Sunday, November 9, 2008


Another story from my Journalism class. This time I had to work with another classmates. He did some interviews, and I wove the story together. Then we collaborated on the lead and ending. This was a "fun feature" story about something happening in the area of our community.

As is the case every October, people notice more and more faces staring at them with weird expressions. Fortunately gangs and graffiti are not the issue.

The Halloween tradition of carving pumpkins has become so popular, that it is not uncommon to see three to six carved pumpkins sitting on the doorsteps of houses and apartments. Interestingly, college student housing seems to match the amount of doorstep squash as other families.

It’s evident that carving pumpkins is not just for children. College students find it a great social activity. It’s an opportunity and excuse to get together with friends in a wholesome setting. Most of the young adult crowds love the creative experience of getting down and dirty with their pumpkins.

“I carved the most amazing pumpkins this Halloween—all in one week,” said Jessica M--, who has three carved pumpkins to her name this season. “I think I might just like all the guts! The first was a cool sun with sunglasses, the second was abstract—and the third was a puppy dog.”

Home evenings, dates and neighborhood gatherings are all popular situations for pumpkin carving activities. It’s become a tradition. Such is the case with Lance and Rebecca G-- of Highland, Utah. They started an annual pumpkin carving contest about seven years ago with the intent of encouraging their college age nieces and nephews to date. The Garretts provide dinner, pumpkins, carving tools and small prizes for their efforts.
“For the kids, this was a cheap date,” Lance G-- said. “There is always a grand prize winner and a loser, but the real winners are those who had a good social experience with their dates.”

The G--’s further explained that it gives the couples an opportunity to engage in some “small talk” and learn about their date’s sense of humor and creativity. Pumpkins turned out with impressive artwork and even pyrotechnics. Another benefit is that cousins are able to introduce their dates to the family, with two contests resulting in wedding engagements.

“Pumpkins are so unique—who thought to carve a pumpkin and put a face on it,” Hallie S-- said. “Someone obviously connected a pumpkin with a head, then thought, ‘Hmm…let’s poke some holes in it to make eyes, nose and a mouth’.”

Those pumpkin heads and spooky signs may be unique, but they have become classic in the neighborhood Halloween atmosphere.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


For my journalism class assignment I had to interview someone and then interview 2 people that knew that person. OK, so I am boasting, I got 50/50 points. That was very encouraging day. Here is my story:

When walking into Sandra Y.’s office it is easy to see why the dead don’t leave her alone. There is order and peace. Notebooks are labeled and filed on bookshelves, special drawers hold over 16,000 family file names and numerous files are stuffed with accumulated information while searching for her kindred dead.

One of the three-fold missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to redeem the dead.

“You don’t build temples for their good looks,” Y. said. ”We need to do our family history.
There will come a time when the significance of ‘Redeem the Dead’ will come to force.”

Every family has a unique story. As a volunteer at the Alpine Tabernacle Family History Center one can find Y., each Tuesday, helping patrons find that story. She assists and teaches others how to search their own family history. One patron, Sheila P., was directed to her because of a chance meeting in the temple with P.’s husband. Y. visited the temple one evening to do temple sealings for her family. Von P. noticed the lilting British accent of Y., his wife is British also, so he struck up a conversation. During their discussion he discovered that she was a family history consultant, and that she had a special interest in British genealogy.

“It was sheer providence,” P. said. “She made it easy.”

“She knows how to get into the records on the internet,” P. said. “She is very thorough, documenting everything exactly where we found it.”

Shortly after Y.’s mother passed away she met a young man, Trevor Y. They took a holiday together to visit an aunt who lived in the southern part of England. The aunt was a “Mormon.” Neither she nor Trevor thought much of this religious faith after their discussions with the missionaries, and dismissed the experience. However, the missionaries did not forget them. A few months later this set of missionaries were attending a meeting where they met some missionaries that lived in Y.’s hometown. The missionaries promptly told them that there were a couple of young kids that needed the gospel.

Both Y., and her husband-to-be, joined the church in 1959, and married soon after. Y. wanted to leave England for America, so after selling everything, the family immigrated to the United States. With two children under the age of 3, four suitcases and $200, they arrived in Salt Lake City in 1963. Y.’s husband worked for $2 a day and she managed apartments. Y.’s husband has never looked back; he felt he had come home.

However, Y. missed her family and homeland and traveled back to England only to discover that visiting living relatives was not the only way to cure a homesick heart.

“I know that when I was on the other side, I said, ‘I will do it!’,” Y. said. “Next time I will sit on my hands. I can’t leave it alone—they won’t leave me alone! I eat, sleep, and breathe family history.”

“My daughter will call to make an appointment with me for lunch,” Y. said. “She calls it--lunch with the living.”

Y.’s daughter, Julie P., describes her mother’s temperament as sweet and giving, always willing to serve others. Genealogy became one of the family projects, one where they learned to serve those that have passed on.

“My mom has a ‘no one left behind’ rule,” P. said. “It is something personal for her. It is as if someone leads her.”

“Oh, look, there’s one more lovely little family,” Y. said.

When it comes to family relationships or family history, Y.’s life is evident that her love is genuine and sincere. At this time in her life she has found a passion that gets her out of bed in the morning and excited to welcome those departed to her office.