Utah’s own holiday, Pioneer Day, is celebrated this week. By the time you read this, we may have already done the celebrating. It’s nice for many of us to have a day off that no one else in the nation gets.
The courthouse closes for the day and many businesses shut their doors as well. However, since Uncle Sam doesn’t recognize Brigham Young’s “This is the Place” declaration worthy of a day off, the post office is always open on Pioneer Day.
As I always do this time of year, I’ve thought a little about Utah’s pioneers the past few days. I know that I complain about being “pioneered to death” around here – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings for their lives and hardships.
I was at a family reunion for a few days a week ago and had to endure the “suffering” of sleeping in a queen sized bed in a travel trailer. It was a sacrifice. There were others at the reunion camping in tents. I’ve done that too.
As many of you know, I sometimes get tired of being made to feel guilty that the pioneers suffered and sacrificed and that we now are spoiled and selfishly ungrateful. I don’t think people (pioneer sermonizers) mean to make pioneers seem honorable and people today dishonorable, but sometimes it almost comes out that way.
Some of my thoughts the other day about the early settlers had to do with our current summer heat wave. We often hear about the harsh winters that the pioneers endured. That first winter of 1849 in Sanpete must have been unreal with the settlers arriving so late in the year (November) and it being a particularly snowy winter. Living in holes dug out of the side of a hill through that first winter must have had them wondering if moving to Sanpete was a good idea.
But what about the hot summers? It must have been nearly unbearable some days. Imagine what it was like for the settlers of St. George and Southern Nevada. No air conditioning. No Gatorade. No fans, except the one powered by your arm to fan your face.
The white folks that came here didn’t adopt the dress of the natives. At least, I don’t remember seeing pictures of any pioneers in loincloths. Pioneers were pretty much fully clothed from head to toe — bonnets and hats and high top shoes. No bare arms even, let alone anything else.
Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen lotions were not yet on the shelves of the general stores in Salt Lake City or anywhere else. I guess it was a good thing that those fair skinned Scandinavian settlers covered up.
Yes, it was a different world than we live in. I won’t even mention matters of odor. (Sorry, I guess I just did) Can you imagine life in the summer with few baths and no deodorant? I do have to acknowledge that life was tough for our fore-bearers.
But, we have it tough too. Why just the other day, for example, I got a paper cut. You know there’s nothing worse than a nasty paper cut. But did I complain and write about it in my journal so my posterity would know about it? No – not me, I just suffered in silence.
Really and truly though, we in our present day world have struggles and problems that in their own way are as serious as what the pioneers faced.
If we explained to pioneers about our society’s problems of terrorism, drug addictions, gang wars, sex crimes and murders, and the “music” of Nicki Minaj; they’d probably not want to trade their problems for ours.
So “party hardy” as we commemorate the arrival of the pioneers to Utah. Enjoy the celebrations around the county during these days. Fairview and Spring City are good places to enjoy the holiday with parades and festivities.
Remember the pioneers as you get ready to climb into your air conditioned car to drive to your fun events. And as you think of them, daub on a little extra deodorant and perfume.