Souvenirs from Utah

A while back I was sending my son some money for his birthday (I know, not a very personal gift, but that was what he needed). He is in Texas and has not lived in Utah since he was 11 years old. I thought I’d throw in some “only in Utah” item that he would appreciate. At the store I found Sweet’s Orange Sticks, which I’ve always liked, and threw them in the package. I thought about putting in Some Dude’s Fry Sauce, but I figured that was pushing it. I went with the orange sticks and a couple of Visa gift cards.

Today I was in the grocery store, and my daughter and her friend pointed out a rack of LDS-themed greeting cards. There were the usual suspects: “Return with Honor,” “In the Hollow of Thy Hand,” and other scripture-based cards. One showed a missionary with a Muppet, claiming to have found a golden investigator. My personal favorite showed an Arnold Friberg-esque “Lamanite” mother tearfully embracing her young son: “Farewell, my stripling warrior” the caption read. My daughter thought that one was particularly retch-worthy.

At Wal-Mart, I saw several snow globes containing everything from Delicate Arch to the Manti Temple, and next to them shot glasses stamped with a likeness of the Salt Lake Temple. I want one of those, and I don’t even drink.

My beloved spouse has been making Saturday trips to Deseret Industries to find old movies, books, and whatever else strikes her fancy. One Saturday night I descended our stairs only to smack my forehead hard on a tole-painted plaque reading “Choose the Right.” I guess half an inch of wood was just enough to make the ceiling the right size to impact my head. We also now have plaques reading “Love at Home” and “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” as well as a framed copy of the Proclamation on the Family.

We used to make fun of my sister-in-law, who could not understand basic concepts like the Atonement but shelled out several hundred dollars every year for scripture decals, family home evening “wheels,” inspirational books, and Education Week seminars. Her home was a monument to Mormon kitsch, but I think we’re catching up.

3 Responses to Souvenirs from Utah

  1. Mina says:


    You know, I used to have a few of those temple shot glasses and I always used to bring them back with me for gifts when I returned to grad school after xmas-ing in Utah. Good times.

    While I never saw anything like the greeting cards you described—the period I’m talking about was in the 80’s and mormon kitsch was in its infancy–I also used to grab postcards of the albino jesus and, even better, anything hammered in copper, whether mormon themed or not.

    Its too bad you BS can’t get interested in an earlier era of mormon/utah semi-antiques. I see lots of cool gear on eBay from say the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Great postcards, old magazines and other souvenirs (some from way back like things associated with Saltair)—you know things with some historical interest and educational value.

    Perhaps you’ll have to start your own competing collection and give it equal decorating time. I’d love to help out with this too, since I’m so nostalgic for “my” Utah and its earlier periods as well. Can’t you make “Utah history” a kind of family project? I’m still–against all odds–hoping we could do a tour of interesting historical sites with your wife and kids this summer.

  2. Mina says:

    Also…no Idaho Spuds in your son’s package???

  3. froggey says:

    Ick. I was homemaking leader once upon a time. Talk about an ill-suited calling for me. I despise crafts. I cringe every time I go by a scrapbooking place as I wonder how many trees have been sacrificed so that a woman can waste days out of her year documenting things so irrelevant they have lose their purpose by the time the sticker has finished adhering to the page. My decorating styles are minimalist at best. The less, the better. So you can well imagine my disdain for anything that must be cross-stitched, calligraphied, or cutesied in any way. And DI is like the museum for archaic homemaking art, with its drooping macrame and macaroni shell picture frames and paper mache. All slightly smelly and torn with use.

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