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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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

Hyde Park's Helen Seamons recalls simple joys, self-sufficiency -- and roller-skating to Smithfield

Helen Seamons / Photo by Brittny Goodsell Jones

By Brittny Goodsell Jones

November 16, 2008 | HYDE PARK -- When Helen Seamons was in junior high, she and a girlfriend roller-skated more than three miles from Hyde Park to Smithfield down the US-91 highway, just because they could.

Today, Seamons said there are too many cars to attempt the same journey. But in the 1920s, that wasn't a problem.

"If you saw a car, you about knew who it was," the Hyde Park resident said.

Seamons is one of Hyde Park's oldest residents. She will turn 94 next August. The house she currently lives in (going on 64 years) is just a few blocks away from the house she was born in. Seamons has lived most of her life in Hyde Park except for a few years of living in Benson after she got married.

Having lived for almost a century in Hyde Park, Seamons has noticed a few changes around town. The most obvious change is growth, which resonates back to her story about roller-skating -- everyone knew everybody on the road back then, she said. Now, roads are too busy.

She doesn't mind the presence of new houses or even the number of people, but she misses the feel of a close-knit community that comes from a small town.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she compares the change by looking at the difference in the number of LDS wards -- the neighborhood boundaries that determine what religious congregation an LDS member is a part of -- in Hyde Park. Back in 1933 while Seamons attended North Cache High School, only one ward existed in Hyde Park. Now, there are more than nine wards. Being a member of her LDS ward is one way she can find a tight-knit community feel.

Along with busy roads came more businesses and retail stores in the valley. Fashion is something Seamons said has changed. She remembers a day of dressing in her best clothes to attend dances in Hyde Park -- she still has her eighth-grade graduation dress somewhere. Dresses were worn all the time while growing up. In general, women didn't wear pants.

"They weren't heard of," she said.

Seamons, whose husband passed away in 2002, has four children, 20 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

"I've been trying to make a Christmas list of their names but I can't remember all of them," she said with a laugh.

Besides the size of her family, others things such as entertainment have changed. During the 1930s, Seamons said she and her friends made their own kind of entertainment. Roller-skating in her church's cultural hall was popular. Movies were also big. She remembers watching Gone With the Winda few times in Logan theaters.

When her friends wanted to go to Logan, they often took the street car that ran from Preston to Logan. These outings weren't typical since it was more convenient to stay in Hyde Park. On nights in Hyde Park, it was common to get together with girlfriends for candy pulls, an activity where each girl would bring an ingredient to make candy such as taffy or divinity.

"It was mostly girls but boys would come around and try to swipe it," she said.

One of the first television sets in Hyde Park was owned by Seamons' family. She remembers neighbors dropping by their house for Friday Night Fight Nights, which featured boxing matches on television.

Even having a car was considered a nice luxury. For many years, Seamons said her dad didn't own a car. She also shared one bicycle and one sleigh in between her five sisters.

The volume of items people own now is a major difference she sees in today's culture. Now, every kid has a car, she said. Overspending and indulgence has much to do with the massive credit card debt the country is currently facing. Many kids today are spoiled, Seamons said, and tend to buy everything they want even if they don't need it.

Her parents taught her to buy what was necessary, and do the best she could at the most reasonable time and price. Her modest house was paid off more than 40 years ago. At the time, her monthly house payment was $50. She remembers when a loaf of bread sold for 10 cents. And during World War 11, Seamons remembers being gas- and sugar-rationed.

During the Great Depression, Seamons said her family didn't feel the effects as strongly as others did. Her mom sewed most of the clothes anyway and there was always enough to eat because of their garden.

More than 70 years later, Seamons also remember the impact President Franklin D. Roosevelt had on Americans during the Great Depression.

"He brought modern times around and got things going," she said. "It's been said that we need another FDR with conditions turning up like they have. It's a really scary time."

Even in these somewhat discouraging times, Seamons thinks having a good head on your shoulders will help. Having lived 93 years, Seamons said her advice to others is to always do your best and be honest in your dealings: "Keep the commandments and love one another."

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