BIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES RAY FELT
The Biography of Charles Ray Felt has three sources; one is an interview with his son, Russ, on Christmas Eve 1969, in his home located at 513 West Main, Lehi, Utah. The second source is a sketch written by his daughter, Norene Felt Kopinsky for the funeral of Charles and re-visited, September 19, 1990 (recollections of Charles himself and earlier information from Chloe Felt Parrish, his Aunt). The third are the recollections of his children, Norene (Renie), Richard George (Dick) and Russell Ray (Russ).
Charles Ray Felt was born November 23, 1893, in Ibapah (Deep Creek), Utah, to George Daniel and Mary Ann (Molly) Hendricks Felt. Charles was delivered by a mid-wife, Mrs. Hilda Erickson (Mrs. Erickson delivered babies throughout Juab and Tooele Counties for many, many years). Charles (Charlie) (Chick) was born in the one-room bunkhouse, which still stands on the Bateman Ranch in Ibapah. Charles’ parents met in Logan while George Daniel Felt was attending Brigham Young Academy; they were married there and eventually returned to Ibapah and ranching. Charles had one younger brother, Clarence Revere, who was born August 31, 1895 in Ibapah.
The one-room bunkhouse where Charles Ray Felt was born in Ibapah, Utah
Charles Ray Felt’s parents returned to Logan, Utah, to operate a furniture store in 1896 and lived there about two years. George sold the store to a Mr. Lundstrom, and the family moved to Salt Lake City living on S Street. In 1898 the family moved again to Ibapah. The trip to Ibapah was by buckboard via Grantsville, Lookout Mountain, Simpson Springs, Fish Springs, Callao and Ibapah. Molly was fearful of an Indian attack but there were no incidents but there was the potential of danger because of hostilities between Native Americans and others.
Charles Felt (Charles Ray Felt’s grandfather) had established a large ranch in Ibapah where the Felts raised cattle and sheep. The family also operated a store and a freight line to Wendover. Charles Ray Felt, as a boy, helped with the freight trips to Wendover.
Charles and Clarence Revere received some education in Ibapah in a log schoolhouse and were taught by Nellie Wilson. In approximately 1907 the boys were sent to a boarding school (All Hallows College) on 2nd South and 4th East in Salt Lake City. They were in that school five years with their summers spent on the ranch in Ibapah. The boys stayed in an upstairs bay dormitory. A Prefect who supervised the students also lived in the dormitory. The boys were expelled when someone, during the day, spread molasses syrup in the Prefect’s bed and he was covered with the sticky substance when he got into bed late that night. He first got a rope to strike the offenders but could not determine who was responsible. The boys were made to kneel all night at bedside to get to the truth but no one told who was responsible. The answer came in the morning. Charlie never divulged whether Clarence and he did the deed, but the story was told with a familiar twinkle in his eye and they were expelled for it. That twinkle always indicated pleasure and involvement. The Prefect was also locked in his closet on one occasion, and that story generated the same twinkle. The usual discipline at the school was using a ruler to slap hands. Fathers Cannon, Shaw, and Denlo were respected instructors at All Hallows. Charlie and Clarence attended All Hallows until 1912.
Clarence Revere and Charles Ray Felt
Charlie then went to West High School in Salt Lake City. He stayed with his Grandparents at their home on 11th East and 13th South, McClelland Avenue. That home still stands, and its Tudor style is attractive even by today’s standards. Charlie went to West High School one year and then transferred to L.D.S. High School, near the Hotel Utah (Joseph Smith Building today). He attended that school two years until 1916. Summers continued to be spent on the ranch.
Charlie attended the University of Utah. A highlight for him was being awarded a gold medal by Freeman Bassett of Fort Douglas (a military installation and where the 2002 Winter Olympic Village was located). The medal was for being best at the drilling of a company of cadets (Norene Kopinsky has the gold medal). Charlie was always very proud of that accomplishment.
During the years in Salt Lake City, Charlie enjoyed going to the Deseret Gymnasium. It was located next door to the Hotel Utah. He always said he was a charter member of the facility, but there is a question whether he could have afforded that. Bobby Richardson ran the place and Charlie and his friends, Ira and Floyd Dern, Russ Johnson, and others were always welcome there. Shortly before the gymnasium was torn down, Charlie and his son Russ visited, and Charlie had a story for every room. There was a pool, basketball court, an upstairs indoor track, handball courts, and steam rooms. Firemen poles permitted participants to slide to the lower floor very quickly. It was on that occasion that Charlie and Russ visited Floyd Dern at his home in Salt Lake City. Some of those stories will follow.
Ira Dern was a champion wrestler who had been victorious over Ed “Strangler” Lewis in an exhibition match. “Strangler” was a world champion. Charlie idolized “Ir-ree”, as Charlie called him, and at the gym one day, pinned Ira. Charlie said Ira waited a few weeks and returned the favor using his favorite move, “the airplane spin.” In later life, Charlie would imitate that move with hands above his head, spinning one way and then the other. Ira would then fling his opponent to the floor and pin the dizzy villain to win the match. The get-even match was as severe as Ira could make it, good friends but competitors.
The Derns and Charlie often sneaked into football games at the University of Utah. Ira got over the fence on one occasion while an officer caught Charlie. Ira returned and took the officer by an arm. Charlie saved the day by saying he thought the officer was a good man, and the officer let them go into the game. Floyd, in the meantime, watched the game from his perch on a pole until he was caught and taken out.
Another of Charlie’s stories reminisced with Floyd Dern involved Dick Stores. Dick and the group went into a Chinese restaurant following a workout at the gymnasium. Dick Stores was escorted outside the restaurant by the proprietor for throwing food. The man returned to usher Charlie out, and Charlie promptly hit him. The kitchen emptied and a fight began. Charlie left by a side door just before the police arrived and made arrests. Charlie was amused that the two of them who started the problem didn’t get into trouble.
Charlie loved football. In Salt Lake City he played club football with the Rio Grande team against such opponents as the Oregon Short Line, Westsiders, and the Occidentals, and other club teams in the area. They played mostly on gravel fields with no equipment. He told of hitting a “black player” head on in a game in Park City, Utah, and both being knocked out. They had no helmets to wear.
While attending the teachers college at the University of Utah in 1916, he became fond of a young lady (he never divulged the name) while riding the trolley each day to school. He studied there one year.
On August 10, 1917, with three friends, (Earl Christensen, Gerald Higgs and Ernest Beal) Charlie enlisted in the Army. Their intention was to join the Marines but Charlie ended up in the Army Air Corps (Russ Felt has a photo of the four on a last fling to Saltair Resort). Charlie was sent to Kelly Air Field in San Antonio, Texas. The Kelly Air Force Base of today became a medical facility and was finally closed in 2002. Pilots were trained at Kelly Field in Curtiss Jenny (JN-4) biplanes. The airfield was just a big pasture with hangars around it. Planes took off in every direction. Undoubtedly, Charlie was there to learn to fly. He talked about a centrifuge that would spin a pilot candidate in circles at high speed to see if he could handle the forces of gravity and getting dizzy. He laughed at those who vomited as they spun in circles, spraying everything and everyone. Charlie told that he saw a JN-4 crash land upside down and the pilot survived. On another occasion, a JN-4 landed safely on a ranch away from the airfield. By the time a truck got there to tow the plane to the airfield, cattle had eaten the Irish Linen (40-40 thread) from the wings. The glue on the linen must have tasted good to cattle. Another JN-4 crashed straight down into the ground; the pilot crawled out alive but with broken legs.
Crashed Curtiss Jenny (JN-4) Biplane, WWI
The war was winding down and we suspect, although Charlie never said, that the culminating events of the war prevented him from flying. Russ Felt has this picture of a crashed Jenny, and he has a hub and part of a fan blade from another crashed Jenny that his father brought home. Charlie asked a friend, at Kelly Field, to paint a picture of the plane on the blade and intended to use the piece of propeller to house a clock.
The troops lived in tent cities, and Charlie reported much gambling and music. He observed that the latrines were six feet long, six feet wide, open holes in the ground. Several troops returned home drunk late one night. They had just gone into the tents when a fire broke out. At the first yell of “fire”, everyone ran, and one trooper fell into the latrine up to his neck. He was pulled out, put into a shower, and forever after was referred to as the “shitty” MP.
Charlie saw Eddie Stinson, famed WWI ace and aviator, fly at ground level, then up and over a hangar, and so on over hangars, providing a great show for the troops. One of those hangars is still on the property at Kelly Field and is now a museum with a restored Curtiss Jenny and a WWI ambulance on display. Forty-five days after arriving at Kelly Field, Charlie was sent briefly to Austin, Texas, for flight training, but as indicated, never completed it. He enjoyed drilling men and did that very well while in Austin, Texas. A photo of Charlie in uniform, taken in Austin, Texas, is included in this biography with the original in possession of Russ Felt.
Charles Ray Felt, WWI Melba Fox Felt
Charlie was transferred to Americus, Georgia, where he was a warehouseman and also worked on the Lewis machine gun. He was about to receive orders to go to France when the war ended and he was released as a sergeant to travel home. Russ Felt has a picture of Charlie and his friends by railroad cars on the way home to Utah.
Charlie took leave in Georgia, and with friends, traveled to St Augustine, Florida. He was impressed with the architecture of the city and spoke often about how he enjoyed that experience. Americus, Georgia, is also very near the location of the infamous Civil War prison, Andersonville. Charlie visited that historic site. He was “mustered” out of the service on March 27, 1919.
Charles returned to the ranch in Ibapah following the war. By then, Clarence Felt had married Rae Taylor. They lived in the ranch house with George Daniel and Molly Felt. Charlie lived in the bunkhouse in which he was born. He then lived above the store across the street from the ranch house. On a July 4th Charlie was summoned to leave the ranch and go to Gold Hill, Utah. A wrestler had stopped there, and Charlie was invited to wrestle him in front of a large crowd. Charlie always reported that he pinned the man and won the match. Rex Hudson, now deceased, years ago lived in Gold Hill in the summers and California in the winters. Rex saw the match and told Russ Felt quite a different story about it. He said Charlie was being beaten badly until one of Charlie’s friends came out of the stands, kicked the opponent in the head, and that ended the match. Charlie always defended “pro-wrestling” as being legitimate but once confessed that a piece of paper was given to the wrestlers with the winner’s name on it and each wrestler would get one fall and the winner, the third fall.
He must have become restless because Charlie returned to Salt Lake City and then went on to San Francisco with a friend, Cleveland Pickrell. While there, he met his father and mother (who were there for business). She became ill and required surgery. Charlie returned with her to Wendover by train, and to Ibapah by wagon, while George Daniel Felt remained to complete the business.
Charlie loved ranch life. He told many stories of trailing sheep to the railhead in Wendover, and then traveling by train with the stock to market in Kansas City, Missouri and St Joseph’s Missouri. He tended the sheep, making them get on their feet in the cars so as not to be smothered. He watered them at stops for train engine water. He rode in the caboose. He enjoyed those trips.
In the summers he herded sheep and cattle in the Basin, high up in the Ibapah Mountains. He said it took four or five days by wagon to come to Lehi from Ibapah. He remembered riding the stage, as a boy, to Lehi to visit and stay with Uncle Charlie Herron and Aunt Nina Felt Herron.
He described what a “character” his mother, Molly, was. Once, the hands had allowed their quarters to become filthy dirty. Her efforts to get them to clean were not successful. One day, with a bucket of water and her bullwhip, she cleared the bunkhouse scattering the hands; they quickly cleaned up the place. He spoke of harvest time and how his mother cooked for many workers. Millie Lyman and Mae Probert (sisters) were hired to help in the house. Goshute Indians from the reservation and men from the valley were hired to work. Tommy Mullins and his wife (Goshutes) worked at the ranch. Tommy got drunk one night and cut off his wife’s toe with his knife. Molly, infuriated, chased him off the ranch with her bullwhip.
Charlie herded sheep for other ranchers including Grey Stewart. Grey once told of seeing two mountain lions above him in the rocks and of running like the devil to get away from them. Charlie, himself, was camped in the Basin one night and heard a mountain lion in the distance and watched horses and sheep running into camp. They all hovered around his campfire for protection. Tracks were found the next day very close to them.
Ibapah is ideal ranch country with summer range in the Ibapah Mountains and winter range in the valley. Ranchers in the Basin in those mountains were always concerned about a yellow flower that bloomed in late summer and if eaten, would bloat stock. Charlie once stuck a bloated steer in the stomach to open up a hole for the gas to be released. The ungrateful critter got up and chased him. Russ Felt has backpacked into the Basin. At 10,000 plus feet, it is a beautiful mountain scene with lush foliage and spring-fed streams in that volcanic basin.
Charles Felt, Charlie’s grandfather, had emigrated with his family from Sweden as a boy in the 1800’s. They lived in Grantsville. When his father, John Felt, relocated to Huntsville, Utah, he was old enough to strike out by himself and he went to Ibapah to ranch. Years later, the ranch--known then as Felt and Sons Ranch--was sold to Wade Parrish and his wife, Chloe Felt Parrish, for $8,000. The ranch acreage and leased properties amounted to approximately 10,000 acres. The sale proved unwise. George and Molly moved near Gooding, Idaho, to raise blooded sheep, but they lost everything. Both Charles Ray and Clarence Revere Felt had financial interests in the ranch and they lost money along with their parents. The sale was accomplished without consulting the boys, but since they both loved their parents and respected them, not a cross word was said about the transaction. Charlie did not like what happened, but loved his parents. The year was 1922.
George Daniel, Molly, Clarence, and Rae sold out in Idaho in 1924 and returned to Salt Lake City where George Daniel sold farm equipment. Charles Ray Felt moved to Boise, Idaho, where he lived in a cabin that winter with his friends, Fred VanAmburg, Bill Lee, and one other unidentified man. They augmented their meager earnings by shooting sage hens and other game to survive. Probably in the spring of 1925, these men drove a Chalmers automobile, which one of them owned, to Portland, Oregon, looking for work. They went on to Los Angeles, California, finding work with Ford Motor Company as carpenters. George Daniel, Molly, Clarence, and Rae had also found their way to Los Angeles and were living in Inglewood, California. George Daniel found work at the Adohr Creamery where he spent a career.
Four generations of Felts: Charles, seated,
George Daniel, Charles Ray, Richard George
Early in 1925 Charlie left California for Ibapah where he homesteaded. It is unclear whether he used a soldier’s homestead right or whether he was hired by Wade Parrish to homestead. It seems most likely that he homesteaded for Wade Parrish, since other men were doing similar homesteading for him in the South Mountains, approximately 30 miles south of Ibapah, near Partoun or Trout Creek. Gravel, as the area is named, is about five miles east of Blue Mass, at the head of Pleasant Valley. Charles, Wade Calloway, and several others lived on and worked 640 acre sections. So much improvement had to be made each year to “prove up” the land, which gave it to the homesteader from the government. Today frames of cabins dot the landscape in those mountains. Charles either built a log cabin in Gravel or improved a cabin that was there. The cabin is located on a small hill just west of the Ibapah range. There was a spring near the cabin that provided culinary water for the cabin. It had a cement box in it for storage and cooling of perishables. It was fenced to keep stock from fouling the water but had an ingenious way of letting excess water out and down the hill to a watering hole for stock. One story is that a pipe system moved water from the source into the cabin, there is no evidence of that today. There were out buildings for equipment and wood storage and an outhouse on the edge of a wash. They no longer exist. The shell of the cabin still stands. Wade Calloway carved his initials “WC” in a support post by the front door but the initials have weathered away in recent years. There was a small trap door for the house cats to enter and exit the cabin for rodent control. The roof was of made of limbs and sod and worked well to keep moisture outside. A wagon trail through the Goshute reservation and west to Blue Mass was used for the camp wagon that visited once a week to bring supplies. Jerald Cook introduced Norene Kopinsky and Russ Felt to Gravel many years ago, and Russ returns as often as possible. There is an oil painting of the cabin and a watercolor of it in the home of Russ Felt.
Homestead in Gravel, South Mountains, west of Ibapah Mtn. Range, 30 mi. south of Ibapah
Charlie said Wade Parrish would have fired Wade Calloway and himself (another evidence that they homesteaded for Wade Parrish) if Wade had known that the two of them often rode together to the Henroid ranch at Blue Mass. They would stay long periods of time. The Henroid family had a working ranch there. One of the old ranch houses is still standing. The purpose for the visits was to take advantage of the “still” at the ranch and to visit the Henroid girls, whose names were Alpha and Omega (Beginning and End). A young lady attending high school in Lehi confirmed that she was related to Alpha and Omega.
Payment for homesteading was in lambs that Charlie sold to Casten Olsen. Casten hired Charlie to take stock east to market. It was on these trips that Charlie rode in the caboose and often had to prod the sheep to standing positions to avoid being smothered by other animals.
Charlie enjoyed visiting in Lehi, Utah and stayed with his Aunt Nina Felt Herron. Aunt Nina, in 1925, introduced him to Melba Fox when Aunt Nina and Charlie visited the post office where Melba worked. The developing romance between Melba Fox and Charlie Felt was made very clear in letters he wrote, from Gravel near Ibapah, to Melba in Lehi. Those letters are in possession of Russ Felt.
Although his grandparents (Charles and Rachel Matilda Ferguson Felt) had been baptized into the Church, Charlie had never been baptized. Arnold Brems of Lehi taught gospel principles to Charlie and baptized him August 31st, 1925. Charles was ordained an elder in 1927. His letters to Melba from Ibapah say he was reading the Book of Mormon during their courtship, which suggests he was preparing to go to the temple. One of his letters to Melba said he was at his cabin in Gravel reading the Book of Mormon (by lantern).
Charles Ray Felt and Melba Fox were married in the Salt Lake Temple, August 16, 1927. They honeymooned, taking a two-week trip to Yellowstone Park. Charlie was especially proud of his Chrysler automobile that never overheated stalling it on the steep mountain roads, while most other vehicles did stall.
In 1928, Charlie and Melba drove to California to live and work near his parents. He worked at the Adohr Creamery with his father. Melba returned to Lehi to give birth to their first child, Norene (Renie), and returned by train to Los Angeles in 1930 when Renie was three months old. These were not happy times for Melba. She was homesick and also did not care for the all-night card games that Charlie played with his parents. There was a fussy baby, as well.
Charlie, Melba, and Renie returned back to Lehi in 1930. Charlie and Rulon Fox (his brother-in-law) started a poultry business. They built coops and ran the business until 1948. The business grew to 14 coops. Four of the coops were tied to a hot water heating system comprised of three-1½ inch- pipes run under the roosts. A furnace provided the hot water heat. Those heated coops were to warm the “biddies,” or baby chicks. The furnace burned coke in an old pot bellied furnace. Charlie did much of the construction of the coops. Chickens were provided water from a nearby flowing well. The water helped cool the egg room, which was ingenious in its construction. Water ran through a metal trough across the ceiling of the egg room. The water was allowed to run down the wall through hanging burlap sacks onto the floor and then outside. That kept the cases of eggs cooled until marketed. Another innovation related to lighting the coops. Chickens roost during dark hours. An automatic switch was devised that turned the lights on and off during the winter months. Attached to the alarm wind-up on the back of a clock was a stick about eight inches long. A mousetrap was attached under a 2x4 inch cross- piece between two wall studs a short distance from the clock. In order to have the lights turn on early in the morning, Charlie or Rulon would wind the clock, set the alarm, and set the mousetrap. When the alarm went off and turned the wind-up with the stick on it, the stick would set off the mousetrap and the trap flipped a light switch. Rube Goldberg, move over! Another innovation involved cutting and sewing burlap sacks to cover the coop windows in winter for added warmth. The coop windows, of course, were open for ventilation during the warmer parts of the year.
Puhlman Hatchery in Midvale, Utah, was where eggs were taken for hatching. Chick hatching was the way to keep the flock young, productive, and increasing in size. The biddies were sent back to Lehi on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and its station at 4th West and 1st South in Lehi. There were many visits to Midvale. WWII greatly impacted the availability of rubber for tires. On one of the trips to Midvale and near Draper, Utah, Melba and her mother, had a tire blowout and feared they would not be able to get another tire. They were fortunate to get one to be able to return home. Rulon Fox grew grain for “scratch” for the chickens and then Lehi Roller Mills (located at that time north of the rodeo grounds, it burned down years ago) rolled the grain. Eggs were marketed and supplies obtained through a COOP, Utah Poultry Association in American Fork, Utah. Charlie and Rulon took boxed eggs to the Utah Poultry Association for that marketing. Some eggs were candled (light illuminating through an egg to determine if there were blood spots making the egg unmarketable) at their egg room but candling and grading were also done at the COOP.
Charlie enjoyed going to Ibapah. On one occasion, he spent one month there with his family remodeling for both his aunts, Blanche West and Chloe Parrish.
Charlie was a master builder. He built his own home at 513 West Main Street, a home for R. Ward Webb at 1700 West 8100 North, and one for Eldon Comer. Ward Webb was pleased that Charlie found a way to seal the basement floor preventing water leaks. In later years, he helped his daughter and son-in-law build their home at 545 West Main Street He took great pride in his home, which cost him the princely sum of $4,000. He did all the work with the exception of bricklaying. Charlie disliked borrowing money and seldom obtained a loan for anything; consequently, the upper floor of his home was never finished. He did build a two-car garage with an attached shop for his woodworking tools. He was meticulous with his carpentry skills. Everything had to be done perfectly. He would not tolerate anything out of square or poorly crafted. He was devastated later in his life when he tried to alter Melba’s piano bench for his daughter-in-law and did not have the skills anymore to do it, ruining the bench. That was a sad moment for him. He felt devastated again while cutting a piece of protruding wall board in the basement of his son’s home (Dick), below some stairs, that he cut improperly and opened the wall upstairs creating a major problem.
Charlie worked at Kearns, Utah when the WWII Replacement Depot (a part of Fort Douglas) was being built. He worked a short time as a machinist at Geneva Steel Company. He “jobbed” around Utah County and Salt Lake County doing carpentry work even while he was in the poultry business. His last thirteen working years were spent at Deseret Chemical Depot in Rush Valley and at Tooele Ordinance Depot where he enjoyed furniture repair. A change of assignment requiring him to work on roof repair caused him great distress but he would have been retired anyway at 70 years of age, the mandatory retirement age. He worried he might fall at his age and at those heights, and that frightened him.
After retirement, Charlie did small carpentry projects for friends and family. One summer he worked with Stan Clark on an L.D.S. Church farm. He enjoyed working with Stan. He had suffered a heart attack while Renie was on her mission and had a second one while working with Stan Clark.
Charlie and Melba Felt had three children--Norene (Renie), Richard George (Dick) and Russell Ray (Russ). The three children served missions: Norene to the Northwestern States, Richard to the Eastern States, and Russell to Australia. The three children were taught correct principles. Charlie and Melba lived almost all of their married lives in Lehi, and most of that at 513 West Main Street.
Charlie and Melba’s children: Norene (Renie)
holding Russell, standing by Dick
Charlie’s mother died at 58 yrs. of age from diabetes. His father lived to be 93 years old and died in Santa Monica, California. George Daniel remarried and continued living in Santa Monica, California until his death. Both Mary Ann Hendricks Felt and George Daniel Felt are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Charlie was executor of the estate for his grandfather, Charles Felt, who died at age 97 in Lehi, Utah.
Melba died November 22, 1969, at their home. That evening, Charlie was already in bed and Melba was in her chair in the living room. She got up to shut the television set off to retire for the night and passed away there. Charles heard her fall and rushed in to help her. Confused, he called Renie to come and help him. Following her death, it was evident that he missed her so much, and he died two years later. At that time he was staying with Dick and Dayleen in Provo, due to some health problems, and he died in their home. He was buried next to Melba in the Lehi Cemetery.
The house Charlie built. LtoR: Reva and Rulon Fox,
Melba and Charlie Felt, Harold and Edith Fox
Comments About His Life
The stories told by Charlie reflect his love of life. He loved physical activity and he loved a good practical joke. He was always totally loyal to family and friends and they could do no wrong.
He was a craftsman in woodworking and cabinet making.
He was not raised in a healthy L.D.S. environment and was not baptized until later years. He was not completely active in the Church, probably because he felt inadequate in front of people due to the lack of training in his youth. When the family went to New Jersey to get Dick from his mission, Charles was invited bear his testimony in a Fast and Testimony Meeting they attended with Dick. Charles was eloquent as he stood and spoke. He became active in his later years. He supported his three children on their missions and was proud of those missions and of his children. He developed a strong testimony and even preached to a non-member neighbor of Dick and Dayleen Felt in Provo, Utah, while staying with them.
He was very sensitive. He would turn away from people rather than display emotion in front of them. He did not display affection to Melba in public. He tenderly kissed her cheek as she lay in her casket. He would untie her apron strings while she was standing at the sink, an affectionate action. He often said, “I miss that girl.” That he loved Melba was without question. He was just reserved in behavior. There was a time when Melba slipped and fell in the hallway of her home. Charles was distraught about Melba falling and would not stop “fretting” about that.
Charlie loved to kid people. His outstanding mannerism was a sly wink or twinkle in his eye that he used when he thought he had put something over on someone.
One of the stories he told was about his fighting in the Boar War (Africa). He was so convincing that his daughter told the story in school and was embarrassed when the truth came out.
His humor occasionally left him. Once, while busy digging weeds near the chicken coops, his youngest son, Russ, toddled up to him and said “Here, Daddy.” Daddy was busy working and talking to Renie and ignored him. A second “Daddy, Daddy” was ignored. After the third time, with Russ pulling at his pant leg, he put his hand out without looking at Russ. Russ carefully placed something in his father’s hand. Nothing registered for a moment, but suddenly Charlie’s face got very red, and he threw the object to the ground. “Where did you get that?” he asked Russ, who replied, “Out of my pants.” Charlie stomped to the house and repeatedly scrubbed his hands, and after minutes of persuading, decided not to soundly spank his son. Renie reports that Melba and Grandmother Lucy could not stop laughing about the incident and they reminded Charlie of it for a long time.
Another example of humor escaping him was when Dick and Stanley Grant obtained some matches somehow. They began setting fires in different places. One was in the straw stack near the chicken coops, which smoldered but didn’t erupt into flame. The second was under an old wooden bridge in the pasture that did no damage. At this point, Dick went home. Stan went home and lit a third fire that burned down his father’s shed and also a small haystack. Dick remembered seeing the fire engine coming down the street to try to put out the fire, but it was too late. Charlie spanked Dick once for his involvement and then went back to spank him again, until Melba came to Dick’s rescue. Dick remembered getting the spanking. Stanley apparently was not punished for his role, just Dick.
Charlie worked hard all his life and went without many things to see that his children had what they needed. He never owned a new car, but he always wanted a truck of his own to carry a “stick of wood.” He never got that truck. He was always thoughtful of others. He would tend Renie’s children each morning so she could get to work on time, getting the two boys, Gary and John, dressed to go next door for breakfast. Weather was not a reason to miss that ritual. He cared for his Aunt Nina Herron, across the street, and was there daily to attend to her needs. He even shopped for her. His visits with Aunt Nina undoubtedly reminded him of and connected him back to Ibapah and family. He and Mike Kopinsky (son-in-law) made an old chicken coop into a home for Mae Cowden so that she would have more space than the single-room home where she lived with her three children. He even shopped for Mae Cowden, as well.
Charlie loved sports and took pride in the athletic achievements of his children. He attended football and basketball games. He wanted to attend Dick’s professional football games but could only attend one game, in Denver. He was glued to the television when Dick’s games were telecast. His own football and wrestling experience has been described earlier. When he was 60 years old, he could still do a floor kip. Lying on his back on the floor, he could kick his feet into the air, get them under himself, and land on his feet. His children, when they were small, loved to get him to stand on his head. The real purpose was to gather the change falling from his pockets. Charlie went to as many of Dick’s college football games as possible. He and his son-in-law, Mike Kopinsky, huddled under a blanket in a serious snowstorm to watch one game.
He was a completely honest man and his word was his bond. He loved his profession. He loved to learn. When he was nearly 70 yrs. old, he took an architectural drawing and drafting class by correspondence from Brigham Young University. It was difficult for him to give proper justice to the class but he successfully completed it. Throughout his life, he prided himself on his penmanship that he had learned at the L.D.S. High School as a boy. Brother Ross taught the class. He enjoyed reading books about math and carpentry. Maud Leaver, an instructor at L.D.S. High School, had high regard for Charlie and his work ethic. Renie, attended that school years later and was given employment because of the example Charlie had been at the school. Maud was still there when Renie enrolled and remembered Charlie Felt.
He loved to shop at Price’s Grocery Store on Main Street in Lehi. The Price brothers, Lee and Bill, and Boyd Stewart were kind to him. He went there to talk with them as much as shop. Later in his life, when he shopped for Renie, the staff at Price’s Grocery Store would count out what he needed to pay them and return his change. He had lost those skills with age.
After Melba was gone Charles remained insistent that he was going to build that fruit room upstairs that she wanted, for when she returned. He often “talked” to her. While he may have just been confused and missing her, perhaps there was more to it all than that and perhaps she was close to him and perhaps he knew that. His children think she went first to give him more time to prepare and to be there to help him through the veil. When he died, he was prepared for the next sphere.
He did not recover emotionally or physically after Melba’s death. He missed her. He did faithfully attended Church and enjoyed home teaching. Renie noticed one day that his feet were hurting him and that he hobbled when he moved around in the garden. He was suffering from a lack of circulation in his lower legs and feet. He became forgetful and would sometimes go to bed without removing his clothing. A surgical procedure, a sympathectomy, restored some circulation by cutting some nerves in his stomach that permitted a better flow of blood. During that procedure an aneurysm on his aorta was detected.
Charlie was staying at the home of Dick and Dayleen in Provo and sitting on the sofa one evening. Dick was working with him, helping him do exercises to stimulate circulation in his feet. Charlie rubbed his chest as if something was happening, laid his head back, closed his eyes, and was gone. It happened very quickly, Dick didn’t know what to do to help. Charles Ray Felt died of a heart ailment on September 23, 1971.
One of Charlie’s favorite response to the question, “Dad, where are you going?” or “Where have you been?” was, “To the Hamburg show.”
He supported his children as much he could in getting higher education. His two sons graduated from BYU and Renie attended enough higher education to be prepared for a professional career. He did not aspire to have many material possessions and was generous in giving what he could to his family. Melba took care of the finances and he handed his check to her to take care of those matters.
Even though his children detested it, Charlie and Melba loved the Lawrence Welk television variety show. When tormented about the show, Charlie could become very exercised.
Charlie loved food the rest of the family could not stand—sardines, (“sourdeans” to him), mutton stew, and raw oysters. He loved to go to Bill and Iva’s (Ivees he said, Bill and Ivees) Family Restaurant in Orem and looked the menu over from top to bottom before always ordering jumbo shrimp. He liked bacon and eggs, Melba’s homemade bread, “jollup” (Hungarian Goulash), but he did not like milk.
When Charlie had a bad day at home with his family, he threatened to go live at Sawtell (an old soldier’s home in California) or a sheep camp (covered camp wagon for sheepherders) in Ibapah. He always wanted a sheep camp in his backyard to enjoy solitude and peace.
Charlie loved to fish. With Andy Trane, he would travel to Deer Creek (near Heber, Utah), Strawberry Reservoir (east of Heber City), and Utah Lake. Trout and catfish were his favorites. Often Charlie had a bucket of live catfish on the back step of the house. He referred to them as a “mess of fish.”
He enjoyed shooting pool at Ye Olde Pool Hall in Lehi and enjoyed a card game with his friends there. Melba did not like that and would send her children in to get him, usually on a Saturday afternoon, with the charge to “embarrass him.” He chose to stop those visits.
He enjoyed the friendship of Clark Nelson (Brig) and visited him at his farm on 5th West and 7th South in Lehi, Utah.
Renie lived next door with her Aunt Norine Fox. Charlie would go to the back door and call, “Renie, it’s going on for 7 a.m. Time to get up!” The event was always at 6:05 a.m., and Renie did not like that. Later in life she appreciated that the early rise taught her never to be late for things.
Charlie loved to sit in his chair near the fireplace, convince his children (by paying them a quarter) to sit straddle of his neck and pull his hair and scratch his head. He would nearly purr when that was done. He loved to listen to the Friday Night Fights and Gangbusters on the radio, and his favorite was The Lone Ranger. His chair was very near the Zenith radio in the living room. When the Dumont television came into the home, The Lone Ranger remained his favorite.
He would play marbles with his children. The ring was a rug on the living room floor.
Charlie loved to play the violin. He had lessons as a boy and his mother, Molly, purchased a very nice violin for him. The violin, in possession of Norene Felt Kopinsky, may have been made by one of the Amati brothers. They worked with the infamous Stradivarius. This violin was made of high quality, light- weight wood. It had mother of pearl on the pegs, the body, and the bow. There is a note inside with the name Nicoli Amati and the year 1769 on it. The violin could also be merely a replica of an Amati but its authenticity has never been determined. Charlie loved to play and would put his music on a music stand near the family piano. Some favorite selections were “Alice Blue Gown,” “Ciri, Beri, Bin,”or as Charlie called the selection, “Chili in the Beans”. He loved Melba to accompany him. There was continual controversy because Charlie couldn’t keep time to Melba’s liking. “Dag nab it Charlie,” she would say. Melba could be down the street and if she would hear poor time as he played, she would rush in the house to correct him. However, they enjoyed playing duets together.
Charlie maintained a “secret” stash of money in the pocket of some coveralls hanging from a nail upstairs. He wasn’t aware his family knew of the stash and had even helped themselves to it from time to time.
Charlie loved to visit with his cousin, Felt Robinson. Felt leased his ranch in Fillmore to others and spent his life prospecting throughout the Western United States and in harvesting pine nuts that he sold in local stores. Felt stayed with Aunt Nina Herron when in Lehi. Charlie would get roasted pine nuts from Felt. He also was unhappy that his family would eat them. Charlie made a box and put a lock on it to protect his pine nuts from gluttons.
His family never heard Charles use bad language. He was quiet but loved a good chuckle. He disliked talking on the telephone and left the poultry business issues made on the telephone to Rulon or Melba.
Charlie traveled to Remsenburg, Long Island, New York, in the spring of 1971, to visit his son Russ and daughter-in-law Rita. He could not get over the greenery, foliage, and water of the area. He was there about one month. Rita and Russ both worked, leaving Charlie alone during the day. He would walk to the edge of the Bay nearby and enjoy the scenery. He had two fried eggs each day prepared for Rita when she got home from her school teaching employment. He really enjoyed a trip to Colonial Williamsburg and Fredricksburg but was nervous on the trip back to Long Island. There had been a very large snowstorm that left the New Jersey Turnpike and the Verranzano Bridge snow packed and slick. The travel was in a Volkswagon Beetle with Charlie in the back, three peas in a pod.
Charles made sure his family understood how to pull into and back out of his garage without scraping the car on the garage molding doing damage to it. On one occasion Charlie left to go somewhere but suddenly reappeared in the house and got his hammer. He did not say anything but quickly left again. It turned out that he had scraped the door molding with car, despite all the reminders of what not to do to his family and he was secretly trying to fix it without anyone knowing. Charlie was tormented about that issue.
It must be said that the children of Charles Ray Felt loved their father. We have all wondered from time to time what more we might have done for him. Surely these few words are not very adequate to describe his life, especially the love he had for his family.