Saturday, December 6, 2008

Herman Lavon Heath's Youth

Written by Kimberly Eden, Heath's Row: A History of Herman and Beula Heath

Herman Lavon Heath was born July 1 1925 to William Marquette Heath and Sarah Mae Chidester and blessed august 2, 1925 by Joseph Shepard int he Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was their third child. Sarah divorced William when Herman was 18 months old. William could not work and take care of all the children so Herman was placed in an orphanage until he was nearly four. From there he remembers getting a sunburn while riding in the family Model T from Salt Lake to Altuna to where his grandmother, Ellen Burgess, lived. Herman claims the sunburn gave him freckles. The only memory Herman has of the orphanage is the fire engine toy his father gave him was taken away by the more dominating children, which angered his father. Many years later, Herman made peace with his mother for never being in his life. He only met her three times in her life. Not all of his siblings survived the unstable life at home. One of Herman's brothers spent a short time in prison for cattle wrestling and then he was sent to the mental hospital.

Herman lived with his grandmother Ellen for a number of years before his father remarried. Herman called her "Little Grandma" but Herman's nickname was Moses because he used to stand with his hands behind his back and walk along or mosey along. Ellen Burgess has remarried to a James Burgess who worked at the quarry that supplied stone for the Salt Lake Temple. Herman lived with them until he was six when his father remarried but his new mother did not live long, dying of heart ailment only a year and a half later. Herman returned to live with his grandmother until the end of second grade when he moved to Green River, Utah with his father to live on a farm. Wilford and Evelin, Herman's elder siblings also lived with them in Little Valley in 1933. The next year, they moved to Elgin on the east side on Green River where they stayed for the next 10 years.

During those ten years Herman did not always live at home. This constant moving continued throughout his life and even probably contributed to it later in life. For extra money and safety, Herman lived with other families in town. He worked for them on the farms, the ranch, building and repairing barns and homes. He didn't enjoy the work as a rancher rounding up cattle because he didn't like horses. He said, "They bite and kick." One day his horse got spooked and bucked Herman off. He walked home and the rancher told him that the lost horse would cost Herman $10 bye the lost saddle $100. Fortunately the horse and saddle were easily found the next day. Herman's main choice of transportation was the bicycle and even took his first date around on it. His other jobs included digging ditches, killing chickens and working any odd job for $.50 a day. He paid for room and board but still managed to save money on the side. He said, "I was grateful to have three meals a day and a comfortable place to stay." His other motive for living away from home was to hide from his abusive older brother. Herman turned his brother's bad behavior into a life long lesson. "I was a good little boy. I never spent a night in jail and the only thing I ever stole were watermelons." To steel the watermelons, he picked them from someone's farm and placed then in the irrigation canals. The melons would float down stream through town and out again where Herman would retrieve them.

1 comment:

Kaselehlia Heath said...

Dad never said that he stole them, he says that he wasn't stealing, he was borrowing. Ask him about it.