Beloved Uncles on Father's Side of the Family
By David Ririe
My father's four brothers were an inspiration
to me as well as father's sister's husbands. Each was an example of manliness
and righteousness to me. It is always with affection and esteem that
thoughts of their association with me come into my mind.
Joseph Ririe was my father's oldest
brother. My Dad said Uncle Joe was the most brilliant man he had ever
known. In my experience there are only about three persons who match
him in working hard. Dad told me that when Joseph was a youth he would
pitch hay until he became completely exhausted and then he would cry
because he was unable to do more. He carried this work ethic into his
farm operations and his community efforts.
It was often my privilege to work on
Uncle Joseph's farm during times when he needed extra help. He employed
Max and me at haying time and harvest time. We also worked at times for
our neighbors. Uncle Joe expected and received a full day's work from
us. At the end of the day exhaustion would be my lot, but Uncle Joseph
would have not only worked along with us, but prior to that he would
have milked his fine cows. And after we finished he would finish his
chores. It didn't leave much time for him to sleep and he didn't appear
to need much. He moved quickly and energetically. His fat to body weight
ratio must have been as impressive as that of a well-conditioned professional
athlete. When the day was over he paid us better than anyone else we
worked for and in cash. It always seemed to me that he was delighted
to pay us.
Uncle Joseph suffered with an ailment
that caused his hands to shake. It must have been embarrassing to him
and perhaps quite inconvenient as well, but he never complained. His
dairy cows were as nervous and fast moving as he was. One time I milked
his cows for several days. When the cows were released from the stanchions
they literally ran for the pasture. One soon learned to get out of the
way. Perhaps they were in a hurry, because they needed to eat a lot in
order to keep up the high production that they were noted for.
Uncle Joseph served for years on the
local school boards. He was not active in the Church, but he did help
sustain Dad on his mission and he also employed us to harvest his grain
and do his extra farm work which enabled us to live better. Uncle Joe
did serve a mission in England and I enjoyed hearing about his experiences.
He was an example to me in many ways,
but mostly because of his unexcelled work ethic.
My Uncle George, in his earlier years
was less active in the Church than his brothers. For that reason, and
the fact that much of his life was spent in California, I knew less of
him than his brothers. I did, however, observe his kind, good-natured
In our community lived a young man
who was in about the eighth grade when I started school. He had a nervous
disorder that caused him to jump constantly into the air. He moved about
like a hopping creature and when he became annoyed or excited he jumped
higher and more quickly. Unkind boys often teased him.
One day on the school grounds some
boys were teasing this young lad. My Uncle George, for reasons unknown
to me happened upon the scene. His righteous indignation was aroused
and he strode up beside the victim and faced the tormenters. Seldom have
I seen one man take on assailants with such force. He severely chastised
the boys and threatened them with great; bodily harm if ever they teased
or bothered Eddie again.
I don't know that Uncle George ever
knew that I had watched him in that fine hour of his life, but it will
always bring an admiring thought of my compassionate Uncle George to
mind whenever that incident is recalled.
Uncle George married Aunt Martha late
in life and became a father to her children by a previous marriage. They
moved to Fullerton, California where he died. I went to the funeral and
afterwards went to his home where I visited with his fine family. They
told me his favorite pastime was listening to his player piano.
I'll remember Uncle George as a kind
man. In my eyes he was great.
Uncle Parley was short of stature,
but big of heart. He and Aunt Edna lived with Grandmother Ririe for a
number of years after their marriage and he farmed his part of the original
homestead. In town there was a blacksmith, Jim Dickens, who had several
boys. Their mother, I believe had died. One of the young boys took a
liking to Uncle Parley and followed him everywhere. Before too long they
were such fast friends that Warren Dickens moved in with Uncle Parley.
Uncle Parley and Aunt Edna made a home for him and later the younger
brother named Blaine, and also if memory serves me correctly, a third
and older brother. The boys lived with them for several years before
they established homes for themselves.
Uncle Parley endeared himself to me
when he did many chores for us while Dad served his mission. He treated
Max and me like his own sons.
Uncle Parley loved football. I recall
watching the men of the town play a football game against the high school
team. Uncle Parley was the shortest player on the field. The high school
team had football suits and gear, but the men who opposed them had none.
I don't remember who won the game, but I do remember Uncle Parley's participation.
I watched him on every play. He was tenacious. One day while Max and
Uncle Parley were plowing, Uncle Parley fell off the plow and it ran
over him. His hip was severely fractured. For the rest of his life Uncle
Parley walked with a limp. He favored his bad hip until the other hip
also gave way. One time he told me that he had submitted to something
like a dozen hip operations. Having had one such surgery, I know somewhat
of the sufferring he endured. And through it all he kept smiling and
working. He was a courageous man.
Few people have I met that could go
through adversity and remain pleasant and unembittered to the equal of
my Uncle Parley.
He was a loving and a lovable man.
I remember my cousin Gayl, a nurse in the Idaho Falls hospital telling
me that the nurses fell in love with him while he was recuperating. I
can believe it. I loved him also.
The youngest brother was Uncle Eldon.
He was very handsome. It was my privilege to be in his classroom during
my sixth grade year. He was a very good teacher and taught for awhile
in Ririe before going to Clark as the school principal.
In our school there was an oversized
boy, nicknamed Moose, who had struck fear into all of the rest of us
with possible exception of Mark Freeman or Jack Mason, who weren't afraid
of anyone. One winter day Moose challenged Uncle Eldon to a duel with
snowballs. Moose put forth the rule. First they were to make a snowball,
then separate from one another by about ten paces. Then in turn they
would throw the missile at each other. Neither could turn around but
had to stand like a post with his back to the hurler. Uncle Eldon, of
course, refused. But Moose persisted. Finally Uncle Eldon agreed. I don't
know for sure, but I think maybe his show of reluctance was feigned.
Anyway Moose threw the first snowball and he missed Uncle Eldon. Then
Uncle Eldon took aim at Moose, who incidentally was a large target.
The ball flew through the air as straight as a Bobby Feller fast ball
and hit Moose squarely in the back of the neck. I was surprised that
Moose was not knocked unconscious. All of us enjoyed the result. Moose
asked for another round, but Uncle Eldon adamantly refused.
Uncle Eldon often showed up at my baseball
and football games. One day our school played Clark. Our coach, Jimmy
Johnson, asked Uncle Eldon, the principal at the Clark school, if he
wasn't afraid a member of our team would hit a ball far enough to break
a window in the school house which was behind the left field. Uncle Eldon
said no one had done it yet. Later he watched when I hit the best drive
of my entire life. The ball didn't break a window because it went over
them and landed on the roof. The umpire ruled it a ground rule double.
Uncle Eldon didn't even congratulate me. I wasn't the most powerful hitter
on our school team, so perhaps he spent the rest of the game worrying
about those vulnerable school house windows.
As a junior in High School, I was the
second string center on the football team. Uncle Eldon came to my games.
Late in one game, the starting center was hurt and I got into the game.
Uncle Eldon was right there beside me. He said, "Get in there and
don't you be scared.” It was just the advice and encouragement
Others will remember Uncle Eldon as
a fine teacher, a capable administrator, a dedicated Church worker, and
a faithful son to his mother. He was all of these and more, but I remember
him as the Uncle who was there when I had thrills on the school grounds.
He also influenced me to read books.
The first year that he taught school in Ririe he would meet me in the
hall with a book in his hand. Giving the book to me he would say something
like, "Here you might like to read this and return it to me when
you are finished. I did.
Uncle Eldon also had a sense of fairness.
Unknowingly, however, he once judged me unfairly. We had a pony name
Banjo that we rode. Once we passed Grandmother's house at the end of
a long day during which we had driven some calves home from the dry farm.
Max never cared much for riding, so on this day he was walking and I
was riding. I couldn't see why I should walk also, just because Max preferred
to walk. Uncle Eldon upon seeing us, scolded me for making my younger
brother walk while I rode the horse. It hurt then, but now it's an amusing
memory. Uncle Eldon, like my other Uncles, was fair and square and he
wanted me to be the same.
Uncle Eldon's death at an age when
most people are in the prime of life was a disappointment to me and to
everyone else in our community. Our high school yearbook was dedicated
to his memory, because he had taught most of us in grade school or in
Sunday School classes.
I remember my cousins, Leah and Eileen
Hoggan, saying to me, "Uncle Eldon is the best man in the whole
town." I believe they were right.
Uncle Gib Reading was considered to
be an old bachelor when he married Aunt Sylvia. He and his brother, Al,
were dryfarmers on Antelope. And great farmers they were. I am sure that
if the farmers of Antelope and Granite were rated by an independent judging
committee, Uncle Gib would have been right up there with the best of
them. In fact he might have been the very best. His farming always seemed
to be on schedule, his fields seldom had weeds, and his yields were good.
He was a neat farmer. One day for some
reason that I have long since forgotten, I turned a truck around on the
edge of a field that he had prepared for planting. He let both Dad and
me know of his displeasure with the deep ruts the truck caused, and I
didn't do it again.
One fall Max and I and a hired man
were harvesting a field of wheat adjacent to one of Uncle Gib's fields
at Granite. Max and I were anxious to finish the wheat harvest so we
could enter high school where the fall term had already begun. Our Allis-Chalmers
tractor had fast gears and we were traveling as fast as the little crawler
tractor could pull the combine. Uncle Gib had a slower tractor and whenever
he was alongside of us it was obvious that we were moving along at about
twice his rate of speed. Finally our good Uncle could not bear it anymore.
He walked along behind our machine, kicked aside the straw, confirmed
his suspicions, and then motioned for us to stop. He pointed out to us
that; we were pushing so much grain through the harvester that the threshing
was incomplete and wheat was being spilled out of the back of the machine.
He reasoned with us without shouting or putting us down. It had an effect.
Only when he was over the hill and out of sight did we resume the fastest
speed we could, whereas, on his side of the field, we crept along almost
as slowly as he did.
At family picnics, Uncle Gib was a
terror. He must have had connections with a Chinese Firecracker Works
because he always seemed to have a bunch of them. He would light them
when his target wasn't expecting it and laugh heartily when the explosion
occurred under someone's seat or beside his victim's feet. Many a scream
was heard when he was around.
He and Aunt Sylvia were very good to
us. Whenever Max and I were batching it we would be treated with good
food from their home and I assume the practice continued when my younger
brothers took our place.
Now that I have completed a career
in agriculture, I have seen many great farmers and I do appreciate their
proficiency. But in tribute to Uncle Gib, I can truthfully say he was
great as any of them and he was much more fun to be around than most
of them. He taught me to respect and even admire farmers who did things
Uncle Ivin Hoggan married Aunt Elizabeth.
When I first knew him, he and his family of girls were living on a farm
on Butler's Island and he was working the farm and also operating a harness
repair shop. I suppose, but am not really positive about it, that he
moved his harness business to Burley, Idaho because tractors replaced
horses on practically all of the dryfarms to the east and southeast of
Ririe. Because he lived a long way off for those times, we didn't see
the Hoggan family very often, but on the occasions when we did, it was
Dad and Unele Ivin arranged a salmon
fishing trip for us in the scenic Stanley Basin Upper Salmon River Country
of Central Idaho one summer. Uncle Ivin furnished all of our equipment.
He had been salmon fishing before -actually he referred to it as salmon
hunting. He had made up a spear for each of us and we took off in our
car for the head waters of the Salmon River. I've thought since that
we were equipped a little like Native Americans, or perhaps Hagar, the
Horrible, as we carried the spears along miles and miles of the creeks,
while straining our eyes in hopes of spotting, and spearing a spawning
salmon. We didn't see a single salmon, but I will remember that trip
as long as I live. Uncle Ivin was a good guide, a good host, and good
We continued our marvelous trip by
traveling over the frightfully steep Lowman Pass and on along the placer
mining areas of a stream leading to the Boise area. At one stage, Uncle
Ivin, who had been driving the car requested that Dad take the wheel.
The road was narrow and he was less familiar with the car than Dad and
therefore feared that his inexperience might imperil our lives.
At Boise we went through the state
Capitol Building. He, my Dad, my brother Max, and I climbed stairs to
the very top of the dome. For me it was a great adventure. Perhaps it
was this experience that inculcated within me a life-long interest in
state capitols. On that day we saw some women smoking cigarettes in a
restaurant, an uncommon sight in those times. Uncle Ivin looked at them
with what I felt was disgust and perhaps pity and said something like, "The
sad part of it is the women who smoke are worse fiends for it than men."
Uncle Ivin was a great Church worker.
I listened as he and Dad talked about their Church callings. I'm sure
this association was partly responsible for my testimony of the truthfulness
of the Gospel.
The last time that I remember Uncle
Ivin was in a period of his life when he was suffering with rheumatism.
We visited with him in the magnificent hot water pools at Lava Hot springs,
where he had gone for his health. He was ill for many years, but in spite
of pain, he was cheerful, in good humor, and faithful to his family and
He was a friend to me, and like all
of my Uncles, a worthy, example, a hero I could safely follow.
Return to David
Return to Family History Main