Saturday, September 22, 2012

Doral Pilling's Life History, p 89 to 94

Karen Davis is constructing a history of the Calgary Stakes.  She asked for some input -- especially around the 1920's.  All I have is this -- from the 1940's, which I typed from Doral Pilling's Life Story and then sent  to her.  If you haven't read it ... or want to read it again ... and have some time ... then enjoy.

At page 89 the text begins:

Blogger's Note: I have Doral's last set of glasses
which are similar in shape and design to this set
Much of our “life” was spent in church work. I must say that everything we did in the church gave us a lot of real happiness – things seemed to be so peaceful as compared with the dog-eat-dog attitude of “big business” as we had it in the oil business.

Money was real tight, but the church was growing so we had to get a new building. A group of lots were purchased on the corner of first street west and Crescent Road. A bunch of us dug the basement for the Church by hand, and dumped the dirt over the bank across the road. As I said, we had no money so nearly every subcontract on the building was taken over by our group and we worked out the money our ward had to pay, and most of the materials we bought with money from the Church Headquarters. It was fun as I now look back at all of us digging that basement. Don Mackay wasn’t a member of the church then, and he helped us. I enjoyed throwing the dirt over the truck and aiming it straight at Don. I think he was the first one baptised in the church.

When the recreation hall was closed in, with but a plank floor, we started to play badminton – work awhile, and at times play badminton, for quite a while. It was fun for me to play badminton, for while I was not too good, nobody else knew anything about it and it made me a certain winner – I like to win.

One cold wintery day I walked into the gym of the Church with one of those very heavy winter pile coats on, and some of my friends were playing badminton. I had never seen them play before, and they didn’t know I liked the game, so I asked Dr. West what kind of a game this was. He explained the game to me in great detail so I told him I would like to try it if he would show me how. For him to get a “sucker” like it appeared I was, was a real treat so he played me. Purposely I didn’t even take off my heavy winter coat, but somehow I kept winning until I had beat him 15 – 0.

This was a highlight in his life, and mine, and both of us have told the story many times, each of us making it a little worse with each telling until one day I met him in Cardston and he was buying a new Pontiac car from my brother-in-law, Lawrence McNaughton. Dr. Norris West told me then that he would bet me he could beat me now, and I told him I would play him a game and the loser paid for the car and the winner would get the car. I am sure he could have beaten me, so I would have had to back out of the wager somehow, but he still remembered the one game we had already played so he backed out and I didn’t have too.

During these depression days, Charlie and Lucille invited us to go to a show with them. About the time we got to the show he stated walking a little faster like he wanted to get to the ticket wicket to buy the tickets. Somehow I was able to beat him there and I bought the tickets. Little did I know that he had no money and so really what he did was just out fumble me, and let me win the race to the ticket wicket. This was during the days when money was very tight and it wasn’t unusual for people to be without money, even if show tickets were cheaper than they are now.

The church has a different system to keep in touch with its members. Each month two of the male members are assigned to represent the Bishop in visiting each family. Usually each pair have five or less families to visit and they often assign one of the younger men, with less experience to accompany one of the older, more experienced ones, so I was assigned as a junior partner to Charlie Ursenbach (who was more of the dependable type). Early in my life and as a matter of fact all through it I have always kept looking for little ways in which I can “pull” little jokes on people. Nothing too mean, just something to keep them on their toes.

As home teachers, we are to assist those we see in any way we can and if we think there is anything that may require special attention, report it to the Bishopric, and they will then see how helpful they can be. In theory the “set up” is perfect, but it isn’t often they can find perfect people to do the job, so I guess that is why I went with Charlie – to keep me straight.

Lloyd Ririe got so he didn’t come to all of our meetings and things. His place was only about a block from the church. Charlie and I thought that someone should go and teach him a lesson, it being Sunday when he should be in his meetings. We went down the alley and observed carefully that someone was in the back yard working so we got behind the garage and picked up a few rocks. When he went into the green house to work on his plants we just threw a rock gently at the green house, breaking the window. We slipped off quietly down the alley back to the church. Although Lloyd didn’t see us he suspected us and said he saw us run around the corner of his house. Since we didn’t run around the corner of his building we were sure he hadn’t seen us. So we tried never to openly reveal the manner in which the lesson was taught.

It’s really no fun to do anything to anybody unless it stirs them up a bit, so when I find somebody easy to tease, I consider them fair game. I reason that maybe they would be disappointed if you didn’t so I don’t like to disappoint them. On this particular visit to one of these people they were not home, but there was a hammer and some nails on the back porch so I suggested that they would be more likely to know we had come to visit if we nailed their back door shut. Charlie should have known better, but he gave in and the job was done. Well, there was a lot of talk about i t, and while we didn’t exactly deny the job, certainly we didn’t admit it. There were enough uncertainties that I enjoyed it very much – so did Charlie.

It wasn’t too much later when we went to visit Mary again and she was ready to go out. She explained that she was going to a special Ladies Club Meeting, so we kept asking questions and “chewing the fat” until she missed most of the meeting. Among other things she told us was that they were going to name the club that evening and that the best name they could come up with was the Sociability and Mental Uplift Club. We suggested that the So-Me-Up Club sounded about the same, but was, it seemed to us, a better name. She did get to the meeting in time to stop the name, and to the best of my knowledge they still don’t have an official name.

One day when Charlie and I were playing a game of tennis at the court by the church a lady rose up and said, “Which one of you did it?” Guilty or innocent, the first question was, “Did what? “ She said, “Took my purse? I had it right there on that 2 x 4 where it wouldn’t be lost, and one of you took it.” I believed her, but I knew I hadn’t touched it, but I did my best to protect Charlie, who I was sure had misplaced it for her. We kept on playing tennis and she kept babbling, so eventually I got close to Charlie and asked him what he did with it, and he told me he hadn’t even seen it, didn’t I have it? Now we were in such a mess. It was a thing either of us would have done, but we hadn’t. We joined in the search with our friend to find the purse, and there was a lot of weeds and grass next to the fence, so we got on our hands and knees, and pulled most of the grass but there was no purse. By this time there was quite a bit of money and other valuables in the purse and she didn’t want to lose it. There was nothing else to do so Charlie asked the lady if he could ride home with them. They said sure, but it would do no good and besides they only had a little Ford Sports Coupe, and there wasn’t room, but Charlie insisted so he rode on the running board.

When they got to the house, Charlie asked, “Now where was the last place you saw it?” She said, “Right here in the drawer”, and opened it and there was the purse. Charlie and I told that story quite a number of times to illustrate that sometimes when one knows beyond a doubt he is right, that there is still a chance he’s wrong, so nobody should be too sure of himself, even if he knows he is right.

It wasn’t too long before a very special meeting was to be held and Apostle Melvin J. Ballard was coming from Salt Lake to take charge. He was reputed to be one of the really great speakers in the Church, and I wanted to hear him. We thought perhaps there might be a reorganization of the ward, but we were not sure. I went early to be sure and get a good seat. I selected it right on the aisle where I could stick my legs out if the meeting was too long and my legs needed stretching.

I sat and sat there, long after the meeting was to commence, but Apostle Ballard didn’t even come upstairs. Charlie Ursenbach did come up, and he came right to me and told me they wanted me downstairs. I told him to “buzz off”, that he wasn’t going to get me to leave my chair I had sat on so long, and let him get it. No matter what he said I remained on my seat, so he went downstairs without me.

In a few minutes up he came again and told me they wanted me downstairs. When I looked him straight in the eye, and took a good look at his countenance, I could see there was no fooling, so I went down with him. It was at that time they asked me to be a member of the Bishopric. Morgan Pitcher was to be the Bishop and Charlie and me, the councilors. We went upstairs with Apostle Ballard, and I went and stood in the back of the hall – by that time I didn’t want a seat!

It wasn’t long before the new Bishopric was sustained. Right after that Wyora was to sing a solo, and I think could have done it reasonably well if she had time to get over the shock of hearing her husband sustained as a member of the Bishopric. It was a real pleasure and opportunity for me to spend the next ten years in the Bishopric. A little experience I had while I was in the Bishopric of the Calgary Ward, might serve to illustrate what I have been trying to say in a different way. I had charge of the boys from 12 to 15 years of age, and generally speaking they were a real good, lively bunch, but there were always one or two not quite as mature and stable as the others. This one boy lived in East Calgary, near the Ogden Shops, and his church activity was just beginning. I don’t suppose he would have come at all, but we “went out” and got him. He was doing fine and entered into our activities. One Friday evening they were having a party and dance in Lethbridge, and I got a call on the phone from this lad. He told me he was at the bus station and ready to go but that he had left his purse home and couldn’t buy his ticket, so would I make arrangements with the Greyhound Lines to give him a ticket. He would pay me back Wednesday of next week at Mutual.

I made the arrangements and paid for his ticket as requested by the boy. Wednesday came and the boy failed to turn up at Mutual, and I really thought nothing of that, but neither did he come to Sunday School, so Monday morning I went to see him. I took one of my good friends, Callis Pitcher with me, and when the boy’s mother answered the door, she told us the boy was home, but he was in bed and she would call him.

Usually a boy can appear in at least three or four minutes, but we waited fifteen or perhaps twenty minutes and nothing was stirring, so the mother went to his room and then asked us to come. When we got there we saw the same thing she did: the window was open, and the boy was gone. There is an old saying: a guilty heart needs no accuser, so the boy gave considerable evidence of having something special on his mind. We excused ourselves and said we would see him at Mutual Wednesday night, as usual.

The boy didn’t come to Mutual, but his mother did, and she had brought a letter to me from the boy, so I put it in my pocket. The mother said, “Well, aren’t you going to read it?” I told her no and she said he wanted an answer, so I told her that no matter what the letter said, I wanted to see him Sunday. I had my mind made up not to read the letter, for really it didn’t make so much difference, but curiosity got the best of me and when I got home that night I read the letter. It was a three page letter listing crimes he had committed during the past couple of years. They were not too serious, but showed that he needed help.

Sunday came along, and so did the boy! I remember so well how he stood near the baptismal font so stiff and visibly frightened – it was so clear that he expected pretty rough treatment, so I just went up to him, put my arm around his waist and said, “Come on, let’s go to class.” He asked me, “What about the letter?” and I told him we would talk about that later. We had a car, but since it was loaded down with children, and I wanted to be alone with the boy, I told Wyora to go on home with the kids and I could come later.

It was always interesting to me that while I walked with the boy to our house (I had invited him for dinner), the boy kept insisting the reason he stole things he did was generally to be “approved” by his chums, and that he really didn’t do it for himself. He also insisted, and kept repeating that he was a coward. Why he wouldn’t dare fight anybody his size or in any way oppose them. It was easier to furnish them with cigarettes, candy, etc., from the store for which he was working, and thus be “approved of”. It kind of “came to me”, or I got the impression that he needed to be built up, not knocked down as he expected, so I told him, that of all the boys I had taught that perhaps there was not even one among them that had the courage he had. Why, I reasoned, none of them would even dare to write a letter like he did to me. Such courage, in my opinion made him a very outstanding boy, with a great future.

To make a long story short, he and I became very friendly and he got a thrill out of being “one” with us, and developing his special characteristics, and he did a really good job of it. Everything was going along so well, and then his father and mother moved to somewhere in Washington, and I thought that would be the end of the boy insofar as church activity was concerned, as a lad at that age needs somebody to take a special interest in him to keep him pointed in the right direction. The situation bothered me, but not enough for me to keep in touch, so I really gave it up as a lost cause – I shouldn’t have, but I did.

About four years later, when I went to leave the Church one evening there was a young man, dressed in a United States Army uniform standing by the door waiting. I didn’t recognize him, he had grown and changed so much, until he reached out his hand and said, “Brother Pilling, I have come to talk to you.” We had a talk that was ‘thrilling’ to me. He had kept up his church activity, and was now an Elder, and was soon to be married to a Bishop’s daughter in the Alberta Temple and wanted me to come to the wedding. I have told this story to illustrate that the most thrilling things that can come to one in this life, come when you give that special little service to others.

One evening we were having a Bishopric Meeting and there was a lot of noise outside. Morgan Pitcher, the bishop, went out to quiet things down. He soon came back, and right in the middle of his nose the bone had been offset and his nose was bleeding profusely. I pulled on his nose and set it as straight as I could. He told us some young fellows were playing on some planks. He told the boys to leave and when they did, one of the planks popped him in the nose. It seemed that something different, but interesting was always happening. I enjoyed working with the officers and members of the church for those ten years.

I have passed over ten years as though nothing happened, which is not the case. During that time Wyora had five children: Arta, Earl, Bonnie, Wyona and Rita. As she had said when Earl was born, now she had twice as much love, now our children had increased to five, so she had five times as much love and it really showed up in her too, for such a delightful wife, I feel sure nobody else ever had. Where could you find a woman that could hold her composure and not get angry no matter what happened? People openly said that she was the only woman in the world that could possibly live with me.

Bloggers Note: This old picture was influential
on my search in Italy to buy my own cameo.
While Dr. Robert Walker (then on a mission from Raymond and who had been a neighbour of Wyora’s through her childhood) and a couple of his missionary companions were here, Wyora invited them over for dinner. She made a special effort because it was Robert Walker, and cooked a lovely meal. As she went by me at the table with a dish of gravy in each hand she tripped. The gravy went all over, some of it on the ceiling and she fell flat to the floor. She got up, smiled and went on her way such as I am sure nobody else could have possibly done. She always thought I tripped her, but really she just stumbled over my foot. This I never did convince her of though – she still thinks I tripped her. I tell you this to show how very “different” she was, and how I loved it.

Wyora supported me in everything I ever wanted to do. At the same time she stayed home, looked after the children, never missed a church meeting, and worked as an executive officer in every part of the church. She set such a high standard of love and affection, not only for her family, but for everybody else that I am sure her influence will always be felt for good.


  1. Thank you for the gift of typing all of that in and scanning in the photos.

    I wasn't ready to stop reading. Thanks to your citation I could go right to where you left off and keep reading. Ít is a page turner. Lots of jokes, but just as many heart-breaking moments. I love the image of Doral tasting the gas-laden mud because he was so tickled (understatement I am sure) about the "new strike".

    Also, I love the image of Doral and colleagues blowing acres of rock wool and then photographing it to show the Research Council in Edmonton.

    Now, back to Doral's history.

  2. ... i don't know HOW you ended up with a wyora in the family... who inherited those characteristics from her? Not me, that is for sure! :-)

  3. Re: Wyora's characteristics -- when I see someone who knew them and they say, I just loved Wyora, I say, yes, I did too. Unfortunately, I am more like my dad than my mom.

    Even more unfortunately for me,none of their old friends ever disagree with me.

    That sucks.

  4. Re: Stories about Moose Dome and Rock Wool

    I just read that about tasting the mud, too. Wasn't Doral with the Rabidou's. And I was going through some pictures and found one of Lawrence Kearl, his partner in the Rock Wool business. Tons of memories flooded back to me on that one.

    Wasn't that fun this summer, reading some of Doral's teen-age antics and then acting them out with the grandkids. Now they will all know how to box, do the boxer's dancing footwork, and take a sharp jab right to the nose!

    As well, Connor and I were looking at the scrapbook that Edna kept for Doral about his athletic prowess and we came across a picture of his basketball team in Shelby when he was about 17. I took the book over to Wyona's. I thought some of her kids might like to go through it, for it also contains newspaper clippings from the Olympics and going to the British Empire Games. As well, there is a programme in there, from when Doral and Wyora went to a social event in Regent's Park, London, which is just out the door and down 2 blocks from where Greg lived for four years.

    Small world.


  5. I loved all the stories of Doral. He was an amazing man and he married his sweetheart of a lifetime. I was so fortunate to be a part of their lives.Thank you for taking the time to type all the stories in, Arta.

  6. You are welcome, for the time, Wyona. Freely given. I try to imagine those men, digging the basement of the church by hand, and then taking the dirt and dumping it over the brow of the hill that runs along Crescent Road there. That would be illegal now. Perhaps it was illegal then, but that is how Doral reports it was done.