Today my parents and I traveled north from Provo to Logan to attend a graveyard service for Vance Wendell Andersen, my uncle and my mother’s brother.
We passed by Salt Lake City on the way, where my grandfather and father worked on the railroad depot for Union Pacific, where my parents were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
We crossed Highway 89, which was the primary highway until I-15 was built. Also known as State Street, Highway 89 extended from northern Utah, through Salt Lake City, south to Provo, and beyond. When I would visit Utah as a child, my Utah relatives would tell me that State Street was the longest road in the world.
Just north of Salt Lake City we passed by Farmington, home to a longstanding amusement park called Lagoon for which my parents have fond memories from their youth.
We came upon Willard Bay, which is to the west of I-15, and the town of Willard, which is to the east of I-15. Several decades ago heavy rains poured down on the mountains around Willard, and mud sloughed off the side of the mountain and ruined many homes in that town.
We left I-15 at Brigham City, heading east on Highway 89. As we passed through Brigham City we observed a large group of buildings to our left, which formerly constituted a military base known as Bushnell where disabled veterans from World War II were rehabilitated. Bushnell later became a training school for Native Americans.
Highway 89 took us through Sardine Canyon, a place that evokes memories in my parents of the treacherous conditions on the old road through that canyon. The new road is easily navigated, although in prior years the long grades presented a challenge for my 1979 Toyota Corona – – on the downhill grade I’d build up all the speed I could to give me a fighting chance of making a decent time up the uphill grade.
In Sardine Canyon we passed the town of Mantua (pronounced “man-to-ay”), and shortly thereafter a small restaurant off to the west side of Highway 89. In about 1950 two young men went to that building the night they graduated from high school. The building was a tavern, the boys took in a little too much “liquid refreshment,” and then never made it out of Sardine Canyon – – on the way home they had a head-on collision with a truck.
We emerged from Sardine Canyon and could see all of Cache Valley before us. My eyes focused on the LDS temple, where my maternal grandmother worked and served. North of temple is Utah State University, the university my parents attended. To the west, in Petersboro, is a family farm where my mother was raised. Fifteen miles or so to the north of Petersboro is a town named Newton, where my father was raised.
As we drove into town we passed the site of the old drive-in theater, the Baugh Hotel where my Grandma Jones worked and where I attended a wedding reception for my cousin Phyllis, a building where my mother worked as a telephone operator, a Woolworth’s where my Grandma Jones worked, and numerous other locations.
We ascended 400 North, the continuation of Highway 89 that ascends a hill to the south of the Utah State University Campus and continues into Logan Canyon. We turned to the north just before the Logan Golf and Country Club. There is a small group of stores just to the west of the country club – – when I was growing up we would visit our Cache Valley relatives, including our cousin Brett who would take us to one of those stores, which at the time as called “The Groceteria” (we loved that name!).
Proceeding north we passed a chapel on our left, a chapel where my Uncle Woody, Aunt Lora (my Mom’s sister), and my cousins would attend church. Just a few years ago I went to the funeral for Uncle Woody at that chapel. To our right was the country club where Uncle Woody and Aunt Lora would play golf. Continuing north, to our left was the elementary school my cousins attended, a field where my cousin Brett played in a football league, and at the end of this road the house where his family lived. That house was often our first stop after a long drive from Colorado. We would enjoy a nice reunion that included delicious food prepared by my Aunt Lora. My cousin Brett also had a funky wiener dog named Fritz!
We turned to the west, and met up with our relatives at the Logan Cemetery. My Uncle Vance Wendell Andersen was buried in a plot near those of my Uncle LaVar “Woody” Woodbury, as well as the plot of Charles and Mary Andersen Hagemeister. I did not have a great deal of contact with my Uncle Wendell during his life – – he lived most of his adult life in Texas. I have seen more and more of Cache Valley relatives in recent years as we have had several graveside services at this cemetery, so the passing of family members has served to bring other family members together, and today brought a good reunion with some of my Texas cousins.
Before going to the home of a cousin for a luncheon, we all went about 50 yards to the north, where we observed the gravesite of our common ancestors, my maternal grandparents – – Hans and Eoline Sanders Andersen. In the late 1850s my mother’s Danish ancestors first entered Cache Valley, and my father’s ancestors of English and Welsh extraction arrived a few decades later.
(I wrote these reflections of my August 18, 2006 experience on August 21)