Life on 900 West in Old Pleasant View

On either side of the south end of 1100 West, once known as the Jensen-Ferrin lane, are the homes of my Great Grandparents, James Jensen and Sophia Jensen, and my Grandparents, Joseph Jensen and Ethel Jensen. James came to Pleasant View in 1878 and opened the first Pleasant View store in an adobe home owned by Willard Cragun. He partnered with Edward Wade and did very well until the store was burned down by an arsonist. Discouraged with merchandising after the loss of his store, he turned to growing and shipping fruit. My grandfather, Joseph, continued the tradition of growing fruit. Some of my earliest memories are of his farm and home, where I lived during the first couple years of my life. Like many other men, my father, Reinhart Kowallis, had enlisted in the Second World War. He wasn’t around for my birth but returned to celebrate my second Christmas at the Grandparents’ home. He put me in his army knapsack and walked the hills above Pleasant View with me and Mom (Norma Jensen Kowallis). The view, even for an 18-month-old child, was breathtaking, and the hills above PV became my favorite hangout for the rest of my young life.

Cheryl’s mom Norma, next to President George Albert Smith Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1948. This is in her grandparents home, with other relatives and the Geaner girls. Cheryl is the littlest up front w_ co

Shortly afterward, Dad bought property from Lawrence Harris, just above the Church on 900 west, and there, he built a little cinderblock home with a red roof. He added rooms and barns as we needed them. He raised fruit trees, strawberries, raspberries, a tall black walnut tree, vegetables, pigs, an occasional steer, horses, and little Maltese dogs, which he sold for extra money. Lawrence Harris gave me a kitten, which began many generations of cats. On our two acres, I and my four siblings, Kent, Jill, Bart, and Kim, could find summer food in the yard for snacks and plenty of places to play hide and seek, tag, or hold contests of who could jump the highest or balance successfully on the thin board around the pig pen. There were plenty of chores to teach us work responsibility. This was a great place to grow up and to watch life in the town develop. One of the earliest significant things that happened in my life was the visit of the Prophet of the Church, George Albert Smith. Mom led a class of 19 Gleaners who had all earned their Golden Gleaner award. This was the highest award a young woman could earn back then. She wrote to President Smith, explaining that, in the 50 years since the Pleasant View Ward was organized, it had never been visited by an Apostle or Prophet, and that her Gleaner girls would be very honored to have him come to their Binding of the Sheaf ceremony. Mom could be very determined when she got an idea, and in this case, Heaven was on her side, because President Smith accepted the invitation. Along with the Gleaner award ceremony, President Smith would speak to all members of the ward in the old Pleasant View church on February 29, 1948. I was 3 years old, and Mom taught me a poem to say for the Prophet. Even though I was young, I remember seeing his car pull into Grandpa Jensen’s driveway and the excitement of my Mother and Grandparents and all the girls as he entered for the planned reception in Grandma’s tiny living room. A picture was taken, which has been shared many times since that occasion. One of my Aunts, Glena Jensen Marriott, and one of my husband Lynn’s Aunts, Helen Humphreys Pettingill, were among the Gleaner girls.

Shortly after that, the old church building was torn down. All the town came to the demolition site to clean mortar off bricks, pull nails, and carry lumber– including me at about six years old. The new building was to be financed by members of the ward, which is why it was important to save used building materials. All the PV ward met in the packing houses of Morm and Paul Cragun while the new church was built. Everyone donated what they could to the building fund and patiently dealt with having meetings in crowded sheds. We finally began meeting in the basement of the unfinished building in the fall of 1951. I had a small part on the dedication program in 1952, and was quite impressed to meet Apostle Matthew Cowley, who came to perform the dedicatory prayer.

Behind the Church was a wonderful grove of large trees. During the summer, a recreation program from the county used the grove to provide entertainment for us kids. A zip line was put up between the trees. What a ride! None of us had seen anything like that before! A storyteller was also provided: Fern Taylor from North Ogden. I will never forget the thrill of listening to her stories.

There were only two homes on 900 West when we moved onto our property. Lettie Ferrin lived in a home across from the Church. She had an amazing saltshaker collection that I loved to look over. At the top of the hill was the home of Mack and Faye Wade. Mack, the county sheriff, owned a ranch up near the mountains. He was a big, tall cowboy with a booming voice that many people remember as our local John Wayne, a great fellow!

Before long, other folks began to move in above and below us. Lettie Ferrin’s son, Clarence, moved in above her home. His wife, Lillian, became a friend to my Mom, and their three girls, Carolyn, Rosalie, and Coleen were friends to me and my sister Jill. The Fackrells, moved into the former Loyal Gooch home on the road connecting 900 W. with 500 W. at the top of the hill. There were several children in the Fackrell family, with the oldest girl being a year older than I was. One Sunday during my teen years, I remember standing outside in our yard and hearing screaming as a covered jeep sped out of control down the road. It was the Fackrell kids who had started out for Church, and as they began down the steep hill, the brakes failed. The jeep hit a barrier pole at the bottom of the lane, flipped over, and landed upside down on the ball diamond. Miraculously, none of the kids were seriously hurt in that wild ride. My dad, Reinhart, who was trained in First Aid, was one of the first to reach the scene and give help to the shaken young people. The oldest girl, perhaps named Myrna, who had been driving, had put out her arm as the car crashed in the hope of somehow catching or protecting the others. Her arm was broken, but it later mended.

One of my favorite places to go with my two adventure buddies, cousin Karla Garner (Jensen) and my friend Bethie Rhees (Maughan), was the Hollow, which ran along at the top of 900 West. We could walk from my house, up the road, and into the “secret” trail that ran in the bottom of the Hollow. There, a canopy of trees hid all the world from view. We would sit on a grassy bank, eat a picnic lunch, and listen to the little stream and the calls of scores of birds that were never heard anywhere else. Often, we tried to find the grave marker of the Indian who was supposedly buried somewhere in the Hollow. We never found it but found our share of stinging nettle. If we washed the nettle scratches promptly in the stream, they didn’t cause much harm. Along with our “Nancy Drew Club,” which we held in the attic of Grampa Jensen’s original one-room house (used in my time for grain storage), and trips to the great rock on the hill known as Hunt’s Rock, we found plenty of adventure and opportunities to use our imagination. From the top of Hunt’s Rock, we could see the wide world, and imagine what Indian might have camped in the nearly inaccessible cave on its west side.

The grove at the Church is gone now, and homes crowd around the Hollow. Hunt’s Rock is blocked off by housing development and gravel excavation, and Grandpa’s little original home where grain was stored is boarded up, but the memories will never be forgotten.

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