Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 5, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, October LETHBRIDGE People of the south By Chris Stewart Love makes the world go 'round THE VOICE OF ONE Dr. Frank S. Morley What'is it like to live almost a century, be a grand matriarch among five generations, mother 15 children and have 107 living progeny? Or what would it be like to boil clothes in a custom-built copper boiler, hatch chicks behind your kitchen range, bake tantaliz- ing crackling cookies from chopped bacon rind and yet be so lonely as to push your baby five miles to visit a neighbor? neighbor? These and other questions crossed my mind as I visited incredible 91-year-old Elna Bennett at the Edith Cavell Nursing Home. Would I find her disgruntled, disappointed with life and living in yesteryear? Imagine my sur- prise in finding an attractive, exuberant nonegenarian with an engaging smile and a remarkable zest for living. The optimism of this woman was as refreshing as sudden sunshine. Her birthdate suggested she might show times' ravages but Elna Bennett has somehow fooled the calendar. She didn't lament her hard work, being housebound rais- ing children or even her primitive home appliances. Instead she praised parenthood, pioneering and making something out of nothing while continually interjecting anecdotes telling of the love she and husband Alii had shared. Good-natured Nellie (as she is popularly known) laughs a lot. She chuckled telling me she hadn't earned a dollar in her "I've never worked she said. "Was never really trained for anything, I guess." But I knew, by thrifty management, she had stretched her husband's earnings to ade- quately clothe and feed her large family when crops and money were slim. She had carded wool, made un- derclothes from flour sacks, sewn quilts, hooked rugs, churned butter, rendered lard and prepared limitless jars of preserves while hosting a con- tinual "open house" and not just for her own family but for the entire neighborhood. "All the kids around came to recalls youngest daughter Eloise Walker. And through it all, Nellie retained such an exemplary, loving relationship with her husband her offspring treasure the memory. Granddaughter, Carol Johnson remembers, "Grandma couldn't stand to be away from Grandad nor he from her. I remember her waiting patiently at the gar- den gate for his return and how Grandad would slip his arm around her saying, 'I sure love you, Ma'. It was beautiful to see." Nellie Bennett's love for Alii never lost the sparkle of their 1902 wedding day in Mount Pleasant, Utah, when, as a bride of 18, she and Dave Alma Bennett were married in her parents' living room before travelling by democrat to Monti to have their marriage sealed in "the .Mormon temple. Alii (his nickname) son of Rudolph Nathaniel Bennett, one of the first Mormon missionaries to Arizona, had come north from St. John to clerk in the Union store. He later left for Stirling with Nellie's father, Alif Ericksen and neighbor Moroni Seeley with a view to settling there if he liked it Next spring cattle trains and passenger coaches conveyed Alii, his in-laws and several neighbors, plus cattle and household effects to southern Alberta. Aboard were Alif and Augusta Ericksen (Nellie's parents) and their three children, Lief of Lethbridge and Allan of Wrenlham, (Nellie., her 10- month-old daughter Norma and her youngest sister Ina Olsen came in Moroni and Alice Seeley and children Artie, Verda and George. Also entrained were Oscar and Letitia Barton and four children, Inez, Lindell, Lulu, Lester and Johnny; Vilate Ericksen (whose hus- band Edward came north previously to work in a Kimberley mill) with children Levar, Lafayette and Ada as well as newlyweds Jim and Mary Bradley and Nels and Hettie Eliason. Alii, Arthur Ericksen, Orson and Mel Seeley and Owen Barton rode with the cattle and furniture which included the piano, inlaid with mother-of-pearl and featuring a mandolin attachment, now housed at their great grandson Dale O'Brien's Lethbridge home. Land was selling for an acre when they arrived in Stirling.on April 24, 1903, preceding the heavy May blizzard and Alii stayed at Stirling's Seeley Hotel until they were able to rent a two- room house. "It was wide open country. Sort of like coming to the end of the recalled jolly Mrs. Bennett. But roughing it didn't sour them or curtail their social life. They simply packed their scanty furniture out to the front yard and held dances in their tiny living room. Alh worked on the first irrigation canal until he, stopping by the Raymond Mercantile store, suddenly himself hired as a clerk. Proprietor, H. S. Allen, needing trained help and overhearing Alii mention his previous clerking experience hired him immediately, later promoting him to manager. The Bennetts moved to Ray- mond in 1906, and purchased 320 acres of irrigatedr land northeast of town with Nellie alternating, as respon- sibilities would allow, between her four-bedroom Raymond home and the farm house. Highly organized, Alii was a maniac for work. He walked briskly in short pattering steps and never lost a minute. Daughter Aline O'Brien reports he hoed a garden row stretching the block from his house to his Broadway store en route to work in the mor- nings and repeated the perfor- mance going home for lunch. Highlighting the year for the Bennett children was the magical night Alii let them preview the store's colorful Christmas toys. They would haul themselves up on the rope-operated elevator top floor warehouse to view the trucks and dolls soon to be displayed and.probably sported a smug smile around town next day since they knew what Santa was bringing. Alii later opened his own store and ran his farm with hired help. Eldest daughter Norma Peterson, while appreciating the motivation inherited from her late father, wishes he had also taught his children how to relax. Their mother, on the other hand, who never claim- ed to be organized, didn't re- quire precision. She never ordered them out of bed in the Book review. morning or complained if a youngster napped in the after- noon. Nellie's outside interests consisted of the weekly choir practice to which she was transported in neighbor Charlie Strong's democrat while Alii found time to serve as a counsellor in the bishopric, as Sunday School superintendent, on the Ray- mond town council and school board, played the base horn in the band and the cello in the orchestra. Pioneering was as natural as breathing to Nellie Bennett. She remembers, in 1888, waving her father, gopd- by at Utah's Moroni station when he left on a two-year mission to Norway and how she was the first to recognize him when he returned sporting a black Van Dyke beard. She babysat younger family members during his absence while her Swedish mother eked out a living teaching piano and playing in the Mount Pleasant orchestra. Her father Alif, the son of Norwegian farmers Henry and Ingeborg Ericksen who, with Mormons, pushed hand carts across the hot plains from Illinois to Salt Lake City, married Augusta Eleanor Dehlin in January, 1882. Even as a pre-schooler she had stag- ed singing concerts for her neighbors. Orphaned young and raised by her sister she> became a teacher upon her 1874 graduation from the University of Deseret. These musical parents determined that their daughter Elna would receive such training, sent her at age 11 to Salt Lake City to study voice. She and her sisters subsequently won singing awards in Utah. In Raymond she was known as Singing Nellie. The harder her day the more she sang. Evenings would see Alii popp- ing huge basins of buttered corn for his family while Nellie, comfortable in a rocker with a baby on her knee, sang her heart out. Even today nothing makes her hap- pier than to rock while she sings with a great grandchild on her lap. Buttered popcorn became a favorite not only with the Bennetts but with all of their offspring. Despite a diabetic condition prior to his death eight years ago at age 84, Alh couldn't resist a scrumptuous handful of buttered kernels. Nor are their 12 children (three are deceased) Paul and David of Great Falls; Genevieve Olsen and Robert of Orem, Utah; Aline O'Brien, Calgary; Marjorie Vincent, Raymond; Stanley, Edmon- ton; Bemice Soter, Salt Lake City; Catherine Masters, Tacoma; Molly Kitchen and Eloise Walker, Vancouver; Norma Peterson, Lethbridge, plus the 41 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, any different. They all love it hot and buttery. Vitally interested in the welfare of her bulging family Nellie has always minimized personal suffering whether it was her rheumatoid arthritis, broken hip or wrist. Her daughter Eloise tells how Nellie, recuperating from a broken hip, tumbled in her wheelchair down a West Van- couver ravine. Bandaged like an Egyptian mummy in the ward at the Lions Gate Hospital Nellie retained her sparkling humor. "You ought to see the other she chortled, as en- quirers stopped by. Prophets not without honor Mrs. Elna Bennett Photo Walter Kerber Delving into Jefferson's personal life "Thomas Jefferson: An In- timate Biography" by Fawn M. Brodie (W. W. Norton Co., 591 pages, dis- tributed by George J. McLeod, Willie Stark, the politician in Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men, ordered his henchman Jack. Burden to find something in Judge Irwin's past that could be used to besmirch the man's' reputation. When Jack expressed skepticism about finding anything, the Boss said, "There is always something... Man is conceiv- ed in sin and born hi corrup- tion and. he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always There was something. Jack discovered that he was the Judge's own illegitimate son. Fawn Brodie seems to sub- scribe to the Boss's philosophy, at least with regard to Thomas Jefferson, revered third president of the United States. She has marshalled all the circum- stantial evidence she could get her hands on to establish as more than gossip the charge of paternity of several children by a slave woman, Sally Hemings. Fawn Brodie emerges from her research convinced that the gossip is the truth. I emerged from the reading of this book ready to admit that Mrs. Brodie makes the charge sound plausible and yet I am uncomfortable about the way it was done. It isn't that I hold any torch for Thomas Jefferson or that I am so naive as to think that so rational a man as him could not also have a sensuous side. I just recoil from judging a man without hard evidence and I harbor-some skepticism about the reliability of psy- chological analysis notably the kind that sees a sexual im- plication behind everything a person says or refrains from No doubt Fawn Brodie realized that she was employ- ing a two-edged sword in applying this approach to her subject. Readers who remember that she spent quite a bit of time poking about in the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith's liaisons with women might be inclined to suspect that she is the one with the sexual obsession. But. of course, if she had avoided coming to grips with the sexual aspect of her two biographical subjects she would have been open to the charge of sexual obsession just the same since ,silence betokens guilty association. The psychologists can get a count on a person no matter what he says or fails to say! It would be quite wrong to leave the impression that Fawn Brodie writes sen- sational stuff. Both the biography of Joseph Smith and this one of Thomas Jefferson are serious studies. The matter of Jefferson'? alleged prolonged con- cubinage with Sally Heitungs also is not the only thing to oc- cupy the attention of Mrs. Brodie in this book. She covers all the important events in the life of her sub- ject such things as Ms governorship of Virginia, his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, his am- bassadorship to France, his service as George Washington's secretary ol state, his vice-presidency un- der John Adams, his two terms as president as well as delving into the cause of his periodic migraine headaches, noting his ambivalence on the issue of freeing the slaves, dwelling on his passion for orderliness, and so on. Nevertheless it is the ques- tion of Jefferson's sex life that dominates the book and takes the attention away from his greatness. Probably this was necessary if Mrs. Brodie was to succeed in establishing what all other biographers have dismissed. But even if her contention is accepted as true, the emphasis on Jeffer- son's sexuality makes for dis- tortion. In all the incredible mass of correspondence by Jefferson letters were carefully preserved and chronicled by Jefferson himself) no explicit reference to sexual behavior is to be found. Mrs. Brodie suspects, however, that some incriminating letters have been destroyed. Among the surviving letters, some of which have only been made public by descendants in re- cent years, she finds signs of sexuality. The correspondence with Mrs. Maria Cosway, whom Jefferson met while in Paris, certainly suggests an infatua- tion with the woman and he may have been involved sex- ually with her, yet I find some of the "evidence" unconvin- cing. A reference to "in- fidelities" in the post office does not necessarily mean that he was thinking of bis own infidelity, for instance. A lot. of people, then as now, simply disgruntled by lapses in postal service, would be happy to apply such a strong word to it Some of the "evidence" for Jefferson's "love" for Sally Hemings is even less convin- cing. Mrs. Brodie suggests that a letter written by Jeffer- son to his sister expressing tender sentiments may not have been directed to her at all. She says that since it was the only letter he wrote his sister in the five years be was in Paris those sentiments were probably meant for Sally. Maybe, on the contrary, they were simply meant to make op for a long period of neglect of his sister. The suggestion that because he could not share his delight in his new love for Sally, Jefferson resorted to writing glowing generalizations about American angels, proves nothing. Jefferson may simply have been feeling expansive because of a satisfying dinner. When Jefferson returned from Paris to Monticello in Virginia he obviously found delight in being home. His letters contained expressions of enthusiasm "ardor for "infinite appetite for the enjoyment of the and the like. Mrs. Brodie says these are "strong words with the unmistakable flavor of sexuality." At the same time and Mrs. Brodie refers .to this on the next page without any comment Jefferson wrote about the "tranquility" he was en- joying. She might have observed that tranquility is the aftermath of ardor, I sup- pose, and found that evidence of sexuality as well. It strikes me as strained and tenuous evidence, however. Later in the book Mrs. Brodie quotes a letter in which Jefferson was writing about his delight in leaving the duties of office (this time, that of vice-president) to return to his children. In the letter he said, "Tranquility is an old man's milk." Mrs. Brodie says. "His metaphor of 'old man's milk' could distant- ly suggest a young breast on which to lay his head." It "could" also not mean that at all. There are too many ex- pressions such as "could suggest" "one "it seems "it would or "one can only guess" scattered through this psycbobiography for it to be totally convincing. Still, it will probably be fairly persuasive simply because there is a predisposition to believe the worst about great men in our time. This is a significant book that is bound to be discussed for a long time to come. The final verdict on it may have to await the appearance of some of the letters Mrs. Brodie says have gone missing. DOUG WALKER Among the prophets of today few are more popular than Harvey Cox who caused a sensa- tion with The Secular City and whose other writings have sorely shaken the religious community. The Seduction of the Spirit is as radical and iconoclastic as any book of our time. Nevertheless much of it is not new, but is a reversion to the days of the ancient Hebrew prophets and one wonders what the prophets would have had to say about it. For example, Professor Cox believes in the emergence of a new church which will be syn- cretistic, including the forms and myths of many faiths. He describes how his religious experience depends on pluralism, on crossbreeding, on a variety of faiths so that in a few weeks span he experiences the holy at an Apollo temple in Delphi, a Toltec pyramid in Xochicalco, and a Moslem mosque on the island of Rhodes. In his home a Mexican In- dian crucifix blesses his living room, a Jew- ish Mazuzah enclosing a text from the Torah guards the doorway, a Buddha looks down from the windowsill of the front room, while Ganesha, the elephant god, the Hindu patron of sagacity and worldly wisdom, is nearby In the story of the Mexican gods and heroes he finds his own story. He found great enjoy- ment in the "bath experience" at the Essalen Institute at Big Sur where men and women at a conference disrobed and in close proximity, so that bodily contact was unavoidable, en- joyed the steamy, mineral waters in an Essalen pool-tub. The idea of "The Christian Family" as superior to all others he finds "narrow and idolatrous." He asks, does not the Bible con- tain all kinds of families and do not churches include people who live alone, apart, in couples, in collectives, and clusters? He contends, in fact, that the New Testament is anti-familial! Nor will he admit that monogamy is commanded by scripture. All this should give some picture of the Cox radicalism. It seems hardly necessary to say that in such things as Women's Lib he is way out in front of the parade. One wishes desperately for the great winds of the Hebrew prophets to blow away this chaff and nonsense. As Cox seeks for moder- nity, with aching muscles striving to be radical, the Hebrew prophets have the authentic voice and the essential relevance Their ethical insistence strengthens and purifies and, in these times of violence, robbery, false leadership, and moral corrup- tion, it urgently needs to be heard. Would not Jeremiah who thundered at the idolatrous worship of Baal with its obscene rites make short work of the Hindu idea of religious syn- cretism? What has the Hindu doctrine of Kar- ma, based on the assumption of transmigra- tion of souls and belief that the life of every individual is conditioned by a previous incar- nation, to do with the Hebrew-Christian doctrine of a God of grace and forgiveness? What have the ancient Mexican gods to do with the God of justice and more than jus- tice righteousness and loving kindness? The Greek gods were vindictive and envious, beyond good and evil, who had power detach- ed from morality in contrast to the Hebrew God of goodness. The Greeks taught an im- mutable Fate awaiting all men. "Pray not at chants the chorus in Sophocles' An- tigone, "since there is no release from predestined calamity." All the Egyptian, Hindu, and other Indo-European gods are fill- ed with malice and cruelty Virgil speaks of "cruel Juno's unrelenting wrath." Hosea and other prophets saw adultery as a dreadful sin. So precious is the marriage relationship that it is made symbolic of the relationship of Israel to God. It is God's will, says Hosea, to betroth Israel to Him in righteousness, justice, and love. The prophets saw contemporary society as doomed. The moral confusion and basic atheism of life, like our situation today, were having a devastating effect on social and cultural life No political artifice, no new taxations, no foreign alliances, could save the collapsing structure. In vain would additional gods and new superstitions be brought into the temple rites. The Hebrew prophets saw a profound difference between God and the gods of other nations. To them union with God would be a blasphemy. God was above nature, above man, and even above the moral law which emanated from him and by which "he acted Between God and man lay an unapproachable holiness so that in God's presence Abraham is "dust and ashes." Consequently they fought bitterly against, the compromise with, and assimilation of. all religions, the very thing toward which Cox is pointed. The essential ideas advanced by Cox are the ideas against which the Hebrew prophets fight as a matter of life and death Cox is a brilliant writer and scholar, but the Hebrew prophets would con- sider him a most dangerous and destructive enemy. The road Dr. Cox travels leads to dis- integration, despair, and death. "The Seduction of the Spirit; The Use and Misuse of People's Religion" by Harvey Cox (Simon and SATURDAY TALK By Harry Bruce Nova Scotia's image problems HALIFAX You reek of an odor that can- not be dissipated, a chemical engineer from Michigan recently advised the premier of Nova Scotia by mail. Decay, he added knowledgeably, always smells badly. A Massachusetts priest wrote, too. He told Premier Regan that, although he'd brought busloads of tourists to Nova Scotia each year, he would never do so again. Moreover, he thought he'd use Priest magazine to tell all "his brother priests to keep their tours and their dollars in the United States." The tone of his letter suggested he was not an ardent turner of the other cheek. Regan's office, and Lands and Forests Minister Maurice Delory, have had to field an unusual amount of abusive American mail this summer, and to assure less strident Americans that their fears Nova Scotia has become a sort of northern Cuba are groundless. Nova Scotia's image problems in the States began when two influential and very angry Ohio people outstickhandled the provincial government in the fine old game of news management. Early last spring, DeLory announced the expropriation of acres of gorgeous seafront land in Queen's County. The land, which happened to be the biggest single piece of private property in Nova Scotia, included no less than 33 miles of shoreline. Its owner was Dorothy Wood. She got the horrible news of the expropriation the mo- ment she returned to her home in Milan. Ohio, from a midwinter world tour. Her first husband had bought the land for from an 83-year-old Nova Scotian in 1949. and the place had been in the family ever since. Mrs. Wood is almost invariably Mrs. Wood in the Nova Scotia press, and Henry Kosling is her lawyer. In the U.S. press, however, she is Mrs. Dorothy Wood Kosling and Henry is not only her mouthpiece but her hubby as well. No matter. They are as one in the heat of their denunciation of Nova Scotia's snatching the Wood estate. Mrs. Kosling told the Ohio press she hoped newspaper and television coverage would bring enough pressure on Nova Scotia to help her cause, and she and Henry promptly set to work. Whatever the slips between spoken word in an interview and printed word on the page, the things the Koslings told US reporters ended up giving millions of Americans the following impressions: Nova Scotia had shown no pnor interest in buying the land honorably. H was worth millions but Nova Scotia would pay only There would be no negotiation the price, like the fact of expropriation, was a fait accompli The Koslings could expect no justice from the courts of Nova Scotia. Americans, as Dan Rather decided on the CBS national news, were now finding "they can lose their property across the border with a bureaucratic flick of the finger." With that sort of stuff coming at Americans, there's lit- tle wonder they swallowed Kosling's line that the expropriation was "anti-American... the kind of thing you'd expect from a banana republic." Here's what very few of them knew. has letters proving that, before the expropriation, Nova Scotia had expressed to the Wood family its interest in buying the land government has offered to lease back to the owners their 14-room lodge and, just to guarantee their privacy, somewhere between 10 and 100 acres. one in Nova Scotia has ever regarded as the final price. According to stan- dard expropriation procedure in Nova Scotia, the province deposits with a court half the appraised value of an expropriated property. The then, does not end negotiation. It starts it Koslings will have three separate chances to prove the property is worth "millions" 1, negotiation; 2. if that fails, resort to the province's expropriations com- pensation board, and 3. if they don't like the board's decision, an appeal to the Supreme Court. The fact of the expropriation itself may be beyond appeal (except, of course, to the press) but. so far as machinery to fix a fair price is concerned, the flick of Nova Scotia's bureaucratic finger is hardly among the world's fastest. Some banana republic. In the long dance of negotiation that's just beginning, the Wood-Koshng interests have submitted a claim for 52 5 million but with regard to price, there's a fascinating footnote to the discussion. Somehow it's escaped the American media A report in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald whose editorials, incidentally, have opposed the expropriation with as much zest as any outraged American's reveals that back in 1S70. the family went to an assessment appeal court because they figured a county assess- ment of was unfair. Their own witnesses testified then that the place was only worth well, maybe The whole fiasco arouses one's sympathy for banana republics Needless remark By Dong Walker Our boys, Keith and Paul, sometimes com- plain about the favoritism that Elspeth shows towards me when serving dinners I sometimes get a litUe extra on my plate. One evening when this happened these guys argued that special helpings should be for them because growing boys need additional nourishment to keep them going Elspetfi was unmoved She simply said, "Your father is z growing boy. too. in the wrong way."