Most of the summer I worked on the farm for Dad, but occasionally I got a job for a neighbor, for which I might get a dollar a day. We always worked hard on the farm, but now I was expected to do a man’s full day’s work. So I had to double my effort to keep people from thinking I wasn’t a man yet.
The jobs ranged from spreading fertilizer to pitching hay along with the rest of the previously described. The cows were milked in the barn and in the winter were left in the barn all night. Each day the barn had to be cleaned and by spring a large pile had accumulated in the front of the cow barn door. The pile had to be hand loaded into a wagon bed and spread on the fields. This was accomplished in the early spring, generally before the crops started to grow. What didn’t get done early had to be done later. In addition, we traded our straw to Mr. Erickson for his chicken manure, which we also hauled from the coops and piled, waiting fall or spring to spread on the fields before plowing. The spreading was done with a pitchfork or shovel, depending upon the condition of the pile and would be thrown out so a forkful would cover a reasonable area. There was even an art to spreading manure and getting it even over all the field.
Another big job on the farm was haying. When the hay was ready to cut, it was mowed using again the team of horses. Then it was raked into winnows and each winnow was raked into piles. After the hay was raked into piles, a man had to take a pitchfork and pile the hay into a neat pile, cleaning up any loose hay that had been left around. When the hay had dried, or cured, sufficiently, then it was hauled to the barn. The wagon was driven down between the winrows and each pile was picked up with a pitchfork and placed on the wagon. A hayrack had been put on the wagon to hold more hay than the wagon box or beet rack. Each load was piled as high as the loader could reach then was driven to the barn where it was put in the haymow by pitchfork again. The haymow was above the cow barn about 10 feet from the ground and the window was a couple of feet above that. Once in the window, it had to be carried back to fill the entire area starting at the farthest corner and working forward to the window. The hay had to piled clear to the rafters all the way from the back to the front leaving only a small open cone above the window. If you were working with someone as Dad, and I generally did, it was easy. One would fork it into the window and one would stack it in the mow. Since I was the kid, I usually go the mow. Dad was a big, powerful man and a very hard worker. He would start the hay coming in the window and I would try to keep it moved back. In the hot summer, it would be stifling hot in the barn. I would come out soaking wet with sweat after each load only to climb on the wagon and go load up another load to stuff on top of the last load. It was always a blessing when the barn was filled because it was much easier and cooler stacking it outside in the stock yard.
My junior year I got to take athletics. Boy, I was one of the Big Boys (115lbs). The coach assigned me to play right guard which was pulling guard on our team. Of course, everyone played both ways then. I, of course, was on second team and on defense I lined up against big Speck Jasperson, six feet three and 215 pounds. We used to practice about two hours each night and make about 1 play every minute. At that rate I was knocked flat 120 times per night or 600 times per week. Then, on top of that he would either step on me or just lay on me every play. My only relief was when Coach would put the third string in and my buddy, Brig Peterson, go the same. We had a very good team that year. We had two big tackles 215 to 230 pounds, good ends and an outstanding backfield. Our fullbacks were tough and fast. On each play, Max Searles would bull over the center when he was in and Cy Ellsworth would go around end when he played. Cy already held the State sprint records for the century and the 220 and weighed about 195. We only lost one game that year and that to Provo which had a school enrollment about 5 times ours. The next year, they put Provo in the Class A division to keep them from killing us little schools. During the season, we traveled to Ely, Nevada for a game with Ely high school which was fun for must of us non-travelers.
One of my courses this year was speech in which I joined the Debating club and ended up with Brig Peterson as my debating partner. This was an honor because Brig Peterson was student body president and ended up being valedictorian. We traveled to Provo to the B.Y.U. debating meet and made a couple of trips to Salt Lake City to debate there. My Father allowed as how I haven’t stopped arguing since.
I also took shop this year and made a kitchen cabinet with a kitchen sink built in. When it was finished I plumbed the water from the pump into the house, for the first time Mother had ever had running water in the house. However, we continued to use the outdoor privy.
During basketball season, I practiced and made the Varsity squad but did little playing. But to me, practicing was as much fun as playing. At the end of a very poor season, all of the seniors were eliminated from the team and we played several practice games with neighbor team. I did make this team and felt for sure I could be a starter next year.
During the year I had become very close to two buddies with a couple of boys that has endured forever, although I haven’t seen either in years. One was a cousin, Keith Johnson, and the other was Glenn Dickie Vertal. We always ate lunch together and played bell together and everything else possible. One of the things we did to show our mutual agreement was to argue that which ever guy dated a girl first had priority and the other two would not date that girl until #1 renounced interest in her. This was an easy agreement for me because I couldn’t afford to date anyway. During the spring, Keith talked me into asking a girl to go to the dance as a favor to the girl. She was a wonderful girl, but rather tall and not too popular and didn’t have a date for the prom. This was the first real date I ever had.
Spring brought on track and by now, I was recognized as top miler in the county. I won several invitation meets around the area and even placed in the B.Y.U. invitational which pitted athletes from Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, and Idaho. The winner of the mile was Bus Webb and over the rest of my high school years, he became my nemesis. I got by the county okay but he beat me at State again. But I considered it a very successful season, and thought of myself as number two in the State. And again thought, “Wait until next year.”
After school came more of the same routine as every year, work on the farm until our work was finished then maybe take a job with some other local farmer. But the jobs were still short and hard to come by. After the grain had been out, I got a job for 3 or 4 days shocking the grain for the coach on a little farm he owned. Just a few days, but it paid for school and tuition at school. About the first week end of school, I was asked to work on Saturday loading gravel for the coach. Four of the guys off the football team would load the truck and the driver would deliver it to a new service station site the coach was having built. The gravel in the pit was underneath about six feet of clay and we had to dig the gravel out from underneath the clay bank. When the truck was away dumping the load, we found the edge of the clay bank a convenient shade so we all laid down side by side in the shade. Suddenly, without warning, the clay bank started to fall. Three of us rolled out to the way, but one boy tried to stand up and run out. He caught the full impact of the falling clay on top of his shoulders. The three of us immediately realized Roy was under the pile of dirt and started digging with our hands to uncover him. We didn’t dare use a shovel for fear of cutting him. First his head became visible and we dug around his face and lifted his head above the dirt so he could breathe. Then two of us finished digging him out while the other went after help. By the time we had dug him free, the coach was there with the car and whisked him off to the hospital where it was determined he had a broken back. Roy never walked again and it really shook all of us to see such a fine young friend out from among us.
Roy was an example to all of us though, in his courage. First a wheel chair, then a go-cart. He was able to get around and used to be an electric motor repairman. Although he never married and missed a great deal of the good things in life, he went on to become a very successful man.
Years later, I, with the other boys, were accused of causing the permanent damage by improperly moving him when he was buried, but we thought we were saving his life.
My senior year in high school was a ball—a blast. In addition to athletics, I became editor of the school newspaper—well for awhile anyway. After a few weeks of editing the paper, we printed a joke about a couple of kids petting in the park. The teacher advisor put a more naughty definition of petting than we had considered and told me to change the word before the papers were distributed. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the joke so I released the papers. Next week, I wasn’t editor anymore. Maybe that’s why my wife has always said I never learned to write or spell. But I got through 19 years of school all the same.
Football was a blast by now. I had reached six foot and weighed 130 pounds. I started the season playing putout guard. About the third week of training, the big right tackle next door turned up with a football knee and was out for the season. His substitute was a 200 plus pounder but his mother forced him to quit because she was afraid he would get a knee injury as his older brother had. That left the team with zero right tackles. A the next practice we lined up in our usual places and the coach was trying to decide how to fill the vacancy. He said, “Bryson, move over into the tackle slot until I can figure out what to do.” I was replaced by my regular sub. I did and I stayed there for the rest of the entire season without a substitute in any of the remaining games. On our team, the defensive tackles started from a standing position which greatly increased his maneuverability. I was just quick enough of foot to overcome my lack of size. After the coach put me at tackle, I made the next five tackles and continued on from there. I wasn’t big enough to move very many of the opposing linemen, but I got a lot of foot tackles up my back as our back went over the top. But on defense, I did my job. I was quick enough to be past most opposing linemen before they could move and almost lived in some backfields.
|Vern's Senior Picture, 1938|
As our team developed, we averaged about 140 pounds. We had four 10 second sprinters and lots of quickness. We combined to set a league record for number of tie games. We won one game and lost one, and tied six. All the scores were 0-0 or 6-6, or 7-7, except for the game we lost. No one scored more than 7 points on us in any game. We only scored more than 7 points on the one game we won. I became the holler guy, chattering and encouraging the team.
In one game, I went through the offensive line before the end could move anything except one hand. He caught me by the pants at the fly and completely de-pantsed me. All the guys huddled around me. The coach sent out for a new pair of pants and I changed in the huddle and completed the game.
During the sugar beet season, Keith Johnson, Dickie Vertal, and I were topping the beets for Dad. On Friday of that week, the game with Spanish Fork, our greatest rival, was scheduled so we all took off as a man to go play. Keith was a guard and Dickie was the quarterback. The Big Gun on the Spanish Fork team was a big guy named Gardner. His dad was the local banker. He was over six feet tall and 200 pounds and was State hurdles champion. It seemed like every time he got the ball, I was on top of him. We had met before and there was no love lost. He ended up kicking me right in the nose with a football, of course, as I went up to block a point after touchdown kick. I also got another blocked punt and recovery for the day. We tied them 6-6 and I went home feeling ten feet tall.
My Dad had never before seen a football game, but unknown to us had come to see this game. I was really thrilled when I learned he had gone to the game. He brought me down to earth with his description of football. “It looked like a bunch of bulls lined up butting heads.” End of Father’s football experience.
There were some wonderful young men playing on our team and I developed a fine friendship with each of them. Each was remembered for something different reason. The end who played opposite of me in the line was Floyd Marshal, a tough little guy about my weight, but shorter. He had long, powerful arms that seemed to hang clear to his knees. His dad was a mining contractor and would lease and old mine and try to hit enough silver to make the mining profitable. And generally did. Floyd was a local boxer and could whup about anyone in his weight as far as he would travel to fight. We had become friends as sophomores because we used to box at noon. He wasn’t as fast or as long armed as I, so I could keep him away until he charged. Then he always brought a right hand over the top which generally caught me right on top of the head. You can’t hurt an Irishman hitting him there. So, day after day, we boxed and no one else would box him, so I gained a reputation. I could lick Floyd. No one else could, so no one picked on me. The year we graduated, he made $10,000 contracting with his dad. He started college at U of Utah, got kicked out for fighting and went back to mining. I last saw him when we were about thirty. He was sitting on his house step across from where my brother Otis lived and I talked to him awhile. He was very thin and didn’t look well. But worse, he was completely discouraged and died a few weeks later.
Another close friend was Boyd Stansfield. Boyd was an orphan and a close friend of Floyd’s. Both were from Goshen. He was a hurdler and a middle distance runner as well as being a good wing back. After school, he started the U of U with Floyd, but stayed in school and eventually became a teacher and for years has been teaching in his home town.
The opposite tackle was Darrel Morgan. Darrel was a long time friend growing up in the same ward and same school after I moved to Payson. He was an actor and had a beautiful singing Bass voice. He was also President of the student body, an outstanding athlete and person. His mother was a widow and lived next door to the church. I was always amazed how considerate he was of his mother. After graduation he and Keith Dixon, the left end, went to Salt Lake City where Darrel interviewed with one of the radio stations and won a contract to work for the station. On the way home, the two were struck by an automobile driving on the wrong side of the road and both were killed. They were traveling on a motorcycle.
Billy Radatz was our swivel-hipped tailback, Bot Wilson our fullback and Big Dale Montegue was center. Dale was the only one over 200 pounds.