Aletta Larsen wrote the following memories of her parents and also her life.
I was born on August 21, 1915 in the home of my parents, Ephraim Sorensen and Louella Dean Sorensen, in Groveland, Idaho. Only a year or two after I was born, Dad and Uncle Nephi (Sorensen) became partners in farming 160 acres and raising sheep, so we moved further north into Rose where the farm land was. Each winter Dad and Nephi would take care of the sheep and the fencing. Then in the summer, Nephi took the sheep up to graze in the mountains, and dad farmed.
One year I recall that Dad planted beets to feed the sheep, but they turned out to be the wrong kind of beets. Instead of the white mangle beets that were normally fed to the sheep, red table beets came up. When winter came, Dad fed them the red beets anyway, because he didn't have anything else for them. The sheep always were kind of a funny pink color from the beets that year.
Although I was the oldest child in our family, others soon began to join the ranks. My sister, Thora, and my brother, Gerald, were born two and four years after me. Then Shirley, our youngest sister, was born sixteen years later-
I was a daddy's girl. Dad really loved me, and I thought I should follow him wherever he went. All the farming was still done by pulling plows with horses then, so Dad attached a wooden box to the machinery for me to sit on while the horse pulled it along. When we went back to the house for lunch, I was usually covered with dirt from head to toe. Mom would have to give me a bath and then would put me down for a nap. That was okay for awhile, because Dad was catching a quick nap on the floor too. But after I was asleep, Dad would throw his hat outside and sneak out to go back to work so that I wouldn't hear him. When I woke up and found he was gone I usually threw a fit, because I had been left behind. I wanted my daddy.
During harvest time all the farmers in Rose kind of worked together. They would all meet and trash a field or haul hay for one neighbor, and the women would fix a big meal for everybody. One time the men were late coming in for the meal Aunt Lindie and Mom had prepared. The table was all set, so Mom and Lindie decided they would go out and pick strawberries while the food was just kept warm. While they were outside, Thora and my cousin, Darwin, dished up all the food onto the plates and then poured water on the top of each plate. I just watched, thinking it was kind of funny. When Mom and Lindie came back in, they found out that they had to quickly fix an entirely new meal, because the old one was waterlogged.
My first year of school was at the Rose school house (near where the LDS church is now in Rose). The next year I went to Lavaside school. it was a two room school house with grades one through four in one room and grades four through eight in the second. In the basement was a small gym and an apartment where the two teachers lived. There were only four kids my age while I was at Lavaside, three girls and one boy.
I had to ride a horse to school every day, even in the winter, because there wasn't a bus for me to ride until I was a sophomore in high school. One winter it snowed so badly while we were in school that my horse couldn't make it home on the road. I had to take it up on the canal bank where the snow had blown not as deep and follow the canal bank all the way home. It took me so long to get home that my dad had come out to hunt for me in the snow.
Only a couple of things really stand out in my mind about those early years of school. I remember one day the teachers took us out to catch frogs. Instead of dissecting the frogs, we cut them up and cooked the frog legs to eat. I didn't enjoy them at all. I also remember staying after school many afternoons to practice for the spelling bee and geography bee competitions in Blackfoot. We never won that I remember, but I sure do remember how the teachers worked with us. I didn't really enjoy school, but I kind of liked reading and arithmetic.
When it came time for high school, I went to Firth High School by catching a bus at Lavaside, or in the winter we sometimes rode in a sleigh to school. I took some home economics, classes, played Hawaiian guitar in the school band one year, and played in the intramural basketball for the school. My best friends were Alta Wooten and Violet Erikson. Violet was a year younger than me, but we rode the bus together and got really close.
When I was a senior, Mother and Dad moved to Tyhee. I wanted to graduate from Firth High School, so I lived with Uncle Nephi and Aunt Lindie for the rest of the school year then moved to Tyhee after school was over.
That year my uncle, Clarence Cox, was driving a school bus and Leo Larsen rode the bus he drove. My uncle had been telling Leo that he had a niece (me) Leo should meet, but neither one of them really did anything about introducing us. Then one day I was at my cousin, Mary Chapman's, house, and we were sitting out on the lawn talking. Leo came by in a truck and stopped to talk and get acquainted. That night we went to the show and the rest is history. One evening my sister and I decided to have a hobo party, so we invited a bunch of friends. That evening another boy (I don't remember his name) was hanging around and flirting with me. Leo got so jealous that he left and it was several days before he came to see me again.
We were married in Paris, Idaho, on July 13, 1933 and had absolutely no honeymoon. It was depression time and money was scarce, so Leo just went straight to work the next day. My folks weren't to happy about me marrying Leo, because Leo's dad was a smoker and they were convinced Leo was going to be the same way. He never did though.
We lived out on Leo's parents' place in a one room shack over the top of Grandma Larsen's well. We had a bed, a cupboard and a wood/coal burning stove. There was a trap door in the floor that led down to the family's fruit cellar. During that year our eldest boy, Don, was born at Grandma Larsen's place. He was soon crawling around, and one day someone came to get something out of the cellar. He saw the open trap door and headed over there to check it out. He fell down the steps head first. Luckily, he wasn't hurt badly, but I was glad when we able to move to our own farm shortly after that. Before we moved, however, we went to Salt Lake and were sealed in the LDS temple as a family.
In 1934 Leo was doing a lot of trucking to support us. He would haul lambs and whatever else the local farmers needed. One winter Leo and Burt Bruce were hauling hay from Arco to Blackfoot. There had been some horrible snow storms so it took them all day to get to Arco. They spent the night in a hotel there and then came back with the hay. When they sat down to figure out how much money they made, they realized that they had just broken even. After they paid for the hotel and gas, they had basically been working for free. But at least they were working, and there were a lot of people then that didn't even have that.
After a year or two of trucking, we bought our small 80 acre farm in Groveland. Soon Leo was talking about how he wanted to buy a tractor. My dad really tried to discourage him from taking on the big expense. Leo did it anyway, and after Dad saw how much more quickly Leo got all his farm work done, he decided it wasn't a half-bad idea after all. Of course, I helped out on the farm by driving tractor, watering, and hauling grain, beets or potatoes.
We had nine other children during the course of the next 12 years: DeLoy, Claudette, Henry, Gwen, Sandra, Gerald, Jeanette, Diane and Sharon. Most of them were delivered at home by Ole Doc Beck, and they were all about 15 months apart. We didn't have a phone, so getting the doctor was sometimes a tricky thing. I remember when Jeanette was born, Leo wasn't home when I decided we needed to get the doctor, so I had to send one of our boys (he wasn't very old) in the winter to call the doctor to come and help me deliver the baby.
When Henry was born, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling really uncomfortable and kind of weird. I told Leo that I thought I was going to have the baby. He got kind of panicky and asked what he should do. It wasn't safe to go get the doctor in the middle of the night by horseback, so I told him to go warm up some water. He ran in to the wood/coal stove and I got up from the bed to go get other things ready. When I stood up, my water broke and Henry came dropping out. I climbed back on the bed and we finished delivering him right there. Of course, we still had to have the doctor come out and check everything the next day, and we had to pay the $25 even though he didn't deliver the baby.
In August of 1943, Sandra was born in Blackfoot's 2 or 3 room hospital on Broadway. It was next to the old hotel, and you had to go up a couple of flights of stairs to get to it. Anyway, after I took Sandra home, I couldn't get her to eat. The doctor had me bring her in and he kept her at the hospital all day. He said she had spinal meningitis. She lived until May 9th of the next spring, but she cried out in her sleep a lot and would have lots of seizures. I had always prayed that she would get better. Then one night I finally prayed that she would "...get better if it be thy will." The next morning when we got up, she was dead. I always figured that it had been His will that she die, and so that was the answer to my prayer that very night.
That year, 1944, and the two that followed were especially tough for my family. In September of 1944 my brother, Gerald, was killed in Belgium while fighting in World War 11. He had been separated from his company and taken in by a Belgian family, and when the son of this family was called to fight, Gerald insisted that he should go with him. He was killed while fighting with the Belgian troops. After the war was over they named a street after him in the Belgian town where he stayed. There was a big write up in the Pocatello paper about it all.
In 1945 my sister, Thora, died in child birth. Then in 1946 my dad went into the hospital for an appendicitis operation. While they were operating the doctors found a hard substance in his stomach that they removed. Evidently, he had swallowed a fish bone sometime earlier and material had hardened around it. He was recovering well it seemed, but then one night he got up to go to the restroom and he fell over dead. They said it was from a blood clot. After Sandra was born, we had moved out to Riverton where we built a 2 room log house. We rented land from the Indians to farm on the Fort Hall Reservation. After Gerald was born, we moved our two-room cabin to Moreland (6-7 miles northwest) and started farming on the desert. The first few years out there in Moreland we lived in the log house while we worked on building a brick home. Our last three children (Jeanette, Diane and Sharon) were all born after we moved to Moreland.
Leo was always kind of a pioneer at heart and like to do new things that hadn't been done or go new places. When we got out to the desert, he decided he wanted to try to irrigate the crops from a well. All of the irrigating up to that point had been done from canals. The neighbors told him he was plum crazy to try it, because the water was too cold for the crops. He did it anyway, and we pumped water out of the ground with an old diesel tractor motor. Within the next few years, all of the neighbors were doing the same thing, because it worked so well.
After Dad died, mother had remarried, but I had never been very close to her second husband. But in 1956 mother had cancer of the stomach and intestine, and her husband told me he could not take care of her alone anymore because of her illness. I made arrangements to stay with them for those two weeks before her death. It seemed like she waited and hung on until all of her sisters could come to see her, and then she died.
In the early 1960's Leo sold the farm in Moreland, because the kids had all married or left, and he didn't have anyone to help with the farming anymore. We went down to Price, Utah, where Leo bought a motel and cafe. I ran the motel and cafe most of the time while Leo worked on setting up a deal he had heard about in Canada. They were offering special programs for homesteaders in British Columbia, and Leo wanted to try it out. The last three girls had not quite graduated from high school when the deal was final in Canada two years later, so the girls stayed with DeLoy and Lois in Idaho for the rest of that school year. Then they came up to Canada for Diane and Sharon to finish off the rest of school while Jeanette worked for the phone company there.
During our time in Canada, things were pretty rugged. We lived in an old 'cook shack' that had one big room with a pantry. We cooked on a wood stove and heated the shack with that stove and another wood heater. When the girls came up to stay with; us, we told them to start the stove and they didn't have the first clue about how to do it. We spent long hours clearing the land with plans to farm it. We cut trees and sold the lumber for income. Leo's pioneer spirit was showing again, and we were roughing it. One fall we had a crazy hunting trip. I was doing the dishes one morning, and when I went to throw the dish water out I saw a moose on the other side of the lake. I told Leo about it, and we decided we had better go after it because it might be our last chance at one that year. We climbed into our boat and rowed across the lake. (We didn't use the motor for fear we would scare him off.) We finally got to the muskeg, the mossy and swampy part of the lake, where the moose was eating. We couldn't take the boat any further, so Leo stood up in the boat and shot. The moose fell with that first hit, so Leo climbed out to go slit its throat and immediately sunk all the way to his waist in the muck. We got him back into the boat, and he told me I should try to go because I wasn't as heavy as he was and might not sink so badly. So I stepped out of the boat, and the very same thing happened. After I got in the boat again, we rowed back to the house and got some boards. Then we rowed back out to the muskeg and Leo made himself a trail from the boat to the moose with the boards. We tied a rope to the moose's horns and dragged it behind us along the lake until we got home. It just floated along as we went.
The early 1970's were eventful for me. One day we had gone to town to do laundry. It was a Saturday, so we had decided to stay in town with Jeannette and then go to church with a friend the next day. On our way home we came across a friend who was having some car trouble, so Leo sent me on to the house to get some keys. The closer I got to our little "cook shack" the darker it got. Our home had literally burnt to the ground while we were gone. Since we had no place to stay we decided to go back to town. Only later, when they came to tell our daughters about the fire, did we realize that our neighbors thought we had been burned in the fire. We lost everything but our lives and our dirty clothes in that fire. I don't have any pictures of the kids or anything like that because of it. We got us a simple trailer to put on the homestead. Within a short time we were back to our routine.
Another surprise was in store only a couple of years later. My sister, Shirley, was the only family I had left all those years after Mom died. Shirley and her husband and three children lived in Idaho. She had been able to have a family even though she was diabetic, but in April of 1973 Shirley unexpectedly went into an insulin shock and died suddenly. It was a surprise to us all, but I was on a run of surprising things happening.
In 1974 Leo and I were getting ready to take a trip down to the states. We had a small place down in Blackfoot that we would go to in the winters when things were so harsh in British Columbia. Usually we worked at American Linen or a potato processing plant during our stays in Blackfoot. On this particular trip we stopped at our neighbors place to make sure he could check on the cattle while we were gone. Before we left our friend said to me, "Aletta, be real careful. I don't feel right about this trip."
We had a trailer hitched to our vehicle with a bunch of machinery in it. As I was driving, the trailer began to sway across the highway. It pulled us across the freeway and into the gully. I was amazed that none of the gas in the back of the pickup exploded, but Leo was thrown from the pickup. The police and ambulance came, and Leo was taken to the hospital in Bellevue, Washington, with internal injuries. I wasn't hardly hurt- just a few bruises.
When I got to the hospital, I just had no idea what I was going to do. Here I was in the middle of Washington where I knew nobody, and my husband was in the hospital with some pretty serious medical problems. I didn't have enough money to stay at the hotel while he got better. No sooner had I realized my predicament than I met a lady in the hospital who was also a member of the church. She offered to let me stay with her while Dad was recovering. Things were looking pretty good for Leo, so I thought I wouldn't be there more than a couple of weeks. I went to the hospital one evening a couple of weeks after the accident to see that Leo was doing really pretty well, and I told some of the kids on the phone that night that things were looking up.
The next morning I was doing some dishes from a party the lady I was staying with had the night before. She answered the phone and then called me into the living room. She told me that the hospital had just called and Leo had just died from a blood clot that went to his heart. It was a complete shock. Here I had just told the kids the night before that things were looking good, and now I had to call them and tell them that Leo had died. That Sunday morning I went down to the hospital to make the arrangements to come home to Idaho by plane. Leo was buried in Groveland cemetery.
I decided that there was no way I could run the homestead up in Canada by myself. It was too inconvenient with no electricity, no phone, and no running water. Part of the loan agreement had also been that there needed to be a certain amount of improvements made on the land each year for the bank to carry the loan. I asked the bank in Canada if they would carry the loan if I could get a metal building started on the land. They agreed, and so I got my neighbor to show me how to do it, and I set the corner posts. Then I sold the machinery and the cattle and paid off the bank so I could go back to Blackfoot. The banking people were pretty amazed that I was able to do it all so quickly.
After I got back to Blackfoot, I worked at American Potato for a year and then went to work at American Linen. I retired from there when I turned sixty, never imagining that I would need any long term retirement. Once I retired, I thought I would have more time for the handiwork I enjoyed, quilting, knitting, and crocheting. The little house I had was so small that I had a hard time making any quilts in it, and that was a real problem for me now. So once the land in Canada was sold and I wasn't working, I bought a double wide trailer and moved out to Groveland next to DeLoy and his family. This put me closer to family and gave me the room I wanted to quilt.
Through all my life I have been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was assistant secretary to the Sunday School before I was married. I was first counselor in the Primary presidency in Moreland. I was Young Women's president in Canada. I was secretary to the Sunday School again while I lived in town. I have been the single adult representative in the Groveland second ward for umpteen years. In fact, I went on my mission without the bishopric replacing me as the single representative, and when I came back I was still in it. They had never released me.
In 1979, 1 went on a mission to the Chicago, Illinois mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was an eighteen month proselyting mission. One experience I especially remember is a woman we had been teaching that just wouldn't meet with us after the first discussion. We invited her to go with us to a Relief Society musical program and then to lunch on the way home,. She really enjoyed it and became more interested and eventually wanted to be baptized. Her son was already a member. She called her son to ask if he would come over from Indiana to baptize her. He was shocked and said, "Are you sure, Mother?" She came to Salt Lake and I went through the temple with her there when she got her endowments. We did some work for her parents too. It was most enjoyable.
In 1987 or 1988 1 had surgery to replace both of my knee joints. I have had degenerative arthritis for a lot of years, and it had finally gotten to the point that I couldn't walk because my knees were so destroyed. Anyway, they replaced one knee and then they did the second one a week later. I've gotten around pretty good since then, but I still have some trouble with my hands. All in all, I've been lucky to have good health, especially considering I'm 81 years old now.
One highlight of my life was a surprise birthday reunion my family had a year ago for my eightieth birthday. Most of my children were here in Blackfoot and many of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren too. It was quite the event. Experiences like that and like this (looking back on all these things that have made up my life) make me realize how blessed I have been. The Lord has always been on my side.
**Completed December 1996 by granddaughter Debra Larsen through interviews and editing, reviews by Aletta S. Larsen.
LOUELLA DEAN SORENSEN & EPHRAIM SORENSEN
Louella was the seventh child born to John Cope Dean and Elizabeth Howard Dean. She was born 22 September 1891. She married Ephraim Sorensen 17 June 1914. Ephraim farmed in the Rose area of Bingham County, Idaho for many years. They later moved to the Tyhee area in Bannock County, Idaho where they farmed until about 1945 when he went to work for the Bannock County Agriculture Extension Service as a Field Representative. He rented his farm to Kenneth and Evelyn Sorensen Whyte for 3 years. In late September of 1946, Ephraim had an appendicitis attack and was taken to the hospital. He was getting along quite well and expected to come home in a few days. The evening of 3 October, Louella visited him as usual and he requested that she stay with him until he was asleep, which she did. As she arrived home, there was a telephone call to rush back to the hospital and when we all arrived, they advised us that he had passed away. This was a sad time for Aunt Louie because she had lost her son, Gerald on 3 Sept 1944. (One month before his 24th birthday.) Her daughter Thora Sorensen Facer died in childbirth (I don't know the exact date. It was either 1944 or 1945). The date will be on her headstone.) She left a little 3 year old daughter, Sharlene, behind and Louie and Ephraim took care of Sharlene until George remarried about a year later. Louie married Lorenzo Green several years later.
Louella passed away 11 November 1956.
Their daughter Shirley Jean Sorensen Hatch was born I October 1931 in Rose, Idaho. She was diagnosed with diabetes when she was about 16 years old. She married Hugh Hatch 2 July 1948 - (3 months before her 17th birthday.) They were married in the Idaho Falls Temple. Shirley passed away at the age of 39. They had 3 daughters - Michelle, Sherrie, and Susan. This left Aletta Sorensen Larsen the only living member of the family.
Louie and Ephraim were active members of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter Day Saints and lived lives of service to their fellow man. They
had many friends.
Louella & Ephraim Sorensen and daughter Shirley
Louella Dean Sorensen
Louella & Ephraim Sorensen
Ren & Louella Green