Life History of Ralph Cole
Written by Wanda Cole
Ralph was born Dec. 27, 1910 to Edwin Voss Cole and Olla Rebecca Owens in Treasureton, Idaho. He was given a name and a blessing February 5, 1911. He was very small, weighing in at about 2-1/2 pounds. It was a miracle that he survived in those days without any modern technology or medication and delivered by a midwife.
At this time Ed and Olla were homesteading 160 acres, then called Stockton Creek, just west and north of Treasureton. They were about 18 miles away from Preston and the nearest doctor. They had to depend on the Lord's blessings and many home remedies.
Olla loved to play the organ and sing. One of Ralph's earliest memories was that he would hide behind a chair or couch as his mother sang because many of the songs so popular at that time were sad songs and it always made him cry. He was always a very tender-hearted loving person.
The flu epidemic was in full swing in the year 1918. The Cole family was not spared; they all had a touch of it. Ed and Olla were both down at the same time, so Olla's family hired a nurse from Willard, Utah to help take care of the family. Ralph was 8 years old at this time. Olla died in Preston, Idaho, Nov. 9, 1918 and was sent to Willard by train where her family met the train and she was buried there in the Willard cemetery. No funeral services were held, just a brief song and prayer, as the weather was cold and no public meetings were being held due to the flu epidemic.
This left Olla's family of seven children without a mother. Ed prayed despertely that he might live to raise this family and he did survive and slowly did regain his health. Myrella was just 16 at this time and was working for the telephone office. Bonnie, 13, went on to school Odessa, 15, stayed home to take care of the children. Wayne was just 16 months old and Ottis, about 3 years. Ralph was 7 and able to help with the chores. He was baptized on Dec 28, l919.
Ralph was of stocky build, a red curly headed boy with a generous sprinkling of freckles. His red curly hair won him the nickname of Curly, which lasted all his life, even after he lost his curly locks.
By working together, the family managed to take care of themselves. At this time, families on the farm were able to be quite independent. They had a cellar to keep homegrown vegetables good until spring. They raised their own meat, cured their pork, kept a few chickens for meat and eggs, bottled their fruit, and churned their cream for butter. They also dried their beans and com so they could get along on a meager income.
Ralph went to the second year in high school, then quit because his horse threw it's head back and knocked a couple of Ralph's front teeth out, which made him too embarrassed to return to school. He had been doing quite well in school and enjoyed playing on the football team as he was a very fast runner. Later in life, he was sorry he had quit school.
All during his teenage years, Ralph liked to hunt and trap. Many a muskrat was caught in his line of traps set up along the Bear River and Letz Slew. He would stretch the skins over some wood or wire forms he had until they dried, then he would sell the winter's catch in the spring. This helped to supplement his spending money and also put fresh meat on the table, adding to the supply of pheasants, ducks and deer during their seasons.
During Ralph's late teens and early twenties and until he married, he went to work for George Egbert doing all types of farm work. He had a lot of love and respect for Mr. Egbert and when Brother Egbert was quite old, Ralph took over milking his cows, even on weekends and holidays. Consequently he sacrificed parties and other get
togethers with family and friends, but he always finished his chores. He would leave about 5:30 am. every morning for work. Ralph always rode and cared for a good saddle horse, which carried him back and forth to work, a distance of about 2-1/2 miles one way. Eventually he bought a Dodge two-door car to drive. This old car had a cut out on the exhaust that really made a loud noise. One spring day after driving it to work, Brother Alloy Cherry met Ralph and asked him how much he'd take for his car. When Ralph said that he didn't want to sell it, Cherry said, "I thought if I could buy it, I could stop the noise that goes by my house every morning about 5:30 a.m." Ralph was quite surprised because he'd never thought about how disturbing the noise might have been to people. He told Mr. Cherry he wouldn't bother him again and he didn't.
One of Ralph's fun winter pastimes was to fill his model A Ford with gas, then take turns pulling a skier on each side of the road. The skier would hold on to a rope and ski over the drifts (much bigger ones in those days than now); one person would drive while two would ski. He did this with horses for a while but they got tired too soon. Ralph always was a fun leader in all kinds of whatever game was in season For about three years in Preston sixth ward, the bishopric challenged all those under 25 to play all those over 25 at baseball on Saturday afternoons. At the end of the season, the losing side would treat the winners to a canyon party. The young ones lost, but the older group put on the party anyway. We all enjoyed those canyon parties.
One experience Ralph had always give him a cold chill when he would tell the story. The Cole brothers went hunting for rabbits and took William Owens's team and sleigh to the sandhills along the river bottom. Wayne was with them and had a 22 rifle. It was the rule to always empty guns before starting home in the sleigh. On this day when they arrived home, Wayne, about 11 years old, ran for the house and thought he would get out of helping take care of the horses. Ralph shouted, "Come back here and help us or I'll shoot!" Wayne kept running and laughing. Ralph, thinking the gun was empty, raised the gun, took aim at Wayne and fired. Everybody but Wayne stopped short. Wayne said later that he got into the house without opening or shutting the door. Ralph couldn't believe the gun was loaded and never could explain how the buckshot splattered into the gable of the house above Wayne's head when Ralph aimed right at him and pulled the trigger. Surely a guardian angel was there to prevent a tragedy.
A good example of faith in divine help was when Ralph lay critically ill in the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake. His niece Glenda was working as a nurse there at the time. Ralph was so sick and in so much pain, but when he was offered a shot for the pain, he refused and asked Glenda instead to stand by his bed and hold his hand while he prayed. This he did several times every day and often during the night. Relying on the Lord to see him through, he did get better and go home but his health was never completely restored
We often remember him telling us the nurse came in to give a shot and asked which hip he wanted it in. He said, "Does it matter:" The nurse would say, "No", and Ralph would respond with "Let's put it in your hip then, mine are both sore."
Ralph often had claustrophobia. When he would try to grease underneath a combine or any big machinery or even a tractor, you could see him come clawing out from under it to get his breath We often laughed at him and teased him about it, but we could tell by looking at him that it wasn't funny. Many years after he retired, he bought a camper with a bed too close to the ceiling and he had the sell it.
Ralph was a great lover of animals. He always took the best care of them or anything else he had. We all remember well his little dog Shorty. Ralph taught him several cute tricks, the best of which was to sneeze. He would sneeze for food or special treats or just to please Ralph. He was Ralph's little shadow and loved to be with him in the pickup. Shorty lived to a ripe old age but finally had to be put to sleep when diagnosed with cancer.
Ralph was honest in everything he did. All enjoyed his great sense of humor. All his nieces and nephews loved him and found excuses to go with him or be where he was. He had much patience and always had a joke to share. One day everyone was busy doing something or the other so he went in his truck to pick the children up from school, he also picked up Lyman Sharp's kids. When he came to the Whitney crossing he stopped. He couldn't see very well past the kids, so he asked Diane Sharp if there were any cars coming. She told him there weren't any. Ralph stepped on the gas to start up and Diane then added, "Just a big truck." Ralph slammed on the brakes and then realized Diane had really fooled him well. He never forgot this joke on himself, as he used to tease all the children constantly.
Ralph had a strong testimony of the gospel. While living and homesteading a farm in the Treasureton hills far from town and a doctor's care, the Cole family often had faith promoting experiences. Ralph's sisters told of a time when Ralph was very sick, his dad was on a route picking up the cream separated from the milk and hauling it to Preston. Olla (Ralph's mother), was frantic and didn't know what to do. Finally, a young neighbor man happened by and Olla coaxed him to come in and give Ralph a blessing. He wasn't too sure about this because he didn't yet hold the Melchizedek priesthood, but Olla was so insistent, he decided to try and do whatever he could. Shortly after the blessing, Ralph sat up and was feeling quite normal by the time the doctor arrived.
While dating his future wife, Wanda Owens, Ralph coaxed Wanda to go with him and a group on a horseback ride and promised to get her a gentle horse as she wasn't very accustomed to riding. This he did and she consented to go. It was a long ride up Cub River and over to Deer Cliff Campground. He neglected to tell her that her horse had to be at the head of the crowd, for when Ralph nudged his horse to go faster, Wanda's horse just took after him. She had to hang on for dear life and managed not to fall off, but before they were all the way home, Wanda was more than a bit tired. Ralph thought it to be quite a good joke.
On one date they were hunting squirrels with a 22 rifle along the railroad tracks south of Preston, Idaho. Ralph asked her if she had noticed anything different that day, but she hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. He said, "Well, I haven't smoked for a week." This was a great change for Ralph. However, the next day when Ralph was out plowing for Harold Egbert he was offered a cigarette. Ralph took it and it made him very sick. He was never even tempted to smoke again.
One favorite thing for the young folks from the Preston Sixth ward to do was to go to the dance in the basement recreation room of the ward building. They would meet on Friday and sometimes on Tuesday during mutual. Thc Hart brothers would play their instruments and what a good time they would have. There was always a good crowd there, some people from Preston would often come.
When Ralph proposed to Wanda, he drove the car down by the Bear River bridge and showed her the ring. She remembers him saying that if she didn't say yes, he would dump her in the river. She did say yes, but she told him she would have to take care of a few other things before she could wear his ring. Later Ralph told her he worried about what they were going to talk about in all of their coming years together.
Their first home was the Harding home in Fairview, which they rented for about a year. They then moved to the Egbert farm and later bought 60 acres from Jim Chadwick and built a basement home on it. This was later sold to Lyman and Sabina Sharp. They next bought 80 acres from George Egbert It was while living there that they had a chance to adopt a baby boy from Boise, Idaho. They didn't tell anyone what they were planning so it was quite a surprise when they knocked on Uncle Bill and Aunt Myrella's door in Filer, Idaho on their way home. Aunt Myrella was folding clothes so Wanda told Ralph to go get their basket and bring it in.. Aunt Myrella never forgot that surprise when the blanket in the basket started moving and inside was a beautiful baby boy who was later named Morris D. Cole. Wanda was quite embarrassed when morning came and they were out of formula and Uncle Bill bad to go to the store bright and early for the
baby's food. Having a baby took a bit of getting used to, in fact, quite a bit. Morris was the answer to many prayers and their family centered around this welcome addition who was such a joy and brought a marvelous change to their lives.
When Morris was just seven years old, Ralph was called on a mission to Butte, Montana where he mainly worked with the Mandon and Grovan Indians. This call came in October of 1952. What a challenge it was for Ralph to leave his family, store his machinery, rent his farm, loan out his livestock and prepare to answer the call. Ralph rose to the occasion and soon took care of all the preparations. He never said no to church callings.
It was a difficult time to be away from home as it was the Christmas holidays and people were too busy to listen to the missionaries and Ralph became quite homesick To fill his time, he got a job in a department store where he dressed up like an old-fashioned lady sitting at a treadle sewing machine, making a store window scene in a department store. It did draw quite a crowd.
The next spring while Ralph was gone, a group of boys were playing in the barn with the rope used to raise the Jackson fork. Morris was pulled all the way up and for some unknown reason, the boys let go of the rope and Morris fell to the ground, breaking both arms. Uncle Wayne was irrigating beets just across the road, so Wanda called him over to help. Wayne called home for some clean clothes, then headed for town and Dr. Hawkes. Both of Morris' arms were put in casts, making him helpless to feed himself, dress, or go to the bathroom. He couldn't even get a drink of water for himself Wanda was an extremely busy mother for about six weeks. She didn't let Ralph know about this accident for quite a while, for fear he would come home as a worried father might.
Ralph did well in adjusting to the different culture on his mission, especially some of the food delicacies enjoyed by the Indians as he had a very touchy stomach. At one time he remarked, "When I see how bad the white people cheat those Indians, it makes me ashamed to be a white man." So many of the farmers around there would rent land from the Indians and pay them for only part of the 50/50 harvest agreement that had been made.
When Ralph was nearing the end of his mission, the mission president told him that when Ralph's wife arrived there to pick him up, he would be automatically released. A ride was arranged for Morris and Wanda to go to Worland, Wyoming with a former missionary from that area, When they arrived, Ralph happened to be in a deep discussion with a possible convert and didn't seem too excited to see them just at that moment. Ralph and Wanda took a few days to tour the mission and visited many families, converts and friends that did hate to see Ralph leave. When they were in Bismark, North Dakota coming out of the Faust home, they were met by a policeman and informed that Ralph's brother Voss, died of a heart attack. They had to hurry and drive from Bismark to Filer, Idaho for a steady 26 hours, changing drivers at intervals and just making it in time for the funeral. They then drove to Willard, Utah to the family plot for burial. The loss of a brother and the long grueling journey home was a very trying experience for Ralph and his family. After settling in at home, Ralph went back to Filer and helped Voss's wife, Barbara harvest the beet crop and prepare to have her farm sold. He then came back home to his family.
When Ralph came home from his mission, his sense of humor hadn't been dimmed. He took some rattlesnake eggs to church, began talking to some young folks and proceeded to show them his snake eggs in an envelope. Connan Foster opened the envelope to look inside, it made a rattle noise and Connan dropped the envelope, jumped over the back of the bench and yelled, "they've hatched!" We still laugh when we tell the story. Another story Ralph told was about an Indian who had died. It was the custom to cut off a finger and save it in a small box. It really looked dead and Ralph asked one of Wayne's girls to touch it. She finally got brave enough to try it and the finger moved. You could have heard her scream way into the next country.
The next highlight for Ralph and Wanda's lives was a journey to Gooding, Idaho to get little 3-I/2 year old Rebecca Lynne. It was a special happening as it was also Morris' birthday. On their way home as they turned down Beckstead Lane, a police car pulled up behind them, not to give them a ticket, but instead a gold star for driving all the way from Downey, Idaho and never exceeding the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules.
So Becky, as we all called her, joined our family and made Ralph and Wanda even more happy and content. They settled down to farming enjoyed their little family. But time flies by when you are content and those next years certainly did fly.
Yes, years really flew by. Morris and Becky married and had homes and families of their own. Morris married Judy Hymas and had five boys&emdash;David, Jay Dee, Bracken, Travis and Justin. He remarried and had another boy named Cody and has a sweet wife named Tami Cellan.
Becky had two boys Shane and Eric. They weren't around when Ralph was having fun with David, Jay Dee, and Bracken, but they got in on the fun once in a while. Morris never would trust Ralph and Wanda with Travis and Justin because they were younger. Becky has her husband Jim Havins, who is so good to her and good to his mother-in-law.
As the grandchildren came along to fuss over and enjoy, many good times were had in our family. Morris would bring his five boys and Ralph would take them on fishing trips. One trip fondly remembered was a trip up to Tincup canyon in thc early spring when they stopped to hunt squirrels. The two little boys, Bracken and Jay Dee had flippers, David had a BB gun and Ralph had a 22 rifle. The little squirrels hadn't learned much caution, for just a few seconds after being shot at, they would peek out of their holes again and give the boys a second and sometimes a third chance to shoot Ralph always said he was glad when the boys learned to fish so he could do more than untangle lines or bait the hook. But oh, they did have fun! They owned a pickup with a shell on it so at times these trips included a bonfire at night and a sleepover.
In this pickup and camper shell, Ralph and Wanda made two trips back east, both times to see Becky while she lived in North Carolina, and once to also go through Palmyra, including seeing the church pageant. This included a trip through some of Canada where, to their surprise, they saw beautiful fields of tobacco growing.
On their way through Washington D.C., they pulled up by the fence near the entrance to the White House. Ralph said, "The President didn't come out to greet us, so we'll just turn around and go home."
Ralph enjoyed him home, farm and family when he came home from his mission. After a few years at home, Ralph was diagnosed with having a tumor in his bladder that was malignant. The surgery was done by Dr. Yelderman. It was an experimental procedure and proved to be unsuccessful and the doctor later corrected it.
Due to poor health, Ralph sold his farm to Henry Egbert and moved to Preston in 1965. Here he started a business of putting in cement vaults to protect and preserve caskets, a fairly new idea, but much needed and morticians in the area encouraged him to do it.
Due to his former surgery in Salt Lake he was plagued with kidney infections and high fevers, making it necessary to return to Salt Lake City to try to correct the condition. Finally he sold the vault business to Marvin Priestly in 1970.
Ralph always dreamed about seeing Alaska, so in their little pickup and camper, he and Wanda headed out during the first three weeks of August. The road was graveled and bumpy, with a speed limit of 35 mph on the Alaska highway. Everything was beautiful and green, there were good service stations along the way and campgrounds about every fifty miles. At night, it never did get dark, just an eerie twilight color, but they met some wonderful people. They met two elderly ladies who were traveling without their husbands. Ralph and Wanda were able to help them along their trip several times.
Coming home, they decided to take the ferry boat from Haines, Alaska down the coast to Prince Albert, Alaska. They turned off the main road onto a little used gravel road leading to Haines. It was a lonely road that they seemed to have to themselves. They eventually passed a young man of about 20 years with a big afro hairdo. When he turned to look at Ralph and Wanda, they both almost gasped. He had such a wild, weird look to his face and he wanted a ride. They felt bad about not picking him up, but they didn't dare to.
Ralph became very tired from driving and pulled off the road into a graveled area where they couldn't be seen from the road. They went to bed very tired and nervous. At about 2 a.m., there came a knock on the camper door. They looked up and there was that strange man with the wild looking face looking in. He asked Ralph if he could sleep in the front seat of the pickup. Now Ralph didn't normally swear, but he said, "Hell no, that's the business end of this outfit!" The man turned away and Ralph said, hurry up and get your clothes on Wanda and let's get out of here!" They never passed the man after that so they assumed he was lurking somewhere around where their truck had been. Everything seemed so eerie in the twilight colors of the snow-covered mountains and Wanda and Ralph had shivers go up and down their spines from their frightening evening and night experience.
They stayed at the border between Alaska and Canada and couldn't get across the border until 6 a.m., so they waited with a group of other people. They also had to wait to get called onto the ferry. They investigated the surrounding country while they waited and finally got called for a stateroom on the ferry. They passed it up and stayed up all night so they could enjoy the passing scenery. They cat-napped in lounge chairs on deck. It was a wonderful trip. The temperature stayed at about 70 degrees night and day at that time of year in Alaska. They got off the ferry, rested in Juneau and had half an hour to browse around sight seeing. It was a trip they would always remember.
Becky had told them that it would take about seven days to drive back to her place after their trip, but they went on old roads and avoided the freeways so to see the small towns. At one time, they pulled off to a service station at which there was a beautiful polished race car with a sign on the side that said "Cole Brothers". Wanda went up to three big handsome blonde men by the car and told them, "You don't look like the Cole boys I know-, they raise horses." When they found out Ralph's name was Cole, they went to get their dad, who was a short stocky dark-haired man. They asked Ralph and Wanda to stay overnight and go to the fair the next day. They knew Becky was already looking for them, so they declined the offer. They later came upon a beautiful farm with white pole fences that went for miles and great oak trees in the pastures. A man was out mowing the lawn so Ralph and Wanda stopped to ask if they could see some of the man's horses. They went to a beautiful clean barn where the horses were all groomed and had braided manes and a well-behaved manner. They received another invitation to go to the fair, but went on their way. They had a very nice visit with Becky and didn't have to hurry on their way home so they took their time and really enjoyed themselves. They never regretted taking the long way home on the older roads and seeing and meeting the people along the way.
To all who knew and loved Ralph, he will always be remembered as a patient, good natured man with a positive attitude. He could always be depended upon and his word was as good as a contract with anyone. He believed in giving an honest days work for an honest day's pay. He was a fine example for anyone to follow. He had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and wanted nothing more than to have his family share in the gospel plan and be worthy of the Lord's blessings.