History of Hazel Johnson Christensen

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Salt Lake City

We lived in the little apartment under Joy’s father’s house until Vern, our second boy, was a year old.  Joy worked for his father, and then when his father didn’t have work, he worked other jobs.  When we moved out, we moved down about two blocks away.

When we were living below Joy’s family, his father used to come down and visit occasionally and the boys, Max and Rush, would come and play checkers or something.  I used to spend more time up there than his stepmother spent down with us.  I went up and helped her with the washing.  I would do my sheets and things.  She had a washing machine and I didn’t.

The only friction was just before we moved.  Marco was the baby.  She was just a year older than Don.  She was four then and he was three.  I had to watch him really close because the yard wasn’t fenced and there were trucks coming back and forth to the shop.  Marco would sometimes hit Don, and she threw sand at him once.  It was right after that that we moved.

Joy said he wanted to be a school teacher but he didn’t have the money to go back to school, and of course we had Don nine months after we were married.  Then came Vern two years later and Anne two years after that.

His dad made kitchen cabinets and such, but he didn’t always have enough work to pay someone else, too.  Joy did carpentry work for a while, but his father kept telling him he was too slow and too particular.  Even on the rough work he wanted to have everything just so.

He tried selling insurance for a while.  He sold for five months.  He made pretty good, but not enough for us to live on.  Then a watchmaker wanted a cabinet made with a lot of little drawers to keep the watch parts in, and he wanted it fixed so he could lock it with one key.  Joy’s dad made it for him, and Joy ended up coming to work for him as an apprentice.

When Don was a year old, Joy went to work for the watchmaker.  He started at six dollars a week.  By the time he quit he was getting ten a week.  Of course he worked for his father to pay the rent and lights and all.  We just had that to eat on and pay tithing and everything.  We didn’t need much because of the things I had bought when I was working at Penney’s.

Then he got a job in a wholesale jewelers supply.  That’s selling the supplies to the watchmakers and the jewelers.  It was Primrose Jewelers Supply.  It’s still going.  He ran that with a fellow and the fellow went broke.  He could have bought it if he could have borrowed $2,000.  But he couldn’t so he became a time inspector for H. B. Miller.

My Babies

Don and Vern were born in the basement apartment.  Anne was born in the place on Cottage Avenue.  I was so tickled when Anne was born.  She came about 11:20 at night.  I had the same doctor for the first four children.  After he got me all fixed up and everything, he gave me a shot to make me sleep.  He said, “She isn’t going to sleep tonight.  It’s like Christmas for her.”  He knew I wanted a girl, you see.

A practical nurse that helped me when I was operated on before I was married said I’d only have one sex when I had my children because of it.  I always worried about that, and when the first two were boys, I just knew I might never have a girl.

So when she was born, I was really excited.  The doctor gave me the shot, but the baby fussed and fussed.  Mother was with me, and of course she slept with me in the bed.  She was so tired, I said, “I can’t sleep for a while anyway,” and I laid with her across me and patted her.

The doctor came back the next morning at eight o’clock on his way to his office.  Mother asked him why he had come that morning.  He said that he knew the baby had swallowed a lot of water last night when she was born, so he wanted to check on her.  I told him that the shot hadn’t made me sleep but that I had been wide awake all night.  “That’s the way they work sometimes,” he replied.  “Sometimes they have the opposite effect.”

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