Friend to Friend


Elder Marion D. Hanks

“My father died when I was two and a half years old. I was the youngest child of seven. A sister died shortly before my father, so three boys and three girls were raised by my mother, a remarkable woman who lived to her eighty-fifth birthday. She was a great, great lady.

“Mother had none of the economic advantages that some people have. She relied on her own resources, the Lord, and her children. When my oldest brother was seventeen, he left high school to go to work to feed us. He and Mother and then each child in turn supported the rest while we went on missions and to school and so forth. Mother was the heart of the family. We loved her, and our lives revolved around hers. We all understood that we needed to help each other. As I look back now, I marvel that there really wasn’t any sense of discouragement or hopelessness or despair about our meager situation.

“Mother was the Relief Society president, first in the ward and then in the stake. At that time, during the Great Depression, food for those in need was delivered to the Relief Society president’s home. I remember that on occasion some day-old vegetables and bread and a five-gallon can of milk were delivered to our door, I don’t know by whom. The milk went into my mother’s canning jars and was parceled out with the other commodities, which I delivered to the poor. I couldn’t help wondering at the time why we weren’t numbered among the poor. Nevertheless, we never tasted any of that food; it went to the poor.

“I remember taking a plate of food each Sunday to the little Scandinavian lady who lived in a basement apartment on the corner of our street. She had no family or friends nearby. The dinner was sent on Mother’s nicest china with a cloth napkin over it.

“People were always coming to my mother for comfort and counsel or food. Somehow it was always there. She was a sweet soul; she was strong and loved the Lord and had great faith. She knew that if we did our part, everything would work out all right. And it always did.

“Once, when I was about seven years old, Mother gave me a dollar bill and asked me to go to Joe Wood’s market to buy a pound of hamburger. As Joe Wood put the hamburger on the counter, I put my hand in my pocket for the money—but the dollar bill was gone! I just panicked. I said to him, ‘I’ll have to come back later,’ then ran out of the store and retraced my steps, looking for the money. I couldn’t find it. I got all the way back home without finding it.

“I couldn’t face Mother and tell her I’d lost the dollar, so I ducked under the kitchen window and went around to the coal shed. I knelt down on the ground and told Heavenly Father that I just had to find that money. Then I crawled back under the window and went down the street again. There in the parking lot I found the dollar! Gratefully, I picked it up and went into the store to pay Joe Wood his money and get the hamburger.

“By the time I was eleven years old, I was working many hours a week. Every night after school until eight or nine o’clock and all day Saturday from seven in the morning until nine at night I worked in a butcher shop. I earned seventy-five cents a week, which I gave to my mother.

“I have had the unusual blessing of living both in England and in Asia with my own family. We have been exposed to the friendship of a great many little children. Here is one thing they all have in common: They really are all children of God. He loves them, and Christ died for them, and they are individually valued.

“There will come to you, no matter where you live or what your circumstances are, opportunities to be useful and constructive and helpful. If you use those opportunities, you will acquire a sense of respect and love for all people.

“You are valuable. You must never permit anyone to think otherwise. And you yourself have to start where you are in life. There is no other place to start. Accept what there is to work with and make something fine of yourself.”