After finishing The Miami Nation by William R. Clark, my thoughts turned towards one of the most amazing women that I’ve ever interviewed. I first met this incredible woman during the early 1990s, while she was in Fort Wayne for a wedding. I was interviewing her about her recently (1989), published book, Distant Vision. Pemberly Farnsworth graciously signed my copy of Distant Vision and although our interview was brief, she shared a story with me that totally changed the way I perceive nuclear energy. During the summer of 2006 I covered Mrs. Farnsworth’s funeral at the Brigham Young Campus Chapel near Provo, Utah. Ever since I first met Pemberly Farnsworth I’ve had a burning desire to share her story with others. This is the beginning of her story recorded in Distant Vision: “Pem, darling, can you be ready to be married in three days?” I had been called to a neighbor’s telephone—only about one in six thousand households had such a luxury in 1926. I had run all the way, because I knew Phil (Philo T. Farnsworth) would never call me unless it was a matter of great importance. My mind had raced ahead of me, but of all the dire—or delightful—things my mind could conjure, this was not one of them. My head reeled, and I nearly fainted, to support myself, I clutched the mouthpiece on the wooden telephone box fastened to the wall. We had been engaged since my birthday, February 25th, but had agreed to continue our education at least another year before taking the profound “till death do us part.” It was the 24th of May 1926 and Phil was saying we should be married in just three days?
Recovering from the shock, I responded. “Phil Farnsworth! You’ve got to be kidding! Of course I can’t be married in three days…or three weeks, for that matter! Who would take care of my family?” Phil cut me short with, “Not another word. I’ll take care of everything. Call your father and tell him I must see him in Provo tomorrow evening. Don’t worry; I’m not crazy. See you tomorrow at six!” He was gone. I walked home in a daze. As the importance of what Phil had said sank in, excitement welled within me. Could it be that he had found financial backers for his television invention?
Dear, sweet, generous Phil! Six inches taller than my five-foot-two, he had broad shoulders, a lean body, and deep blue eyes that could look right into me. His sandy-colored hair had a tendency to curl, making it a bit unruly, and his broad, infectious smile revealed strong white teeth. Added to this, he had all the fine qualities of the Eagle Scout that he was. No wonder I loved him so much. As for his cryptic phone call, something big must have happened. Otherwise, Phil was too level-headed to think we could get married so soon.
As I slowly walked back to the duplex that my family shared with the Farnsworth family, my gaze was drawn heavenward to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, for something solid, to steady my racing mind. This monolith of the Wasatch range towers protectively over the town of Provo, home of Brigham Young University, the center of learning responsible for bringing Phil’s and my family together. Suddenly, the reality of the situation haunted me, and a leaden feeling weighed me down. My mother had died just four months earlier, and to leave my family at this time was unthinkable. Daddy had found it necessary to take a job in the coal mines at Castle Gate, to support our family. My older brother Cliff was working in Salt Lake City with Phil, my older sisters Verona and Olen had married and moved away, and Art (younger brother), was recovering from emergency surgery. My littlest brother Alton and three younger sisters Ruth 12, Rhae 10, and Lois 8, were all struggling to cope with mother’s death. To be continued.
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