Continued From March 4th Issue
After mother’s death, four months earlier, my younger siblings were trying to be brave; they were like three little lost lambs. Inadequate as I felt, I was all they had to cling too. How could I agree to be married and leave them? There was just one answer: I couldn’t. And that was that! My family moved to Provo for educational reasons. Although Provo was a thriving college town, many of the students attending BYU came for rural communities beyond the reach of power lines. For example, in the small town of Jensen in northeastern Utah, where I had lived my first fourteen years, the only electric lighting was from a Delco generator in our Church chapel, and I never heard a radio, except through earphones attached to the crystal set my brother Cliff had made.
In this environment, it is small wonder that Phil’s (Philo Taylor Farnsworth), attempts to stimulate interest in his television idea were greeted with disbelief, skepticism, and ridicule. No doubt his youth and the very unorthodox nature of his invention prevented him from finding a sympathetic ear.
I was pretty sure that if Phil had obtained backing for his television idea, it must have come from his bosses, George Everson and Leslie Gorrel, who were professional fundraisers from California. Their broad financial experience might perhaps make them more open to Phil’s revolutionary idea. They already were impressed by Phil’s ingenuity. They hired him to help organize a Community Chest Campaign for Salt Lake City. During his interview Phil told Mr. Everson he was not interested in doing actual canvassing but that he knew the city (he had previously worked on a street cleaning crew). He offered to manage the survey for the downtown area. George Everson was a congenial fellow of average build for a man in his early forties who enjoyed good food and golf on the weekends. Above all, George was good at business and he was a shrewd judge of people. Phil’s proposal was not exactly what he had in mind, but Mr. Everson was impressed with Phil’s personality and forthright attitude. George hired Phil out of a roomful of other applicants and gave him the responsibility of contacting the management of each business in the area to get the names of the officers who would later be officially approached to support the Community Chest. Phil had come home the following weekend bursting with good news. This was a definite step up the ladder of success. He had also been given authority to hire his own helpers, and for his assistant he selected my brother Cliff, who had become his best friend.
Phil and Cliff had some rough times together trying to bring in money to help their respective families. They had worked on harvesting and logging crews, among other things. Just before Phil found his job with the Community Chest, he had been working for the Felt Electric Company for subsistence wages. Phil and Cliff were building crystal radio sets in the basement of Mrs. Thomas’s boarding house. They sold all the radios they built, but they had to buy parts from profits, which frequently meant going without meals; their output and income was small.
During rush week at the Chest, Phil even hired his sister Agnes, who was my best friend, and me, to help in the office. On payday he gave us a portent of things to come, “he ceremoniously handed each of us eighteen dollars in gold pieces.” None of us had ever seen a gold piece before. Phil stayed in the city to finish the campaign, and I returned home to Provo to care for my family. Now only a week later, my mind was in turmoil at the prospect of getting married. To be continued…
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