I wasn’t born in Himni. It had plenty of history, by the time I got here. I’ve learned some of the past, but mostly, I’m just going to tell you about the stuff I’ve seen in this little town since my family arrived. Even so, you ought to know a little about Himni for reference purposes.

Situated in a lonely valley in Eastern Utah, Himni has always been a bit out of the way. When Brigham Young was sending folks into the far reaches of the Intermountain West, this must have been one of the last places he thought of. Himni was hard to reach, dry and pretty much inhospitable. We’ve always wondered if the first pioneers who came here weren’t chased rather than directed to come to such a place. The old folks somehow scratched out a living, but by the looks of things when I arrived, just barely. Then the gentiles started showing up. They were chasing minerals and oil and didn’t care much for cows and sheep. They prospered and the rest of the community began looking in their direction.

There never has been much of a quarrel between the Mormons and the gentiles out here, but the mixture has been interesting to see. That’s about all you need to know.

I arrived in 1962 and entered the seventh grade at Omner Valley Jr. High. That was about the time of Himni’s transition and I thought I might like to share some of those days with you. It was a different time. One today’s youngsters may even find hard to believe. I had just turned 12 and was pretty confused about life and living. I had lived in Salt Lake and Provo during my formative years. Not exactly big cities, but really something compared to Duchesne where I’d spent the past two. Now we had uprooted once again and moved to Himni, at least four times the size of Duchesne. The streets were paved. The library didn’t have wheels. They had a swimming pool.

Once when my kids were little they wondered how come I knew so much about the 50’s when I would have been too small to remember much. It was simple. The 50’s didn’t get to Himni ’til the 60’s. In many ways, thank goodness, the 60’s never did get here. There was that couple of weeks the Hippies were passing through town…which makes a great jumping off spot for a first story.


One summer in the mid-sixties the Hippies had a rendezvous in Boulder, Colorado. Most of them hitchhiked through Himni on their way from California. There wasn’t a male in town who had hair over his ears so to us they were quite a site. Most folks just gawked, a few mothers kept their kids indoors, but life didn’t change all that much.

Butch Farley and his buddies rolled a few of them, or so we heard. They claimed to have even taken a load of Hippies into the back of Butch’s pickup truck ostensibly to convey them on towards Colorado. Instead they took them up on Pine Top and impolitely dropped them off in the middle of nowhere. Butch loved the reputation, but I don’t really know if he ever did half the stuff his minions bragged about.I was working at the local IGA that summer. My first town job. We had the usual crew; a few sweet old ladies in the bakery, a trio of young mothers running the check stands, a bunch of high school kids bagging groceries and stocking shelves. We had an ambitious out-of-towner for a manager who’s name was Lester Moore. A smooth ladies man in the meat department called Tuff. And we had a scrawney little manager wannabe running the produce department. His name was Mark Wilson, who was also from out of town.

Mark was always having problems. I think his ambition far outstripped his brains, but he was a nice kid and we all liked him. One day, for example, we called him to the front to help check groceries. He never came. We called again with the same results. When the rush was over; Les sent me over to the Pine Top Cafe’ to see if he was sitting in the coffee shop. Nope. We made a cursory search of the store with no results. We even called his house to see if he’d gone home for some reason. No luck, but his wife Leslie, hurried down to help with the search. They’d been married just a few months.I personally had checked the produce cooler a couple of times. The light switch was on the outside of the door. Both times the light was off. On my third trip around I looked in the cooler again, nothing. Just as the door was closing, though, I heard something and opened the door and turned on the light. A wall of lettuce boxes had collapsed and fallen on top of poor Mark. He’d been there under the pile in that cooler for over three hours. He was shivering uncontrollably and Leslie took him home for the rest of the day.

Another time we had a late night stocking project. Us kids went home at midnight and Les and Mark stayed behind. When we got to the store in the morning it was locked up. We rattled the door and Nellie from the bakery, who had been inside for hours making bread and doughnuts and stuff, let us in. It was dark up in the office so Sue Connor, the head checker made me go
up with her. There we found Les and Mark passed out after polishing off a bottle of Jack Daniels. As in the rest of Utah, a bottle Jack Daniels isn’t available in a grocery store and I had never even seen one. Mark had fallen asleep with his neck propped between two coke bottles in a 24 bottle crate. We let them sleep. When they finally came down about eleven, Mark couldn’t hold his head up and he stayed that way for about a week.One Friday morning we got this huge shipment of cantaloupes. Les was livid. We’d never sell that many in a million years. Desperate to prove him wrong before the cants spoiled, Mark put on his thinking cap. Where he got his stroke of genius we’ll never know.

Rarely, had the hippies actually stopped in the store, but on this particular day they were swarming the place. Oh, they bought the usual stuff and tried to look casual but it soon became apparent that it was cantaloupes they were after. Every sale included several! By Saturday night they were almost gone! We had nearly sold the entire stock in two days!

Now, in those days the most common advertising method in the grocery business was the painted sign. Poster paint on butcher paper was the medium. These were usually stapled on a wooden “A” frame out on the sidewalk for the passing traffic to see. It was two days before anyone in the store noticed what Mark had done. There on an ordinary “A” frame was this message. “NOTICE – IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DRYING THE RINDS OF OUR CATELOUPES AND SMOKING THEM – WE ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO SELL OUR MELLONS FOR ANY OTHER THAN THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE!”

Sometimes we get so desperate to find happiness, we’ll try anything.

Of all the stuff Butch Farley is reported to have done. One is for sure. I was there and have felt guilty ever since.

We were bucking bales for Pop Wardley up near the canyon. Hot, sweaty, hard work it was. Especially if you were a skinny kid like me. Every afternoon at quitting time Pop would ask us what time we wanted to start in the morning. We would all go for six when it was cool. Every day Pop would reply with, “Too many tireds, how about nine.” And so we always hauled hay in heat of the day. At noon we’d skinny dip in the canal so we’d be all cleaned up and cooled off for lunch. Aunt Marge always fed us a great lunch. We’d work about six hours a day for $1.25 an hour. The older kids and some of the younger city kids got work in town for more than that. If you were 14 though, it was bucking bales or nothing.

Pop was a favorite to work for though, mostly because of Aunt Marge’s cooking and because Pop slip stacked. Lots of folks had given up slip stacking after Bobby Roberts’ accident, but not Pop. He was just too set in his ways. Someone drove the tractor (usually one of Marge’s girls) and one of us rode the slip. It was a large sheet of steel dragged by a chain behind the baler. The slip stacker (one of us) stacked the bales on that sheet of steel as they came out of the baler. At the end of the field all you had to do was step off the slip, stick a hay hook in a bottom bale and hang on. The slip would slide right out from under the pile of bales. Now the guys on the hay wagon would load them up and haul them off to the stack yard. It sure beat walking all over the field gathering up the bales. Bobby Roberts managed to get under the slip with a stack on it. It killed him and the thoughts of it kept us on our toes.

Usually, we shut down for a break midmorning and again midafternoon. We didn’t need to bring food but we always brought plenty to drink. On the day I’m thinking of Pop was driving the hay wagon and Mirtle was driving the baler. Butch was slip stacking and Delin Perkins and I were loading the wagon and stacking the hay stack. When we stopped for a break, Mirtle and Pop went to the yard for more baling twine and Delin was finishing up on the big stack. Butch got shaded up and noticed Delin’s thermos full of lemonade. Now, you’ve got to understand that, though we were the same age, Butch was two of me. I hadn’t quite cleared 100 pounds yet and I stood 5′ 10″. Butch on the other hand was a good 190 pounds and was already shaving every day. He didn’t really look like a bully, but his reputation and a particularly cold glint in his eye on top of his size kept me in my place. Anyway, Butch picked up the thermos and looking right at me, drank half of it down. Though I said nothing, I’m sure the glint of terror in my eye made it clear that I wasn’t going to say anything. I did wonder what Delin would say though. I glanced up at Delin on the stack and when I looked back, there stood Butch peeing Delin’s thermos back full.

I have never had a more confusing gumbo of emotions in my whole life as I did that day when I silently watched Delin Perkins down that entire thermos. He never noticed a thing and Butch never even flinched. Today the fear, revulsion, shame, awe, anxiety, delight and bewilderment have all boiled down to a thick greasy guilt. And every time I see old Delin I wonder about that facial tic he’s developed.

Dances and ball games were Himni’s primary entertainment in the 60’s. 80% of the student body attended every Himni High football or basketball game. Much of the town did too. During basketball season the gym was always packed. The band was rocking the house. The Pep club was seated in uniform in a block H on the home bleachers. The place smelled of sweat, popcorn and Right Guard.

There was a dance after every home game. Often even the adults stayed to dance.

The Halloween of my Junior year brought the annual costume dance. I took Rhonda Wardley and we double dated with my best friend Mitch and I can’t remember who. Mitch never went steady until the next summer when we met the twins at Boy’s State. That’s another story though. His date could have been just about anybody, but was probably Dana Williams.

Anyway, after showing our activity cards we walked together on to the dance floor and grouped up with a crowd that had already gathered. We had no sooner joined the circle when one of the Hooper twins handed me $20.00!

“What’s this for?” I asked.

“For dancing with Celestia Hopewell,” he said.

“No way!”

He grabbed the twenty back but I hung on – thinking about it. Twenty dollars was a fair chunk of change in those days and one didn’t let it go all that easily. Celestia Hopewell was the oldest, meanest, hardest, strictest teacher on the faculty. She might have retired ten years ago, but teaching High School English was all she knew. The gang had taken up a collection and determined that for $20.00 they could get Jinx to do it. They were right.

Mrs. Hopewell had come in a very elaborate witch’s outfit. It suited her and made her seem even more formidable. Rhonda came as a clown which was pretty much in character for her too.
I had come as a pumpkin. Well, actually, I came with a Jack-o-lantern on my head and a double knit green suit put on backwards. There was a rule against masks. I thought I’d have a little fun, so I cut a large hole in the back of the Jack-o-lantern which completely exposed my face (no mask). The Jack-o-lantern face was in the back, but so was the front of my pants, faux shoes and jacket. It had it’s desired effect too. Twice during the evening I heard the voice of a teacher behind me, instructing me to remove the mask or be kicked out of the dance. It was such a kick to turn around a see the startled look that resulted when they realized they’d been scolding the back of me. Pumpkin guts drizzling down my neck all night was not part of the plan though.

It took a couple of dances and lots of encouragement from Rhonda to get up the gumption to earn my twenty bucks, but I finally did it. I made a broad arch around the gym floor and kind of tricked myself into stopping in front of Celestia Hopewell. She politely commented on my clever costume and I mumbled something about how scary she looked. At least I didn’t lie. Then I cleared my voice and, as politely as I could, asked her to dance. To my chagrin and consternation, she graciously accepted.

We walked together on to the floor. Lots of eyes were on us. I’d picked a slow dance because I just couldn’t picture her doing anything else. We assumed the position, her hand on my shoulder, mine at her waist and the other two joined, and the music stopped. Well, that was awkward. Now we had to visit a bit while we waited for another song. I wasn’t due to take her English class until next year and as it turned out, I chickened out and never did have a class from her. The result was that there just wasn’t that much to talk about. The break lasted forever. I wondered if the guys hadn’t paid off the band too. Finally, the music began. It was Blue Velvet. Once again we made contact and began to dance.

Now Rhonda is a great dancer. She went on to college and became part of a championship ballroom dance team. She always said I was pretty good myself. Celestia, though, was amazing. She responded to every lead I offered. Not once did I feel that she was doing anything but flawlessly following my cues. She let me lead the dancing, but she lead the conversation and was so charming and witty I was in shock. I was having a great time! Me, 16 years old and Mrs. Hopewell, at least 70! I couldn’t believe it. When the song was over, I began to escort her to her seat when she practically begged me for one more. She explained that she hadn’t danced a single time since she was widdowed over 30 years before. I gladly consented. I even relaxed.

When I did take her to her seat I was overwhelmed with how pleasant the experience had been. As she sat down she thanked me and then asked, “So, was it worth $20.00?”

The pumpkin surrounding my head began to steam. I was about to break and run, when she presented me with the sweetest, warmest smile. I took a deep breath and replied that I”d pay $20.00 to have the opportunity again. I meant it too.

# 5 – 1938 Harley

Lew Hopkins always rode a motorcycle. I knew nothing about them and am a little fearful of them even to this day, probably because of hanging around with Lew.

Lew lived up the Canyon on a nice little farm nestled against the Dry Fork of Omner Creek. The creek ran in the spring and early summer, but most of the year was just a strip of cobble rocks. His dad rarely got a third crop of hay because the water petered out. Funds were tight for the Hopkins’ and 12 miles to school didn’t help. Mostly Lew rode the bus. After his sophomore year though, he got a job at a Winslow’s Auto Parts and bought a Honda 350 to ride to school and work. Even then he didn’t have a lot of pocket change.

School lunch was 25 cents and often Lew would offer to do loony stunts for a quarter so he could eat with us. One time he said, “If I lay down in the middle of the crosswalk to the Seminary building and using my shoulder as a pivot, spin a full 360 in the road with all the girls watching, would that be worth a quarter?” “Sure.” Or, “If I jump off the folded up bleachers in the gym, onto the, six foot in diameter, push ball, would that be worth a quarter?” “Sure.”

Heck, now I’m going to have to tell you about that one. Lew was a big kid even then. The top of the bleachers had to be 12 feet off the floor. That’s a six foot drop to the ball. I feared the huge canvas covered ball might pop. Or what if he missed? He stood there calculating a moment and leapt. He did a seat drop and landed slightly forward of top dead center. He sank deep into the ball and then shot at a 90 degree angle out across the gym floor, where he gracefully slid to a stop against the bleachers on the other side of the gym. I gave him a dollar.

Often, after work on a Saturday, Lew would pick me up on his Honda and we’d head up the canyon for some exploring. One evening we were coming down the canyon and we spotted a doe running beside us on the opposite side of the fence that paralleled the road. Lew decided to race her. We’d nearly caught her when she decided to jump the fence and cross the road in front of us. She landed right on the front fender and was gone, as quick as that. We stopped and shook it off. Examining the bike we found deer fur jammed between the fender and the front shocks.

Early one summer Lew got word that his friend and hero Billy Wainwright had been killed in Viet Nam. They were neighbors and Billy had been the big brother Lew never had. Lew was devastated. After the funeral Billy’s mom took Lew aside. She assured him that Billy loved him. Then she explained that she wanted Lew to have Billy’s old 1938 Harley Davidson motorcycle. “Billy would have wanted it that way.” Lew was thrilled.

He worked on the old worn-out beast for a month. One afternoon I was up there helping him try to get it started. Nothing seemed to work. The Hopkins’ lane had a nice downhill slope to it. It ran along an alfalfa field to the bottom of the slope then made a hard right and went out to the main road. We decided to try to push start it. The Harley had a foot clutch on the left side and a hand shifter on the side of the fuel tank. Lew put it in second gear and depressed the clutch pedal. I started pushing him down the road. The first couple of clutch pops had no results. We still had some momentum though so we kept going. On the third attempt she fired up and the old hind wheel started churning. Lew was way too close to the corner though, and was forced to cross through the hay. Flames were shooting six feet out of the exhaust pipe and a 20 foot rooster tail of green alfalfa was spraying into the air. I laughed so hard I had to step into the bushes.

Now she was running, we had to go to town and show her off. We put our ball caps on backwards and headed down the canyon. There was no second seat so I had to sit on the back fender. We got down to the intersection of Himni Avenue and Main Street and stopped at the light. We were in the left turn lane. While we waited for the light to change Mitch Warner pulled up next to us in his rod. He rumbled the engine. Lew responded by wrapping up the Harley. Just then his foot slipped off the clutch and the bike pulled a wheelie, through the red light, right out into the intersection where it dumped me smack dab on top of the manhole cover in the middle of the street! Lew went on to careen over the curb where he finally got control in the parking lot of Hanley’s Department Store. Aside from a sore rear end and singed eyebrows I was no worse for wear, just a little smarter.

I rode home with Mitch.

All my life I had watched the Deacons pass the Sacrament at church with a measure of awe. They always deported themselves with dignity and respect for what we Mormons consider a very sacred ordinance. As I approached the age of twelve, when I expected to become a Deacon and have the honor of passing the Sacrament myself, I watched the Deacons with keen interest. I wanted to learn exactly how it was done so I wouldn’t flub up and embarrass myself when I first participated.

I turned 12 just a couple of weeks after we arrived in Himni and moved into the Himni 3rd Ward. Bishop Merrell interviewed me and found me worthy of ordination. My Dad conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon me and ordained me to the office of a Deacon. I think he was relieved to have actually been there. Four years earlier, when I was baptized things hadn’t gone so well. On the morning of my scheduled baptism my Dad and Grandfather had gone golfing. Grandpa had a heart attack on the third hole. Of course, Dad and Mom and Grandma went right to the hospital. My baptism was scheduled for 5:00 P.M. When the folks weren’t home by three I started to get nervous. When the clock struck four I was really concerned. I got my Sunday clothes on so I’d be ready when the folks rushed in. They didn’t. I had been left in charge of the kids. Todd, my brother and the next oldest was just six and a half. He thought he was big enough to take over and the neighbors were close, so I grabbed my recommend off of Mom’s dresser, left Todd in charge and rode my bike over to the church. I presented my recommend to the Brother in charge and got myself baptized. You can imagine my parents chagrin when they discovered their little boy had been baptized and they hadn’t even been there.

I was baptized by Richard F. Waters. To this day I have no idea who he is. Dad’s name did make it on the Baptismal Certificate as the man who confirmed me. That happened at church the next day. Grandpa recovered too.

So now we come to that fateful day when sitting on the front row in Sunday School I was nervously anticipating my first attempt at passing the Sacrament. (In those days Sunday School was in the morning and Sacrament Meeting was in the evening. The Sacrament was served in both meetings.)

I was prepared. I had learned exactly where I was supposed to go and exactly what I was supposed to do. The Deacon’s Quorum President had assigned me the easiest route, right down the side pews behind where we had been sitting. Just as the Priest finished the blessing on the bread a tickle in my nose produced a sudden and unexpected sneeze. I covered my mouth with my right hand. As I removed my hand I discovered an enormous glob of mucus in the palm of my hand. It was time to stand up and take the trays from the Priests. Panic! I had no handkerchief. What do I do? What do I do?! As I went to stand up the only thing I could think to do was scrape it off on the front of the wooden pew. Thinking of the words…”he that hath clean hands and a pure heart…” I felt so guilty taking the tray into my polluted right hand. I felt as though I had lied about my worthiness. Somehow I got through the passing of the bread. We filed back to the table, two rows of us. First the guys from the other side of the chapel returned their trays. They then backed up to allow my side to approach the table. The water was blessed and we took those trays. As we were filing out to distribute the water I followed one of the boys from the group that had backed up. There oozing down the back of his pant leg was my logie. He had backed up to the bench and gathered it up for me. I nearly fainted.

God has often re-reminded me of my humanity since that day. Thankfully, I have finally learned that my flaws, weaknesses and imperfections are the very reason we have the Sacrament in the first place.

Brother Goodwin’s Seminary Class was always a delight. Released time Seminary, for Latter-day Saint kids was held across the street from the High School in the Seminary Building. One period a day we spent over there ostensibly learning about the gospel. Brother Goodwin made that pretty likely. He loved the Lord. It showed. He loved us too. That also showed. Who can forget the day he stood upon his desk and delivered the Rameumptom Prayer. Or who can forget the day the phone call came to inform him that he had become the father of two adopted twins.

At the beginning of the year Brother Goodwin informed us that we’d be studying the Old Testament. He handed out our new Bibles. Next he divided us into Scripture Chase teams. He instructed us to organize our teams and to use the Bible in selecting names for our teams.

We huddled together and started brainstorming our way through the concordance. After some giggling, negotiating and mayhem the four teams came up with their names. Many of my best buddies were in that class and two of my closest, Mitch and Lew, were on my team! We called ourselves Noah’s Ark-angels. For a short time about then I had been nicknamed Noah on account of my having become proficient at reciting Bill Cosby’s “Noah” routine which we had on a long-play album.

Another good friend, Rob Hanke, lead up a team that called themselves Solomon’s Wise Guys. (I’m sorry about that and I’m sure Brother Goodwin is too.)

The other two teams came in with Daniel’s Lions and, the envy of all of us The Golden Emerods. We had no idea what an emerod was but it sounded cool to us and cool was everything. If emerods were cool, golden ones had to be fantastic. The Golden Emerods included all girls and was headed up by a prissy little chick named Marci Merrywether. They were pretty good scripture chasers too and became our main rivals throughout the year. In fact later in the year, in a charitable ploy to even the odds, Brother Goodwin cheated in their behalf and spauned the Wet Topcoat Incident, but that is another story.

So the year labored on and we found ourselves studying in the book of First Samuel, whereupon we read:

1 Sam 5:9
9 And it was [so], that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.

This was the story of the Philistines stealing the Arc of the Covenant from the Israelites, which sorely displeased the Lord. Naturally, we asked Brother Goodwin, again, what an emerod might be. He said he didn’t know, but something in his eye made me think otherwise. The Bible Dictionary didn’t offer a clue. Niether did the big dictionary over at the Library. I didn’t spend a lot of time fussing over it, but there was this little nagging itch in the back of my brain that really flared up when Marci got particularly snotty.

And so it was, that I found myself at BYU for a debate tournament with a little free time to visit the Library there. On a lovely wooden stand stood the largest dictionary I’d ever seen, Funk and Wagnal’s Unabashed Dictionary of the English Language or something like that. I looked up emerods and check out what I found:

‘ophel {o’-fel}
Hebrew: noun masculine
Possible Definitions:
1) hill, mound, fort, stronghold, Ophel
2) tumor, hemorrhoid

You can imagine which definition I favored. You can imagine Brother Goodwin’s dismay at my revelation to the class. You can imagine Marci Merrywether’s reaction to belonging to a scripture chase team named the Golden Hemorrhoids.  (Might as well have been Gomer’s Piles.)  And, I’m sure, you can imagine my thoughts upon the occasion of my own first encounter with those unpleasant little companions.