My Brother, Junior Edward Rich by Avon Rich Smart
When my older brother Junior was born, Father really rejoiced. Unlike modern youth, Father had postponed his marriage until he had graduated from medical school and then getting established in a strange town had been difficult. By the time Junior was born in a little house on Jefferson Avenue, Father felt a greater security and hoped that he would have six sons just like him. The two little daughters welcomed their younger brother but of the four following children only one other was a boy.
Father was a great believer in work and we had a cow, chickens, pigs, a pony and horses. In those days, you could keep these animals right in your own back yard. Unfortunately, our barn and pasture were right next to Weber’s tennis courts where many a time the cow broke through the fence and tramped over the wet clay. Junior’s friends enjoyed coming over to watch the animals being fed, the eggs gathered and the cow milked. I think it was the only barnyard in that part of the city. As a special treat, “Tom Sawyer” Rich would let some of them do part of the chores.
Junior tried incubating some baby chicks and it was a sad morning when we went down into the cellar and found all the new little chicks smothered.
In the early days the folks took us up Black Smith Fork Canyon camping for several weeks each summer. As it took two days to drive the “light top” buggies, horses, etc up through the canyon, it was exciting. Derban Terry, a good fisherman and handyman, drove one team. On one occasion, when Junior was about six, he was riding in the front seat of the wagon and a willow flipped back and hit him in the eye. What a relief to find that no permanent damage had been done. We camped by a little waterfall on the Anderson Ranch and would go over to watch the girls milk the cows and put the milk in the spring house in big flat pans. They made excellent cheese there.
As Weber High School, or rather Academy, was right next door, Junior took clarinet lessons from the band leader, Mr. Nickols, and he played in the parades with the school band although he was only about seven. His friend about the same age, Red Nickols, who played the trumpet in his father’s band, later became well-known with his orchestra, Red Nickols and His Five Pennies.
Junior, as many other boys at that time, learned to drive a car when he was about seven or eight and we went up to Bear Lake one summer in an old Moline (with the gears all on the outside and coal-oil lamps). Just before we got to Evanston, after a day on the road, Junior fell asleep and we went off in a pasture (fortunately). Our Uncle Oran was the only man in the car an didn’t drive but knew enough to turn the car straight down as we went over the side.
One night when we were very young we had some company stay overnight so some of us had to sleep on the parlor floor. In the middle of the night, we heard a terrible sound – a man calling for water. It turned out that a derelict had wandered around the Lester Park across the street, cut his throat and fallen down in front of Weber Academy. The next morning we all looked with awe at the big pool of blood.
Lester Park was full of big trees and as it was not far from town many strange people wandered over there but nothing was stranger than the elfin figure of a small boy in long underwear darting among the trees one cold winter night. Junior had gotten mad at his oldest sister, Oertel, and darted out of the house after his weekly Saturday night bath where he remained until our parents came home.
When Junior was about ten, our Father had typhoid fever and while recuperating, he and Mother spent about six months in Hawaii. Some of the family went to stay with Grandma Rich in Bear Lake but Junior and I spent the summer with neighbors, the Flygares, up Ogden Canyon at a place since called Valhalla. One of Junior’s hobbies was to get a bucketful of rattlesnakes, skin them, and dry the skins on boards. He really made the desired impression on me one day when I was watching him when he stuck the hunting knife in the grass and then licked it. He then dumped the entrails in our swimming hole and every time you put your foot on a rock, you thought about the snakes.
We spent subsequent summers for many years at Lewis Grove in Ogden Canyon, cow and all. Junior accidentally shot a be be into the leg of a friend (from a 22 Rifle) when they were hiking along the big water pipe. The street car ran through the grove and one time a car full of sheep tipped over which horrified us all. Junior took Father’s car from the front of the camp, it was an open Buick, and Dave Romney’s wife, Daisy Rolapp, was in the front seat with her brother Howard hanging on the step. They hit a tree and broke Daisy’s nose.
Junior was on the football team in High School; Bill Glasman was the Captain and they had a champion team. One day, Father came home from watching a game and wondered how he had hurt his jaw, but in looking back he realized that someone had given him a piece of gum and, never having chewed any before, he overdid it in the excitement. Because he was good-looking and a football player, the girls used to want to hover over Junior and one way to do it was to be a pal to me and drop around the house often. The girl he really liked, Vera Wright, went to Weber but she had an ardent admirer in Joe Smith who married her while she was still in high school so that settled that. She was Shauna Eccles mother and a real beauty.
In high school, Junior hated two things: the smell of the barn that he thought perfumed his skin and his very curly hair. He managed to have Thair promoted to the barnyard but even with sopping his hair with water and putting a silk stocking on it until it dried, the curls came back. Why was it wasted on him? While in high school, he took part in a play and I remember he had to act tipsy from drinking “sarsaparilla”. A few weeks after that we all went down to Salt Lake to a football game and that night as we girls came out of a café, someone said, “Oh, look how crazy Junior is – he must be drunk.” I started to cry and he came over and laughed because it wasn’t true as they were only joking because of the play. I was always very proud of Junior and never had any reason in my life not to be.
After high school, Junior spent two years in the Southern States on a mission. I think it was a difficult mission with few conversions. After our high school days, I wasn’t around Junior too much as he spent the summers either working on the Ellison Ranch in Nevada or in some other activity away from home. One year I spent the Christmas holidays with him in Philadelphia when I was attending the University of Michigan. He showed me his lodgings: the room looked like a cell with single bed and small desk, the dissecting room with a lot of smelly cadavers, etc. As I got on the train, he presented me with my share of the expenses dutifully itemized. What a blow!