Clarence and Yvonne Barrus
by Yvonne Barrus
Well -- your Dad begged me to come with him to Sugar City for a family New Year's dinner. I was not ready for that and declined. We started dating. We went to a lot of movies and went to Jack's Chicken Inn for dinner. (That was located on South Yellowstone and I believe it burned down. The Stardust was put up in it's place by the Falls and of course was bigger and better.)
We also went to Sugar City very frequently where I met his father, mother, Calvin and Grant. They seemed like really nice people. Then one time Aunt Janet came while we were there, when Elaine was a toddler and had just learned to walk. Once we went to a recital that LaRue and LaMar Jr. gave and I met Uncle LaMar's family. We sat by Uncle LaMar and I told him what talented children he had and he was very modest and he said they worked pretty hard. LaRue was so nice I thought as she came out to the car to visit.
Your Dad invited me up to family dinners frequently and I was very shy. I could tell right away they were a special family. I was impressed with the family togetherness and mostly the love and respect they showed the children, and there were a lot of them, and how well behaved they were. I liked the musical programs they had - It stood for more than playing an instrument or singing a song.
Your Dad was crazy about the kids and they liked him. I felt awkward as I wasn't used to kids.
We also used to go on saturday nights, at times, to the home of a couple your Dad knew, had dinner and then always watched Lawrence Welk. This was your Dad's favorite TV show. Another couple we knew, and played pinochle with, was John and Pat Hale.
We also went to Malad, and Grandma and Grandpa liked Clarence very much.
Your Dad and I had the same ideas on how to manage money. He seemed to have a good sense on money matters.
He seemed to love children and he came from a family who truly had family togetherness, with no apparent marital problems. They all seemed to have their heads on straight. They all knew where they were going and were going about it in the right way.
Your Dad had a unique sense of humor and we enjoyed each others company. I remember telling my friend Gayle that he was well-worn, rugged and funny.
Well I fell in love with him and wanted to marry him. One night I told him I was thinking about joining the Wac's or the Wave's and I'll be darned if he didn't propose a week later! I said I would have to think about it and so in a couple of weeks I told him yes. A month later he gave me a diamond and we were married July 13, 1956.
Grandma and Grandpa came up to Idaho Falls and we went to the court house and Judge Collier married us. Grandma and Grandpa took us to the Bonneville dining room and we had dinner and then went to the craters of the moon.
I remember I had on a darling medium blue suit and was hopping around on lava rocks and scratching my new patent leather hi-heeled pumps. We stayed the first night at Sun Valley. I wore my new blue pant outfit (Everything was blue). I remember walking around the beautiful grounds and the swimming pool. Then we went to Salmon, Helena, Montana and toured a mine deep within the earth. Then toured the Anaconda smelting mill, went through a lumber mill, stopped at the state prison, Virginia City, Lewis and Clark taverns, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, then on to Mountain View to visit and meet Uncle Alton and Aunt Maurine and family. Then on to Ogden to meet Uncle Austin and Aunt Fern and family. We came home after ten days.
I remember your Dad taking $300.00 for our Honeymoon and I thought what a lot of money that was, but we brought a lot of it back because neither of us liked spending too much money. Our home was the Belair house for two years. Meda had moved out by then and you know the rest of the story.
Our next door neighbors to the north were Parley and Janice McLain. He was a police officer and they also played pinochle with us. Carol and Dale Boughman were also friends and I remember them going with us to Jackson Hole for a day.
I thought Clarence's relatives were wonderful. I found them to be a musical family. It seemed that all of the brothers and sisters children took music lessons except Alton's family and they lived in Mountain View, Wyoming. There were a lot of children and I felt over whelmed. Keith had 5 children, Fern 4 children, Rondo 6, LaMar 3, and Alton 2. Calvin and Grant were bachelors and lived with their father and mother. We went to Sugar City to visit his relatives every two weeks or so. Clarence's mother had fair health but his Dad's health was not good. I only heard him speak a few words. He would just sit and listen to us talk. He died the day Clair, our first child, was born. Someone said they passed each other on the way. Clarence loved his father and mother and brothers and sister. They all treated each other with great respect and all seemed to have a little humor about them. They especially got a kick out of some of the things Clarence would say. His humor was original.
Clarence and I were well up in age when we married and we wanted to hurry and have a family, so when I didn't conceive we went to Dr. Bills with our concerns. He did some tests on both of us and found that I was the problem and so he corrected it, which was supposed to be temporary, and soon we were expecting our first baby and lo and behold sixteen months later a second and twenty one months later a third and thirty seven months later a fourth.
Clarence, in talking about his coming children, believed they should be raised in the Church and should learn to be honest, upstanding, God fearing citizens. He especially believed they should learn to be hard working - he said, "It wouldn't hurt them to learn how to clean toilets when they are young."
Clarence was always talking baby talk to his kids even when they were well past the baby stage. I wondered if they would speak english when they grew up. I remember him teaching Clair how to count. He promised him a training bicycle when he counted to, I believe, 1,000. So he got a kick out of teaching Clair how to ride his bicycle. Clarence was really good about fixing things the minute something needed a repair job and so Clair liked "Helping" his Dad. Clarence was not quite as patient as when teaching him to count.
Clarence would call Clair "Old Boy", Yvette he called "Vette", he called Tracy "Trace" and I can't remember that he called Sheila by another name or not. He would really laugh at some the things they would say and do. He would tell them bear stories about when he herded sheep. He took us one time up in the mountains where he set traps many many years before. In our travels, every time we passed a lonely old cabin, Clarence would joke about how he would like us to move there and we would be far away from people. I believe he was half serious.
When Clair was older he helped him get a job at the Post Register as a paper boy. He was very supportive in the kids taking piano lessons and also Clair and Yvette playing the clarinet, Tracy playing the flute and Sheila taking singing lessons. He also went to their recitals, band and choir concerts and was really proud of their accomplishments. He would always be at Clair's scouting award night and to Clair's camp. After every special event he would take us out for ice cream.
Clarence took us to a few family reunions for the Barrus' up to Jenny's Lake, and in the mountains where he had herded sheep. We took Calvin and Grant with us once to Yellowstone Park and Virginia City. It was very difficult to go on picnics when the children were young, as a couple of them had Calix disease and when Tracy was very young she vomited very often when she was fed, and I declined further invitations until they were older.
We laughed over that and so did others who he told his beliefs to. He had a disgust for people who were lazy and he would tell of men who would want a meal at the cafe and then could not pay for it, so he would have them pull weeds around the cafe. To one very large muscular man he said, "It looks to me like you are big enough to know how to work"! Clarence believed that a man should be willing or even eager to work at anything, even digging ditches if necessary to make a living. He also believed that our children should get as much education as possible. I was happy about the beliefs he had as they were my beliefs as well. We put away so much money for our kids education with the idea that they would work and earn money as well. We also put away money for other things which was used for illness and later to help Clair and Tracy on their missions. Clarence, as well as the rest of his family, was a great believer in never going into debt. Many times when Clarence and his brothers would get together the main topic of conversation would be money, work, and music. They all believed in "Don't buy anything until you have the money in the bank to pay cash for it." Take care of what you have, make do with what you have, and take care of it and put your money in the bank and then you have money to help educate your kids and money for a rainy day. Again I was happy for these views as they were also mine.
Clarence was pretty happy when we found we were expecting a baby. He was very happy to be a father of a boy, as he was to be the father of a girl, then another girl and still another girl. Not too many fathers have three girls and he was happy with every one. I remember one winter evening shopping for a bassinet. It must have been during the holidays when the stores stayed open until late. After four children and so close together we decided this was all we could handle. He was 54 years old and his nerves were not as good as they used to be and our family was having medical problems as well.
We also took trips to Malad to see mother, Dad, Paula and Terry and family. When the kids were older they would stay a week or two in Malad in the summer time. He felt as I did that they shouldn't be away from home for very long. Once we made a trip to Mountain View when Clair was a baby to see Alton And Maurine. We took Clarence's mother and also Grant. We stayed at Malad over night. Mother Barrus and Grant stayed at my Grandmother's house and we stayed at mother and dad's. once Clarence took Clair and Yvette to sugar City while I stayed home with Tracy and I worried all the time that they might fall in the canal. Clarence took us a few times to the fourth of July fireworks. We would spread out a blanket on the grass for the kids and Clarence and I would sit in lawn chairs and I would hold the youngest and wrap her in a blanket. The first year Sheila covered her eyes and ears through the whole thing. The next year she just covered her ears. She was about four years old before she could stand it at all.
I can remember Yvette sitting in her Dad's lap reading very fluently to him. I can remember her jumping up and down while he was finishing breakfast asking him for some money for school and he would talk baby talk to her. Clarence made a swing in the back yard and how the kids enjoyed having him push them. Sometimes he would pull them behind the car on a sleigh and go in circles in front of Demotts Tractor Co.
Clarence would always have a few french fries for the kids to eat on their way home from school and I'd want him to give them something nourishing like celery or carrot sticks.
Clarence was very supportive in having good medical care for Tracy. I remember having a big sense of relief when he said, "If it takes every dime we have to get Tracy better we'll do it." That was music to my ears. I needed to hear that. I remember one time when Keith came over to see how Tracy was doing and I was bathing her half starved little form and I was weeping and Keith went into the play room and Clarence was weeping also. This was about the time when I needed mother and dad near, so Clarence called then and they came up and stayed a day or two. A couple of times when we had to take Tracy to Salt Lake we dropped Clair and Yvette off at Malad and we stayed all night at Fern and Austin's. When Tracy spent a month in the Children's Primary Hospital, I stayed with Marne; Yvette and Clair stayed with Grandma and Grandpa and Corinne said Clarence would stay up half the night painting the kitchen and dining room or whatever needed to be done. I'll never forget how one day at the hospital I was waiting for the elevator and the door opened and there stood Clarence. I was never so glad to see anyone and I just sobbed when I saw him. One Sunday, LaMar Sr., Rondo, Keith, Dad and Clarence surrounded Tracy as I held her and a blessing was pronounced that she would get better and have a fruitful life as she had a mission to perform here on this earth. I believe LaMar Sr. gave the blessing and LaMar Jr. played the violin before the blessing.
Whenever the kids had a birthday we would go over to the cafe and have supper so we could be near Clarence. He took me out to dinner on my birthday and our anniversary and sometimes to a movie afterwards. We usually went to Ada's Cafe. Some movies I remember are: Sound of Music, Dr. Zivago, and Sparticus with Kirk Douglas. which was one of the greatest movies I'd ever seen. I just wept. I remember my Grandma was with us one time, she visited us from time to time.
We went to family receptions in Sugar City and to my sisters wedding in Salt Lake City in which Yvette and Tracy were flower girls and Clair was the ring bearer.
Clarence and I took our kids to church almost every sunday. When Tracy was eleven months old she started going down hill health wise and we decided to take turns taking the kids to church as we didn't want to expose Tracy to anything as we thought she would surely die if she caught anything. Clarence was ordained an Elder on September 5, 1971 by Bishop Pfost. He was called to be Bishop Pfost's home teaching companion. Every time he came to pick up Clarence he would have us kneel down and have Clarence ask someone to give a prayer and he would ask Bishop Pfost to do it. He would always pronounce a blessing on our family. The Children loved it during these occasions and I realize now what a preparation was being made for the tragic event to come into our lives. Terry Hopkins who was the Elder's Quorum President was a frequent visitor also and he would occasionally bring his family to the cafe for supper. Clarence was called to be assistant clerk. He would often go to priesthood meeting with Jess Malmberg who lived down the street by the Blue Bell Service Station. Our first Bishop was Benson Allen who was very kind and mindful of us. I learned through the grapevine that he was the one who was responsible for us receiving the Ensign every month. He moved away and then we had Bishop Jones. At that time we were asked to be chairmen of the ward supper and Clarence made a big pot of stew and everyone said how delicious it was. Clarence said he felt like he should have been paid for the stew. Then Dean Pfost became Bishop with Terry Hopkins, Gordon Hughs and then Gene Browning as Counselors. Al Maughn was also our bishop. Somewhere in there Bob Rapp and Dick Williams were counselors.
When we were first married I thought it was darn inconvenient for someone to have a birthday on Christmas Eve as Clarence did. Then when Corinne told me of their Christmas Eve program and refreshments I was impressed! So we started a tradition! We invited Mother, Dad, Paula, and Marne for a Christmas Eve birthday party. We had a Christmas dinner, then Clarence opened his birthday presents and then we had a Christmas program. The kids and I had practiced and practiced the Christmas Story play. Clair dressed as a shepherd and Yvette as an angel and I was narrator with music at the right moments. The next scene found Yvette dressed as Mother Mary holding Tracy as Baby Jesus and Clair as a wise man. We received a great applause as we bowed. Then we had songs, poems, and stories relating to Christmas. Clarence as well as the rest seemed to enjoy this evening very much so we continued this activity every year and it has become a tradition.
One bright spring day Clarence went to work about 11:00 A.M. as usual and about 1:30 P.M. I got a call from Keith at the hospital saying Clarence had had a heart attack. When he had seen Clarence sitting in the back of the Cafe looking very distressed he quickly loaded him into the car and took him to the hospital. After they arrived he was unconscious and had stopped breathing. The medical personnel quickly worked on him and revived him. Dr. McMillan who was one of the best was called and Clarence was moved into the intensive care unit. I walked to his bedside and told him I was there and everything was going to be OK. His hand was cold and clammy and he did not respond that he knew I was there by squeezing my hand. Just then the Respiratory Therapy Team came, in which Ruth Malmberg was the therapist and she expressed disbelief that this was Clarence she was called to work on. I asked the doctor how serious it was and if I should call relatives and he said, "Yes, it was serious and yes, I had better call the relatives." It was then I realized the gravity of the situation. I started to cry and Keith tried to console me in the waiting room. He was crying too. I pulled myself together and called Dad and I suppose Keith called his relatives. Before I knew it Dad was there, Mother couldn't come as she was ill and arrangements had to be made for someone to watch over her. I can remember only bits and pieces. I know that I had to go home and tell the kids about their Dad. I remember Yvette sitting on the washer and asking, "Is Daddy going to die", and she was crying. I said I didn't know but that he was resting well now. Clair and Yvette who were 12 and 11 years old were in a band concert in which Clarence and I were planning on attending that evening so I suppose we had supper and I remember ironing Yvette's pants and I dropped all the Kids (Tracy was 9 and Sheila 6 Year.) at the Central Jr. High School. I went to the hospital and Lamar, Ruth, Ron and Janet and later Fern and Austin came. I learned later that Marne and Geri saw Clarence, also Bishop Pfost had been to see Clarence and asked me if he could do anything at home. I told him everything was fine. I believe Rondo and Janet offered to pick up the kids after the Band Concert and so I remained at the hospital. I learned later that Bishop Pfost did stop by at the house and the kids were ready for bed and he gathered them together and asked if they shouldn't have a prayer and they agreed and he asked Clair since he was the priesthood holder to call on someone to say the prayer. (I have thought since - what a preparation.) How grateful I am for the Lord's blessings to have been asked upon our family in our time of need. Keith, Corinne, Fern, Austin, and Dad stayed till quite late and then it was decided that Fern and Austin would stay the night at the hospital. Dad and I went home. About 1:00 A.M. or so the telephone rang and I got word that Clarence had had another heart attack and they were trying to revive him. Soon after I got there Dr. Hansen who was on emergency call came out of intensive care and said a lot mumbo Jumbo and I suddenly realized Clarence and passed away. I ran into his room and took hold of his cold, clammy hand and stood there and then was aware that Dad, Fern, and Austin were at the foot of his bed. I leaned over and kissed Clarence and stood there a long time and then left his room I was numb. I don't remember much until we went home and who should greet us at the door but Yvette and here was the terrible task of telling my children that their Dad had passed away. How do you do that? We sat in the front room for a while and then decided we had better try to sleep the rest of the night. Yvette wanted to sleep with me so i consented and she asked a lot of questions about her Dad dying and the arrangements we would make, like where every one would sleep.
The next morning which was only a short time, I had to finish the task of telling the other children about their Dad, so I went into Tracy and Sheila's room and told them while Dad went into Clair's room and told him. They all cried and so what do we do now. In a while I found them doing the usual I thought, well if they want to go to school, OK if not OK. They all went to school except Clair. I thought, well the girls would probably want to tell their friends what had happened and perhaps that was a good thing. I guess we deal with tragedy in our own way. Pretty soon the door bell rang and it was brother and sister Meikle extending their sympathy and wanting to be of service. Dad suggested I hurry and get myself ready for the day as we would have more people come and there would be decisions to make. The girls came home for lunch and did not want to go back to school. Tracy said she cried and told her teacher that, "That her Daddy died last night." Keith, Corinne, Dad and I went to the Wood Funeral Home and picked out a bronze casket. Clarence had said, "When I die just throw me in a pine box, none of this fancy stuff for me." I decided to bury him in Idaho Falls Cemetery rather than Sugar City as I wanted him near us so we could visit his grave more often. Then I had the program to decide on. I knew he liked mucic and picked speakers I felt he liked as well as those that would be good for us, the living. We weren't disappointed. The Relief Society made arrangements for the dinner in our home and also flower arrangements. Clair started to do his paper route and he tipped over his bike and spilled his papers. I ran out to help him and one of the workers from Demotts Tractor Co., next door came over and helped him on his way and he expressed his sorrow. The day of Clarence's funeral, Joy Lords volunteered to do the Clair's paper route for him. Many came to the house bringing food, sympathy and offers of service which was warming to the heart. I remember Geri coming and staying for a while. She and Marne married a month later. Then I remember Leora Moore visiting. Brother and Sister Blaylock took Clarence's clothes to the funeral home, then Paula and Terry came and Paula hugged me and cried. In the days, weeks and months that followed I saw such an outpouring of love and support that gave me strength to keep on, courage to tackle the things that lay ahead and my soul melted. My first time to walk in the back door of the cafe took me by surprise, as for a moment I expected Clarence to be there and he wasn't and never would be again and it shocked my system into tears. I was scared to view Clarence's body the first time. It didn't seem real. I knew because of our age difference he would die before me but I didn't think it would be this soon. He looked very well and peaceful.
The night of the viewing my children and I went a little early and there were people there already. We got into line with Clarence's and my families and their mates. I couldn't believe all the people that came, all the lovely flowers.
The day of the funeral brought me some heart-rendering surprises. The Wood Funeral Home was crowded. The Lensk relatives were there, my St. John friends I grew up with were there, Carol and Dake Baughman came and I just cried. The chapel of our 9th ward was filled. We of course sat on the front row and Sheila was crying so I put her between Clair and me and the funeral proceeded. Many people said what a beautiful funeral it was. We proceeded to the cemetery. It was a lovely sunny day and after the dedication of the grave, sitting in front of Clarence's coffin I remember Austin putting his hand on my shoulder and said, "Do you think it's time to go?" so we went to our home and had dinner for relatives and friends that the Relief Society had fixed for us. I remember Quanita cook was in charge. She had told me the casseroles would be in the oven and I forgot until we were half through eating. Besides Clarence's and my relatives, my St. John friends were there too. I had Bishop Cordell Williams give the blessing on the food. Little by little everyone left and then Dad suggested we go to the cemetery. The children got a flower apiece and pressed it in a book. We had received a lot of plants which were at home and I later transplanted them outside.
The kids went back to school and we went back to our normal routines but all of us different than a few days previous. Clarence and the events were constantly on my mind for months later. I wanted to remember everything. It all went over and over in my mind and it's surprising how much one forgets after time passes.
A few days later was Stake Conference and I had recently been called to be Junior Sunday School Coordinator and it was our Wards turn to host the Junior Sunday School at Stake Conference. I was uneasy but determined to do it and I did. I would have liked it to go a little better. Rox Ann Williams was the chorister and she was a dear in helping.
People were extra kind to the children, brother Metcalf, I remember, invited Clair to come and watch the guys pour cement for his driveway and he showed him his coin collection. The Pfosts and fellow scouts had a surprise birthday party for Clair and he brought home the biggest rolled up sign I ever saw saying, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLAIR."
During the months that followed the children were really wonderful. The first Christmas Eve after Clarence's death Yvette went up to the stock yards and gathered enough straw to make a wreath and then covered it with pretty ribbon and we put it on Clarence's grave then we continued on with our usual Christmas tradition. Since then we usually go to the cemetery and put some remembrance on his grave. I remember the year after he died we all went to his grave side and knelt down and prayed. On Memorial Day we put five bouquets of flowers on his grave, one from each of us. There are always other bouquets left there too.
On February 16, 1985 after Tracy came home from her mission we all went through the temple with Clair doing his Dad's endowments and then we entered the sealing room with our relatives and friends and we were all sealed to each other and to Clarence. President Rheam Jones officiated. I remember the following being there: Lois Bitter, LaVey and Harm Groeshucd, Keith and Corinne, Ron and Janet, Bishop Hopkins and Ed.
One night I had the most realistic dream, I almost thought it was real, "I was busy working in the kitchen and I heard someone pounding away in the basement, as I had heard Clarence do so many times. I went to the basement and there was Clarence with a hammer in his hand and with great surprise I exclaimed, "Clarence, what are you doing here? I thought you were dead." With that he explained that he could see that I needed help in fixing things (which in reality, I did) and thought he would come down and helps me out. I said, "Say, tell me Clarence how is it up there and he proceeded to tell me all about it, which I got the feeling it was a place more to him than here on earth and he was happy. I learned that "They" have a point system in which one gets so many points for how good one was and Clarence happily said, "I have more points than you do." Then I woke up. Bishop Pfost, whom I related this dream to him said, "Clarence is happy where he is."