the breasts. I remember eating the whole [chicken], bones, the chicken bones. But I think years ago we had better food to eat than we do now. It was more tempting or something.
Elaine: Was she a good cook?
  Veda: She was an excellent cook But at Thanksgiving ––––––––. We made our own pumpkin.
Elaine: Fresh? Did you bottle it?
Veda: We never did, she made mincemeat.
Elaine: That was bottled?
Veda: Yes.
Elaine: Do you ever remember your father or anyone in the family making their own furniture?
Veda: Not in our family, he made a wash bench for mother to set the tubs on.
Elaine: Oh, that was one thing I did want to ask you, about the?
Veda: Washing?
Elaine: Yes, and the ironing board too. What was your ironing board like?
Veda: Our first ironing board was just a straight piece of board that was rounded at the end as you put it over from the table to something else, or a chair to something else, and then we had the iron sitting on the stove, and the first washer—
Elaine: Did it have a cover on it, the board?
Veda: Yes.

Veda Sorensen