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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Made in Korea: From orphanage to true American riches

By Diane Denning

April 2, 2009 | An orphanage in Seoul, Korea, was the first place he ever called home. Now he sits in his white house in Logan. Pictures of his four children line the wall directly behind him. A computer and TV are both things Scott Salisbury never knew existed as he started his life in Korea, but now owns both. His American wife, Shelley, of 22 years helps Salisbury remember the specific facts of his past from the kitchen in their home.

"I was made in Korea and shipped to the U.S.," Salisbury said as a smile came across his face. "The orphanage is very rough life, not what you would call easy."

This orphanage was strictly a boy's orphanage, with about 500 children ranging from 2 to 16 years old. There were two different levels for the boys to live; older kids on the lower level and younger kids were on the top level. As far as Salisbury can remember, he lived in the orphanage since his birth on June 30, 1964.

In the orphanage the boys were given three meals a day. "The meals were soup consisting of just broth, no vegetables or meat, and a bowl of rice," Salisbury said. "On Sundays you were very lucky if you got fish or an egg."

Sometimes, the boys were lucky to get food at all. Salisbury said there were times he would go days without food. The older orphanage boys ate the younger children's portions causing Salisbury and others to go searching for food elsewhere.

"Sometimes after school or before school we would steal from the store owners to survive," Salisbury said. "I would distract the store owner and my buddies would stuff as much food as they could. When they had the max they could carry, they would yell 'done,' and we would spread out and run. We would meet in one location and distribute the food."

The bedrooms in the orphanage were 15 x 20 feet in dimensions and housed 15 boys around the same age. The floors were made of concrete, with an underground pit in each bedroom for hot coals to be placed that heated the floors.

"Everybody would sleep around this pit," Salisbury said. "You didn't want to be right in the middle because you would burn, so everybody would sleep around the pit like a campfire. Our feet would be close to the center and our head on the other end.

Each boy took a turn heating the coals in their room, Salisbury said. If your turn came in the summer, you were lucky, but if it came in the winter and you forgot to put the coals in the pit, making everyone else cold, you weren't allowed to sleep in the room the next day. You had to sleep outside.

The winters in Korea can get cold, similar to Logan, said Rylee Tervort, a senior majoring in speech and communication. Tervort lived in Korea for two years while serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Spring is green and gorgeous with cherry blossoms everywhere," Tervort said. "Summer is hot and humid and just miserable. Fall is gorgeous like spring and winter is cold. Colder than Logan with a little more snow."

The orphan boys were given clothing with changes in the seasons, and were allowed to wash their clothes only when they became dirty.

"We had to make the clothes last a long time, because they were only given in those {four} quarters," Salisbury said.

Shoes for the orphans were made of rubber, making them last longer. "A lot of children got one pair of shoes every other year," Salisbury said. "If you lost your shoes, you didn't get another pair. You just had to go barefoot until it was time to get new shoes."

Orphan life didn't include entertainment for the boys; they had to find other ways to have fun. Soccer was one activity the children played and sometimes if they were lucky they were allowed to watch a fight on TV.

"There wasn't much to do in the orphanage but try and stay out of trouble," Salisbury said.

One way they stayed out of trouble was by playing games, such as soccer, or they would make up games. Up the road from the orphanage was a prison, Salisbury said. The prisoners walked past the orphanage to their rice fields and gardens. Along the road to the prisoner's fields was a wall surrounding the orphanage. The children knew what time the prisoners walked past and would wait by the wall.

"We kids would get little rocks and put them right next to us," Salisbury said. "We weren't tall enough to see the other side of the wall, but we knew when the prisoners were coming, so we would just throw the rocks. That was our funnest entertainment because we didn't have anything else to do except throw rocks. We would keep score of who hit them to find the winner."

In the orphanage there were about eight to 12 boys who grew close to Salisbury. "When the weekend would come some of the older orphanage kids would become drunk, and beat the tar out of us," Salisbury said. Instead of putting up with it, the group of younger boys dug a hole. In this hole all the boys could fit straight up and down, just big enough for the boys to hide until the next day when they would be safe. "This happened pretty frequently," Salisbury said. "Especially on a weekend or after a big celebration day."

When Salisbury was nine, he received news that a family in Meridian, Idaho, was going to adopt him. Salisbury said there were about 20 orphanage boys getting adopted around the world at the same time he was.

"We got our picture taken, but we didn't know what they were doing," Salisbury said. "They didn't explain to us what they were doing and we had no idea there were cameras and pictures. Those were not common where we lived."

Technology wasn't even presented to Salisbury and the other orphanage children at all. He didn't know what a camera was until he came to America.

All of children being adopted flew on a 747 plane to America. They boys didn't know what this big plane was, but they knew they finally had enough food to eat and were headed somewhere far away from Korea.

The family Salisbury was adopted by had four biological children and two other adopted children. "They were good to me," Salisbury said. "My father taught me English, and my mom bribed me with candy. I had never tasted sugar."

Salisbury attended Meridian High School in Idaho. He was introduced to wrestling by his neighbor and wrestled all through high school. He graduated at the end of his junior year and completed one semester of college at Boise State.

Salisbury was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by his adopted family when he first came to America. He was raised Catholic in the orphanage, so at first he didn't want anything to do with this new church. Salisbury said he enjoyed fishing and playing on Sundays and didn't want to have to go to church. He decided to join the church when he was 15, 6 years after he was adopted. When Salisbury turned 19, he served a mission to Los Angeles.

After his mission he went back to California to attend school at El Camino College. He finished another year of school there before he was offered a job in Centerville, Utah.

It was in Utah when he met his wife Shelley, from Centerville. She met Scott when he invited her to a singles dance for their church.

"I didn't dance well," Salisbury said. "I just jumped up and down. But she was rich, and I was poor."

Something clicked. The two were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple on Sept. 19, 1986. He and Shelley have four biological children, three boys and one girl.

"Having kids has been my success in life," Salisbury said. "I never knew what my generation would look like."

Salisbury and his wife moved to Logan in 1987 when Salisbury was offered a job. Since they have lived here, Salisbury has worked in a few different jobs.

"I have worked for numerous companies," Salisbury said. "But I have always been blessed with good jobs."

Salisbury has been active in his community as well as his church. He has served in numerous callings including young men's leader, executive secretary, elders quorum, a member of the bishopric, a ward missionary and is currently in the high council.

Mishelle Palmer has been a resident of Logan for 26 years and has known Salisbury for over ten years.

"The first time I met Scott was when he and his family moved into our ward," Palmer said. "Scott is always cracking jokes. He is a comedian and a genuinely nice guy."

Palmer served as a committee member with Salisbury as her supervisor. As she was serving under him she noticed the leadership skills Salisbury possessed.

"He is good hearted and would do anything for you," Palmer said. "He seems like a real good leader, one who wants to accomplish things. He is a real go getter."

Brian Godfrey has also worked with Salisbury in leadership positions over the last ten months. His first impression of Salisbury was his friendly and welcoming demeanor. Godfrey said Salisbury was the first person to reach out to he and his wife when they moved to Logan.

"This first thing that comes to mind when I think of Scott is that he is not afraid to talk to people," Godfrey said. "He is one of the most blunt people I know, but in a good way. He is organized, always has a game plan and is prepared to execute it. He takes charge."

Godfrey has learned from Salisbury. "Scott shows excitement for the work he does," Godfrey said. "You have to do that as a leader; lead by being excited."

Salisbury came from a rough beginning as an orphan but has overcome his challenges to become a respected member of the community and his church. It has been 36 years since he was adopted by an American family and he still hasn't returned to his first home in Korea.

"I had the chance to back to Korea, but I didn't take the opportunity," Salisbury said. "I have no desire to go back."

Salisbury said life is precious and luckily only comes one day at a time. He has lived his life to this point without any regrets.

"Life is no mistake, just learning opportunities," Salisbury said. "You make your own success and we can succeed together or fail together, but failure is not an option."


Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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