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.


Susan G said...

What a wonderful thing to do for your father! We loved taking this trip down memoy lane with your blog. My husband's family is also from Oakley! We love it there. We haven't missed a July 24 celebration since being married, 30 years! We also get up to roam the hills at least 5 or 6 times a year. The memories there are indescribable! My husband's father died 23 years ago (he was born in Oakley in 1932) but his legacy lives on in our children and our love for Oakley.

Becca said...

Very neat!