Aaron Osmer (Jerry) Porter

By Thora Rawson Porter, sister


The first son of Allanna Nichols and Aaron Benjamin Porter Jr. was Aaron Osmer, named after his grandfather, father, and an admired missionary companion of his father, Elder Osmer Flake from Arizona.   He was a healthy child, with blonde hair and blue eyes.  As he grew older, he set a good example for his younger siblings as he accepted and carried through with all responsibilities that were placed upon him through the long years of "The Great Depression" as the eldest of six remaining children in the family.


Sometimes Osmer and his Uncle Leland Nichols, who was his same age, would  tease younger brother, Sarel, to a point of deep frustration and anger, especially if they called him "curly-headed bishop". Then, with two doubled-up fists, dark eyes flashing, and like a whirlwind of rage and determination, Sarel would tear into the two of them,sending them scrambling in every direction for safety.  However, at school or other places, Osmer was a staunch defender of his little brother, encouraging him  to stand up for his rights and was very proud of him when he was able to defend himself against any offenders. With regard to his sisters, Osmer followed his father's counsel to respect and champion girls and women and as a result, they loved and  respected him.


At school, Osmer was a good student, among the top achievers, excelling especially in mathematics, spelling and english.  He graduated from high school and had one year of college at Ricks Normal College. He then signed up for a business course and received the highest marks in all subjects as he graduated at the end of  the summer, having completed a two-year course in one.


Osmer had a good ear for music and loved to sing, having a clear, baritone voice.  He would immediately wince at the sound of a sour note rendered by anyone either in the family orchestra or the one at school, where he played first violin and his sister, Thora, played in the second section. On April 29, 1918, when Osmer would  have been fourteen and one-half years old, his mother took him and Thora to the home of Patriarch A. J. Hansen in Rexburg  to have him give them blessings.  Thora has her original copy with the notation that it is No. 1020 and recorded in Book "E".  Osmer's is no doubt No. 1019.  Copies of his blessing may be obtained by any of his descendants upon request.  (Note: The family were members of the Rexburg First Ward. The name of  the Stake is not given on the blessing and cannot be recalled. The name of the county  was Fremont until about 1915 when it was changed to Madison.)


As the family began homesteading a farm at Green Timber, twelve miles east of Ashton, Idaho, Osmer was his father's big helper-1914-1919. They cleared brush and trees, carrying them to stacks to be burned. Then the virgin soil would be plowed, harrowed and planted. The dry farm crops matured early, but the clearing of other fields would go on all summer, along with the hauling of water for all the family needs, which was obtained from a canal or the river about a half a mile away. About the third summer, Osmer helped his father dig a well and install a pump

in a hollow near the two-room log cabin which his father had built.  The cabin loft served as the boys' bedroom, which they entered through a window after climbing up an outside ladder. Trying to sleep, they could hear rats chasing each other under the bed and sometimes had to hunt next morning for a shoe or sock that had been carried away.  They were also bothered with bees or bats flying in and out of the window.


All phases of living there were such as the early pioneers experienced: no running water, one little stove for cooking and heating, coal-oil lamps, scant furnishings, clothing, etc. The nearest store was about ten miles away. Wild berries picked from nearby bushes were the usual dessert.  Nights were scarey, as noises sometimes heard nearby were known to be made by wild animals. When it came time for the children to be back in school, everything would be packed up, the door locked, and the family would make the return trip to Rexburg for the winter months.  Upon entering the home there, everything would always be found as it had been left, apparently no one having entered, even though the doors had been left unlocked!


September 1, 1919 Farr was born and the Green Timber years ended. Unknown  to Farr until many years later, he was the reason for obtaining the farm at Salem. No feeding was found that would agree with him. He grew thinner and weaker through the winter and the doctor concluded that the only thing that would save his life was bottle after bottle of rich milk from Jersey cows feeding on green pastures.  So his father looked for such fields and found them on irrigated farms at Salem, four miles north of Rexburg.  It is not known how the Green Timber farm was disposed of.  If sold, it was apparently for very little cash.  The Salem farm of about 60 acres was purchased by placing a mortgage on the Rexburg home with stated amounts to be paid

thereon at regular Intervals.


In the spring of 1920 the family moved again into a little two-room house in Salem- again with a bedroom loft and open window for bees, bats and mosquitos-and with living conditions not much better than at Green Timber.  There was no electricity, but the water pump was closer to the house, which saved a little energy!  Osmer again worked the fields with his father, plowing, harrowing, planting, irrigating, weeding such crops as beets, and eventually harvesting, if the torrential hailstorms which seemed to come every fall, had left any crops still standing.


Each September the children had to again get to Rexburg for school, sometimes making it there and back by buggy until the roads were clogged with snow. If the town home was full of renters, it would be necessary to find winter quarters elsewhere around town, in which case animals would have to be left at the farm, requiring trips twice dally to feed and water them and milk the cows.  This was generally Osmer's responsibility, with Sarel's help.  They would have to get up very early and make the trip by wagon or sleigh and get back in time to change clothes, eat and get to school. Osmer handled these challenging chores very well, sometimes having a difficult time trying to keep himself and brother from freezing to death!


Year after year, when crop failures put Osmer at risk for tuition money for schooling, he would search for and faithfully complete any paying jobs available.  Included in some of these Jobs were:  herding livestock belonging to his Uncles Ross and Milburn Porter as they were transferred to or from Squirrel Meadows to Burton (west of Rexburg).  This required being out on the road with the animals day and night for some length of time (Osmer and his father are missing on at least one Nichols Family Group picture due to their being engaged in this manner); helping his uncles at sheep-shearing time; working with road crews grading or repairing county or state roads; sorting peas in the "pea factory" at Sugar City, which required driving there early in the mornings and sitting on high, backless stools all day picking out culls as tons of peas rolled by on belts, with time out only at noon to eat a lunch brought from home.  Thora would be along as a participant in this back-breaking job (a hired hand  on crop-threshing crews in hot weather, perhaps for weeks at a time). 


If, after all this work during the summer still more cash was needed to get him through  the school year, one job that he detested had to be undertaken perhaps several times during the winter.  It was the hauling of items that were needed at the school cafeteria such as butter, milk, cream, eggs or cheese which his mother had agreed to furnish. He would trudge up College Hill in Rexburg very early in the morning, his arms loaded with books and dairy products, breaking a trail through deep snow and facing a bitter, cold wind. In this Job, too, would be Thora, following closely in his footsteps with arms full of the same.  Being in their teens, such a job was felt to be "too demeaning" to be discovered by other students or members of the faculty. Best to get it over with as quickly as possible!


One day at the farm, immediately following another crop having been ruined by a hailstorm, his father called a family meeting for the purpose of again discussing what could be done by each member to help earn sufficient money to carry through to another spring planting.  Osmer vented his frustration with farm work by saying, "I hate it, and I don't want to stay to put in another crop on this farm. Just to see it ruined before it can be harvested! I think I'll leave and take my chances on finding some other kind of work." Sarel at once backed up his brother by stating that he, too, felt like leaving farm work behind.  It was a wise father who then said, quietly, "All right, then we will all walk off this farm together as a family, not as one member at a time, to scatter in every direction." 


The question now became, "How shall we equip ourselves for other employment?" It was  decided that Osmer and Thora should change their schooling to business courses that  fall. The discussion on finding jobs now proceeded with much more enthusiasm and purpose.  Thus, the die was cast and in late August of 1923, the family left Rexburg and reached Pocatello with very little money but with a determination to work unitedly together in making a new beginning.


In a strange environment, Osmer was the first to lead the way as he soon found employment at the Mutual Creamery Company. His father was employed intermitently at the Pacific Fruit Express rebuilding fruit cars for the railroad, and Thora was put on the payroll at Armour Creameries, perhaps due to her brother passing along a good word for her at the competitors. Both businesses were on the same street and Osmer would drop by occasionally to say, "Hi, Sis, how're you doing?" For the twelve years she worked there, she was known only by the name of "Sis".


Each member contributed the bigger share of his earnings to the family coffers and in a short time a down payment was made on a small house just off Main on Carson Street into which the family settled. It was found that they were members of the Third Ward, Pocatello Stake and the ward building was less than a block away. All the family members became happily involved with church activities, Osmer enjoying association with the large crowd of young people who attended M.I.A.  He surprised everyone when he agreed to play the leading character in a play whose name was "Jerry". He did so well in this endeavor that the name stuck to him and thereafter he was known by no other, except for immediate family members.


Among the young girls who came to Mutual along with her sister Emily, was a vivacious and pretty redhead, Helen Margaret Vaughn. Osmer and Helen were soon attracted to each other and before very long became engaged. They were married on April 20, 1925.


When the family found that the Carson home was too small and cramped, they sought a larger place and found it at 439 Riverside Drive, across the Portneuf River. The Carson property was rented, mostly by relatives, Osmer and Helen living there for several years, during which time they had a bedroom built in the basement. In his work at the Mutual Creamery, Osmer was a hard-working, dependable, valued employee.  His business education stood him in good stead as he was in the office most of the time in charge of the bookkeeping and most of the work there. He advanced in knowledge and responsibility and was moved into Montpelier, Idaho to manage their operations there.


Some of the Things that Osmer Enjoyed:

One vehicle the family acquired early in the Green Timber years was a 1914 Ford car. As a result, the family made the trips back and forth from Rexburg much faster and more comfortably.  This also made it possible to get to Marysville or Ashton to church services on a Sunday. It was one of the first cars seen in that farming community around Green Timber and Osmer took pride in showing it off. He was a happy boy when he was permitted to be the driver. In fact, that Ford was the means of all three of the older childrens' learning how to drive a car-but there was never enough money for very much pleasure driving. The old car carried the  family and needed supplies through Yellowstone Park at least twice.


Osmer rode horseback to Squirrel Meadows Wyoming several times (about 10 miles  from Green Timber...just a guess) mostly because extra help was needed there,  and enjoyed his visits. Uncles Ross and Milt were great entertainers, with all  sorts of stories sprinkled with a lot of humor, and Aunt Blanche was a wonderful  cook, so the times he spent with them were always a lot of fun, good food and  recreation-going fishing or hunting. At Green Timber, Osmer and Sarel always wanted to introduce male cousins or other overnight visitors to their loft  bedroom for a night's adventure with the various creatures there.  (But the  noise they created resulted in very little sleep for those in the room beneath them!)


Fishing trips and hikes through the nearby scenic mountains were always a great pleasure for Osmer, and especially fun to go with a large crowd of relatives to pick huckleberries growing on the northern slopes of the mountains.  Several days would be spent in this undertaking, requiring sleeping out under the stars at night, fearful that bears or other wild animals might be close by and would come snooping around them!


At Salem, Osmer no longer found it fun to show off his sleeping quarters. The waters of the big canal which ran along the front of the property were now a big drawing card for him and Sarel. Practically naked and diving into the deepest spots was what pleased them, and any other boys who happened by. There was no sign, but girls knew they were not allowed nearby. This was mostly in the evenings, though, as the days were very busy for Osmer and Sarel-and it was understood that Sundays were not for "skinny-dipping".


Osmer loved ice-skating. He was an exceptionally good dancer. He attended baseball and basketball games but never had the time to become a member of any teams that played regularly. When the tennis court was completed at the home on Riverside Drive, he would occasionally come after work, bringing Helen and Jack with him, and join the boys for a round of games. He was a very good competitor. He enjoyed singing. After the tennis playing, he would join the group that had  gathered around the piano and provide some good harmony as they sang. That was  fun for all-male and female, young and old!


He enjoyed being a husband and father, proud and happy for his healthy,  handsome little boy.