History of Hazel Johnson Christensen

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Visiting Authorities

My father was the first counselor in the stake presidency.  He had an automobile and President Geddes didn’t.  When the general authorities would come up to visit for stake conference, Father would meet the train.  We used to have two full days of conference, two meetings Saturday and two Sunday.  The authorities would come to Preston Friday night about nine o’clock when the train got in, and then they would stay until Monday morning when the train left.  We would have them three nights.

One time President Geddes said, “We will take the visitors this time.  It will be Pres­ident Heber J. Grant.  (He was a coun­selor at that time.)  We’ll take him so you won’t need to bother.”

But Mother always went through our house, every quarterly conference, just like a spring cleaning.  She would do a lot of cooking because sometimes they would bring extra visitors that she wouldn’t know about.   This time Father took President Geddes to meet President Grant, and they got up to the Geddes’ house to let them out.  President Geddes said, “Brother Grant, you’re going to stay with us this time.”

President Grant said, “No, I’ve stayed with you folks before.  I’m going down and stay with Brother Johnson this time.”  So what could Father do but take him home.  On the way home President Grant confided, “I just can’t stand Sister Geddes.  I’ve been there before and I just have a hard time with her.”

I knew what he meant and so did Father and Mother.  Sister Geddes was a little bit off.  I guess she just had a few screws loose.  They just got in the house when the phone rang and it was Sister Geddes.  She said, “Brother Grant, I’ve done a lot of cooking, and I’ve got a lot here to eat.  I sure want you to come back and stay to our place.”

“I’m sure Sister Johnson has, too,” he replied.  “I can smell the cooking that she’s been doing.”  That’s the way President Grant was, very outspoken.  Father couldn’t blame him.

Hyrum M. Smith, Joseph Fielding’s brother that was an apostle, came once.  Joseph  Fielding and Hyrum M. were apostles together.  I don’t remember if Joseph Fielding was there, but I do remember Hyrum.  Oscar Kirkham was there a time or two and the presiding bishop came.  One of the seven presidents of the seventies came, Brother Seymour B. Young.

I remember Brother Young because when they came in, he hadn’t had his supper because the train took about four hours.  Mother asked him, “Now wouldn’t you like something to eat before you go to bed?”

“Yes, I would.” he answered.  “If you’ve got a bowl of milk and some bread and an onion, I’d like that.”  So he ate a bowl of bread and milk, with an onion.  The men used to have bread and milk in a bowl like a small mixing bowl.  We’d have it in a cup, but my brother and father would eat in a bowl like that.

He ate that bowl of bread and milk and that onion, and the next day was fast day.  Mother said, “I bet his breath smelled bad.”  He was Levi Edgar Young’s father.  He was quite old when he came.  Levi Edgar Young came to our place, too.

We would really clean before conference, and they would come home to eat at noon between the conference sessions as well as at night.  Mother cooked most everything that she could before then.  Usually she would leave one of us kids home to finish or watch the dinner.  Hattie stayed home a lot of the time.  Then at night of course we would just have a cold meal.

Later, after we were married and in Milford, Joy was in the bishopric.  He was put in the bishopric not long after we moved to Milford, and then later he was bishop.  The authorities would come to Milford on the train and then the president would come from Beaver to get them.  When Joy was made bishop, Brother Melvin J. Ballard was the one who ordained him a bishop.  They brought him over afterwards.  The train didn’t leave until about twelve o’clock at night and he stayed at our place until the train came.

Joseph F. Merrill stayed at our house waiting for the train too.  That’s quite an experience to have the general authorities.  Brother Merrill was over in Europe as mission president.  I don’t know whether it was just in England or the whole European Mission, but when King Edward VIII abdicated to get married to Wallis Simpson, he was there in England.  It was not too long afterwards that he was to our place, and he told us all about that.  It’s quite impressive to have the apostles come into your house.

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