More typical behavior

Now, don't think that your Zeus's and my misbehavior were the norm in our life. The vast majority of our childhood together was filled with fun, and most of the time we were well behaved and accomplished a great deal. We had a front yard at our house between the curb and the sidewalk that was, for the two of us, the perfect playground.  Our mom sewed shoulder pads and hip pads from old flannel shirts stuffed with cotton that your Zeus and I would wear to play football against each other, "running" on our knees until it was too dark to even see each other.

Sometimes, we got angry with each other and, on just a couple of those occasions, actually threw punches and wrestled so hard that our mom turned the water hose on us to make us stop.  But that is what brothers do. Right!  I couldn't find that picture, but have included one below of your Zeus and me when we were no more than 5 and 6 years of age, respectively. I had just landed a well-placed punch to your Zeus's face and it knocked him to the ground (it was one of only times that ever happened - it was usually me on the ground). Notice the very large boxing gloves (so that we would not hurt each other), the funny overalls we had on, and my rubber boots.

Mostly though, we helped each other and loved playing or working together. For two years when I was 11 and 12, I had a paper route that entailed delivering several hundred evening newspapers to homes in and around our neighborhood. When I had to be somewhere else, your Zeus would deliver the papers for me, summer or winter.  In the summer, we would fold and put rubber bands on all the papers and stack them into canvas bags that hung over the front handle bars of our Schwinn bikes, but in the winter, we had to walk the route. Then, we stacked the newspapers into front and back pouches of a large canvas paper carrier that we slipped over our heads, occasionally rotating the load from back to front to keep the weight balanced.

One Christmas Eve we got our whole family involved in the delivery, and created a warm memory as a result. It was a winter of very heavy snows and, because Christmas was a holiday, the evening paper was to be delivered in the morning instead.  We were all sitting around the living room talking and listening to carols on the radio when we heard the newspaper truck in front of our house, dropping off the papers before midnight so that the driver could go home to his family. Your Zeus and I thought it would be fun to deliver them that night and got up to get our coats.  Our dad stopped us and said, "Why don't we all deliver the papers tonight, as a family."  We of course agreed and, while our dad drove down the middle of a street, Janet and our mom folded the papers and handed them out the window on either side of the car to your Zeus and me, where we ran to each house on our side of the street and threw the papers on the porch. We were so fast that they could barely keep up and we laughed and yelled at them through the window, "Come on slow-pokes. Time's a-wasting."  We finished the entire route in less than an hour, and went home to have a large cup of hot chocolate filled with marshmallows.  Thinking of that experience over the years always brought smiles to your Zeus's and my face, each and every time we talked about it. This kind of family fun occurred often and we cherished it, but without computer games, DVD's, etc., kids today that age would likely find it boring.

Our family didn't have a lot of  "extra" money when your Zeus and I were kids. We were the last family on the block to own a TV (mostly because they were too expensive, but also because our parents thought watching TV was a waste of time). It also meant that our family events didn't cost much, but were really fun for us.  Our family owned a four door, 1937 Desoto car (built by the Dodge/Plymouth Company).  It had heavy front and back bumpers, and on both sides "running boards" on which your Zeus and I could stand, holding onto the car through an open window of the side doors.  Our dad would drive us only up to the top of Darling Street in this manner, but we loved it. The event we looked forward to as much as any other, however, was going on a Sunday family "drive".  After an early dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (a typical Sunday meal), dad would say, "Let's go for a drive", and we would jump up and run for the car (your Zeus and I yelling "dibs", as I described earlier). We never knew where our dad would drive us (that was the fun of it).  Sometimes it would be up Ogden Canyon, sometimes out to the Great Salt Lake, and sometimes to North Ogden where we would drink very cold water from a natural spring that bubbled up from the ground near a very old and craggy oak tree (later, someone ran a pipe from the spring up through the tree and we sipped water from a regular water fountain), but we ALWAYS ended up at the same place - at Farr Ice Cream Parlor, where we all would get a double scoop of ice cream.  Those family drives were always a highlight of your Zeus's and my memories.

As you will read in some of the letters written by your Zeus's friends, our dad also took us and several of our friends to watch the Ogden Reds (a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds major league team) play at Affleck Park in Ogden Valley. After the game, he always treated all of us to ice cream cones or root beer floats, and then drove us back home.  Sometimes he piled more than a dozen of our friends into the car (no seatbelts in those days, remember) to take us to the game and when we stopped at the ice cream parlor, and kids kept piling out of the front and back, it looked like clowns getting out of the small car at the circus.  The problem with loading down an old car like this (in those days, the engine was not as powerful as it now is), however, was that it couldn't make it up the steep hill on 30th Street that ran from the valley up to the foothills where our house was located - then we all jumped out and ran up the hill alongside the car, and got back in at the top.  Our friends still laugh about the fun of that.

When your Zeus and I were quite young and traveled with our dad in the car, we stood up on the front seat so we could see out the front window, something we loved to do (there were no seat belts then, and allowing a child to stand up in a car was not against the law). If our dad had to apply the brakes quickly, he simply reached out with his right arm and held us back against the seat - this was of course dangerous, but we absolutely loved it and, besides, he never drove real fast anyway. I suspect that your Zeus also did this out of habit with your dad when he was that age (I know I did, even when I didn't have one of my kids in the front seat with me).

We were always physically active

We also were fortunate to live in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains east of Ogden Valley and spend a great deal of time hiking and playing in those mountains.  As early as age 9 or 10 we would put a lunch made by our mom into a boy scout pack, hang a hatchet and a canvas-covered Army surplus canteen filled with water on our belts and, with our "gang", spend as many as 5 days a week hiking to Waterfall Canyon, or climbing large trees or jumping off the 40 foot high sand hills, in Mt. Ogden Park at the base of the canyon. When we were a few years older, we also hiked up Taylor's Canyon to the top of Malan's Peak and down into Malan's Basin, where we sat in the shade of gigantic pine trees, next to the creek that coursed its way down that basin, to eat our lunch and drink (and refill our canteens from) the water in the creek. That water was sweet tasting, and so cold it would make our lips feel like they were burning.  We used our scout hatchets to cut willow branches from bushes near the creek to make walking sticks, then peeled off the bark with our scout knives and even polished them with fine sandpaper when we got home. Your Zeus was always a little more daring than the rest of us and would use his walking stick to try to flush out rattlesnakes in the rock beds near the creek. 

When we weren't hiking, we rode our bicycles 3 miles from our home to Lauren Farr Park to swim in the pool and dive off the high board (your Zeus dared do this well before I did) into quite cold water (it didn't warm up until mid summer) [by the way, if you get a chance to watch the movie "Sandlot", you will see this very pool and the park where we spent so much of our time]. Other days we would ride with our fishing poles all the way up Ogden Canyon (about 5 miles) and catch trout from the river midway up the canyon.

We also both worked at very physically demanding jobs as we grew up.  When I was 14 and 15, and later when your Zeus was 16 and 17, we worked for Wendell Hunsaker in the hay fields in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, loading 410 bales of alfalfa onto semi-trailers for transport back to the Ogden Stockyards, where our dad was the general manager. We worked long hours and spent many nights sleeping in the back of a pick-up truck and grew very confident and strong.  At the beginning of each of our first summers, neither one of us could pick up a bale of hay, but by the end of that summer, we could lift a bale above our heads (using sharp hay hooks that we speared into the two ends of the bale) and toss it up onto the bed of the trailer.

During our college years in the summer, we also both worked (me for three years, your Zeus for one) for the U.S. Forest Service on an engineering crew that was surveying new timber and fire access roads in the high mountains of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. If you have ever walked through dense pine forests and smelled fresh pine pitch, or in the fall walked through bright golden-yellow groves of Aspen, you know why we loved the work. On the job, we carried double-bit axes into the woods and were the first to volunteer to chop down any tree that was in the line of site of our transit (the engineering device used to set straight lines). This helped us grow even stronger and to this day our time with the Forest Service is another of our most memorable experiences.

Your Zeus and I also participated in sports during all of the time we were in public school and college. We both played on a baseball team in the very first Little League established in Ogden. He was a pitcher (and a very good one at that) and I played centerfield. In high school both of us played football, wrestled (our football coach was also the wrestling coach and required us to do both), and were on the track team (I throwing the discus and javelin, and Zeus running the hurdles and throwing the shot put).  I won my share of wrestling matches, but your Zeus during his senior year was the regional and state heavyweight-wrestling champion, with his quickness and strength making him unbeatable (as a couple of his friends, in later letters, will attest).

In high school we both played tackle on the football team and were each other's biggest booster, always yelling encouragement to each other.

A picture of your Zeus (#40) and me (#42) is included on the right, waiting to get into the game against South High from Salt Lake during the Utah State High School Championship game, November 1954. During your Zeus's senior year, Ogden also won the regional championship and played in the 1955 championship game.

In college, I chose not to play football and lettered in track and skiing, but your Zeus accepted a football scholarship to the University of Utah and, because of his great speed and leaping ability, was switched from tackle to left end.  He had a distinguished freshman year and as you can see below, was mentioned in the local and national sports magazines as a rising star, but had to stop playing after breaking vertebrae in his back the summer before his sophomore year, while working for the forest service in Fish Lake National Forest in southern Utah - the force of the axe chopping down those trees sent shock waves up his arms and shoulders to his back, and it was enough to crack the vertebrae. Your Zeus had a "bad back" just like our dad did, with discs between the vertebrae that were too thin, so he was susceptible to this type of injury, though he didn't know that.  As you will read in a story written by one of your Zeus's childhood friends, he also couldn't tolerate the behavior of some of the opponents he faced across the scrimmage line and, on campus, would hide the fact that he was a football player (so people wouldn't think he was a dumb "jock").  You will also see in the stories that follow, that none of his friends considered dumb.

In the paragraph above, I said that you would see a report of your Zeus's football reputation - now I will show you the proof: This reprint of the National Preview issue of the 1957 FOOTBALL yearbook was sent me by one of my good high school friends and a teammate of Larry on the University of Utah Football team, that testifies to Larry's excellence as a Utah Freshman football player, and what they thought of his ability for the future - this was, of course, before Larry broke his back.

 

 

 

 

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