Letters to the Editor 07-11-18
Jul 11, 2018 | 124 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The World’s Love Affair With Heber Valley

Editor: Nearly 100% of everyone I meet - nearly anywhere in the world - when they know I have roots in Heber Valley tell me how lucky I am and how they hope they too some day can live in this valley. The secret is out and covering the planet. And look in any direction and you will see the results of everyone trying to find peace living among us.

Those of us whose grandfathers settled the valley reminisce what those ‘early’ days were like and worry a bit about what we will become when ‘all of God’s children’ find us but the truth is, most of those joining us are as good or maybe even better than those of us with deep roots.

So what can we do to both welcome those ‘brothers and sisters’ who are coming in droves and at the same time preserve as much of our unique heritage and environment as possible?

My dear friends who own the North Fields know what i’m about to say. Their ‘patch’ in the middle of our valley - along with our beloved Mount Timpanogos and the three water features that beautify every entrance into our Shangri-La - set us apart and ensures our rural and friendly feel.

My pitch to all of us is that we must do whatever it takes to preserve all of them. I think Timpanogos is safe and I hope Jordanelle, Deer Creek and Strawberry have earned our loyalty to their preservation, but if we don’t do something and fairly quick, our North Fields days are numbered.

Having said that, what ever we do to preserve ‘HER’, must be fair to those who presently own ‘HER’. lf the present bond proposal (I haven’t studied it so don’t beat me up if i’m messed up) is the answer to keep ‘HER’ as open space and compensate the owners so they still love us, then I’m all IN on the bond.

If there’s a better way then lets do it, but whatever it is we must unite and make it happen. It will cost all of us something but if we don’t do it, it will cost all of us even more when we have become an urban city of wall to wall homes and buildings.

That’s not what my Grandpa James, who was the mayor of Charleston for 49 years, or my father Leon who delivered newspapers in this valley for 70 years - that’s not what they wanted the next generations to allow to happen.

Bond, Buy, Lease or some other unique method of finance? - but preserve we must!

PS In fact we have a precedent for ‘buying’ what we need to preserve our way of life. My same grandfather James and his brother John were major land owners under where the present Deer Creek Reservoir now ‘resides’ and were asked (‘forced' would be a better word but we won’t go there) to ’sell’ (nearly donate) their land and homes to make that water feature become a permanent reality. We don’t want to ’steal’ the North Fields but preserve we must.

James Ritchie

(son of Leon, son of James, son of John

who obeyed Brother Brigham to settle here)

It’s Not Mayo, It’s Meo!

Editor: My grandfather took his secrets to his grave. Harry Mayo was an Italian immigrant who never went past the third grade.

Harry told his wife and children that he was an orphan at age 12. At 14, he was barber. He fought with the American army in WWI. He spent 14 years following the oil boom across the American South, setting up a barbershop in each boom town.

At age 40, he married my grandmother, a fellow orphan, aged 21. They made a home in Longview, Texas where Harry opened a barbershop. He bought a home, reared four children, sent three sons to college where they earned seven degrees between them. He was a respected citizen and an elder in the Mormon church. The 12-year-old homeless orphan with a third-grade education had come a long way.

My dad, Raymond Mayo, grew up with no cousins, aunts, uncles or grandparents. When he questioned his father about his past, Harry obfuscated, “I don’t remember. That was a long time ago. I don’t want to talk about it!”

After Harry's death, he began to assemble a paper trail on his father, but each piece he gathered added confusion. Harry had given different names for his parents and birthplace on each document.

My father found Harry's first wife. She said he was a liar and a gambler. She wasn’t even sure if she knew his real name. Her hunch would prove to be prophetic.

Enter DNA testing. My father's DNA report stated that he had some middle eastern ancestry, most likely from Israel. Was Harry Jewish? Was that his secret?

In the fall of 2017, someone reached out to him on Ancestry.com, saying that their DNA indicated that they were related. She emailed an image of a hand typed piece of paper that had been in her family records, folded, aged and yellowing, for several generations. It was a homemade family group sheet. It detailed the family of Pietro and Caterina Meo (pronounced Mayo) of Pier San Niceto, Sicily, who had 11 children.

Following several clues that checked out, at the bottom right hand corner, a note said, “Nunziato Meo. Came to America. And disappeared.” We knew that we had him.

At age 85, my father discovered that his father, Harry Mayo, was Nunziato Meo. He was not an orphan. He had parents and 10 siblings. My father had grandparents, 14 aunts and uncles and 41 first cousins. Most of whom are now dead.

We have now found more than 70 members of our extended Meo family. A Meo relative posted a picture of Nunziato’s sister, Concetta, they could have been twins.

This discovery was 60 years in the making. Were it not for DNA testing, we would have never known.

On Saturday, August 11th, 2018, we will have our first Meo/Mayo family reunion in Heber City, Utah. People are coming from six states to meet and celebrate.

Lisa Mayo Murphy

Provo, UT
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