Story of My Life
by Rollo Edward Watkins
Probably without any knowledge and concern on my part but with great expectations and hopes on the part of my parents, I was born on Saturday March 28, 1903 at precisely 5:15 p.m., the son of Joseph Hyrum and Mary Ann Doxey Watkins.
I have been told by my mother that I was born on the day her father was buried, thus she was unable to attend her father's funeral. I wonder how many times from that day, I have been the cause of preventing her from doing things? I did not know any of my grandparents.
My parents are of English stock. Joseph Hyrum, my father, was born in Street, Somersetshire, England on August 13, 1851. He emigrated to Utah with his parents when he was 13 years old walking beside a hand cart. My mother, Mary Ann Doxey, was born in Ogden, Utah on August 28, 1856. Her parents on were born in England. Joseph Hyrum and Mary Ann had a family of fourteen children, seven boys and seven girls. of which I happen to be the youngest, the seventh son and the fourteenth child. At the time of my birth my mother was forty seven years of age. My brothers and sisters were Lawrence,
I was reared in the City of Ogden, living at 239 - 27th Street at the family residence until after my return from my European Mission. There were two houses on the large lot. My father built both of them as he was a carpenter. He build all the cabinets in
the kitchen. The house in the back was known as the Summer Home. Our home facing on 27th Street was the first two story house built in Ogden. It was heated by a wood burning stove in the kitchen. We had a heating stove for coal in the Dinning Room. For awhile I lived in both the big home and the Summer Home. There were three bedrooms upstairs. Downstairs there was a Parlor, Living Room, Kitchen and a bedroom and a bathroom down the hail. My sister Ruby's Studio was downstairs where she taught art and painted. I shared a bedroom with Hy some of the time. Mother raised four of her grandchildren. Ben and Jed, who were my sister Beth's children, had a bedroom in the big- home which was facing 27th Street. Norma and Marvel, Ruby's daughters, lived with us and were like sisters to me. My sisters Mabel and Pearl lived with us at home and worked before they were married.
I shared the chore of cutting wood for the wood burning stove with my sister Pearl. Early in the morning we would cut the wood before going to school. One of my chores was to take care of the yard. We had chickens. I had to clean the chicken coop and gather the eggs. We also had a garden by the Summer house. We grew most of our food in the garden. There were also fruit trees in the garden. The apples were small and we called them “Strawberry” apples. Mother made pies with them. There was a barn in the back yard and Frank had a shed with his blacksmith tools in it, which was along the access road which led to Grant Street.
I can remember Indians coming to the back door. Mother would always give them something to eat. The Indians would come in the Summer time. Mother was always generous and fed any tramp who came
by. There was a decorative stone in front of the house. Someone put a mark on the stone by the side walk. Tramps coming by the street would pass up other houses and come to our house . Mother feed them on the lawn.
My parents didn't have a car. They used the trolly to go up the canyon and to Salt Lake City. During the Summer we lived in the house Dad built on the Ogden River. It had a front porch, two bedrooms and a kitchen. People slept on the porch. My father would take the trolly in the canyon to and from work during the Summer. When we went to Salt Lake City we went on the Bamburger trolly. Some of my most pleasant memories are of the things I did as a child at our Summer home on the Ogden River. I went swimming and fishing in the river. With friends we went hiking and hunting in the mountainS. There was a Hermitage(SP) Resort close by and my older brothers and sisters went to the Dance Hall there in the evenings.
The Doxeys had a cabin just above us (?) on the river. So there were cousins to play with. I spent time with
During the Summer, our family went to Salt Aire by way of the Bamberger trolly. They gave a prize to the largest family who went. Several years we won the prize. We would go swimming in the Great Salt Lake.
I attended my first school when six years of age, going to the Central School where the Elks Club now stands. Mrs. Craven was the Principal. The following year I attended the Bugree Grade School, until I passed my grades. Upon graduating from the grade school, I next attended the Lewis Junior High School for four years. Graduating from the Lewis Junior High School I next entered Weber Academy which was the L.D.S. High School. Beal Joe Ricks and Arron Tracy were the principals. The School changed it's name to Weber Normal College. I graduated in 1921.
While in High School I worked at the Watson & Tanner Clothing Store on 24th Street in the afternoons and during the Summer before going on my Mission. I got the job at the Clothing Store because I knew the Tanners. We sold everything. I made less than $1.00 an hour at my first job. I did not work in the Lumber Mill where my father worked because I wasn't a carpenter.
I was ordained a Deacon by William E. Newman on May 27, 1915. On March 11, 1917 I was ordained a Teacher by Robert McQuarrie. George E. Browning ordained me a Priest on my birthday March 28, 1920. I did not go on a Mission immediately after school as my father had throat cancer and I was needed at home. After my Mission I moved to Los Angeles, California to enter College and lived with my brother Frank in Highland Park.
I was ordained an Elder by Eleazer. J. Jones on March 4, 1923. I was visiting my sister, Pearl, in Salt Lake City one time. She knew Hyrum G. Smith who was the Patriarch of the Church. She called and made an appointment for me to have a blessing which was given on
Before I left on my Mission, I taught a Sunday School class. This is a picture of the Sunday School teachers who had 100% attendance for one year in the 2nd Ward in Ogden, Utah. I am in the back row 3rd from the left. My sister, Pearl, is also in the picture.
I left on my Mission to Great Britain on April 18, 1924. I traveled a week by train to New York and then on to Montreal. From Montreal it took a week to go to England by boat. Some of the cities I served in in England were Bramwell, Sheffield, Manchester, Wiqan, Darnley. Liverpool was the last city I was in. The areas were called Conferences instead of Districts. My Mission President was James E. Talmage. He encouraged us to travel. Thus while on my Mission I went to Edinburgh, Scotland where I bought some books. One of them was Poems by Robert Burns.
Before I returned home from my Mission, I toured Europe. I went from Callis to France and. by train to Paris. I then took a train to Italy and traveled to Florence and Rome.
I was released from my Mission in the Spring and sailed home on the ship Maulcalm leaving Liverpool June 18, 1926 arriving in Montreal on June 26th. I arrived home on the 4th of July 1926.
After my Mission I moved to Los Angeles, California to enter College and lived with my brother Frank and his wife, Bernice, in Highland Park next door to Edith Hanlon and her first husband. She lived in the house in the back. Her parents and her brother lived in the large front house. My brother Frank helped me financially so that I could attend school. A trolly ran in front of our house. I rode it five miles to U.S.C. Dental School. It cost me five cents. One Thanksgiving I remember having a hamburger for dinner. Bernice was not a great cook.
I graduated from Dental School in the Coliseum on June 4, 1932. A month or so after graduation I took the California State Dental Examination and then went to Utah to take State Dental Exam.
Although I never practiced dentistry in Utah I have had a license to do so. In 1965 I retired, having practiced for thirty three years in the medical building I shared with my brother Frank and a couple of other doctors at 5414 N. Figueroa Street in Highland Park which is a suburb of Los Angeles. Dentistry as a profession was all right. I started out during the Depression. A lot of people didn't pay their bills. Since my leg hurt, I didn't like standing all day.
I was a Sunday School teacher in the Adams Ward in Los Angeles where I met Margaret Ann Miller, daughter of John T. and Margaret Kienke Miller, who was to become my wife a few years later. Frank had a beach house in Manhattan where Margaret and some of my other friends would go during the Summer.
On August 21, 1937 Margaret and I were married in the Wilshire Ward. We then drove to Salt Lake City and were married in the Salt Lake Temple. After Margaret and I were married, we lived in an apartment in Los Angeles. One day we were out driving in Pasadena when I saw a house for sale. Two old sisters had lived in it. It was built in 1900. There was someone else looking at the house at the same time. I asked how much it was and bought it right then. When I told Frank how much I paid for it, he said,” You couldn't put a driveway in for that amount”. I have never moved to another home. When we first moved into the house on Palmetto Drive, we only had a few orange crates for furniture. I bought most of the furniture from Estate auctions, a few pieces at a time.
On February 7, 1939 our first child was born. We named our daughter Marilyn Roxanne but have a called her Roxanne. She was born a month early and I called her half pint as she was so small. Our first son was born on December 15, 1940. I named him after my brother, John Franklin. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 thus we were at War the year after John was born. Our last son, James Edward, was born on July 30. 1944. World War II ended a year later in 1945.
During the war gasoline was rationed but I had enough to drive to Highland Park to practice dentistry. I also worked nights as that was the only time some people could come to see me. I would go home for dinner and then drive back to the office.
I was ordained a High Priest by Joseph Reese in Pasadena on May 28, 1939 and became the First Councilor in the Pasadena Bishopric. The Bishop was____________________ I was in the Bishopric until August 1945.
Margaret Ann had Polycystic Kidney disease for ten years. She died on May --. 1948. In July of 1949 I bought a cottage at Catalina Island. In August of 1949 Veronica WurtZ and I were married in Mexico. She was a patient of Frank's and that is how I met her.
I was a member of the Pasadena Stake Committee of the Adult Aaronic priesthood. On May 7, 1956 I was set apart by Say B. Rose to serve as a Missionary at the Los Angeles Temple where I went on Thursday afternoons which was my day off. The following week I was set apart as a member of the Pasadena Stake High Council by Clifford E. Young on May 13, 1956. Howard W. Hunter was the Stake President. The hardest part of being on the High Council was giving monthly talks in Sacrament Meetings.
Veronica and I were in the Temple one day walking down the hail when a counselor in the Presidency asked us both to be Temple workers. He took us down to the office and we were set apart by President Bowring as Los Angeles Temple workers.
On October 8, 1973 President Harold B. Lee conferred the Sealing Power on me to be a Sealer in the Los Angeles Temple. We made a special trip to Salt Lake City to be set apart by the President of the Church. Veronica and I continued to labor in the Temple until she had a stroke in 1985.
For recreation I learned how to play golf. I used to play on Thursday afternoons until I became a Missionary guide at the Los Angeles Temple. I also played golf at Catalina Island where my family spent their Summers. When school was out in June the family would go over to Catalina. I would come over by boat Friday nights for the week-end. While at Catalina I built a couple of sheds. One shed covered the washing machine and provided storage for swim equipment. Later I added a storage shed next to the kitchen door for beach equipment, paints, canned food and other items.
When I first started out practicing, I got an infection which localized in the marrow of the bone of my right leg. I have had an infection in my leg for about 65 years. It was before I was married. There hasn't been a cure for Osteomyelitis. I have had three operations on my leg. One operation was a skin graft after the doctor cleaned out the bone. Of f and on I have used a cane. It would clear up and then come back.
During the Spring of 1991 I got tired of dressing it morning and night. I had a lot of pain with my bad leg. I finally had to have my leg amputated. However, I would not advise anyone to do it.
By the end of August I got my new prothesis. It is hard to get use to it. It takes an hour to get dressed in the mornings and I can't get it to go where I want it to go. At least I do not have the terrible pain in my leg nor do I have to dress it twice a day.
I have been learning to walk with it but I have to use a walker as I don't have the strength to walk by myself.
I have eight grandchildren. Brian, Mike, Rob, Dyana and Laura are John and Judi's children. Roxanne and Nolan's children are Jennifer, Elizabeth and Jonathan. I have two great grandchildren. Brian and Cindy have a daughter Sarah and a son John David. I am now eighty eight years old.