Although Dad knew it was right for him to join the LDS Church, they had rules in Europe back then that investigators had to finish a long series of lessons and attend church for many months before being allowed to join. Dad felt a closeness with one of the sister missionaries that worked with him. She finished her mission and returned to the US before Dad was permitted to be baptized. But they continued to correspond.
Having experienced a mighty spiritual conversion, Dad visited his family out on the coast and talked to them with great zeal about his newfound faith. They simply couldn’t understand how such an intelligent young man could go off and join some cult centered in the American West. Dad felt that they treated his message with great contempt.
When Dad later announced that he was seeking to emigrate and live in the American West, his family showed increased animosity. My Uncle, who was still in grade school, felt that the Mormons were stealing his older brother away from him. In reality, Dad had been going through the process of trying to immigrate to Australia before coming into contact with the LDS Church. He wanted to get out of Germany. His newfound faith and his newfound girlfriend simply sent him in a different direction.
Eventually, the former sister missionary got her brother-in-law in Colorado to sponsor Dad. This allowed Dad to get a work visa and move to the USA. He took a ship to England. His school English served him fine during his layover there. But when Dad got off the ship in New York, he couldn’t understand anyone. He found the westerners in Colorado easier to communicate with.
A man that was a supervisor at a city owned electrical utility took a chance on hiring an immigrant, and Dad was soon gainfully employed. He and the former sister missionary courted. After Dad had been a member of the LDS Church for a year, he and my Mom traveled to the Salt Lake Temple and were married. My brother was born just over 40 weeks later.
Dad & Mom spent the first five years of their married life in Colorado, during which time three sons were born to them. They served in multiple callings in their tiny LDS branch. Dad fulfilled the requirements to become a US citizen. After that, he was always a patriotic American. He often quipped about coming to America to pay taxes for the bombs that were dropped on him in Germany.
Eventually Dad bid on a better job with Utah Power in Salt Lake City. He was selected for the position, so my parents packed up their family and headed to Utah. But when they arrived, they found that the job was actually in Ogden. They were soon living in a rented small house in a decent part of Ogden that has since become a slum.
They soon built a new rambler (rectangle box) home in a developing subdivision in North Ogden. Dad did as much work as possible, such as the electrical work. Being on a tight budget, he was so careful with materials that he had only a few inches of copper wiring left at the end of the job. Other homes were soon added to the development and adjacent developments. I ended up growing up in a neighborhood full of young kids. It was a great place to be. My younger brother was born about a year after we moved in.
Dad had many interesting experiences in his career. He helped pioneer the construction of power lines hot (with live electricity). The National Geographic even included that in an article. Dad eventually went from climbing power poles to being a relay technician. He ended up doing a lot of electrical engineering work, but it bothered him that he was never able to go to school and get a degree for the work he was doing. He dealt with some highly complex electrical systems.
Once Dad was working at a substation when a crew came to repaint various parts of the substation. They had a number of standard safety procedures to follow. Dad was concerned about one fellow on the crew. He liked the fellow, but didn’t think the man was very bright. Dad was inside the shack when he heard an electrical explosion. When he ran outside, he found the painter had been electrocuted. He had violated one of the basic safety rules and had touched his brush to something live. Amazingly, the man was still alive, but he was badly burned. Dad administered first aid and called for emergency help. It took the painter many months to recover. Dad said that the man would have died had he not been a strong guy.
When I was in seventh grade, we had a massive snowstorm in the middle of March that shut down schools (and just about everything else) for a couple of days. Us kids were ecstatic. But we didn’t see Dad for three days. He was out working on power problems. The power in our home was out for almost a whole day. Dad made sure that our neighborhood was one of the first brought back on line. But the main line to Box Elder County had been destroyed. Some parts of that county didn’t get power restored for over eight weeks.
In the church, Dad served in the Elders Quorum presidency, in a bishopric, and on the high council. Dad was gone to meetings a lot on Sundays. And when he did come home between meetings, he frequently napped.
Next time, I’ll continue the story of American suburban life.