Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oakley, Idaho - Part One

In order to plan for an upcoming extended family reunion - a few of us from my family decided to take a quick trip to Oakely, Idaho.  Oakley was where my father was born and raised and is rich with Clark family history.  Believe it or not - the trip would be the first time Amy and I had ever visited my dad's hometown!  Kip went when he was a child but doesn't remember it.  My dad hadn't visited Oakley for at least a decade.  So it was bound to be a memorable trip for all of us!  And it didn't disappoint!

Our first stop was Albion, Idaho where we stayed the night in an old Albion college dormitory that has been restored to accommodate large family reunions.  We had dinner at the Albion steakhouse and marveled at how this tiny town could have ever been home to a college that trained elementary school teachers.  The Albion Campus Retreat was a wonderful facility - built to accommodate up to 80 people!!  

The next morning we began our journey to Oakley - driving through the beautiful National Reserve - City of Rocks.  After a stop at the visitor's center we had lunch at yet another steakhouse in Almo (I guess these tiny towns in Idaho love their steakhouses!).  
And then on we drove into the City of Rocks.  It was spectacular scenery!
We stopped at Camp Rock where dozens of people traveling on the California trail had written their names in axle grease.

You can see in the photos below how much the names have faded over the years.  The names date back to the early 1800's.
Lichen - of course.

City of Rocks is famous for its incredible rock climbing (you can see the climber on the Left).

The Bread Loaves
I couldn't believe my excitement when my dad started recognizing familiar Oakley landmarks!
Our first stop was the Oakley First Ward building - where my dad went to church up until he left home at 18.  It is now a senior center.
This is a picture taken of the church in 1935.
My dad and his twin sister in 1937.
Our next stop was my dad's elementary school - which has since been turned into a private residence.
This is what the original school looked like.  
This is a picture of my dad's first grade class.  He and his twin sister are on the second row, fourth and fifth from the left.
We entered Oakley driving on Main Street.  The church was on our right and a couple blocks down, the school was on our left.  A few blocks more and there it was - my dad's childhood home - 170 Main Street.  It looks almost exactly the same as when my dad left 60 years ago.

This picture of the home was taken in the 1950's.
My father at age 14 - right around the year this picture was taken.
My father describing how the front of the home was lined with poplar trees (very typical of Oakley) and a white picket fence.
My dad with his dog Queenie in the side yard of the Oakley home.  You can see the picket fence and classic Oakley poplar trees in the background.
The man who currently owns the home also considers it his "childhood" home.  He doesn't live in Oakley and only visits about once a month to check on the place.  I consider it a miracle that he was there when we stopped by and was generous enough to let us tour the home.  (My dad is standing in almost the same exact place as the previous old photograph.)
Remnants of the white picket fence - very near where my grandmother used to tend to her rose garden.  In the summers my dad used to park his truck behind this garage and sleep in a bed that they kept under the apple tree in the backyard.
The backyard.
Paul (the man who owns the home) told us that his mother was with him that day.  She also lived in Oakley and was best friends with my dad's older sister Carol.  My father was anxious to see her as he hadn't seen her since he was a teenager.  Her older sister taught my father violin lessons.  It was touching to witness their reunion.
The layout of the home is exactly the same as when my father lived there.  One of his sisters was married in front of that exact fireplace.

My grandfather Charles Clark was a Stake President for 18 years in Oakley.  Back then the prophet and apostles of the church would make an effort to visit and minister to church members at their Stake Conferences.  My father remembers hosting prophets and apostles on a regular basis.  They would arrive Saturday evening (alone from what my dad could remember), have a light supper - something like bread and milk - and then sleep in this front bedroom.  Sunday they would speak at Stake Conference and then join my Dad's family for a nice Sunday dinner.  Dad remembers Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay,  and Joseph Fielding Smith staying in this room.
This room used to be the front porch until my dad's family closed it in to be a sitting room.  Paul is describing to my dad how he found my dad's initials on this wall before he painted it.
The breakfast nook in the kitchen.  Notice the telephone.
These are the same cupboards that lined the hallway to the bedrooms.
This is the room where my father's parents slept.  Although he remembers their bed was in a different place.
Paul used the original front doors (the house had French doors before my dad's family closed in the front porch) as windows in the backyard shed.
This entry way was originally the outside of the house until they closed in the porch.
My father at age 18 - shortly before he left Oakley.  He moved to Provo to attend BYU before leaving on a mission to London, England.  It was during that short time when he fell in love with a stunningly beautiful young woman named Janet Beck.  The rest is history.
My next Oakley post:  The legacy of the Clark's For Shopping mercantile.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Visiting My Mom's Grave and a Nostalgic Dinner at My Childhood Home

The day after we returned home from Spring break - we drove to my mom's grave to see the new installed headstone.  
It was lovely - unlike any other headstone in the cemetery.  Red sandstone - perfect for my mom.
Sarah now carries around this little purse that once belonged to my mom.
My dad and Kip came bearing sprigs of apricot blossoms from his yard - the perfect touch!

My dad and Kip had prepared a soup supper for us and feeling so reflective, I couldn't help but notice how nostalgic it all felt.  I longed for my childhood - when life was more simple.  Spring at my house was a magical time filled with apricot blossoms and violets blooming all over the yard.  So many years have passed and - thanks to the traditions put in place by my mom - I can relive these sweet memories over and over again.
My girls playing with the marble track - an oldie but a goodie.
My dad had picked violets from their yard to sprinkle on the salad.  My mom frequently used violets as garnishes for her salads and sometimes we would even make crystallized (sugared) violets as a lovely decoration for cakes or other desserts.
My dad arranged this bunch of apricot blossoms from one of the several apricot trees in our yard.

It was a meal of pure comfort food.  Just what we needed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Break - Malibu Part 3 (Pictures that I forgot about!)

I ran across some pictures on my phone that I wanted to include for the record of our Spring Break trip to Malibu.

On the way down we probably saw 2 dozen signs for Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker, CA.  The kids were dying to stop and we all needed to stretch our legs.

The (beef) jerky was some of the best I tasted and we stocked up for ourselves, family and friends. 
Another beach activity - dollar store kites. 
 And resting.
 The condo - we stayed in the bottom level.
 We visited my cousin Dianne and her family in Laguna.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Wind & Sea at Dana Point and then went back to their house for hot chocolate (yes it was that cold) and games.  Fun memory:  "I will smash that carrot!  I will not eat it!"
 We saw some rowers at Dana Point.
 We spent an afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier and let the kids ride the carousel and have old fashioned sodas (eat your heart out Disneyland!).

 We had the yummiest breakfast in Manhattan Beach our very last morning.  We walked around the little shops and didn't want to leave!
The kids (and Wes) finally got their thrill ride on the way home.  We stopped in Prim for lunch where the kids took a ride on the Desperado - located at Buffalo Bill's Casino and Resort.  It is one of the tallest roller coasters in the world!  I was more than happy to watch with Sarah Jane - roller coasters are definitely not my thing.  But what a grand finale it was!!!