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HISTORY OF GERALD LARSEN

Gerald Larsen was born March 18, 1928 at Groveland, Idaho at the home of his parents. He lived in that same house until he was 21 years old and went on a mission for the LDS Church. His father, James Peter Larsen Jr., was born in Spanish Fork, Utah to James Peter Larsen Sr. and Christina Petrina Harbeson on October 12, 1880, the third of eight children, three brothers and four sisters. He married LaVera Fullmer, daughter of Alonzo Smith Fullmer and Luella Estell Perry, on December 18, 1912. LaVera was born September 30, 1891 in Mapleton, Utah. His grandfather was James Peter Larsen Sr. and was a convert to the LDS Church in Denmark. He died July 3, 1937 at Groveland, Idaho. Reportedly, James P. Sr. used to walk ten miles to church each way in Denmark. He sent his wife and eldest daughter to Utah and stayed in Denmark until he had enough money to join them. Then they all settled in Spanish Fork, Utah. Gerald's maternal grandfather, Alonzo Smith Fullmer, was born March 17, 1862, at Provo, Utah, the eighth child of fourteen children born to John Solomon Fullmer and Olive Amanda Smith Markham. His maternal grandmother, Luella Estell Perry, was born September 10, 1866 at Springville, Utah, the fifth child of eleven children born to Stephen Chadwick Perry and Mary Boggs. Gerald had three brothers and one sister. Leo James Larsen was the oldest child in Gerald's family. He was born on June 27, 1915 at Groveland, Idaho. He married Aletta Sorensen, July 3, 1935. Leo did many things in life. He could see an opportunity under every bush. He pioneered running water out of the ground to irrigate the desert ground. He was involved in a one car accident pulling a load of machinery to Canada and died on April 28, 1974, at Bellview, Washington. They had ten children, four boys and six girls. Second in the family was Elva Larsen, born March 15, 1917, at Groveland, Idaho. She married John Lincoln Owens. They tried farming. Johnnie also worked as a janitor. Elva embarked on a nursing career and worked at the State Hospital South. They had six children, five boys and one girl. Elva is now a widow and lives in Blackfoot, Idaho. The third child born in the family was Glen Perry Larsen. He was born on January 11, 1920 in Groveland, Idaho. He married LaFay Hopla on May 24, 1939. He was a farmer and developed farms and deep wells in the Moreland area. Glen and LaFay have moved several times over the years, but currently reside in Riverside, Idaho. They have 11 children, 4 girls and 7 boys. The next child was William Verl Larsen. He was born January 1, 1923 in Groveland, Idaho. He married Irene Soderquist on September 16, 1954. He also helped develop farms with deep wells. Eventually he sold his portion of the farm and began teaching school in the Bonneville School District. They now live in Ammon, Idaho. They have five children, four boys and one girl. Gerald was the fifth and last child born to James Peter Larsen Jr. and LaVera Fullmer. When he was a week old, he was exposed to Whopping Cough. The quarantine doctor was drunk and told his parents that he would never live. His Grandpa Fullmer blessed him at home. After Gerald recovered he was blessed again in Church this time by Orson Manwaring. The second blessing took place on August 5, 1928. Gerald was born with a club foot. His brother, Leo, tells that when he was born his toes were turned to the side and nearly touched his heel. Several operations in Salt Lake corrected this condition to some extent, but still his left foot was crooked and his left leg has always a few inches shorter than the right leg. He has always expressed gratitude that he can walk and none of his family have every heard him utter a word of complaint about his foot and leg. As a young child, Gerald found playing with matches fun. His mother knew that he had to be taught the dangers of this sport. She lit a match close enough to his hand to make him think that his fingers were going to burn off. This lesson made him realize that fire can be dangerous. Once when he was quite young, he got so mad at his mother that he decided to run away from home. His mother wouldn't let him out the front door, so he dashed over to the window. His mother caught him, and sat on his legs and wouldn't let him leave. Gerald was five years younger than his older brothers. Like most older brothers, Glen and Verl, enjoyed teasing their younger brother, but more than that they enjoyed making Gerald do what they wanted him to do. One day Glen and Verl caught Gerald smoking cedar bark. They promised not to tell on him as long as he would do exactly what they told him to do. If he didn't respond to their smallest command they would say, "I'm gonna squawk! I'm gonna squawk!" This went on for a few days until their mother sat Gerald down and made him tell her what, I'm gonna squawk really meant. Gerald's sister, Elva, got a really fancy doll for Christmas. The doll was made out of cloth, but had a porcelain head. The doll's eye would open and shut. One of Gerald's cousins came to visit. Together they decided to pour water into the eyes of this doll. Of course the doll was ruined, and Elva was very upset. What a mischievous child Gerald was. One of the things that Gerald has always enjoyed doing is making things. When he was young, he would make kites out of newspaper and willows. The used a paste made out of flour to get the kites to hold together. Gerald started grade school in Groveland, Idaho in 1934. The principal was D. D. Thomas and the first grade teacher was Miss Geesbrick. Her nickname was Mrs. Geesbritches. The other teachers that Gerald remembers having were Edna Fullmer, Ida Burton, and Francis Hale. In one of his classes he was assigned to write a poem. He wrote one that really amused his teacher. There was a man. He had a Nash. (that's a car) He went so fast he had a crash. He went to the garage and bought a Dodge. Then went on to Blackfoot to see Dr. Hodge. Gerald was baptized in the Riverside Canal by the side of the old Groveland Church house on July 3, 1936. Owen Hale performed the baptism. He was confirmed on July 5, 1936 by James Peter Larsen Jr., his father. When Gerald was in the 7th grade, the fad at school was to give some kind of laxative or feamint gum to people. In order to be one of the crowd, Gerald decided to find something to give the kids at school. At home they had some pills to put in chicken water to purify it. He was particularly careful and asked his mother is they were poison. After assurance from her that they weren't poisonous, he took a handful to pass out at school. The pills made the water turn purple. One kid at school was always bumming gum or something so he was the prime target. When he took one of those pills and chewed it up, it didn't taste good, he spit it out and went to get a drink to take the taste out of his mouth. Immediately his mouth and lips turned purple and the whole school thought he was going to die. This scared Gerald. He was soon called to the office for pulling the prank. He had to ride a horse home to find out what the pills were and what they had in them. Then they had to call the drug store to find out the ingredients. It wasn't harmful, but Gerald had learned his lesson. Thoughtless pranks get you into a lot of trouble. He always had regular chores to do such as milking two to four cows night and morning. The milking was all done by hand. He had to thin sugar beets as well as work the fields with horses. He can remember the first tractor that his father bought. He was about ten years old when his dad bought it. It was a Farmall F 12. His family raised hay, grain, potatoes, and sugar beets. They also milked cows, raised sheep, and had horses. He learned at an early age to do all of the work to raise and produce these crops and to care for the animals. They all worked in the fields and on projects. No one was exempt from the work, not even his mother. His parents were hard working people. They cleared the brush from the land and built their own home. His father was known as the fastest beet topper around. He could pull, top, and load 10-12 tons a day. As Gerald was growing up they had an old riding horse named Dick. He was tricky and would shy away and cause them to fall off of his back. Then he would walk just barely ahead of them all the way home. The only way to fool him was to act like they were hurt and then he would stand there to wait for them. On one occasion, Gerald was carrying a bag of water to the field when he fell off and broke his left arm between the elbow and the shoulder. This caused him to spend six weeks in bed in traction while his arm healed. During the winter months, they would tie a rope onto the tail of one of their horses. The didn't have a saddle, but one of the children would ride the horse and another would hold onto the rope attached to the horses tail and ski behind the horse. There was a canal that ran through a piece of ground owned by his father. So Gerald and his brothers and their friends went swimming almost every day in the summer. The farm where Gerald grew up consisted of 60 acres. There were 40 acres on one piece, and about a 1/2 mile away there was another 20 acres. That was a pretty good size farm in that day. Nobody had more than 80 acres. One of Gerald's jobs was to help take the cows from one piece of ground to the other night and morning so they could be in the pasture. He often rode one of the cows going and coming from the pasture. There was also an apple orchard located on their farm. At the age of six or seven, he received a lasting lesson in honesty. One Sunday afternoon, Gerald went with his parents to Barney Olson's place. There were several kids there and they proceeded to tear some bearings apart for the steelies (the little round balls inside the bearings). The next morning his mother saw him with them and immediately wanted to know where Gerald had gotten them. He told her the whole story. Without delay, they got in the car and went to see Mr. Olson. Gerald had to take the steelies in and apologize for taking them. He says that was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. Mr. Olson gave the steelies to Gerald, but he had learned his lesson. He would never again take something that did not belong to him. He also learned that an observant parent can have a significant influence on a child's life. When Gerald was a young boy he remembers helping his father plant potatoes. They had a one row planter. One person would drive the horses that pulled the planter. Behind the driver there was a bin that you put the potato seed in. Behind that there was a wheel with 12 to 14 holes in it. This wheel would turn. Another person would sit near this wheel and put the potato seed into the holes. The seed would then drop through the bottom of the planter into the ground. While Gerald was in the 8th grade, the school house burned down and they finished that year at the Blackfoot Junior High. There weren't enough class rooms for them all to fit, so many of their classes were held in the halls. This wasn't the only fire that occurred during his growing-up years. The Larsen family had a fire at their house when Gerald was young. Their car wouldn't start so Gerald was priming it with gas. The car backfired and the gas line caught on fire. It got scattered around the barn and things. They put it out and nothing was seriously damaged. During his childhood and teenage years, Gerald was always encouraged by his parents to go to church, which he usually did. Basically he had good friends, but they were often found pulling pranks on people. One of these pranks was to tie the car of the Relief Society President to a telephone pole with barb wire. Then they hid to watch her try to leave the church. At Halloween, Gerald and his friends would tip over everybody's outhouse. They tipped over one outhouse while there was someone inside. They had tipped the outhouse over onto the door and the man inside couldn't get out. Eventually he had to crawl through the hole to get out. Other such pranks were to stick potatoes in the muffler, or to flip off the breaker that controlled the lights during Relief Society Meetings. While these pranks are somewhat amusing, they are recorded here so we can learn from his experiences. He was ordained a Deacon on April 7, 1940, by Wentle A. Bingham. He was President of the Deacons Quorum for 1 1/2 years. He received an award for doing the requirements of a Deacon. Gerald was ordained a Teacher on April 25, 1943 by Albert B. Olsen. While he was in the Teachers Quorum the presiding authorities were slow in finding a replacement for their advisor and instructor. During this time the Teachers were expected to drop back into the Deacons Quorum. Now it is fairly obvious the reaction this caused. Needless to say, Gerald and the others were not very happy with this arrangement. They began pulling many of the above mentioned pranks which did not go over very well with the Relief Society Presidency. A member of the Bishopric's wife was the Relief Society President. One day at a quilting meeting, the sisters began talking about these "rough neck" boys who were pulling all these pranks. Again a wise mother was paying attention to her child's life. LaVera (Gerald's mother) turned to one of the other mothers who also had a son Gerald's age and said "I think they are talking about our boys. I'm having trouble getting my boy to Priesthood meeting and I don't condone these pranks, but I believe it would help if they had a teacher in their priesthood class." You can imagine the silence that fell on the Relief Society. The following Sunday there was a teacher for the boys. Again thanks for a Mother who cared enough to take action to help shape the destiny of her family. High School was enjoyable to him. He had little interest in girls and sports because of being bashful and having a crooked foot. So he was a little different. He participated in FFA and showed steers in the livestock shows. One year he lost his steer and that was a disappointment to him. He took wood shop and enjoyed making some pieces of furniture. One of them in their home today. He also took Seminary and that helped fortify the teachings of the Church which have become very precious in his life. While he was going to school, Gerald and a few of his friends got an old Model T Ford out of a pile of junk and repaired it. They decided to each keep it a week at a time. It didn't go fast enough to suit them so they took a transmission from an old Chevrolet car and put it in backwards. That made it so they had 21 speeds forward and 14 in reverse. One night when Gerald was driving the guys around, they decided to see how fast the car would go in reverse. They started going backwards down the road. He shifted it into about third reverse. By this time they had gone a mile and were going about 35 miles an hour. Gerald decided it was time to turn around and start going forward. While getting the car stopped, the front wheels cramped one way and while trying to straighten it up, the wheels popped the other way and the car tipped over. It scattered the boys all over the highway. They finally got everyone gathered up and the car tipped back up . Gerald was unable to find his hat. After some looking, he found it in a hinge on the door, all mangled to pieces. The Lord must have been with them as no one was hurt. He was always glad his head wasn't in that hat. As you can see, he was no angel, but he came through this time of his life without serious sins and without serious harm to others. During this period of his life he had another experience that helped to show Gerald the right and wrong way to deal with young people. On M.I.A. night, (this is what we now call Young Men & Young Women), instead of going in to the social they were having, Gerald and his friends got into their car and drove out onto the ice that had formed over the canal that ran past the church. After they had pulled a few cookies on the ice, they pulled up and parked by the church window and sat watching the party. A wise Young Men's President came out to see what they were doing. This man talked and joked around for a little bit, and then asked if they would like to come in and join the party. The boys decided this was a good idea. When the Young Women President saw them come in, she hurried over to tell them that if they would "mind their business and be good boys," they could have some of the refreshments. The young men, who were just at that age of rebellion, went to town and bought hamburgers, took them back to the church, and provided their own refreshments. When he started High School, Gerald found himself with a group of friends who wanted to do things that he knew he shouldn't do. He soon found that sluffing school was among the activities his friends found acceptable. Because he wanted to fit in, Gerald went along with this. On one occasion, they decided to sluff school . They went to the pool hall to shoot pool. The principal caught them and expelled them from school. The next day when Gerald told his parents he didn't have to go to school, they wanted to know why. When they found out, Gerald's mother went to school and thanked the principal. At this time, Gerald realized he was headed for trouble. He knew that if he didn't seek new friends, he would continue on the wrong path. He has many times expressed his gratitude for this decision to find new friends. His previous group continued to sluff school and eventually started to drink, smoke, and develop bad morals. He was ordained a priest on April 22, l945 by Golden Hale. As a priest, he had the opportunity to go to the Idaho Falls Temple and baptize for the dead. He actually did the baptizing, not just the baptisms. The first time they did this was in December of l945. His group was one of the first groups to do baptisms for the dead in the Idaho Falls Temple. When he was about l9 years old, he broke his leg. It was Stake Conference time and instead of going to their meetings, Gerald and some of his friends decided to go for a motorcycle ride. They ended up at somebody's house playing "King of Bunker Hill" on top of a hay stack. He was doing fine until he got pushed off. When he landed he had a broken leg. It was broken about two inches from the hip. This started a 67 day stay in the hospital. He spent the time laying on his back with his leg in traction. While in the hospital, he became very sick. The doctors decided that he had contracted pneumonia. The hospital staff began to give him penicillin. After 196 shots, the Bishop came to visit. He gave Gerald a blessing and by morning, he was cured. Because of this and other experiences, he has always had great faith in the power of the Priesthood. When World War II broke out, Gerald tried to enlist to serve his country. He was not allowed to join the army because of his club foot. In August of 1945, Glen and Verl were both home on leave from the service. They were both fighting in World War II. Leo had bought some land West of Moreland and wanted them to go with him to buy some more. They contacted Lester Belnap and bought two sections of ground for $6000 dollars cash. That was $1500 dollars each. Verl and Gerald each had $1,000. Their parents gave each of them another $500, so they could pay their share. At this time Gerald started his Senior year in school at Blackfoot High. In the spring of 1946, Glen and Verl were discharged from the service and they started plowing the brush on the place they bought from Mr. Belnap. That summer Glen farmed in Aberdeen. Gerald and Verl raised some potatoes and beets on their parents farm. This gave them money to use developing their new farm on the desert. They used their Dad's grain binder and did custom work during the fall of 1946. This was also to earn money for their farm. That winter Gerald worked on a potato crew. They scooped the potatoes into a sorter by hand. Gerald's job was to handle the 100 lbs. sacks, sew them shut , and stack them (sometimes 9 high). Then they loaded them on trucks by hand and took them to town to load on the train. They used disc plows pulled by tractor to cut the sagebrush on their newly acquired farm. Next they raked it with an old dump hay rake and one horse named Ben to pull the rake. After using the rake on the ground, they would pack a tank of white gas on their back and burn the brush. As they plowed the brush, they found old fence rows. This ground had been dry farmed years before, but the people couldn't make it pay so the land had gone back for taxes, it was then sold at 25 cents an acre for grazing cattle. In the spring of 1947 they planted some dry farm grain. It didn't do very well but they managed to buy a combine to cut it with. They did enough custom work to pay for the combine. They bought a L.A. Case tractor (an army surplus tractor) to help break the brush at a total cost of $1,200. The Larsen Brothers knew that dry farming wasn't going to work on this beautiful desert land. They had to find some way to get water into their irrigation ditches. They decided to try a new method of irrigation. They would dig a well and attach a pump to it. This would bring the water to the surface and into their irrigation ditches. Gerald's older brother, Leo, put the first well onto Larsen ground in 1945. This was the second well of its kind in the State of Idaho. This well is located a mile south of the Larsen Homestead. In 1948, Gerald and the other Larsen brothers put their first pump to work. It is located on the Flat near the old cement house. This new idea of pumping water from the ground to irrigate was a wild one to the old timers. Many of them predicted that the farm would go under. This undertaking was in fulfillment of the Prophecy in Isaiah 35: 1 "...the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." and also in Isaiah 35:6 "...for in the wilderness shall waters break out and streams in the desert..." In 1948, when they began using their first pump, they were late getting the power lines out to the pump. Each night the brothers would take turns going out with their bed roll in the pickup and getting up every two hours to check the water and see that it was covering the ground properly. They built a house on wheels to pull behind the pickup. They used this to sleep and eat in while they tended the water. It was July before the pump could actually be used. There was an old well about in the middle of the Munson flat. This seemed a good place to build a house. They built a small cement house about 12' by 15'. They used a hand cement mixer to make their cement. They later found that someone had put iron down the well. Because of the iron in the well the water couldn't be used. This meant that instead of having a water source near the house, they had to haul water when they were staying there. They used a Misken scraper to build the ditches. It was a constant struggle to keep the ditches from washing out. Gerald's father was particularly interested in seeing his sons succeed with their revolutionary irrigation methods. He spent most every day coming out to see the progress on planting and building the ditches on the virgin soil. Their father lived to see the water started on the place. He died July 11, 1948. Thirty years later, the well was abandoned and the ditches were pushed in. Sprinkler irrigation had taken over. They were farming with the folks again that year and had a good crop of potatoes. The summer times were hard for them. They weren't earning any money from the farm yet. Gerald spent the Summer of 1948 with $10 spending money. In 1948, to harvest the potatoes they had a one row digger. The digger had a place for someone to stand and pick clods. Behind that it had a place where someone else would stand and sack the potatoes and set them off onto the ground. Then another person would come with a truck and lift the bags onto the truck and haul the sacks to the cellar. In the fall of that year, they had a successful harvest. Gerald and Verl decided to buy a new Ford car. The night before they were to pick it up, Bishop Denny came and asked Gerald to go on a mission. His Mother said she would support him if he wanted to go, so he did. He received his patriarchal blessing January 30, 1949 from Peter J. Williams, Patriarch of the Blackfoot Stake. He was ordained an Elder on November 28, l948 by Stake President Parley A. Aarve. In January of 1949 at Stake Conference he was interviewed by Elder Henry D. Moyle of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Gerald was set apart as a Missionary by Apostle Ezra Taft Benson who later became President of the Church. On February 1, l949, Gerald went to the temple to receive his endowments. Two weeks later he entered the mission home in Salt Lake City. Three of his good friends, Dewey Mangum, Wayne Hale, and Donald Denney were called at the same time. Gerald and Dewey both went to the Northern States Mission, but they were never companions. Gerald went to the mission home (this was later known as the M.T.C.) in the first part of February 1949. It was a very bad winter. Gerald's wife remembers school being closed for a whole month and also having the snow drifted even with the roof of their barn. The mission home was located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gerald spent a week learning how to be a missionary. Then came home for his farewell. His family wondered if he would even get home, and when he did, they began wondering how he would ever get back to Salt Lake to catch his train. He left Salt Lake City, Utah on February 25, 1949. He spent two days on the train to Chicago, Illinois. The Northern States Mission headquarters were located there. His mission president was Creed Haymond. Creed Haymond is a famous Olympic hero. When he was a young man he was very talented in the track and field events. He qualified for the United States Olympic team. After several days of competition in the Olympic games, his coach began encouraging the team members to us a special tonic, which was loaded with alcohol. This tonic supposedly would improve their performance as athletes. Creed refused to drink the tonic. He had promised his mother before he left home that he would follow the Word of Wisdom. The coach threatened him with failure and still Creed refused. Finally, Creed prayed and asked the Lord what he should do. He decided to hold firm to the principals he had been taught as a youth. The coach told Creed that he would hold him personally responsible when the team lost the next day. When morning came, every American athlete except for Creed was too ill to participate in their events. Creed had the Olympics of his dreams. He won two gold medals and set a new world record for one of his events. His record stood for many years. President Haymond and his wife welcomed the missionaries into their beautiful home. To these country boys from Idaho and Utah, it was a great mansion. Gerald remembers being very nervous at dinner the first night. Sister Haymond in trying to welcome the missionaries had set a very formal meal. Gerald had never seen that many forks and spoons for one person before. He ended up sitting right next to President Haymond. It was embarrassing for him because he didn't know what to do or how to act. The next day he was assigned to labor in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with an Elder from Layton, Utah. Shortly after he arrived in Cedar Rapids, he realized that his companion had lost the spirit of missionary work. They didn't seem to get be able to accomplish anything. His companion would disappear and Gerald would have no idea where the other Elder had gone or what he was supposed to do. At one point the companion had his bags packed to leave and Gerald wouldn't let him go. In May 1949, Elder Moyle came to tour the mission. He recognized Gerald at once. After talking to him for awhile, Gerald noticed the size of Elder Moyle's chest. Out of the clear blue sky Gerald told Elder Moyle that he reminded him of a big bull. Gerald was terribly embarrassed, but Elder Moyle laughed and said he had plenty of them. The next day he had the privilege of riding with Elder Moyle and President Haymond to Des Monies, Iowa for a mission conference. At this conference Gerald learned that the apostles were truly prophets, seers, and revelators. In an interview, Elder Moyle asked Gerald how he was getting along with his companion. Gerald told Elder Moyle that they were doing alright. He didn't want to tell him what his companion was doing until he had talked to the mission president. Before long Elder Moyle asked again and Gerald told him the same thing. They went on with the interview. Soon Elder Moyle asked the same question again. At this point, Gerald decided to tell him the problem. He told Elder Moyle that if he seemed evasive it was because he hadn't had a chance to talk with the mission president. This experience shows the importance of living the mission rules. Later in the Conference, Elder Moyle gave a talk about this important principle. While they were having testimony meeting, an Elder was telling how they had contacted a lady and given her a Book of Mormon. When her little girl came home she picked up the book. The lady said her first impression was to burn the book and not let her little girl see it. At this time Elder Moyle stopped the Elder and prophesied that the little girl would fill a mission for the church. Gerald never was taught phonetics when he was in school so he never learned to sound words out. He went all through high school without learning to read. When he got into the mission field he tied to read the Bible but couldn't. If he had to read aloud no one could understand what he was saying, because he couldn't pronounce the words. He decided he had to do something about this problem. His Bible had a table in the back which contained the phonetic markings. From this table he taught himself to read. While he was assigned to labor in Iowa, the missionaries were expected to go out into the countryside preaching the gospel. They would travel without purse or script (or car). They would travel in the countryside for about 4 to 6 weeks. They would take a small satchel with a change of clothes and beyond that they would rely upon the Lord to provide. They would stay with the few members in the area or they would have to depend upon the goodness of others for food, places to sleep, and somewhere to shower and to do laundry. He had several interesting experiences doing this kind of tracting. One day he remembers going all day long without a meal. As night began to approach, they started looking for a place to stay. They were turned away from several homes. They put their old clothes on and spent the night under a tree. They hadn't counted on the huge amount of dew there would be in the morning. The tree they were sleeping under was a mulberry tree. There were mulberries all over the ground. Their clothes got stained by the mulberries and they were soaking wet. They ate a few of the mulberries for breakfast and then began tracting on. Some of the homes were very cordial and kind, but others were not. On another night, they were looking for a place to stay. They kept getting rejection after rejection. Finally they found a wagon out in the middle of a field. They decided to bed down beneath the wagon. Just as they were drifting off to sleep, a farmer came into the field to begin harvest. It was a mint field. The mint is harvested at night. The two missionaries thought they should ask permission to sleep under the wagon. The farmer was one of the people who had turned them away. He was very angry. Gerald and his companion gathered their things and they left. They moved down the road a few miles when the found another field with a wagon out in the middle. They bedded down under this wagon. About 30 minute later, they saw a police car driving by. He was shining his spotlight into the fields and up and down the road. The farmer had called the police. They never found the missionaries. A few months later they went to a conference. They found that there were Elders a few miles away who had been put in jail. The next day Gerald and his companion continued traveling. They met a family who were very gracious and kind. They let them in and stayed up talking about the gospel until nearly midnight. Then the missionaries were given a room to sleep in. The next morning, Gerald heard the man of the house getting up to go do the chores. He followed and helped with the milking. When they returned to the house, the man's wife had a huge breakfast ready for them. During breakfast the man began making phone calls to find help to work his hay. He wasn't successful. Gerald told him, that the two missionaries could stay and help if the man would give them a ride to Vinton, Iowa that evening. This was a Saturday and their was a member family in Vinton who was going to take them to Church the next day. The man agreed because he didn't have any other options. He was pleasantly surprised when Gerald was able to just climb onto his tractor and start work. He was grateful for the experienced help. After five months in Cedar Rapids, he was transferred to South Bend, Indiana. His new companion was Elder Joseph H. Young. Gerald started having problems with his feet. One day while in Chicago, he found a place where he could get shoes built to fit his feet. They made plaster molds of his feet and then built the shoes especially for him. This made walking so much easier for him. Could this have been one of the reasons he was called to this particular mission? While in South Bend they had a Model A Ford car for transportation and had a lot of fun with it. Gerald spent fifteen months in South Bend and received his first Junior Companion there. It was Elder Sterling Fackrell from Springville, Utah In 1949, the mission was divided and Gerald found himself serving in the Great Lakes Mission with Carl C. Burton as his Mission President. It was good to see things happen in the mission field and watch people grow in the gospel. The Clifford Kelly family accepted the gospel while he was in South Bend. On one occasion Clifford went with the Elders to a Mission Conference and sat through a 14 hour testimony meeting with them. They knew right then he was a golden contact. The Kelly family was baptized. A few years later the came west for their endowments and Gerald and his wife were able to see them sealed together as a family. Because of this contact on his mission, the Kelly family have become life-long friends. The two families are still close. The church in South Bend was meeting in a Knights of Colombus Hall for their Sunday meetings. They had to sweep up the cigarette butts and air out the room in order to have their meetings. This was a very undesirable condition to try and invite the spirit of the Lord. The branch members were trying to raise money to buy a piece of land and build a church house. Gerald and his companion began trying to find a piece of land for them. The Lord moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. The Branch members were looking for a building sight and everything they found was over ten thousand dollars. One morning Gerald was reading the newspaper and saw a lot advertized. He called and the price was sixteen hundred dollars. The ground was purchased and a chapel was built. This experience showed him the Lord can help out in any situation. While in South Bend he met a lady by the name of Mrs. Teters. She was very wealthy. The missionaries began teaching her the gospel. One day after the lesson she asked if a non-member could have a priesthood blessing and Gerald said yes. She asked if they would give her one. They made an appointment to go back with the consecrated oil and give her a blessing. Gerald and his companion also told her of the building project they had in South Bend. She was interested and wanted to see the building site. They told her about a box social the members were having to raise money for the Chapel. She told the missionaries that she would match what ever the members raised at the social. After the social the money was added up and the members had $110. A few days later Gerald got a check in the mail. Not only had she matched the money, but she had doubled it. She never did join the church. Wealth and social pressure kept her from it. Gerald and his companion taught her a few more lessons. She wasn't as receptive as she could be. Gerald was soon transferred to Marion, Indiana to be branch president. A few months later they had a mission conference in South Bend. Gerald asked the other Elders how things were going with this Mrs. Teters. They told him it wasn't going so well. Gerald asked if he could go and visit her with them. Gerald went to visit with her, when they got there she was excited to see Gerald. She said that she had something to tell him. She related the following story to him. About a year before he met her, she had found her neighbor who had tried to commit suicide lying under a bush in her yard. The neighbor had slashed herself with a knife several times. This horrible sight affected her so badly she had been under psychiatric treatment ever since. She couldn't drive her car to take herself to the doctor or anything. She would wake up in the night with terrible night mares. After he gave her the blessing, all of these problems stopped. While serving in Marion, Indiana Gerald met a lady named Dora Howard. He had a hard time teaching her the importance of prayer. For two months he prepared a lesson each week for her, but when he got to her home, they talked about prayer. After they finally got her to start praying, she gained a testimony. She was baptized shortly after he returned home. She kept in touch with Gerald until she died in @ 1954. She called Gerald her "stepping stone to God." Her husband would never listen directly to the missionaries. Instead he would sit in another room and listen while the lessons were given. He would have nothing to do with the church at the time, but a seed was planted. Years later a lady from Gerald's ward went on a mission to Kentucky. A gentleman came up to her when he heard she was from Moreland, Idaho. He asked if Moreland was close to Blackfoot. Next he asked if she might know Gerald Larsen. When he found out she did, he told her of his experience listening while Gerald taught his first wife the gospel. Later he also joined the church. One time while teaching, a lady told him the Mormons had all been killed in Illinois. Another time he rang a door bell and a lady came to the door. She was dressed to go out and didn't have time to listen to the message. Gerald bore his testimony, gave her an Article of Faith card and then left. He was transferred soon after and never saw the lady again. About twenty years later Grant and Naomi Forman went on a mission to the same place. At a Relief Society banquet, they were sitting across the table from a lady. She asked where they were from. She asked if they knew Gerald. When she found out that they were in the same ward, she told them of her door experience with him. She had been so impressed with his testimony that she called the Mission Home and asked to be taught the gospel. She was now a Stake Relief Society President. You never know who will be impressed by what you do either for good or evil. Gerald was released as a missionary on March 3, l951. He arrived home on March 8th. At that time it was customary for returned missionaries to report their mission in Stake Conference. The Moreland Ward was furnishing the music for conference. Gerald's brother, Leo, and a girl named Myrtle McKnight were both members of the choir. Leo was Myrtle's Sunday School teacher. After the Conference, Leo asked Myrtle what she thought of his little brothers report and she said "It sounded pretty good. Why don't you send him around?" Leo told Gerald there was a little girl in his ward who wanted to meet him. Soon after this, he started trying to get in contact with Myrtle. She was quite difficult to contact. After several times of being turned away by Myrtle's mother, he finally asked if she was just lying to him to get him to go away. This didn't sit well with Grandma McKnight. Finally he caught Myrtle at home, and started his court ship with his future wife. They were married November 21, l951 in the Idaho Falls Temple. Myrtle always thought that Gerald really liked to dance. Most all of the dates they went on were to Idaho Falls to the Church dances. It was only after they were married that she found the real reason for the dances. He didn't like to dance, in fact dancing was very hard on his feet. The reason they had gone to all the dances was because they were free and he didn't have any money. They spent their first month of married life in the "honeymoon cottage" over in the flat. The next six weeks with her parents because the snow was so deep they couldn't get to the cottage, and on the sixth of February 1952 the moved into their new home. While staying with Myrtle's parents, she began to see the practical joking side of him. At her parents house they were sleeping in a hide-a-bed. Myrtle went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and get ready for bed. While she was gone, he rolled up a big blanket and put it on his side of the bed. He covered it up with the blankets, and then he went outside and watched her through the window. When she came back in to whisper sweet nothings into his ear, she just found this huge blanket rolled up. While Gerald was on his mission, Glen and Verl took care of the farm, drilled another well, and doubled the acreage of farm ground. In the spring of l951, a couple of grainaries were put up on the east side of where the duplex was later built. In the spring of l952, the brothers built the cinder block shop so there was a place to work on the vehicles that need to be repaired. During this the summer of 1952, another four grainaries were built. They also started construction on the duplex. Gerald and Glen worked along side the carpenter they had hired. When Gerald and Myrtle first got married he stole her nightgown one night and hid it up on the drapes. He wouldn't tell her where it was. He kept telling her it was within plain sight. It took her over an hour to find it. She was as mad as a wet hen. (Only those who know her can picture this.) Verl took out his endowments the same day that Gerald and Myrtle were married. Soon after their marriage, he left to fill a mission in Brazil. Gerald and Glen worked the farm and supported him while he was gone. Gerald and Myrtle moved into the east half of the duplex in February of l952. The floor was laid in the kitchen and the bathroom was put together and that was about all. They lived there while they finished building the house. In the spring of 1952, they started driving through the desert and found some very desirable ground. It was about four miles from where they had homesteaded. They were impressed with the land so they went to the court house to find who the land belonged too. Part of it was Fred Myers land and the other belonged to Les Williams. It was exciting to Myrtle, because it was land that her father had homesteaded years earlier and let it go back to pay the taxes because dry farming didn't work. The Larsen Brothers purchased the land and drilled a well in 1953. They purchased a TD 14 crawler tractor and bought a scraper to go behind it. They used disk plows to plow the brush then raked it into rows and then burned it. They used a butane burner and sat on the tailgate of the pickup to burn the brush. Next they leveled the ground and built ditches so they could use gravity to help irrigate. In 1954, Gerald and his brothers borrowed a scraper from the county and built a road from Leo's home (located where Yamada's now live) to the Flat. This road is now know as Larsen Road. Before they built the road, there was nothing but a cow trail to their houses and ground. That fall Gerald and Glen decided next they needed to build a potato cellar. They went up Morgan Creek above Challis and found timber for the cellar. It was a big job getting the timber ready to haul. They hired a fellow who lived there to prepare the trees and then Gerald and Glen went up to bring them home. The cellar was situated right next to Larsen road. It has since been removed. The cellar they built had two rows of posts down through the center, just far enough apart for a truck to back between. It was about 50 feet wide and 150 feet long. There were two more rows of posts on the sides. The roof had poles from the sides to the middle and then willows on top of the poles, and finally, it was covered with dirt. They put cinder blocks on the ends. It was as fine a cellar for its time. About two weeks before Christmas, Gerald came home with a load of the logs for the cellar. On the top of the load of logs was a perfectly formed Pine tree for their first Christmas in their new home. By this time the brothers decided to try their hand at raising sheep. That first lambing session took place in the new potato cellar. Later they built sheds and lambing pens for that purpose. Gerald and Myrtle were called on a stake mission soon after they were married. This was quite an experience for both of them. The local undertaker would volunteer their services if they had no one to take care of the funeral service. If the family didn't have a preference of who would preach the funeral sermon, the Elders would take turns doing it. Then all of the missionaries would do the music. One man knew how to play the violin, so he would do the accompaniment. It seemed every time it was Gerald's turn to give the sermon, the dead person had been knifed at the Wigwam, which was a bar located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Gerald's brother, Glen, gave him the nickname of "The Wigwam Preacher." The nickname stuck and for many years his friend called him by this name. On November 11, 1952 their first child was born. She was named Sheryl LaVera Larsen. The winter of 1952, Gerald and Myrtle traveled to Deerborn, Michigan to the Ford factory to buy a new pickup. Grandma Larsen went with them. They took a train back to the Mid-West. On one stretch of the trip there weren't enough seats for everyone on the train. Gerald sat his mother down in a seat and left Myrtle sitting on a suitcase in the aisle and went looking for more seats. The conductor came along and saw Myrtle on the suitcase and ushered her into the ladies lounge. (The ladies bathroom.) When Gerald came back to find Myrtle and tell her there weren't any more seats, the conductor sent him into the lounge to sit also. They sat there and enjoyed the reaction of the women coming into the bathroom for awhile, but eventually Gerald traded seats with his mother and she sat in the ladies lounge. They visited people Gerald had known in the mission field. Myrtle saw TV for the first time at Peck and Cleo Kelly's home. They also visited Myrtle's brother, Leo, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The trip took them to 22 states. They have a lot of good memories of this trip. After Gerald and Myrtle got home, they did the chores while his brother, Glen, and his wife, LaFay, went to get them a pickup. While Glen and LaFay were gone, Myrtle tended the chickens and Gerald milked the cow and fed the stock. One day, Myrtle noticed dead chickens all over in LaFay's chicken run. She called Gerald and he opened the door to the chicken coop and slammed it shut catching a chickens foot under the door. There was a bobcat in the chickens and Gerald was headed for his shot gun. He killed the cat, but they couldn't afford to get it mounted. On one occasion while they were on the stake mission, they had a sunrise service on the banks of the Snake River commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. Elder S. Dilworth Young was in Blackfoot for Stake Conference. He came and spoke to the people who attended the service. In October of 1953, their second daughter was born. She was very sick because she was born a month early. The doctors didn't think that she would live. She was given a name and a blessing in the hospital. She was named Myrtle Annette Larsen. In the spring of l954, the Stake President came to visit Gerald and Myrtle. He wanted them along with Glen and LaFay to jointly take a foster boy. This was how Dick Norwood came into their lives. It wasn't too long before he was spending all his time with Gerald and Myrtle. He spent 4 1/2 years living with them. In July of 1954, there was a really bad hail storm. Gerald brought home a handful of grain. All the heads were broken off. We couldn't believe what had happened. All the leaves were beaten off of the potatoes and sugar beets. The bales of hay were half covered with water. They harvested no grain and very little of any thing else. As a result, they had to put the first mortgage on the farm to pay the bills. This year Gerald was given the assignment as ward teaching supervisor and was asked to teach the Elders Quorum. He says teaching the Elders was one of the very best church assignments he ever had. The course of study was the book "Jesus the Christ" and he learned to love the author and the contents of that book. It really helped him polish his testimony of those simple gospel truths. Potato harvest was much different when they first started out than it is today. They had a two row digger. Hired help would follow the digger and pick the potatoes up off the ground and put them into baskets or sacks. The sacks were attached to the person with a harness. Then other people would come with a truck. The potatoes were loaded onto the truck and hauled to the cellar where the sacks were emptied. One year they had a group of black men who came to pick potatoes. When they got them hauled to the cellar, they had to carry them up a plank and dump them into the pile. Sometimes this took until 2:00 in the morning, then they were up again by 5 to get enough rows dug to stay ahead of the pickers. This was indeed hard work, but there were fun times also. A lady they had taught on the reservation came out to help them with harvest. Gerald had a harvester by this time. It was pulled by a tractor. Workers would stand across the back of it to throw out the clods and trash. This lady was so short that she would throw the clods over her head. About ten each morning, she would get off the combine and build a fire out of vines and sage brush and cook every one a potato for their lunch. Gerald loves to tell the following story. One morning when they were nearly finished digging, Gerald saw a bunch of young sage hens over in the field so he got his .22 and shot a bunch and brought them to the house. He asked Myrtle to prepare them for dinner. That was a time when it was customary to feed most every one who was working or just happened by. Well, Myrtle fixed dinner for him. After he had asked the blessing on the food she asked him if he thought it was right to ask the Lord to bless that poached chicken. It was a long time before his buddies let him live that down. And after that he always made sure he hunted in season. Their third daughter was born in March of 1955. She was named Eva Sue Larsen. Their only son was born in June of 1956. He was named Michael Gerald Larsen. Then in 1957, they had their fourth daughter, Sonja Larsen. In approximately 1957, Gerald was called to serve on the stake M.I.A. board. Dale Jackman was also on the MIA stake board. The M.I.A. were having a party behind the Moreland church. Leland and Roseanne Gardner invited Gerald and Myrtle out to dinner. So Gerald and Myrtle decided not to go to the M.I.A. party, they would go out to dinner instead. They drove up to deliver their cake to the party, and Dale Jackman threw a big handful of ice in the window of the car. So they went up to his house in Rose to short-sheet their bed. When they got there, they found the left over sacrament bread at the house. They crumbled it up and put it in the bed and then short sheeted it. Dale didn't find out who had done it until about a year later. Leland Gardner and his third wife, Donna, also got hit by these two practical jokers. When Leland got married to Donna, Gerald and Myrtle told them that they would "shivaree" them. Leland said that they wouldn't be able to because they would never find the house empty. They always had kids around. Leland and Donna called Gerald and Myrtle about 6 weeks after the marriage. They wanted to know if Gerald and Myrtle would help them move to Shelley. Myrtle thought it would be a good idea for her and one of Leland's daughters to stay at the house and start unpacking while everybody else kept moving boxes. She talked the daughter into short sheeting the bed. Then she got the idea of sewing all of the fly's shut on Leland's underwear. The daughter thought that was great. Leland was working out at the site. One day when he got to work he had to go to the bathroom, he couldn't find the fly in his underwear. He had to sit to go to the bathroom. When he got home, he marched into his bedroom and told Donna that he had a bone to pick with her. He thought it was his wife who had sewn the fly shut. She didn't know what he was talking about. He started to undo his pants. When she finally saw what the problem was all she could do was laugh. It took her quite awhile to convince him that she didn't have anything to do with it. They finally figured out what had happened, but it took them a long time. Gerald and Myrtle had their first five children rather fast. They had five children under five years old. One Sunday some of the kids were sick, so Myrtle stayed home from church with them. When they went to sleep, she wrote letters to the ward missionaries. When Gerald came home she tried to get him to write a note to some of them and he wouldn't do it. Myrtle spouted off at him and said "I wish the bishop would make you ward clerk and you'd have to write." Sure enough, when he went back to church that evening, the Stake President was there and he ushered Gerald into the bishops office, and called him to be the ward clerk. Gerald thought Myrtle had put a hoax on him. He did enjoy that experience though. Most of the time, Gerald would take Mike up on the stand with him, and Mike became good buddies with Ken Hammond, the other ward clerk. Ken always talked to Mike and they had a good time. One day Mike went into Blackfoot Motor with his Dad, when he saw Ken he shouted out to him "our Dad shoots hens". You can believe it was years before Gerald lived that down. Myrtle lost her diamond out in the fishing stream. They went to town shopping with all the kids. Gerald decided he was going to buy her a diamond, it took longer than it was supposed to. When he got back to the car, she was mad because she had been stuck in a cold car with all those kids. She cussed him out. Later when he gave her the diamond and she found out what he had been doing, she felt bad about yelling at him. In l956, Verl was home from his mission and the three brothers; Verl, Gerald, and Glen were farming together. By this time they had quite a lot of acreage. It was also at this time that they started to see the ruffles that maybe there could be some contention between families. Glen had quite a lot of children, Gerald and Myrtle had some children, and Verl and Irene were married. Everyone could see that all of them could not be totally happy and remain together in their farming enterprise. So the decision was made to divide the partnership. A surveyor was hired so it could be split as fairly as possible. This created many problems getting money to farm separately. The bank didn't want to loan to each of them separately, but Gerald and Myrtle managed to hang on. One year as the snow began to melt, they got flooded in. They knew that the flood was coming across the desert and they went to town for supplies. When they were coming home the police had shut down the highway. Gerald and Myrtle and the hired-hand who was with them insisted on continuing. They had left their five small children at home. The flood water was knee deep on the hired-hand who walked in front of the pick-up to make sure that the road wasn't washed out. They finally got home, but were stranded for many weeks. During this time, Gerald's hair got really long. Myrtle decided she would cut it. There's only three weeks difference between a good hair cut and a bad one. She vowed she would never cut his hair again. Along with being a ward clerk, the ward used to put on a rodeo at the fair grounds. Gerald had to help take care of the money for that. Soon the wards decided to have a three ward M.I.A. Gerald was called to be a counselor and Myrtle taught Beehives. He didn't get released from any of the other jobs he had. He had seven assignments all at once. This 3 ward M.I.A. proved to be a total headache for him. He was assigned to take the scouts over to the school for their class. He hated this assignment, but did it because it was his job. In about 1963, when Sheryl was twelve, Myrtle wanted to buy Sheryl a watch for Christmas. Myrtle had some other shopping to do so she told Gerald that he should go look at the watches. He got a watch picked out. She finished the other shopping and went to see what he had bought. She said that looked like a fine watch for Sheryl, but if it was going to be for her, she wanted this watch right over here. He held up two fingers and the jewler wrapped up two boxes and then wrapped them in a bigger box. He came out to the car with that one big box. He said that the big box was to disguise what it was. Christmas morning when Sheryl opened the package there were two small ones in it. One watch for her and the other for Myrtle. They were both surprised. In the November of 1964, they had child number six. She was named JoAnn Larsen. In 1965, Gerald and Myrtle bought the ground 1 1/2 miles west of their house. He ground was purchased from Vaughan Ellis. They had to plow the sage brush, rake it and then burn it. This ground was a lot more uneven than what Gerald had previously cleared so he decided to put a sprinkler system on it. This was the first sprinkler they had. Part of the irrigation was done with gravity. They caught the runoff water and pumped it up and used it again. Gerald found that getting the pipes moved was sometimes a real problem. One kid who moved pipe for him would move the pipe every other time and used an offset pipe to make it look like the pipe moved each time. Gerald could see there was a problem with the potatoes. Some of them looked too light in color and others too dark. Finally a trusted Indian fellow who worked for us caught the young man. When he was confronted, the young man denied it, but he did not show up for his last pay check. It cost the farm thousands of dollars. The potatoes that did not get enough water were rough and did not sell well. The ones that got too much water rotted and could not be sold. Gerald served as a counselor to Delwyn Ellis in the Elders Quorum Presidency. He enjoyed this calling. Gerald has always been willing to help friends and neighbors who need assistance. Many of their friends and neighbors lived in homes that were owned by him rent free. There have also been numerous families in the community who have had Christmas' and other things "miraculously" appear, because of his generosity. He has always believed that you shouldn't expect monetary gain for everything you do. His advice is to give to others. This is the only way to in some part repay the Lord for the many blessings that He gives to us. There have been many times when he has been the recipient of this philosophy. His life has been blessed by others who hold these same principles. In 1966, Gerald and Myrtle developed 160 acres east of the ground purchased from Vaughan Ellis. They bought this new ground from Donald Korth. They have always laughed about the lady who sold the ground to Donald. She had written into the contract that she would retain the mineral rights on the land. Gerald always teased the kids as they were picking rock on that ground to watch for the gold, because each rock they picked up could be the one that covered up the Lost River Gold. Gerald was involved in the development of 2,300 acres of land. It was all broken from sage brush to profitable farm land. He was truly a visionary pioneer. He was able to see the potential of this beautiful land. As their children got older, Gerald decided he would like to get involved in what was going on in our school system. He had many requests to have him run in the school board election. So he decided that he would. When he went to his first school board meeting he made a few comments. The Superintendent got offended and walked out of the meeting. The Superintendent later apologized to Gerald and they learned to respect and appreciate each other. Gerald went to Miami for a school board convention. While he was gone, Verl's barn burned down, and Annie wrecked the car. It seemed every time he was gone, all @#*! broke loose. Also in 1966, Gerald and Myrtle had the opportunity to purchase the large brick house Glen had built 12 years before. It was located right next door to their duplex. They purchased the house for $17,000. They built another cellar in 1967. It is still standing. It was an A-frame cellar. Gary Secrist dug the hole. The poles were brought out of the mountains by Larry Thomas. Acel and Alfred Pubigee helped build it and helped make the a-frames. They used a loading tractor to build the A-frames. Then put sheeting on and straw bails onto the frame work. Then they hired someone to come and covered it with dirt. In 1968, Gerald and Myrtle took a trip to British Columbia Canada. They drove their green Buick. They decided to overhaul the car the night before they left. Charlie Thompson, a life-long friend, came and helped Gerald. It took them all night long. Bob and Gertrude Wray went with them on this trip. There was a brand new highway through Canada, but it had no bridges over the rivers. The gas stations were 100 miles apart. Because of these two problems, they had to take detours all the time. The two couples finally got to Leo and Aletta's (Gerald's brother and his wife) home in Prince George. Their home was way out in the middle of nowhere. They lived in a tiny little house. After they left Leo and Aletta's, they went to Victoria on Van Couveur Island. When they got to Victoria both couples decided to call home and see how the kids were doing. Gerald and Myrtle called their home and everyone was doing fine. The Wray's called their home and Matt (their 4-year old) started crying and said "these kids are being mean to me." Bob couldn't get home fast enough. He wanted to protect his baby. While Gerald was serving on the school board, the school district bought a new school bus. This was in 1969. Gerald decided it would be a good idea to take a family vacation to pick up the school bus. The school board would pay for Gerald's expenses and Gerald would only have to pay for Myrtle and the kids. They wanted to fly, but it was too expensive so they opted to take the train. They rode the train to Chicago. JoAnn was only about 4 or 5 years old and the conductor fell in love with her. He teased and played with her for most of the trip. From Chicago, the Larsen family took another train to South Bend, Indiana and from there to Richmond, Indiana to get the bus. Gerald and Myrtle had always wanted to take their kids on a trip when they didn't fight over who got to sit in what seat, but they found that even if you have a 64 passenger bus the kids will still fight over where they get to sit. When they left the factory to go home, Gerald asked how big the gas tank was. They told him it was 40 gallons. As they were driving through the countryside of Indiana the gas gauge kept going down really fast. Soon they had ran the bus out of gas. Gerald and Mike decided to hike into town to get some gas. A lady picked them up and took them to town and helped them get some gas. Then she took them back to the bus. Mike left his glasses in the back window of this lady's car. After they put the gas into the bus, they went into town to found out where the lady lived. Then they took a trip through the back-roads trying to find the lady's house. After they tracked down the glasses, they found a restaurant to have dinner. When they came out of the restaurant there was a entourage of police waiting for them. The police wanted to know what a bus from Idaho was doing traveling all over the back-roads of Indiana. Later on this same trip, they stopped in Carthage and Nauvoo. The guides at the John Taylor House let Sheryl play the organ in his home. This stop left quite an impression on the kids. The next day as they were traveling through the plains of Nebraska, they got to the top of one hill that was kind of steep and Annie said "Boy, I'm glad we didn't have to pull a handcart up that hill." While he was on the school board, he was called to be the Elder's Quorum President in their ward. He served in this capacity for approximately 4 years. About 1970, Grandma Larsen decided to sell her trailer and move into the east half of the duplex. This way she could be closer to her children and they could help take care of things that she couldn't. As her health deteriorated, it was decided that someone would be with her all the time. Myrtle would be with Grandma Larsen during the day. Verl and Irene, who lived in the west side of the duplex, would be responsible to take care of her in the evenings and during the night. In 1971, Grandma Larsen died. Her death left quite a hole in the life of the family. All of the children had helped to take care of her. In those days, the Sunday School always honored a mother on Mother's Day. The Sunday School presidency had asked Gerald to talk about his mother and to honor her. She died on Friday. Mother's Day was on Sunday. He gave a beautiful talk and tribute to her. Most of the ward expressed how much they had been touched by the tribute. Once he was putting a trailer hitch onto the car to pull the boat. He was getting out from under the car. The welder was there with a big long stinger. When he crawled out from under the car he kicked the welder it flipped up and burnt a hole in the gas line of the car. The car caught on fire. He jumped in the car and pulled it out of the shop and it sat there and burned the car up. The car was brand new -- less than 6000 miles. In early 1973, Gerald was called to be the second counselor to the bishop. Also in 1973, Gerald and Myrtle bought the west side of the duplex from Verl and Irene. It was in November of 1973 that they had their seventh child, another daughter. She was named Jerri Lyn Larsen. Gerald and Myrtle couldn't decide on a name, so the kids finally chose her name. She was named after her father. Gerald loved to surprise his wife. While Myrtle was in the hospital having Lyn, he had new carpet put in the kitchen of their home. It wasn't long after Lyn was born that Gerald was called to be on the High Council. He served in this capacity for 15 years. When Lyn was small, she would ask on Sunday mornings: "Mama, are we going to our church or to Daddy's church today?" In 1974, they increased the capacity of the well on the piece of ground located just north of the A-frame cellar. Until then they had used what they called the frog pond. It was used to catch the waste water of the other properties and then pumped it back out the irrigate. At this time, they eliminated the frog pond and the gravity irrigation. They put new pumps and sprinkler systems all over the farm. Gerald has quite a large operation. He was not only farming his ground on the desert, but also several hundred acres of ground located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. A week after they sent Mike and Sheryl on missions, Sally was born. This was in September of 1975. The next year Annie decided that she wanted to go on a mission. Shortly after Annie left, Sue decided that she would also like to go on a mission. This meant that there were 4 missionaries, a child at college, and 3 children a home. What a financial challenge!! There were several people in the community who came to them and wanted to help support their missionaries. But Gerald and Myrtle always maintain that when you do what the Lord wants He will provide a way for you to accomplish it. They were able to support their missionaries through their faith. There were quite a few times during those years that Gerald or Myrtle would go the mailbox and find hundred dollar bills inside. It was also during 1975 that they were able to purchase the Frederick's place. This is the house and field right in front of their home. There is a great story to illustrate the honesty that is deeply ingrained in Gerald. A portion of that property was owned by another man. Gerald and this man made a "gentleman's agreement" for Gerald to buy the land. He would pay so much each year until it was paid for. Soon after a deed to the land came in the mail. At that point no money had changed hands. They had just verbally agreed to what would happen. Each year Gerald paid the agreed upon amount. A few years later, the man died. Gerald shifted things around so that he could pay the widow the price in full, because he knew that she would need the money. When he went to pay the widow, she began to cry. She said that she wished that everyone who owed her husband money was as honest as Gerald. There were many who had also had "gentleman's agreements" who were now trying to get out of paying the money. Over the years, Gerald and Myrtle were able to take in 7 foster children. They spent quite a bit of time and money trying to help these young men. Many of these boys were with the Indian Placement Program. After Gerald was released from the High Council, he was called to be the High Priest Group Leader in his ward. He had many fun parties and activities. One of the things that is especially memorable was his New Year's Eve Party. He has been a home teacher for most of his life. Through this calling he has set an example to his children. Even when the families he was called to visit were not easy. Still he would go every month, because that was his duty. He taught through his example to care for others and to meet their needs. He has done much service in his lifetime. Many of his traditions of service have centered around Christmas. In 1968, Gerald and Myrtle, decided that they wanted to teach their children service. They began having the Annual Larsen Christmas Party. Each year at Christmas, they would invite @ 30 senior citizens in their ward and community to come to their home. At the party the seniors would find a huge Christmas dinner and then a program. The Larsen's put on the program and invited their guests to participate if they wanted too. This tradition has carried on for 30 years. It is still an annual event. Gerald and Myrtle's son, Michael, and his family have taken the tradition and carried it on. Many of the seniors have been coming for several years and look forward to this special evening. In approximately 1973, Gerald contracted diabetes. He has struggled with it ever since. He has had many health problems and hospital stays because of this disease. The first time they took him to the hospital, his blood sugar was 800. Gerald has been able to live and be successful for the past 25 years because of his faith in the Lord and because of Priesthood blessings. On one specific occasion, he was in the hospital in Idaho Falls. Things didn't look good for him. His brother, Glen, and Glen's son-in-law, Sid Painter, came to visit and gave Gerald a blessing. In this blessing Sid promised Gerald that he would completely recover. He also told him that his life was not over and that Gerald had many things to do at the head of his family. Sid also said that Gerald would stand as a witness of the restoration of the gospel and would stand as a witness of Jesus Christ. He would live to stand as the Patriarch of a numerous posterity. Gerald didn't let this disease or any of his health problems stop him from working hard to support his family (even after he retired). He also continued to serve other people and to serve in the Church. On March 9, 1978 when the machine shop exploded, Gerald was sitting on the toilet in the big house. He thought that a bomb had exploded. The furnace in the shop had blown up and started the fire. Quite a bit of his machinery and equipment was destroyed by the fire. It didn't matter that it burnt all the trucks and tractors, his youngest daughters Sally and Lyn just were upset because it burnt the camper. Myrtle always claims that when the Lord tries you the most, He always blesses you the most also. The day after this terrible tragedy, Mike and his wife, Nicky, had the first Larsen grandchild. It was a boy named Spencer Michael Larsen. In about 1978, Gerald began having financial difficulties with the farm. They had the fire in the shop and they also lost a crop of potatoes which had to be hauled out and dumped because they couldn't be sold. Because of this and some other reversals, they began to take out huge mortgages against the land and the houses that Gerald and Myrtle owned. Eventually they knew that they would never be able to pay back the amount of money that they owed. In approximately 1985, the interest rates went up to 21%. Re-financing old loans at 21% was just too much. Gerald went to the bank and told them to begin foreclosure proceedings. One of the things that worried Gerald was that Mike wanted to start farming. He needed a place to begin. To be fair to the rest of the family, Gerald didn't feel good about leaving all the land and the whole farm to Mike. The foreclosure solved this estate problem. When the bank took the land, there was a good neighbor who loaned Mike $50,000 on an unsecured loan. With this money, Mike was able to buy much of the land. This same neighbor had offered to loan Gerald $250,000 to redeem his farm with. Gerald says that he learned that having patience and not losing your head when things go wrong and trusting in the Lord will solve most of your problems. He owed enough money that he should have ended up with nothing. Many of the people involved at the bank told Gerald that he should take out bankruptcy. This way he wouldn't have to pay back any money owed to people with open accounts. He told them no. They kept pressuring him. He finally told them that they could go to hell and he would see them at the court house. He told the bankers that theese companies had borrowed to him in good faith and he insisted that they be re-paid. Eventually, the bankers came to the conclusion that he wasn't going to budge. With the negotiations, Mike was able to pick and choose among the machinery he wanted. Gerald was able to negotiate with the bank to rent back some of the land in the first year while their were still redemption rights on it. The Lord blessed him with a good year. They had good crops and good prices. Gerald was able to redeem about half of the land and all three of their houses. This was accomplished simply because Gerald didn't get angry and upset and because he had faith that the Lord would help them. The reason that they were so blessed was because Gerald and Myrtle had always paid their tithing. Even though they hadn't made any money in almost ten years, they still paid tithing on the money that they used to live. Because of this the Lord truly opened the windows of heaven and poured His blessings upon them. It is better to have a few things that you own and are paid for, than to have a whole empire that isn't paid for. Gerald has much better health and more strength now that he is out of debt. The Lord will not forsake you if you try to fulfill your church responsibilities and pay your tithing. After the foreclosure, Gerald kept farming with his son, Mike. He also took a job for Bingham County. He spent several years mowing the grass along the edges of the roads in Bingham County. He did this primarily for the insurance benefits that he received. He eventually had to quite driving when he had an accident on the job. He was driving the mower and a wire went through the blades and was shot right into the back of his knee dislodging his knee cap. Gerald put a tourniquet on his leg. Once again the Lord was watching over Gerald. The day that this happened was one of the only days that another man was with him. This young man was able to save Gerald's life by driving him to the hospital in Idaho Falls. In 1993, Gerald and Myrtle again moved. They moved from their big home, back into the home where they had started out their marriage. They remodeled the duplex into a single home. They have enjoyed living there for the past few years. The summer of 1998 has not been an easy one for Gerald. His diabetes has deteriorated his body. He has been declared legally blind. Still this has not stopped him from accomplishing the things he want to do. He spends much of his time helping Myrtle with the house. Gerald maintains that he has been successful in life because of two things. One was because he has tried to follow the Lord and His commandments. The second is because of a good wife who has always stood beside him and loved him and supported him. We will close his history with his testimony in his own words. Just to leave a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most precious things in life. There are only two things that really matter in life. That is the gospel and the family that you have and the posterity that you have and keeping the commandments and adhering to those principles. The joy and the happiness that you can have only comes through being obedient and doing good. Wickedness never was happiness and the sooner in life that a person can learn this lesson the happier they will be. The redemption that the Savior has provided for us, is without words to express in my vocabulary. I am so grateful for having been a member of the church and the things that it has done for me and my family. One favorite poem that goes and tells something about this: Know this that every soul is free to choose his life and what he'll be. For this eternal truth is given that God will force no man to heaven. He'll call, persuade, direct, or write. Direct with wisdom, love, and light. In nameless ways be good and kind, but never force the human mind. If we will learn the principles that are involved in that little saying, it will help us. He's not going to force us to accept the gospel. But as we do, as we are willing to live it, and adhere to its principles He will bless us with blessing innumerable to mention. It will be my greatest desire that all my posterity will learn this lesson and that they will reap the benefits that Heavenly Father has in store for those who are willing to listen and to learn and to obey the principles of the gospel. The last thing in life that Gerald did was share the gospel with his dear friend's wife Gail Secerist who was not a member. He died that night in his sleep. He passed away on September 14, 2000 and was buried in the Moreland Cemetery September 18, 2000. We will truly miss him.

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