MIRIAM LaNOLA MAXWELL
Miriam LaNola Maxwell
I was born at 1157 East Kensington Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 26, 1910. This was a rented house where we lived while the property that we had purchased at 1145 Kensington was being remodeled into a duplex. We lived in one half and rented the other half. In our half there were stairs into the attic where the bedrooms for the family were located. At that time I have a brother Norman age six, and sisters Reva age five, and Elaine age three. They were born in the family home at 986 South First West where they had lived since my parents were first married. LeGrand was born later on March 13 1912, which completed their family.
My father, Thomas Hird Maxwell was born 31 August 1872 at Salt Lake City, Utah the seventh child in a family of ten children born to John Lambert and Jane Hird. My father was a florist, an occupation that he learned from his father. When I was born we owned a greenhouse across the street from the house. In his journal my father says, “These were difficult times. While I worked in town for eight hours each day my wife and children helped to keep the greenhouse going. I worked until late a night to get things ready for the next day.”. I remember that father also got up early in the morning to work in the greenhouse before he went into town to work.
We owned the lot next to our home on which we had a large vegetable garden. We were able to raise nearly all of the vegetables we needed, in addition to some to can, and put our root cellar. Mother baked our bread, and it was a treat to have a slice with some jam when we came home from school. We had a coal shed in the back in which we put enough coal for the winter. In the summer we washed out the coal shed and used it as a play house. Neighbors also had coal sheds which were used for the same purpose. We had fun visiting each other’s play house. We also raised chickens. We had a comfortable home and always had enough good food to eat. Mother also taught music for pupils who could come to her home. She was usually the organist in the ward from the time she was twelve up until the time she was seventy. Before she was married she also played for the dances.
Papa was a kind, considerate and loving husband and father. He spent as much time as he could with us, and frequently took LeGrand and me with him when it was possible. Each year starting when toys first appeared in the stores he would ask my mother to find out what the children wanted for Christmas, so he could shop for the things during his lunch hours. Christmas morning there was always something for each of us that we wanted. Mother saw to it that each us had a new outfit for Christmas. She was a good seamstress. She could take used clothing, turn the cloth inside out, and make outfits that look like new. One Christmas my older brother Norman who had a paper route bought me a victrola. Christmas Eve I was upstairs in bed with my two sisters when they started to play the victrola down stairs. My sisters, who knew of the gift, insisted I put my head under the covers. I was more than thrilled the next morning to have such a present for my play house.
When I was about three years old I was sliding down the door to the root cellar, fell off to the side and broke my elbow. In those days there was no x-ray. The doctor set it by hand and then strapped against my chest until it healed. He told my folks that he did not know whether I would ever have the use of my arm again. There were no pain pills. My folks stayed up with me all night the first night. Father bought me a small colored ball that he rolled back and forth to me to try to take my attention from the pain.
When I was five I broke my other elbow. There was an old washing machine in the yard on which we used to play. My shoe caught on the washer and I was thrown off on my elbow. The treatment and pain was a repeat of my experience when I broke my elbow previously.
When I was five it was time for me to start school. My mother held me out of school for two years so that LeGrand, who was two years younger than me, would have someone to play with. This ment that LeGrand and I graduated from high school the same year. Both of us wanted to go to college. Apparently there was not enough money to send both of us. My parents elected to send him.
Starting at age seven I was frequently requested to sing and perform at missionary farewells, ward events and other program functions in and around Salt Lake. My older sister Elaine sang with me at time, and occasionally my brother LeGrand.
We bought a Chevrolet, our first automobile, in 1916. Prior to that time we had a horse named Tracy and a buggy for transportation. He was gentle, and we had fun leading him around and riding bareback. In the winter he would pull us on our sleighs. If one of us fell off going around a corner he would stop until order was restored.
There were a number of children of various ages in our neighborhood with whom to play. We played run sheepy run, kick the can, hide and seek, and other games that did not cost any money.
Dr. and Mrs. Hopkins lived on Kensington Ave up the hill between 12 and 13 East. On his way home he would walk by our house. He became a close friend to all the children on the block because of his friendly disposition and the fact that he often had some candy to share with us. Once my sister Elaine had typhoid then right after scarlet fever. Mother and Elaine were quarantined. Mrs. Hopkins slept in the greenhouse. He occasionally made trips to China and brought back things for his curio cabinet which was full of thing of interest to the children.
In 1924 when I was fourteen the folks bought a home at 1524 South Fifteenth East in Wasatch Ward. It was a large home in a good neighborhood. They built a large green house on the property which was operated successfully as a family project as we had done when living in the Emerson Ward.
In 1926 Sister Bitner was in charge of putting on the operetta Gypsy Rover for the Wasatch Ward. It called for a chorus of older teen age boys and girls to sing “On the Beach in Summer”. When she paired up the boys with the girls I was matched with Dick Summerhays. Wayne Brown, a close friend of Dick was matched with a girl named Georgia. After the rehearsal they walked us home. This was the first time we had met, and for the next two years we going steady. They were happy years. We were in love and were spending some part of most days together. Wayne continued to go with Georgia. We frequently double dated with them. It was the era of the big bands and we would frequently go to the dances at Saltair, staying until we had to run to catch the last train into town. I was still in high school and we attended the games and other school events together.
Sister Bitner later organized a select group of girls into an entertainment group of song, dance, and skits. I was invited to become a member. She booked us at various events in and around Salt Lake. I remember one time that we went as far away as Logan to entertain at a banquet.
In July 1928 Dick was called on a mission to the Northwestern States Mission. We decided not to become engaged so that I would be free to date while he was away. We agreed to write each day and I agreed not to become engaged to any one else until after he came home. I had frequent dates with a number of boys but explained my commitment to them. In July 1930 my folks drove to Cardston, Canada where Dick was released and rode home with us. We resumed our dating and gave me my ring in December 1931. Dick was given an assignment to be manager of the Butte Office of the company he worked for while the manager was on vacation in may 1932. He wanted me to go with him so we were married on May 23 in the Salt Lake Temple by Joseph Christensen, the Temple President. We had our reception in my folks home.
Last modified: November 10, 2000