Letter:

Offering a note of thanks to Springville

I would like to pose the question of: What is the worth of a town? Hopefully by the end of this you will clearly understand the worth and value of growing up in Springville.

In a world that has become extremely self-centered and self-serving, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for providing me with a stable, loving, safe and supportive environment (in which) to grow up and thrive.

My name is Jennifer (Allan) Scruggs and I grew up in this lovely town. From the age of 2 through 18 (1969-1985). I lived on Averett Avenue. I was adopted into a Caucasian family and was the only Black person in town. My mother (Leah Mae Allan) was widowed when I was 2 and I had no siblings. I went to Brookside Elementary, Springville Middle School (as it was transitioning from being in the art museum), Springville Junior High and then went on to be a Red Devil and an Aggie. My grandparents (Evon & Valeria Averett), mother and uncles all set excellent examples of unconditional love and acceptance. I did not come from a family with influence. We were a simple family consisting of two farming grandparents and a mother who was a Nebo School District librarian. I had strong family ties and they were ALL raised in Springville.

Springville has nourished several generations of our family.

I started a project about one year ago I call my “Thank You Project.” I write thank you letters to everyone that has had a profound impact on my life. I thank those who have shaped me into the person I am today. I started with family and friends, then expanded to what now has become an entire city. Not all the recipients of my letters go to people who you expect me to thank. I thank people who have hurt me as well. That’s where the most growth has come.

As I have watched the news over the past several weeks, I have witnessed an overwhelming amount of violence, accusations and a saddening decline of kindness, tolerance, understanding and compassion. My intention is not to blame one side or the other for missteps or offenses. It is to not just be a witness to the rapid destruction of our society, but to do something to build it up and reconstruct something better in its place.

I feel it is necessary to bring a little sunshine to a dark time. I could never thank the citizens of Springville enough for the best and most magical childhood ever. I spent my summers playing and floating down the cool clear waters of Hobble Creek. Winding our way from the golf course through backyards and fields and on past the police station. I was given the opportunity to participate in dance, gymnastics, softball, track, volleyball, art classes at the museum and BYU, piano, girls camp and much more. I was rarely if ever treated as an outsider. I was actually treated better than this hyperactive, talkative, mischievous kid could have hoped. Springville provided me with total inclusion. This little town never once made me feel different or excluded. I was welcome in every home. I was given any job I applied for. I was treated so much better than I deserved by the police. They tolerated my flagrant disregard for certain laws. Whatever punishment I incurred was much less harsh than expected. I was always shown respect and courtesy by all city representatives.

In Springville I was rarely reminded of my difference from the others. Teachers were patient and understanding. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Strang, took extra time and effort to redirect my energy and nurture my love for art. Mr. Fowler had me do laps around the school when I was bursting at the seams. This simple redirection ended up paying for my college. I was given a full-ride track scholarship at Utah State. Mr. Bills, Mr. Newbury and several others spent additional time to help me excel in my events. That extra time given provided a college education. The art teachers at Springville High would stay late after school to help me with a technique or a project. These teachers and coaches all gave me their precious time and respect. The teachers and administration at Springville High bent over backward to create an amazing experience for me. Mr. Roundy and Mr. Bird deserve my thanks as well. I should have been expelled more than once and those two men worked hard at showing me a more constructive path for my abundance of energy.

With the exception of a few students, I was treated with acceptance and love by everyone. I owe apologies to the few people who I felt mistreated by. On a rare occasion, I responded with hate and a swift and cruel retort. Please accept my heartfelt apology for any hurt or embarrassment I caused. I have spent a lifetime regretting my choice to lash out in anger.

I want to thank the orchard farmers of Mapleton that gave me my first job and the opportunity to pick cherries with the migrant workers. This taught me hard work and compassion for immigrants, both legal and illegal, which is much needed in this social climate. I must thank Alan Curtis for being one of my biggest cheerleaders in life. He cheered me on at several sporting events and for a girl that was raised without a father in the home, it meant the world to me. Neighbors like Jack Widdison, Sandy Richards and Krista Frahm took additional time to make me feel loved and worthy. Mrs. Kilpack, my dance teacher, taught me to settle for nothing but excellence. I owe a thank you to Tom Grassley of Partyland for creating a positive work environment for me. I learned first, how to eat a lot of candy, but more important that work can be both fun, productive and satisfying. There have been countless others I’ve missed thanking that actively participated in my childhood experience. The old African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” definitely fit my circumstances.

During the 60s and 70s, and even into the 80s, tolerance and acceptance for many Blacks was not the norm. A single Caucasian woman with a Black child was even more reason for to raise an eyebrow. To all my friends and their parents, I thank you for opening your hearts and your homes to me. Those simple gestures of kindness will stay with me for a lifetime. As I watch a racial divide grow I am humbled and in awe to have such fond memories and experiences with the residents of Springville. This town has proven its worth and what it has to offer for many generations and those to come. Springville is proof that it’s possible to thrive when you are singular but not singled out, when you are different but not treated with indifference and when a town, such as Springville, takes pride in its citizens and does its best to provide a place to call home it reminds me to be grateful for the good that has sprung from the roots laid by my hometown.

Springville has a special place in my heart and I can never personally thank all the people who enhanced my life by just being a part of it.

Mr. Rogers once said, “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

— Jennifer (Allan) Scruggs