Our second child, and first son, was a dark haired beautiful baby. He was born at the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah on August 2, 1951. Dr. Riley G. Clark was our attending physician and the baby was born at six P. M. in the afternoon. The baby was born two weeks before his scheduled arrival, but he was completely developed and considered a full term baby.
The child was beautiful and sweet and great love came with him from heaven. We really treasured this new baby and we named the little fellow Robert Lee Johnson. Robert after his father, Robert B. Johnson, and Lee was taken from the name of my father, Milton Lee Taft. Grandma, Olive Ethel Lyman Taft, took the name Lee from the southern general, Robert E. Lee. Olive Ethel felt that if you named a child after a great person the name sake would live up to and be worthy of the outstanding leader’s name. Robert was also welcomed and loved by his two-year-old sister, Tafta Johnson.
Robert was a handsome child with round cheeks and a solid strong body frame. He grew and thrived and filled out. His legs and hands were chubby and cute. He had a wrinkle across the thigh of his legs. There were dimples across the knuckles of his hands and he had a crease around his wrist. He was such a fun happy young person. My older sister, Aunt Cula Taft Ekker, with much love and caring, nick-named Robert, Pudge. The nick-name stuck for many in my family and Aunt Cula still refers to Robert as Pudge even though he is married and has a family of his own.
As a young child, Robert smiled often and was warm and content. He was not a cross baby and he did not suffer from colic. The baby started to sleep through the night when he was about a month old. I nursed him and I must have had rich milk because he was so content and happy. He was fun to love and care for. I made a curl on the top of his head when I bathed him. His hair had a tendency to curl and so the soft round roll of hair held this shape all day. He truly was a beautiful child.
I have to laugh when I remember feeding baby Robert solid food. He began to cry when he awakened from his mid-day nap because he was hungry. I watched the time rather closely and near the time of his awakening, I had two bowls full of food, one of vegetable and the other
full of ground home canned fruit. The food was already and waiting. I was quick and expeditious in putting spoonfuls of food into his mouth because he cried between spoonfuls. I guess he did not know there would be another mouthful of food coming.
At this stage in our married life we lived in an apartment on 5th West and 359 South, Provo, Utah. Harold Sowards was the owner of the duplex. We lived in the north apartment and Uncle Harold, as we began to call him, lived in the south apartment. He was an older man who was very crippled from the ravaging effects of arthritis. He walked with a cane and was very bent over. He loved our children as much as they loved him. One day he said to me, “I don’t think I could love my own children any more than I love these children.”
Uncle Harold was a wonderful person in our lives and us in his. He spent a lot of time with our family, especially our two children, Tafta and baby Robert. The door between our two apartments was often left open and the children went back and forth between the two homes.
The baby crawled into Uncle Harold’s house. It was not unusual to find Harold sitting in his big arm chair with the baby on his lap and little Tafta cuddled into the front corner of the seat. They would be reading a book. Uncle Harold provided the voice and the children the ears to listen and ask questions. All enjoyed the process very much.
A while before Christmas Harold remarked, “My, I hope we get some new literature to read for Christmas.” And, I can report that the children did receive quite a bit new reading material, in fact several new books.
Robert decided to learn to walk when he was ten months old. It was summer time and warm and lovely outdoors. He practiced walking holding onto Uncle Harold’s cane in one hand and onto
Uncles’ other free hand with his chubby little fist. It must be noted that children had to learn to walk in high top shoes at that season of time. And, so of course we followed the edict of the medical people right down to high top red leather shoes. Learning to walk in bare feet would have been a developmental disaster for the baby.
Robert matured and grew into a fine young man. He attended Brigham Young High School in Provo, Utah where he played on the football team. He moved to Provo High School when the B. Y. High School closed during his Sophomore year in school. He was captain on the Provo High Football Team. He also participated in the wrestling program at Provo High School. He was on the Varsity Wrestling Team with Joe Martinez as the coach. The wrestling team took State his
senior year. In addition, he joined the R. O. T. C. program and he graduated with very good grades.
Robert filled a full time two year L. D. S. Mission to Germany for our church. He was a fine missionary and was District Leader while in Germany. He attended Brigham Young University after graduating from Provo High School and was a member of the R. O. T. C in college. After four years of college, he completed the field of Civil Engineering courses and graduated from college. He was also commissioned an officer in the U. S. Army the same day that he graduated.
Words are not adequate to express the pride and appreciation his father and I feel for this choice fine son. I hope we can live exemplary lives and be worthy parents to such a fine out standing son. We are thankful the Lord sent Robert to our house to live.
P. S. Aunt Cula is eighty two years as of this date (March 2007) and she still calls Robert, Pudge.