05 October 2009

Uncle Al Interview (Missionaries and Hitler)

Keepapitchinin, a fabulous Mormon history blog, has kindly agreed to post these videos of an interview I did of my Uncle Al at her site so they would get some more viewers. As an introduction:

My great uncle, John Alvon Glauser, was born in 1913. He is the oldest of the seven children of John and Lena Glauser, both Swiss immigrants who met and married in Logan, Utah. Lena's maiden name was von Niederhausern, resulting in the "von" in "Alvon" (as a fun side story, Lena gave my Grandpa the letter N without a period or anything for his middle name since "Niederhausern" was so long--when people asked what it stood for, he always said "nothing" with a serious face). Uncle Al served a mission in Switzerland and Germany from 1934 to 1937. Because his stories of his mission have fascinated me for years, I felt like someone needed to record the story. As a result, last time I was in Salt Lake, I drove up to his house and recorded this video (the person asking questions and responding now and then is yours truly).

Al's love for his mission led him to meet up with many old mission companions for years in a group they called "The Forty-Niners" (after the address of their mission home). After his mission, Uncle Al found and married the lovely pianist and organist Beverly Brown, who had thought he would never call her again after their first date. They had two daughters, Shirley and Mitzi. With his brother, Reed, my grandpa, he continued the business his dad had started, Egg Products. After retirement, he was invited into the Dirty Shirts Club (see the July 12, 2006 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune--at that time, the average age was 84.8 in this club that golfs and bowls together on Wednesdays). In the last several years, Al has volunteered at LDS Hospital, where he drives cancer patients to their appointments in a golf cart. Having turned 96 on September 19th, he has now outlived all six of his younger siblings and keeps people around him laughing with the jokes he memorizes.

And now the videos:

Part 1 (Passion Play)

Part 2 (Hitler and Mussolini)

As I talked to Al when I last visited him, I asked him about his life in general and heard a lot of good stories. For example, he told me how he'd met Beverly at Pine Crest Inn at a Friday night dance. She'd been on a date with Reed Shepherd. He called her the next day, and after their date, she told her mother he'd never call again. At the time, she was 22 years old and teaching elementary school. She had graduated from the University of Utah and the Alumni president. She had already played the organ for years and continued the calling, even helping to pick out the pipe organ in his current ward. (As a side story, I remember at her funeral, it was said that she never owned a pair of jeans and that she would slip bits of Beatles and other music into prelude music to see if the bishopric noticed. If they did, she'd wink at them.)

“I feel guilty. I could have been nicer. I learned to be more compassionate and caring when she was sick and when she passed away. My daughters used to tell me that. They said, ‘Oh Daddy, don’t say that, then you say you feel guilty.’ Everybody isn’t the same. All couples have differences. You’ve got to let the wife do what she wants to do and the husband has to have his way too.” “I like people. I’ve learned to like people you know. Just recently, after Gloria passed away, and Reed passed away. I was pretty lonely for quite a few days, but time heals all. And I just sort of thought of every one of my siblings. And I learned from all of them. I learned from Ruby, Floyd, Lucille, and Ruby . . . I learned from all of them. We had fun. We had good times . . . When Ruby passed away, they recruited me [to play cards]. Then Reed filled in, then Mike Kendall.”

He also included that all of his sisters made it into their 80s and he had been at his sibling Floyd's and Lucille's homes when they passed away. Apparently his sister Ruby knew she was going to go soon, because after years of doing certain things for her husband Collins (the one Al had baptized), she showed him how to do some household duties—she had a premonition she was gonna go and just didn’t wake up the next morning. Al continued a good friendship with Collins and quoted him as saying, “The best thing that ever happened to me was when I married Ruby, married into the Glauser family.”

Al also told me that Hitler had the people stop smoking and fast for a day to contribute to the country’s cause, something I had never heard before. Al's descendants are spread out in California, Florida, and the Midwest U.S.


  1. props to you for capturing all this. generations down the road will love it. good work.

  2. I love this! I love listening to the memories of people. Thanks for sharing.