Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Oxford Shop - Still a gem for SLC (and for those with big feet!)

In my many years of service on the Salt Lake City Council, I interacted a great deal with Richard "Dick" Wirick or Mr. Downtown.  His endless passion towards keeping downtown vibrant and his persistence in keeping his small shoe store open was unmatched.  That was the irony when he was tragically killed in an accident involving a UTA Buss before he ever got to see the opening of City Creek, across from his store on 100 S, just east of the Salt Palace.  It looked like for a while, that his store might not reopen, when his children didn't have an interest in continuing it.  In stepped in the brother and sister-in-law of Dick's wife, Gunter and Carol Radinger, who opened the business around the time City Creek opened.

I had purchased two pairs of Florsheim shoes, just before Dick was taken from this earth and in his usuall way, was ever so courteous with me, and I felt guilty when he gave me a discount.  They both have lasted a long time, but the black pair (I also purchased a brown pair) were wearing out, so I decided to go back and see if by chance they could order me a new pair.  That's when I met Gunter and Carol and realized what great shop owners they were in continuing the tradition of great service.  I had with me at the time, my daughter Sarah, who also has large feet, (I have size 18!) and both of us had been looking for some shoes.  I sometime have luck at the Nordstrom Rack, but it's very much hit and miss.  Carol Radinger, not only looked at her typical sources, but spent some time looking at different options for me and my daughter.  She called us back a few days later and we went in and for the first time, I not only had choices, but Sarah did as well!  Large shoes are seldom inexpensive, but just having a choice is a big deal.  The Radingers are very patient people, extremely courteous and helped us both get in shoes, where I think they only made a very modest profit for their troubles.  I use to have shoe options in Salt Lake City, but frankly they all went away when local stores sold out, or quit carrying them.  Even some online options have diminished, so what a welcome blessing the Oxford Shop is for Salt Lake City and especially those of us with hard to fit feet!

Whether you have a need for large shoes or not, give the Oxford Shop a try.  There is a good parking on the street at 65 West 100 South or easy access to City Creek across the street, where it's free for the first hour, or $1 for the second hour.  Be sure to tell Carol and Gunter thanks for staying in business!

Monday, January 13, 2014

My father passed away 38 years ago today

My Father's Funeral - January 13, 1976 - Standing with my brother Spencer
I am generally a sentimental person, my blog reflects it, but my father's death 38 years ago today, still bring tears to my eyes.  I had just turned 10 years old in the December prior, and my father was everything to me.  He was one of the kindest souls and treated me with such care and love that I really struggled in the years following his death.  However he was such a great example to our family, that his memory and influence stays with us still today.
My father in is father, Chester Christensen's military uniform from World War I
Dad was born in September of 1926 in Richfield Utah Chester & Emma Magleby Christensen.  Grandpa was a farmer, who was very frugal and a good steward of his land.  Dad frequently hired out to other farmers in the area in addition to working the family farm.  We always loved the stories of his youth and knew of his love for his home town. Because of Dad's size, and flat feet, he never served in the military during World War II.
Dad on his LDS Mission to Denmark, standing next to Danish Family relatives
My Dad attended the University of Utah, and later served a mission to Denmark.  He went into Denmark shortly after World War II and was one of the first missionaries to arrive following the devastation and hardship that came from the war.  My Dad actually preceded his Mission President by two months, a tough thing for a kid that had never been east of Utah and who also didn't speak the language.  However many wonderful things would happen for him while serving, and we loved to hear his stories from his mission.
Robert & Verda Mae, Engagement photo from 1949
Shortly after my father returned home, he was introduced to my mother, Verda Mae Fuller by his sister Ora Nell Folkman.  While not overly confident, my father really fell in love with my mother and she with him and they were engaged after a few months and married a few months later in September of 1949.  Dad was finishing up School and my mother was a writer-producer for KSL Radio and TV.  
Robert on his Graduation Day - standing in
front of their first Rose Park Home on 900 N, just west of 900 W
My Dad had left school with a few classes to go, intending to finish up by correspondence.  Some poor health and other challenges kept him from completing things and it was a few years later before he returned to finish up his schooling.  By then he had begun his career at ZCMI Department Store and soon started as the Division Buyer over Foods, including the snack bar, bakery, candy department and fine foods.  We were always found helping him to stock shelves and even today in my own food storage, the older cans are brought forward and labels are turned to the front!
For the wopping salary of a hot dog and chips, we frequently helped
Dad stock the shelves
Dad always loved doing things with the other kids in the neighborhood.  My friends loved his activities and he made it easy to be the favorite Dad among the crowd.  He seemed to just know how to communicate with children and always made you feel important and loved.
Dad doing one of his frequent activities with the kids, always
looking for simple ways to have us entertain ourselves.
Family picture on the bank of the Susquehanna River

Dad loved LDS Church History.  Many of our family vacations were to Church History sites.  In fact, it was his last trip in coming home and following the Mormon Pioneer Trail, that he started to show signs of being ill.  By mid August, they diagnosed Hodgkin Disease, a cancer of the Lymph system.  From August to January, he became increasingly ill and in November, he was released as Stake President of the Rose Park Stake where I now serve in the same position.  The final months, he held his first grandchild, Evan, son of Elliott & Jennifer
Dad dictating his life history to my brother Clayton
In a certain form of irony, my father's autobiography came back from the printers on the day he died.  It is one of my most cherished treasures.  I use it often to remind me of my father and more importantly, remind me of the lessons he taught us.  I wonder often how he might look at my life, and if it would reflect his hope for me.  I love him, he has been there for me often, even after his death. One belief I hold, is that our lives are eternal and if lived according to the Savior's plan, we can be together as families for an eternity.  I hold to that same faith and hope to live my life in such a way that I can once again embrace my father and tell him how much I love him and what an honor it has been to be his son.  One of the things I cherish most is his final testimony as he related an experience he had before his death.  From his history, it reads:

"On my first visit to the hospital in August of 1975, after being informed that I had a potentially terminal illness, I lay thinking over my life, my future and my family. A remarkable vision was given to me at that time. I first saw a large pile of goods, and I recognized them as my own physical possessions. With them were other worldly goods which I dealt with every day in my work at ZCMI. Suddenly, they disappeared from my view, and I did not feel the slightest desire to look for them or to inquire as to where they went. My vision then showed me three things: one was my righteous family, the second was my knowledge, understanding and testimony of the restored gospel, and the third was the work that I had accomplished in the building up of the kingdom of God. Then, as though the person were standing at my side, a voice spoke to me and said, “This is what life is all about. That’s all there is that is important. That’s all there is to life.” I was then filled with a very comfortable feeling that the Lord had accepted my work and my life.

I want my family always to remember this story, and to place their values on the spiritual rather than the material things. I hope they will live their lives in such a way that theirs will be the riches of eternity. I want my family to know that I know with all my heart that God lives and is willing to bless us constantly through our lives, and that he wants each of us to succeed in living the gospel so that we can return and live with him in the Celestial Kingdom. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, that he is the Lord of this earth and that he stands at the head of this church today. He reveals his will to his prophets and to every righteous priesthood holder and member of the church who seeks for divine guidance.
I have a great belief in the Holy Ghost, and on many occasions in my life, the power of the Holy Ghost has descended upon me and given me the knowledge and help which I needed in accomplishing the Lord’s work. I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church upon the face of the earth. And it is only by membership in the church that we can receive the ordinances of salvation and the principles and doctrines which are needed for entry into the celestial kingdom. I believe in living prophets and that as members of the church, we need to follow the living prophets. While we glean much wisdom and guidance from the prophets of old, it is the living prophets who show us the way to go today. I leave this testimony for the guidance of my family, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."