Letitia Fairbanks, c. 1945, photographer unknown

Page 29 – had not gone far when they found

by Kelley Smoot Garrett
Austin, Texas

Dateline: Provo, Utah

This page, and the next couple that follow truly point out Letitia’s deep roots in Utah, showing depictions of charming houses, “with fretwork!” as I can hear Letitia exclaim now.

Letitia was born in Provo and spent the first 6 years of her life there, living closely with her Danish-immigrant, Mormon grandparents, the Eggertsens. Bedstefader and Bedstemor (Danish for grandfather & grandmother) Eggertsen were a life-long influence on Letitia, interweaving common-sense, pioneer hard-work, with a deep spiritual connection. Letitia always remembered the simple life, as well as the home-spun, hand-worked quality that imbued her grandparents’ life. It must have been quite the contrast from her life in Holllywood with Uncle Douglas and Aunt Mary!

Quoting from an unpublished short story, Letitia writes of her early life attending elementary school in Los Angeles, and her friend Mary, who was also not dressed in fancy clothes:

Moreover, in comparison with the other little girls who wore silk or ruffled organdy dresses and dainty pumps, Mary wore simple cottons and brown scuffer shoes. So did I. My mother had been born and raised in Utah, a daughter of Mormon pioneers and she had a practical sense of values that was not to be compromised in keeping up with the Cinema Joneses.

Page 29 - "until they came to a white house with a yard"

Page 29 – “until they came to a white house with a yard” A typical historical house in Provo.

The illuminations on this page, “a charming pink and white house,” with a picket-fence and welcoming front yard, along with the window they peer into, all come out of Letitia’s memories of Provo, with it’s many turn-of-the-20th-century houses, and is a paean to an idyllic picture of country living.

And the adorable dog at the top of the page? True to form, every portrait in this book was inspired by someone living — even the dog!!1 This dog was a portrait of Letitia’s cocker spaniel, that was her very faithful companion from 1932 through to the dog’s death in about 1945. And the dog’s name was April 🙂

Letitia's dog at the time she drew Princess April Morning-Glory, whose name was also April!

Letitia’s dog at the time she drew Princess April Morning-Glory, whose name was also April!

Shortly after completing Princess April Morning-Glory, Letitia – with April — lived in Provo from about 1942-45, studying biology, attending BYU, and enjoying returning to her birthplace and maternal grandparents’ home. Here’s a photo-portrait of Letitia, from this same time. Nine will get you ten, Letitia designed & stitched the blouse she’s wearing. She loved Gingham check, and bric-a-brac trim, so what could be better than gingham mixed with bric-a-brac? It’s almost like mixing…. calligraphy and watercolors!

Letitia Fairbanks, c. 1945, photographer unknown

Letitia Fairbanks, c. 1945, photographer unknown

Till next week, dear readers….

 

1The entire Fairbanks family, and all their descendants, are nuts about dogs! Dogs have always been a very important part of their lives. In the opening chapter of the biography of her uncle, co-authored with Ralph Hancock, they write of Douglas Sr, “When he arrived at the studio, he leaped from the car and embraced a huge Malemute dog.” That’s a Fairbanks, and their dog – fast friends!

Leave a Reply