Saga of the Sanpitch 1977
The Fourth of July holiday was
the social event of the season for children. Weeks before the big event arrived, I was busy picking out
materials and pattern for my dress. Pastel shades in violets, organdies, georgette crepes, linens or ducks
were the most popular materials. Length of the ribbon sash often determined one’s social status.
Children saved their allowances for days, and obtained promises from daddy for a certain specific
amount to be forthcoming. Fifty cents was fair, but one dollar to spend all in one day was unbelievable.
Stirring patriotic speeches, in the patriotic meetings held after the parade, were sincere and
impressive. Although the younger children did not understand all of the speeches, they sensed their value
and appeal. The American flag was a symbol to be revered; no one put it down.
In the afternoon, races were held on the church lawn. What a thrill to win 35 cents for one race.
Baseball games, concessions, and matinee dances for the children offered additional fun for the day. Of
course, a grand ball in the Armory Hall completed the day’s festivities.
Several times a year, married folks’ dances were held in the Armory Hall. Younger people attended,
but the dances were geared for the older people, and the music was for their special dances. It was
fascinating to watch these people dance the schottische, mazurka, Virginia Reel, quadrille, Rye waltz, and
plain waltz. Jimmie Fiddler of Spring City furnished the music for many of these dances.
Some of the younger people tried to learn these dances, but none could master the techniques of
the “old timers.” Not one could kick up his leg with the sprightly grace of Hyrum Seely, Erick Ericksen,
Clarence Jacobsen, Hyrum Merz, Peter Peel or John Winkelman to name a few. Neither did any ever learn
to call the square dances like Erick Ericksen.
Playing out at night during the summer was another special form of entertainment. If one had
never hidden in Peter Matson’s garden spot waiting for the play leader to call “Run, My Sheep, Run”, he
had missed a part of his education, especially if Mr. Matson discovered him first.
“Kick the Can” was another fun game, especially when the older boys were part of the group.
Stolen secret kisses while we were hiding were all a part of the game.
Spirited baseball games took place in the middle of the road during the earlier hours of the day,
although they never quite attained the same amount of ‘spirit’ that some of the Little League games of
today generate. Perhaps the mothers had more to keep them occupied in those days; Kind drivers turned
their teams around the edges of the road so as not to disturb the game.
Riding out to the farm with Lawrence Winters on his hayrack was also an unforgettable experience.
Early in the morning we took our lunches and set out. Here, in the cool, crisp morning air I heard the first
meadowlark calling its mate. Just the joy of being alive on such beautiful days provided the zest for living.
Besides, we just might be the ones to find the first buttercup of the season.
Coming home in the late afternoon, we lay on our backs atop a load of newly mown hay and talked
of our dreams and aspirations, the lazy white clouds floating above us in the blue sky.
Perhaps the greatest thrill of the year was our annual trip to Manti to attend the Sanpete County
Fair. Mama always managed to get us some new clothes for this occasion. What fun it was to ride the
Ferris wheel, judge the produce to suit ourselves, and tease the animals. Once we took one of my friends
with us. We were all in the Manti Theater watching a wrestling match. We were twelve and had not yet
developed an appreciation for the violence of the wrestlers, so we ran outside.
As luck would have it, two nice-looking young men who were also about twelve came along and
invited us to go in the Ferris wheel. We accepted, and when it stopped with us on the very top, the boys
asked us our names and told us they were Kermit and Gail. This was the real beginning of my romantic
interests in Manti, a love affair I never forgot because of the many good times I had there with relatives and
As my own two daughter were growing up, I was saddened to see them dancing all evening with the
same boy. I felt that they never really got to know what fun was, for growing up in Sanpete included a
liberal education in dancing with all the boys, not just one possessive “steady.”
At Moonwinks, Moroni Open Air, Palisade Park, Fountain Green, and Fiddlers’ Green we danced
under the stars until all hours. Then home we went with a few friends to have bacon and eggs.
Ephraim, Armory Hall, Fairview, Spring City, Manti, all were a part of the dancing circle. July 3rd
dances usually lasted all night, and the Junior Proms were held for two consecutive evenings. Never were
children treated to such dancing pleasure.
Thank you, Sanpete County, for a childhood I would not change.