Last Wednesday, October 19, 2011, my Aunt Winifred Rex Andrus passed away. She was born in 1918 to Percy Harold and Bessie Morgan Rex. I was vacationing with my family in Virginia and Florida and wasn’t here for her funeral. I extend my heart’s deepest sympathy to my cousins and their families.
I visited Aunt Winnie in her Marion, Utah home not long before I left. As I left her room, she said, “Good bye, Bessie,” and meant it. While visiting with her she added more details to her story of the P.H. Rex family’s yearly move from Randolph, Utah to their Bear River Ranch. She’d evidently been remembering and rediscovering those years further.
The effort that P.H. Rex and his family took to transport their large upright oak piano from their Canyon Street home in Randolph to their ranch house on the Bear River each summer has fascinated me ever since Aunt Winnie first told me of it.
At the beginning of each haying season (sometimes as early as April through September) the family moved. In addition to bedding, clothing, and necessary household items, they took their piano with them. Aunt Winnie described how Grandpa would pull his horse driven wagon up beside the front porch. They would lay planks from the porch to the wagon bed, and with the help of other men, slide the piano into the wagon. It was tied down and secured near the front of the wagon, behind the driver’s seat.
She recalled wanting to sit in the seat nearest the piano, so she could keep a hand on it in case the piano began to slide [smile].
She added the detail that the bridge built over the Bear River in her youth would never support the piano loaded wagon and team pulling it. Her father drove his team through the river to cross over. He would carefully follow the curve of the river until he found the perfect spot, and only then turn the team into the river. When they returned to the town after each season, they repeated the exercise. The years the Bear River flooded, like this year, P. H. used careful timing.
Aunt Winnie is the last of my parent’s generation to pass away.