Leola Jex Freshwater, 1914

My grandma, Leola Jex Freshwater, is possibly the most challenging person to write about for one simple reason: she wrote far more than I ever could about her life. She was a writer. She was a dedicated, passionate writer, and as such, she recorded everything. She kept journals, notebooks, and calendar books. She wrote stories, memories, and poems. She took photos, videos, and audio recordings.

In essence, she was one of the few people I know that recognize the remarkable and beautiful value of recording her life. It didn’t matter that she was what many would call commonplace. In fact, I think she might agree with me that the more commonplace the person, the more real and beautiful the story. And she was wise enough and humble enough to recognize that she couldn’t disclude her own life from that rule.

Every life is remarkable. Every person in noteworthy. Every human being has a story, and every person’s story is worth telling. And, as one with such recognition, she also recognized the value of the small things. The visit to the doctor, the touching story from the newspaper, the singing child. All were worth recording, because life is a sequence of small things. There is no big thing that isn’t composed of a bunch of little things. So the ideal–the very best scenario (to which few of us ever even aspire) is to record them all. To write, record, photograph, or collect every one of them.

Of course, that’s impossible. So the next best thing is to record as many of them as possible.

Only now, reading back over a lifetime of her notebooks and poems, looking through her photographs and listening to her cassette recordings, do we see the breathtaking tapestry that is her life, and the lives of all who crossed her path.

The thought of writing a comprehensive history of all my known ancestors is challenging for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason is because Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis wrote a LOT of her life. I’ve even compiled much of her autobiographical writings into a posthumous autobiography. The only problem is, I haven’t gone through all of her writings yet, so there are likely holes in the story. I say that to emphasize that there is so much more out there about the life and writings of Leola Curtis that I’m not even going to attempted to have them all available from here. As more sources become available, I’ll include links.

Plus I’d like to include the stories and histories of all my other ancestors and their posterity.

All that said, Leola Curtis is one of the greatest inspirations in my family history efforts. She won my heart long before I knew anything she wrote or recorded, but unlike most grandmas get to do, she continues to win my heart over and over again long after she died through her writings and recordings.

–Chas Hathaway

 

Leola on making the most of the time you have:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 12:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 11:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 10:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 9:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 8:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 7:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 6:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 5:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 4:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 3:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 2:

Merrill and Leola Curtis, part 1:


Essential Information

Born: 1 Oct 1914, Spanish Fork, Utah, Utah
Married: 17 Aug 1932, Salt Lake Temple Merrill William Curtis
Died: 30 July 1992
Temple Ordinances Performed: BEPSC
Temple Ordinances Needed: None
Father: Leo Rowland Freshwater
Mother: Susan Catherine Jex
Children: , Rosemary Curtis, (the rest are alive – 2013)

Posts of Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis

Leola has many writings, poems, stories, and pictures. Here are links to those shared on this site:

I Heard the Angels Sing

Scans of Journals, Notebooks, and Writings of Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis This page will request a password, since some of the writings include personal information about a few individuals (her children especially) that are still alive. Contact me to get the password.

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Obituary:

Our loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, Leola Jex Freshwater Curtis, age 77, passed away July 30, 1992, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX D530She was born October 1, 1914, in Spanish Fork, Utah, the daughter of Leo Roland and Susan C. Jex Freshwater. She married Merrill William Curtis, August 17, 1932, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. Leola was very devoted to her family, and had a great love for children. As a LDS Church member, she served in the Relief Society and the Primary. Her interests included a love and talent for writing short stories and poetry, and she maintained a keen, inquiring mind. img526She will be greatly missed by all of us, especially Dad.She is survived by her husband, Merrill of Salt Lake, and ten children: Nolan, Salt Lake; Kay, Draper; Verna Cheney, Buhl, ID; Patsy Jarvis, Salt Lake; Delon, Salt Lake; Rosemary Sjostrom, Blackfoot, ID; Ellen Clark, Bellingham, WA; Debra Hathaway and Lealeth Miller, both Magna; and Sterling, Murray. Also by three children following the deaths of her sister and brother-in-law, Ruby and Warren. These were Lorraine, Bernice, and Roland Dalley, whom she loved and cared for. Others include 41 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren; two sisters: Sarah Henderson and Gladys Rollow, both of Provo. She was preceded in death by her parents, by sisters, Ruby Dalley and Ellen May, and by a brother, David Irvin.

Funeral services will be held Monday, August 3rd, 12 Noon, at the Millcreek 12th Ward Chapel, 602 East 3900 South. Friends may call at the Larkin Mortuary, 260 East South Temple, Sunday evening, 6 to 8 p.m., and at the Ward Monday, one hour prior to services. Interment will be at the Larkin Sunset Gardens in Sandy.

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Leola Jex Freshwater’s Personal History:

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My Life Story, by Leola Jex Freshwater:

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I don’t know what happened to pages 1-8 of this document, but this is hand-written by Leola:

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In her later years, Leola wrote this in her notebooks:

One night I dreamed a dream so sweet I did not want to waken, and even after I did waken, I tried to recapture the feeling.

The two of us (Merrill and I) were riding in a little coupe car similar to the one we had when we were first married. We were so young and full of dreams, and as we traveled along, we were singing a song. The harmony between us blended and was so sweet, and suddenly it was as if another voice joined with our voices, and this made the sound even more beautiful. Do you know what we were singing? It was something about having a house down in the little green valley…

LITTLE GREEN VALLEY

(written by Carson Robison)

I see a candle light down in the little green valley,

Where mornin’ glory vines are twinin’ ’round my door.

Oh, how I wish I were there again, down in the little green valley.

That’s where my homesick heart will trouble me no more.

There’s only one thing ever gives me consolation,

And that’s the thought that I’ll be going back some day,

And every night down upon my knees, I pray the Lord to please take me

Back to that little old green valley, far away.

I hear a mockingbird down in the little green valley.

He’s singing out a song of welcome just for me,

And someone waits by the garden gate down in the little green valley.

When I get back again, how happy she will be.

And by a little babbling brook once more we’ll wander,

And in a shady nook we’ll dream the hours away,

And I will leave all my cares behind, go where I know I’ll find sunshine,

Back to that little old green valley, far away.

…and there is one thing that always brings me consolation. It’s to know that I’ll be going back some day, to that valley far away.

Why do you suppose I’d have such a precious dream as that, and why did it ever have to end? Maybe it was to remind me that such things are still possible. Maybe even as we get older we still need our dream just as we did when we were younger and couldn’t have everything we wanted. We were young enough then that there were lots of tomorrow ahead of us, and it was so easy to look forward to a brighter day. So we’d sing about it, and we’d dream our dreams… and it did help to make us happier. Many times when we were singing, I imagined the angels joined with us, because they could see how happy we were and they wanted to be part of this experience, and so they joined in our song.

We are older now, and there are not so many tomorrows ahead of us, and it is not so easy to dream of what can be, because in our hearts we know some of the happiest times are over and can never be again—not in this life, anyhow. Never again will I feel the perfect health I once had, and the joy of running and climbing and being physically fit. Nor will I ever again in this life know the joy of carrying a child, or of letting one get his food from me. This part of my life ended long ago, but the feeling of loss never ended. The only compensation I ever felt, to help me endure such sorrow, was the joy of holding the babies of other women, especially when these were my own grandchildren. I love them so much, and I think, “How wonderful it is that I could pass on this “torch of life,” and another can carry it on, and there can be other mothers bearing children because I once bore her, or helped to give her life. If I hadn’t had this child, she wouldn’t be here to have her child. So in a way, I am still part of the process of creation, and not just a “has been” that is cast aside with no one to care except my own companion. And if I lost him first, who would there be to care? It doesn’t seem to matter that the child’s father was my son, or my daughter, or the companion each chose, they are equally dear, and so are their children.

So why the dream? Maybe it is the depressing part of Christmas that got to me. We don’t like to talk about it, but there are lonely people at this time of year. They are lonely for the homes of their childhood, and for all the dear ones who have gone on ahead, for all the simple joys that used to be. In our memories we try to blot out the unpleasant things, like being cold, or not getting what we had our heart se on for Christmas. We tend to remember only the love we felt, the security of having someone to take care of us, the joy in a home where all the commercialism and noise and pleas for help were all shut out. We were loved and that is all that seemed to matter. Is it really so different today?
I will buy a few gifts that will cost too much, and I have the choice of feeling happy because I have the privilege of bringing a surprise and joy to someone who receives my gift. Or I have the choice of grumbling and complaining until all the joy of giving evaporates and I am left with the taste of bitterness in my mouth, for like in the story of the Vision of Sir Lawnfall, “The gift without the giver is bare.” And it goes on to say, “He gives of himself serves three, himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.” And of course that was the Lord speaking.

To give for the sheer joy of wanting to please someone is one thing. To give because it is the expected thing to do, or because you feel obligated, is less joyful. To give lovingly and without considering too much the cost of it, that is more satisfying. Of course a person needs to be a bit practical, and no one minds that, but must each single penny be counted? Must one always put the person and the gift on a pair of scales to see if they balance properly? Must one always say, “Next year I will be able to give the gifts I really want to give?” After a while you know the years are numbered and you won’t always have the opportunity for giving. Maybe this will be your own very last Christmas. One never knows. Life is so uncertain. It may be the last Christmas of someone very dear to you. It may be your last chance to tell that person how much they mean to you, and maybe next year there will be no reason to spend any money on a gift for that person, not even a card, because he won’t be anywhere that the mail can find. At my age, there are many friends you don’t send cards to anymore.

So you sing a happy song for the joys you do have, and for all the joys still ahead.

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