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LIFE STORY OF JENNIE HOLBROOK GROBERG

Folks used to smile when I would answer "on the road to Springville" when they asked where I was born. But father's first Provo home was located on a farm just off the highway a block or two. I was the fourth member to be welcomed to the Alsina Elizabeth Brimhall - Lafayette Hinckley Holbrook family. Raymond Brimhall, Rachel, and George Blaine were my two older brothers and sister. I later acquired the following sisters in order of advent: Mary (Mrs. B. A. Maxwell), Ruth (Mrs. F. Ray Brown), Elizabeth (Mrs. A. K. Berry), Helen (Mrs. Carlyle A. Dahlquist), Vera (Mrs. M. K. Heninger), and Elaine (Mrs. J. A. Haymore).

Rachel, Blain, Jennie and Raymond. (circa 1908)

Little dark-eyed Jean died at the age of 7 as a result of an accident in a swing at Spring Dell. Blaine died the following year of pneumonia, suddenly, although he had told mother the week before that he was going to be gone in a week. In 1946 my oldest sister, Rachel, died after a brief illness of cerebral hemmorhage, which came on her Friday and claimed her life Sunday I think. She died on the 12th birthday of our son John.

I was blessed and Named Jennie by Uncle Will Knight at our farm home.

My earliest recollections are happy ones in the love and security of my wonderful parents and my beloved Aunt Jennie Knight, after whom I was named, and who was always a second mother to me, also in the companionship of my brothers and sisters. We girls loved to help mother and work and play together and the companionship between us was quite sufficient although friends were always welcome at our place. Grandpa Brimhall and my Holbrook Grandparents in Salt Lake all held big places in our love and respect. We were very proud of our family and its connections. Grandpa Brimhall was President of Brigham Young University.

George Blaine was never well and his passing might have been a blessing for all. His condition seemed to unite the family in working for each other and wanting to help all we could with the family problems and affairs. Mother was ideal in her calling and still is today with her posterity. Besides her own children, nine girls and two boys, she now has over 60 grandchildren and about 18 great-grandchildren, with several new ones on the way. Her complete devotion to her family and to her Church was all one matter, inseparable, and consequently all her children are loyal to the Church, and it appears the grandchildren will be also. She was firm and wise in her determination to raise her family under the wonderful influence of the B.Y.U., even though father sometimes expressed doubt and often talked of moving to California. Mother knew how to use the righteous influence of the school to strengthen her children. Grandfather Brimhall was President of B.Y.U. for about 18 years and acting president for several more years so the school was a big part of our lives. We went to kindergarten there at the age of 4 or 5 and continued on through college. Miss Hermese Petersen was my first grade teacher and truly loved by all. I finished fourth and fifth grades in one year which put me ahead of my class. When it was suggested that I do the same with 7th and 8th grades, my folks wisely refused. I love learning and culture and beautiful things and most of all I love people. I guess my greatest and deepest love is for the gospel, the Savior, my Heavenly Father, and my family.

At the age of 8 I was baptized, July 28, 1916. Mother was unable to go with me and father was out of town so I took my towel and clothing and went alone - so frightened that I still remember how it hurt. After being baptized it was a great relief to have my father arrive to take me home. As I recall, I was confirmed by him at that time, before leaving for home.

As a child my family was my life, with few outside friends; they were unnecessary. We loved to play house and each Christmas each little girl received a new doll from Santa Claus (later we discovered it was Aunt Jennie). We always went to Church, living but half a bock and across the street from Provo Fifth Ward. Often we went on trips to Salt Lake and to Strawberry where the men folk would fish. Other relatives usually went with us. Father had a farm in Lyndall, Utah, near Fillmore, and one summer when I was 8 I did much of the cooking there, part of the time assisting Rachel and part of the time on my own, with father to help out, of course. Once Aunt Jennie came and took me from the family to her home in Provo, but I felt homesick for my family, as much as I loved her, and in spite of the doll she gave me. She often took me to her summer home in Spring Dell but I used to get homesick then too, actually ill at times. When we were all in Provo, I spent much time in her home and with her. She was really a confident and when some friends told me there was no Santa Claus, I recall running to her home, three blocks north from ours, desperately to be assured I had been misinformed. She told me the truth, but in such a way that everything seemed all right. When Mother gave birth to Vera I was her only nurse which was a good experience for me but maybe a bit hard on Mother. We often climbed Temple Hill (where the Y campus is today and called University Hill) - and once Mother took us on a picnic there and explained how a new baby was inside her and the glories and joys of motherhood. I always held my body sacred for the blessing which I wanted to be worthy of after I had entered the House of the Lord with my Prince Charming.

I was quite healthy but never too vigorous. When Uncle Elmer Hinckley (Dr.) removed my tonsils, it was an experience to be remembered but not cherished. My sister Mary had her's out at the same time. I had an experience with blood poisoning in my leg which kept me down for a while. I fainted a few times during my youth, was a bit anemic and when a freshman in college, the Dr. discovered a heart murmur which required that I give up gym and dancing - how I loved to dance! My sisters and I used to write and costume and present dramatics, with family and neighbors as audience (Prof. Jensen at B.Y.U. was one).

There was plenty of work at home with the large family and seldom any outside help. So we were all busy and happy, doing for each other. Father always took care of the heavy cleaning, and all the basement and work in the yard and insisted on the children all doing their share of the work. Mother was a great organizer and manager and also a very hard worker. They provided well for us and wisely put the emphasis on the spiritual and cultural, on developing our talents and using our means for more important things than clothes, movies, etc. We were taught to really value money and to work for what we received. I recall once Father gave me a $10 bill to run up town and buy him a Tribune. He had no smaller change. I bought the paper and tied up the silver change in my handkerchief and carried the $5 greenback in my hand as I returned home. As usual, I walked through Aunt Jennie's home on my return trip and rested a moment and probably had a cookie which she kept for all who came to see her. No one was home so I did not stay longer than a few minutes and returned to give father his paper. I gave him the change and when he asked for the $5 bill I discovered with great alarm that it was missing. I said, "Just a minute" and ran out looking for it but to no avail. I felt really desperate as Father was very firm and insisted on our being careful and we were anxious to please him. Besides $5 was a huge amount. I went into a closet and poured out my plight to my Heavenly Father and plead for assistance to be granted immediately, giving my full faith to my prayer, that it would be heard and answered. Then I simply rose to my feet and followed impressions given me, and ran back to Aunt Jennie's and to the chair where I had rested in her parlor, picked up the wadded $5 bill, skipped joyfully home, uttering a prayer of gratitude as I did so, and gave Papa the money with no explanation. He had not been waiting for me as a neighbor had come in and occupied his attention. Prayers were important to me then and now they seem even more so. I was about 8 or 9, I think.

Another time I became very ill in school and simply got up and walked out and started for home, praying that I could make it OK. I thought if only I could get to my mother then everything would be all right. But when I arrived home the house was empty, which was very rare. Mustering what remaining strength I could I knelt down and prayed that I could live until Mother came and then everything would be taken care of. Then I dragged myself to the couch by which I knelt, and gradually felt a bit of strength seeping into me. I didn't' even lose consciousness. I just knew that Heavenly Father would do that for me and He did. How often in the years since have I plead with the Lord, particularly for my children, when I have felt promptings that they needed special guidance or promptings themselves, and also for myself that I could hold tight when those I had hoped would understand simply did not. I have tried to teach my children the true value and necessity of such prayers and we have always had our family prayers and prayers for many other occasions. Sometimes our prayers are not answered for quite a while, and often not as we expected, but they are always answered, if they are right.

I used to be very shy and determined to overcome this handicap. I accepted every opportunity to give talks or play the piano, but sometimes doing so would make me so ill I would nearly faint, but I have overcome most of my shyness. I loved the B.Y.U. with all my heart; it was my life, past, present, and future. I used to listen to people telling Mother their troubles and promised myself that when I was a mother I would do just as my mother had done, then there would be no problems - keep them very close to B.Y.U. and to the Church. 

At an early age, Aunt Jennie paid for piano lessons from Professor Clair Reid for me to take. I did not take many but enough to keep me going. Dr. deJong gave me a few lessons on the pipe organ which was installed in our Fifth Ward. I used to get up at 5 a.m. and go over and practice before school. Often it was very cold but I learned enough to do the playing for the ward and have been organist in various capacities in the Church ever since. Brother deJong and I became very good friends; he has seemed to always have time to listen to my problems and joys and to understand and also to help me build confidence in myself, which was very helpful. When very young I became the Primary organist and teacher in various places. I enjoyed being organist at the Temple in Idaho Falls once a week for several years. There have been but brief periods when I have not held Church positions, usually when a baby was due or newly born. I guess my real love is teaching and my greatest students, my family, although I wish I had been able to do more of it and to do it more effectively.

When I was a junior in high school I took a stenographic position at the National Pump Plant in Provo. Mother objected but father insisted and as it was sometimes necessary for the children to choose between the wishes of our parents, I went to work. It was probably a good experience for me, although difficult. I have done stenographic work off and on much of my life and really handled all my finances through this medium while I finished college, but of course living at home and receiving gifts helped much.

Mother used to encourage all of us to do creative things, once telling me that if I ever had a lovely thought to express, to stop whatever I was doing and go write it down. I found that unless I did this the "inspiration" often left me and was never as helpful when I waited tow rite things down. Mother used to let us forego certain tasks if we preferred practicing the piano and too often I preferred just that, but not after I became old enough to understand.

Jennie Holbrook, 1928

I used to play for Florence Jepperson Madsen's chorus at the Y and the organ at the Stake Tabernacle for one of the Y Baccalaureate Exercises. I did not do too well as I had not understood I was to play for any more than five minutes when the graduates entered and I had to play for much more, and also for their exit.

I earned money doing housework for Aunt Jennie and also as a child, working at strawberry picking, which I endured but not enjoyed.

I took part in public speaking and dramatics, having the lead in two full length plays at the Y, presenting a memorization and dramatization of "The Melting Pot" fifteen or twenty times to various audiences. I also won second place in the Church wide public speaking contest and felt a real thrill when President Heber J. Grant presented me with a pin in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I felt secretly convinced that I deserved first place and although I did not openly say so, I felt it and received encouragement for so feeling by friends and relatives. There was one final judge and he had personally coached the first place winner.

I worked for Dean L. John Nuttall of the Education Department doing secretarial work and also arranging interviews between prospective teachers and superintendents. Dean John C. Swensen headed the office part of the time. All through college I did stenographic work and had no need to call on my parents for spending money.

I was offered a choice of two or three positions on the Y faculty upon graduation, running the teacher-placement bureau, teaching shorthand, etc. I chose to go to Ammon, Idaho to teach because of a certain young man in whom I was seriously and constantly thinking of and who wanted to make a home in Idaho Falls, at least for a while. Ammon is a rural ward of Idaho Falls. Delbert had returned from a mission to the Eastern States and was at the Y registering when I first met him. It was quite a while before he asked me for a date in spite of my attempts to let him know I was interested. But I happened to be having many opportunities for dates at that time and it rather discouraged him.

I recall our first date. It was to the Banyan Dance. I had a date with Jean Paulson, the editor of the Y news. I had been invited by eight other young men to go to the dance. The one I really wanted to go with was Delbert but he had not asked me. And then I received work that Jean was ill and could not go. I was really happy when, after making myself very available, Delbert asked me if I was going and added that he assumed I would have a date long before. I told him I really had had, but I was free and would be happy to go with him. We went to Church on the next Sunday and to a matinee dance with him the next Wednesday. I remember the dance because I had my program filled fourteen dances ahead. I guess the fact that I was so happy with Delbert made me rather attractive to others.

It was after the Church date and a walk the long way home, that I woke my younger sisters with whom I shared my bedroom, and told them the young man I had gone with that evening was the one I was going to marry but for them to say nothing about it to anyone yet. They sleepily agreed not to mention it and thought me a bit queer to wake them up to tell them such a dream.

We went together quite regularly and really cared for each other but were always very loyal to our highest Church standards in expressing it. One night he asked if he could kiss me and I told him I had promised my first kiss to the man I would marry so he paused, then lightly touched my forehead with his lips and forgot it. It was some weeks later that he asked me, or rather, explained to me that he really could not ask me to marry him as he had nothing to offer in the way of financial support but if the time ever came when he could do so he would devote his life to making me happy, but he had his education, etc., to work out first. After he left I was a bit bothered as I knew he did need to finish his schooling and wasn't ready to get married. He had returned to his Aunt Mattie's home in Ogden. I wrote him there and told him I did not want to be a burden on him and he was free to do as he pleased, that his education was important and that things could wait. He claimed he didn't feel too good when he received the letter but I was sincerely trying to be helpful.

I signed a contract to teach in the Ammon High School for one year. I attempted far more than I should have done, seven classes daily and all the dramatics, debating, contests, assemblies, etc. Delbert come to Idaho Falls in the spring. I had been having a few dates with A. Smith Pond and enjoyed his company very much although I had told him, as I told the others, that I was really engaged to be married.

Jennie Holbrook, 1930

Delbert and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple, June 11, 1930. President Joseph Fielding Smith performed the ceremony. We had asked Elder David O. McKay but at the last moment he had personally called me on the phone and explained that he might not be able to make it because he was to meet his son in a different city and they might not return in time but he gave us his blessing on the phone. We were the 43rd couple to be called so we had quite a period of just waiting and deeply considering the importance of the step we were taking.

We went on a honeymoon to the Southern Utah Parks. When I learned that Delbert had borrowed the money for the trip and also the car, I wished we had skipped the honeymoon. We stayed for a brief time, on our return to Idaho Falls, at the Ellis Apartments but were happier when we moved to Grandma Brunt's little house on Canal Avenue; one side of it.

While living there I made my first trip to the L.D.S. hospital to welcome Mary Jane, July 13, 1931. Dr. H. Ray Hatch assisted and also delivered Julia Gay, John H., David H., Richard H., Delbert H., and Joseph H. Dr. Walter R. West delivered Elizabeth, Lewis, H., Gloria Jean and George H. When Mary Jane was born, or the warning came that she was going to be born, I got out of bed around midnight, not having been to sleep since returning from a long wait at Church while Delbert attended to some Church matters, and got things ready for the hospital. It was three weeks early so I was hardly ready. Delbert was so exhausted that I told him he might as well sleep for a while, which he did, much to my disappointment. Sometime later I had him wake up and get his Uncle Joe Brunt. They administered to me and I went to the hospital. Dr. Hatch was very sweet and encouraging to me. I guess the birth was almost too much for me; I recall how aware I was that the doctor seemed frightened and that I could do nothing more and how I kept trying to come back and remember the blessing Delbert and Uncle Joe had given me, but it faded away with my consciousness. Then thru the mist I became aware that my mother was praying for me and that her prayers were being answered and that because they were being answered, new strength was being given me until Mary and I both made it safely. When Delbert wired the folks about 9 a.m. and father came to mother all excited, with a wire from Idaho she merely said, "Yes I know; Jennie had her baby; what was it, a boy or a girl?"

The birth of Julia was extremely difficult due to neglect of the nurses and doctor and leaving problems which made some of the others more difficult but we have them all here and I am in good health and so are they and we are deeply grateful for them.

Many times I have prayed for my children as Mother prayed for her's. Sometimes when I have sensed something was wrong I have prayed and fasted for more effective prayer, for them and for my ability to help. Their father has always been kind and loving and very unselfish but sees many things differently. He is highly respected in this community which he dearly loves. He is a successful business man and a stalwart of the Church. He did not take seriously, as I did, a promise to more to Provo when the children were ready for college. In a way this dimmed a light of my life but I do not believe he could have done it and been happy. If only I had understood earlier how he really felt!

We were a happy family indeed when Delbert was made a Patriarch. He is a very natural spiritual leader and beloved by all. He has also been bishop and counselor and High Council member and held many other positions in the ward and stake and in the community. This will be given in more detail in his own history. He is very kind to others and anxious and very able to help those in need. We have been very happy to help Maude and her family since the death of her husband. She is the one on his side of the family that I have known well although we are very fond of the others and of the Brunt relatives here. They are all fine people. His Aunt Mattie is very choice and has raised a family of loyal Church members in spite of many handicaps.

John and Jean live here with baby Nancy. Julia and Bob Blair and their children Margaret Jean, Delbert Wallace and Robert Groberg are in Indiana where Bob is completing his doctorate. They hope to return to the Y to teach. Mary Jane is teaching at Bonneville High after completing a mission to the British Isles. I wen to Europe to meet her last summer and we toured about a month. When John finished a mission in the Tongan Islands, Delbert met him in New Zealand and they visited Brunt relatives there in New Zealand, also Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, etc. David went to the Southern States Mission and at present Richard is filling a mission in Finland. We believe we have some very choice children. Delbert will go to college next year. He is outstanding in every way and plans on a mission when he is 20 as do the other boys. Joseph, Elizabeth, Lewis, Gloria and George will still be at home.

Jennie and her typewriter, 1989

I am attempting to write a course of lessons which I call "Home Living in the Light of the Gospel." There have been teachings a the Y which have harmed my children and the children of others, particularly in Psychology and some in Sociology, and a bit in the physical sciences. Had the instructors had the goal of building testimonies instead of challenging thinking by inviting doubt, or had we parents been there to discuss problems with the children each day, some sorrow and problems might have been avoided. I felt when I began this project of Home Teaching of the Gospel, that I was being guided and even inspired when I was worthy. I have felt there was a real need for it. But I realize that my own family must be the real lesson and example to be taught so the writing has moved slowly. I hope the lessons will be helpful to my own children and to my husband. I visited and even took a brief course in the Department of Family Living at the Y and felt alarm at what I found there.

My Patriarchal blessing, given by Albert DeLorma Clark, when I was a young lady, and his recorder, mentioned a "Special" mission I had to perform. That word, which he rarely used, has meant much to me.



[Although undated, Grandma must have written this narrative sometime between November 7, 1958 (Bob Blair's birthday) and August of 1959 (when Bob and Julia Blair completed and John and Jean began their graduate studies in Indiana). All original spellings and punctuation were retained. Grandma distributed excepts from her lessons on "Home Living in the Light of the Gospel" as a Mother's Day gift in 1989. She distributed a complete compilation to family members in January of 1999. A complete copy is available in the Family Center in Idaho Falls; additional copies are available upon request through the family website.]