Saturday, July 25, 2009


David and I were first cousins and as thick as thieves when we had the opportunity. We lived in the same town only briefly, but whenever we got together we picked up where we left off as if we'd never been apart. There was only six months difference in our ages. His mother and my mother were sisters, and our families got together quite regularly, even if we were states apart.

During WWII while my father was overseas my mother and I lived with her parents in a small town in Utah, Brigham City. David and his mother came to visit once that I remember. We would have been about four years old. I don't remember much about the visit except that it was great. We visited them in Phoenix six months to a year later; that I do remember. We went to a drive in theater to see Snow White. I remember when the witch appeared in the mirror I was scared to death. This was the same kid who ran from the theater screaming in fear when King Kong filled the screen. This time I did not run. With David present I couldn't lose face, even if that witch eliminated both of us. At least we'd croak together.

For several years following the war my family lived in southern Idaho; David and his family always lived in Phoenix. Both of our families usually went to Brigham City for one or two weeks at the same time every summer. This continued until we were out of high school. We would go hiking, fishing, shooting, hunting, play foot ball(scrounging up various uncles and cousins to make up teams) and other activities like family picnics in the mountains. One year we went to Yellowstone with our mothers' other sister's family, complete with cousins of our age. We stayed in cabins at Fishing Bridge, which we decided was very poorly named. We discovered a number of large trout right near the bank, in water too deep for us to get into. We tried everything we had in our tackle box as well as Uncle Dave's tackle box to no avail. We even tried snagging them with a large treble hook without result. Then to add insult to injury on the last morning we were there Uncle Leon took his boys (two, our age) fishing in a rented boat on Yellowstone Lake. Probably complete with guide. They got up early in the morning and snuck off like thieves in the night; at least that's how David and I looked at it. Result: Leon and boys many fish, Mike and David, zero.

One time we went hiking part way up the mountains east of Brigham City to an area called Flat Bottom. Flat Bottom was like a dry beach, which is what it is. It is the shoreline of prehistoric Lake Bonneville. Anyway, some friends of our grandparents had a farm part way to Flat Bottom and on that farm was an irrigation pond. We had permission to go up there and fool around, although I don't think they knew what we did. We discovered that this pond was full of lily pads, moss, dead trees and FROGS. David said his dad had frog gigs in the trunk of his car and we should borrow them and gig frogs. For those who have never done this, frog gigs are small(approximately four inches across) and with about four tines. They look like small pitch forks. You put them on the end of a stick, small limb, etc. and presto! Well, you can imagine the result. Uncle Dave had them to gig frogs along the canal banks in Phoenix for frog legs. Whether he ever did that or not I don't know.

David asked his dad if we could borrow his gigs. He said no. This was no problem. Uncle Dave took a nap in the basement every afternoon. After he was asleep David took his car keys, got the frog gigs out of the trunk and then replaced the keys. The next morning we were off to the pond. Like all 13-14 year old boys we had canteens, packs, etc. We got to the pond and got right with the program. The frogs were in big trouble. After awhile. I spotted a frog on a lily pad that I could reach only by going out on a dead tree that was hanging horizontally over the pond, bracing myself on a dead limb and stretching out as far as I could reach. There was a loud CRACK! as the branch broke and I went head first into the scummy mossy pond, of course fully dressed including canteen and pistol belt. I was fished out alright, but now we had a real problem. I had to get dry, descummed and demossed before we could go back to grandma's and replace the stolen frog gigs. We pulled it off; I told Uncle Dave this incident just a few years before he died. He knew nothing about it.

Our mothers' brother Dean lived in Brigham City and introduced us to shooting rats at the City landfill. That was great sport. The land fill was such that there was nothing around it but open space. The best shooting was to go below the landfill and shoot into the landfill so you had a good backstop. Best hunting was in the evening, beginning just as the sun was going down and lasting until dark. I continued this until I was in medical school. We were just doing our civic duty. The City, in some misguided ordnance, stopped it sometime in the 60's. PETA probably put them up to it.

On one of our hikes we discovered a covey of Scaled or Gambel's quail. We promptly went to Dean's office and asked him if there was a quail season in Utah. He said no, there was no season. Before this discussion David had borrowed a .22 from Uncle Dean. I had brought my own gun with me to Brigham City. The next day we gathered up guns, matches, canteens and cooking gear and took a hike up the mountain to Flat Bottom, where we had seen the quail. Sure enough we got into them, flattened several, cleaned them, cooked and ate them. We decorated our hats with quail feathers and continued our hike through the mountain to Mantua, a very small town, got on the highway and hiked back to Brigham City. We arrived at Uncle Dean's office in late afternoon. He took one look at us festooned with quail feathers and asked “Where did you get the quail feathers?” We said we shot quail and ate them. “Using my gun?” “Sure. You said there was no season, so we figured we could have a go at them.” “When I said there was no season, I meant they were totally protected. There is no season ever.” Oh, well. We apologized and Uncle Dean did not make David return the gun.

We moved to Arizona in 1951, landing in Phoenix in September. We rented a house just a few blocks from David, near 16th St and McDowell. The next nine months were really great. We went to the same school and same church. We went Halloweening, school and church dances and parties, scout outings, etc together. Occasionally on a Friday night I would stay at David's and we would get up early(like 0400 early) and ride our bikes to Encanto Park where we would spend all day or at least until we were tired and hungry, whichever came first. I think we sometimes took a lunch if we could con Aunt Mary into making one for us. At Encanto we would fish, ride paddle boats or other boats and generally do great boy things. When the State Fair came along in November we rode our bikes there and had a great time. They had horse races at the State Fair in those days, complete with betting. We thought the races might be fun to watch so we went to the grandstand and just walked in. No one was selling or taking tickets. We sat down in a box at the finish line and watched a couple races. It got boring because of the long time between races, which allowed the bettors time to place their bets and get back to watch the race. When we left there was a ticket taker at the entrance who fortunately was looking for incoming not outgoing traffic. We discovered then that our box seats were worth about $5.00 a pop.

We moved to Tucson when that school year was over. From then on our contact was limited to Brigham City, and times when our families would get together. We did manage to get in some hunting and fishing, ball games and golf. We both took up golf about the 8th or 9th grade. One time David left a putt about 6 inches short and asked if I would give him three blows(blowing with air from his mouth.) Sure, I said, no way could he get the ball in the hole that way. Two puffs and it was in.

We did not see each other as much once we became adults, which is a pity. David was always my David. I love and miss him. I am sure he is waiting for me to join him on an expedition to the Heavenly landfill, frog pond or golf course. And no, I won't give you three blows.


  1. The picture is of David, taken in Brigham City in June of 1942.

  2. I still remember how fun he was at Camp Geronimo that time he was there when we were. I've always loved hearing the stories of you two as boys. I love that picture. I'm sorry he's gone, Dad. I know how much you'll miss him. This was a lovely tribute.

  3. It was great that you shared so many good times as children and that he remained a good friend through the years as an adult - a rare situation as time and distance many times creates too great a void. Great memories of a great man.

  4. I'm learning that is a rare delight to have childhood friends who you can still pick up with as an adult. And it's even better when you're related to them. I enjoyed reading about your exploits with David, as always. I'm sure that if there is a landfill in heaven you two will be shooting the angel rats.

    I also love the picture, btw.