Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Erna (Urna)Cram Davis

My mother, Erna Cram, was born February 18th 1905 in Provo, Utah. She was the first child of Mark W. Cram and Rose Mariah Stoney.  I believe that she was born before my grandfather graduated from Brigham Young Academy (Now known as Brigham Young University.) She was a precocious child and could recite at two years old. She loved to sing and to entertain .  She had four younger sisters: LaRue, Revo, Faye and Marva.  She had no brothers.  When she was very young they moved to Ogden where Grandpa got a teaching job.  Ogden was home to her and she kept in touch with her childhood friend her whole life.  Mother told me she had 100 first cousins! 

When Mom was about 20 years old Grandpa got a new job for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. He moved the family to Sacramento, California. I understand that when mom was young she was a little rebellious.  Shortly after the family settled in Sacramento Mom decided to move to San Francisco.  I’m sure her parents were not happy about this decision.  She hitch hiked to ‘the City’ and found an apartment and a job in a Five and Dime store. 

While working in the Five and Dime she met my father.  He worked with her.  Dad was not a member of our church.  Their song was,  "A Million Dollar Baby from the Five and ten Cent Store" They were married in Sacramento and settled there.  I’m sure that Grandma and Grandpa were happy to have her close again.  I don’t know a lot about their first few years of marriage.  I do know that it was the depression and dad had a hard time finding work. He finally got a job with the Southern Pacific Railroad.  I’m sure Grandpa had something to do with that. Dad worked there his whole life until he retired. 

I remember Mother telling me about a time when she was directing the Stake Roadshow.  She was a good director, poet and artist.  She was very supportive of my Dad’s interest in acting.  He was in many community theater plays.
During most of my growing up years my mother had to work.  She had many different jobs, mostly part time.  Once she worked demonstrating food in grocery stores. Once she worked for the Greyhound Bus Company. She would distribute pillows to the customers.  She had a uniform and I remember being quite impressed with that.  Whatever job she had she always made sure she was home whenever we were. She was there to cook most of the time and there to put us to bed and greet us from school.  I don’t know how she did it but I never felt like I had a mom who was gone all the time. I am sure Joanne and Paula, my two older sisters were a great help to her.

Mom always had lots of friends.  She was everyone’s confidant.  She could keep a secret so well that people would tell her all their troubles.  She never talked about what was told her in confidence.  She also was a person who came to people’s aid.  Mother was very wise and people sought her out for her advice. We had a neighbor who was her good friend.  Her name was Dottie Smith.  She was like an aunt to me. 
Mom had a great sense of humor and when she laughed it was like music.  She could remember so many of her recitations from when she was little and she taught some of them to her children.  Some of you still recite “The Little Pie.”  Mom taught that to me and I taught it to my kids.  My mom could remember the words to every song of her day.  She taught us all her songs and we have been singing them ever since.  Dad would play the piano and Mom would sing.  She had a lovely alto voice.
My mother was a great mother.  She taught all of us the Gospel and listened and counseled with us when we needed it.  She sang to us and nurtured us and giggled with us.  Whenever I was sick or had to stay home from school she would bring me a present…I remember the paperdolls the most.  She loved to play games and we would often sit around the dining room table in the evening and play games with her and Dad.  They would come out and sit on the front porch and watch us play in the evenings when it was hot.  !

My mother struggled with depression.  She also had a very hard time during her Menopause.  She miscarried at that time and that was very hard for her.  She had a friend who was going through a bad time with a new marriage and ask Mom to take her little girl to raise .  It was fun for us to have a new little sister.  She was ten when I was 15.  After about a year the woman just showed up one day and took the child back.  It was difficult for my Mom. 
When I was in High School mom would help me with my lines for the school play.  She also coached me on the speech I had to give for a State contest.  I always knew I could ask her and she would help me with anything I needed.   She always had good advice when it came to relationships.  She taught me my love of reading.  When we were children we had a large set of “Child Craft Books.”  She would read to us from those books and later encourage us to read them ourselves.  We were all so loved.  I think I had the happiest childhood of anyone I knew.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

More on Grandpa Cram

Grandpa Mark W.Cram was the first stake president of the Sacramento Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  As I was growing up he was my stake president.  Sacramento Stake went from Gridley on the North to Placerville on the East to Vacaville on the west and to Fresno on the south. Just in Sacramento alone their are many stakes in the present day, not to mention many more in the other areas of California where he once served. 

Grandpa learned to drive in his 50's so he could visit all the wards and districts in the stake boundries.  Some time after my grandma died my grandfather was called on a mission to New York .  He was in the Hill Cummorah Pageant and played the part of a Lamanite Chief.  He met his second wife and my second Grandmother in New York while on his mission. Her name was Ethel Bushy Pike Cram.  She had never had any children but she was a wonderful grandma to a lot of us.  Most of my cousins never knew my Grandma Rose and she was the only grandma they knew.

Grandpa always loved children.  They were some of his favorite people.  He would bounce all the babies on his knees and sing them funny songs. Once when we went to visit Grandpa when Jay was about eight Jay and grandpa got in a big discussion about who discovered gold. Jay had been studying about it in school so he was sure his information was correct and Grandpa had his own ideas.  They were very much enjoying their discussion when I interrupted to tell Jay he shouldn't argue with his grandpa.  Grandpa looked all sheepish and said what a good boy he was, and offered him a little Book of Mormon from his mission.  I think Grandpa loved a good 'discussion' just about better than anything.?"

Mom told me about a time she and my grandpa were arguing about where the bus stopped.  She got so frustrated that she called the bus terminal and when the lady had told her where the bus stopped, she handed the phone to grandpa.  After  listening for a few moments he hung up the phone and stated "She doesn't know what she's talking about!"

He and Grandma Ethel were snow birds.  They spent many winters in Mesa doing Genealogy
and working in the Mesa Temple. When they were home I would often spend the week end with them. They still lived in the home on Marshall Way in Sacramento where I had visited when my Grandma Rose was alive. Grandpa showed me my first pedigree chart and helped me gain my love for Family History Work.  When I was dating my sweetheart I brought him over to meet my grandparents.  While I was in the kitchen talking to Grandpa, Larry told Grandma Ethel that when he went on his mission he wanted to come back and marry me.  He told her to save me for him.  Every time I would talk about another boy Grandma would remind me of Larry.  She took what he said to her very much to heart and even though I kept denying that I was waiting for him she would keep saying "We'll see when Larry gets home."

When Larry and I were first married we would often ask Grandpa for advice.  He would give us some suggestions and then always end by saying that we needed to pray about it and he was sure we would be directed.  He said he wasn't entitled to inspiration for us but we were. He always had very wise council for us though.

Grandpa was nearly blind by the time he was in his late eighty's.  He never lost his sharp mind or his sense of humor.  He was faithful to the end.  I remember going over to see him one Sunday and Grandma Ethel told me he was out Home Teaching.  I think he was in his ninety's then.  He was a great example to all his posterity of faithfulness to the Gospel all his life.  I love my Grandpa so much and I still hope I can be like him when I grow up!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Grandpa John Davis

My dad's father was born in Scotland.  Dad recalled that he had a strong Scottish brogue.  He called my dad Laddie and my aunt Maude Lassie.  He talked very little about his past.  He was a short stocky man, probably 5 ft. 8 ins. tall.  He had a moustache.  What little we know about grandpas life before he married my Grandmother we have gleaned from an article written about him when he was a mill owner in Arcata.  He told the family that he learned the tanning trade as an apprentice in Edinbourough, Scotland when he was a boy.  He also said that his family was poor and had many children.  He ran away when he was still young and sailed on a ship from Edinbourough.

He also mentioned sailing from Scotland to Australia and the Sandwich islands( Hawaii) before he went to Canada and then to California. He married my Grandmother when he was 50 and she was 20.  He loved her very much and bought her a lovely home, completely furnished.

At one point he bought his own Tanning Mill in Arcata something like the one depicted. He was quite wealthy at the time and was able to take care of his young family well.  He was a kind man and very affectionate with his children.

John Davis was known as an honest man.  His word was his bond, and if he shook hands on any deal it was considered binding to anyone he dealt with.

Grandpa smoked a pipe and Dad remembers when he picked it up to play with it as a child and was disciplined for that.  He knew after that to never touch Grandpa's pipe. Because of his pipe smoking he contracted Cancer of the mouth.  He eventually died of Cancer after a long illness. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Grandma Davis

 My Dad's mother was Almira Maud Drake Davis.  I was two years old when she died so I don't remember her at all.  My Dad told me a few things about my grandma that would be fun to relate. Daddy said that when he was young he slept in the attic in their home in Arcata.  It was cold up there as the heat for the house came from the stove in the kitchen.  He would listen every morning to see if he could hear his mother moving around in the kitchen.  He could hear the clanking of the stove door if she was up. He would dress under the covers and slip out of bed and run for the kitchen if he heard her.  He said she often had terrible migraine headaches and would be in bed for days. On those days he would dress warm and go down to the kitchen and start the fire in the stove if his sister hadn't done it yet. Since he was the only boy in the family he would have also chopped all the wood and stacked it. Dad just had one sister who was 8yrs older than he was.  Her name was Maude Elizabeth Davis.

My Dad's father died when Dad was seven years old.  Since Grandma had spent every dollar of their money on Drs. she had to support the family by taking in sewing.  In those days you couldn't just go to the store and buy a dress, you had to have a seamstress make it for you.  Ladies would just show her a picture of what they wanted in a magazine and grandma would make the pattern and sew up the dress.  Dad said that often she would just measure the woman and throw the pattern paper on the floor and draw the pattern.  She made a very good living being a seamstress. 

                          Grandma Davis was only 4 ft. 8 inches tall. She was very thin and dainty.   Dad said her dinner plate was a bread saucer. She would put a small spoonful of each item on the saucer and that would be her dinner. She was a very religious woman.  The family attended the same church until my Aunt Maude (Dad's Sister ) died.  . I think it was the Methodist Church. When my Dad was young she belonged to the Temperance Movement.

                         Grandpa and Grandma got married when he was 50 yrs. old and she was 20.  He was a partner in the ownership of a Tanning mill.  When he bought her the house in Arcata he furnished it completely down to all the linens and decorations before he moved her into it.   


Grandma Rose Mariah Stoney Cram

Grandma Cram died when I was  7 yrs. old and yet I have many memories of her.  I only remember a few stories from her youth.  Grandma was the youngest daughter in a large family.  Her oldest sister was just a baby when my great Grandpa Robert Stoney and his wife Sarah Jakeman came across the plains into Utah.  (You can find his notes from that trip on LDS.ORG.) My grandma had a flare for the dramatic.  She went to college and got her teaching degree.  She taught Elocution.  She was very good at giving dramatic readings.  She had one about an Indian princess named Urna.  That is where she got the name for my Mother. When I was a little child I remember going over to visit my Grandma.  She would play cars with us on their front room rug.  It was a large oriental designed rug.  We would drive the cars around the patterns. Sometimes we would play marbles too. She also played games with us on her big dining room table.  We played "Cootie" and "Checkers", and "Pick up Sticks" She had a large buffet in the dining room.  We loved when she would go over to the buffet and tap the bottom drawer with her foot.  Smiling she would say " I wonder what's in here?"  We would all come running.  You never knew what to expect, but it was always something yummy!  Sometimes it was peppermint candies (white with a green center) or it might be her famous cheese straws. (pie crust sticks baked with cheese in them,) or it could be her 'garbage cookies'.... We have tried for years to duplicate those cookies.  She said she called them that because she put everything sweet in them that she found leftover in the icebox.

 I loved grandma's kitchen.  It always smelled so good.  She had a wood stove to cook on, and a ice box.  We loved it when we got to watch the iceman make his delivery.  Some times he would give us slivers of ice to suck on. He had a leather pad on his shoulder. It was used to carry the ice.  He would grab the ice with big metal tongs. Then he would sling the block of ice up onto the leather pad on his shoulder to carry it into the house.  Grandma was always singing or humming as she worked.  She smelled good and she always made us feel loved.  She had a root cellar on her service porch. There was a hatch in the floor .  It was a door that led to the root cellar.  Sometimes she would send my brother down for some fruit or potatoes.  I wasn't allowed in the root cellar, I didn't really want to go down that dark hole with spiders' webs. 

I remember one time when she took me to the Five and Dime store with her.  She needed some powder.  She showed me all the beauty supplies and then purchased a compact with powder in it.  I felt so big.  Walking back home with her hand in mine I knew I was loved.

We always went to Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving.  Grandma would always seem so happy to have all her family around her.  She would tease Grandpa and make him laugh. She always sent us home with pudding  for my Daddy.  She knew he loved it and since my mom often brought the pies she would make the pudding for Daddy extra.

When my Grandma was dying my mom took me over to see her.  She said Grandma wanted to see me so I went into her bedroom and sat on the edge of her bed.  Grandma took my hand with her frail one and looked me in the eyes and told me that I should never be afraid of dying.  She told me of her faith in our Heavenly Father and that she knew she would see him.  She told me to be good. I will never forget that experience. As I was growing up my mother would always remind me that Grandma was watching over me.  I wanted to be a good little girl for my Grandma.