Friday, September 30, 2011

A Day for My Dad: Utah and the PAC 12

Tomorrow the University of Utah hosts the University of Washington in Salt Lake City for their first PAC 12 football game. As I checked the ESPN website, which I normally do about three times a day this time of year, there was an article by Ted Miller talking about the U's MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section). Miller gave the words to "Utah Man," the school fight song, which is sung by the MUSS multiple times during a football game. I had not seen the words in years:
Who am I, sir? A Utah Man am I. A Utah Man, sir, and will be 'til I die; Ki-yi! We're up to snuff; we never bluff, we're game for any fuss, no other gang of college men dare meet us in the muss. So fill your lungs and sing it out and shout it to the sky, we'll fight for dear old Crimson, for a Utah Man am I.
I can't hear or read those words without thinking of my father. I went to many, many Utah football and basketball games growing up. Dad had season tickets to both. We both sang those words with relish at the games, even though I've never really known all the words. 
They also remind me of my father's funeral, because I sang part of the words, loudly, with a fist pump, when I gave a short talk during my allotted time on the funeral program. I pulled out the words to my talk today and have had Dad on my mind. So I decided to do a post. Dad died on June 19, 2002, a little more than nine years ago. My talk was as follows:

Dad and I shared a love of sports.
When I was growing up, New Year’s Day was sacred. Dad and I would watch four to six football games, from early morning into the night, while we ate a healthy dose of shrimp, crab legs, chips and dip, and other New Year’s staples.
Dad took me to a baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and the Salt Lake Bees and he and I went to many Utah Stars basketball games. He coached my little league baseball team and regularly attended my football and basketball games.
We loved the University of Utah basketball games and had season tickets each year. I started attending games with him at the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse and, when the Special Events Center opened, we got season tickets on the second row, right in front of the cheerleaders. At the games, my buttoned-down Dad would transform into a maniac: yelling or booing at the refs and screaming the Utes on to victory. Together with Dad, I loved to sing the Utah fight song: “A Utah man sir, a Utah man am I, a Utah man sir, I will be till I die, aye, aye.”
Dad had season tickets to the University of Utah football games and I regularly attended with him, but my favorite game occurred on November 9, 1968. I was traveling with Dad back to Kentucky to pick up Mike from his mission.  We stopped in South Bend, Indiana and Dad took me to the Notre Dame/Pittsburgh football game. I was a huge Notre Dame fan: I watched every game on t.v. and knew all of the players’ names. In fact, I still have the ticket stubs, the program, and newspaper articles about the game. We saw Joe Thiesmann start his first collegiate game as a quarterback. The next day, at my request, we stopped for lunch at a Holiday Inn in Seymour, Indiana. Only my Dad understood the significance of this to me. You’ve go to understand that Jim Seymour was my favorite player on Notre Dame’s team.
When I went to BYU and learned to love BYU football, Dad also became a BYU football fan. After I got married, we traveled to San Diego for several Holiday Bowls. We also greeted the Cougars after their Holiday Bowl victory over Michigan for the national championship as they got off their charter plane in Salt Lake in freezing weather at 2:00 a.m. Mom even came along for that one.
In recent years, Dad and I often talked by telephone after a big victory, or a close loss, by either Utah or BYU, and discussed the highlights. But best of all, several years ago, as a coup de grace, we fulfilled a dream we had discussed over numerous shrimp cocktails and crab legs every New Years Day since I was a young boy: we attended a Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, watching Ohio State narrowly beat Arizona State.
Dad, if you have any clout up there, I’d love to see you pull some strings and get BYU into a BCS bowl game. I’ll be watching. I love you.
Well, Dad really must have some clout up there, because he's pulled off a few miracles. BYU used to be the great football team and Utah was usually a few steps behind. Well since he's passed, Utah has been to two BCS bowl games, beating Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. And now, something I never could have imagined - Utah is in the PAC 12. They just played USC in the Colosseum and now they will play Washington at home. I was urging Dad to push for BYU, but as you can see, he's really a Utah man at heart. 

This morning when I sent the ESPN article out over the family email, Judy responded, "I just have to reflect on Bob's dad's funeral here, where Bob sang the first part of the Utah fight song from the pulpit, complete with the "Ki-yi!" fist pump. Elder Faust [of the LDS First Presidency], sitting behind him on the stand and a Utah Man himself, had a big grin on his face. It's one of my favorite memories."

Judy's brother, David Kenison, responded: "I was there, and it was one of my most STUNNED moments. I had never seen anything like that in a funeral, never have since, and don't expect I ever will. Mom was with me, and I think she was even more shocked and stunned than I was." 

A few years ago, my sons, Sam and Andrew, both said they were horribly embarrassed when I did it. 

Ah, good memories. It is nice to sit back and reflect occasionally. I'll be watching the game tomorrow and hoping the U will account well for themselves. I'll also think of Dad and how much he would enjoy this moment. It would be a nice day to break out the shrimp, crab legs and chips and dip. I am a Utah man, sir. 
Well, the game is over. Utah got beat 31-14, had 5 turnovers. Dad wouldn't have been able to watch it all. Dad, it looks like Utah needs some more help - see what you can do. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Joseph Smith's Birthplace - Sharon Township, Vermont

Joseph Smith was born in a small cabin on the Sharon/Royalton Township line on December 23, 1805. The picture is of a small replica which sits on the cabin-site today. 
This was land owned by his maternal grandparents, Solomon and Lydia Mack, purchased by them in 1804. They rented the cabin and 68 of the 100 acres to Joseph's parents, Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, who moved there from Royalton in 1804. They lived in the cabin for three years, until 1807, when they moved to Tunbridge. The LDS Church bought the land in 1905 and erected a granite monument near the site of the home. 
The shaft of the monument is 38 1/2 feet tall, a foot for each year of Joseph's life. 
It was dedicated on December 23, 1905, the 100th anniversary of Joseph's birth, by his nephew, Joseph F. Smith (his brother Hyrum's son), then president of the LDS Church. 
A short distance from the monument 
is a marker where the hearthstone (27 x 54 inches) rested. 
The actual hearthstone is in the visitor's center about 200 feet away. 
Just a few feet away is the front door step 
of the cabin 
with a small marker on it. 
These two stone items are all that remain of the original cabin. The area is still extremely rural today, in a beautiful green, hilly, countryside. 
Having grown up in the west, I have always envisioned the west as the area of the U.S. with rural, open land and the east as crowded and full of people. It was a little shocking to me to see how rural Vermont is. In most ways, it seems more rural and undeveloped than what we live in out west. It was a pleasant surprise. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Joseph Smith's Leg Surgery - West Lebanon, New Hampshire

In 1811, when Joseph Smith was age 5, his family moved to West Lebanon, New Hampshire from South Royalton, Vermont. They stayed in a rented home just south of the Mascoma River. The picture below is of the river looking east from the Main Street bridge.
Below is the river looking west from the Main Street bridge. 
This is just east of the junction of the Mascoma River and the gigantic Connecticut River which serves as the state line between Vermont and New Hampshire. Below is a picture of the home before it was torn down in 1967.
It is now the site of a gas station 
on the southeast corner of Benning 
and Main Streets, not too far off the I-89 freeway. This picture, taken from near the river, looks past the home location, on the other side of the sign on the left side of the street, to the freeway overpass.
Dartmouth College is located 4 ½ miles north. Joseph’s brother Hyrum attended Moor’s Academy, located near the northwest corner of the Dartmouth College green, which was run by the same board of trustees as Dartmouth.

A typhus fever plague arrived in 1813, when Joseph was 7, and all of the Smith children got it. Hyrum had to take a year’s leave from Moor’s and Joseph’s sister, Sophronia, nearly died. A quart of pus was drained from Joseph’s armpit and the infection migrated to his leg below his knee, where more infection was drained. The infection was in the bone and refused to heal. Hyrum was classmates with five of Dr. Nathan Smith’s children. Nathan Smith was founder of the Dartmouth Medical School and later founded the Yale Medical School. Perhaps because of Hyrum’s connections with Dr. Smith’s children, Dr. Smith, with a team of surgeons and medical students, visited the Smith home and used a new procedure to open Joseph’s bone and allow the pus to drain, saving the leg from having to be amputated. Joseph Smith described the surgery as follows: “Trying an experiment by removing a large portion of the bone from my left leg, which they did, and fourteen additional pieces of bone afterwards worked out before my leg healed, during which time I was reduced so very low that my mother could carry me with ease.” Joseph’s mother, Lucy, described the operation as follows: “The Surgeons commenced operating by boring into the bone of [Joseph’s] leg, first on the one side of the bone where it was affected, then on the other side, after which they broke it off with a pair of forceps or pincers. They thus took away large pieces of the bone.” Dr. Smith thereafter visited Joseph 18 times over the course of the next 20 days. It took Joseph three years on crutches before he could fully walk without them.

Joseph had what is now known as osteomyelitis and Nathan Smith happened to be the person who developed the medical procedure for curing it without amputation. Amputation remained the usual method for treatment of osteomyelitis until 1874. Lecture notes from one of Nathan Smith’s students at Dartmouth in 1812, reveal details about the operation. “Necrosis [osteomyelitis]…is a disease of considerable importance but surgical writers have said little about it….When matter is found within the bone, it should be punctured with a trephine [a small cylindrical saw] a little below the center so that the matter may be discharged. Sometimes it is punctured with a common perforating instrument with a point. When this is used, there should be a number of holes made, that it may discharge freely…Nature begins to form new bone, which generally surrounds the decaying part, the dead bone is sometimes thrown out by the surgeon keeping the wound open…The new formed bone is much larger than the original and confined both ends of the dead part within its walls. In this case, the dead bone should be cut with a trephinie or Heys saw in the middle and extracted with a pair of common forceps…The operation should not be deferred until the bone rots away, for in this case, the patient generally becomes a cripple the remainder of his day. By operating in the right time, a small piece being taken out it generally saves the loss of a large portion.”

This story of Joseph Smith as a youth created a great impression on me as a young boy. It is a story my mother told me about many times and she later included the story in her writings about Joseph as a young boy. I found it very satisfying to be able to find the approximate location where this took place and think about those events in the context of the geography I was seeing. In some respects, it was almost more significant to locate the site amidst a modern development than it would have been to have it developed as a historical site, like his birth location, in South Royalton, Vermont, which we visited later in the day. A painting of Joseph at the time of his operation (perhaps before it?) is located in the visitor’s center in South Royalton.

Sources for this were P. Douglas Kiester, MD, Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of California, Irvine, “The ‘Uneducated’Prophet", part of the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum; Lamar C. Berrett, General Editor, Sacred Places: New England and Eastern Canada – A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites, pp. 69-73; and Leroy S. Wirthlin, assistant clinical professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, “NathanSmith (1762-1828) Surgical Consultant to Joseph Smith", BYU Studies Volume 17:3, pp. 319-337.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Maine Diner

The Maine Diner, 
located at 2265 Post Road in Wells, Maine (phone: 207-646-4441) 
had three items highly recommended by Jane and Michael Stern in their book, 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late: (1) the no. 2 rated clam chowder; (2) the no. 3 rated lobster roll; and (3) the no. 2 rated lobster pie. We arrived about 2:30 p.m. and I thought it would be a great time when no one would be there. Wrong. It was jammed, people waiting inside and about 10 or 15 people outside. I checked in and got a buzzer and went next door to their Gift Shoppe where about ten more people were shopping while waiting to get a seat. We got seated about 30 minutes later in a quite crowded room. We discovered that Diner, Drive-ins and Dives had visited in 2010 and they had a dish named after the show, apparently the combination of items served on the show. I came in determined to eat clam chowder, but switched when I saw Triple D had eaten the seafood chowder and that their seafood chowder had been named best chowder at the Ogunquit Chowderfest for seven years (I don't have a clue what the Ogunquit Chowderfest is, but I was impressed anyway). I noted that Triple D had also featured a lobster pie. First our waitress brought us out a nice cornbread muffin, 
then the seafood chowder. The chowder was thin, but very buttery, and big chunk after big chunk of scallops (in almost every spoonful), lobster, 
clams and shrimp. 
We had a few chunks of potato, but the chunks were mostly seafood. I tend to like chowder thicker, but the massive amounts of chunky seafood made this a real winner. Then the lobster roll. In my post on lobster rolls, I rated this my favorite of the five I tried. It was simple, just fresh, warm lobster meat, very tender and sweet, on a hot dog-type bun, with drawn butter on the side. 
I poured on the butter and ate. 
It was like eating steamed lobster out of the shell, without having to do the cracking and cleaning. It also came with some potato salad (one of several choices I could have had) which was very good and creamy. Finally, the lobster pie. 
It had chunks of lobster meat and lobster tomalley, butter and Ritz cracker crumbs in a little pie dish. It also came with drawn butter, much of which I added to it. 
It was warm and the lobster was moist, but I felt the Ritz crackers covered up part of the lobster taste. By adding to perfection (fresh, warm, moist lobster and butter) you detract from the perfection. 
For me, the plain lobster and butter on the roll could not be beat. I wish I lived closer. The Maine Diner has a sizeable menu with some very fun and tasty sounding items. Everything we had was fresh and good. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saint Joseph's Oratory - Montreal

St. Joseph’s Oratory is a Catholic basilica and shrine on the west slope of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 
I had never heard of a building called an “oratory.” I think of oratory in conjunction with public speaking. Another meaning for oratory is a place of prayer or private devotion. That could apply, but I think the primary meaning in this case is a Roman Catholic church of one of the religious societies of secular priests who live in religious communities but do not take vows. St. Joseph’s Oratory is on the hill above Notre Dame College 
and started as a small wooden chapel begun in 1904 by Andre Bessette, of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Because of the number of visitors, a larger church was needed. The Crypt was completed in 1917. The basilica was started in 1924 and was completed in 1967. I love that the basilica is dedicated to Joseph, 
the husband of Mary, and ostensible father of Jesus, who generally gets short-shrift in comparison to Mary, because so little is said about him in the Bible. 
Joseph is the patron saint of Canada.

Andre Bessette was born as Alfred Bessette in 1845 and was formally canonized as a saint on October 17, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI for his miraculous healings. St. Andre was orphaned at age 12 and went to live with his aunt and uncle. In 1872, at age 27, he was accepted into the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal and received the religious name of Brother Andre. 
He was the porter, or doorman, at Notre Dame College and also did other duties such as cleaning, bringing in firewood and acting as receptionist. Brother Andre visited sick students and others and would anoint them with oil from a lamp in the college chapel which was before the St. Joseph altar. He recommended that the sick pray to St. Joseph. Many people were cured and Brother Andre became known for his healing powers which he always deflected to St. Joseph. It was his desire to honor St. Joseph which initiated the campaign to build the chapel on the hill across the street from the college. When he died in 1937 a million people passed by his coffin during a time of bitter winter cold. His body is in a tomb below the main chapel and his heart is on exhibit in a reliquary inside, 
which he requested as a protection for the basilica.

The original wood chapel, just 15 by 18 feet, was named St. Joseph’s Oratory, and cost $200, raised by donations and haircuts given by Brother Andre for $.05 each. It still exists across from one of the back parking lots. St. Andre’s healing powers attracted pilgrims from great distances, but he never personally witnessed any of the miracles, they all happened after he had left the scene, a cause of suffering for him. There are 283 total steps up to the Oratory, 
but the middle set of 100 steps leading up the hill is reserved for pilgrims, 
who climb the steps on their knees, pausing to pray at each step, coming to seek intercession from St. Joseph and St. Andre. This is done by the pilgrims to share the pain of Christ he suffered on the cross. We saw one such pilgrim as we were leaving. St. Joseph’s now receives over 2 million visitors each year. At the top of the steps we turned left and encountered an entrance with beautiful flowers.
From there, it is possible to take another set of stairs to a higher mid-level
where there is a viewing platform
  and another level of steps up to the basilica.
Judy, with Montreal behind her.
The Votive Chapel, a corridor with votive altars, has 10,000 candles. Each altar is a tribute to Joseph, carved in stone: (a) as a model for workers; 
(b) a guardian of virgins; 
(c) a support of families; 
(d) terror of demons; 
(e) consolation of the afflicted; 
(f) hope of the sick; (g) patron of the dying; and  (h) as protector of the Church. 
These carved scenes are my favorite part of the Oratory. Between the altars are rows of crutches of those healed by Brother Andre. 
In the middle is a statue of Joseph, arms outstretched, 
and 3,500 of the 10,000 candles before him. The tomb of Brother Andre is located just off the Votive Chapel. I didn’t go inside, but Judy did, and there she found a number of nuns on their knees praying to Brother Andre. On the other side of the Votive Chapel is the Crypt, the church built in 1916 which seats 1,000 people. 
A statue of St. Joseph is toward the front. It gets its name from the flattened arches that look like a crypt which support the ceiling, as well as its place at the foot of the basilica. When we visited there were many people inside worshiping and we didn’t feel comfortable taking many pictures. As we left, an actual service was taking place, directed by a person dressed in red vestments, perhaps a cardinal? 

The basilica itself, located above the Crypt, is an enormous church as well.  
It is the largest church in Canada. 
It can hold 10,000 people standing up, or 2,200 people on folding chairs. The copper dome is the third largest of its kind after St. Peter’s in Rome and one in the Ivory Coast which is a tribute to St. Peter’s. 
The dome of the basilica is somewhat the shape of the Duomo in Florence, but much greater in size. The top of the cross on the dome is the highest point in Montreal (higher than Mount Royal’s three peaks). Behind the altar is a wood cross with several women below it. 
In a large horseshoe behind it are mosaics from the life of Jesus.
The organ at the back of the basilica has 5,811 pipes, one of which is 32 feet tall.
Modern style stained glass windows depict scenes from Canadian religious history attributable to the intervention of St. Joseph.   

The basilica also has wonderful reliefs relating to the crucifixion of Christ.

And Joseph and Mary with Jesus as a youth.

 The basilica had a large, elongated, wood carvings of the apostles.
I particularly enjoyed the carvings of Paul and Peter, which depicted Peter behind Paul.
Note the upside down cross and the rooster representing Peter and the inscription of both names at the bottom.
Finally, the basilica has a statue of Brother Andre.
We have seen many religious buildings in the last several years and this was one of my favorites. The setting on the hill is beautiful, the focus on Joseph is unusual, which made the reliefs based upon his life unusual, and the modernness of the stained glass, reliefs and other items was also much different from what we have been seeing. We could have spent much more time than we did here. It is a must see if you go to Montreal.