The Frank Ross Epperson Story

Written by Connie Epperson Rigby.

My daddy,  was born August 14, 1906 in Heber City Utah. Daddy was an adorable child with a mischievous spirit. His father  said, “I sure love this valley, it is heaven on earth.” A little bit more heaven came to him when daddy was born, as it also did with his mother . Midway Utah was heaven on earth also to many of daddy’s parents, grandparents and great grandparents who settled there. I honestly can say that everyone who met daddy loved him, “He was adorable to me also.” When I was about ten years old daddy saw me crying, “What’s the matter?” he asked. I said, “I’m the ugliest girl in the whole world!” Daddy put his arm around me and took me over to the mirror and said, “Look at your self you look just like Dorothy Lamour!” (She was Daddy’s favorite movie star). Daddy was always sensitive to my feelings. The family lived in Heber for a few years and then moved to Midway to a house that grandpa and a friend built with the first flushing toilet in the Midway Valley. Aunt Lilly (daddy’s younger sister) told this story of daddy. “Frankie, (they called him) had been over to a friend’s house. Mama and daddy and some of us children were just sitting around the house when all of a sudden the door burst open and in walked Frankie and he was white as a sheet and he cried, “A ghost is chasing me down the street!” Mama said, “Don’t tell such fibs there is no such thing as ghosts!” Frankie continued on, “Honest mama it’s the truth, it’s the truth, honest it’s the truth!” So mama went out the door to look outside and she saw a white bald faced cow running down the street, Frankie thought it was a ghost after him. Daddy said, “I was scared, I was really scared!” Mama (Cora) said “He was a boob, even after we were married, he wouldn’t go out after dark and get wood for our stove.” Lilly said, “You mean you had to go with him?” Mama said, “Yes!” Lilly said, “Oh Frank!” Daddy said, “After we got married I went outside one night to get wood all by myself and a pheasant got into the shed. I went to get some coal and the pheasant kept flying around my head for about ten minutes, he scared me to death!” Lilly said, “Do you remember Frank, when you took that old roadster, when you were about twelve years old?” Daddy said, “Yes I sure do!” Lilly said, “He’d sneak it out of the Studebaker building in Heber where dad worked so one day he drove it out and was driving down Midway Lane. Jennie and Alva had been in Midway and they came along behind him, and Al said, “Good heaven’s there is not a driver in that car!” They took off about twenty miles an hour, and when they got up to the car there was Frankie peeking out from under the steering wheel driving along!” They couldn’t see his head before. Lilly said, “I’ll tell you another thing he used to do. All the neighborhood kids gathered together to hear stories. He was the best storyteller in the whole valley I believe! He told such wild tales and would go on for about an hour. When he’d run out of thoughts, he’d say, “Continued again tomorrow night!” All the kids would go home and the next night they’d come back over and he’d tell more stories.” Some of the kids were our nephews, Orvil and Willard, (Jennie’s sons) and about 14 other kids!”


Daddy said, “When we moved back to Heber my friends and I would go fishing, there were many fish in the Provo River. We’d have a string of fish hooks on a stick, and we would put them in the pool where the fish would congregate. There were a lot of herring and trout in the Provo River!” Then one of us would go down a half a block and the fish would come in the center of the pool, see! Then one of us would give a jerk and out would come fifteen or twenty fish. Dad wondered where all the fish came from! Lilly said, “When the family was living in Midway, Frankie got me and Vic to sneak off with our dad’s car in the middle of the night! As we were driving along we got stuck in the mud. We couldn’t drive the car out and we were afraid to go home, we knew we were in real trouble! When mama and dad woke up they were frantic and went out looking for us. Mama was afraid we had driven the car in the Provo River! When they found us they had a neighbor pull us out with a tractor.”  said, “Did you guys get balled out?” Daddy said, “You darn better believe we did, we really got heck didn’t we, Lilly?” Lilly said, “Did we ever! We never did that again. Daddy said, “I was about 13 years old when we moved to Silver City. Jack Beauler (daddy’s friend) was superintendent of the Tintic Silver Mines, and he hired dad to be bookkeeper of the mines, you know. Lilly said, “We lived in an old Pullman train car which had a sleeper car where we slept. We soon found out the train car was full of bed bugs and did we ever get bitten! We had red welts all over our bodies. We were so mad at the bed bugs, we got pins and pinned the bed bugs to the wall. Eventually we moved into a house with both a front and back porch.


Lilly said, Frankie and I went to Silver City High School.


Daddy said, “It was winter time in Silver City and there was a lot of snow on the ground. The Tintic Silver Mine was on a hill and the train tracks ran down from there and the train hauled the ore away. I took my sleigh up there and rode the sleigh down the tracks, which was a lot of fun to do. The train decided to do the same thing, and so here comes the train. I couldn’t get off the tracks so I lay down on my sleigh, and lo and behold the train rode right over me! I really thought I was a goner.”


Lilly said, “One morning mom and dad left for Heber City for a few days, and they took Victor with them. They left Frankie and me in the care of Erma; only Erma ran off with Joel and Frankie and his friends hopped on a freight train.”


Mike said, “Why did you go to California on the train?”


Daddy said, “Well when I was a young boy everybody ran away from home, so when I was fourteen I went too. (The freight train pulled the coal cars you know.) Everything used to be woo, woo, woo. So we hopped on the freight train (the 3 of us) me, my friend Gordon, and another friend of mine. The one boy we went with had a brother in California and we planned to stay with him, see. We went to Los Angeles, which was quite a town in those days. We went to Long Beach where there was an army base. There were no homes then and the soldiers were all over the mountains. It was during World War One. We later hopped a train to Las Vegas. It was 120 degrees and so hot at night you couldn’t get to sleep. We had gauze and rung it out in water and that’s what we cooled off with to sleep at night. After we got back on the train, I was so thirsty so one of the hobos put a pebble in my mouth and said to suck on it. I did and it helped a little.”


Lilly said, “While you were gone my friend Mary came to stay with me so I wouldn’t be alone. The third night she was there we invited some friends over. We sat on the porch and told jokes and laughed. We had a lot of fun. Later that night, Mary and I went to bed in my room. We had been asleep for about and hour when I woke up and asked Mary, is your hand on my leg?” She said, “No it isn’t.” “We screamed and saw one of our friends, Bodack run off. He later came back and set the porch on fire, but we were able to put it out. Next day mom, dad and Victor came home and found me alone with my friend Mary. A few days later Frankie came back on a freight train. His overalls were so dirty they stood up by themselves on the porch.”


Lilly said, “I remember when you used to fight my battles for me when I was picked on and I’d fight your battles for you.” Daddy said, “Down in Silver City this kid was doing something mean to you, so I grabbed the kid and pounded and pounded him. Another time a different kid, Bodack (his mother was from Hungary), I beat him up for pulling a squirrels tail, and he went home and told his mama. She came after me and I chased it for home down the railroad track.”


Lilly said, “And under the bed, some kid said, “Mrs. Bodack’s after Frankie with a butcher knife!”


Daddy said, “Did I ever beat it down the railroad track and under the bed!” “This is something I shouldn’t tell but I guess I will, when I was a youngster we had cows. We had milk in the cellar where the cream came to the top in pails it was real thick cream, two inches thick. What I liked was raspberries and cream, see. Mama used to bottle raspberries. I’d eat a dish of raspberries and cream and then I’d just put the dishes away you know.”


Mama said, “Hide them you mean!”


Daddy said, “So they’d find dishes around the house and down the cellar, but the funny part was, after your mama and I were married, we went to live in Preston Idaho with Cora’s folks. So lo and behold they had cream and raspberries. Cora’s mother would fix the pails the same way, and I thought, Gee! So I’d get the bottle of raspberries and cream and hide the dishes somewhere, then Cora’s mother would say “where are all those dishes coming from?” When she found out she said “Frank, you can have all the raspberries and cream you want you don’t have to hide the dishes.” “So I guess we do funny things in life.”


Lilly asked, “Do you remember when mom and dad would put on plays at Mutual? They’d come out on the stage and look just like Indians and there was a tent in back of them. Someone would pull the curtain and they would sing and sing. Daddy would play the autoharp and that’s what gave them away. Dad would play it and they would sing and sing Redwing and Red River Valley and lots of other songs. They had real good voices. They would close the curtain and everyone would scream and scream. They would open the curtain and they would sing and sing some more.


Another time a carnival came to Silver City and Jennie coaxed mama to go on the Ferris wheel. It was huge and they put it on the side of the mountain so when you looked down it was twice as far. Mama got on and when she and Jennie got to the top it got stuck. They had to jerk it over and over and when they did it would rock and rock. Well mama was scared to death and when they got it started and they got to the bottom, Mama yelled, “Get me off of this thing, get me off of this thing!” They wouldn’t let her off and she never went on the Ferris wheel again!”


Connie said, “What did you move to Pioche, Nevada for?”


Daddy said, “On account of Jack Beauler. Jack had trouble with his dad so mama and dad took him in and sent him on a mission, so when we moved to Silver City, he sent for dad to be bookkeeper in the Iron Blossom mine. Then when Jack moved to Bristol Silver Mines in Lincoln County, Nevada he sent for dad again. He didn’t want to go but he said. “Bring Frankie along and I’ll give him a job as a dishwasher.”


Connie asked “I bet you liked that daddy?”


Mama said, “He likes to wash dishes.” Daddy said “We lived in the summer at Bristol Silver Mines and in the winter time in Pioche, and went to church and school in Panaca, Nevada. Mama and Jennie cooked for the miners and I did the dishes, see. Lilly dated someone who lived in Panaca, and he’d bring his sister Aleen for me. We’d go dancing in Pioche on the top floor of a tall building. When we danced the Charleston the building would sway back and forth. It wasn’t long after that the mayor wouldn’t let us dance there anymore.


I was a little guy but I played with the High School Basketball team under Cecil Baker. He later coached at Granite High in the forty’s and for six years, they took the championship. When he coached my team, the little guy was the better guy then, you see. They didn’t have tall guys then, just little guys like me. We would make long shots, and we would jump every time we made a basket, we had a real good team.


I left for my mission from Panaca in 1926. I was almost 20 years old then. I went to the Richmond, Virginia mission. In those days in the south, it was quite a thing to sit down for dinner. The cows would eat wild onions, you know, so you didn’t know if you were eating real butter or onion butter. So one of us would taste it and if it was onion butter we’d kick the other elder in the shin.


It was really something when the woman would cook the meal, they’d put the whole chicken in a pot of boiling water, the head, the feet, the feathers and all. You didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so you had to eat it, see! My companion, Elder Goodson (he was from Uintah), just couldn’t stomach the food. The girls would say “The elders are here so we’ll make a good clabbered milk pie” (sour milk pie).


“They’d put spice on top but the clabbered milk didn’t go so good. Elder Goodson would try to eat it, then he’d say, “I can’t stomach this, Elder Epperson, can you eat my piece?”


“So to be on the good side, well, I’d eat it. It actually made him sick, he’d be sick for weeks eating their food. I’d say to the girls, that pie is delicious, but you take some clabbered milk and put it in a pie with the crust soggy, see if you could eat it.


Mama said, “Tell them about the chicken eyes.”


Daddy said. “You know we like the wishbone here, but in the South the kids reached for the head. They’d suck the eyes right out, they thought it was delicious.”


Connie said, “Did you ever eat any of those eyes?”


Daddy said, “Heavens no, I couldn’t eat them, but we’d eat until we were busted, and they’d say, “Elder Epperson, Elder Goodson, have some more.” Although they were down and out, they’d try to feed us plenty. Heavens, when you went in to the homes, the grandma would be sick in the bedroom, the chickens would go in and out of the house. The kids would say, “get out of there chickens.” The grandma would say, “come sing Come Come Ye Saints to me.” We’d sing, and the flies would swarm, they’d put the bedpan under the bed, and it would smell, it’s unbelievable in this day and age but that’s what they did you know.


I came home from my mission in 1928. The folks had moved to Salt Lake City, at 259 South Second West (its Third west now). I worked in the Consolidated Mines in Park City with dad and Jennie’s husband Alva during the week and would come home on weekends. I worked there till 1931 when the mine was closed.”


Lilly said, “Do you remember the night that you and Darrel dressed up in ladies clothes?”


Daddy said, “Oh yes, we’d put on Jennie’s and Lilly’s dresses and their high heels… they put lipstick on us, and their wigs, and we looked just like young swing girls.”


Lilly said, “Tell them what you did”


Daddy said, “Up the street was an old hotel, where the bachelor men lived.”


Connie said, “So I bet you went and flirted with them?”


Daddy said, “So we went up to the window and we could see they were all sitting around you know, then Darrel tapped on the window and oh boy, they got right up out of their chairs and came running after us. So we ran down the street as fast as we could go.”


Connie said, “Weren’t you afraid they were going to catch you?”


Daddy said, “Were we ever.”


Lilly said, “They were smart enough to run around the block first so the men didn’t know where they were going.”


Daddy said, “They thought they had some sweethearts.”


Connie said, “Now tell us how you fell in love with mama.”


Daddy said, “Well it begins with a story like this. When I was on my mission, Lilly palled around with a girl named Cora. When I came home from my mission, she introduced me to Cora. I had a good friend on my mission, Darrel Peck, I introduced him to Lilly and they dated. When I was going with Cora, my friend said, you’re lucky to have a girl like Cora in this day in age. Not many girls would be as true as the girl you have. So I thought, that’s true and I fell in love with her.


I’d push her in the swing at Pioneer Park and I’d sing Girl of My Dreams to her because she was the (girl of my dreams.) We then got married December 4, 1929 in the Salt Lake Temple.” Lilly said, “They had a reception in the 14th ward chapel that night and it was magical. Your dad was so handsome and your mother was strikingly beautiful.”


Daddy said, “I guess Cora sat on my lap and about mashed me.” Cora said, “I wasn’t that heavy then.” Daddy said, “We borrowed her brother Golden’s car. He lived in Midvale, Utah—he had a 1926 Chevy. So Golden, his wife Eleanor, Cora and I climbed in the car and went to Preston, Idaho. We had a flat tire about 2:00 a.m. in the morning so we had to walk quite a ways to find a tire. There were a lot of open pits around, left there when men had greased their cars. Well, Golden was all dressed up in his suit and he said, ‘Come on Frank, we’ll find somebody.’ Lo and behold it was dark but we could see the light of a home and a service station. As I followed Golden, all of a sudden he went out of sight. He had fallen in one of those oil pits, you know—right smack in the oil. It’s awful you know, but I couldn’t help but laugh when he came crawling out.”


Later, daddy said, “Cora and I would double-date with Darrell and Lilly. We’d go to silent movies and we would also go dancing at the Coconut Grove. Sometimes we’d go dancing at Salt Air. There was a huge giant racer at Salt Air that we would go on. When we went on the racer, it about scared Cora to death.


We still lived in the 14th ward and we were asked to be drama directors. We put on a great road show that Cora and I were in, (and Lilly) you know. I was president of the Elder’s Quorum also.


We moved to 737 East 1700 south where Mom and Dad lived. We lived in the backroom. Lois was born in the County Hospital July 14, 1930. I didn’t have a job, see. So we moved to Preston, Idaho for a while. I couldn’t find work there so we came back to Salt Lake. I worked for Elias Morris and Son as a tile setter, you know. We moved back with my Mom and Dad at 737 East 700 south again when Connie was born at the LDS Hospital on April 19, 1932.


I still wanted to move to California, so Cora and I left Connie in Preston Idaho with Cora’s sister Ivy. So Cora, Lois and I high tailed it to California. It was during the great depression, and jobs were far and few between you know. We stayed for several months and couldn’t find any jobs there, so we picked Connie up and moved back to Salt Lake and I got a job at Clover Leaf Dairy. We then lived on 7th east, about 14th south.


Daddy said, “Lilly do you still remember the bottles of milk? Where the cream would come to the top? Clover Leaf Dairy had a metal gadget about two and a half inches long. You’d put it in the milk and draw the cream out see.” Connie said. “I can remember when we did that.” Lilly said, “You mean you would just draw the cream out?” Daddy said “I used to go from house to house and demonstrate it. I’d show women how to draw the cream out. They then would drink the milk and whip the cream.” Lilly said “What dairy did you say that was?” Daddy said “Clover Leaf Dairy. They still had horse and buggies that pulled the milk wagon then.” Lilly said. “Is that right?” Daddy said. “In those days people were poor you know, the dairy would not give the cream away that didn’t sell, they just went to the sewer and dumped all the milk and cream out. We had an ice box. (We had those before there were refrigerators.) We would put a block of ice to keep the food cold in the fridge. We’d use small chunks of ice to freeze the ice cream in the freezer. Lilly said “And then what would you do with the ice cream?” “Have Ice Cream,” Daddy said. Lilly said. “What you did was bring it down to our place.” Daddy said. “Oh yes, we’d put Lois and Connie in the wicker buggy with the ice cream freezer and a cooked chicken and away we’d go.” Lilly said, “They’d have Connie and Lois sitting on one end, and an ice cream freezer on the other end and the chicken in the middle and Dad would be out on the sidewalk and he would yell, here comes Frankie with the Ice Cream!”


Connie said. “When was it that Darrel pushed Lois and me in the buggy?” Daddy said. “Darrel was going crazy, he pushed the buggy back and forth and from side to side as fast as he could and all of the sudden the wheels came out and down came the buggy.” Lilly said, “And the poor kids fell right on the ground with it.”


“Remember Frank when we were driving along in dads Studebaker? Dad was driving and you and Vick and I would sing and sing. We’d sing one song over and over and dad would say, “Don’t sing that one anymore!” He didn’t like some of the songs that we would sing.” Daddy said. “We would always sing “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” (daddy is singing.)” Lilly said to Connie. “Your dad always had a good voice.” Connie said. “He would always sing songs to Lois and me when we were little.” Lilly said. “I can’t sing though, if I did sing, I’d get everyone else out of tune. Our chorister would say to me, why don’t you sing out? SING OUT! So we were singing along and all of a sudden I went down low and she said to me, I know what you mean, you don’t have to sing anymore.”


Daddy said. “Remember when we all went to California, mama, Aunt Lilly, Shelby and I? We went swimming in the ocean. I took my teeth out of my mouth, and put them in the pocket of my swimming trunks, and when I reached for them, they were gone. There must have been a hole in my pocket. But lo and behold I reached down in the sand in the water and there they were. I thought it was wonderful. But then I stuck them back in swim trunks again, I forgot about them, and soon when I remembered, I reached down in my pocket and they weren’t there. I reached down in the sand again and they weren’t there. They were gone. I had to drive back to Salt Lake without any teeth in my mouth. How would you like to do that Connie?


I guess in life things are funny, and then you live on and what do you have.” Mama said “A room full of kids huh?” Daddy said, “The greatest thing we have is our children. Then lo and behold, they get married and they have children. Then lo and behold, one has a baby. Natalie, we love her. So that’s the highlight, the little girl Natalie Ann.” Mama said. “We have another highlight, our baby Laurie.” (We love her too!) Daddy truly loved his family. He had a company called Epperson Arts Products, so he’d get products wholesale to get presents for his family. He would also go down to Mexico and buy purses for everyone. When we lived in Pleasant Grove he would bring bananas, bread and sweet rolls every week for all of us to eat. Mama would buy shirts, Levi’s, and stockings for the children for school. She’d go to the sales where you had to grab stuff fast to get them. Daddy and Mama had hearts of pure gold. They definitely lived for their family. I love and miss them both so much! I am looking forward to being with them someday in our Heavenly Home living with our King and Savior Jesus Christ.




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