Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lavona Richardson's life history: The value of learning to work


I grew up in a home where I learned to work.  My parents were hard workers and taught us to work.  They would work by our side and taught us to keep working until we got the job done.  They taught us to take pride in a job well done.  My Grandma Stratton used to say, “If it is worth doing, it is worthy doing right”.

Growing up in a rural area I had plenty of opportunity to learn to work.  My parents had a strict division of labor- my Daddy and my four brothers  did men’s work and  my Mother and  me and my two sisters did women’s work, and only in emergencies did we cross over.  I learned to cook on a wood stove by starting a fire under the cast iron top. I learned before starting the fire to cook or bake something to take the ashes out.  I would help with the cooking and baking in our home.  We had no prepared foods.  Everything was made from raw products.  We would make lunches and take them to my Daddy and brothers who were working on the ranch.  It was exciting when we got an electric stove. This made cooking lots easier and cleaner.   I learned to sew.  We made our own clothes and made pearl button western shirts for our brothers.  We would have wash day when we would fill the washer with hot water and homemade soap that we made ourselves.  We would sort the clothes and wash the fine white clothes first, followed by the sheets and then the towels and on to the colored clothes.  The last batch we would wash would be the dirty jeans from my Daddy and brothers.  After the batch of clothes would agitate for a while we would put them through the wringer to a tub of rinse water.  Then move them to rinse water where we had added bluing.   We would then take the clothes and hang them on the line to dry using clothes pins.  I always liked to hang all the sheets together; the towels of one color together, the stockings together, etc.  The underwear we would hang between two lines of clothes where they could not be seen.  We took pride in having clean white clothes. We would always hope for a sunny day so that the clothes would dry before it rained.  In winter the clothes would go stiff almost as soon as we hung them out and would be like boards when we brought them in.  After the clothes dried we would bring them in and sprinkle everything that needed ironing, roll them up and put them back into the washer to be ironed when they were at the right degree of dampness.  Ironing would take an entire day. We had to be sure and get them ironed before they mildewed.  I remember scrubbing floors and making beds.  Mother taught us to keep a tidy house.  

About the only thing I remember doing on our ranch and farm was to tromp the hay as it was pitched on to the back of the pickup.  We didn’t bale our hay so our job was to tromp it down so that we could get more on the load.  We would then get to ride on top of the hay to the barn.  I remember having the assignment to go down to the pasture to bring the milk cow’s home to milk.  The girls in our family didn’t milk the cows but we did take care of the milk when it was brought into the kitchen in big buckets.  We would strain the milk through a cloth to get all the dirt out and bottle it into glass milk bottles which we put in the refrigerator.  

When we were about 12, Leona, Rey and I had a corn patch.  We prepared the soil, planted the corn and worked hard to keep the weeds out.  It was exciting when we were able to see the corn and with the profit buy a watch.  We were given another opportunity to earn money for school clothes while we were in Grade School.  We would hire out to pick cucumbers.  We earned fifty cents for each crate that we picked.  It was hard work. We received 50 cents for each crate.  The stain from the cucumbers and vines would get on our hands and be hard to scrub off.  I still remember the great feeling of having enough money to buy a new dress for the first day of school.

During high school my family ran the Flake Store which was a little grocery store.  Some days I would take the money bag down and open the store and work all day.  At night I would then put all the money back in the bag and walk home.  When school began Mother would run the store.  When we came home for lunch we would take turns staying in the store while mother went home to make us bologna sandwiches for lunch.  We always came home for lunch.  

I worked hard at Brigham Young University to pay my tuition and rent.  I worked at the BYU Laundry ironing sheets, and at the BYU Cafeteria .  I was so happy when I was hired  as a secretary for the BYU elementary school office.  When I ran out of money I would stop and work full time for a semester and then when I had enough money for tuition enroll in school again.  My full time job on the BYU Campus was scheduling the elementary student teachers and filing the assessnents of their student teaching assignments. Often I would take little jobs that would help bring in the little extra money I needed such as working at helping with BYU Registration.  My first years at BYU we didn’t have computers so  the students would visit each department where they wanted to take a class and be given a class card that would admit them into the class.  When the class cards were gone the class was full.  I also worked some Saturdays giving out food samples at various grocery stores and even did some house keeping to earn another dollar.

 I graduated from BYU in 1958 with a major in elementary education and a minor in Spanish.  I taught second and third grades  for two years.    My first salary as a 2nd grade teacher was $3900 for the year.  I felt like I was on top of the world with all of that money. 
After Miriam was born I didn’t work outside the home any more.  I did do phone surveys, baby sit various children and type research papers to get extra money to help with our budget. I am happy that I was able to stay home with my children.  Jay was a hard worker and a good provider.  

When my children were all in school I would walk with them to Broadmor or McKemy and then stay and do the crosswalk in front of McKemy.  I would hold up a sign to stop the traffic while the school children walked across the busy College Avenue.  This gave me a little spending money. 

 When it cost too much to go to the blessing of a grandbaby in Ohio I looked into the possibility of working at America West Airlines.  The children were older and most had left home.  Another advantage of working for the airlines  besides the travel benefits was the health insurance.  Since Jay was a self employed dentist we had to pay lots for health insurance and still didn’t have good coverage.  America West Airlines had good health benefits which helped our family.  It is great having lifetime travel benefits.  I am enjoying the travel benefits now as I travel to Salt Lake each week to work as a missionary at the Conference Center.  I also enjoy being able to travel to different family events all over the nation.

I am grateful that I learned to work.  I learned the value of work by working. I tried to instill in my children a love of work also.   I have always tried to be dependable.  If I tell someone I am going to do something I do it to the best of my ability.

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