Friday, March 28, 2008

My First Slam Dunk

Louis Butler
Principal at Bessemer School
August 1953 - June 1960
August 1980 - March 1983

Lou was an elementary school principal for most of his career in education. (More about that in another post.) Needless to say, during those many years he had a lot of noteworthy experiences with teachers and students. We spent some really fun evenings listening to Dad tell his school stories, laughing so hard he had tears running down his cheeks! And as Mom would remind us, those stories got better with each audience. Fortunately for us, he recorded a number of those experiences, and I will post them from time to time.

During all of my basketball days, I wished that I could “slam dunk” a basketball. When I was assigned to Bessemer School and saw the 10-foot ceiling in the gym I was disappointed. But when I saw the 8-foot baskets I had an idea! Here would be my chance to slam dunk. I would just have to find a time when no one was around and when I had access to a basketball.

Late one afternoon after everyone was gone from the school except the night custodians (who were not working near the gym), I put on my coat, picked up my briefcase and took a shortcut through the gym to get to my car. As I started through the gym I spotted a basketball which had not been put away. So I put my briefcase down, took off my jacket and picked up the basketball. I looked at all of the windows around the gym to see if there were any children looking in. I could hear the high school boys playing basketball on the outside courts.

I dribbled the ball down to the basket, testing my street shoes for slippage and step. When satisfied, I took off on the other end of the floor and elevated for the dunk. As I slammed the ball down, instead of going through the hoop, it landed solidly on the rim! The resistance to my arm caused my feet to come up, and the gravity brought me down horizontally to the floor with a resounding thud!

As I lay there seeing stars from the bump on my head, I looked to see if there were kids looking in the windows, to see my disgraceful situation. Much to my relief, no one had observed my miserable failure to realize my long awaited dream of slam-dunking a basketball.

After clearing my head, I got up and tried it again, this time much more carefully and with less enthusiasm, but with successful and satisfying results.

And don't we wish we had a picture of that!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Highway Garage

Charles Llewellyn Butler
"Our pop and his pup"

Charles Llewellyn Butler
father of Jesse Llewellyn Butler
grandfather of Louis Edward Butler

Charles Llewellyn Butler (son of Henry Coddington Butler and Sarah Elizabeth Shockey) was born on Monday 26 May 1870, Lima, Allen County, Ohio. He was only four years old when his parents moved to Kent, Iowa and in his teens when they moved on to Nebraska, perhaps on the Oregon Trail.

He was married on Friday, 26 December 1890 in Lexington, Dawson County, Nebraska, to Cora Melvina Wisemiller.

Charles and Cora moved their family near Haswell, Colorado in 1908. They homesteaded two tracts of land for five years until 1913. They sold those two tracts in 1920 when Charles built the "Highway Garage" in Haswell.

C.L. Butler - Bob LaFollett - (unknown)
coal & water foreman - engineer - fireman

It is my belief that after Charles built the garage, in which his son Edwin (Jeff) was the mechanic, he worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad as the coal chute foreman.

Grandpa Butler spent most of his time at the Butler Garage. Uncle Jeff was the mechanic and Grandpa watched the front and sold the gasoline. But mostly, as I remember, he played cards while waiting for customers. There were always a lot of old men, and some young ones, playing cards most of the day. There would be lots of laughing and teasing about the game and a lot of talk about politics.

Men would come and go all day long, and it was usually in the summer when I was there and it was very hot. Chuck (my brother) and I would go back in the back of the garage where Uncle Jeff would be working on a car or truck and watch for a while, but that got boring pretty quick.

The following pictures were taken in front of the Highway Garage. The hotel was across the highway from the garage, and the Post Office was next door to the left (west).

On the right is Edwin "Jeff" Butler, the mechanic

Probably members of the Butler family

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Great Experience - Great Excitement - Great Blessings

Larry Austin - Louis Butler - Alvin Chambers
1st Stake Presidency of Pueblo, Colorado Stake

2 March 1974 - . . . about 8 p.m. Bro. Bruce R. McConkie called me back and issued the call for me to be the first president of the Pueblo Colorado stake which was to be created this weekend. I asked for Alvin Dean Chambers, a dentist, to be my first counselor and Lawrence Edwin Austin, a psychiatrist to be my second counselor.

Bro. McConkie met with Leona and me, and when he learned that she was the Stake Primary President, he released her right then!

We returned home and started calling others. Went to bed at 12:30 a.m.

3 March 1974 - We had an 8 a.m. meeting with Bro. McConkie and Bro. Wright, and then held our regular session of conference. Leona sang with the Relief Society Chorus, and it was really beautiful music. President Stoddard was released, and was sustained to be the Patriarch of the Colorado Springs Stake. It was very sad for me to see him released, as it seemed like the end of a great era for me.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie set me apart as Stake President. I later had the privilege of ordaining my brother, Charles Lee Butler, to the office of High Priest and setting him apart as a High Councilor.

Larry Austin - Louis Butler - Robert Shifflet
1st Counselor President 2nd Counselor

May 30 1980
Dear Pres. Benson [President of Council of the Twelve Apostles],
. . . reluctantly I feel that I must ask for the release of my First Counselor, Pres. Alvin D. Chambers. His health has caused me to have to give him extended leaves of absence on two different occasions, . . . and though he seems to be having less of his serious headaches . . . his situation is still very difficult.

I would like to nominate Brother Robert E. Shifflet to be the 2nd counselor and move Pres. Austin to be the 1st counselor.

I realize this is awfully late, but I had hopes that Pres. Chambers might recover sufficiently to return to the Presidency, but he isn't.

President Louis E. Butler

Lou enjoyed his service as the stake president and served willingly. One of the highlights of his service was the construction of the new stake center.

Comments from his talk at Stake Conference - January, 1982

Just a year and a half ago I stood before you in a Stake conference and pulled my hard hat out of a sack and put it on my head to let you know as forcefully as I could that we were going to build a new Stake Center. Now here we are in our first Stake Conference in this beautiful new stake center.

I came here to see the progress of the construction almost daily, and I was very proud of the quality of the construction. I thrilled to each wall completed, floor finished, plumbing installed, arrival of each order of furniture and equipment.

I have had a great experience - great excitement - great blessings these past few months.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Alert-minded Centenarian

I'm never certain how to identify the relationship of the extended family! But since this blog is focused on Louis Butler, I've chosen to use him as the point of reference. The readers will have to determine their relationship to him and then figure out the relationship to the featured person.
Louis Edward Butler
  • son of - Mable Elsa Davis Butler
  • grandson of - Charles Harker Davis
  • great grandson of - Rachel Wilson Patterson Davis
  • great, great grandson of - Nancy Overturf Patterson

Woman, 100 Journeys via Union Pacific and Says She Enjoys It
Article from a magazine of the Union Pacific Railroad, 1930

An alert-minded centenarian, who has outlived her eleven children, journeyed recently from Walla Walla, Washington to Denver, Colorado, over the Union Pacific, then to Pueblo and Fowler where she will live with her great granddaughter, Mrs. Frank Harriman.

She is Mrs. Nancy O. Patterson, twice a pioneer; first in Colorado and later in Washington, having lived in the latter state more than fifty years. Our train crews accorded her special attention en route, and at different points representatives of the Union Pacific met her, finding her in each case in the best of health and enjoying the trip.

Upon arrival at Pueblo, she told relatives that the Union Pacific employee had been so good and kind to her she was disappointed when she reached Denver and had to leave the train. Her friends at Pueblo placed a wheel chair at her disposal, but she refused to use it, saying she was perfectly able to take care of herself. She walked about two blocks to the automobile waiting to drive her to the home of Mrs. Harriman at Fowler.

Mrs. Patterson went to Colorado the first time from Illinois, with her husband, A.J. Patterson, when the eldest of her eleven children was 13 years old. Seven of the children lived to maturity. All now are dead, the last, Mrs. George Bailey, of Spokane, passing last May. A number of grandchildren are living, while there are great grand children, great-great grandchildren, and last Christmas day a great-great-great grandchild was born in Colorado, making the sixth generation.

Before leaving Walla Walla, open house was kept for “Grandma” Patterson under the auspices of the Altrusa Club. The club presented her with a Boston bag and numerous toilet articles for her journey. During her stop-over between trains at Denver she was the guest of the Altrusa club of that city.

Mrs. Patterson celebrated her one hundredth birthday, March 1, 1930.

[Grandma Patterson] told stories of living at or near LaJunta and Fort Bent when she would hide with the children when the Indians would be around. That would have been about 1863-1865. She passed away in Fowler October 1, 1931.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's a boy! It's a boy!

In a small notebook my mother had written about the day I was born, “On a cold Friday, the Doctor was called and there was very much excitement at 5 in the afternoon, the wonderful young husband went out on the front porch and called, ‘Ruth, it’s a boy! It’s a boy!’”

I was born on the 16th day of March 1923 at Haswell, Kiowa County, Colorado. It was a very small town, 96 miles east of Pueblo on Highway #96 and 30 miles north of the Arkansas River at Las Animas, Colorado. The population of Haswell was (and is maybe less now) about 200 people in the town itself. The population is greatly increased by the surrounding farms and ranches. The Missouri Pacific Railroad passes through Haswell and played a large part in my family’s life. I suppose the town was called Haswell because it “has a well.” But it is best remembered for the bad tasting water. My memory of the water is that whenever possible, we took water from the ranch to town if we were going to visit with my Butler grandparents very long – long enough to get thirsty!

I was born in the home of my parents, Jesse Llewellyn Butler, born 21 December 1898 and Mable Elsa Davis, born 20 July 1902. My father was raised in the town of Haswell and my mother had lived on a ranch 7 ½ miles northwest of Haswell. They were married on February 5, 1922 at the Davis family ranch.

Some birthdays through the years:

March 16, 1985 – I didn’t know at the time that Peter Elliot Butler, our grandson was born on this day in Saudi Arabia, on my 62nd birthday. How about that! A grandson on my birthday!
It is a real thrill to have a loved one born on your birthday; somehow it makes it special.

1987 - 64 years old
on a mission in Lawrence, Kansas

1988 - 65 years old
Denver, Colorado - Jim & Tesi's house

16 March 1990 – 67 years old today! I thought only old people ever became 67 years old!

Lou and Leona celebrated this birthday with a trip to Lucerne, Switzerland on March 12 with DeeJay & Roma Valentine. They took a train trip through the countryside near the Alps to Lucerne and then returned to Zollifoken by a different route. The scenery was beautiful and looked much like that in "The Sound of Music."

On his actual birthday, Lou had to stay late to do the posting at the temple, so Leona was by herself. She had to go to Zollifkofen to buy him a birthday present. She found a shop that sold men’s clothing, but she was so confused by European sizes that she walked out without a gift! He didn’t get any present that year – her German wasn’t very good and she couldn’t shop by herself!

year unknown. . .
Pleasant View, Utah -- Lou & Colleen's house

1992 - 69 years old
Yuma, Arizona - Tom & Carol's house

1999 - 76 years old
Don & Lynn's house

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Newspaper Celebrities - 1951

[In 1951, we] went back to Greeley for the summer sessions when school was out. We took [my parents'] trailer house up to Greeley and rented space between the football field and the baseball field. During the summer sessions, the college rented trailer space and there were many teachers from all over who came with their trailers just for the summer. We had a good time with them as most of the classes were in the morning and they were all around in the afternoon.

The following article was published in the Greeley Sunday Journal on June 17, 1951 and gives us a hint of the value Lou and Leona placed on education.

Playing host to more than 1500 visitors who have dropped into Greeley this week for CSCE's pre-school session has its headaches, this city has found. Providing housing accommodations for the students, many of whom have their families with them, is one of the major problems.

Close to 100 of the students have taken care of the situation by bringing their homes with them. Witness the trailer court which has blossomed on the campus just north of Jackson Field.

The Journal visited one of these families this week -- the Louis Butlers of Pueblo. Mr. Butler, a third grade teacher, is working for his AB degree and will finish up his work by correspondence at the close of the summer session here Aug. 17.

Top picture shows Mr. Butler studying in his trailer home while his wife keeps their four boys entertained. They are Eddie, five; Jimmie, 3 1/2; and the two year old twins, Tommy and Donnie.

Mail is delivered to a community mailbox on the side of one of the new utility building. Momma looks for letters while the rest of the family waits expectantly to hear from home.

Interrupting his studying to do the babysitting while Mrs. Butler does some shopping in downtown Greeley, Mr. Butler puts the covers over Donnie, one of the twins. Besides raising a family and teaching school, he has been piling up credits toward a degree since January, 1946. His plans were interrupted for six months last winter when he was called back into the Navy.

He and his family renewed many acquaintanceships while strolling about the campus this week.

How does this compare with your college experience?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Davis Grandparents

Della and Harker Davis

Lou's maternal grandparents were Vienna Fidella Sheaffer (also spelled "Shafer") and Charles Harker Davis. The following is taken from a personal history by Birdie Bell Davis Harriman, oldest daughter.

"Our folks were married in Springer, New Mexico, October 30, 1889 by Michael Keinan, Justice of the Peace and witnessed by her sister, Caroline Shafer and Mrs. Bell Herbert.

"Shortly thereafter they started west by way of Pueblo, Colorado to see his two uncles, Jerry and Norman Patterson and their families. He had been in a partnership with Uncle Norman in the sheep business after his father, John Davis, died.

"On this trip Mother relates how Daddy taught her how to make biscuits in the top of the flour sack. Traveling by covered wagon for two weeks, many experiences and interesting things no doubt happened. They landed at Uncle Norman’s tired, dirty, and financially embarrassed.

"Uncle Norman ran the City Dairy so Daddy went to work for him until spring, when they planned to “hit the trail” again for the state of Oregon or Washington. Daddy ran the “old Milk Wagon” with old Bill hitched to it who knew where to stop at every customer.

"Aunt Bell and Mother got busy and set up housekeeping in a lean-to building on the side of Uncle Norman’s house.

"Daddy sorta liked the dairy business, and besides he took a shift at the steel mill, so he bought an interest in the dairy and decided to stay on for a while.

"Anyway they knew by this time they would have an increase in the family that coming fall. But now they had bought a large tent, floored it and built up the walls about six feet and bought the furnishings to get along with."

Davis Children, about 1925
Rachel, Marjorie, Edna, Florence, Richard, Johnny, Garnons, Mable Lemuel, Floyd, Augusta, Norman and Birdie

Over the next 25 years that "increase" grew to include 14 children, 13 of whom lived to be adults. Harker and Della raised their family on the plains of southeastern Colorado.

Harker and Della Davis, early 1930s
Rachel Marjorie, Garnons, Richard, Birdie, Floyd, Edna, Lemuel, Johnny, Norman, Mable, Florence

Harker passed away in August 1940; Della died in February 1952. They left a great legacy of hard work and family love as illustrated by the histories written by some of their children. Those stories will be posted here from time to time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

These blessings I give . . .

Louis Edward Butler, 7 years old

As noted in a previous post, Grandma Mable was baptized in 1929. She was active in the Church from that time forward, and wanted her sons to be a part of the Church as well. In 1930, when Louis was 7 years old, she had him blessed in the church by a missionary who was serving in the area. Although Grandpa Jess did not join until 1932, he obviously did not oppose Mable's commitment as he recorded the blessing given to Louis.

Lambert Michie
We have no idea what he is drinking!

I was blessed as a child on March 19, 1930 by Elder Lambert M. Michie. My father made a copy of the blessing in his own writing and I have it here.

When we hear a Priesthood blessing given, we often think about the future and wonder how that blessing will be fulfilled. We know from Dad's life, that these simple words from so many years ago were inspired.

What a great legacy of faith and commitment we have as the Butler family!