DISTANT VISIONS

A continuation of Pemberly Farnsworth’s story:

 

 

Jacob Bastian (Phil’s grandfather on his mother’s side) was a perfectionist. He always had the strongest and most beautiful animals and the best fruits and vegetables. The Bastion Ranch in Washington (near St. George—Mecca for the affluent) was, a veritable Shangri-La—an oasis carved from black lava rock and red sandstone. He had brought many fruits including pomegranates, figs, peaches, and grapes from California. He planted Mulberry trees and attempted to create a silk industry for the ladies, with silkworms imported by the church from Japan. A trickle of water at the base of vermilion cliffs was dug out and developed into a perpetual living spring. The water was led into a cistern-like rocked-in reservoir around which he planted weeping willows for shade. Young people from the region came here for gatherings and watermelon feasts.

Serena’s mother was Kristen Hansen, also from Denmark. She had crossed the plains with a later group using handcarts, and as a girl of fourteen married Jacob. Her house and all of its furniture was fashioned by Jacob’s hands. Kristen bore Jacob eleven children, five of whom died at a tender age. She, as an early Mormon wife, corded and spun wool from the sheep and cotton from the local cotton fields. The ladies had spinning wheels and looms for the hand weaving of material they called homespun. Colored with natural dyes, an art they learned from local Indians. Also from the Indians they learned to make soap from the Joshua trees in that area. Serena (Phil’s mother) was the ninth child, but the second daughter to reach adulthood. She was not many years older than Lewis’s (Philo’s father), eldest daughter when she undertook the raising of his four children.

The first indication that Philo was gifted came at the age of three. Lewis was driving the stagecoach from the railroad terminal in Medina, northwest of Beaver, to the southwestern area of Utah. One day he took Philo to see the large locomotive that pulled the train. As the hissing, puffing, clanking monster pulled into the station, Philo hid his face in his father’s coat. The kindly engineer invited Philo up to the cab to see how the train ran. Apprehension soon turned to fascination as each phase of the operation was explained to him, from the Johnson bar, which opened the steam vents giving power to the engine, to the mechanism that dumped sand on the tracks to add traction to start and stop the train. When they arrived home late that evening, Philo asked for a pencil and paper. Climbing up on a chair by the kitchen table, and sitting on his heels, he made a detailed drawing of the locomotive. His photographic memory won him much praise from the older members of the family and foretold the first seeds of greatness in his young mind.

Philo was six years old when the hand-cranked Bell telephone and the Edison gramophone came to the small town of Washington, Utah, where the Farnsworth’s lived. Power lines had not yet arrived in most rural areas of the west, but to hear the voice of a favorite aunt over a long distance was beyond his comprehension and the gramophone was no less baffling. To hear music or funny stories by resting a needle in the groove of a black cylinder was nothing less than a miracle. To answer his many questions, his father told him these mysterious inventions were created by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison who were called inventors.

His older half-brothers and sisters read to him about inventors from their school textbooks. He came to the conclusion that inventors were special people, and he hoped someday he too could become an inventor.

Phil’s entire life was characterized by that hope and that quest, which led him constantly to seek further knowledge and understanding especially about science. To be continued.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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