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My Hometown of Orem Utah

Just in case my grandchildren are a little curious about where I grew up, I will post this here. Many years ago, my parents moved our family from a tiny little farm town in Fairview, Utah to Orem, Utah. This is where I attended elementary school, junior high and high school, held my first job, and dated my husband; hence the majority of my developmental years were spent in Orem.

Kirk, Janet and myself in front of our first home in Orem on Orchard Drive

I remember when we first moved there when I was only four years old, many apple, cherry and other fruit tree orchards covered the acres of fields, and an occasional cluster of homes were developed here and there. The relatively small town was in a valley surrounded by majestic mountains where we enjoyed the four seasons.

One landmark I hope will always be there is the Timpanogos Mountain . I climbed up this rather steep mountain as a youth several times, and there is an awesome cave up there.

The cave consists of three spectacular caverns. Helictites and anthodites and other formations can be found in the cool cave. You can take a guided tour of the cave. The hike takes about one and a half hours going up and a half hour down. The length of the hike is one and a half miles. You don’t want to miss it if you live here or are passing through! Here is a link to a site giving you tips before you go: https://www.nps.gov/tica/planyourvisit/safety.htm

Most of the town’s income in the early years came from the orchards or farms and also from the Geneva Steel Plant, which provided many jobs. I remember that the economy of the town seemed to fluctuate according to the steel industry. If there was a particularly hard winter, the farmers would have a hard year since many of their orchards were lost. The farmers would stay up some nights trying to keep their trees warm during harsh weather.

The main religion in Orem is Mormon or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the majority of the townspeople are Caucasian until more recently. It was very rare to find anyone that was not a member of the church in the vicinity. I don’t believe I met my first friend that was not Caucasian until I was in junior high school. I remember being intrigued by a young American Indian boy from the reservation who had foster parents in our town. There is not a temple yet in Orem, but that would be a real blessing if there was. The nearest temple is in Provo. That is where we were married.

Provo City Temple

I have witnessed marked changes in my hometown of Orem. Now there are only a spattering of orchards amidst the many neighborhoods of lower, middle and upper income homes. Malls and parking lots have also replaced them. Freeways make the travel to other towns and cities much quicker. There is now a bus system that goes all the way to Salt Lake City. It used to take at least an hour’s drive to Salt Lake City where we would travel to do major shopping. Now the once lazy little towns like Pleasant Grove, American Fork, and Lindon merge into one another all the way to Salt Lake. The freeway makes it much faster to get around.

Geneva Steel used to be the main industry in Orem, but has been closed due to the foreign competition and higher labor costs. Another problem with the steel plant was the never-ending problem of pollution. Many regulations had to be passed on the smokestacks in order to control the pollution caused by the steel production, and some days the air was obviously dangerous to our health and also the lake that was adjacent to the plant.

Sunset at Utah Lake

The economy changed drastically when the computer emerged and Orem became a center of computer technology. Because the cost of living remained relatively low, many people moved in from California and other more expensive places. People now fly in from all parts of the world to enjoy the great snow just up the canyon from Orem.

The little sleepy orchard town I knew as a youth has grown so much that it is quite hard to recognize. The traffic rivals that of larger cities and the diversity of the population is very obvious. One of the few recognizable landmarks that still remain is the Scera Theatre where I spent many summer nights.

The Scera Theater

Most people that live in Utah have at least one fruit tree in their yards. My father has prunes, apples, and apricots. Some still remember what a great orchard town Orem used to be.

Money Magazine once named Orem as America’s most livable community. It is getting a bit too big now, so not sure if that still applies.

My father still lives in Orem and the back view out of his bay window is the great Timpanogos Mountain (may it forever stand)!

Utah is known during winter for their great ski resorts. Just up the canyon from Orem, there are some ski resorts that can challenge the best or be great training ground for the beginning skiier. Yes, I have been skiing up at Sundance, and it was beautiful and very cold! Park City is not far away as well as many other skiing resorts.

Sundance Resort and ski area actually offer year round activities for everyone, including a ski resort, summer outdoor theater, great dining and shopping.

Approximately 20,000 people attend Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival every year. Several films that premiered at the festival have received Oscar, Emmy and International Film Festival awards.

On the way up the canyon from Orem is an impressive double cataract waterfall. It is called Bridal Veil Falls. It is most impression in Spring and Summer. The falls are 607 feet tall. There is a small park in front of the falls where you can take your lunch and watch the falls.

I have spent many an hour mesmerized by this waterfall, especially in Spring when the runoff is great. It is a wonderful place to chill and enjoy nature at its finest. I believe I have taken all of my grandchildren to see the falls.

Grandpa and some of the grandkids at Bridal Veil Falls

Orem is where my mother is buried and here are some of the grandkids visiting her.

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Our 50th Class Reunion

Since I have been a grandmother for over 21 years, it was inevitable (if I lived long enough) that I would have a 50th class reunion from the time I graduated from Orem High School. Fifty whole years! Half a century! The invitation to the 50th 1969 Class Reunion arrived at my house and I just stared at it. Indeed, I felt lucky to still be alive since I was aware of several classmates who had passed to the other side. But, still! Where had all that time gone? What had I been up to all of those seconds, minutes, weeks, month, and years?

I attended a few of my class reunions through the years. Some were good experiences and others not so good. I remember our tenth-year reunion. Classmates gathered in their old little groups and it was held at the Elk’s Club in Provo, Utah. I was excited to see my friends and acquaintances and enjoyed visiting with them. Most were recognizable since only a bit of time had passed.

There were dancing and drinking. Wild dancing and drinking (a lot of it). Weren’t we mostly brought up as L.D.S. (aka Mormon)? I was shocked at the state of some of the less sober people I knew. The bars were open for the whole evening. Some shared their successes and some told of their struggles. They announced who had the most children since graduation. The winner was a girl who had gotten pregnant during high school and then continued to have one every other year since. I won’t mention names here.

My two friends and I playing around before our Sadie Hawkins Dance

Some had a spouse attached to their arm and others were single. A few told their stories of abandonment and divorce. Others had been abused while some of their classmates went on to fame and fortune. There was a little bit of everything that could be expected through life. Good and bad! A memorial was read for those that had died in a short ten years. This included our senior class president from a motorcycle accident which had left his wife and child fatherless. What a cold, cruel world it had been for some.

Same friends and I 50 years later!!

Then there were some dressed to the extreme in fashion who took it to a whole new level of debauchery. I am from the “hippie” era but what I was seeing was shocking. I recall wearing mini skirts in high school and being one of the first of our class to be married (and divorced). I remarried to a gentle Polynesian man and that is where my life changed drastically from what I had known before (but I definitely have the cutest grandchildren)!!

Some of my great friends! I’m in blue and green.

Fast forward forty years from our 10th class reunion to today. This recent 50th class reunion was a whole other story. Very surreal and in some ways shocking, but unlike the lasciviousness of the 60s and 70s, current situations made our reunion much calmer and comparatively docile. There was no loud music playing (up until the end), no inappropriate dancing, and no alcoholic beverages being served. Everyone was well behaved and contrite. An occasional outburst was heard when someone finally recognized friends from years gone by.

There were some of us with canes, walkers, oxygen, toupees, and wigs. Some had lost so much weight due to sickness or running too many marathons. Others looked quite well for their advancing age. I heard my friend tell me that at the previous reunion (five years earlier) she had been elected as the one who had changed the least. I agreed with her since that was the best thing for both of us.

This time, our reunion was held at Orem High School (the new one). They had the nerve to tear down our high school and replace it with a newer model. It was air-conditioned and had the latest technology, and I noticed that even the toilets flushed by themselves (we didn’t have that)!

I went to the reunion with a dear friend who had been one of the bridesmaids at my first wedding. Her husband recently passed away and she was now a widow and enjoying life. Several of our classmates had lost their spouse over the years.

I kinda think the lyrics said it all!

We each wore name tags so that when we met someone we didn’t recognize, we could quickly glance at their name and act as though we remembered them well. It was a blast! There was no dancing, but they played some music from the 60s including The Beatles and The Doors. The funniest moment of the night for me was when the lady in charge was told to turn down the music since it was blowing out some of the attendees hearing aides. I almost died right there!

After the meal, there was a short memorial for those who had died in the past five years. They were all men and it seemed that many of them had been football players. In my opinion, that is what shortened their life, but I am not a doctor. I have a friend who is among the few that has not had any surgeries her whole life. I attribute it to the fact that she was married three times and is now a widow. She doesn’t worry about what people think of her and has a happy-go-lucky attitude about things.

It became acutely apparent that the most important aspect of the evening was the quality of the food and that there would be plenty of it. I’m sure it was because of the many classmates that had to take their evening pills with food. Thanks to those who administered the event, the catering did a great job. We could have our choice of chicken or beef or both. The desserts were yummy and plentiful. No one complained about the quality of the food or lack of it, so it was a success.

My father is still alive and kicking (at least with one leg). He has kept me informed about his recent class reunions. His 75th was attended by two, himself included. I should be so lucky, but that will have to be determined at a later time since I need to go take my arrhythmia medication after all the excitement!

Onward, Orem High School! May our posterity find happiness and prosper!

Cultures, home

Orchard to Business Center in Orem, Utah

http://hubpages.com/hub/Orchard-to-Business-Center-in-Orem-Utah

Many years ago, my parents moved our family from a tiny little farm town in Fairview, Utah to Orem, Utah. This is where I attended elementary school, junior high and high school, held my first job, and got married; hence the majority of my developmental years were spent in Orem.