The Life of Rudolph Farr
(Note: Grandpa and I did this together about a year before he died. He seemed to remember the events clearly, but was a little hazy on their sequence in time—so, don’t let that bother you, and just enjoy Grandpa’s memories of his full and good life!—Lorraine Farr Richardson)
Grandpa was born in Colonia Dublan, Mexico, one of 12 children born to Heber Farr and Amanda Elizabeth Williams. Their family had been sent to Mexico by the LDS Church to colonize. Grandpa remembers his father having a flour mill, a commissary, and a beautiful farm on the river, with lots of Hispanic hired help. Grandpa couldn’t speak English until his family moved to Arizona when he was six—while in Mexico, both parents spoke and sang in Spanish, always using it as their primary language with the whole family.
His father, Heber, was called to serve a mission to Pennsylvania for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 2 years; the family stayed in Mexico while he served. He traveled without purse or script, relying on the kindness of the people for his physical needs. Grandpa says that his father sometimes slept under railroad cars to get out of the snow, but “Father loved the gospel and was always willing to do whatever he could to build up the Lord’s kingdom”. After his 2-year mission, Heber was then called as mission president, and stayed one more year. Grandpa remembers his mother as always being very supportive of his father’s Church service.
Grandpa has memories of his father and Jim Jesperson singing Spanish duets at church. He says they sang a lot, entertaining for parties, programs, and socials. His father had a beautiful voice.
Grandpa remembers his mother having a talent for writing; she wrote a great deal of beautiful poetry. She also played the organ for parties and for meetings.
Heber Farr took a job managing the building of a railroad for a year in Mexico. Grandpa remembers riding on the back of a burro in an old powder box with holes cut for his legs, going around with his father, who was on a horse, while his father supervised the railroad construction. Grandpa would go all day long in that box—even taking a nap in it when he was tired—being perfectly happy just to stay with “Father”, as he always called his dad.
When Grandpa was about six years old, his family was forced to move. Pancho Via was robbing towns, stores, and flour mills, killing animals, plundering, and harassing, and the Church counseled everyone to leave the colonies in Mexico. Grandpa’s family came out in a wagon train to Binghampton, Arizona, 7 miles out of Tuscon. There they started new farms, digging a canal—by shovel--from 3 miles up the river, the whole community working together on the project.
Grandpa’s father, Heber, was the bishop in Binghampton for 16 years, and Grandma’s father, Charles Sidney Brown, was a counselor to him all that time. Heber was released when he was injured badly by his pet bull in a terrible accident.
While in Mexico, Grandpa’s father was asked by Church leaders to take another wife—all the families there were asked to—and Grandpa’s father and mother talked it over and decided on Hilda Bluth, a young woman living there in the Colonies. Grandpa says that no people in the Church were more dedicated to the gospel than his parents; they were willing to do whatever the Lord and His servants asked them to do.
Grandpa doesn’t ever remember any jealousy or crossness between the two wives. He says they and all their families got along very well. The two wives had 12 children each, and the children would play back and forth at both homes, eat wherever they happened to be, and were treated the same by both mothers. The two houses were right next door to each other, and “Father” spent one night at one house, the next night at the other. Grandpa says the wives were very good friends—their doors were always open, and they talked back and forth to each other all the time. If either wife was sick, the other one would take over, feeding everyone, doing the washing and cleaning, running the households.
Grandpa remembers his home being really happy—no cross voices or fighting. Grandpa says that “Father better not ever hear one of his children talk crossly to either wife! If they did something really wrong, Father got out his pocketknife and would tell them to go get a willow. If they brought too little of a willow, they had to go get another! Father would give them about 3 licks and a talking to.” Grandpa says the talk was worse than the licking—it made him “feel like a genuine bum”, to quote Grandpa. He says, “Father had a way of bringing the Savior into the talk, telling how kind He was and how He helped people.”
If his father had time to read a story, all the children would be wherever he was. He loved to gather all his children around, sitting together to read stories to them in the evenings, and Grandpa remembers him reading aloud some beautiful stories.
When Grandpa was little, he liked any kind of food—no favorites. His mother was a good cook, and cooked whatever they raised in their garden. Also, they always had their own dairy and meat.
Before he went to school every day, Grandpa milked cows with Hal, Aunt Hilda’s (their title for the other wife) boy. Grandpa and Hal would do chores and work together after school, as well, then go to whichever house dinner was ready at first!
Grandpa went to a school that had 4 rooms, divided by curtains, so he could always hear the other classes’ lessons. That school went up to 8th grade, then the students went to Tuscon to high school. Grandpa drove an old Buick and took the kids that needed to go to high school.
Grandma moved to Binghampton about a year after Grandpa did. He remembers how she played baseball and marbles with the boys at recess in grade school. He says she could beat all the boys! When asked if he had always liked Grandma, he chuckled and said, “Who wouldn’t? She was quite a tomboy and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Everybody liked Grandma!”
Grandpa and his brothers liked to play hookey and go swimming when they were little, so his mother would sew their clothes on them so that they couldn’t take them off—the boys would go swimming anyway, and just stand out in the hot sun until their clothes dried on them before they went near the house!
His father got Grandpa new shoes and overalls to go on a Scout hike; Grandpa got to the end of the lane, hid his new shoes, and went on the hike barefoot. The Scoutmaster was worried, but Grandpa hated shoes and said his feet felt fine. His uncle said that his feet were so tough, Grandpa could walk through a sand burr patch and just put his feet up to a fence and scrape them off when he got to the other side! He went barefoot all the time when he was little—to Primary, to dances, to school. Sometimes he’d get a “pretty good sliver” on those wooden floors, and would have to hobble over to the bench to sit down and get it out.
His mother would skim thick cream off of the milk and rub it on Grandpa’s sore feet and toes when they’d get cracked from going barefoot. Then she’d open the oven door and have him prop his feet up on a blanket-covered board on the oven door before he went to bed—a foot treatment that really helped.
The Farrs had two ponds behind their house in Binghampton, used for water storage and irrigation. Willows hid the ponds from the house, so the boys liked to swim there because their mother couldn’t see them and they could get away with doing it a lot! Later, their father had them build a swimming pool with rocks and cement so that the whole community could come swimming. It was neat and clean, with water running through it and no mud or mess; this was their main entertainment, and the whole community loved it.
Grandpa and Grandma liked to dance together; Grandpa especially liked the two-step and the waltz. They won several waltz contests together. This is how the contests worked: every couple would waltz to start with, then the judges would tap the dancers on the shoulder that they’d want to stay in. When several couples were all that were left, the judges would decide the winners. When Grandpa and Grandma won the dance contests, they would receive a bag of candy as a prize for winning. They’d then pass it around to all the contestants, and only a couple of little pieces would be left by the time it got back to them! When asked if he liked to dance as much as Grandma did, Grandpa laughed and said, “Nobody liked to dance as much as Grandma!”
After finishing high school, Grandpa went to college at Utah State University in Logan for one-half of a year. He really enjoyed college, and planned to study agriculture. He even tried the experience of being in a play while there! However, his college education was cut short when his father was hurt badly in a terrible accident with his pet bull: Heber had bought new overalls, shirt, and hat; then, while wearing them, he went to change the water in the pasture where the bull was. The bull knew him well, but the new clothes must have disguised Father’s appearance and smell, because the bull charged him. Father dodged him around a tree in the pasture until he stumbled—then the bull crushed his chest and “really tore him up”, as Grandpa says, breaking lots of bones and hurting him badly. Father rolled under the fence, but the bull was still trying to get at him when Father’s brother-in-law found him. Father never could do farm work or any heavy work after that; he became the county assessor.
Grandpa’s mother wrote to him at college to inform him of these sad events, telling him how much they needed him at home to help. Grandpa’s older brother, Erron, had gone to the mines in Globe to work, and Grandpa—the second oldest boy—had the farm work fall to him.
Grandpa was always good to his mother. He said she was kind to him and he wanted to be kind back. Mother washed in a big tub heated on a fire with a dasher she lifted up and down; Grandpa hated to see her working so hard and was afraid she’d catch her skirt on fire, so he saved up his money and bought her a washer to make it easier for her.
After coming home from Logan, Grandpa grew onions—he had a contract for them—and one time two little sisters pulled them all up, out of the hotbed. They got a good spanking for that!
Grandpa’s father and President David O. McKay grew up together as children in Utah. The prophet knew Father personally and would stay with Grandpa’s family when coming to Binghampton for conferences, etc.
Grandma was 20 years old and Grandpa was 3 weeks short of 20 when they married. Grandpa worked for an ice cream company for a couple of years before and a couple of years after they were married. He packed the ice cream in ice and drove the ice cream truck. Later, he started making the ice cream—Grandpa thought that was fun! They’d take orders for different kinds, and the owner would tell Grandpa what colors, what molds, etc., to get it ready for the party or whatever occasion. Grandpa could eat all he wanted and would take some home to Grandma. His father would stop by and eat some, too—he loved it. Grandpa said that he himself got to the point that he couldn’t even stand ice cream!
Then, Father asked him to go down to Mexico with the Mexico-Arizona Land Company, of which his father was a partner. Grandpa and Grandma moved to Cine Loa, where Grandpa managed farms of tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and pinto beans for the Mexico-Arizona Land Co.
After working for that company, Grandpa and Grandma came back to Arizona to a town called Fort Low which was 6 miles from Binghampton, and farmed again, raising hay. Grandpa’s father and mother had moved to Provo, Utah by then, and Grandpa and Grandma ended up moving to Provo as well, where he worked for a man named Roy Parks for 7 years, driving a team of 4 horses for him, irrigating and caring for his peach, apple, apricot, and plum orchards, and hauling the fruit all over Utah.
They then moved to Woodruff, Arizona and raised onions, helping his brother-in-law, Elmer, get a farm going. Grandpa was in a play there, playing the part of a black man. He says that Clyde was scared of him and didn’t want to go home with him after the play!
Grandma always said that she was going to have 15 children, and Grandpa said it broke her heart that she was only able to have two. They were delighted to at last get a beautiful daughter, Bess, but then endured so many miscarriages that they lost count of them, and had almost given up ever having any more children. Finally, 8 years later, a son, Clyde, was born. However, he was born prematurely, weighing only 2 ½ pounds, and it was a cold February in Utah. The doctor told them, “Them’s pretty poor potatoes”, and wasn’t very encouraging that their new son would survive.
Grandpa and Grandma put him in a shoe box behind the stove in the kitchen—the warmest spot in the house—and kept the stove red hot, trying to keep him alive. The doctor was very surprised to find Clyde still alive when he came back the next morning. The doctor stayed close by for about a week, watching Grandma and Clyde closely. They fed him with an eyedropper at first, and he gradually gained weight and became strong and healthy.
Bess and Clyde were always very devoted to each other. Bess got Clyde ready for school, fixed his breakfast, etc., while Grandma milked in the mornings, and always took great care of him. Grandma liked to work outside on the farm, so Bess often tended Clyde. Clyde says that he was 10 or 11 years old before he realized he didn’t have two mothers, and he sent Bess Mother’s Day cards for years!
Grandma was the parent who did the disciplining when it was necessary—“the spanking and the talking to”, as Grandpa says. She was strict with the children and expected them to do what she told them. Clyde says he never remembers Grandpa spanking him. Grandpa would take Clyde out working with him a lot; Clyde would ride with him on the tractor and fall asleep, staying until Grandpa came in for lunch. Clyde says he never remembers his father being cross; he was always good-natured and pleasant, and extremely honest.
When they lived in Utah, Rudolph had his horses in pulling contests, which were a big thing back then. For the pull, you’d hitch 2 horses up to a loaded wagon, yell “Pull!”, and the horses had to pull the loaded wagon 3 feet past a line. Grandpa would sit on a seat behind the horses and talk to them—didn’t yell, just talk—while they pulled. Grandpa won the contest 3 years in a row. Because he also won a big 3-state contest, he was asked to go to England for a pulling contest there. However, the war broke out, so he couldn’t go. He was proud of the ribbon and plaque he’d won, though. Grandpa had a horse named Cap that he said no horse could ever outpull.
Grandpa trained his horses every night after work, adding a little more and a little more to their load, until they could barely budge it. Grandma would go watch him in the pulling contests, and his father would love to come and watch, too. Grandpa said his father would get so engrossed in “pushing” for Grandpa’s team that he’d push everyone off the bench while he watched, not even realizing what he was doing!
Grandpa bought an International truck and started trucking, hauling fruit one way, and hauling coal back. He and his brother, Hal, worked together. But, he had to be gone all the time, and didn’t like that.
So, they moved down to Mesa, AZ and got a dairy. They started with 12 or 14 cows—not very good ones, according to Grandpa—and built up a nice herd from there. Bess, Clyde, Grandpa, and Grandma milked by hand. They had a farm and dairy out on Baseline Road, and lived there for a long time. They got up to about 150 cows, milking them by machine. After Bess married, she and her husband, Tom, lived on a farm near Grandpa and Grandma.
Clyde married Lucille Fuller and went into the Air Force. When he returned 4 years later, he and Grandpa bought a dairy in Casa Grande, Arizona. Bess and Tom bought a dairy there, as well. They increased that herd to 500 cows. After several years, they sold the dairy for a cattle ranch near Eureka, Nevada, called The Willows Ranch. They loved it there, but the price of cattle dropped, and after several years they lost it. They then moved to different farms and ranches in Nevada, eventually ending up raising alfalfa hay as partners with Clyde and Lucille on a farm in Antelope Valley, between Austin and Battle Mountain, NV, where Grandpa and Grandma lived for about 20-25 years, until their deaths.
Clyde was impressed that whenever there was a tragedy—financial, or a big fire, or whatever—Grandpa never let it bother him, or at least never showed that it did. He just said, “Well, I guess we’ve got to start over.” And he would. He was an extremely hard worker, as was Grandma, and would just dive in, rebuilding after any tragedy.
While they were living in Antelope Valley, one night a fire ignited in the haystacks by their bunkhouse, and soon was out of control, burning their saddles, food storage, pictures and library, generator, machinery, hay stacks, fuel tanks, and much other family storage. Grandpa never said much about the loss; he just acted grateful that no one was hurt or killed, and continued on with his hard work.
Grandpa remembers going out to milk the cows when Clyde was young and hearing Clyde singing at the top of his voice. He laughed and said that he could hear Clyde’s singing 40 acres away! Grandpa said he’d be down in the fields changing the water and could hear Clyde singing. Clyde remembers Grandpa—and Grandma—singing a lot when he was little. Grandpa also remembers how, when Clyde was little, he used to go out and rope the cows while Grandpa milked. Grandpa chuckled about how Clyde would rope them over and over, but the cows didn’t seem to mind!
Clyde tells how Grandpa kept Bess and him laughing so hard during meals that they hardly ever finished a meal for laughing, tears streaming down their faces. Grandpa had funny names for all the cows, all Besses’ boyfriends, and all Clyde’s friends. Grandpa didn’t tell jokes, but he had a very quick wit, and a knack for saying hilarious things with a perfectly straight face—something that his children and grandchildren enjoyed immensely!
Clyde says that he and Bess spent their whole lives at home laughing, because of the funny little things Grandpa was always saying. Grandpa and Grandma seldom played or vacationed, but Clyde says they always had a great time working together. Grandpa’s wit and fun sense of humor really made life and home fun for them. His children and grandchildren loved him to pieces!
He was a very hard worker and expected a lot out of others, but one word of praise from him made a person feel so good that any amount of hard work was worth it! Grandpa’s compliments were treasured, and his high opinion greatly valued. He had a gift for making each individual person feel special. He was a good and noble man, and we, his posterity, honor him, love him, and look forward to being with him again one day.
DEATH: Near Battle Mountain.