Memoir: Sarah Blanche Browning Rich

[I was] born on December 7th, 1902 at the family home at 2700 Washington Avenue, arriving just before my father came home from a business trip to New York. A big disappointment, I am sure, as he must have been hoping for a boy after having three other girls and one boy, (one boy died at three months.)

My father was Matthew Sandefur Browning, and my mother was Mary Ann Adams. A happier couple never existed. I never remember him saying a cross word to her-he treated her like the queen that she was. She used to get cross with him once in a while, and he would say, "Now mommy doodles," and proceed to tell her now much he loved her. They were really wonderful. She was so pretty too-brown eyes, black hair and dimples.

My hair was blonde until I was about twelve and then it became real dark and I had blue eyes (gray) like Pop. And ugly freckles which were my pet hate. I was teased constantly about them-which didn't help much.

One of my earliest memories was of dancing in front of the music box which was in our "Parlor." And of playing house with my cousin Elizabeth (John M's daughter.) We would play in our basement and our house was boxes etc. put around to form rooms and our clothes were old dresses and shawls that Mom had saved. Sometimes Virginia Baker (neighbors on the east) would join us.

We had neighbors on the south of us-the Knausses-a family of boys and the youngest was a little older than I and he would come over and sew doll clothes with Gene and me. He was much better than either one of us.

Oh yes-my sisters were Telitha (18 years older than I), Dorothea and Gene (who was a Tomboy and a tease) and a brother Marriner. I was the youngest. They all took care of and spoiled their youngest sister (me.) And I guess I was the most spoiled child in the world-but it was fun. Pop called me Ding Dong and Mom called me Birdie.

I was afraid to sleep alone and I think this was Marriner's fault because he would hide and scare Gene and me when we would go down our big basement-and then chase us upstairs-and we would be screaming all of the time. I would go down with Gene (when necessary to put some coal in the furnace and we had to go through one dark room before we could turn the light on to it. Then there was a dark room we called "under the porch" which was really gruesome to a child. So being a scaredy cat I went from bed to bed until I was about eight.

Our house was built in 1900, and Uncle John built one almost like it on Adams and 27th. The things that I think of are the tapestries in the library-the black statue with a light on it in the hall (Ginger now has it)-the music box, and the ornately carved dark upright piano, which was sadly given away. The parlor furniture was pretty-which was divided among the girls. My love seat is in the hall [now, 2009, in Seth Rich Lewis's hall at 1453 Marilyn Drive.]

When I was about five years old, I was playing out on the sidewalk in front of our gate (we had a wrought iron fence around the property) and a boy (retarded) came down the sidewalk on a bicycle and ran smack into me, knocking me down and causing a large raw sore on my head in the hair. Later on I developed a halting walk and couldn't seem to lift my feet and I would fall. The folks thought it was caused from the sore, but Junior seemed to think I had polio. There was a Dr. Hibbs, a therapist who came and massaged my legs (they put me on the long library table) and Mom worked and worked on them, rubbing and soaking them until I came to walk normally. Whatever I had, I'm sure it was her care and work that brought me out of it.

As I grew up my fondest memories are of the drives and picnics we went on. Sometimes we would drive to Willard and go up near the Power Plant and other times up to South Fork to the twenty mile tree. Pop would take his cooking grate and frying pans-make a fire and he would scramble eggs and fry potatoes. One time we were on our way, going very slowly, and he glanced down in the bottom of the car and hit a telegraph pole that was in the middle of the street. Mom was sitting by him holding two dozen eggs-so we had scrambled eggs in the car. (I'll bet she gave him "what's for".)

I don't think we ever took a drive that I didn't come home sound asleep. Those drives were really something-the cars were open-and I can still see Mom in her hat and veil and a duster (and the roads were dusty and sometimes rough). One time we were going along Washington and a man with a horse and apple cart turned in front of us and we hit the wagon squarely-fruit going hither and yon. So Mom proceeded to get after the man for being in the way-before he could even gather his wits. But I'm sure Pop paid him for it.

We used to drive to Bear Lake, up through Blacksmith fork-after having stayed in Hyrum all night. There was a rocky dugway called the Danish Dugway, and it was so rough and narrow that Mom would get out and walk down-every time. I would say that she was very nervous. When our house was being built in Fish Haven (1916) we would drive up and stay in some of the farmer's homes (Stocks, Robertsons etc.) and set up a tent down on our property-to eat in. Of course it would only be a day or two to see how the house was coming. Then after it was completed we would go up and stay all summer-sometimes only coming down once. And Mom wouldn't come down at all. Pop would drive up whenever he could get away.

Back to my early childhood. I attended school at the Lewis School until they turned it into a Junior High, and then I went to the Pingree School for a year (which I hated and whenever I even see peanut butter now it brings it all back.) Then I went to the Madison and when I reached Jr. High I went to the Lewis again. On the way to the Lewis School, we passed Joseph Clark's beautiful big stone home, and I used to go in with Marjorie Clark (granddaughter)-it was a treat to see all of the lovely things that they had. Too bad it had to be torn down.

Also on the corner of 28th there was a small grocery store and every day we would stop in for candy-usually licorice (pardon the expression) "nigger babies" and cone shaped chocolates.

My childhood was filled with measles, mumps, chickenpox, and sore throats-and ugly teeth-straight hair-which changed from braids to dutch cut with a few whacks from mama's scissors. And the only way to curl hair was to roll it on Kid curlers or rags or use the curling iron; I would certainly have enjoyed a permanent. And the bane of my life was long black stockings, and garter waists. The clothes in those days weren't very enhancing. And we always wore a hat, which seems ridiculous now.

When I was two years old, Pop and Mom and Telith and Marriner went to Europe for quite a long trip and left Mamie and David Evans to take care of Gene, Dartha, and me. Of course, when they came back I didn't know them. Gene and I used to go to Mamie's home down on Lincoln and sleep overnight once in awhile when we were kids, and I kept in touch with David up until the time he died. We always remember his remark after mom had fed him a big meal-he said, "Now if I only had a bit of plain cake." Quite a fellow.

As I remember I only had one paddling in my life-when I was about six years old. I was hounding Mom and making her life miserable about some stupid little perfume bottle-so Pop turned my over on his lap and gave me a gentle spanking. He couldn't be mean. I must have been a spoiled brat.

Mom was plagued by attacks of kidney colic all of her married life. She would have one about once a year. Really suffered with them.

Mom never drove a car, and when I was small she would call a horse drawn carriage to take her places. I well remember riding with her and how pretty she looked.

A couple of disasters that happened during my childhood:

The Eccles Building caught fire one night and burned completely gutting it-all I saw was the blow from it as I was staying at Telith's on Jackson. The other awful thing that happened was a head on collision of two trolley cars at the mouth of Ogden Canyon (a line ran up to Huntsville). Many were hurt badly. And I remember seeing Halley's Comet-wonderful-and they said it wouldn't come again for 75 years. I was about 12 I think.

As a child I was always quite retiring and didn't have too much to say (I seem to have changed quite a bit.) And I think I was sort of a bawl baby and sulky-really I must have been obnoxious. I don't think I came out of it until I was in the 7th or 8th grade. My favorite "study" was art, and I was lousy in music and arithmetic. I can remember clearly the spelling "bees" we used to have and that was one thing I enjoyed.

We had a lot of neighborhood games playing whatever game it was that they yelled "Ollie ollie oats in free," and every fourth of July we would have lots and lots of fireworks that Pop would set off by the front gate. One time Gene lit one on the porch and Pop got it in the back of the neck. Not too nice.

A block up from our place was 27th St hill that was steep and wonderful for sleigh riding. At that time there was not traffic, and many times the boys would come booming down and cross into Washington Avenue. It was fun-but the climb up wasn't (for me.)

In 1910 my older sister, Telitha, was married to Frank Ellis and they had a small house of 28th St.-on my way to school. Later on they built on Jackson. When Pop and Mom would go to California, Gene and I would stay with Telith. When I was going to the Lewis School I would take my lunch and then walk to 25th St. and take the street car up to Jackson after school. She had 2 boys and 2 girls.

When I was about twelve (12) the family decided to go to Los Angeles Ocean park for Christmas. I remember we went shopping for a dress for me and I tried on this gorgeous (I thought it was) gray taffeta-and a pretty pink one. Well Mom and the girls wanted me to get the pink, and I was dying for the gray-and I guess I made it so miserable for them that Mom got both of them for me. We decided that it wasn't so much fun to be away for Christmas so we never did that again. And then I came home with a bad sore throat and had to stay home for a week-which didn't do my school work any good.

The only boy I admired during most of these early years was Heber Passey-a brown-eyed handsome boy. There used to be afternoon dances at the Berthana and we'd all go down there. We had parties at different homes-where we would play post office and wink-what fun.

Pop and Mom used to take us to Salt Lake once in awhile, and we would stay at the Hotel Utah, and I remember most of all the crescent rolls and the "Biscuit Tortoni" (ice cream)-we would eat in the empire room, and they had black waiters which impressed me very much. Then later on in the evening we would go down to the Grill in the basement and watch the dancers and have a crab cocktail. I really thought it was wonderful.

They took me to New York (business trip) when I was about eighteen-we each took a trunk-why I'll never know, and we stayed at the old Waldorf-Astoria where they had the famous Peacock Walk to get into the lobby. Very swank. We shopped and went to shows and to the Museum on the 5th Ave bus. Mom was pretty good at taking the subway too. New York was so nice then-not like it is now.


We met a young couple on the train and they insisted I go to a dance the next night (it was a Banker's convention) with them. They said they knew this batchelor [sic.] that I could go with. Boy, what an awful time I had-to me he was ancient-probably about thirty. He must have been bored to death with an innocent young girl. Boy-what an evening.

I had taken with me a lovely cameo ring that Pop had given me and, not realizing that people actually steal things, I left it in the top drawer one day and of course someone took it. Dumb kids! Later on he gave me and the other girls each a lovely ring-mine was an emerald with small diamonds around it. He also gave us each a diamond bar pin-and when I was in the eighth grade he gave me a small diamond set in gold-was I ever thrilled. When he would take these business trips to New York he would bring us those gorgeous hats and dresses. He was a past grand master at choosing pretty ones. He was so wonderful and sweet.

Back to 1912. My brother Marriner was married to Dorothea Bigelow at the Bigelow home. I was one of the little girls who held a garland to make a pathway and we had to sing. (ha.) They finally built a home and lived on Eccles near 26th St. They had 2 boys.

In 1917 my sister Dorothea was married to Adam Patterson Jr.-built a house at 2560 Jackson. They had two girls and one boy.

In 1920 my sister Gene married Wallace H. Ellis (a brother of our sister Telitha's husband). They first lived in the apartment across from our old home on Wash and 27th. And after mom and Pop were gone they moved into the old place and lived there for 10 years. When that was torn down, they built their house on 28th and Marilyn out of some of the old stone, hardware etc.

I always went to Primary, Sunday School and at that time they had religion class also. In those days the children didn't make talks as they do now, or I would have turned out to be a better speaker, or a speaker at all. I was baptized when I was eight by George Shariten, and I remember he had to put me under twice because one of my thumbs was not covered by water. We went to church in the old second ward on 26th and Grant-since torn down.

Whenever Uncle John Browning was in town, he would come down one morning a week-Pop would be on the sofa and Uncle John in one of our big black leather chairs and they would discuss events of the day-and to hear them laugh was wonderful. Such good friends.

In high school I took French, Spanish, etc. but my favorite was Art. I was asst art Editor of the Classicum my senior year. And the only other recognition I had was a maid of honor to the Queen of the Classicalia my Junior year. I remember watching Junior from afar and thinking how handsome he was and what a good time he and his friends had (both girls and boys) but he didn't know I existed-then. Most of the boys in my class were "dorks".

I graduated in 1920-our exercises took place in the Orpheum Theatre and I can still see the funny white dress that I wore.

That fall I went to the U. of Utah and Avon Rich, Junior's sister, introduced me to her sorority sisters, and they rushed me and I didn't join because they put in a ruling that the girls couldn't be pledged until Xmas-so by that time I was tired of the whole thing and didn't go back.

The summer of 1920 Gene and Wallace were married in the Logan Temple and came up to Bear Lake to our summer place, and Mom had a reception for her. Invited people from Ogden who were camping there including the Edward I. Riches. We decorated her with a white curtain veil which was hilarious. Junior took some pictures (which never turned out), and he left early as he had a date. And the newlyweds drove to Yellowstone on their honeymoon, starting the next day.

In 1923 June 29th, my father died of a heart attack-he was in a lawyer's office when it happened and we were all up at Bear Lake. Frank Ellis drove Dr. Ezra C. Rich up so that he could break the news to Mom-knowing it would be an awful shock. She held up pretty well, and we drove down late the same night. The funeral service was held in the Ogden Tabernacle with Pres. Heber J. Grant, Bishop Charles W. Nibley and Reverend Carver speaking. They spoke of his prominent part in public affairs-having been mayor and associated with many banks and corporations. He worked with his brother John in his gunshop and was the financial advisor-or head of the Browning Co. He was a wonderful man and beloved by everyone.

I was with Mom in the old house and sometimes her old friends Grace Garver of Seattle and Sadie Canfield of Preston Idaho would come and stay with us. She wouldn't go anywhere for a long time, and she really never got over Pop's death. I had a chance to go to Europe in the first part of June, but he said wait and we will take you. And I was certainly glad that I didn't go because I would have been far away when he died.

I had some boy friends during this time-James Moyle, Pat Wattis, Waldo Hatch, Sid Nebeker (my favorite) and others and had lots of fun. [Sharon says they called these her "kindergarten."]

During the next year I stayed with Mom-and in the winter we went to ocean park, Calif-and took a small apt. on the shore. She liked to get away from the winter weather. She had a bad attack of kidney colic while there. She had some Ogden friends who lived in Los Angeles, and they would get together and have lunch. Mrs. Joseph Clark was there also, and we would see Marjorie some (she was working.) I did a lot of embroidery work to keep busy-we would also walk along the beach looking for moon stones. We would take drives with relatives of Mrs. Clark's etc.

I am a little mixed up on which year was which-but one of the years we were down there, Marriner and Dorothea were there, and Dartha and Adam (we were staying in a Hotel at that time.) Marriner and we were driving down to San Diego for a short trip and the first night we were there Sid called me and said he was coming to Los Angeles and wanted to see me. So we made arrangements to meet in the Hotel Clark lobby as it was right across from the Railroad Station. So I was there on time and I waited and waited practically all day and he didn't show up-so I went on out to Ocean Park. And he called and said he had called the hotel to see if I was there, not knowing that not being registered they wouldn't know. So we got to see each other for a couple of days anyway.

The years are a little mixed up-but I believe it was in the fall of 1924 that I decided it would be nice to go to the A.C. at Logan (now Utah State.) Marjorie Clark decided to go with me, and we were to room in the girl's Dorm, which was the top floor of a building on the campus, but she stayed one night and decided she wanted to go back to Calif. with her parents (I guess she was homesick), so I had a room (3 rooms and bath) with 3 other girls. I enjoyed taking Art there (H. Rueben Reynolds) and my English teacher was outstanding-also fun was fun. By this time Sid had gone on a mission to England.

I had a Willys Knight-but I didn't take it to Logan with me. Not many students had cars in those days, and I wasn't about to be different. I used to come home about every weekend to be with mom.

The next year I stayed home because she [Mom] wasn't too well-we did get down to Calif. for awhile. And I had a business trip with Dorothy and Marriner to New York-Hartford and Houston.

In the summer of 1926 she was very sick, and we had to have nurses around the clock and on July 12 she died. She suffered a lot-her chest would fill up with liquid and they would have to stick a big long needle into her back and drain it out, and she had to be kept under sedation a lot of the time. Grace Garver stayed with us and helped and cooked for us. It was such a blow to lose mom as we had been very close and she was a wonderful person. I was almost 24.

Gene and Wallace decided to move into the big house on Washington, and I ws invited to spend three months each with Telith, Dartha, Marriner, and Gene which I did. It gave me a change and also them. We spent the rest of the summer at Bear lake. Life was interesting with fellows etc. I did a little sketching and painting-but nothing much good.

In September sometime [1926] I was walking across 24th St. and who should be coming toward me but Junior-who had come back to go into practice with his father. Of course, who could help but fall for a handsome, charming, debonair young Doctor. We went to shows, dances, Salt Lake to dinner, football games etc. I would go with him on calls-out to the country places in his new blue "Moon" roadster. [She went ice skating, broke her ankle and had a wonderful time as her doctor made house calls daily.]

In January Telith and I took a ship from Los Angeles and traveled through the panama Canal up to New York. We landed at Acapulco, some other port in Mex. and in Guatemala-and when we reached Panama I came down with the German measles (contracted from Matt Browning) and I really felt miserable-ear ache etc. So the doctor told me to go to bed and if the stewardess came in to keep my face hidden as I was all splotchy, and he didn't want to let people know. So I did, but was rather difficult.

The only interesting people we met were an Englishman and a German. The Englishman thought Telith was wonderful and the Englishman took a shine to me-I couldn't stand him. When Telith moved to England the next year she saw him and kept in touch with him, but he died quite soon after. When we reached New York he expected to take a couple of girls to one of the shows, but they disappointed him so he took us.

When I got home I received 2 or 3 letters that Junior had sent me at different ports-too late. So we continued to go together and in May he decided he would propose-and he did-in his "Moon." So September was decided on for us to be married. I spent a lot of the summer at Bear Lake and on weekends he would come up to see me.

So on September eighth we were married in the Salt Lake Temple by David O. McKay. He gave us a wonderful blessing.

That night my family had a reception for us in the old home. They served refreshments in the basement and had dancing on the South lawn. It was nice-I guess. We spent our honeymoon driving to the Northwest and Victoria, and Vancouver and down to San Fran. on way home and then we lived in Telith's home on Jackson [2529]-as she had gone to England to be with Frank who was working for a Sugar Company. They lived in Woodhall Spa-for 10 years.

Junior was a busy doctor-working with his father (E. I. Rich) and he was a "family" physician even though he had specialized in Surgery. He delivered many babies too. I spent many hours going on evening calls with him-and waiting at home. He was great to be with-a good disposition and fun too.

Among my friends were Dolores Eccles, Ida Scowcroft, Ida Scowcroft James, Doll Rich, Virginia Pugmire, Virginia Baker Jost-and many others, including Junior's sisters Cleone, Avon and Myrene. We were very close to Junior's mother and father-visiting frequently and having Sunday dinners together.

The year before we were married Cleone and Royal had a four year old boy burned by his clothes catching fire at a bonfire. He died that night.

Our first daughter Sharon was born on April 11, 1929. Black wavy hair which the nurses loved to fix--weighed 7 lbs. When we brought her home I had Wealthy Pincock, a practical nurse, help me for a week or so. I also had a steady girl with me-Elsie Anderson-and she was with us for ten years.

Sharon was "full of beans" as Telith said-and kept us busy-proud parents.

We spent the summers at Bear Lake in Telith's house as she had gone to England. At a later time the lake was very low, and he [Junior] would fly up and land on the beach in front of the house.

[The End, but not The End] 

My favourite book
Serendipity: Finding a Birth Mother


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