Saturday, July 24, 2004

Oh Pioneers!

Today is the day, in 1847, Brigham Young and his troop of Mormons came into the Salt Lake Valley via Emigration Canyon (the same route that the Donner party lost so much time on) and famously said, "This is the Place."

Every year since, Mormons have made this day (Pioneer Day) a state holiday, complete with a pathetic parade through downtown with everyone and their mother's float made out of foam and crepe paper.

In that spirit, my fiancee, her old high school friend, and my cousin from NYC (who strangely also is friends with her) set off fireworks in our high school faculty parking lot Thursday night. The grand finale was a row of whistlers as we sophomorically peeled away. My fiancee, who grew up in suburban Chicago, and the New Yorker had never set off fireworks for some reason, so us Utahns had to show them how it was done.

Speaking of being Utahn, I am a sixth-generation Utahn and I finally found out more about our family legend about how we left the LDS church. My grandfather's grandmother's father was Mr. Long (can't remember his first name but it was long and biblical sounding like Jebediah) was Brigham Young's personal secretary. As such, he got to see how Young ruled his colony of Mormons with a ruthless, iron fist. He saw how Young had dissidents asssasinated by his goon squad, led by Porter Rockwell, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and other stuff we don't even know about.

Family legand has it that he was going to spill the beans on all this stuff, finding it to be out of keeping with the principles of the religion. So Rockwell's squad murdered him. His picture still hangs in our house. Of course, there are also family stories that we had the rights to Bingham Canyon (which is now the world's biggest man-made hole in the ground and copper mine) but my grandfather's grandmother had to pay for college for the children. So maybe both tales are a bit exaggerated for two key effects: distrust of the Mormon heirarchy and feeling guilty over your great education.

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