LIFE SKETCH OF MARION N. DAVIDSON Inez LaVee Davidson Norris
Marion N. Davidson was born of goodly parents, Amasa and Anne Elizabeth Hansen Davidson, on April 15, 1899 in Fairview, Sanpete, Utah. He weighed 14 pounds at his birth. He was the sixth of ten children. His brothers and sisters were: Amasa, Hans Arthur, Edward, Emery, Beatrice, Vennes, Vay Anna, Amber, and Kermit. We don't know much about his younger years, except that the family raised cattle, and had horses and sheep. It was a hard life and the whole family had to work to help keep them going.
During the summer of 1909, Marion's father, Amasa, decided to move to either Wyoming or Idaho. He went to Millburne, Wyoming to visit his brother Hans and ended up buying the "Thomas" place before he went home and never did get to Idaho. The family started the migration to Wyoming in March 1910. They moved their stock and household goods in railroad cars from Fairview to Wyoming. The first car was a large box car called an immigrant car, because it was much cheaper. In that first car, they had all of their machinery including wagons and buggy. They also had plenty of seed wheat, oats. barley, alfalfa seed, and potatoes. They also had 5 or 6 horses. Marion's brothers, Amasa and Arthur accompanied their father in the first car to Wyoming. They arrived in Carter, Wyoming, where they unloaded the horses and put them in the stockyards and fed and watered them. They then unloaded the two wagons and the buggy and put them back together. They loaded the wagons with the machinery, and the buggy with the seed, bedding, etc. Early the next morning they started for their new ranch. There they worked to plow, harrow and put in the crop. Marion's father and brother Arthur returned to Fairview to get the rest of the family in April. For the second car they had a big single deck stock car. In the one end they loaded all the furniture, beds, milk cans, separator, etc. They then built a false deck in the other end so they could load the cows in the bottom part and the sheep and calves in the top. There was no place in Fairview to load stock, so they had to drive their stock to Mount Pleasant to load them. On the bottom deck they had one bull, 22 cows, and one horse, on the top they had 101 ewes (sheep), a few lambs and calves. Marion's older brothers, Ed and Arthur, stayed in the car to care for everything. The rest of the family left for Wyoming on the afternoon train on May 4 or 5. Marion was eleven years old at this time, so it is doubtful that he could do much to help with the move. The Davidson family settled in Milburn close to Mt. View; they got their mail in Milburn and went to school in Mt. View. When they arrived on the ranch the land was covered with rocks, so everyone had to help haul rocks. They carried them to a wagon, and then hauled them away. Marion's father leveled the land only once, because every time he would go over the land, it would turn over more rocks. The first night on the ranch they slept on the floor, the next day they filled the straw ticks with straw for their beds; these would serve as their mattresses. They dug two wells on the ranch, the first one was sour water, but across the canal the water was sweet. They carried all the water for the house for a while, and then Marion's father, Amasa, ran a pipe right into the kitchen so they had water in the house. They didn't have a car so they had to ride horses or take a team and wagon. They would have to ride horses to school and go by team and sleigh in the winter.
As there was no High School in Bridger Valley, Marion's formal education ended when he graduated from the eigth grade. He was a smart man; he knew his math especially well, he could add columns 4,5,or 6 digits wide in seconds. He could read very well, and was also a good speller and writer.
Marion loved horses. According to his brother, Kermit, he could jump into the saddle over the rump of a running horse, do tricks off of the side, and up over onto the other side while the horse was still in motion. He was also good at throwing and spinning a lasso. He wore sheepskin chaps, fancy beaded gloves, and a ten-gallon hat. He broke horses for lots of ranchers, and he rode the range in the summer looking for cattle.
Marion loved to dance; he could dance all night then go home, do some chores and then go dance some more. He also loved to sing and whistle.
He was very kind to his parents, and brothers and sisters. His sister Vay said he was her favorite brother; she was born on his birthday.
We don't know much about his life after he finished school before he was married, except that he herded sheep for the Hamblins.
Marion was also a tie-hacker; one who rode the ties down the river to keep them from jamming up the river. He also learned to shear sheep with his brother, Emery. In the early 1920's, Emery formed his sheep shearing company. Marion would go with him each spring, and early summer to California, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and Idaho to shear sheep. He became one of the best shearers. They always had contests to see who could shear the fastest, and the most sheep. The shearers got paid by the strings; one for ewes and two for bucks; Marion always liked to shear the bucks. People around the area used to tell how good he was at the shearing contests.
Marion, along with his brother, Arthur, started to work on the Railroad. However, it did not start out as a steady job. When he wasn't working, he would go back to his father's ranch and help him. At that time, his brothers, Amber and Kermit had grown up and were in school, so his father paid him to help him out.
In 1927 or 1928 he went to a dance and saw Inez Elizabeth Hollingshead for the first time. He was so smitten by her that he told some friends that he would marry her some day. While they were courting, Marion lived in Evanston and Inez lived in Bridger Valley. He was very sweet and kind to her. They were married in Randolph, Utah on June 28, l928 by Bishop Olaf Larsen. They were accompanied to Randolph by Inez's mother, Hannah Burdett Rollins Hollingshead. They started their married life in Evanston, Wyoming in an apartment in Dr. Fosner's house. Inez was always afraid of Mrs. Fosner, claiming that Mrs. Fosner tried to poison her. Marion was working for the railroad at that time.
In 1929, they went to California to shear sheep. Their first child, Inez LaVee was born, in 1929 at the home of Marion's parents who had moved back to Mt. Pleasant, Utah. Marion was shearing sheep in Idaho at the time, and left Inez with his parents to have the baby. Four children followed, being born about every twenty-three months: Vay Anna born in 1931, Marion N born in 1933, David Amasa born in 1935, and Theodore in 1937.
Marion and Inez moved to a ranch in Fort Bridger in 1930 or 1931. This ranch originally belonged to Marion's brother, Arthur, and then to his brother, Edward, then finally to Marion. Vay Anna, Marion and David were born there. Marion raised cows, sheep, chickens and pigs there, he also raised hay and grain and had a vegetable garden. Inez LaVee remembers picking and snapping beans so they could be bottled. She also remembers picking up potatoes and putting them in gunny sacks. She said, "I remember the threshers coming to do the grain, Mom had to cook for them, I helped with the dishes. There were no tractors in those days, so the horses did the work. I rode with dad on the mower, the hay wagon, and the rake. Dad kept the cows in different pastures; as I got to be five or six years old, I got to bring the cows back at night for milking. Times were hard in the 1930's. I remember making mud pies and I got two eggs out of the chicken coop to use in the pies. As a result, I got a licking from Mom, and she cried because I had wasted food. I remember asking one day why we had to have black bread and water gravy for dinner, black bread was wheat bread. When they killed an animal, they used everything they could for food. I remember eating tongue, head cheese made from the pig's head and of course the liver, we even ate the pig's feet. I remember one night hearing coyotes howling, Dad had had pneumonia, but he got up and went outside with a gun in the middle of a blizzard to keep them from the sheep.
We had a building called the grainery; when the grain was gone we would play house in it. Dad put up a swing for us in a big Cottonwood tree. The ranch house had three rooms in it, but Mother would never go into the back room. There had been a shoot out in there and a cowboy had been killed; his blood was on the floor and scrubbing would not get it out. She felt that this room was haunted. There was no running water or toilet in this house, but a hand water pump and an outhouse were the facilities of the day. There was a stove for heat in the bedroom and a cook stove in the kitchen;the cook stove had a reservoir on the side of it that kept the water hot. On the days that Mom did the laundry, she used a boiler, also a big pan to heat the water on the stove and then bucket it into the washer. (At first she used a hand scrubbing board, later she got a gasoline motor driven washing machine.) Mom would boil some of the white things to keep them white, and I would rub the small things."
"Mother made cottage cheese and butter. We kids would turn the handle of the churn and then Mom would press out the water and make loaves of it. There was a cream separator in the corner of the kitchen to separate the cream from the milk.
In the winter we all slept in one bed to keep warm; the kids at the foot of the bed and Mom, Dad and baby at the top. They kept the kitchen stove banked during the night (extra coal and dampers closed to keep the fire). In the morning, Mom would bring a shovel full of coals from the kitchen and put in the bedroom stove to get the fire started faster. When the room was warm, then we kids would get dressed.
I remember Dad breaking horses; he got thrown once and broke his nose, he swore many words that stung our ears. He didn't swear a lot as a rule. Ted remembers his favorite saying as "by damn."
We had a shaggy sheep dog named Pat who was getting quite old. One day Dad shot a gun and it scared old Pat; he ran away. A few weeks later they found old Pat dead in a field."
In the summer of 1936 Marion got more time working on the railroad, so he and Inez moved their family into Evanston. They lived in a rented red brick house in the second block on Main Street. It was a very cold house that winter, Inez LaVee can remember seeing frost on the walls in the bedroom. Sonny got pneumonia and possible rheumatic fever that winter; all the children were sick a lot that year. In the spring of 1937, they moved into the two-story stucco house at 544 Main; they thought it was a mansion compared to what they had been living in. Ted was born in that house 1n 1937.
In May 1938 the family accompanied Marion to California where he helped Emery shear sheep. They worked in Bakersfield, California; a desolate area with lots of oil fields. Inez LaVee said that the children had to stay on the roads, and she recalls seeing a little girl get off the road and get her feet stuck in an oil puddle which burned her feet. Another powerful memory was of seeing Tarantula spiders; their Uncle Arthur got a shovel and picked some up and put them in a bottle for the children. Later they went to a better place that had orange and grapefruit groves. They slept in their car and a tent trailer; Inez and Aunt May (Emery's wife) cooked for the shearers using Coleman stoves, they ate on tables in a big tent. The children loved to watch Marion shear the sheep; he wore white overalls, and a white cap with mesh in the top. The shearing equipment was pulled on a trailer and then set up overhead; each shearer would connect the arm of his shears into it. The equipment was run by a gas generator. Every night when they finished, the shearers would sharpen their shear blades on a stone.
On their return trip, they went into Arizona and Southern Utah. The children rode in the back of a pick up truck getting very dusty and dirty. They felt very much like gypsies; at each Service Station that had water and a restroom, Inez would wash the kids. Later, Marion hurt his leg and had to have some cartilage removed and couldn't go on the shearing trips any more.
The family didn't go to church often. Inez LaVee remembers going to church once in Lyman when David was blessed and once in Evanston when Ted was blessed. She remembers going to Primary and being baptized, but Marion wasn't at her baptism. She doesn't remember her dad going to church until 1945, and he paid a little tithing and fast offering. Later on he took temple preparation classes because he wanted to take out his endowments, but he never could quit smoking.
Marion worked many years for the railroad. He was a fireman on the hard fired engines; originally they were wood fed then later coal fed engines. His job was to shovel the wood or coal into the fire box. The engines would have to stop every so often for water at tanks along the tracks. He moved up to being an engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad. Every winter and late spring the trains would have less freight to haul so Union Pacific would lay off some of the men and the others would drop back to being firemen or put on the extras board. (That was extra men to fill in for others who took a day off for illness or vacation.) If you were on that board you were never sure when you would work. Marion called into the dispatcher's office two or three times a day to see where he was on the call-out list. Often the dispatcher would call and say he was called for a certain time and only give him one or two hours notice. He worked all hours of the night and day, sometimes with little sleep in between. This can be very hard on family life; the children had to be quiet when he slept during the day, and they didn't have many meals together as a family. Marion's train runs were either to Ogden, Utah and back to Evanston; or to Green River, Wyoming and back to Evanston. He mostly ran freight trains. He spent a lot of time studying the books on the engines, especially when the 4000 series engine came into being. He had to take exams every so often on what he learned. The 4000s were put into service to help pull the train cars up from Ogden; the incline was steep and they kept adding cars because they were in the middle of World War II.
Marion was one of the first engineers to run the 4000 engine. One trip early on, he got caught in the Aspen Tunnel; the tunnel wasn't big enough for the engine. When he got home, the hair on his arms, eyebrows, and front of his head had been singed off. It also burned his lungs, and it was not long after that, that he developed pneumonia.
In 1941 or 1942, Marion was an engineer on an engine that slipped a big wheel (flattened one); because of this there was an investigation and he was laid off for about six months. In order to support his growing family, he went to Winslow, Arizona to work on the railroad there. Inez and the family stayed in Evanston, where Inez got a job at the Tourist Hotel down town. When Marion returned from Arizona, Inez asked him for a divorce. Through the years, Marion had become an alcoholic. Therefore, Inez felt she could no longer live with him. When Marion wasn't drinking, he and Inez got along fairly well; he never went to work without giving her a big kiss and squeeze. He was superstitious about coming back into the house after he had left for work; if he forgot something he would holler at the door for someone to bring the forgotten item, and he always said "Toodle-loo" instead of good-bye.
As in all families there were good times and bad. He liked to play with his children. He would take out his false teeth (he had false teeth from the age of 18 or 19), ruffle his hair, get on his hands and knees and chase his screaming children around the house. He was also the bucking horse for his kids. He took them to the circus, carnival and rodeos. Marion loved the rodeo that was held in Evanston on Labor Day weekend. One year he bought cowboy outfits for his three boys and took his "little cowboys" to the rodeo. He also took the boys to the round house with him and the girls would get upset because they couldn't go too. He even took the boys on the 4000 engine with him once. Ted tells the story that he had the boys go wait for him by the sandpiles at the stockyards. He pulled up in the 4000 engine; the boys crossed the tracks and climbed up inside the cab. Marion opened up the firebox for them to see inside, it seemed like a half mile long to them. Marion told the boys to keep an eye out for "bulls". Railroad bulls were the railroad inspectors that kept the tramps away from the tracks, and Marion would have gotten in trouble if they had found the boys in the engine with him.
Once Marion went elk hunting with his friends Treadway, and Shelby Creek. He was gone long enough that when he came home he had grown a moustache and his children didn't recognize him. He shot an elk and he put the horns on the floor in front of the children's bedroom door.
Marion had several dogs through the years; one was a German Police Dog that was a very good watch dog and took care of the children. Inez LaVee remembers him pulling her by the dress when she would get out of the yard, however Marion got rid of the dog because he was afraid he would hurt her. He also had Pat, the shaggy dog on the ranch, and Old Heavy, a Big Bull Dog. Old Heavy was a good sheep dog, but he took a bite out of a Chinese fruit peddler by the name of "Mormon" Charlie, so Marion had to get rid of him. He also had a small "weenie" dog.
On a shearing trip to California, Marion caught two turtles out on the desert for his children. He put holes in the shells and put them on chains; however, they got away and got run over.
Marion andInez were divorced in December of 1942, however, he asked if he could stay until after Christmas. He then moved to an apartment on Front Street in Evanston. His children saw him ocassionally, when they went to his place. At this time, he spilt hot coffee on his foot and it turned into blood poison because of improper care. Because there were not many anti-biotics at that time, the Dr. gave him sulfa drugs to treat the blood poisoning;
In 1945 he moved to Mrs. Sessions' upstairs apartment on Sage Street, it had two rooms. In November, 1945 Inez LaVee and Vay Anna put their clothes in paper bags, and walked through a snow storm to live with their father. Marion gave them his bedroom and Mrs. Sessions let him sleep on a cot in the furnace room. The girls said that their dad was very good to them.
In January, 1946 Marion bought a house at 728 Main Street across from Safeway and one house away from Mitchell's Store. The church was across the street and east to the corner.
The house had three bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, bath room and back porch; there was also a garage in the back, although Marion didn't have a car. The chidren helped him insulate, shingle and paint the house.
On May 30, 1946 Sonny, David, and Ted went to live with Marion and their sisters. Marion had his family again. While the children lived with him, he would cook, bake bread, can fruit, make big pots of soup, and potatoes and gravy. He helped with the washing and ironing and always insisted on a clean house. He worried about the children and made sure that they went to church, sunday school, MIA and scouts. He was on the scout committee. He disciplined them if they needed it, but trusted them to do right. They had a curfew and he wanted to know where they were, so if they needed help he could find them. The children were alone a lot, so he had to trust them. If they wanted to go to a movie, and he thought that it was a good one, he'd try to give them money to go. One engineer said that he slept more than one night in a chair in Green River to save the hotel fee for his children's movie tickets. He used to sing to his children; Inez LaVee's favorite song was "Two Little Girls In Blue".
One day, on his way to work, Marion started bleeding on his lip; he went to the round house to tell them he couldn't work, and then walked one and a half blocks to the doctor's office. He nearly bled to death in that time. Sometime earlier in the year, he had a cinder burn on his lower lip, and it wouldn't heal. He smoked cigarettes in a holder, and apparently that kept it from healing. The sore developed into cancer. He went to the railroad hospital in Omaha, Nebraska in the summer of 1946 and had the cancer removed; he also had the lymph nodes under his chin and ears removed. He was in a room with a man who had his lung removed, but this man died. (This man had a daughter by the name of June Loam that became friends with Marion.) Vay Anna said that she went with him to Omaha at this time, but Inez LaVee and the boys went to stay with their Uncle Amber Davidson in Urie Wyoming. In August, Marion returned to the hospital in Omaha to have his lungs drained as they couldn't do it in Ogden. The two girls went to Los Angeles then, and the boys went to stay with their Uncle Amber and Uncle Ed. Later on, the doctors wanted to remove one lung and part of the other because of cancer, but Marion wouldn't let them. He said that he would live with it because he had five children to raise.
In the fall of 1946 June came out from Omaha to visit Marion and his children. Marion had proposed marriage to her, but she turned him down. She had met another man on the train on her trip to Evanston; fallen in love with him and decided she wanted to marry him instead. Marion told Inez that he decided not to remarry because of the children; he didn't want to have a step-mother for them. This was the only other woman Marion was ever serious about.
All this time Marion was sober and stayed that way until October or November of 1946. He and Inez LaVee went to an engineer's party. They ate and danced; she said that she loved to dance with her father because he could waltz so smoothly that he could balance a glass of water on his head and not spill a drop while he was dancing.
That winter, he had pneumonia a lot, and his cancer become more painful. He took a lot of pain pills and started drinking more to kill the pain. In the winter or spring of 1947, Marion had convulsions. He was taken to the state hospital for a few days as there was no other hospital in town. This was the start of his health falling away.
In June, 1947 Inez LaVee married Gerald H. Norris. Marion liked Gerald and was glad that they were going to be married in the temple. He bought Inez LaVee a graduation suit and a beautiful wedding dress. Because he loved flowers he also bought a dozen long stemmed red roses for her wedding reception.
In May, 1950 Vay Anna married Elmon Lyle Apgood. Now there were only the three boys left at home. On the last of September Marion received a letter from the railroad asking him to come in and talk about retirement as he had recently had a medical checkup and they found the one side of his heart was enlarged. His health declined more and he soon looked like skin over bones. He was now suffering terrible pain from the lung cancer, and was having a hard time breathing. He would have the boys pump his arms up and down to help fill his lungs up with air. He developed pneuomia again and was placed in the Evanston hospital. On Sunday, October 1, 1950 Gerald and Inez LaVee went to visit him and offered to give him a blessing. He declined the blessing saying that he was feeling better and didn't think he needed one. The next morning on October 2, he called Inez LaVee; he asked if Gerald would come up and give him a blessing. He had left the hospital and walked home to talk to his 3 sons. He had them promise that they would never drink alcohol or smoke, using himself as an example of what these things can do to ruin a life. He died the night of October 2, 1950 at 9 o'clock of a heart attack. He was 51 years old. His funeral was held on October 7, 1950 and he was buried in the Evanston Cemetery. As the funeral procession wended it's way to the cemetery; it passed under the railway overpass. Stationed on the overpass was a train, the engineer blew the train's whistle as a final tribute to a fellow engineer. Marion has been sorely missed by his children, and by his grandchildren who never had the privilege of knowing him in this earth life.
Addendum: Memory from Marion Jr.: "I talked dad and Tom Rasmussen into going fishing with me. We couldn't find David to go with us, so we went looking for him. We finally found him playing in the dirt and Dad gave him a spanking. After I saw David get that spanking, I never disobeyed because I didn't ever want to be spanked."
Memory from Ted: "Once, when we were still living with Mom, David and I wanted to go to the show, a mantinee. As we walked past dad's house, he was out watering the flowers and lawn. We went up to him and said, "We'll let you spank us for a dime." He said, "That's interesting, tell me about it." "Well, we want to go to the show, but we don't have time to work and earn the dimes, so we thought maybe you would pay us a dime to let you spank us." Well he did, and after that experience we decided that it would be much better to work for the dime."