Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Joleen Meredith with one of the General Authorities and members of his family.

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    “When I was about nine years old, I remember Grandpa sitting in his big overstuffed chair. He allowed me to stand behind him and comb his beautiful hair. I would part it in the middle then comb it back in different ways. Sometimes I would part his hair on the side and try a new style, and I would comb it down over his face in the process. He was very patient and let me comb it until my arms were tired.”

    “The things I remember about Grandpa were the great stories he would make up and tell to my sister and me as we sat at his feet. They were long adventure stories—real whoppers—almost like science fiction. My sister and I were always part of the tales.

    “In one of his stories we were all riding in a car in the desert and discovered a big underground cave. In the back of the cave we found all kinds of jewels and valuable treasures. There was lots of food there for us to eat. The water in the bottom of the cave was boiling hot, but luckily we discovered a speedboat that kept us safe from the heat of the water. We all got into the boat and rode down the river. In his stories like this one, we always found a giant or two or something else exciting. Often we fought these giants and we always won, my grandpa, my sister, and I. We could listen for hours to these exciting stories. There was no television where we lived, but we certainly didn’t miss it.

    “Grandpa was always learning there in his armchair, reading a book by lamplight. Nephi was his favorite prophet. He always said he wanted to live and to be like Nephi.”

    One of the choicest experiences this man related to me was about a horse. Because he was a commanding officer in the Canadian Cavalry, a horse was very important to him:

    “I looked around for the best horse in the area to buy. I loved horses—I always had. I finally found just the right one. I paid seventy-five dollars for this horse, which was a lot of money in those days. I quickly picked an excellent horseman who was an expert in horse training. He worked and worked with Steamboat, as I called him, and before long, he was not only the best-looking horse in the Canadian Cavalry, but also the best trained. I could tell him to lie down, to roll over, or to come to me, and this horse immediately obeyed. I was so very pleased.

    “We were in Cardston at the time and I had enjoyed riding Steamboat for a couple of years when one day a Colonel Walker from Winnipeg visited our headquarters there. His main mission was to buy a fine horse for the general. He didn’t tell me this at first, but just said:

    “‘I hear you have a fine horse.’

    “‘He’s a dandy!’ I answered.

    “Then he asked to take a ride on Steamboat and I said, ‘All right.’

    “When he returned from a short ride, he dismounted and asked, ‘How much would you take for this horse?’

    “I was sure he was joking with me, so I quickly replied, in jest, ‘Oh, five hundred dollars.’ This was an outrageous sum.

    “‘Sold,’ he said.

    “I was stunned! ‘But I was just joking, this horse is my pride and joy,’ I stammered.

    “Colonel Walker stood straight and tall and said, ‘You told me the price, I will pay it, so we have just made a deal.’

    “I was brokenhearted for a long time at the loss of my joy, Steamboat, my friend.

    “About a year later,” he concluded, “while I was in England visiting our headquarters there, I was invited to inspect their horse stables. As I was walking down a row of stalls, I saw my great friend in one of them. ‘Steamer,’ I shouted.

    “The horse jumped like he’d been shot. I climbed into the stall, threw my arms around that horse and cried and cried. An old friend is hard to forget.”

    As I personally met with this great man, I asked him to tell me what he remembered about his boyhood. Some of the childhood experiences he related were humorous.

    “My brother Bud and I had a lot of fun as children. He liked to tease and play jokes on me. One day we chased a weasel down a hole. We used a shovel and tried to dig him out, but with no luck. Bud told me that if I put my hand down the hole, maybe I could grab the animal and pull it out. I believed him, and thrust my hand as far down the hole as I could. But the weasel bit my finger so hard that it almost took the end of it off. After that I decided to be a little more careful whenever Bud told me to do something.

    “My brother pestered me with jokes all through our childhood. I did get back at him once, though. I remember we were sleeping in the basement of a barn at the time. Bud had been reading a book about ghosts and ghost stories. One day I got the idea to ask my cousin to put an old sheet over himself and hide down in the basement of the barn until Bud came home. I then hid outside and watched and waited. Sure enough, Bud came along and went in through the barn door and started down the basement. When he saw my cousin, he came screaming out of the barn, running as fast as he could. It was a long time after that before Bud would sleep down there again.”

    This apostle of the Lord also told me how important prayer and his testimony had always been to him. One last recollection sums up his feelings:

    “If I had a bad dream in the night when I was young, I would awaken and call out, ‘Mother, are you there?’ Since mother’s room was next to mine, she would hear me and answer quickly, ‘Yes, Son, I’m here.’

    “Years later when I left for a mission to England, my mother reminded me that she wouldn’t be there to answer when I called but that our Heavenly Father would always be there.

    “Many times on my mission and throughout my life I have called out: ‘Father, are you there?’”

    The handsome elderly man with beautiful white hair, meditated for a few moments. Then quietly he said, “Always, I have received an answer.”

    Show References

    • Name of General Authority featured in Friend to Friend: Elder Hugh B. Brown.