The Work Bank

It was as sure a sign of summer’s arrival as the the lilacs blooming in the yard—our children complaining and procrastinating their chores. During the winter months they routinely accepted daily work before and after school hours, but seemed to feel that the summer vacation was one long playtime. Because we were getting discouraged about the disharmony in our home, we came up with a plan that works for us: the Work Bank.

The plan is similar to saving money in the bank, but involves time instead of money. This is how our plan worked.

I made a chart for each of our four children which listed the days of the week across the top and the individual chores to be done down the side. The chores included weeding, irrigating, cutting lawns, and picking peas, berries, and beans. Each child was assigned to work from one to two hours daily depending on his age. Their hours had to be completed before they could play.

As the children completed assigned time, they marked it off on the chart next to the chores completed. If they worked extra hours, they recorded them at the bottom of the chart for that day. These extra hours were accumulated weekly.

If the children wanted to take time off during the week for activities with their friends, they could use the extra hours they had accumulated during the week to “buy” time for other activities. For example, if our older children had two hours in the Work Bank (had previously worked two hours beyond the expected time), they could take one day off for a special activity.

We presented our plan after a family home evening lesson on the value of work. Our children weren’t exactly enthusiastic, perhaps even a little skeptical, but they agreed to give it a try.

The first week was really “Grumble Week.” I wondered how well the plan would work when I overheard one of our sons say, “If it weren’t for Adam and Eve, we wouldn’t have to be doing all this hard work!”

Enforcing the plan was not always easy. Sometimes it took a firm reminder that they had no earned credits when they begged to be released from work assignments in order to go with their friends.

Gradually, though, they accepted the idea and became excited about competing for the most credits in their Work Bank so they could take time off when their friends called. They became so involved in the program, that when a member of our ward broke a leg, they volunteered to earn Work Bank hours in his garden.

We found that as soon as our younger children had an hour in their Work Bank, they used it for an activity. But the two older children saved and accumulated their hours. At the end of the summer, one boy had sixteen hours in his Work Bank. I paid him $1.00 for each extra hour.

Using this system, our children accomplished assigned tasks and helped around the home. They learned responsibility and the value of hard work. Now our summers are signaled not by loud complaints, but by continued willingness to contribute to our home through work. Stephen K. Rich, Liberty, Utah

A Continuing Expression of Love

As my brothers and I grew up and began to leave home, my father kept us close to him through letters. His were not the occasional kind, but were frequent and full of warm expression. By them, he continued to fulfill his role as a father after we left home, advising us, inspiring us, and encouraging us. It is the type of loving gift I want to give to my children.

The letters began after I graduated with my thirty-two classmates from our small town’s high school in western Colorado. When I arrived at our state’s largest university with nine thousand other students, I felt completely lost. But my father’s letters followed me and provided the anchor and lifeline that kept me secure.

When I received a scholarship to Germany for a year of study between my junior and senior years at the university, my father’s letters and postcards followed me there. At one time I had thirty colorful postcards of Colorado displayed on the walls of my dormitory room. I never forgot my geographic, cultural, or family origins.

Following my graduation, I went to Anchorage, Alaska, as a teacher. Again my father’s letters came, keeping me informed about our family and providing me with clippings that he thought I would find interesting.

After a year of teaching, I left for a two-year trip around the world. I spent four months in Japan, five months in India, five months in Africa, and six months in South America, with shorter stays in other areas. My father followed my itinerary faithfully, and I found letters and cards waiting for me at every American Express office I visited.

Finally I returned to Alaska, where I met and married my husband. During the past twenty years of our marriage, my father has continued to write, even though he can no longer see what he types. I look forward to the time when I can begin to share with our children the same priceless gift my father has given to me—a continuing expression of love. Louise Cate, San Jose, California

Our Reunion Made History

Our yearly reunion includes five generations, with my grandfather as the first generation. Our seeds had been deeply planted in West Jordan, Utah, in 1889 when my pioneering great-grandfather built an adobe house and settled down to farm. The home has been beautifully maintained and lived in since then, and the farm (though lost and regained during the Great Depression) has passed through four generations of fathers and sons. The farm through the years has been a center point for all; everyone returns to “the farm” for outings and vacations and our family reunion.

1981 was my year to be chairman of the reunion, and I was determined to make it an occasion to remember. I discussed a plan with my mother and sister, and they agreed to assist me. As a result, our reunion was not only successful, but every head of household went home with a history book compiled by the entire family. This was our method:

1. We sent out notices to every home announcing the day and time of the reunion, promising a new and different experience. In that notice, we asked each member of each family to send in one or more personal experiences, in the form of a short anecdote, dealing with the house itself, the farm, and the family relationships there.

2. Four weeks before the reunion, a reminder went out.

3. Three weeks before the reunion, phone calls were made to all families that had not sent entries.

4. Two weeks before, I began compiling and typing.

5. Three days before the event, I took the completed manuscript to a copy center.

6. The night of the reunion we sold the book, titled I Remember, for the cost of duplicating its ninety pages.

In the meantime, we organized a program using some of the best anecdotes as readings, interwoven with appropriately matched talent numbers. For example, our narrator read excerpts about life on the farm during the Depression, followed by an aunt and uncle who sang “Side by Side.” One contributor’s anecdote about being in a young cousins’ singing group was read; the children (ages 4, 5, 5, and 7) had been dressed in cowboy and cowgirl outfits and sang “I Didn’t Know the Gun was Loaded.” The number was a big hit back in 1950, and even more so the night of our reunion as we grouped these cousins together (dressed up again, of course) and had them repeat their performance!

Both the reunion and the book were a great success and a lasting memory, and we all felt very proud to be who we are. Brenda B. Jeppson, Bennion, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch