Today, July 29th, 2011 marked the forty-fifth anniversary of our wedding day. We were married for time and all eternity in the Logan Utah LDS Temple on that day so many years ago. Over the years we have been asked countless times how a shy farm boy from Lanark, Idaho ever met and married a vivacious, beautiful young southern girl from Macon, Georgia. I have often thought about this particular set of circumstances myself. The more I have contemplated this, the more I have come to recognize an Unseen Hand guiding our lives throughout the years, probably from the moment of our births and perhaps even in the preexistant world. This Unseen Hand did not force our relationship, but carefully guided us and helped us come together and grow to love one another and accept the challenge of marriage and raising a family in this somewhat difficult world. The result has been forty five years of growth and happiness. These years have not been without their ups and downs. There have been trials and even sorrows as we have met the challenges of life together, sometimes successfully and sometimes having to back up and try again. But through it all we have learned to love one another unconditionally and to love our children and their families likewise. As I look back, I can't think of anything I'd want to change much. We've grown and learned together. I loved my Iris the day she said "yes" over the alter and even before that, but my love for her now is immeasurable. We are in this together for the long term and I can hardly wait to see how much I will love her a hundred million years from now. I am equally blessed to know of her love for me and our family and to know that her love for us reaches beyond the limits of this life. We will always love one another, no doubt about it. We have changed in many ways over the years. For one thing I'm about seventy-five pounds heavier. Iris has gained a couple of pounds too. My hair has all turned gray and been that way for many years already, but I'm grateful to have a few hairs left. My energy level is not nearly what it used to be and I have some pains that just don't want to go away. I'm grateful though at age seventy-one to be able to do most of the things I used to do and enjoy. It just takes me a lot longer to get them done and I generally need some recovery time after doing anything very strenuous these days. The picture below shows what we looked like at the time of our wedding. This is the only wedding picture we have. We're lucky to have it. For some reason or other having our picture taken all dressed up in tuxes and wedding gowns just never entered our minds at the time. I guess we were preoccupied with other things. Oh, well, this will give posterity an idea about what we looked like when we were married. I was twenty-six and Iris was twenty years old at the time. Yes, I've been accused of robbing the cradle, but if I did, all I can say is: what a haul!!!!!
This year we decided to go back to Twin Falls, where it all began so long ago. I had graduated in May with a degree in education from Utah State University and had been given my first teaching job at Twin Falls High School. My assignment was to teach German and American government. I didn't know a single soul in Twin Falls with the exception of my room mate, Bob Allred, from Bellvue, Idaho. I had become acquainted with him while we were classmates at Utah State. He was starting a teaching career at nearby Kimberly High School and we had decided to room together in Twin Falls. We got along fine and had much in common, both farm boys, returned missionaries, USU graduates, and still single. We lived in a small one bedroom apartment on the corner of Addison and Madison Street in Twin Falls. We lived there for two school years. While Iris and I were in Twin Falls this week we decided to look up some of the places that had played a part in our lives while we lived there. This is the place I lived in. We occupied the apartment on the right side of the building. Not much has changed there. Maybe a new coat of paint put not much else. I remember the rent was forty dollars a month. We split it down the middle, Bob paid twenty and I paid the other half. It doesn't seem like much, but never forget our wages were equally low back then. My pay check that first year of teaching was $340 a month.
The Twin Falls area has many noted scenic attractions. One of our favorite attractions was the famous Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. It is about five miles east of the city of Twin Falls. I took this picture on Thursday. The falls are sometimes even more impressive if you can catch the river running high before the summer irrigation season begins. There are several large irrigation canals that are fed by the Snake River above the Falls which reduce the flow at certain times of the year. The flow of the river is also impacted by the amount of snow fall in the high country around Yellowstone Park the previous winter. After Jason was born we made a ritual out of driving out to the Falls every Sunday afternoon. He was always much more interested in the baby calves in the fields along the way than he was in watching the Falls.
Below, another picture of the Shoshone Falls, with Bart and Iris in the picture.
As impressive as Shoshone Falls may be there was one place in Twin Fall, that I wanted to see even more. It was the very place where my eyes first beheld my Iris. That first Sunday thatI was in Twin Falls I looked up the ward I would be attending. It was the Twin Falls Second Ward. I found the Church, went in and quietly took a seat on the back row. It took only a few seconds until my eyes found a beautiful young girl sitting with some friends on the north side of the chapel about half way down the wall. It was my Iris. Little did I then realize that we would spend our lives together, loving one another and raising a family. She was from Macon, Georgia and had come out to visit her sister, Linda, who had married Richard "Dick" Miller from Twin Falls. They had met while he served in the Southern States Mission and was assigned to Macon. Linda had asked her to stay a while as she was lonely for home and wanted some family company. The Unseen Hand at work. We met after church that first Sunday and before long started dating. While we were in Twin Falls on Thursday and Friday I sought out the old Second Ward chuch house. It had been sold to the Salvation Army and they had set up their Twin Falls operation there. I went in and asked if I could take a picture of the spot in the chapel where I had first seen Iris. At first they didn't know just what to say. The chapel had been converted into a hall for young children to watch movies in. There were about twenty of them lieing around on blankets watching a movie, I quickly found the spot which had changed my life and took a quick picture. It didn't turn out very well and probably wouldn't mean anything to anyone else but me anyway, but to me it was a place like the Sacred Grove, that changed my life forever. The picture below is the former Twin Falls Second/Fourth Ward building, now the home of the Salvation Army.
The picture below is not a good one. It was taken hurridly so as not to disturb the young people watching a movie there, but it is very special to me. My life would not be the same had it not been for the young lady I saw there sitting against the wall at a spot just about where the second set of stacked chairs stands in this picture. Sorry for being so sentimental, but that instant changed my life for the better for all eternity.
Below is Twin Falls High School where I started my teaching career. It has not changed much over the years. Back then it was the only senior high school in town. Now there is another one called Canyon Ridge High School. At the time it had aboiut 1600 students in grades 10, 11 and 12. I taught German and American Governement.
Across the street to the south from the High School stood an LDS chapel on Maurice Street. It was there that the early morning seminary class met during the school year every day at six-thirty. I was asked along with Bob Allred, my roommate,to teach at the Seminary. I was a good experience and got me up and going before I had to report for school at the High School. I did this for two years. I made some good friends and came to admire the faithful young people who showed up, somewhat sleepy eyed, every morning to learn more about their faith and strengthen their testimonies. The picture below is of the Maurice Street Church as it looks today, not much changed from forty plus years ago. A new Seminary building now stands next to it and the church is no longer used for Seminary.
After we got married we made our first home in an upstairs apartment in the home pictured below on on 7th Avenue in Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a two bedroom apartment. To my recolection the rent was seventy five dollars a month which included utilities. We lived there for one year before I left Twin Falls to go to the University of Washington for my Master's Degree. I would return later to work at the same High School with the same assignement. It was there that Jason was concieved, though he would be born later during the summer in Macon, Georgia. I went down South to Macon and worked that summer while we stayed with Iris' parents and I got aquainted with the family.
After I finished my Master's Degree at the Universty of Washington, we returned to Twin Falls and I again taught at the High School. During this time we lived in this apartment building on Sunrise Avenue in Twin Falls. We lived in the very last apartment on the end. We were living there when Jared was born. He was our only child born in Twin Falls. I remember the night he was born, our neighbors and friends in the next apartment knew we were going over to the hospital and made me promise to wake them no matter what time it was and tell them what we had, boy or girl. At about two-thirty in the morning they recieved a knock on the door announcing the birth of Jared, our second son, and that all was well. We only lived here for one year before moving to Bear Lake.
One reason for moving to Bear Lake, among others, was to be closer to a Temple. The Logan Temple was much closer to Bear Lake than to Twin Falls, which at the time did not have a temple. Since our marriage we have tried to attend the temple each year on or near our aniversary. This was one reason for our trip to Twin Falls this year. The Logan Temple was closed for remodeling and we had not yet had the opportunity to attend the new Twin Falls Idaho Temple, dedicated just a couple of years ago, so this year, that is what we did. It is beautiful, as all of the temples are. The special ordinances that are performed in temples are the same in all of the temples and the Spirit is also always wonderful. Here we are after attending a session together at the Twin Falls Idaho Temple. Below is a picture of the new Twin Falls Idaho Temple Jully 29, 2011.
Below: Bart and Iris at the Twin Falls Idaho Temple July 29, 2011.
The picture below was not taken by me, but I thought some of you might be interested in the beautiful mural in one of the ordinance rooms of the Twin Falls Temple. This view was available to the public during the temple open house before its dedication.
As we left Twin Falls to return home to Logan we stopped at the Perine Bridge Lookout. This too is a beautiful spot which we enjoyed seeing during our time in Twin Falls. Below, the Perine Bridge stretching across the Snake River at a height of about 475 feet above the river.
The Blue Lakes Country Club in the Snake River Canyon just below the Perine Bridge is pictured below. Beautiful!!
Our little Anniversay trip to Twin Falls was great, but the greatest thing of all was the reaffirmation that I will be able to be with my sweetheart for all time and eternity. Thanks, Iris, for putting up with me for forty-five years on the way to forever. You are the best!!!!!