Remembrances from"Family Ties," Past and Present
(Note: I transcribed the following three presentations from a tape recording I made at the family reunion in August, 2000. Other presentations were given, but these are the only ones I managed to get on tape, that turned out well enough to be heard and understood. - by Art Berg)
Clyde B. Russell
(Clyde and Mary Russell’s fourth child)
When I was just a young child, the thing I remember is my Father's kneeling for my nightly prayers with me, I just remember it. I don’t remember much about my childhood, but I remember that.
Then one about Mom (Mary Bannister Russell). Now this was when I was considerably older. I must have been about nineteen going on thirty-nine, or something. Because I was really quite in love. It was "BC": "Before Cathie (Nielson)." I had fallen in love with a young women named Nellie, I was just a beginning college student I guess at that time, I was probably a freshman, and I was getting acquainted with the Institute Group. This was at Cal Berkeley, so the institute group met on LeConte Avenue in a building on the hill just above the campus. Nellie was a graduate nurse, and was practicing, so she was a little older than I was. But that didn’t phase me. I was nineteen, going on twenty-four, so that was just fine with me. And she seemed quite taken with me, too, you know. And, I didn’t tell mother much about it. I think she met her one time. And then, I remember it very clearly, standing in the kitchen, up to the kitchen counter, one day. I don’t know what I was doing - making a sandwich or something, and mother just kind of quietly sidled up to me. She didn’t preach to me, I don’t remember her ever doing that. But, she said, "You know, Clyde, Nellie is ready to get married." Boy! She could have poured cold water on me, and it wouldn’t have had nearly the effect. That sure cut off that romance, I’ll tell you! She didn’t have to say anything else. However, by the time I met Cathie, I was ready to get married. And so, we did (after our missions!).
(Clyde and Mary Russell’s fifth, and last, child)
I’m the baby of the family. And so, a lot of things were already very traditional by the time I came along. I can remember one really big thing in our life, I have to tell you. And that’s why we’ve continued to have reunions out in the open where the trees are, and the water, and all the beautiful things over the years where we’ve had our reunions is because my mom and dad loved the outdoors so much.
I can remember Yosemite. You have to understand that dad worked for himself and never could take a vacation like you guys are having three or four or five days at a time. He couldn’t do that – so Friday night, he would pack up the car, ( mom would start during the day and he would come home and finish it at night). Our kids think we got up early to start off from Utah to California this trip – my dad did not go anywhere if he didn’t leave at three in the morning. It was not a trip, to my father, if we didn’t leave in the middle of the night. Why we went to bed, I will never understand. He always had a great big pot of milk already hot, on the stove, for our hot chocolate (we didn't have instant cocoa in those days). He had bananas and potato chips and snacks already in the car, for when we woke up from our first nap in the car, we had something to eat. He started us out every trip the same way. Well, anyway, we’d just get to Yosemite, and he would pitch tent and get us all up and running for the whole month, and then on Sunday night he would have to drive back four or five hours to Oakland and go back to work. And mother was left with five or six, seven or eight, kids, depending on how many went with us, with no car in the valley. We walked everywhere, and no man. Just her, and all these kids. And, so, when dad would come up on the weekends, we would do the things that mom couldn’t do with us alone.
So, we would go horseback riding, for one thing. And he would take us. We were very well known at the stables, and we would all get on our horses and we would all go out on the trail. And I don’t know how long out on the trail, ‘cause we went from four to five hours in those days, and came back, and somebody halfway along the way would say, "Gosh, you guys seem to really know each other," and we’d turn around and say, "Well, we should, we’re brothers and sisters, and that’s my dad," and what-not, and "Oh, I guess we left with the wrong group, we thought you were the guided tour." And, so my dad would just continue, he said, "That’s OK, we know it as good as the guided tour. Just stick with us -- you can’t go wrong."
And then the other thing I remember so well is our Christmases. I can remember, he was a, home movie fiend! OK? But, in those days, you didn’t have the nice little VCR recorder, camcorder things, that you have now. Let me tell you what you had to go through to get a home movie, and pretend that you weren’t there, taking it. OK? And the people who you were taking the movie of, had to pretend that they didn’t know that you were in the corner grinding away at this home movie camera with great big reflector lights in every corner of the room. There was these big bright lights with this big cardboard thing around it so the light all came into the room. And so, on Christmas morning, about five o’clock, we would all sneak into the living room, OK? However, at 4:30 in the morning – we weren’t supposed to know, and couldn’t let on – that there was a cameraman in the living room with all the lights in the world trained on you. We had to go in and poke around, and sneak around, as if no one was watching, and open up a little present. And then we were allowed to smile at the cameraman, and wave, and walk around in a big circle, eating our piece of candy, out of Lois’ candy she got that year, showing off my new baby doll, and, I think Clyde had puppy that year, that I remember, in the movie. These were wonderful, wonderful memories!
And, I agree with Lois’ comment that there was never an undignified comment made to us as children. We always had the respect of our parents. We were spoken to as though we would understand, and we behaved accordingly, because we knew what was expected of us. But it was always with a great deal of kindness. I told my grandchildren before we left Chris’ house in Santa Rosa, I said "You’re going to find out about your great-grandma and great-grandpa." And I said my fondest memory of my dad is that he "would kill them with kindness." That was his philosophy for everything he did. If there was no other way to get around something, "You kill them with kindness, and they will come around." And that’s what he did. And that was his philosophy.
Warren R. Berg
(Husband of Irene, Clyde and Mary Russell’s first child)
(In church, as a child…while my mother) was listening to the speaker, she noticed that I was crawling around, and under the chairs, and was very busy with my hands. I was feeling the nuts and bolts that held the chairs together. When I found a loose one, I would take it apart. That was the start of my craftsmanship career.
I was soon building model airplanes. Mother was so impressed with my work, that she took me to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on the day Charles Lindbergh made a public appearance to celebrate his historic, solo flight across the Atlantic -- 3614 miles, nonstop. His successful flight was celebrated with more attention, more praise, more confetti-strewn parades and more publicity than probably anyone else in history even up ‘til today. He was a very skilled person. He pretty much designed his own airplane and supervised the building of it by the Ryan Aircraft Company. It cost $10,580, weighed 2,750 pounds, which included 451 gallons of gasoline. He named it The Spirit of St. Louis. On that day in Liberty Park, I met Lindbergh and showed him a model I had made. He praised me and gave me a gold coin commemorating the flight, his picture and the date embossed on one side, and his airplane, The Spirit of Louis (sic), embossed on the other. That is one of my revered treasures. I was seven years old at the time.
When I reached my teens, I was interested in motors and cars. I put a gasoline engine on my bicycle. It would go 25 to 30 miles per hour. Then I got a more powerful, motorcycle engine and made a midget racer car to put around it. The Texaco dealer said that if he could have a Texaco logo painted on it, he would supply me with all the gasoline I wanted for it. That was a good deal for me. I displayed the car in a high school talent show. I was 14 to 15 years old. I had no power tools. All work was done by hand. I even had California license plates on it so I could drive it anywhere, anytime. At that time, midget car racing and a 1/6 mile track in Emeryville, was very popular. That is about the size of the running track around a football field. The cars would go 60 miles an hour around that track. Imagine the thrills, going that speed on such a small track, especially with up to 15 cars racing together, sliding sideways, throwing dirt up in the spectator’s stands with their spinning, knobby tires. There were no mufflers, so the noise was incredible. They could be heard loudly from where I lived, in east Oakland, near the temple. During the racing program, there would often be special demonstrations. One such, was promoted as a very special race between me, with my homemade car, against a younger boy, whose car was professionally built. It was more powerful than mine, and was driven by the shipping magnate, Stanley Hiller’s, son. He later went on to develop the Hiller helicopter and a large aircraft company. Well, with much fanfare, the race began. On the straight-away’s he would take the lead, but in the turns, I would pass him up. That was the pattern through the entire race. Coming out of the last turn, me ahead, the finish line was in the middle of the straight stretch, and, of course, he passed me and won. These two are very vivid events in my youth.
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