Earnest LeGrand "Bill" Fowlke

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Life History of Ernest LeGrand Fowlke

This history is written in first person at age thirty eight, in my home in Orem, Utah.

Early Life

I was the first male child born to Esther Mariah Hanks Fowlke and Earnest Alva Fowlke April 13 1914.  I had three older sisters:  Lucille, Flora, Eunice May;  four younger sisters:  Mildred Elizabeth, Winiferd Hattie, Lois Elaine, Ola Jeneal; and one brother Durmont "H" is the 6th child.  We had nine children!

My grandparents on my Father's side were Frederick Fowlke and Elizabeth Cook Fowlke.  The first one born in Nottingham, Nottingham, England and the latter in Turksdean, Gloucester, England.  They were converted to the LDS Church while in England and came to Utah as pioneers.  Elizabeth sailed from Liverpool to New York City on the "John Bright"--they landed 30 April 1866.  They walked across the plains with Capt. Wm Henry Chipman's wagon train arriving September 15 1866 two months later. They were married 17 November 1866 in the Salt Lake Endowment House and made their new home on State Street in Pleasant Grove, which is now Lindon.  He was a carpenter by trade and helped to build the early churches in Utah County.

My grandparents on my Mother's side were born in Salt Lake City.  William Capener Hanks (the son of Ephraim K Hanks, an LDS Pioneer, scout and Indian ambassador, from Madison, Lake, Ohio) and Eunice Louisa Murdock Hanks were married April 20 1881 and moved to Charleston, Utah where Mother was born.  Grandfather loved the outdoors: hunting and fishing seemed to be of the most importance to him.  I suppose I get my love of the outdoors from him.  This passion has influenced my lifetime hobbies, and some careers.   

I was born in Lindon, Utah where my parents had settled in my Grandpa Frederick's Home--Grandfather died in 1905.  (This was the same year that the Salt Lake and Utah Railroad was laid). On April 13 1914 the "Big Day" had arrived!  My Mother's doctor, Dr. Grua was at Utah Lake fishing.  He was notified of my Mother's condition and jumped into his red car and made it to my Mother's side in fifteen minutes. He delivered me, held me up by my feet and proclaimed:   "He is the most perfect baby I have ever brought into the world!"  This really gave my Father bragging rights! This, plus the fact that he had a son threw him over the edge!  It was one of the most exciting and happy events of his life!  My Mother told me that his chest was so inflated that he popped the buttons off his vest!    

My first memories were of Christmas at the old Fowlke home in Lindon.  Santa had left me a black doll and a small pull train.  I remember playing with them on the sunny side of the home along with the other children.

Shortly after this we moved to the new brick home just north of the old home.  I can still remember seeing Dad move a wagon load of furniture to the new home.  I also remember showing Howard Cullimore through the home and getting a shock from an old style outlet plug. 

About the age of four or five Dad made me a miniature bob sleigh about five feet long.  In fact I still have it in the barn.  I remember asking Dad to file the runners with a file so they would be sharp and I could pull the heavy sleigh in the snow.  He also bought me a nice red wagon with a wooden box which I was really proud of! 

Sometime during that period, Aunt Eunice came to live with us.  She gave me a tricycle which I could never ride by peddling the front wheels.  I would push the darn thing from behind and jump on the rod between the hind wheels, and get a ride in that manner.  I was Aunt Eunice's favorite, so I thought.  When she went to Wyoming in a "Model T Ford" with Uncle Reed, I was so sad and went into the house with a broken heart! 

Mother sewed for the older girls a great deal.  I remember her singing some little song about a boy's mother who died and went to Heaven leaving him.  As she sang this, I would lay under the table and cry-trying to keep Mother from seeing me.  Even today, my eyes get moist when I think of that song.

My first grade was spent in Lindon, Utah.  Miss Belva Wasley was my teacher.  She had big black eyes, and I thought she was "real pretty"!  We had some picnics in the "Old Hollow" north of the school house.  One day she sent me and Marven Harris to her home for a sack of yellow banana apples for the classroom.  This was a really important mission for a first grader!  The day school ended Miss Wadley gave each of us a kiss and sent us home promoted to the second grade.

I can't remember second grade, but third grad was spent under Miss Harris.

Fourth grade under Miss Gleason was an enjoyable one.  I had a crush on Ora Keetch-some more black eyes!  I seemed to like history and geography and I was the first one to memorize the counties of Utah.  Miss Gleason gave me some much needed praise for this outstanding feat!  I also remember her reading us a story about adventures in the North West.  Some boys were lost with no food or matches.  They finally made a fire by using a curved piece of ice and the bright light of the sun.  They killed a pine hen and lived "happy ever after"-- some story?

My first date was with Mae Shoel of Windsor Ward.  How Dad and the family teased me about running down the sidewalk with her.  We went to a Bon-Fire Party and roasted ten cents worth of wieners-about five wieners-some feast for a dime!

At about this age Dad bought some pure breed sheep.  Dad didn't like me to stay after school to play baseball with Pleasant Grove because the sheep didn't get fed.  Because of Dad's attitude towards sports I was not able to participate in many of them.  The only good thing about tending the sheep was that I was able to go into the mountains and canyons, driving them to the summer range and back in the fall.

One day when returning home from school, Mother asked me about the matches she found in my suit pants.  She thought I had been smoking, which was not true!  I promised her I would not take up the smoking habit-- which promise I have kept to this timeI suppose I am too old to start now.    

I spent the fifth grade under Miss Anderson from Salt Lake County. My sixth and seventh grades were under Mrs. Mattie Johnson.  (I didn't like her very much).  The school kids gave me a rough time about Dad's brother Fred and about "H"'s deformed ear.  I had a few fights over it but soon the kid's left "H" alone!  My last battle was in a cattle corral with all the students sitting along the pole fences.  Floyd Louis was the ring master.  The fight lasted only three rounds.  My opponent Verd Richardson was one year older, but I wasn't intimidated because I was large for my age. We really mixed things up!  Verd got the worst of it and had to stay home from school the next day!  That night my Mother gave me a bad time for eating supper with blood on my hands!   Ever since then Verd and I have been good friends! 

I really liked to play marbles and I was pretty good!  I won about two or three hundred marbles and kept my collection in a sack in the cupboard.  One day when I went to get them, most of them were missing!  "H", my wonderful little, marble-losing brother had lost most of them. My Dad said, "One that couldn't keep marbles, couldn't keep money"?

At the close of seventh grade our class went around Utah Lake in a truck.  At Pelican Point we saw large Crane nests and other interesting things.  At Saratoga we stopped for lunch and I couldn't find mine.  I didn't tell anyone, I just sat around and watched Mrs. Johnson eat sandwiches and pickles.  Boy was I hungry!  By the time I got home I was sick from the rough ride and lack of food.

The eighth grade was under Robert Walker, a fine teacher.  He was stern but good.  If I could've had him until I graduated from high school I would have been well prepared for college!  During this year, I bought a pony from the White River Country for five dollars.  He was unbroken and coated with wood ticks!  My friend, Bet Kirk, and I broke him and named him "Roney".  It was surprising, but he didn't buck as we snubbed him to another horse.  He turned out to be a single-footer, which was really good!  He probably was a mixed breed and not just "Cayouse" or wild horse.  I rode him for years and finally sold him to the Salt Lake Riding Club for $50.00, which I loaned to my sister Lucille to help her finish nurses training in Salt Lake City.  Times were hard for our large family and the money was needed!  I really hated to sell him!  He was such a great, fast horse-- to give you an idea of how fast he was--I could ride him from Lindon to Wallsburg in about three hours which is about thirty miles!  A few weeks later it made me sad to see his picture in the Salt Lake paper with a "society dame" riding him.

 

Teenage and Early Adulthood

I attended high school at Pleasant Grove, a four year course.  Mr. A.P. Warnick was principal of the school.  He was a fine role model for me. 

During high school, in the early thirties, the Depression hit the Nation very hard, making farming and raising livestock unprofitable. As a result of the Depression I spent many days on the farm when I should have been in school.  Most families were in the same financial situation and we all just coped with the hard times.

In 1934 I started work for the General Land Office, which was a good position in those days.  I made $75.00 per month plus board.  Some of the happiest days, of my single life, were spent working in this position!  I was principal assistant to Surveyor J.C. Clark of Salt Lake City.  We surveyed public lands around Vernal and Moab, Utah. It was very interesting, very hands-on, and very outdoors!  I would have made a career out of it, but almost all of the state had been surveyed.   

During the winter months, when I could get enough money together, I would attend college at Brigham Young University in Provo. It was there, during fall quarter of 1934 that I met my life's love, Lola.  She was a freshman and I was a sophomore and we met at a get-acquainted dance in the men's gym.  That night was the first time I ever saw Lola Hacking!  She made such an impression on me, that even today I still remember what she looked like. She wore a yellow blouse and a blue skirt and was really cute!  She went home with another fellow by the name of Black, but I made up for lost time when she gave me a date later!

The following year I transferred to the Agricultural College at Logan, Utah where I completed about three years of college work.  Studies in Botany and Plant/Soil Relationships interested me the most.  I would have graduated in Agronomy if I had graduated.*

Lola and I didn't get to see each other very often after I started school at Logan.  We continued a long correspondence until March 12 1941 when we were finally able to marry! We were married in the Salt Lake Temple and had a reception in the Dance Hall in Cedar Fort.  We were in love and I couldn't wait!  She continued to teach high school the remainder of that year--having already graduated from BYU.  The last of July, following our marriage we moved into our beautiful new home, which we had both worked so hard to build--536 West 1200 North, Orem, Utah.  This still serves as our home, with two large additions, at this date.

We have had a happy marriage with our share of problems but we have survived them all!  Both of us are working toward definite goals-keeping our lives centered in Christ!  The Lord has given us four beautiful children-Lola Lorraine, born 4th of February 1942, Ann Lee, named after me, born on the 3rd of May 1943, Jane born 5th of May 1948, and Keren born 18th of March 1951, all of them very nice!  My wife is still hoping for a son to be born. 

We are both working in the church which seems to make a happier home than when Lola was the only active one!  I am so grateful to Lola for being so patient and understanding with me; and in trying to interest me in church work!

*LeGrand graduated from BYU May 31 1968 with a BS in History.

Retyped by Keren Morton 2006 -note: "Earnest" in Earnest Alva is spelled with an "a", "Ernest in Ernest LeGrand is not.