This was an eventful decade. On the home front we added a new soul. Jade was born in 2001. Bringing our clan up to seven, plus daddy and momma under the same roof. Living in this new location, we certainly had living space for Jade’s arrival as opposed to the Rigby house. The kids played with cousins that lived close by. They roamed in the barn and in the pasture. We chose not to have a television in our home most of the years, and our kids learned to read a lot, use their imaginations, and explore the outdoors.
The unexpected happened. Momma Durtschi passed away unexpectedly, and we were left to care for daddy. We did have some help occasionally from nearby family, but, day in and day out, the responsibility was mostly on us. We did it for as long as we could before his condition became so bad that a nursing home was needed. He was in a nursing home for about a year when he passed away.
Us moving to Driggs was actually the only reason a nursing home was not used before. The doctor had been recommending it even before we arrived, but Joan wanted to prevent that. Before Joan passed she had made the decision to give us the house because of our willingness to move in and help. Why us? Momma liked me, and she knew Marya would like to be back in the valley. Plus, other Durtschi family who already lived in the area had their own homes and families to tend too.
To this day, because of the sentimental attachments to the house, and the subjective opinions of whether we cared and helped daddy enough to earn it being given to us, there is still an undertone of discontent among some of the siblings. I was asked once, if given the choice to move up and help, would I do it again. Yes. Moving in to help Walter and Joan was the right thing to do. The other stuff is just human nature at play. You never know what life is going to present, and you don’t have any control about how others might feel about it. We “rolled with” the circumstances that came along the best we felt we could. We did rent our home in Rigby for a few years and then we sold it. We came to realize that with another family member added, and the circumstances being what they were, we couldn’t go back to that house very easily even if we did move again.
During this decade I also served as 1st counselor in the Driggs 2nd ward bishopric with Wayne Egbert as bishop, and Meredith Wilson as 2nd counselor. Just like serving in the mission field, this was a challenging and rewarding time. Here is a story connected with this time. Of course I was on the stand each week, and Marya bravely brought the kids to church. A sister moved into the ward and noticed Marya coming in with all the kids. She didn’t know us. She was disgusted that Marya’s husband would send all those kids to church with her every week while he was relaxing or off recreating. It wasn’t until several months went by, and she saw us together at a ward party that she finally realized I was Marya’s husband. Even though this sister had never told Marya about her feelings about her “slacking” husband, she felt a need to apologize to Marya for drawing unfounded conclusions.
Work wise…well, I kind of experienced an identity crisis during this decade. At Anderson Lumber I was promoted to Receiving Clerk before too long. In that job I was responsible for checking in all shipments and making sure the proper quantity was there and there was no damage. The work was good. Then some corporate changes occurred. Anderson Lumber was a small regional chain of stores, and they were bought out by national corporation. A new manager came on board. I could tell right away that we were going to clash. He was cocky and arrogant. He didn’t treat his team like equals. I was the first one to leave after he took command. He actually offered me a generous raise if I stayed. A raise that would have put my income above that of my supervisor. (I didn’t think that was a wise leadership move on his part either.) I left and went to work for Suburban Propane delivering propane and training as a technician.
With each of these companies I worked for, in my mind, I was sincerely striving to make it a career. I think this attitude came from the example of my father and mother. My dad had worked in the same building all my life (he did have different promotions, but same career.) Mom too, she was a librarian all her life. I thought that is the way it should be. Find a career, a company, work with dedication, earn promotions, and stick with THAT company. You take care of them, and they will take care of you. Well, I was learning that this wasn’t how the world was working anymore.
I was not with Suburban long. I received an unsolicited phone call and an offer from the owner of R&R Landscape. He wanted me to come on board as an office manager, and potentially buy him out of the company along with some of the crew chiefs that managed the landscaping crews. I could not let that potential opportunity go without trying. It seemed much too good to pass up.
To make it short, it didn’t work. The old adage was verified, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. Again, I liked the work because of what I was learning and what I was able to contribute, but it didn’t end up being full time during the winter as promised. I hated drawing unemployment when I had been taught you get what you work for. The price he wanted for the company was more than any bank or private lender was comfortable with. And his method of financing was…well, let’s just say creative…and didn’t sit well with me. I was asked by local small supplies and large corporations all the time when R&R Landscape was going to pay them on the past due amounts. I was not given control of the business checking account. He and his wife only saw those numbers.
What to do? Anderson Lumber’s name had officially changed to Stock Building Supply and the community was not fond of the new manager. He was not fired, but his position was changed, and he was transferred to another location. After he left as manager, I approached the guy who accepted the manager position, who knew me from before, and he welcomed me back. Again, changing jobs so much was really uncomfortable to me because I wanted to “settle in” and stay with one company like I had seen my parents do.
At Stock Building Supply I started from entry level again as forklift and truck driver. Then I went to inventory control specialist, to Operations manager relatively quickly. I was responsible for the smooth running of the retail portion of the store. The manager kept the office staff and outside sales team leadership as part of his duties. The yard foreman took care of fork-lift and truck drivers. This looked like the right track, but then a nationally-owned corporation started dictating changes that were not good for a small town lumber store. They wanted to let large stores, like Home Depot and Lowes, take care of the everyday-home-owner’s building and project needs. They wanted to focus on professional-contractors-only market; those companies who built homes for a living. They began dictating things such as closing on Saturdays because most contractors don’t work on Saturday. They wanted to get rid of some of our inventory because it was homeowner needed items and not professional contractor items. Both I and the manager fought them on this. We repeatedly told that their picture just wouldn’t work for a single lumber yard in a small town . They didn’t like this answer. We were not fitting their envisioned mold.
I could see the writing on the wall. I could see this was not going to end well. As much as I hated to do it, I started looking for work AGAIN. A few years prior, Larry Juarez, owner of Grand Interiors which dealt specifically with cabinets, appliances, flooring and interior hardware such as door knobs and lighting fixtures in new homes and remodels had approached me, and asked if I would come work for him. Even though that had been a few years before, I approached him to see if he still had a need. He did. I did all kinds of work for him. My main job was appliance sales, ordering, and installation, but because it was such a small company I also helped install cabinets, drive truck, and performed office management duties.
Incidentally, a year after I left, Stock Building announced they were closing the Driggs location and many other locations that were not fitting their mold throughout the country. I am so glad I got out when I did. In this valley, being small in population, it was a bit of a challenge for all the employees there to find a place to go for work.
In 2008, due to unwise housing and real estate loan practices in the country, the real estate market took a financial nose dive nationwide causing construction to slow dramatically. This ushered in a recession that had global effects. Grand Interiors was connected with the construction industry and things became troublingly slow there. I was able to do some part time work on short term projects for people in the valley when I was only working part-time at my regular job.
While working at the lumber yard I was impressed with the character and work ethic of a man by the name of Chris Harris. We did not do much together outside of work while we worked there, but afterwards we started trying to go out to eat, play games, or watch a sporting event together. Chris became my best friend. It is a joy to spend time with him.
During this time my appendix needed removed. We did not have health insurance, but a very generous soul stepped in to pay the $10,000 hospital bill. I have an idea who it was, and no way of telling for sure without directly asking. Most anonymous, good-hearted souls like that don’t want to be known.
So, yes, this was a challenging decade on many levels. Yes, it can be argued that life always has challenges, and that would be true. This decade left me wondering what path I was suppose to take in life especially as a provider to my family.
Larry was relieved when I found a job in Jackson, Wyoming with Hyko. They sold cleaning and paper products to businesses, primarily hotels and restaurants. It was a good temporary job, but I knew it would not be a long commitment there.
This is going into the next decade, but since I am on the “job changing” theme. The next job was with Coca-Cola at their Jackson Hole warehouse as the warehouse manager. Which put me, again, in a leadership position. I was in charge of everything that went on inside the warehouse. The manager had responsibility for the outside sales team and the drink machine technicians. During this job I was in the best physical condition I had been in since high school soccer and riding my bike in the mission field. My mornings were spent taking inventory, ordering products, or unloading shipments of products that came from the bottling plant. Near noon, the orders started coming in from the traveling sales staff. These orders needed to be pulled from stock and staged on mobile carts ready to load that night to go out to stores the next day. The cases of canned and bottled pop were not heavy, about 15 to 20 pounds each, but we were moving hundreds and hundreds of cases each day. Bend down, pick up, lift, swing onto the wheeled cart, repeat. I left for work before the family was up in the morning, and arrived home around six in the evening. All of this left me worn out.
Even with all that was going on in our family’s life during this decade, we added yet another family member; Marya’s sister Beth would visit during the summer months from Texas to avoid the heat. One summer she brought Crystal, a 17-year-old young lady, with her to help out with her four children, but alternative motive was to get Crystal (We call her Big Crystal to distinguish from our younger daughter Crystal) was to get her away from an unhealthy home environment. At the end of the summer she did not want to go back. However, her grandparents, who had legal guardianship over her would not let her stay in Idaho. We told Crystal that when she turned 18 she was welcome to come live with us if she wanted to.
Her birthday is at the end of December. She hopped on a plane just a few days after, came to live with us, and graduated from Teton Valley High School. She worked at Burger King, and then a clothing store. She chose to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She had fallen in love with Marya’s nephew and married him. So, she was semi-adopted by us, but then married into the family also. She is a lively, energetic person we love dearly.
Different line of thought…..As I was growing up in Preston we camped regularly in tents during the summer. I enjoyed those times out in nature with my family. I thought I liked camping, but after moving to Teton Valley I realized I like being in nature, but not necessarily camping. Because Teton Valley is right next to the mountains, I found that I liked going hiking and enjoying time in a campground around a fire and so forth, but my own bed was usually only 15 to 20 minutes away from many camping areas. I preferred to go home and sleep, and come back in the morning to resume activities. I really enjoy hiking. One of my favorite hikes is up to Table Mountain, or Table Rock. I have done that so many times I lost track.