Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beyond the Wind

When I moved to Saint Johns 31 years ago little did I know how much I would come to love this Town of Friendly Neighbors.  I grew up in Duncan, AZ. and Snowflake, AZ.  Also good towns, but neither have touched my heart like Saint Johns. 

I had met a great guy in the YSI, Young Special Interest group and we dated and fell in love and after a couple of months got married.  Bob had moved to Saint Johns via Eagar, Prescott and San Diego and was working for Brown and Root then eventually for Tucson Electric Power. Bob was living in a little rental belonging to and right next door to Wilford and Mabel Shumway and so we started our marriage out in a wonderful neighborhood full of caring and loving neighbors.  It was a romantic and learning time for us in that little apartment.  Basically we had a very meager paycheck, but we decided to try to build some food storage anyway.  Back then there was Triple S grocery store.  The store belonged to our landlord and operated by his daughter Ann.  Once in a while she had drawings for groceries.  We won twice and I have often suspected Ann and Brother Shumway of "making" sure we won because they knew we needed it.  Brother and Sister Shumway were always so good to us.  Our neighbors on the other side of us were Mel and LaVelle DeSpain and Ted and Julie Raban.  I cannot say how much Bob and I love and appreciate all these special and lovely folks.  They have brightened up our lives in so many ways, still do. 

Eventually Bob and I bought 25 acres about 3 miles south of town.  We love our place and even call it Humphreys' Heaven.  Both of our wells were drilled by Nielsen Well Drilling and we will always be grateful to them for this great blessing.  Water is so essential here.

I have always been amazed at the "old home town" feeling I get in Saint Johns.  So many people are related and I am still learning relationships.  I attended a funeral once where some ladies sang their changed rendition to a well known song making it "I love those dear hearts and friendly people who live and love in old Saint Johns".  I decided right then that I want that same sentiment at my funeral.  There is something about this place that gets into your bones.  I have thought about it often over the years and I just don't know how to describe it.  The people are wonderful, but the town itself is just as wonderful.  The history of the very buildings, the businesses that struggle to survive, the dry riverbed, the Christmas lights across main street, the amazing 4th of July activities to the 24th of July festivities.  I love to see all the families get together on the 24th.  Actually one of my favorite days of the year is the 24th of July parade.  The special Sacrament meeting is a highlight of the year.  

I also discovered I have roots in Saint Johns.  My third Great Grandfather is Nathan Cram Tenney, one of the first to be sent by President Brigham Young to settle Saint Johns.  I love that I have old connections to this town. To date, Great Grandfather has the tallest headstone in the cemetery. 

The wind is also a big part of this place.  I have heard it said that when the Saints came here to settle they decided to stay just until the wind stopped blowing.  That is why we are still here.  Actually, I think they stayed because they could see beyond the wind, the dry ground and lack of water.  They saw a place where they could raise their children to be strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   
To live in Saint Johns one needs to be strong.  True Saint Johns residents are fiercely loyal to this town and their homes.  We are strong enough to endure the wind, the cold, and the lack of water.  We know who our Savior is and strive every day to live His teachings in a place where we are free to do so.  We love Arizona and we love this great United States of America. 

Laura Humphreys

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