Life of Fern Stoddard Part VI: Engagement to Frank Woodbury – September-October 1952

This week, we get more of the love letters between Frank and Fern, more diary entries from the journal of Maude Dee Porter detailing the events of Fern and Frank’s engagement between September 1952 and their marriage on 10 October 1952.

Last week we left off with a letter from Frank to Fern on 28 August. A few days later, on Saturday 30 August, Frank came up to Ogden in the evening and stayed overnight. The next day he joined Fern and Maude at church where he sang a solo and Fern accompanied him.[1] That evening, Fern and Frank traveled to Provo where they hiked Mount Timponogos the next day – Labor Day.

On 3 September, Maude wrote the following:[2]

“Took Fern to Miss Smiths for a lesson & later with Marian I took her to Farmington to visit Barbara & later to go to the Temple…Fern & Frank came in good time. Frank stayed all night. Fern & I fixed him a lunch for tomorrow.”   

The next day as Frank ate his lunch, he wrote: [3]

In case you can’t read the last part, Frank writes: My lunch time is gone and so I guess that I’ll just wind this letter up by telling you something you perhaps have guessed by this time. It is this, Fern – that I Love you. As a matter of fact, I guess you have me going around in circles. Is that not quite apparent? Frank

That same evening, Maude wrote about Fern getting cold feet and the result:  

“Fern & I spent some time out on the terrace. A fine, cool eve. Fern became upset thinking of her affairs. She phoned Frank & he rushed up to a comfort her & back home again.” The next day, she wrote, “A rather late breakfast. Fern wrote out facts about her engagement & we took the paper & the picture to Sally Humphris… Fern got Franks ring, also material for bridesmaid dress (Ermas wedding) Ordered invitations & announcements at Woodys. A hot day. We hurried home. Did some cooking. Down town to P.O. with letter (Fern to Frank special del.) got stamps, got ice cream. Had our lunch at home at 3 pm & then rested… Fern practicing. We argued the question of her starting lessons again with Mrs. Jenkins… Frank phoned. Fern herself again.”

Following is the version of events that Fern recorded in the special delivery letter: [4]

In the coming days, Maude wrote:[5]

Saturday, September 6, 1952 …At 3 pm. drove down town (Fern & I). Picked up Ferns shoes, to Mrs. Furniss & fitted suit, to Ellises & got apples for Fern to put up… Fern put up my hair & we listened to Twenty Questions. Frank came & he & Fern went to Salt Lake. (Frank politely asked me to go with them but I declined) They went to Olies a terrible place & got home late. Frank stayed. Fern was tired went to sleep on my bed with me. Sunday, September 7, 1952 It is so nice to have Fern & Frank here if only my Dick could be with us. Frank went home. We got up in good time. Frank left at 8 without breakfast his fast day. Fern went to teach at Sunday school… Fern & I got dinner in a leisurely way. Frank came & we ate at 3…Monday, September 8, 1952 Fern put up apples this a.m. all by herself for Golden Gleaner credit. I did a lot of phoning re home & wedding arrangements…Took Fern to Miss Smiths for lesson at 3. Called for her at 4 & we went down town. Got Franks ring at Wests also material for Ferns bridesmaid dress (Ermas wedding) at Silk Shop. In the eve… Fern went to Mutual. Tuesday, September 9, 1952 Fern fasting (to pray for guidance…Fern & I met Barbara & two children at the station & brot them home. Had lunch, then went to Bertha Eccles Hall to make plans for reception. Came home & Fern showed her trousseau… we drove Barbara & children home. Fern stayed with them…

The next few days in Maude’s diary were blank, perhaps because of her preparations for Fern and Frank’s wedding as well as the wedding of Erma Adams, but where the diary drops off, the letters pick up. Over the next several days, Frank wrote the following: [6]

On 16 September, Fern responded to Frank’s letters with the following: [7]

The same day, Frank wrote: [8]

Sept. 16, 1952

Later that evening, Fern and Maude attended a wedding shower: [9] “Fern & me down to Margarets for a shower for Fern. A pleasant time with members of our family (female) the Woodburys (mother & sisters of Frank) also Donna Witmer. Frank brot Fern & me home also quantities of canned provisions & reciepes for their use.”

A few days later, Fern wrote: [10]

After this, there are fewer surviving letters from the time of Frank and Fern’s engagement. The following weeks were a flurry of activity in preparation for the wedding. [11] 20 September there was a cousins party (for the Dee family) at Betty’s honoring Frank and Fern. On Sunday 21 September, Frank spoke at his stake conference. on 26 September Fern served as a bridesmaid at Erma Adams’ wedding. The next day, Frank and Fern went on a hayride and attended a bridal shower thrown by Frank’s younger sister. That Sunday, Fern prepared and hosted a meal for the Woodbury’s. 29 September, Frank and Fern went in search of an apartment. September 30, Fern made out the menu for the wedding dinner and reception and went and got her bridal shots taken. October 1, Frank and Fern met the florist and decorator for the reception to finalize arrangements, October 4 and 5 were General Conference.

On October 7, Frank wrote:[12]

Over the next few days, Maude recorded: [13]  

“Wednesday, October 8, 1952 Began assembling things for Fridays wedding dinner. All plans fully made … Henry came in the late eve. He & I got tables & chairs out & placed. (He had a hard time getting the big round table up. Fern & Frank did not got home until quite late. Thursday, October 9, 1952 Mary came this a.m. & we got really busy preparing for tomorrow. Table cloths on & all settings ready on tables to be placed. Went to Pres. Riries office & got my temple recommend signed. Ferns mother with us. Frank & Fern in Salt Lake…Mrs. Stoddard took Marion & me to Farmington for a supper given for members of the Woodbury & Stoddard families. A pleasant time. Came home with Fern & Frank. He stayed in his bachelor apartment down stairs to be ready for the a.m. My last night with Fern. She nervous & restless.”

Of the wedding day, Maude wrote: [14]  

“Friday, October 10, 1952 We got up at 615. Hurried around & left home at 715 am. Frank & Fern took me to Farmington & they went on to the Temple. Mrs. Stoddard, Barbara, Bobs wife (Dorothy) & I drove down to the Temple. Heard part of the 9 oclock service. Saw Fern & Frank as they came out. Went with Mrs. Woodbury to brides room to see Fern get dressed in her wedding dress, before she met Frank at the veil…We saw Frank & Fern married To Woodburys for lunch. I home with Bob S. at 2 p.m. Lots to do. Elizabeth & Bob took gifts to the hall. Wedding party had pictures taken at 4. All assembled at our house for supper at 5. Sociable visit before going to reception. Everything was beautiful & all went off like clock work. Over 180 came. Fern & Frank left at 11 pm.

Of that day, Frank recorded: [15]   

“On a beautiful autumn morning, October 10, 1952, we drove from Ogden to Salt Lake where we were married in the Salt Lake temple by grandfather, Frank B. Woodbury. A lovely wedding breakfast was prepared and served by my mother, Louise C. Woodbury and my sisters at the Woodbury home.

A delicious dinner was served for the wedding party at the home of Maude Dee Porter. We had a wonderful wedding reception at the Bertha Eccles hall sponsored by aunt Maude. She had been very helpful to Fern in planning the wedding as well as providing support and instruction. She was a very dear friend of Fern’s and consequently a very good friend of mine. After our wedding reception there was a traditional ritual. We were followed by others who pursued us in an automobile chase. We had anticipated this and so developed a subversive plan. By previous arrangement, my brother Joe parked his car in a narrow thru-way alley. The Fisher family transported us from the wedding reception with friends following as usual. We drove into the alley behind my brother’s car, then Fern and I got into my brother’s car and we drove away, leaving the Fisher’s car to block the alley, thus preventing pursuit by our friends. All would have been well, except that the Fishers changed their minds and cleared the alley. But we were far enough that by parking in someone’s driveway we evaded them – we thought. Just as we backed out, they rounded the corner.

We drove to Temple Square Hotel in Salt Lake City to spend our first night. We went the following day to the Alpine Rose Lodge in Brighton and spend several days there…”

Thus began a beautiful and joyous marriage.

Frank Woodbury and Fern Stoddard on the Day of their Marriage, 10 October 1952

[1] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” August 29 – September 1, p. 127-128, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9537, accessed February 2021.

[2] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” September 2-3, p. 129, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9538, accessed February 2021.

[3] Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 4 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives.

[4] Fern Stoddard, letter to Frank Woodbury, 5 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives.

[5] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” September 6-9, p. 131-132, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9540, accessed February 2021.

[6] Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 9 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 10 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 11 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 15 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

[7] Fern Stoddard, letter to Frank Woodbury, 16 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives.

[8] Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 9 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 10 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 11 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 15 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives; and,

[9] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” September 16-17, p. 136, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9545, accessed February 2021.

[10] Fern Stoddard, letter to Frank Woodbury, 19 September 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives.

[11] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” September 20- October 6, p. 138-146, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9547/rec/1, accessed February 2021.

[12] Frank Woodbury, letter to Fern Stoddard, 7 October 1952, Salt Lake City, Utah, Frank and Fern Woodbury Family Archives.

[13] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” October 8-9, p. 147, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9556, accessed February 2021.

[14] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952 Annie Maude Dee Porter Diary,” October 10-11, p. 148, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9557, accessed February 2021.

[15] Frank Woodbury and Fern Stoddard, “Family History of Frank Alan Woodbury and Fern Laurine Stoddard,” 1991.

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