Some of the things in my life that I should record:
My great grandfather, Alexander McRae, and his wife, Eunice Fitzgerald, joined the Church in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and when Grandfather was going to be baptized, a large group of men came out to stop any baptisms. Grandfather said he came to be baptized and that was what he was going to do, and he was baptized. He was one of the group of six men held in the Liberty Jail for six months with the Prophet. While he was in Jail, Great grandmother took her baby, my grandfather, to the Jail and the Prophet blessed him and gave him the name of Joseph. As far as we know, he was the only baby blessed by the Prophet while in Liberty Jail.
My grandfather, Parley Sabin, my mother's father, was one of the boys that built fires in Echo Canyon and walked around them to make Johnston's Army think there were a lot of men, and this held the Army back until they agreed to go through Salt Lake peaceably.
Grandfather used to do a lot of fittings with tools and wagons and in later years, he had a blacksmith shop close to where the Highway house in St. David is now. In later years, he had his blacksmith shop in Pomerene. My grandmother was Gecoza Sims.
My father, John Kenneth McRae, was born 12 November 1867 in Salt Lake City and came to St. David in 1877 when the first settlers came here. He died 21 August 1957. He and Mother are buried in St. David.
Mother left Utah when she was a very young child and they came to Arizona and Grandfather had his family in the Chiricahua Mountains for a while. Her mother had already passed away. Mother was a very young girl when her mother passed away, and when Grandfather Sabin brought his family to St. David, he set up a blacksmith shop near where the Arizona Highway House now is. Mother was a young girl at this time, and it wasn't long after that until she met Father and they were married on the 28th of February 1895.
My oldest sister, Edith Annie, was born 1 July 1897; Martha was born 15 May 1898; Gecoza Maria was born 28 June 1900; and I was born 21 November 1902. All of us were born in St. David. Then my folks went to Bisbee and my brother, George Alexander, was born 1 April 1904; Helen was born 26 November 1906; Joseph Pratt was born 14 June 1910; Parley Kenneth was born 24 May 1915; and Irene was born 10 June 1919. All of these younger ones were born in Bisbee.
My youngest brother, Parley, was killed 2 December 1944, in an explosion at the Apache Powder Company. This was when the ammonia crystalizer blew up. He was the only one killed at the time, but the property damage was very great. My oldest sister, Edith, passed away the 27th of March in 1973, in Mesa, Arizona.
As I said, my folks moved to Bisbee when I was young and before my brother, George, was born. They lived in Tombstone Canyon just above the old Lincoln School house. Mother said she used to tie me to the porch post so I could just reach the edge of the high retaining wall, and I used to try to get over this wall.
Before I started to school, we moved to South Bisbee next door to Uncle John McGuire and lived there until I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. While living here I got the scarlet fever and had it very light. George and Helen had it very hard. We were quarantined and Father had to stay away from home. The doctor was the only one who could come to our house. It seemed a long time to be kept in. George stayed small a long time after this and Helen had weak wrists from the sickness. Mother used to work her wrists and then rub them with oil.
Before starting to school, I used to play with Alden Smith. We made ourselves an airplane and lots of other things and, of course, it was going to fly so we put a string on it to keep it. It was a painted wooden stick with another stick nailed across it for wings. Then we put spools (on) for wheels. We got on the roof of the old boarding house to fly it and had Willard Stone, a bigger boy, to hold the string. When we started it down the roof it just went off the edge and landed on Willard's head. Of course, he was going to give us both a licking, but we were able to talk him out of it.
The water was just piped into our house and we used to keep a bucket under it. Anyway, one day the valve came apart and the water sprayed all over the room, and I remember saying, "I wish my Papa was here! I wish my Papa was here!"
While living in South Bisbee and before going to school, I remember seeing my first automobile. It was really more like a buggy without a horse. A doctor had it and most of the time he would make his calls and have to have it pulled back to town with horses.
The mines used to do their work by hand drills and hammer. When a man worked alone they called the hammer a single jack and it weighed about four pounds and he would hold the drill with one hand and strike it with the other. When the hole was deep enough they would put powder in it and blow it up. If the drill was held by one man and one or two others hit the drill with hammer or hammers, the hammers were then called a double jack and weighed from six to ten pounds, usually about eight pounds. This second method was usually used in drilling down, where the first was used in drilling into the side and sometimes drilling up.
On the 4th of July they used to have big contests of drilling and put on quite an exhibition, with special seats and big rocks were brought in on flat cars for the occasion. Also, they used to have what we called push-mobile races and sometimes they were from the top of the divide in Bisbee to the post office.. These were homemade push-mobiles or what we would call small automobiles without engines, and they used to have to push them when they wouldn't coast down the hills. Later they stopped going from the top of the divide and used the straighter road which was lots safer. They would also have parades and sideshows for the celebration.
The first airplane I remember was shipped in on a flat car and unloaded at Warren. They had a place cleared off, quite a field for it to fly from and charged a price to get to see it. It was made of bamboo poles and braced with wires. The engine was set on these bamboo poles and was in the open. It had a wooden propellor and the engine was quite an engine at that time. After the airplane flew about four or five feet off the ground it crashed and the pilot wasn't hurt. He said that airplanes would never be able to fly in Bisbee because it was too high there.
We used to have a small wagon that we would pull around and play with and carry our things in. If we could find a small place where the wagon would roll down a small hill, we would spend lots of time taking it to the top and riding down again.
I started to school when I was nearly six years old in 1908 in South Bisbee School. The building is gone now. It was a two-room building with a hall between. The heat was from wood or coal burning heaters in each room. The toilets were open toilets with holes through boards for a seat, out back with a wood shed between the boys' and girls' toilets. The school yard was very uneven but we played ball, steal the sticks, marbles, kick the can, and other games that children like to play. One time some of us boys locked the teachers in the building. We didn't keep them very long but we still got a licking for doing it.
I was baptized by my father on my 8th birthday. It snowed just before and the snow was still on the ground. The place where I was baptized was a metal storage tank about 3 and a half or 4 feet high and oblong, about 4 feet by 6 feet. It was located in a little back room that was made with 1 x 12's upright. There wasn't any covering in the cracks between the boards and you could see the snow outside through the cracks. It took some time to fill this tank and there was no way to heat the water. All the heat in the building was a little wood heater out in the middle of a large room. When we were ready Father got into the tank, between catching his breath several times, and then said, "Cc---Cc---come on," and, of course, this wasn't very inviting. Uncle Orson was there who carried me to the fire where I changed my clothes. When Father and I had changed, he and Uncle Orson confirmed me.
When I was in the 2nd grade we moved to Bakersville, which is between Lowell and Warren, and then I went to Lowell School for a while and also to Warren School. It seemed I couldn't get going and really had a hard time in school. Soon my folks moved back to St. David and I still had a hard time in school but was able to pass my grades. Then we moved back to South Bisbee and I went to the 6th and 7th grades there. I went to Central School in Bisbee in the 8th grade and entered high school in January 1917. About this time they started to have school in Bisbee the year round, by having three months school and one week vacation, so I was able to graduate from high school in December 1919. The high school burned down on Tuesday of the week we were to graduate and we had our graduation exercises in the Presbyterian Church, so I say I graduated from church.
After we moved back to South Bisbee the second time, we used to get a lot of our wood we used for fuel from waste dumps from the mines. It seemed as if most of the wood in the waste was dumped over the dumps at night and we would go there early in the morning and gather it and put it in sacks and bring it home on our backs or in wagons that we could pull around. A lot of people would get out to get wood and, of course, the first to get it kept it. I have seen men, women and children all there getting wood for their use. It was quite dangerous because sometimes large rocks would roll down the dump and lot of people got hurt. Later the mining company wouldn't allow anyone to go near their dumps. Also, sometimes we would walk along the railroad track and pick up coal that might have happened to fall off the train and use it for fuel. We used cactus centers, or what we called "sotos" or "nigger heads" for fuel. The "nigger heads" were the centers after the leaves were burned off the cactus.
When we wanted a garden we went out in the hills and picked up a little dirt here and there in a bucket and brought it home. We kept this up until we had enough to plant things in. If we wanted to move the garden, we would move the dirt in buckets or wheelbarrows to another place. We took dynamite and blasted out holes for the roots to make places to plant fruit trees. We got quite a lot of peaches from these trees. We also blasted out rocks under the house and made another room there.
One time it snowed about 30" of snow and the next night it froze so we could walk on it, so we young boys found an old piece of corrugated tin and turned it up on one end to make us a sled. After using it a few times and riding down the hill over cactus and rocks the snow melted and stopped our fun. This is the only sled ride I ever had.
I forgot to tell about when the high school burned down. Some of us older boys were asked to stay there that night and watch for fires that might break out in different places. Of course, the fires would break out and then we would put them out. We had a little room to one side where we would go to get warm and then go back again. About one or two o'clock in the morning all of the hoses that we had used to put out the fires were broken and we needed more hose, so we decided instead of going down to the fire department to get hose we would turn in the fire alarm and let the fire engine bring up hose. We turned in the alarm and when we did the whistle stuck open and blew for thirty minutes, and, of course, in the canyon, while they were trying to shut it off, it went high and low and made a shrilly noise. At this time in 1919, the world was supposed to come to an end and nobody knew just what was going to happen, so when this whistle started to blow, a lot of people dressed in their Sunday best and were out on the streets wandering around and wondering what was going to happen when the world came to an end. Really it was quite a funny affair when looking back on it now.
As young boys we used to try to get four wheels and make coasters or kind of wagons we used to coast down the hills with. One time we were able to get four hand washing machine cast iron wheels. They were quite a bit larger in diameter than the wheelbarrow wheels that we usually used so we made up a coaster out of these washing machine wheels. One of the wheels was broken and we laid pieces of iron alongside it and tied a wire around it to hold it together. We made the coaster about ten feet long and about three feet wide. The boards we used was old lumber Father had taken from the floor when he changed the flooring in the house. After we got the coaster made, we took it to the top of the long hill and there was about eight or ten boys got on the coaster and we started down 1he hill. This one broken wheel was in front and just after we got started we must have hit a rock or something. Anyway, this wheel flew apart, part of it going over our heads, and the spokes on the rest of the wheel run in the ground and stopped the coaster and it spun around, spilling boys all over. Of course, this was the first and last ride we took on this coaster.
We used to ride bicycles quite a lot and sometimes we would get on this steep hill and ride down. One time George and I were riding down the hill. He was on the seat and I was on the pedals, and I let go too fast and couldn't stop it. We had to go around a fairly sharp curve and if anybody had been there it would have been just too bad because we couldn't stop and we had to go quite a ways to get the bicycle stopped.
Also, at this time I made a big kite and decided to make it as big as I thought I could, and I made it six feet high and about four feet wide, kind of a star-shaped kite. When I was going to high school I really liked to work in the manual training shop in woodwork. While I was there I made a large library table, what they called a taberet, and some book shelves and book racks of different kinds and just before I finished high school I was making a big dining table. It was about six feet across and had an oak pedestal with a 4 x 6 cross bracket on the bottom for feet. When the high school burned down this table was still in the school. It never burned but got all wet, so after the fire I took it all apart and put it all together again and finished the table after I finished high school.
In part of the summers when I was older I used to work for the mines, and I had a burro and (on) this burro I used to put tools, like drills for drilling, picks and shovels and sometimes I would carry powder on the burro and this burro would go to the different surface mining places where they were mining manganese ore for the war, and, of course, this burro would go up the hill and he was trained to go the way you wanted him to go when you would get him started. As he went up the hill then I would hold onto his tail and he would pull me up the hill along with the rest of his load. Then when he would come back down he would hold back and you could kind of push against him in the back to keep from going down the hill so fast. He knew right where to go at the mines and he would go there and stop at the blacksmith shop where we would take off the drills and picks to get them sharpened to go back to the surface mines again.
Also part of the time when I wasn't working at the mines I worked for the schools and helped to put down seats in the different schools. In those days the seats were screwed to the floor and we used to line up the seats and drill holes with a breast drill and use a screwdriver by hand and screw the seats to the floor so that they would stay in place.
When I was still going to school, Brother Post and his wife and Hazel and baby, who was Ernest at the time, came to Bisbee. Brother Post's car broke down. Father met them in town and invited them to come and stay at our house overnight. When they came to our house, Hazel was carrying her brother Ernest and I thought, "What a pretty girl - the prettiest girl I believe I ever did see." and I thought it was too bad that a girl no older than she was, was already married and had a baby. Of course, I found out different afterwards.
After I graduated out of high school, I worked for the schools about a year in doing repair work and fixing things and also working on the school buildings. It was about this time that one evening there was a big fire in Lowell, and when I seen this fire in Lowell I was in South Bisbee. I walked over to Lowell which was about two miles away. When I got there the big livery stable and barns were on fire back of the post office. The post office was in a building about two stories high and over the post office there were two more stories and they were hotels. And when I got there, I don't know how I got hold of it because in those days a flashlight was really something, but somebody handed me a flashlight. I had this flashlight and was on the first floor of the hotel and I decided that I would go on up to the second story of the hotel. Of course, it was just up some flights of stairs and when I went up to the top I went in the rooms above the sidewalk out in front of the hotel and there was a bed there with a brand new mattress on it. I took this mattress and pushed it out the window, and before I let it drop I hollered for everybody below to get out of the road so that I could save this new mattress. Then when I looked around for something else to save I started to go back to the steps and the wind had changed and the fire was coming up the steps where I just came in and the wind slammed the door and the door had a glass panel in the top of it and the glass broke and, of course, this allowed the fire to come right in through the door into the room where I was. I went to the window and leaned out the window to try to get my breath and I held the flashlight in my hand. Finally the fire got so not that I crawled out of the window and the men down on the sidewalk held the mattress and told me to jump. Well goodness, that was about four stories high and I knew that if I hit that mattress why it wouldn't stop me from getting hurt bad or killed on the sidewalk. Anyway, I went out the window and while I was hanging trying to make up my mind what to do I used the flashlight and looked in the window right directly below where I was and I could see that both the glasses were up and I could reach about the center of the glass with my toe, so I kicked the glass out of the window and got ready, I turned loose with my left hand, and of course, my right hand had the flashlight and as I came down in front of this window I reached in and put my foot on the window sill and reached inside and was able to catch in the next story and go in the window and everybody on the sidewalk below hollered when I started to go down because they thought I was going to fall all the way to the sidewalk. The next day when I went to work the man that I was working with said, "Were you at the fire last night?" I said, "Yes, I was there." And he said, "Did you see that fireman come out of the window and fall to the next window and go inside?" I said, "Do you want me to tell how I did it?" And he said, "What do you mean, how you did it?" And I said, "That was me and I am the one who did it." Father said that really it wasn't me that did it, but I was protected by some higher power than myself that saved my life at that time.
I forgot to tell you that while I was in high school I was in the Cadet Training Corp and used to have to have training about every morning. Every boy that was physically able had to be a cadet at that time because the war was going on. I was able to advance until I was at the rank of Second Lieutenant in the cadet army. While we were in this cadet training the Captain, who was a paid man, decided to take us on a trip and took the cadets, all of them, and marched us in one of our week's vacations from school out to Hereford, Arizona, which was about seventeen miles. This is an awful long hike for boys who are not trained or accustomed to hiking. When we got out there some of the boys had charley horses and trouble with their legs. It was so cold that the water froze and we really didn't have bedding enough, of course, we had to take our bedding and what we were going to sleep on and use on our backs. Several of us would get together and try to keep warm that way. It would freeze at night and some of us older boys took the bugle and filled it full of wet sand at night when the bugler didn't know it. We were told we were not to get out of bed until the bugle blew. The next morning when the bugler tried to blow his horn it was full of wet sand. The sand had frozen so he had to build a fire to thaw out his bugle before he could blow it to get us to get up. They had a colored man for a cook and he used to take a big wash tub and put water in it and get it to boil and then he would dump in a lot of rolled oats and when these oats would get partly cooked he would take a big spoon and dip down into the tub and it would string clear up to your plate. I never did like canned milk and that's what we had for breakfast - canned milk and rolled oats. I certainly didn't like that and it was pert near every day that way. After we got back to school they decided to make officers out of different ones and this was the time I was made a second lieutenant. Being a second lieutenant it was our particular work as lieutenants and captains to go and drill the boys in military tactics and work. The rifles we had at that time were dummy rifles and they were supposed to be weighted to make them regulation weight and there was a piece of lead inside of the wooden stock and a lot of the boys took this lead out so that they didn't have to carry this load around all of the time.
While I was still working in Bisbee after graduating from high school, Father and I took about a week off. He had a vacation and I took some time off and we came to St. David and started to dig an open well. This open well was dug using a 2.5 foot cement pipe about two feet long; then we would dig inside of this pipe until we could let it go down and then we would put another piece of this cement pipe on top of that. It was really ditch tiling. And then for stairs to get out of the well we broke little places across the pipe to one side and laid a piece of pipe or steel pipe rod in this and this was for steps. We had sixteen of these pipes and being two feet long, that made us down about thirty-two feet when we used up all of our cement pipe. Then Father took four 2 x 4s and stood them on end and took short boards and nailed them to these 2 x 4s. These 2 x 4s was just inside of the cement pipe and these boards were nailed on the outside of the 2 x 4s and this made it so when we got the form down to where we wanted it we could pour cement behind it. Of course, the dirt fell in some places and we had to take the dirt out and put cement in after we took the forms out. We dug this well about 85 feet deep, around 80 feet when we struck water. We didn't finish it all at this time but we were able to finish it later.
While we were digging this well one day Brother Post came up to where we were digging and invited us to come down to his place to have supper. After he left Father asked me if I wanted to go down and I told him, "Sure," because I was tired of the cooking we had. It sure wasn't very good, and I knew that Sister Post was a very good cook and that we would really have something good to eat. When we got there for supper that evening everything went fine during the meal and afterwards Brother Post and Father got up and left the dining room and went into the front room to talk. The girls and Sister Post started to do the dishes and there wasn't anything for me to do so I went in the front room and had a chair and just sat to one side while Father and Brother Post were talking. Soon after two girls, that is Hazel and Lola, came in to where I was and asked if I would like to look at some pictures. I told them "Sure" I would like to look at pictures, so we went back in the dining room and really I enjoyed myself and to think that I was close to this pretty girl that I had met in Bisbee - I was really thrilled with the idea of being there.
Soon after this I quit my job in Bisbee and came down to St. David and got a job at the Powder Plant and started to work there. While I was working at the Powder Plant, George stayed with me and he went to school while I was working. At this time it seemed like the young folks used to have lots more dances and parties than they do any-more and I used to go to the dances. and. of course, when I went to the dances I didn't know much about dancing but I really got a thrill out of dancing with Hazel when I got a chance. The first time I started across the floor to ask her for a dance, someone else asked her before I got there, but I didn't stop but kept on going so my first dance was with Justine Lee who later married Reed Goodman. Then when I got a chance I danced with Hazel. Several dances after this, it was the 4th of July, if I remember right, in 1920, that we went to a dance and the dance was held in the high school. The high school at that time was about where the grammar school is now. During the dance when I was dancing with Hazel I asked her if I could take her home. Of course, in taking her home all we could do is walk because I never had a car or anything at that time, and she said she would have to ask her father. Then I danced with her again in a short while and she said it was alright for me to take her home that night - and boy! was I ever thrilled! We walked about a mile and a half down to her place. And it wasn't long then until I would ask her if I could take her to the dances as well as take her home, and I used to make it a plan to see Hazel about twice a week. One evening it was the night that I was supposed to go see her and it was really raining hard around and I mentioned that I didn't think I would go down to see Hazel that night. And Father, all he said was "Faint heart never won fair lady", and of course, that is all I needed and I went down to see Hazel and while I was down there it rained awful hard and flooded and there used to be a bridge across the ditches where I could get across them but it was so dark when I started to go home and it had rained so hard that I had to go through the ditch and through the water, some of which was right under my arms. I was really wet when I got home, but anyway, my faint heart did not stop me from seeing her that night.
In 1921, I started to work at the Apache Powder Plant in St. David. I worked there for about three months and was laid off for three or four months and went back to work in 1922, and worked until January 1923, when I quit and went to work in Bisbee for Phelps Dodge. While working at the Powder Plant I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law, Edith and Jared Trejo, for a while and then George and I batched in the old place while he went to school and I went to work. I bought an old Ford frame and engine with a seat, something to run around, no top, no sides, but it was something to get to work and back with. When I went to Bisbee I started to work for Phelps Mining Company in the machine shop. I worked there for about five months and was transferred to Sacramento Hill where I was promoted until I became foreman over steam shovel repairs. In this work I learned electric, acetylene and thermal welding, locomotive crane operating, boiler making work and machinist work. While I was working on Sac Hill in the machine shop I stayed with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sarah McRae out in South Bisbee. At this time I bought an Old Model T Ford car for transportation and I used to travel to St. David one or two times a week to see Hazel. At times it was awful hard to stay awake when I was going home and sometimes I would get in the back seat and drive the Ford over the back of the front seat because the gas was throttled by a lever on the steering wheel and I took the risk that I didn't need the brake. Other times I would eat popcorn or something like that to stay awake. One night I was going back home and I went to sleep right on the main street of Bisbee and when I woke up I was almost to run into the sidewalk and on into a men's department store. This woke me up and I was able to stay awake for the rest of the way to South Bisbee.
While I was working at this time I got rheumatism in my legs and it got so bad that I couldn't walk. My boss at that time didn't want me to lay off because he didn't have anyone to take my place so I worked and used to use pick handles for crutches to get around with. At this time I had a dream and in this dream I dreamed that I had bought a brand new pair of legs. These legs could be unhooked at the hip and the new ones hooked on. And in my dream I took off the old legs and hooked the new ones on and the new ones were nice and tight at the knees where the rheumatism used to hurt awful bad and I thought it was funny that I didn't know this before. Of course, when I tried to move my legs I found out right away that they were the same old legs and that they hurt awful bad. It wasn't long until I had my tonsils removed and then I was able to get over my rheumatism.
Hazel and I planned to be married in September and I didn't tell my foreman why I wanted off, but I told him I would like to be off for about three weeks in September in 1923, and he told me he couldn't let me off. I told him, "All right," and then I told some of the fellows that I intended to quit and be married. He heard that I was still wanting off so he came and asked me what I wanted to be off for. I told him that I planned to be married and he said, "Well, why didn't you tell me?" He said, "Of course you can get off, and besides that, when you come back I will raise your wages." He kept his promise in doing this.
The old Ford that I had I took the back of the front seat out and put hinges on the bottom of it and fixed it so we could pin it at the top and by doing this the back of the seat would lay down between the seats and in that way we could have a bed in the car for traveling when we went to Salt Lake.
When I went to Bishop Goodman to get my temple recommend to be married in the temple he asked me what Priesthood I held. I told him I was a Priest. Of course, I hadn't thought about needing to an Elder. He said, "Well, you need to be an Elder," so he said, "I'll ordain you an Elder" and he set me right down in his house at that time and ordained me an Elder.
I had saved up some money for us to be married and to make the trip to Salt Lake and just about a month or so be-ore we were to be married the bank went broke. Of course, I didn't know how we were going to do it but we were determined that we were going to be married anyway. When Brother Post found out that I had lost all my money in the bank he asked me what I needed and I told him that I thought I could get along all right. He looked at the tires on my car and told me to get two new tires and I think he gave us $100 to go on the trip. Of course, when we got back and could do it, we paid all this money back and paid him for the tires.
The day after we were married we went to Tucson and that night stayed at my sister Martha and her husband, Willard Huish's, and the next day we started out for Salt Lake. On the way to the Colorado River I stopped and took off the oil pan and checked the connecting rods on my Ford. When we reached the Colorado River it was late in the evening and when we come to the river, down through the trees and everything, there it was just the river flowing between us and the other bank and just a board across the road. When we stopped there was a fellow on the opposite side of the river who hollored and said, "Do you want to come across?' I said, "Yes," so he started up his motor boat or ferry and he went up the river little bit and then he came across the river sideways with the motor running trying to hold against the current. When he got on our side he was below the board and he brought the boat up on along where it belonged and tied it to a post along the river. Then he laid two 2 x 12s for me to drive on and I drove the Ford over onto the ferry and he had just a block to keep us from going off the ferry on the other side. When we got on he put a block behind our wheels and then he started up the ferry again, went up the river a little ways and then he nosed it out into the river and went across the river sideways coming to the other side. When he came to the opposite side he took the same boards and put them in front of our wheels again and we drove off the ferry onto the California side of the Colorado River. That night we went a little ways further and stopped to sleep for the night. When we stopped it seemed as though the mosquitos were going to eat us up. It also seemed like there was a lot of noise and we couldn't imagine why it was that there was so much traffic and noise all night. The next morning when we woke up we had parked right in the forks of the road and cars had been going on both sides of us. Then we went on from there and we went by St. George and some of the road was so crooked at that time that with a Model T Ford it was necessary to drive around the corner and back up and go on again to get around the corners in some of the road. We went on to Salt Lake and went to the October Conference and then when the temple opened about the 10th of October we were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.
After that we came back and when we got to the Colorado River, instead of crossing it we stayed on the west bank and went on down to Blythe. It happened to be Sunday this day and not many stores or anything was open where we could have gotten gasoline. We looked at our map and Blythe was supposed to have been about 90 miles on to Yuma and we were going to Yuma to see Hazel's sister, Stella, and her husband, Earl, and we started on. We hadn't gone only about twenty or twenty-five miles from Blythe and we came to a place in the road where there was a wide place of sand, just sand, and as soon as we drove into this sand the Ford stopped. There were some boards there and I got out and cleared the sand from the front wheels and cleared the sand from the rear wheels, put those boards by the rear wheels and then I would push and Hazel would drive and we would go maybe two or three, or maybe four, feet and then we would go in the sand again. It took us a long while and a lot of gasoline to get through this place. Finally we got through this and went on. We hadn't gone far until I noticed that there was something awful wrong with the steering on the Ford. I got out and found that the left front wheel had lost its bearing and that the wheel had cut the axle almost in two. Of course, there wasn't anything to do but fix it the best I could so I took the bearing nut and screwed it over the cut place in the axle and that made it so that there was another place for the wheel to cut. I took the hub cap off the back wheel and filled it full of grease we had and put it on this wheel and went on. We didn't have very much gasoline but we were determined to go on. When we were about fifteen miles away from Yuma we came to a railway station and I could see a light there and it was dark and I went over to this railroad station to ask if I could get some gasoline. The fellow said he didn't have any gasoline--only just what he needed himself, so we went on. When we got into the houses in Yuma we just passed a house that looked like a store but we couldn't see any sign for gasoline out so we went past it. We went about a block past it and the Ford stopped - out of gas! I had a five gallon can and went back to this store to see if they had gasoline. The fellow said, "Oh, yes," they had gasoline but they just didn't have their pump up yet. They got me some gas out of a barrel and I put it in the Ford and we drove it back to the store to fill it up with gasoline and went on and stayed with Stella and Earl that night.
The next day we spent the day in fixing the front wheel of the Ford and getting ready to come on and the following morning we left real early, about four o'clock in the morning, to come to St. David. We drove hard all day and it was about 10:30 that night when we got to St. David. We stayed in St. David a day or two and when we left, we loaded all our clothes in our Ford and went to Bisbee. When we got to Bisbee we stayed at Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sarah's for a few days until we could find a place to live. When we found a place to rent it was up Tombstone Canyon on the opposite side of the Canyon from Lincoln School and there were 144 steps to get up to our house. That was really quite a job to get up there. We stayed in this house for a while and then we moved. While we were living here we were close to people that, of course, we got acquainted with. One evening we were down town and as we were coming home we were on the street car and there wasn't room for everyone to sit. Hazel was sitting by this neighbor lady and I got up in front and when the conductor came by for fares he came to the front of the car first and I paid for myself and instead of saying, "for my wife back there" I said "for that girl back there" and when the conductor got back to where Hazel was sitting he said, "Your father paid your fare." Of course, this was quite a laugh to this neighbor lady.
Before Barbara came to stay with us in September of 1924, we moved into Roberts Avenue in a little place there and we lived there for a short while. When we were first married George came to Bisbee and got work and he lived with us until he was married about 2.5 or 3 years later. Before June came to live with us we moved up on Roberts Avenue and this is the house we stayed in until we left Bisbee.
Before Nadine was born in 1928, in August, I left Phelps Dodge in Bisbee, and came to Apache Powder to work and worked as a machinist. I worked for about four years and was laid off on account of the depression in June of 1932 until May of 1933. I worked on relief work and at the school or at any job I could find.
About this time we decided to try to make a room under the chapel and they asked me and some other fellows to break through the cement in the back of the old chapel where the South basement door now is. When we started to break this concrete it was about three feet wide and about three feet high and right in the center was a railroad rail. After we had pounded with sledge hammers for a while I said if I had some dynamite I would shoot this. Someone said, "Would you shoot it under this church?" And I said, "Sure, it wouldn't hurt anything if we shoot it." So one fellow said he had some dynamite and another fellow said he had some caps and fuse so they brought this stuff and we took a drill and drilled a hole under the church down toward the rail and put half a stick of powder and cap in it and lit it. This was just before noon and it was November 21, on my birthday in 1932, and the powder didn't go off and didn't go off, so I said, "Well, we will just have leave it and go eat our lunch and then when we come back we will see what we can do." When we came back, of course, it hadn't gone off so I went under and took some little sticks and started to dig the dirt away from the powder. The only way I knew how to do it was to get the powder exposed so we could put some more powder beside it and light it again and see if we couldn't shoot it that way. The second time the powder shot. It was only a short time later that they came and told me that Grandpa Post had been killed on the road up near Prescott, Arizona.
In May of 1933, they hired me again at the Powder Plant to work in the Machine Shop, and I worked in the Machine Shop, Shell House, and Box Mill and learned how to operate the different machines and different equipment. In August of that year the Shell House operator quit and I ran the Shell House until 1946, when I was transferred to the Machine Shop to be foreman.
There was a depression in 1929 and along about 1929 or 1930, George left Bisbee and came down and lived with us. While he was living with us Lynette and Don came in their family and Dona came to live in our family. We lived in Grandpa Post's old place for a while and then we moved to Scranton's house which was across the road from the old Lloyd Miller place on the lane south of the store.. Then George and I built a house south of Father's old place of adobe and we all moved into that. Then when we built the second house, we moved into the second house up there.
While we were living together we also bought a three cylinder pump over in Tucson and we needed a large well to put it in because there were three cylinders in the bottom of the well and a big crank shaft at the top and a big steel frame to hold the cylinders in the well about 50 feet deep, so we started to dig a well and to dig this well we had an orange peel and also a hoist and an engine and we put this hoist and engine on a frame and put it up overhead about 12 feet and then under the frame we had a swinging door that we could swing over, then when we would fill the orange peel and it would bring it up to the top, put the door over under the orange peel and open the orange peel and let the dirt slide off to one side and then we could take a team and scraper and move the dirt. To make the casing for the well we built an inside form and an outside form to make the well about five feet in diameter on the inside and the cement wall about three inches thick. Then we would pour this cement, about five feet of it, then we would let it stand until the next day and then we would take the orange peel and dig five feet and let this cement go down that far, then we would put the inside form and the outside form on and pour another five feet. In that way we had a cemented wall all the way down and we used cable to reinforce it around. When we got the cement as far in the water as we could get it then we bought a piece of five foot tin pipe, heavy galvanized pipe, and put that down the well and put a board across it and used the orange peel and drove it in the water as far as we could get it. When we had finished this we put the pump together and got it all fixed up and ready to run. When we started the pump I was going to go down inside of the tin pipe with a hammer and chisel and cut holes for the water to run through, not thinking about what the pressure might be on the outside of this tin pipe. We had the pump running and when I got down there the water was coming in all around and over the top of this tin pipe and I was just getting ready to step down in the pipe when the pipe closed up just like you would a paper sack and if I had been in there why it would have just been too bad because there woud have been no chance in the world to get out and the water would have been over me about ten or twelve feet. Anyway, this wound up the pump and all we could do was pull it out and we never did get to use this big pump at all for any use and later the well was used for a windmill and that is about the most use this well has been used for.
While we were living together George and I built an adobe house south of Father's old place and when we finished this adobe house, we moved into it. Then we built the second adobe house and Hazel and I and our family moved into that and in about 1934 we bought ten acres of land from Mr. Oldfather on the west and north of his place. The ten acres that we bought is 50 rods north and south and 32 rods east and west and in this it included a well and this well was flowing 35 gallons a minute when we bought the place and it was flowing into a pond and there was a lot of weeping willows around the pond which made it pretty, but they really did take up lots of water and Jim Nelson and I sawed the trees down. One time when we sawed off a tree the water actually run up through the trunk and off into the pond. almost just like a little artesian well.
After we bought the place we decided to build a house and we bought a three-room lumber house up towards the hills from our house here. Father and I moved it down with the tractor and some wheels from a wagon. After we got the three-room house here we built the foundation for this house - for the main part of the house, not including the front room, and had adobes made out in the front yard and the adobes were 6 x 12 x 18 and these adobes weighed an average of 50 pounds apiece and there is 2000 adobes so I say there are 50 tons of adobe on the outside walls of this house. The inside partitions are made of adobe. They are 6 x 6 x 12 and, of course, the floors in the house are mostly hardwood floors, and now we have them covered with rugs. The ceilings are all plastered and then later I put in electric heat in the ceilings of the kitchen, the dining room, the hall, the bathroom and also the front room we how have. The front room was cement block and it was made some years after the other part of the house was finished.
When we were going to build the new part of the chapel over in St. David, I went over with my tractor and we built a frame that we could move along the walls and then we had a cable that went up over this frame and down and we would hook the cable one end on the tractor and the other end onto a dish that we made or a holder for the cement and it would hold a wheelbarrow full of cement. It was made with a barrel cut lengthwise in two with handles to dump it and a bale like a scraper and when I pulled it up to the top then the fellows would dump it in the wall and then I would come back up to the frame and let the bucket down and they would put another wheelbarrow full of cement in it. That way we were able to hoist this cement for nearly all the building where it had to be hoisted. One night when we were pouring cement in the chapel it was so cold and Brother Kartchner and some other men were working up around the top and they said why I was warm down inside and I wasn't moving and couldn't get away from the tractor and I can just remember how awfully cold it was that night when we were trying to pour cement.
After we had our house built we tried to clear the ground to make our fields and there was lots of mesquites and some big cottonwoods out in the east field. We used dynamite and tractors and different ways to get these stumps and trees out of the road so that we could make our fields and begin to plant and get ready to raise things.
Also I built a barn and after I built this hay barn - I built it quite high - the wind blew the top of it off and then I put it back and then later it blew it down again and I decided that I didn't need a barn anyway.
Also, our neighbor to the west drilled a well and when he drilled, it cut our water just in half and the University came over to experiment and put a plastic lining in my pond and that has conserved enough water so that we get along almost as well as we did before the water was cut down. Also with the plastic lining, so the deer and wild pigs won't get on the plastic lining, we put up a fence around the pond just to protect the plastic lining. Also I made an aluminum siphon to go over the edge of the pipe so I wouldn't have to puncture the plastic lining and in that way we can take water out without going through the lining.
I helped move Lorin back to New York so that he could complete his education and after I took him back, it took five days to go back to New York and then it took me five hours to come home on the airplane. Later I helped move Lorin to Laramie, Wyoming, where he taught school for several years before coming to Tucson and working in the hospital in Tucson.
Here are some of the things I did while working at the Powder Plant. I helped build the Ammonia Plant; I worked thirteen years in the Shell House; I spent a lot of time in the Machine Shop; one time when they bought three new boilers they came in on flat cars and they weighed 38 tons apiece and we took them down the hill and into the Power House with railroad rails and steel rollers. The older boilers had to come out and we used the crane and torches and took the old boilers out and fortunately never hurt anyone, only just slightly. No one was ever seriously hurt in any of this work. Also I worked on the prill tower and when they built that they dug holes with an auger in the ground and the holes were about 30 feet deep and about six feet in diameter at the top and about 8 feet at the bottom. Then they put steel in these holes to reinforce to hold the tower and the tower itself is 200 feet high. I went to the bottom of one of these holes, and, of course, after the tower was finished I have been to the top of it several times. It was our job to do the trimming, that is, put on the pipe and everything on the top. Also, I worked on the ammonia oxidation plant and when we set that tower it was 90 feet high and we had to put the pipe and everything on that tower. Also the compressor on the ammonia oxidation plant is a centrifugal compressor and it travels about 10,000 RPM. It was made some place, I think Switzerland, and brought over here. It took about eight big piers under that and they were made out of steel and when we received them they had to be turned on the big lathe we have in the Machine Shop to make them square so they would fit in place. I worked at the Powder Plant altogether forty years and, of course, there were a lot of things I was able to do and a lot of experiences I had there and I really enjoyed the work usually that I was doing.
In the Church I have been Sunday School teacher and teacher in MIA. I have been Sunday School Superintendent for the ward, MIA president for the ward and also was in the High Council when Jared Trejo was the president of the stake. Also, I was president of the High Priest quorum for some time. Also, I was counselor to the High Priest president for some time. For a short time I was in the bishopric with Cortis Reed. I was also the Stake Sunday School Superintendent for some time. Then about nine years ago I was asked to be a counselor in the Stake Presidency when Spencer Merrill passed away and I was in the Stake Presidency for about eight years with Presi-dent Gibson and President Kartchner.
I helped some at the Benson Hospital when Max bought it and tried to help him get it fixed up so they could use it. Also when Max bought a steel tank in Hereford it was 30 feet in diameter and 40 feet high. I helped him and we took this apart and brought it home and no one was hurt too bad while we were doing this work.
Before I left the Powder Plant they sent me to Livermore, California, where I was for about two months and I helped take a fuse plant apart out there and then we brought it to the Apache and set it up and now they make fuses at the Powder Plant.
When Barbara was to be married, Kenneth couldn't come here to get her so Mother and I went with Barbara to Salt Lake and Kenneth met us up there and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. This was the first time Mother and I had been back to the temple since 1923 when we were married there. All the other children have been mar-ried in the Arizona Temple, and, of course, we were always able to be with them when they were married in the temple.
When Stanley was going to the University, just close to the end of his second year there, in May, there was a group that went to Flagstaff and when they were coming back, out of Picacho, there was a big truck auto carrier run into them and killed four out of the six that were in the car. Stanley was hurt at this time but he died in Florence. He was one of the four that was killed and there was a Nickerson girl that was killed. She died in the Florence Hospital. There was a Rawson boy who was killed at the scene and also a Black boy was killed at the scene. There were two that weren't killed - one of the Nickerson twins and also a Claridge boy from Thatcher.
I retired from the Powder Plant in 1968, after the period of working there for nearly forty years. At the same time Kearney Gardner retired. They had a party in Tombstone for us and gave me a gold watch and chain. Before retiring I bought a lathe from Jim McCommas and I have used it quite a lot. Also I needed a shaper and I found one in Tucson. It was an old one but it is really in good shape so I bought the shaper. Also I have a small drill press which I use a lot. It seems I do quite a bit of repair work and some making of things for people in town.
Last summer on August 17, all of our family came home and they celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and had a party in the Kartchner Hall and really had a nice time. Of course, it was a little early for our anniversary, but it was a time when the children were out of school and they could all come home and all our grandchildren were there but Quey Johns who was on a mission back in New York, so we felt like we were really blessed to have all our family home with us and they really had a nice party for us.
Now just last Sunday bishop asked Mother and I if we would go on a mission, and, of course, this has put us in quite a stir. We don't know just right now what is going to happen or when, but it looks like we will be going on a mission pretty soon. This is 23 October 1973, and we will have to get the rest of the story when it comes.
It is now 1978, and Mother and I have been on our mission which was in 1974. Before going on our mission we dug a cellar south of our present shop and covered it with cement and then, of course, when we came home we built another shop over the top of that to keep the sun off.
We spent a year in Carthage, Illinois -- that is we stayed from January until May and then it was necessary for us to come home in May for a month for me to be treated by the doctor and then we returned in June and we completed our mission the next January. When we left our mission we went to Washington, D.C. to the temple and from there to Amarillo, Texas, and from there on home.
Before we left on our mission I spent some time in Snowflake helping Nadine and Ray with their house, especially with the wiring. And also I went back to Philadelphia at Christmas time in 1973, and helped Elizabeth and Dale move to Amarillo, Texas.
Since we have been home it has been necessary to buy a new water heater. We also bought a rotary tiller and we completed the shop over the cellar on the south side of the house and also around part of the garden. It doesn't seem like this is a lot for us to do but it seems we are busy all of the time doing something, and, of course, I have a little shop and I do welding, lathe work and other machine work and I help lots of people fix thngs and repair things or make things and it takes up quite a bit of my time. Mother is busy working in the garden and taking care of the house and doing the things required of her. She is now the Stake Work Director and, of course, it keeps her quite busy in this job.
At the present time we are called as library workers to look after the library and also I am a home teacher. At the present I have two families to visit - two widow women.
Lorin has been buying the Oldfather property and we have spent quite a bit of time helping him fix up things and move things around and get things in condition, also trying to conserve his water and get his water all into one place.
We have been trying to raise baby calves and it seems we have not had very good luck with the baby calves - at least they didn't seem to grow for quite a while - but at present they seem to be doing lots better. We have eight real small baby calves and one heifer that is almost a year old and another one in between and that makes it so that we have quite a herd of stock.
The water that we use out of our pond now is siphoned up over the edge of the pond because the pond was plastic-lined and to save putting a hole through the plastic lining I made a siphon up over the top of the wall of the pond and then I pipe water into the field and from there I have it so I can open a valve for each of the headgates. Just this last winter we have put another pipe from the water at the pond so that we get pond water down to help irrigate the garden. Since we have been home we dug a well last year and this helps us out with our water. Of course, the idea of digging this well was so that we could be more independent. Our other well was going down and people moving in so we were quite sure that other folks would dig wells. There is also the possibility that well drilling will be almost curtailed or stopped and we wanted to get us a well before this happened.
It seems that the weeds in our garden grow faster than we can get them out and now today the rains have started and maybe if the rains keep up it will really be hard to keep the weeds down because when you could go out in the garden there will be so many other things to do and then when we can go in lots of time(s) it is muddy and it's real hard to keep the weeds down after the rain starts in the summer.
Since we have been home it has been necessary to install a new water heater. We also bought us a new lawn mower and as I said before we bought a rotary tiller and it seems we are always getting things that cost us quite a bit of money. I also bought a new chain saw.
Last fall I went with Lorin down to Lauderdale, Florida, for a few days when he was on one of his trips on his business and I enjoyed it a lot. We flew from Tucson to Chicago and from Chicago to Lauderdale and we returned the same way. The reason for going through Chicago was that that was the most direct route at the time that the airplane could send us.
Mother had just been on a trip back to Nauvoo for the dedication of the monuments at the center there in Nauvoo. She spent about ten days. She came home plenty tired and I don't think she cares about starting on another trip right away.
I hope this gives you some idea of our activities and the things we have done and our lives. Of course, there are lots of things I have left out of this story and feel like I have really cheated people by not mentioning a lot of them more than I have. And with this I think I will call this to a close. Thank you.
I do want to mention that while we were on our mission that Dona and Max and their family lived in our house here and took care of our things and that way our property was not left alone. At that time Dona and Max were building their new home our of Benson and before we were able to come home from our mission, they had moved, although part of them stayed here to take care of thngs until we got home.
A Blessing given by Hyrum G. Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of
Walter S. McRae, son of John Kenneth McRae and Pearl Elizabeth
(Sabin) McRae, born November 21st, 1902, at St. David, Arizona.
October 8th, 1923
Brother Walter S. McRae: In the authority of the Holy Priesthood I place my hands upon thy head, and as the Spirit of the Lord shall direct me give unto thee thy Patriarchal blessing for thy comfort and benefit throughout this life because of thy faithfulness. Thou art of the lineage of Ephraim who was the chosen son of Joseph who was sold by his brothers. And thou are numbered among the chosen sons of Zion in these last days. Thou shalt also be numbered among the honored fathers in the House of Israel.
Therefore, continue to be true and faithful unto the blessings of thy birthright. Continue to honor the Holy Priesthood and it will be a power in thy hands in assisting to further the purposes of the Lord in the earth. Continue to be firm in thy righteous convictions and learn to hearken unto the whisperings and promptings of that Still Small Voice, for it will bring unto thee the blessings most needful to accomplish thy mission temporally and spiritually.
Continue also to be humble and prayerful and the Lord will bless the labor of thy hands in righteousness, and comfort and guide thee in the performance of thy duties. For it is thy privilege to live even to a goodly age to fill up the full measure of thy mission and creation in mortality. And through thy faithfulness thou shalt be advanced in the Holy Priesthood and be called unto further positions of responsibility; and labor in behalf of both living and dead, both friends and strangers.
Therefore, shrink not from thy responsibilities when they come, but be prudent in the use of thy time and forget not to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in His tender mercies unto thee. For thou shalt be strengthened in faith through a variety of important experiences and shall be blessed with the confidence and the love of thy fellowmen among whom thou shalt minister in the service of the Lord.
And so long as thou art pure in thy righteous desires the Lord will help thee to fulfill them, to work them out in mortality. Go forth, therefore, with a determined mind and a humble heart, and the Lord will strengthen thee for the duties and labors of thy mission, and enable thee to triumph in its accomplishment in righteousness. Thou shalt be called upon also to lay hands upon the sick and to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel; and if thou do so in humility and in faith the blessings of the Lord will be with thee in thy ministry to the blessing and comfort and healing of many among whom thou shalt minister. Therefore, acknowledge the hand of the Lord in thy blessings; be humble and pure in thy devotion and thou shalt be prepared for the great mission which has been given thee and live to fulfill it in honor.
I seal this blessing upon thy head through thy faithfulness. And I seal you up even unto eternal life to come forth in the resurrection of the just with thy kindred and many friends, by virtue of the Holy Priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Approved: (signed) Hyrum G. Smith
A Blessing given by John F. Nash, Patriarch, upon the head of
Walter S. McRae, son of John K. McRae and Pearl E. Sabin,
born November 21, 1902, St. David, Arizona.
June 10, 1933.
Brother McRae: As a patriarch, I bless you and reconfirm upon you your former blessings that are yet to be fulfilled, for as you so live, so shall they come to pass upon your head. You have been born of goodly parentage and of an ancestry that have been faithful to the Lord under all conditions. You have been taught the ways of the Lord and have striven to comply with the requirements He has given for the guidance of His people. I say unto you if you keep the commandments of the Lord no power shall stay your progress, but you shall receive of the blessings of the Lord upon your right and upon your left, if you are humble and prayerful, you shall be given stores of knowledge, and your mind shall be made to comprehend the beautiful truths of everlasting life. You shall have a testimony such that it can not be overthrown by the dogmas of learned men, but as you stand with them in their discussions you shall be given power to present before them the truths of everlasting life that will confound all of their arguments. Be faithful unto the Lord and He will never desert you but shall reach out and aid and assist you whenever trials come before you and obstacles rise up in your path. I bless you to do much good in your day and generation, in reaching after the wayward and indifferent, for you shall be able to win them to seek the Lord in His righteousness. Multitudes shall bless you for the influence you have had over them and the power you have had to direct their lives in the ways of righteousness. I bless you to be successful in all the calls that are made of you, for as you seek the Lord, so shall He be always near you, to assist you in all of your undertakings. Make the Lord's work first, and He shall bless you with the comforts of life, and shall bring you forth in the morning of the first resurrection, to be a Savior among the Saints of the Lord, and to stand at the head of your posterity forever. These blessings I seal upon you, through your faithfulness, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
signed: John F. Nash
Recorded in Book 3.