Life Story


Verda May Lish Liljenquist

Dear Harold, Gene, Darwin, Dana, Jody, Cody, and Families:

Verda and I spent many wonderful hours writing this and reminiscing back when we were children and the things we used to do together as children.


I was lonely as a child, as my sister was married when I was three years old. Verda was only eleven days older than myself and we were together so much. I adopted her as my twin sister and have loved her and looked up to her more than anyone will ever know.


We have always told each other how much we loved each other and I especially felt this more as she became ill.


Oh, how I’m going to miss our talks. I just wish we could have finished this, but we didn’t start soon enough and when I would take it out, Verda would say, “June, I just can’t think back any more,” and by then she wasn’t feeling very good. But, I know you can on from here, Harold, and complete the story for Verda. I know this would make her very happy.


I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed helping her get it down on paper. I will always treasure those precious visits.





                                                                        “Aunt June”





(While visiting with my youngest daughter, Jane, in Seattle in July, 1984, we typed this up for you and your families to enjoy and were so happy to have been able to leave this with all of you.)




Life Story


Verda May Lish Liljenquist




I was born on February 24, 1926, to Mary Lavina Girrard and Charles Lester Lish. I was born at Onyx, Idaho, south of Inkom in a Section house, and delivered by Dr. Ray. My daddy was Section Foreman [on the Union Pacific Railroad]. Shortly after I was born we moved into the bigger Section house.


I was the second child. My brother, Charles Eugene (Snooky), was born August 17, 1923, and was 2½ years older than myself. My sister, Dorothy Lavina, was born February 19, 1928; Arthur Lee Lish was born April 2, 1935; and my youngest sister, Gloria Jean, was born March 28, 1942.


I remember we had a dog named “Pooch” and there was a hobo walking down the tracks one day coming toward the house. Pooch herded me onto the porch and then went after my brother, Snooky. Snooky wouldn’t come, so Pooch grabbed him by the seat of the pants and literally pulled him onto the porch, then stood in front of us and growled until Daddy opened the door. The hobo wanted something to eat and we gave him something (as we did many of the hobos that passed by), then he went on his way.


When I was 18 months old, we lived at Cokeville, Wyoming, where Daddy worked on the Section. My Daddy told me at that time that I had something wrong with me. I was crying and had had a high fever for several days. We didn’t have any way to get to the doctor. That night a knock came on the door and there stood the Home Teachers from our Ward. Daddy invited them in and told them he had a sick baby, and they asked if they could administer to me, which they did. I stopped crying immediately and they made arrangements for Mom and Daddy to take me to the doctor the next day. Someone came in a team and wagon and took us to the doctor. The doctor discovered I had a bad throat abscess–from what, we don’t know–and it was a miracle that I was alive. We knew it was the Elders and the Lord who healed me.


I remember when I was about 5 years old the Andrew family lived next door. We had an ice cream freezer and they would come over and help with the ingredients. All the kids helped by cranking the freezer. The Andrew family included Frank, Maggie, and their children, Sam, Leona, Wilma, Harold, and some older ones.


My dear cousin, June, used to come to see me when we lived in the big Section house. We would play house and make mud pies and put them all along the porch railing. We had such fun. There was an ice house by the railroad tracks and June and I would go chip ice off the big blocks and eat it. We really thought that was something.


I started school at Onyx, Idaho. The school was located up on the east side of a hill. It was a big one-room country schoolhouse. I went through the eighth grade at that school. My brother, Snooky, and I went together. I remember they held dances up there, too.


When I was about 5 or 6 years old, we used to go to Poky (Pocatello) in our big Hudson car and we always went to John Paddis’ store on the corner of First and Center. He always sat me up on the counter and gave me bananas to eat while my folks did their shopping.


From there we moved to Poky on North Johnson in a big house where my younger brother, Arthur Lee, was born.


We used to go out to Grandma Lish’s on Poleline Road and the gypsies used to camp a short distance from her house. They always seemed to be a happy people–no worries–singing and dancing. I used to stand out on the road hoping they would come get me and take me away so I could be happy too.


At Grandma and Grandpa’s, I spent most of my time playing the player piano. It had rolls in the middle and you pumped it like an organ, and the keys would move so it looked like I was playing it.


There was a chicken coup that hadn’t been used for years, so my cousin, June and I had it for our play house. We gathered old boxes and made a cupboard and chairs, etc. We loved it and would always look forward to going to Grandma Lish’s. Aunt Gwen and uncle Earl lived next door and they had three boys: Marinus Dell (Cubby), Newton (Newty), and Verl. They used to come over and we would play house and “Anty-I-Over” Grandma’s big house and aunt Gwen’s house. Grandma’s house had great big pine trees in front and we used to play “hide and seek” and hide in those trees.


Grandma had a big earthen was basin and big pitcher on a marble top was stand. It was fun to wash in it. Grandma and grandpa also had big french doors separating the living room and dining room. We thought grandma had the prettiest house in the world.


Grandma always put her milk to cool in big round pans in her basement, so the cream would rise to the top and she could skim it off for butter. The cream would disappear, so grandma thought my brother, Snooky, and I were taking it off, but she went downstairs on morning early and there was a blow snake skimming the cream off the milk. Boy, were we relieved.


Grandpa had a haystack by the barn and all of us kids would climb up on the barn and jump on to the haystack. Grandpa didn’t like us to do it, because it scattered the hay, so we had to do it when grandpa wasn’t around; then we knew we had better fix the hay so he couldn’t tell we were doing it. (Ha ha) He always knew.


I had some real good girlfriends out there. One was Rose Knudson and the other was a Japanese girl, Nacho Yamota. Nacho always had a hamburger for lunch and I always had a deviled meat sandwich, and we would trade. I got so sick of those sandwiches.


My brother, Snooky, had a paper route while we lived out there. I always went with him on a bike. One night when we were coming home a man in a car ran us off the road and almost pushed us into the canal. We jumped off and the bike went over the edge, but didn’t go in.


We lived at grandma Lish’s for a while. Grandma always wore lavender perfume. She always wore a nice print dress with a long, crisp, starched apron and her hair was always in place and just beautiful. She was always so sweet and kind to all of her grandchildren and we all have very pleasant memories of her and grandpa. Grandma passed away when I was 8 years old.


We moved from North Johnson over on North Hayes by the river. My father had been our of work for a while and he got real sick with pneumonia. One day we didn’t have anything to eat and uncle George came to see how daddy was feeling. After he left, here came a grocery delivery truck with a big load of groceries. Mom told him it couldn’t be for us, because we didn’t have any money, but he said it had my dad’s name on it so it was ours. We asked uncle George, but he would never tell us; but it couldn’t have been from anyone else. We thought we were eating like kings that night and it was such a relief to have groceries again. We also went up and down the alleys looking for wood or anything to burn to help out with the fuel.


A few nights later, Dr. Miller came and said dad couldn’t possibly live the night through. In the middle of the night, I saw grandma standing at the foot of the bed. She was talking to me, but I didn’t know what she was saying. An instant later, my dad sat up in bed with his arms outstretched and he said, “I am coming, Mother,” then he laid back down and went to sleep. His fever broke and by morning he was hungry, and we knew then he was better, but he was still awfully sick.


One day my cousins, June and Brownie, and aunt Susie came to visit us and told us we could go to the movie that afternoon, but in the meantime we had some weeds (Indian tobacco) out back of our house and Brownie, Snooky, June and I decided we would make some cigarettes and smoke them. So, we took it off the plant and rolled the seeds in our hands until we got it real fine. We got some cigarette papers from the house. Mama and aunt Susie smelled the smoke and came out and caught us red-handed. Well, needless to say, we didn’t get to go to the movie. That’s the last time we ever tried anything like that.


From there we moved to Crystal Springs, Idaho, where daddy worked for Uncle Charley Ronriell on a dry farm. We had lots of fun up there, climbing hills and running up and down the dirt road in our bare feet.


Uncle Charley had a mean bull, and one day Snooky and I were out walking in the field. We had Pooch, our doggy, with us. The bull was upon us before we even knew he was around. He came at us snorting and pawing the dirt. Pooch got between the bull and us, and when the bull got close to us, Pooch grabbed his nose with his teeth. He hung on as the bull turned, flipped his head, and Pooch fell loose, and we high-tailed it for home. The bull ran in the opposite direction. Dad said he ought to go doctor the bull’s nose, but instead he felt like shooting it. We never went in that field again.


I would help my mother cook for the threshing crew when they came to cut the grain. We had to carry water from a spring to do our cooking and dishes. We had a wood burning stove and Snooky and I had to keep wood in the house at all times. This is when my brother taught me to chop wood.


One day a sheepherder came to our house and told my folks to keep us kids in the house, because he had seen a big bear nearby and heading our way.


Snooky and I would go out shooting squirrels with his flipper.


The next I remember, we were living in a log house at McCammon, Idaho, where daddy worked for the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration). While there, we had a big orchard with apple trees and Queen Ann cherry trees. Mama would get angry at us kids for eating the cherries, because they were so good canned.


Snooky and I started raising rabbits. Someone gave us a pair. We had 8 pair and they all had babies all at once. Their pen was in the garage and one evening while we were gone some big dogs got the garage door open and pawed the pens open and killed all the parent rabbits. Snooky and I fed the tiny baby rabbits with a doll bottle until they were old enough to sell, and I can’t eat rabbit to this day.


While living here, Leona Liljenquist (later my sister-in-law) and I decided we were going to have a skeleton museum, so we went around gathering all the bones we could find. We hid them in our garage underneath something. Mom found them and made us get rid of them. That was the end of our project.


Snooky would take me hunting and fishing every chance we got.


We moved from there to a house in McCammon, Idaho, by the church. One day Ruth and June rode their horses in to my place and got me, then we went for a ride to the cemetery. We saw a grave that had caved in and it scared us so bad we got out of there fast. Then on our way out to June’s, I was on with June and the horse saw a rope and started running. June dropped the reins and leaned down to get it and we both just about went off on our heads, but we finally retrieved the reins and got the horse stopped.


I used to tend kids for Dougan and Afton Gibbs. They always paid me with a dozen eggs and 25¢. I liked the eggs better than the money.


While we lived here, I started going with Harold (who was Leona’s brother). Harold and my brother, Snooky, joined the CCC’s (Civilian Conservation Corps). They were there for six months stationed in Boise, Idaho, where they worked with dynamite, among other things. They came back home and went to the Vo-Tech and took a sheet metal course and both graduated from that the same day my little sister, Gloria Jean, was born.


Right after that, Harold was drafted into the Army and Snooky went to work with Dad at the Naval Ordinance Plant [in Pocatello, which was later the Bucyrus Erie plant]. Harold was stationed at Medford, Oregon at Camp White, while I worked for Smith’s Apartment house on South 7th. I took care of their children, besides all the odd jobs they needed done, like pressing drapes. On Harold’s first furlough, we got married at Brother Leo Hanson’s home in McCammon, Idaho, on March 26, 1943. Harold went back to Medford and in three months I followed him. Mama had a wedding shower for us, but we didn’t get much because of gas rationing and also sugar was rationed at that time.


We lived in Medford for four months. Kenneth and Lillas (June’s brother and his wife) were stationed there, also. We were standing in line to go to the movie and there, Ken and Lillas walked by. Boy, were we ever surprised. It was good to see someone from home.


From there, Harold was sent to Lowry Field in Denver, Colorado. He took an IQ test in Medford and he had the highest IQ, so he transferred to the Air Force to learn to be a pilot. Shortly after that, the government said they had enough pilots, so he never got to finish his training.


Before he went to Medford he took his boot training in Fort Benning, Georgia. From Lowry Field in Denver, Colorado, he was sent overseas to France, Germany and Austria. He was stationed at Germany most of the time. The Germans took over a French museum and then the Americans came along and took over and got all the artifacts back.


On August 22, 1944, our first child, a son, Harold Eugene, was born. He was born at St. Anthony Hospital in Pocatello, Idaho. Dr. Frank Miller was the doctor, but they couldn’t locate him and the nurses had to hold the baby back for a while. The nurses finally had to deliver him. Harold got to come home on an emergency leave for two days to see his son before he was sent overseas again.


My brother, Snooky, was sent over to France after Harold went in. Snooky went in, got his training, was sent overseas, and was killed in August, 1945.


We named our son Harold Eugene. He weighed 9½ pounds. Harold didn’t get back home until Gene was 18 months old.


While Harold was overseas, I lived in Inkom at mom and dad’s home. I lived in part of the house. Then I moved to McCammon. Mom and dad moved up there, too and they lived in the Mill House. The Mill House was right by some grain elevators and the house sat right on the side of the river. It used to scare us to look out the window and right down into the river. Very scary.


The night Harold got home from the service he got sick and thought he had eaten something on the train, so we took him to the old General Hospital and he had appendicitis. He was in the hospital for two weeks. As soon as he got out of the hospital, we moved to Pocatello, where he went back to the railroad where he and Snooky worked before they went into the service. We lived in the Hopson Apartments–two rooms, an old outside toilet which flushed, and a guy which lived there took girly magazines out there. We had to sleep on the couch, as we didn’t have a bed. Our living room was also the bedroom. We had an old ice box on the back porch that we had to buy ice for.


Two and one-half years later our second son was born on February 10, 1947, at the old General Hospital. We named him Darwin Van. He weighed 8½ pounds. Dr. D.C. Ray was his doctor. I really like him.


At that time we bought a 1932 Buick so we could go up to McCammon, etc. to visit relatives.


When Gene was three months old, he started having asthma attacks. One night when he was three years old he was so very sick with asthma and he kept saying he was talking to grandpa Liljenquist, who had passed away. This really scared us.


When Darwin was a baby, he cried and cried every night, so Harold got mad, rolled his bassinet into the kitchen, and shut the door. It only took three nights to break him of it. I wanted to go pick him up, but Harold wouldn’t let me. Then after he quit crying nights, he would stay awake all night and sleep all day. I would have to wake him up to feed him. He really got his days and nights mixed up. After that he was a good-natured baby all the time.


When Gene was 18 months old, I left him with Liljenquists and when I came home, they had cut all of his curly hair off. I received a letter from Harold that same day, in which he told me not to cut Gene’s hair until he returned home.


Darwin’s first haircut was when he was three years old. He had long, blonde curls. It took me and three barbers to hold him down. We took pictures of him before and after.


On November 7, 1949, our third son was born. We named him Dana F. He weighed 7¾ pounds and was born at old General Hospital. His doctor was D.C. Ray, also. He was a healthy baby, but they bruised his face with the forceps and Gene was going to go beat up the doctor for hurting his little brother. He had coal black eyes and lots of black hair. He was three months old when we moved to Inkom at our present home.


We bought this home for about $2,200. The house needed quite a bit of work on it, but we were so glad to get out in the country and away from town. It seemed like heaven. We painted and papered and put new linoleum down, and we thought it looked real good.


We had a tank hooked on the stove, where Harold fixed a pipe that led to the sink so I could have hot water. There were two faucets and cold water already there, but this way I had hot water. We had a kitchen, front room, one bedroom, with another small bedroom. Our outside bathroom was across the creek. We never worried about our boys getting near the creek, because we talked to them and told them what would happen and they never went near it. They were always such good boys and always minded us.


One time June and Clair went on a trip and left their youngest daughter, Jane, with me. Jane and my youngest son, Dana, are about the same age and I took them shopping in to Pocatello with me. Everyone thought they were twins. They were only about 1½, both had dark curly hair, little round faces, and so cute. I just let everyone think it. They always played so good together and have always thought so much of each other.


One day I was washing with my conventional washer and had it in the kitchen. I unplugged the washer so I could go outside to hang clothes on the line and in a few minutes I heard Darwin screaming. He was about 4 years old. He had climbed on a chair by the washer and plugged it in, and decided he wanted to work the wringer and his thumb went in. I ran in the house and released the wringer and it hit him under the chin. It almost tore his thumb completely off. We took him to the doctor and he said the bone was the only thing holding it on. We had to have several stitches inside and out. It was bleeding so bad and I was so scared. In the excitement I forgot to grab a towel when we took him into the doctor, so I tore the ruffle off my beautiful slip and put it around his thumb. When Dr. Ray saw it he said, “Well, it’s not the best bandage in the world, but it’s sure the prettiest.” It healed quickly for being so bad. He never tried that again.