Once there was a young lady named LaRae Dallin. She was the third (of four) child of a school teacher and a...uh... a jack of all trades (I know my grandpa did all kinds of stuff. He was a surveyor and I think there was mining involved at some point...? wow. I really should know this.) They moved around a lot, but mostly stayed in the Salt Lake area.
There were years of childhood mayhem- a cut finger that led to blood being strewn about the house and when mom came home she thought someone had been murdered... a broken thumb because someone couldn't kick a football correctly, and a little brother being hit in the head with a bat (which was a retaliation for the football thing- maybe vice versa) but somehow they all survived to adulthood.
When she went to high school, West High to be precise, she met this guy.
L Craige Baker was the oldest (of four) child of uh... yeah, I don't know what those grandparents did either (although I remember riding the bus downtown with my grandma one time to her work and it was something to do with the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers).
He was a rambunctious kid who was a marble throwing champion and an avid tennis player and all-round sports enthusiast. He was involved in choir and always running around with the "cool kids" in school. He also attended West High.
The two met in seminary but they ran in very different crowds. LaRae was in the nerdy Home Ec crowd and Craige ran with the jocks. Also, she didn't do many school activities because she worked.
Some years after after high school they happened to be at a dance. They got chatting and he asked her out. He already had his mission call so they only went on a few dates. He asked her if she would write to him on his mission. She replied, "I will respond to any letter you send me."
Unbeknownst to LaRae, Craige had asked several other girls to write to him as well but she was the only one who kept up her promise. By the end of his mission in Canada, she was the only one still writing to him. He knew long before he came home that he wanted to marry her and wrote he and told her so. He also had flowers sent to her.
Shortly after he returned home, he proposed to her again in person and a few months later, March 26, 1965, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. LaRae's matron of honor was her sister Ileen Lister, Bridesmaid was her friend Edith... uh... it's Small now but I don't know what it was then. Junior Bridesmaid was Arlene Baker. Craige's attendants were his brothers Bill and Richard Baker and Brothers-in-law Edwin and Stephen Dallin.
This would be the perfect place for some wedding photos- but there aren't many surviving pictures because Craige's younger brother, Richard cut the faces out of the photos to make a family tree.
They lived in an apartment in the Avenues of Salt Lake for the first year or so of marriage (when they welcomed their first child, Melanie) and then bought a house in Midvale. Craige attended school at the U, but became a salesman for Restaurant and Store Equipment Co. For a while LaRae continued to work at LDS hospital as a receptionist but eventually became a stay at home mom.
They welcomed three more children, Randy, Kimberlee and Valeri to their family while living in Midvale. It was a fun neighborhood. They had a dog and there was lots of rollerskating and gardening and tree planting. Craige continued to work for ResCo and LaRae watched over the kids and learned how to decorate cakes.
About 11 years into marriage they uprooted the family and moved to Idaho so Craige could be closer to his sales area. They welcomed their favorite child (me) and on the way to Melanie's high school graduation they announced a caboose. (I always told people that I was an afterthought and Travis was a mistake- but since time has proved that he is a MUCH better person than me, I now tell people that I was the mistake and Travis is God's apology.)
They were both very involved in their church callings. Craige was a counselor in the Bishopric, High Council and High Priest Group Leader. He also became very involved with the Boy Scouts and was given the Silver Beaver award. LaRae worked with the Stake Relief Society and was the glue that held the stake presidency together for several years. If anything was going on in the stake, she scheduled it. She knew all. She also spent a lot of her time making wedding cakes for the one and only reception center in town.
I spent a lot of Saturdays putting rosebuds on sheet cakes and just sitting at watching her whip out roses like it was no big deal. Craige was on the road a lot, but always found time to help coach baseball, softball and whatever ball teams his kids were on. He was even there during the horrific "Beautiful Butterflies" experience. (never be on a team with the prissy popular girls- you end up on a team called the Beautiful Butterflies and you have a winning streak of zero. The only game we won that year was because of forfeit).
Anyway, the years have come and gone. They've stayed active in their callings- being a great example of Home and Visiting teachers to their children and to others. The time came when they started sending children on missions. Randy served in New Hampshire, Kim in Ohio, I served in New Jersey and Travis in California. They were always good with care packages and letters.
Not long after that, Craige had his heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. Merry Christmas to you. It was a really hard time, but he pulled through and made it home. It wasn't long after that that he retired and got involved in barbershop choir and the senior center choir (even though he was too young for them- he made them look good). LaRae got involved in daycare. Grandma Day Care that is. Once they finally got some grandbabies, she took care of them while their parents worked. (And shh... [looking around...] don't tell anyone... but she seriously loves it so much!)
And now, here we are, fifty years later- to the day- when this family began. There have been ups- and some major downs. They lost one of their beloved children (who, let's face it, Melanie was the favorite, not me) and no parent should ever have to go through that, but gained two more daughters in Lisa and JaNeil and they have eight incredible grand kids (the cutest kids in. the. world.).
I'm pretty sure they drive each other bananas- but still, fifty years is a pretty darn big deal. It was really special because earlier this month, the entire family got together and went to the temple. It was only the second time ever that they had all their children in the temple at the same time (I truly believe Melanie was there so yes, I'm counting her). They were surrounded by all their children and grandchildren at a dinner afterward and chaos that it may have been- it was their chaos.
They built this wack-a-doodle eternal family and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Happy FIFTIETH anniversary Mom and Dad. I love you!