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The Family File

Hyrum Don Carlos Clark

My Father

by Weston R. Clark

Father to me was basically a man of mystery, a man who kept his own counsel and became thoroughly acquainted with few persons. His lifestyle seemed similar to a patriarchal family order somewhat after the pattern of his father, Ezra T. Clark. His reserve and rather dignified, serious minded no-nonsense posture tended to establish a sense of distance with his family, particularly the children. This at times led to a respectful fear of him and a tendency to approach him through mother for approval of things we wanted to do and have.

Father's tendency to always "tend to business" serious mindedly allowed little or no time for relaxation, sports, or pure family fun. For parts of several years we lived on a large ranch which provided opportunity for several sports, as fishing in the valley river that ran through our land, duck hunting, trapping for fur-bearing animals, sage hen hunting, and the like. Not once, however, were we - three sons - taught, participated with, or allowed time to enjoy such activities.

His stance of strict discipline and formality was not conducive to the development of close family unity of compassion and a feeling of being loved and desired. I do not recall expressions of love and caring by father to any member of the family. It was indeed customary for each of us to kiss father upon his departure for an extended trip and upon his return. And this we dutifully did. The warmth and love and caring, of concern and appreciation, were abundantly manifested by my mother. This formed the core of our family.

When I was a freshman in high school we moved back to Star Valley after living a few years in Logan. The purchaser of one of the ranches failed and we had the ranch back on our hand in a depression period.

Our pattern of living for the next few years was somewhat as follows. We moved to the ranch in the spring following the end of the school year. Father would leave me in charge of the ranch - with the assistance of my two younger brothers - while he was tending the farms in Farmington. My responsibility included irrigating the over 200 acres of meadows, which required maintaining dams in the sloughs and streams, repairing the fences, milking the cows as they freshened (up to 25 or 30), planting and caring for the garden, and so forth. Come haying time - around July 24 - father would come to the ranch and supervise the cutting and stacking of the meadow hay. (This operation was accomplished with the use of mowers, with six foot cutters, hand dump rakes - drawn by one horse, buck rakes using two horses, one on each side, and an overhead two-arm stacker, powered my two horses.) Haying time usually lasted until the second week in September, which meant we always started school late. At that time father would leave for Farmington to take care of affairs there, and we children would commute to school in Afton (7 miles by horseback or buckboard during the first two years) until late in the fall, when pasturing of cattle and our milch cows had ended. We would then move to Afton taking the cows that were still being milked and father would return and commute daily to feed a few hundred head of cattle at the ranch and haul a load of had to feed the cows in Afton.

In the heavy winter time I, with one of my brothers, would meet father's arrival, always after dark and often late in the evening - he with icicles hanging from his full beard. We would relieve him and unload the hay and stable the horses. This action plan continued for four years after which I spent six months at Utah State University, then relieved Father in March in feeding the cattle and hauling hay, thus making it possible for him to "go below," the family expression for Farmington.

Following this, I left for a mission and the family moved first to Logan and then to Farmington.

When I was grown and away from home, I realized that I had never come to really know my father. I had little person-to-person association with him throughout his lifetime. Our lives, when he was at home, seemed always to be associated with struggle and work from daylight to after dark.

Sunday was a day for church attendance. In earlier years we would even attend in Auburn - two miles from the ranch, when at times we would get stuck with our team and buggy along the ruts and mud of a dirt road. Family prayers each morning and evening on bended knee was a cherished practice, and of course the food was always blessed at the table. These are among the family practices instituted by father with the loving support of mother.

Father believed that idleness - not working - was the devil's workshop for his sons. He at times went to great length to provide work for us. Numerous interesting instances could be cited.

He believed that one social outing was quite adequate for my brother - next to me in age - and me, for the summer. But we required much more than this. In our earlier high school years we would ride horseback to weekend dances in Afton - putting on a pair of overalls to protect our dancing suits. This followed a day's work on the ranch and chores including milking 8 to 10 cows each. In our later high school years we had a family Model T Ford for our social dancing trips. The trend at that time was for open air dance halls in various locations in the valley with large traveling dance bands.

Having to pick up our dates and return them following the dance often caused us to arrive back at the ranch at a rather late hour. On one occasion it was daylight when we returned. Father was up and had brought the milch cows in from the pasture ready to be milked. My brother led off in meeting the situation "courageously." He greeted father with a kiss and of course I had to do likewise. It apparently so confounded father that he accepted us without comment. (If you are acquainted with H. D. Clark, you will recognize this as at least a minor miracle.)

Mother developed in her children a love and respect for father. This loving and prideful acceptance was enhanced by father's character as we came to know it and by his public reputation. We children were proud to be known as - and seemed to be respected for being - the children of H. D. Clark. We believed and accepted him to be a righteous and honorable man. Father was indeed a man of stalwart and principled character. His conduct was guided by principle. He was self disciplined and richly endowed with determination and perseverance.

This self-discipline was exhibited even in his eating habits. He would stop eating at a meal when he could enjoy eating more food. And although we were taught to eat all the food we had on our plates, occasionally father would finish up some food that a child was unable to eat. Combined with an active life, father therefore did not gain excessive weight when he reached middle age and beyond.

I recall that father and I in adulthood were the same height and he found it difficult to accept his being a bit shorter than I when he was nearing 80 years of age. He insisted that we measure and re-measure several times. He of course was not reckoning with the fact that persons do lose height in their later years.

Father apparently did single me out for some personal recognition when I was on my mission in Great Britain. As he learned of my mission activities including those associated with serving as a district president under the leadership of President Widtsoe, he came to see me with some real potential. He considered that one day I would be called to some high position, such as an apostle, in the Church. Such is yet another instance of the faith and expectation of a loving father for his son.

The two younger members of our family of five children were particularly fortunate in living at home with father when he and mother were settled in Farmington, the birthplace of each of them. Father, apparently seasoned and tenderized in his advanced years, was provided the opportunity to become lovingly acquainted with those at home on a one-to-one basis. My younger brother has reported to me a choice, loving and mutually respecting working and family-living relationship he had never before known. He came to know father as a warm, fair, friendly, and exciting personality; and to recognize him as a truly outstanding and great man.

Father stood up well under extreme adversity, being reduced to poverty from a status of relative wealth - by over extension of credit, though in good faith, to members of his own family. This tenuous credit situation was exacerbated by a period of adverse economic conditions nation-wide. Accustomed to owning and managing rich farm lands and a successful dairy in Davis County, large and well stocked cattle and hay ranches in Star Valley, houses in Farmington, Logan and Star Valley, he found himself at an advanced age stripped of all properties except an old family home in Farmington and reduced to even working for a wage on a daily basis in his home community, when he could find such work, necessary for a living.

Father, to me, was a man of great faith with deep and fundamental religious convictions and standards, and impeccable character. And, these values were observed consistently throughout his life. I have frequently stated over the years that although I may not agree with all of Father's major decisions, I credit him with acting in good faith and in accordance with his best wisdom at the time.

Hyrum D. Clark was my father and I loved, honored and respected him. I regard him as one of the choice select few who were pre-chosen by Our Heavenly Father for a distinguished and special mission here on earth.

(signed) Weston R. Clark May 6, 1983 Washington, D. C.

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