“One of the most vivid memories I have of my boyhood in Idaho was being in Primary,” recalled Brother Haycock. “I was a Trail Builder and loved singing about being a Trail Builder. I also remember singing ‘Give, Said the Little Stream,’ ‘I Have Two Little Hands,’ and ‘A Mormon Boy’ while growing up in Idaho. These are pleasant memories for me.
“My father was born in England, and his family joined the Church and came to America when he was a child. They settled in Nephi, Utah. When Father met and married Mother, they moved to Farmington, Utah, where my father became a barber. It was there that I was born and had the privilege of being blessed in the old rock meetinghouse where the first Primary was organized. Sometimes I jokingly tell my children and grandchildren that I was a member of the first Primary.
“Once when I was three years old, I was playing with a group of youngsters and we found a box of matches. We decided to light them just for fun. As we were striking them, one fell on me and set my clothes afire. I still have scars on my leg and abdomen as a result of our misbehavior. In those days, doctors didn’t know as much about caring for burns as they do now. As my leg began to heal, the burned tissue and muscle drew up, and my knee wouldn’t straighten out. Every day my parents and the doctor would lean on my knee and try to straighten it a little bit. Then I wore a splint for many months, and finally my leg straightened out. I won a lot of footraces afterward, but it was foolish for us to have played with those matches in the first place.
“When I was five, my father was called on a mission. My mother and we three children missed him very much during the two years he was gone, but I also know that the Lord blessed our family. One day my younger brother fell under a piece of moving farm equipment, a disc harrow. His head was seriously cut, and the doctor came to our home. While my brother lay on the kitchen table, the doctor sewed him up and told us that he wouldn’t live much longer. That was on Wednesday. When the doctor came to check my brother again on Saturday, we were playing at my uncle’s place. My brother was climbing around in the top of an apricot tree. The doctor took the bandages off my brother’s head and was amazed that the wound had healed. It was truly a miracle.”
I asked Brother Haycock to tell about some of his experiences while serving as secretary to the Presidents of the Church.
“When I was a boy, I had decided that I would really like to work in an office at Church headquarters. I came to Salt Lake City after my mission, when I was twenty-one years old. I’d studied shorthand and typing in school, but I couldn’t afford to go to college. Every Monday for many months I went to the Church Administration Building and applied for a job. Finally I was hired for $100 a month in 1938, and I worked there for several years in various capacities. One day Brother Joseph Anderson told me that President George Albert Smith wanted a male secretary who could travel with him, and I was accepted for the job. Years later, on his eighty-first birthday, President Smith died while I was holding his hand.
“During the time Dwight D. Eisenhower served as president of the United States, he appointed Elder Ezra Taft Benson to be secretary of agriculture. Elder Benson asked me to go to Washington, D.C., as his administrative assistant. I enjoyed that assignment for two years. Then I was called to preside over the Hawaii Mission, where I had previously served as a missionary.
“After my release as mission president, I came back to Salt Lake City to work in the Church Administration Building again. I had missed this building. It seems to me that I have grown up here. It is like a second home. The first time I worked here, we didn’t even have carpet on the floors or paintings on the walls. But I’ve worked here these many years with the finest men in all the world.
“I was with President Harold B. Lee in the hospital at the time of his sudden death. President Marion G. Romney, a counselor in the First Presidency, and President Spencer W. Kimball, of the Quorum of the Twelve, arrived and waited while the doctors did what they could. When it was announced that President Lee had died, President Romney turned to President Kimball and said, ‘President Kimball, what would you like me to do?’ In that moment—simply and without any doubts or questions—the leadership of the Church quietly changed hands in that hospital waiting room. It was a moment I shall never forget.
“And now what a joy it is to work with President Spencer W. Kimball, another great man of God, who fills his calling as nobly as his predecessors as he urges us all to lengthen our stride.”