Friday, July 12, 2013

Lavona Flake Richardson's life history: My BYU Experiences


I was anxious to attend Brigham Young University with my sisters Nena and Leona. Leona and I had completed three years at Snowflake High and had taken most of the classes offered and all the classes needed to graduate so we decided to graduate from Snowflake High School in three years.  We graduated in May 1952.  I had my 17th birthday just after we graduated.   We were admitted to Brigham Young University and started school there in September 1952.  Nena went her first year to ASU in Tempe and transferred to BYU with us.  

 Daddy just had a high school education and he thought that was good enough for us but he agreed to let us go to BYU if we could support ourselves.  I worked at various jobs during my years as a student there.   My first job was in the BYU Laundry where I would iron lots of sheets putting them through the big mangle.  I also had another job working at the Wymount Cafeteria early in the morning.  We fed all the students that lived in the dormitories.  Another job was to help  with registration and anything else that I could do to earn a few dollars.  I worked for a time giving out food samples at the grocery store and sometimes found a job doing housework for someone.  I was always looking for more work.   Another job I had as a BYU freshman was typing up a manuscript in the Religion department at the Joseph Smith Building for Sydney Sperry.  I helped type his book, Paul’s Life and Letters which was first published in 1955. 

My freshman year I lived with Nena and Leona and six other girls in the basement of the home at 610 North 1st East which was just across the street from the BYU Lower Campus. Some of the girls were much better off financially than we were.  One of our roommates would spend Saturday  rotating her clothes to find  new clothes to wear the following week.  I remember how amazed I was that someone would have so many clothes.  My freshman year I took shorthand and sewing, a Book of Mormon Class and Symphony orchestra.  My sewing and shorthand classes were at the lower campus but I had to walk up to the Joseph Smith Building for my Book of Mormon class.
I remember that I enjoyed going to the Matinee dances where I met lots of young men.  I never seemed to lack for dates which were different for me because I didn’t date in High School, probably mostly because almost everyone in Snowflake was related to me.  I loved meeting lots of young people.  

 I auditioned and was happy to be accepted into the BYU Symphony Orchestra as a freshman  where I played cello.  I was usually almost the last chair but it was great being with the group.  Our director was Lawrence Sardoni, the brother of Dearwyn Sundwall who later was in our Tempe Fourth Ward.   I enjoyed playing in the Symphony Orchestra most of the time while I was at BYU.  I was able to be in the Symphony even when I was working full time using my lunch hour for orchestra rehearsal.  I remember a BYU orchestra trip that we took to California where I had my first view of the Pacific Ocean.  Another great memory of the BYU Symphony orchestra is playing in the Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake as we accompanied the Tabernacle Choir in their Easter Cantata.  

When I first enrolled at BYU we had only one branch called the Campus Branch.   I was excited to have a church job in the huge branch.  I was one of many SundaySchool secretaries.  My job was to go into the room back of the Joseph Smith Building under the podium and choir benches to record the attendance of our SundaySchool classes. Among others I remember John Groberg and Newell Richardson were leaders in the ward.  I remember them dating their companions that they later married.   The wards at BYU were not established until during my mission in 1955-1957.  As a freshman at BYU the only buildings on the upper campus was the Maeser Building where we registered, , Heber J. Grant Library which is now a testing center, the Brimhall Building where I had science and the Joseph Smith building where we had our religion classes and our Campus Branch Meetings.  This building has now been torn down and a new Joseph Smith building it in its place.  

I moved to a different home in Provo every year and sometimes in the middle of the year looking for new roommates and new experiences.  One semester Leona and I lived in Heritage Halls so we had the experience of living on campus.   Other homes I remember are 343 North 100 East, and 801 North University.  I had lots of roommates during my BYU years and learned from each of them. 
My sophomore year I was blessed to get a job working as secretary for Jennie Campbell, a professor in the Elementary Education department.  She was great to work for and so good to me.  When I first started working for her she had an office on the second floor of the BYU Academy which is now the Provo Library.  I moved with her up to the new David O. McKay Education building when it was completed.  I didn’t have enough money for tuition so I stopped and worked full time for a year before continuing on in my education.  When I worked full time for Jennie Campbell I helped assign the student teachers to the various elementary schools and compiled reports from all of them. 

I enjoyed being involved in various clubs at BYU.  I was a member of Lambda Delta Sigma in the Tau Chapter.   I enjoyed the Arizona Club and loved to Square Dance.  I liked any kind of dancing and even won a competition for “jitterbugging” because of a good partner.  I remember coming out from the Matinee dance holding my cello when a student ran into me and my cello fell to the ground cracking it.  He helped me repair it but you can still see where the crack was.  One of the activities I was involved in as a BYU Freshman was painting the “Y” up on the mountain.  This was the tradition for the BYU Freshman.  Someone took my picture handing the buckets of white wash to the next person up the mountain and published it on the back cover of the BYU Alumni magazine.  We had devotionals twice a week in the field house.  

I was enrolled for another year at BYU when Mother and Daddy came up to conference in October 1955.  During the weekend I changed from being a BYU student to being a missionary and entering the Mission Home which was then in Salt Lake to go to the Mexican Mission.  I had my interviews with my Bishop and Stake President and was set apart by as general authority as a missionary.  I served as a missionary first in the Mexican Mission and later the Northern Mexican Mission for two years returning home in October 1957.
I again enrolled at BYU and worked hard to graduate with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Spanish on August 2, 1958.  Ernest L. Wilkinson signed my diploma and was the BYU president during all my years at BYU.   I did my student teaching in the second grade at Provost School.  I had a great experience and was so excited to be a teacher.   I liked my education classes and got A’s in all of them.  My hardest class at BYU was Biology because I had no background from High School. Interestingly enough I married a man that loved Biology and Science and majored in it in College.  

Travel in those days was not like it is now.  I didn’t have anyone come to my BYU graduation. I am sure my parents were happy at my accomplishments but it just wasn’t important to be there at graduation.   I remember being alone and asking a friend to take my picture for me in my cap and gown.  Maybe this is the reason that it is so important for me to attend the graduations and other events of my children and grandchildren. 

I was blessed to be offered a job as a second grade teacher at Edison School in Mesa, Arizona without an interview.  I was hired because of my good grades and recommendation from my friends in the BYU School of Education. 


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