Earnest Alva Fowlke

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ERNEST ALVA FOWLKE

MEMORIES OF MY FATHER

By

LOIS ELAINE FOWLKE LARSEN

 

My Father, Earnest Alva Fowlke was born October 30, 1884 in Lindon, Utah. He died June 28, 1959 at his home in Orem, Utah, in the tender care of his wife, our wonderful Mom, Etta Hanks Fowlke and all of his nine children who were living in the area.

The last three months of his life was painful and distressing for him as he was suffering from stomach cancer. The cancer tumors first appeared on his neck and later they appeared on his arms.

Three months prior to his death, Mother called me on the phone.  I was living in Provo, Utah.  It was early on a Sunday morning; in fact it was Stake Conference. Mother told me that Dad had a very bad night and asked if my husband, Bishop Richard L. Larsen, could come quickly and administer to him. When we arrived at the home, we found Dad laying on his bed in the front room. His body, especially his stomach area was greatly swollen, so it was impossible for him to sit up. My husband administered to him and promised him that he would be comfortable. We then left for Provo to attend Stake Conference, my sweetheart had to sit on the stand, and I was singing with our ward members, as our ward that would furnish the choir music for conference.

My feeling was that I had seen Dad alive for the last time on this earth. When morning conference was completed, we hurried to our home to call Mother and check on Dad's condition.  Mother indicated that there was a definite change occurring with Dad.  After his blessing Dad started to vomit continually for a period of several hours. When conference was completed, we went immediately to him and found that he had lost all of the swelling in his stomach and he was resting peacefully. DAD'S COMMENT, "YOU JUST WOULD NOT

BELLIEVE IT, UNLESS YOU HAD SEEN IT."  Dad lived three more months, but his body was not swollen after this experience.

My first memory of Dad was when I was about three or four years of age. I had awakened in the night with the earache. My Mother and Dad were both with me in that early hour.  Our dining room was warm; evidently a fire had been made. Mother had doctored by ears. My head was rapped and I was not crying. I had problems with my ears festering and running. I was on Dad's lap, we were' sitting by the table and Dad was reading me a story from a small children's book.

Dad was a man of medium size; he had sandy colored hair with blue eyes. I thought he looked like an English Gentlemen, as he was always neat and clean in his appearance. True to his nature he loved fine clothing, including kid leather gloves and his prize Stetson hats. One feature that signified Dad was his gold capped teeth. His whiskers were on the red side. Dad was the youngest member of his family, and rather spoiled in his disposition. I believe his weighed 170 pounds. He loved his team of beautiful horses and his prize Cotswold ram. He built our large home for his family.  Our home had hard wood floors and the special rod job in laying the red brick and many unique features that made our home special for that period.

In his sheep business he was in partnership with Roy Greenwood, a man from American Fork, Utah. Together they owned a mountain in Morgan, Utah where they grazed their large herd of pure bred Cotswold sheep (special English bred from COTSWOLD HILL, ENGLAND) during the summer months.  In the fall, and early spring the sheep were corralled at our residence in a very large barn, with long runways, and even a maternity corral for the new little lambs that were always born in the early spring. I recall that each spring after the lambs were born, there would be a crew of men come to shear the sheep and bag their wool in long twenty five to thirty feet burlap bags. The bags then would be stored in the base of our very large barn, under the hay loft.  It was fun to jump on them from the hay loft. There would be at least eighteen to twenty five long bags of wool, stacked high and neatly.  It was always warm in the barn when it was filled with wool bags and a fun place to play when the weather was chilly. Each spring we also would hear the cry of tiny kittens.  The problem was to find their nest among all of the long burlap bags of wool.  What fun to find the new kittens, with their soft pink pads on their little feet, and their eyes were not opened yet.

As a child, I would never know what to expect after I awaken in the early morning. Going into our warm kitchen, I remember hearing the cry of small new born lambs, with Mother hurrying about, feeding the new crying little lambs' warm milk in a long thin bottle with a black nipple on the end. Usually the lambs would not be completely dry from birth; there would be a smell of damp wool coming from their still lightly yellow colored wool. Behind the large kitchen stove in a warm place was a couple of wooden boxes covered with soft towels. Mother had to keep the little lambs alive because the mother sheep did not feed or claim their young.

The branding of all new little lambs was a procedure that rather bothered me. The registered brand for the herd was an iron circle about five inches in width, on the end of a long metal handle. Within the circle were a half moon and a small star under the half moon. The head of the iron was placed in a hot fire and left until the iron became red hot. Then two men would hold the animal while a third man seared the hid, thus the brand healed and it never wore off.  This is the manner that Dad could identify his sheep. Our other cattle and horses were branded in like manner.

Roy Greenwood's family was almost part of our family. They were Uncle Roy and Aunt Lue to our family. Roy also owned and operated the APOLO Dance Hall in American Fork. Their daughters had pretty party clothes which were eventually given to us. What a fun day when Aunt Lue would bring us a large bundle of pretty clothes.  Mother was very thrifty and would use these items to make over dresses for her daughters.  Mother taught me to sew at very young age.  Sewing came to me almost instantly, a talent that Mother said I had inherited from my great-grandmother who was a seamstress for Royalty when she was a girl in England, prior to her immigrating to the United States, along with others who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I would wash and press the material, usually unpicking the seams and turn the fabric inside out, making me a wonderful dress that no one else had ever seen, a dress that I enjoyed and it gave me great pleasure to wear it.

It was during this period of my life that a financial disaster came into the lives of my parents.   We experienced a period of very cold weather that froze many of the sheep. Because of the weather, feed for the remainder of the herd increased in price. The Great Depression came, finding us with a barn filled with many long bags of wool, that could not be sold. In order to save the remainder of Dad's famous sheep herd, my parents went to Provo, Utah to secure a the government loan, using our large home in Lindon, and various large parcels of acreage as collateral. The depression lasted for several years, and my Dad was unable to make the necessary payments on the large loan. The shock was so great on my father that he had a stroke, affecting the left side of his body, making it very difficult for him to move his body. This earth shaking experience actually caused Dad's partner, Roy Greenwood's death. After his stroke, Dad lay confined to his bed that was placed in our front dining room for several months. I was one of the three little girls; (Winifred, Lois and Ola) who were ask to play quietly outside during the day light hours, in the spring sunshine, and was not allowed to see Dad, because he was very ill. The depression continued for a period of years, and Dad's health was broken. The payments on the government loan were not satisfied. The government reposed our large home and acreage, and we had to move elsewhere.  Mother became ill and was experiencing heart pains.  It was necessary for her to stay with my older sister Lucille who lived in Salt Lake City for an extended time.  With all the older family members either married or away, it became necessary that the three little girls, who now were young teenagers to move all the belongings of our very large home.  It was an earth shaking experience for me.  My impression at this time was I would never engage in debt for any reason from this time forward, in my life.  The combination of this financial experience broke the spirits of both parents; life would never be the same in our family.  It was at this time that my wonderful older brother, Bill, left the university and his employment to return home to support and protect our family by overseeing the building for his parents and other younger family members a home in Orem, Utah.

After a period of several years Dad's health returned to a degree.  He then started to raise various kinds of fruit and vegetables on a five acre plot of ground in Orem. We picked, washed and prepared the items for sale, which he hauled to Bingham Canyon and Park City, Utah on a continuous basis. A must with Dad, all boxes were filled with first grade produce before he allowed the boxes to be loaded into his truck.

As a very young child, probably eight years of age, I went to church one Sunday evening by myself. Our Bishop made some announcements regarding the Ward members. He said that Earnest Fowlke paid more tithing than any other member in the ward.  I went home and told my parents what had been said. This kind of information would not be given over the pulpit now days. My father held the office of Seventy in the Melchizedek Priesthood at the time of his death.  He died having lived an honorable, and virtuous life, and a father of nine children. My father worked hard to support and care for his large family.

One experience I remember most vividly, when Aunt Reane and Uncle Fred died, (Aunt Reane and Uncle Fred were a sister and brother of my father) they lay in state in our parlor. It was my first experience with death. Aunt Reane lay dying on a bed in our home, Mother was so gentle and kind with her, and finally she helped close her eyes as she took her final breath. The undertaker came to our home, using our parlor with its double doors that pulled out of each wall were shut, to prepared Aunt Reane's body for burial. Pink light globes were put in our pretty floor lamp to shine over her body as she lay in her casket. I thought it was a pretty bed that my parents had purchased for her. There was a most peaceful and calm feeling in our home, no one was upset with this procedure we call death. Therefore, death never was a time of great anxiety for me because once again my strong, gentle loving mother had taught me another lesson in life at a very young age. I am happy to read the history of Dad that was written by my sister Mildred who was an older member of the family. Some of the information was new to me and I delighted in learning facts not previously known to me.  My father was a completely honest person in his dealings.  His personal language was never filled with profanity. His life was one of integrity, order, and accuracy in his dealings with all mankind. He was exceptionally gifted in the area of mathematics. am sure if he had lived in his youth at a time when higher education was available, his talents could have been magnified. It will be a joy to meet with my parents and feel their love again at some future date. My parents had their marriage sealed in the Salt Lake LDS Temple, which will control and verify our family identity though all eternity.

 

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