(Excerpt from my autobiography My Life Encapsulated)
My childhood was really quite idyllic and full of the kind of play you don’t see as the norm these days with kids. We had no video games to occupy our time, no Internet, no cell phones, no social media. I played War with marbles or little plastic characters. I loved that game of War, and I played both sides, but one side was always “me” and, of course, it was the hero side. I’d play it on the wooden floor for hours at a time, learning strategies and just pretending. Life itself created patterns that enabled me to put my natural talents to good practice for strengthening the traits I would later need in business.
What was a young boy who loved action movies to do?
A certain amount of independence asserted itself into my life while I was still in elementary school. My father went back to school at the University of Utah to earn a PhD in metallurgy and organic chemistry, and my mother worked at the ZCMI credit department to support the family. I often visited her there at work after school, and her parents lived just a couple of blocks away. My geographical world at that time was contained to a fairly small radius, and I was able to walk just about everywhere I needed to go. I often went to my grandparents’ home after school, and my grandmother would make me peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I’d have my snack with them, and then walk the couple of blocks.
Once I was a little older, every Saturday my parents gave me thirty cents and let me walk downtown a few blocks away. I would pass Temple Square, walking on the ledge of the wall around the temple as only little kids will sometimes do, and I walked to every theater downtown to determine which show I would see. I paid the twenty-five cent admission, buying a five-cent box of Dots, my favorite candy. I would watch the movie, usually it was a double-feature, and it was wonderful. Sometimes it was a serial movie with Buck Rogers flying through space on rockets. I loved those kinds of shows.
I remember one time my parents wanted me to see The Robe, a movie about Jesus, starring Kirk Douglas. It sounded boring to me, and when I looked at the billboard outside the theater, sure enough—it looked boring—so I went to King Kong instead. I think my parents were a little disappointed when I told them I saw King Kong instead of a movie about the Savior, but what was a young boy who loved action movies to do? Looking back, I wonder if I didn’t want to see The Robe because it had been suggested to me. I wanted to be independent and my own boss, even at that age.
I remember those Saturdays with such a sense of nostalgia. It was wonderful to be able to go about all by myself, in a day and age when a young boy could walk the streets of a big city and never worry about being harmed or molested. I was, in fact, still young, though. One of my Saturday movie excursions involved the movie Superman. I decided that if Superman could fly, I could put a cape on and fly off our third story balcony. I got a towel and safety pin, pinned my cape around my neck, and stood out on that balcony fully determined that I was going to jump off and fly. I stood there, a little apprehensive, and just as I was getting ready to leap, my parents came home, and my mother caught me and saved my life. That was one of many times God has intervened. Always, I’ve seen His intervention in my life, saving me from my own stupidity at times.