I cannot forget how I picked up a perfect, intact snakeskin, about fourteen inches long, on top of the Hill Cumorah in New York state half my life ago. The memory of it is still brilliant, a treasure! Beautifully it showed that, getting my head in a forward position, I can wriggle my body out of the old, useless encumberments. That transparent snakeskin was significant in my metaphorical keepsakes. There were gentle curves of discarded old materials of living left behind, so life could function as a new, enlarged, unique being. I can testify to a number of things, because each year I live, I learn more, struggling out of old ways in favor of something higher. Examples are precious to me because I have learned the source and purpose of life.
I testify that being raised faithfully in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by two parents who devotedly wanted, loved, and helped me (for Eternal Family religious reasons) opened up religious concepts that to me were obviously true and functioned very well! Those concepts grew in me as I traveled and learned in a multitude of different subjects. I could never get enough of school subjects to study and was in school part of every year of my marriage from 1951 until 1992. “Our earth life is to be an institution of learning, in which we are educated for the more perfect hereafter.”1
In constantly being involved with schools and education for fifty-six years of my life since BYU kindergarten, I wanted to know everything the various faculty, especially visiting foreign faculty, could teach me. I became aware of the deeper character of each teacher as an example. There were ways I wanted to make virtues more present in my life (the real goal of Godly education). Some teaching was so offensive in shutting out information, it was a warning to me (another purpose of education).
I learned to pray when barely three, each night at my mother’s knee, as she sat under a lamp mending stockings or crocheting bootees for Ward babies—resting her weak heart. How beautiful is the memory of the quietness of our rented home. I can still “see” the Victorian lamp shade with delicate shirring of mauve and pink chiffon in trapezoidal sections of it, like a drooping flower, and soft colors of beaded fringe. I naively associated praying to Heaven with the small beauties around me in those Depression times of the 1930s. Regardless of their low monetary circumstances, both my parents worked hard for sustenance and beautiful arts, tinctured with love. My mother told me to speak to “Heavenly Father,” and in the self-centered world of the three-year- old, I was then to say, “Bless me, thy little child. . . .” ( I can hear both our voices in memory, clearly, even now!) And then I was to thank Him for whatever was of import to me, and say it “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
“Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices . . . in whom this world rejoices, who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love. . . .”2
In the 1930s, under snow-capped Mount Timpanogos, Provo was a small town, a peaceful place where no one locked up the house—even when leaving for a six-week trip! I was thankful for growing fresh food in a laboriously irrigated, gigantic vegetable garden my parents always planted. Mama gave me the first little “Grapenuts” seeds and I watched them sprout into small, delicious beets! Irrigation water on my bare feet was life-giving, feeling the closeness of the neighborhood environment surrounding me. I almost understood those blessings were of God.
Daily I used the faith of my parents, and the Comforter and Healer of my dreadful sicknesses and of fourteen fractures from an accident when surely I should have died. When I was a child, my Papa’s blessings flowed from those large, warm hands of the Priesthood on my damp hair, and saved my life and the lives of others of his descendants, many times. They restored sight to my niece’s child, and perfect health after a terrible strep infection in my toddler son—within minutes, so we all could leave on an important trip. I could have died at least nine times, but religious faith and the sudden, protecting hand of God totally, physically, intervened. My compassionate mother gave me quarantined nursing care through the 1930s; new medicinal techniques arrived for me just in the right hour. Twice! And my thirteen-year-old son Gerrit pulled me to safety from drowning. My husband, over and over, used his Melchizedek Priesthood and I did not continue to bleed to death, multiple times after operations. I have often pondered why I was not born in a mud hut with no advantages.
I was born four homes away from Provo’s old Fourth Ward on Fourth North. There, I was named by Papa and the bishopric, with a middle name of Rose (for my sweet brown-eyed mother, Rosabelle Winegar). When home for a summer in Utah from Harvard, my husband, Richard, named and blessed our first baby, born in Cambridge, MA, and she wore a dainty, fancy bonnet which Mama had made for my blessing in that same chapel! That was a comfort to me, to climb those stairs with my Roselle to the haven of that particular chapel. My older sisters and I had walked down those exterior Fourth Ward stairs with our Papa, all our eyes red and streaming, when I was only nine, to bury my Mama after her sudden death. How I hated that casket, covered in rose-designed plush in honor of Rosabelle. The drive to and from Salt Lake is still a blackout for me. I watched the casket lowered into an icy grave next to baby William Gerrit, my parents’ firstborn only son, in the Salt Lake Cemetery. I stood there in banks of ice-crusted January snow with no one’s arms around me, in my too-short winter coat, no cap or mittens, freezing and silent.
Work is a balm of Gilead for sanity. Papa lost twenty-five pounds in grief, as he was so faithful to his work on the General Board of the Sunday School and doing too much as dean and teacher at the University. He still took Nola and me on small, deliciously mapped and planned trips all over the West. Papa read to me a history of the world, warmly every night at bedtime, for the year of fourth into fifth grade, after our loss of Mama. He turned my mind out to the world of Doing! I learned eagerly, with wonderful descriptions of cultural geography, and from every class and drama and art project of school I found satisfactions. I was even sewing costumes on Mama’s treadle machine for three of my fifth grade friends whose mothers were “challenged” by sewing, for the annual Spring Jamboree of the grade school. (“What inadequate mothers!” I thought.) Belle, my newly-married sister, generously came home with her husband to live with us—and stayed almost two years managing our home, since Nola was a young teen. Tall, patient Dean Van Wagenen’s cheerful attitude saved me. He was there, every day after work, and told me new things, included me in table games, spoke of his mission with real love, and empowered me to learn how to fly a kite on windy Wasatch days! With his gorgeous, untrained voice he sang with the Symphony playing in our big-box standing radio in those hollow Sunday afternoons when Papa was often out of town. My responsibilities were ever-present in gardening, watering, scrubbing, and dusting “my” golden gumwood stairway. In later years, I would promenade down to boyfriends in my homemade beautiful gowns (some were my sisters’ made-over gowns) of every hue and fabric for dances—where I had usually decorated the ballroom also, in high school and college. In those days we tried mightily for grace in ballroom dancing, but matinee high school dances were for fun, the Lindy and Jitterbug. I relished designing and making most of my own clothes, on the old Singer treadle machine. I felt that, because I had watched my mother’s wonders at making-over, cutting and sewing, anything was possible to make!
Nola married during her time at BYU and was living in California, and she invited a smart, kind, Honolulu Chinese girl to live with us for her starting at BYU. She was the perfect older sister for me, as I was barely fifteen. Papa took me, a high school sophomore, and Jean Fung Char to some places in Mexico .We climbed the frighteningly steep Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan with mission friends there. I imagined all the valley of Mexico full of the dwellings of ancient peoples, feeling the ancient spirits. I lingered so long up in the cool sunshine, they had to call me down. I felt like part of the glorious Cosmos!
For the Sunday School Board, Papa went out to the tiny LDS branches in operation, and I saw the sociological mixing of long-term “Gringos” with Mexican wives, and ate their homemade spicy chocolate mole, and sang with the cheerful missionaries surrounded by rich designs of azulejos. I saw in rural Mexico, for the first time, how the gospel lifts up people of every kind. The Lord gently leads them from their own conversion starting-points, and respects their ethnic and traditional differences. All Latter-day Saints didn’t have to be living my lifestyle in Provo, Utah! That trip was a walk away from ignorance and bigotry and the beginning of universal love for me as a missionary member of the True Church.
For many years I have well known there are evil spirits, with their leader, Lucifer, who fought his way out of his Parents’ influence because of extreme selfishness and desires to control Heavenly Father’s children for his own aggrandizement. I have no doubt of the spiritual effects of evil on conscious and semi-conscious human beings, especially those impaired by alcohol or various drugs or mental illness. Anger alone is essentially a drug that reduces Godly intervention. Evil’s goal is not our eternal progress, but our eternal paralysis. Today, meetings are offered in the newspapers to help us in “Letting Go of God.” What a sad exercise.
I know there is a Spirit World not far from us, which my Grama Rosa Shaw Winegar (b. 1855 in Salt Lake City) often saw. She had many significant dreams and visions guiding her life and foretelling many things that were imminent in her family. Her father, Osmond Broad Shaw, converted in Staffordshire, England, was of the same deeply thoughtful and religious bent, a privileged son of a brilliant chemist, linguist, historian, and schoolmaster who wanted nothing of Mormonism. Osmond worked hard, but joined the True Church through young George A. Smith and John Taylor. Yet Osmond realized with Paul that his faith should not “stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”3 Rosa’s mother, Eliza Wilding, herself a skilled corset maker with hand sewing, found the first apostle-missionaries in England (separately from Osmond) as a dream of hers had predicted, and she brought the gospel to her staunch shoemaker father and seamstress mother. My German-American Winegar Great Grandfather, Alvin, carved the stone of the Nauvoo temple.
Our Gods’ powers have been demonstrated to me in vivid ways. I know with certainty that I have Heavenly Parents, and the most righteous, loving, and creative of their sons is called their Beloved Son, actually my Spirit Brother—a concept that shocks the Evangelicals and that they try to twist against the Church. Our Gods all labor in their concern for every person born on this earth, and a multitude of other earths, some just beginning and some highly glorified worlds without number, unknown to us yet.4 The Gods I worship know who I am and what my needs are, both before and after my prayers of gratitude for guidance (or frantic desires for help and comfort!). And their blessings to me have been “heaped up and running over,” in the prophetic words of my patriarchal blessing, given to me when I was fourteen. I had no preparation whatever given me by Papa or the bishopric for my patriarchal blessing, as we try to do for our children. My mother was gone from this life five years before. Yet the man in the Lord’s office knew well by inspiration what to tell me. Patriarch Amos N. Merrill had lived a righteous, sharing kind of life. He knew and told me to “give your mind to much study and reflection,” with the implication that was one of the ways I could honor my Savior Jesus Christ.
I believe that the ancient biblical prophets led mankind toward the God Jehovah (Jesus Christ), whom they knew well, and in many other parts of the world there were philosophers trying to advance their culture—though not understanding Christ’s mission. Every culture had values in the symbology of a “Tree of Life,” expressed in sacral art and texts. Wise ones lived their teachings with a sense of conscience and ceremony. All people have the blessed Light of Christ, whether they understand it or not, whether they suppress it or not, and they often suffer or cause severe damage on earth when it is suppressed. It is a memory of what is right or wrong, divinely there. When a man or woman steps backwards into atheism, he or she is simply casting out the communications of the Holy Spirit and retreating to a position less responsible. A wave of increasing casualties is in our Christian nation, where many political leaders’ lives exhibit a ragged and worn-out form of “Christianity,” or ignore Judaic morality. Babies bring a light, and fading memories, when born. Some things of this life, from ages one and two, my husband and I can remember. We had strong social opinions of right and wrong even then.
At the age of two and a half, my little daughter, Chandelle, the last of our three miraculous adoptions, was alone with me on errands one rainy morning and, as the sun shot glowing rays of light through high cumulus clouds, we sat quietly, parked in front of our home, enjoying the beauty of the sky. She was gazing raptly at the light, and I softly asked her, “What do you remember . . . before you came to us?” Without breaking her gaze, she very slowly said, “Jesus . . . hugged me . . . and hugged me . . . and hugged me!” I paused a long time by this raven-haired messenger, still fresh from the Spirit World. Certain lights in nature, poetry or music help us “almost to remember” our pre-earth life.
The restoration of Godly Priesthood powers was accomplished in the nineteenth century through an earnest, inquiring young man, Joseph Smith, but at first he had not even the early education of his older brother, Hyrum, because of a reduction of the family’s earning power through crop failures, debts unpaid to them, and a common, timeless crime: embezzlement. Succeeding generations in the modern world are blessed exponentially, as are the spirits whose bodies have died on earth in ignorance of Christ’s plan, because of Joseph Smith’s relative freedoms living in America. Prophets of old held the powers of God to exercise them for eternal consequences, and divine messengers came from the Spirit World to educate Joseph Smith, and sometimes other persons were with Joseph when revelations came and they saw what he saw, heard what he heard. Vitally important history and doctrines, and ancient styles of living and worshipping, were taught Joseph privately in visions and conversations, as he and his mother mention in their histories. They needed to teach him the physical and spiritual aspects of particular peoples and places. They were his educators, to enlarge his capacities as a seer. Joseph’s large Palmyra family listened regularly to their middle son, of an evening after work was done. Around their hearth he told them of ancient peoples, travels, and destinations, in great detail, before he ever possessed the golden plates. This was not just a waiting period for him, but an educational period of very specific advancements in spiritual and historical facts, while he performed heavy physical labors of daily life for his family and married a wife in 1827. His family and Emma Hale knew his life intimately, and knew he did not lie or fantasize.
I realize more fully, starting my ninth decade now, how blessed I was to be born into a careful and believing family, a ward, and a stake of the Restoration, which offered me so much cognitive stimulation and opportunity to associate with disciplined people who meant so well! They were attempting to follow closely the refining doctrines and principles of the Bible, the Restored Gospel scriptures, and modern revelation. I realize that they were good because they lived the Restored Gospel.
My spiritual perceptions and expansive travel taught me: Jesus is my Savior, my Redeemer, and the Atoner for my ever-increasing ability to sin! I feel that my sins now, after years of trying to put into action the tenets of my religion, would bring a far greater harm to me than when I was ten or twenty, for my knowledge is greater now. I hope I can endure with a “hearty repentance” until my death.5 As a girl of seventeen I stood at the base of Brazil’s gigantic statue of Christ on Corcovado, one of the high hills in Guanabara Bay of Rio de Janeiro, and looked upward in awe at that massive white stone. At that age I realized, though dimly in comparison to now, that in the great events of Christ’s Atonement, there was more power in one drop of Jesus’ blood than in all that beautiful stone—visible from far away in a great airplane. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Oh, that we could only understand, that by the shedding of His blood, He bought us!” (Dedication of my Provo Temple site, 1970.)
I lived until marriage in the beautiful dream house that my Parents had built, which (Belle always added, with tears) Mama had enjoyed only four years. I helped Papa with carpentry and improvements in cement outside; I loved to mix with the shovel, and carefully tooled it to Papa’s standards of art. I asked many gospel and linguistic questions all the time (as I do with my knowledgeable husband still) while I built the back wall with mortar and garden rocks for our yard fireplace. Papa was always insightful in doctrine and especially in its application, and was an encouraging teacher for me in languages, musical history, and cutting wood safely with his power saw; I developed strong hands in pruning our fruit trees, played on his baby grand’s perfect ivory keys, and practiced thrilling piano pieces he introduced to me. Long delicious hours a day in my teen years I practiced, with inquisitive joy, for the little black notes were a “code to joy” in great music! Papa gave me lessons any time we could get together for fifteen minutes. It was crystal-clear demonstration and critique.
The University, on lower and upper campus, was my cradle, my youth bed, my playground. The old buildings had shadowy mosses, shiny chestnuts, and fluttering leaves that begged to be watercolored in the sun, and they made imagistic poems of themselves. All I needed was to write the flowing words on paper. And they were soon published. With passion I loved the great trees around my home, Dutch Elms of ancient age, Black Walnuts, huge Ash and very old Arborvitae grown tall, and Catalpas with queenly tiaras of white flowers. It was heaven under their branches, and they were my favorite subjects for art, with architecture and the Creator’s endless flowers.
There was no dancing taught at BYU. However I pleaded, Papa would not let me take the city offerings of dance. “Bad teachers are worse than no teachers!” Wanting it so much and so early, I was in the right family to see the modern dance concerts of renowned barefoot Martha Graham when I was only five, then again at about age eight, on that splintery College Hall stage. I still remember two of her dances. They touched me visually, but very spiritually, as a child. One was a piece augmented by special lighting of lavenders and bluish greens called The Fountain, where Graham never took a single step away from one spot on stage. She was the personification of playful water. The other composition was Judas Iscariot (I knew the horrible story), with Martha Graham dressed in a dark grey robe with maroon striped coat, with a dark turban covering her hair. After the traitorous actions of Judas’ decision to betray Jesus, the “man” realized the intense gravity of it. Moving toward our family’s front seats, into the shadows against the black stage curtains, “he” went into the knotting and jerk of strangulation, swaying slightly from the rope where” he” hanged himself! The red velvet drapes slowly closed. . . . Graham could hang herself with no rope! What power to reach a human heart is in art!
My going with Papa for a year in Brazil at age seventeen in the spring of 1947 was a multi-faceted experience in Santos, one hour away on the beach from the fastest growing city in the world! On the plateau of Sao Paulo, they had only a few members of the Church, and sometimes we could ride the bus up to meetings with Mission President Beck’s family. Gerrit de Jong, my father, was called by the US State Department to make democratic friends with the Brazilians, directing a center of English teaching, with visiting speakers, and American literature. Papa directed the Centro Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos in Santos—one center of many, trying to counteract the dangers of Communism and Nazism penetrating South and Central America. Dean de Jong of Fine Arts was also Portuguese-trained in his field of linguistics, and he supervised my teaching an adult professional men’s class, and teens in a large class. I was hired to be librarian,, and socialized, of course, with the young adult club. Gradually at parties I let myself go, and loved dancing the samba, “Como uma Preta!” (In later years my husband and I could really samba down a ballroom in the early ’60s period of Latin dancing in USA.) There were four lovely men in Brazil seriously courting me, ages twenty-four to twenty-eight, who thought I would make just the right wife at seventeen! I was appalled! “I don’t know enough to be anybody’s wife! I believe in education . . . have many years of university studies to accomplish in the U.S. before marriage!” I would not marry in the Santos Cathedral (where I was an honored bridesmaid) nor under a Jewish canopy in Sao Paulo, but in the Salt Lake Temple in Utah, at an altar of Jesus Christ! We pleaded for missionaries in our smallish city and were finally sent two, so we held the first meetings in Portuguese in our own apartment, with one weak investigator. Five years later in the USA we read there was a chapel built in Santos, as Brazil began to explode with Mormonism.
In 1948, I came home to my graduation from B Y High School because of amassed summer school credits. During university years my heart was set to go away on a foreign mission, but Papa had been a widower for a decade and begged me not to go, but to stay with him in the university until I was married. So, I satisfied myself with a stake mission. And obedience to my parent put me in the right place at the right time to meet my own husband for eternity. The Lord “told me in my mind and heart” that the fall quarter of my sophomore year was the time to take a class from Hugh Nibley. I argued with the Spirit that my program was full! At this constant insistence, though, I found a class, any class, and betook myself at 9 AM to “Oriental History.” What Nibley taught was “Lehi in the Desert,” Arabic/Egyptian/Hebrew research he was currently doing: I lapped it up like my cat! There was a tall, dark-eyed fellow across the room who always sat with a married man. They both made very pithy comments and I said nothing, just drinking in Nibley! But Sidney B. Sperry and Hugh Nibley had brought the returned missionary Richard Lloyd Anderson to teach missionary preparedness at BYU for a scholarship; they pulled him away from Weber College near his parents, after his famous methods brought very fruitful results in the Northwestern States Mission. By extremely convoluted and romantic means, I later began dating this “RM” from Nibley’s class. I “knew” on the first date by means of a story so unbelievable it is not written here. But we spent a lot of courting time sitting on Dr. Sperry’s desk while he filed things and told us powerful anecdotes of his education, as well as standing discussing Dr. Nibley’s latest research in his next door office, where shoe boxes of “his own Arabic shorthand” research cards were piled on the floor, amidst books all over the rest of his walls and floor. I loved these scholars. In ’49 my art-major boyfriends—one classic Californian, a tall German, a red-headed football player, and the gorgeous Persian I had tried to convert—stood on the sidelines and I couldn’t even see them! There was no other person on earth I wanted to spend time with except RLA.
The next ten months we spent untold hours a day together as he taught me and taught me the gospel, making me laugh, making me cry, and most of the time feeling awe for how little I knew and how tremendous the Gospel really was! He knew so much enticing history and doctrine all over the scriptures, from his heavy reading of early Mormon apostolic leaders. He, himself, was a passion and taste I had never before known. He had very little money, no car but an occasional borrowed one, and a very lovable family in Ogden. He gifted me with my first personal scriptures, leather bound, name in gold. Need I say that young women, especially in the 50s, seldom had their own scriptures? I had always relied on our family set. Papa, my continuing language teacher, was saying to me, “You take the Book of Mormon around every day with all your school books!” Very formally, I said, “It is one of my school books. I am reading it through for the first time! And that prophet Ah-bin-ah-di is a hero!” Papa looked at me askance: “That’s a Hebraic name, and you’re pronouncing it in Portuguese!”
I went away to Harvard Law School with my true love in’51. I was encouraged that I had met the lovely lady Papa had fallen in love with on a speaking tour in Idaho, soon after my marriage. A silver-haired, talented educator, Thelma Bonham, was married to Gerrit de Jong in the Salt Lake Temple in the fall, just when we were searching for a place to live in the East. We relished life in New England, and I studied in a Cambridge community art class in gold-leafing designs, a most exacting skill for New England furniture I much wanted. Richard and I studied French together in Harvard night school to add that important language to our tools. The Cambridge Branch was full of lifetime friends, and, with our toddler daughter born in Massachusetts, we came back to BYU. Then, soon after Richard passed the Utah Bar exams, he dumped his JD in law and did an MA in Ancient Greek with Hugh Nibley. He was teaching all kinds of classes in religion at BYU. From our attic apartment I simply crossed the street for remarkable art training in ceramics night classes. After my three-year-old Roselle was early asleep, Richard could study at home some nights of the week, while I gained credits at BYU. When he landed two scholarships for a PhD in Ancient History, we went to Berkeley at the University of California. Right there, with Roselle in her first kindergarten and Richard gone on his bicycle, I could drive to campus for many master classes from a world expert performer in Hindu dancing. I constantly partook of the noon lectures at the University, which exposed me to the ideas of some of the greatest minds even beyond America. In Berkeley First Ward, I designed and helped construct huge extravaganzas for raising thousands for our Welfare Funds all in one night! It was richly rewarding among many resident friends, and we escorted non-Mormon friends to our ward. The year Hugh and Phyllis Nibley moved their whole family for him to teach at Cal Berkeley, he studied more Egyptian language. I spent every Tuesday night at the Ward learning the Old Testament from him. He analyzed the Hebrew Kittel version of the Bible and translated verbally to us in an astounding stream of data not readily apparent in King James English. Genesis on. It changed my entire understanding in new dimensions of Old Testament events and doctrines.
When we arrived back at BYU, we brought our eight-year-old Rosie and our four-month-old blond son, Nathan, from the County Adoptions in Oakland, California. In three more years, while taking a six-month sabbatical we drove in the winter all over the eastern states, always ahead of the ice storms, for Richard’s further ancient studies at museums while the rest of us clambered through art museums. We arrived home to our gift of a big strong ten-month-in-utero son, Gerrit, who had stubbornly waited to be born through LDS Adoptions until the night we were on our way home to Utah. He was brown-haired and brown-eyed like my husband and mother. Three and half years later I woke up one morning with another revelation for our family. That was “the day I should call LDS Adoptions” to tell them they would give us another child, a daughter—minutely specified this time after our two boys had come as the Lord kindly determined. I told the LDS agency to recognize this child when she came very soon, because in five or six years we would be teaching on a BYU semester abroad in Salzburg and, by then, our last child had to be old enough to enjoy her foreign six months. They protested but sent us application papers, telling us “Think years!”
In exactly nine months she was born and they finally re-read our application and, from the whole page of description I had written (e.g., black hair and eyes, very tall height, and what artistic talents would come from her parents, etc.), pronounced, “This is Carma’s baby!” We took her at five years old to teach in the BYU Salzburg Semester Abroad, with all three of the older children already having studied German in their summers or winters. I gave the first credit classes in world art history from a planeload of heavy books to prepare my students for European museums at spring break. Our rarest experiences: string quartet music live in the smaller re-creation of Versailles at the exquisite palace island of Chiemsee, and living in a chalet on a big mountain above Salzburg. But greatest of all was the family attending, in the icy-cold Dom of Salzburg, an ethereal Palestrina mass from the 1500s. Bundled in long coats and full winter regalia though we were, it was still worth it, simply the most divine music I ever heard in my life!
Intermittently, every time we landed back at BYU, I was a faculty spouse with free credit classes! Finally, in ’76, I shared the de Jong Concert Hall stage with Papa in his Stanford PhD blue-velvet-trimmed robes for my BA graduation in art, with a modern languages minor. That was the last time he had the strength to come to the campus before he died of cancer. It was gratifying for him to have one of his daughters finish college. I had spent twenty-eight years doing it in multiple areas of study, every one fabulous to me!
When I received my PhD at age sixty-two, I had driven thousands of miles around the USA, coast to coast, to meet with curators to photograph clothing of the nineteenth century, and traveled in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales, and in continental Europe, with red carpets laid down for my research and cameras. After using my own money, and grateful for a grant from the Kennedy International Center at BYU, I finished my dissertation and graduated in 1992 wearing my father’s robes, with a black velvet mortar board, and real gold cord tassel. Before my dissertation could actually be published for the world, I insisted on going to Scandinavia to enlarge its time frame. I received $16,000 in grants for Scandinavia, with translator Andrea Darais necessary for our hearts to be at home in those lands of the Great Northernness! I am making quality reproductions of Scandia folk costumes. Fifteen of them were used in the twenty-two Olympic performances in the “Zalt Lake Zity” giant stage of the LDS Conference Center.
The motivations for research have come from seeing so many LDS Visitor Centers around the U.S. and England, and LDS publishing and films for the last 65 years, We often have good painters and good sculptors, but rarely any accurate content! LDS films and all illustrations or fine artworks included little authentic clothing or hairstyles to show how our ancestors really looked. The contents are out of sync with dates claimed in the words, and one single painting or film can have badly jumbled time frames in clothing and artifacts! BYU will publish my expanded, expensive big dissertation on historic clothing and textiles as a necessity for all the various didactic arts of the Church. There will be no royalties for their publishing, nor any for me, from my fifty-five years of research. Adding another decade to my writing to cover the British and Scandinavian hand carters, is like writing three more dissertations, but it will be finished—though overdue. My consolation for having so many “life and death” distractions slow me down comes from a Harvard graduate, the first female President of Liberia. “I believe I am a better . . . person, with a richer appreciation for the present because of my resilient past.” Her speech was at Harvard, for graduation 2011.6
Richard and I were working with great effort to raise and educate four precious, precocious children. I was at home most of the time all those years, but driving for short and long research trips all over the U.S. for studying and photographing historic clothing of ethnic forms of early Mormons—while Richard was carrying heavy loads and counseling as a Religion teacher, as a campus bishop, etc. But he was a beloved father who went through the ups and downs of ourselves and our children learning how to live like Latter-day Saints. We were very early gone on research trips, with and without parts of the family, long before the Internet, and our travels opened up new worlds which excited all of us. Added were the chances of death: by Richard’s one, and my two, successful bouts with cancer.
Along with my graduate schooling, I spent thirty-four years restoring Historic Sites for the Church, producing everything of textile construction here in Utah, sewn by hand. All items had to be designed, patterned, and cut out by me previous to passing some things on to my trained women in period hand sewing. From on-site multi-national handling of clothing and 1000 books I gathered on costume and art, I had men make the proper shoes, and hats were purchased or hand made in exact period styles. Some woolens had to be dyed historic colors for draperies, to match window mullions’ paint colors. I have seen thirty-four years of photographs in Church publications of sites done by me and my architectural genius boss, Don Enders. Different design changes of clothing advanced relentlessly every five or ten years through Church history. The Mormon History Association just surprised me with a special recognition award in St. George, Utah, at its annual meeting for 2011, for those difficult works did not happen by a magic wand! That award does not include sculptors, painters, book illustrators, and re-enactors I have worked with individually and constantly, who found they could get trustworthy help in undisputed content for their arts. Now we will begin to restore Harmony, Pennsylvania, for the first translating with Emma as scribe to Joseph, and then the restoration of both Priesthoods by the end of May 1829. No finishing date yet for the Susquehanna site.
Richard and I are living in our eighties. I recognize our families’ lives were directed by God and his inspiring help through our efforts in history research, writing, teaching, and all the arts.. We have personally known great numbers of brothers and sisters, marvelous children of God on three continents, both Mormon and non-Mormon. We are missionaries for Jesus Christ and Restored Living Prophets with Priesthood power, in every way and place and form of communication we can find.
1 C. C. A. Christensen, The Fine Arts, translated and with an introduction by Richard L. Jensen, BYU Studies 23/4. Carl Christian Anton Christensen was called some years ago, by an expert from New York City museums visiting BYU, “one of the four leading folk artists of America.” He trained a short while in a Copenhagen art school, then emigrated with other Scandinavians to Utah as a newly married man. He was captain of a Danish handcart company to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1857.
2 LDS Hymn 95.
3 1 Corinthians 1:5.
4 Benjamin E. Park and Jordan T. Watkins, “The Riches of Mormon Materialism: Parley P. Pratt’s ‘Materiality’ and Early Mormon Theology,” Mormon Historical Studies (Fall 2010) 2/2. This is a most delightful article.
5 Steven C. Harper, “Joseph Smith and Hearty Repentance,” Devotional Talk Given at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, November 9, 2010.
6 Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “If Your Dreams Do Not Scare You,” Harvard Magazine (July/August 2011): 52. She cautions grads not to become cynical. “The world is still a beautiful place, and change is possible.”
Carma Rose de Jong Anderson is a great grandmother who grew up in all the arts and music, with awards in poetry, modern dance, choreography, etching, and glass mosaics. Honored in four one-woman shows of watercolors located in Provo and Salt Lake City, she has been a writer, producer, director, costumer, and actress in theater since the age of five. She also learned photography, especially for historic clothing, for its various uses in film, on stage, in pageants, and for close-up views at historic sites.
The daughter of Gerrit de Jong, Jr., the founding dean of Brigham Young University’s College of Fine Arts, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Art and Design from Brigham Young University, and subsequently earned a Ph.D. from BYU in Theater and Film, with an emphasis on historic clothing.
Dr. Anderson has worked for the Church’s Historical Department and for the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City—spending thirty-four years helping to restore Latter-day Saint historic sites—and, as an editor, for the Costume Institute of Utah. For nine years, she taught a class on early Mormon clothing at BYU. Over the course of twenty-five years, she taught on eight distinct subjects at Education Weeks in the United States and Canada, and she has also served as a dance and costume critic for the Provo Daily Herald.
In June 2011, Dr. Anderson received an award from the Mormon History Association, in recognition of her meticulous designs for and artistic productions of hand-sewn clothing and all household or business textiles for more than twenty historic sites of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the United States. Her best 6000 items of clothing treasures have been given to the BYU Fine Arts Historic Collection for design research and exhibition. The BYU Religious Studies Center is slated to publish her enlarged dissertation on Mormon pioneer clothing, with hundreds of pictures in black and white and in color.
She took four busy children to Salzburg, Austria, for a Semester Abroad there with her husband, Professor Richard L. Anderson, where she taught art history. Her family, she says, “lived” in world art museums. She sews Scandia folk clothing, and searches for authentic jewelry for it, and she consults on ancient arts.
Posted August 2011