Because I grew up in a small town in Oregon my memories of general conference are possibly a little different than for those of you who grew up in Utah. I remember how much Mom and Dad wanted to hear or see it as it happened. Seeing it was a total impossibility since TV had not come to Prineville in the 40's. But Radio was a possibility if you could get reception. I remember Bill as a teenager stringing up antennas through the attic and across the back yard. He did manage to get a little very fuzzy reception for a Sunday morning session.
When I was nine we traveled to Utah to bring Bill to BYU for a term before he left on his mission. For October Conference we had a hotel room and could watch conference on TV. We listened to part of it but we children played in the yard outside for part of it.
Later that year or early the next Bill left on his mission and Dad was called as District President. For the next few years he always tried to go to Salt Lake for Conference. The year I was twelve he was fussing and worrying about how to go to Conference with no money available, so I said, "I haven't spent my 4-H prize money from last year--I have $20 if you'll let me go too."
The reason I hadn't spent my 4-H money was because I had put it away in a safe place and couldn't find it. You see, our bedrooms weren't heated, in fact they weren't even finished on the inside-just the studs with the boards and siding on the outside of the house as the walls for our rooms. So beginning in the fall when the weather turned cooler, putting something away meant going to our rooms and throwing things into it, beginning with the closets usually and by spring we were lucky if there were foot wide paths to our beds. Then in May or June when the weather warmed up we would clean and organize our rooms again. Hence, I had no idea where my money was in that mess and it was late March, still much too cold to clean our rooms.
I was half way joking anyway but my Dad said, "would you really like to go to conference?" Of course I would. Who wouldn't want a week off from 6th grade which I hated anyway. So I got to go to Conference with him--He made arrangements to go with the Williams's and the four of us went even though I hadn't found my $20. You have to remember that $250 to $300 a month was the average income so $20 was a relatively good sized chunk of money at the time.
We had a great time traveling with Max and Rachel Williams. We sang Mocking Bird Hill, I remember, because I had figured out a high part when Dan, Naty and I sang it, And I sang that and Max had figured out a whistling part on the chorus that sounded like birds and Rachel carried the melody with a little help from Daddy. We thought we sounded pretty good. We also listened to a BYU basketball game which I couldn't really follow but Max and Rachel rooted for BYU excitedly. I have no idea who won. And I remember hearing on the radio that George Albert Smith had passed away. He was the prophet that I had known during Primary and we were shocked and saddened to hear that he had passed away right before conference time even though he had been sick for some time.
We attended several sessions in the tabernacle, one time it was so full that Daddy went to sit in the area reserved for Stake and District presidents and an usher took me to the balcony where some people moved over a little and made room for me on the end of a bench. Sessions then were held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Saturday night we stayed at Elder Web's house (Elder Web had been on a mission in Oregon) and watched the Sunday morning session on TV at their house. It was Easter Sunday and they hid an Easter basket for me as well as their children. That was probably the only commercial Easter basket I ever received since we usually just colored eggs and made our own baskets.
I think it was the Sunday afternoon session that we sat in the right side balcony and were right above the speakers that I heard the talks that made the most impression on me. One was President David O McKay. He said that "We should avoid even the very appearance of evil." I've never forgotten that message--even if there is nothing wrong with what we do, if it could be a stumbling block to others just don't do it. It's part of the law of Sacrifice.
Marion G. Romney also talked. I had read a talk from a previous conference session by him that I had really liked, the winter before when I was still 11 and babysitting my younger brothers while Mom and Dad went to Mutual. He said that he was Not going to give the talk that he had prepared because he felt inspired to say something else. He talked about Adam and Eve and probably the Fall of man--I don't really remember--but I can still feel the spirit that I felt during his talk.
Later that summer I found my Yellow wallet on the floor of my closet with the 20 dollar bill in it and gave mom the $20 for my Conference trip. They needed it then just as much as they had earlier in the spring.
Later I remember getting the Sunday morning session at the church houses and when we moved to Oregon when Cathy was the baby, we could get the replays of the sessions between midnight and 4 am. We missed some of those, but we always read them in the Ensign when it came.
I have always considered conference a great blessing. I hate to miss any of it.