Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Suds, Spray, and Sandals

 The 2012 Miss Magna Scholarship Pageant Fundraiser

We're Taking good girls and turning them into outstanding Women --Ryan Egbert, Pageant Director 
      Sunlight flashes off cars passing by, cars that might look a little dusty after nearly a month of no rain, cars that could use a wash. Air rises from baking parking lot asphalt. Water splashes from a hose. Buckets are filled. Sandaled feet shift as markers glide over poster board. "That's cute!" someone says, as ink dries nearly instantly in the warm breeze.
     Across the street, Magna's Main Street, a faded Lion's Club sign hangs from an old metal light post. To the west, the whitewashed Cyprus C shines proudly from Thead’s Peak. To the east, the ever-changing scene of business bustles near the Veteran's memorial, the distant Wasatch mountains as a backdrop. A lone seagull flies toward the Kennecott tailings dike, and, as a young woman steps out onto the sidewalk with her poster to spiritedly advertise the fundraiser car wash, Five Dollars! the first customer turns into the parking lot of ABS Body & Paint and leaves a twenty.
     "It makes me feel good (to help)," says Sam Salisbury, owner ABS Body & Paint. "These girls are sure working hard. They deserve every ounce of credit. I think they’re doing a real good job. Magna's kind of an economically strapped community, so anything we can do to help them out. They need our support."

In the bay behind Sam Salisbury (unseen in the photo) sits a work of art in progress, a '67 Camero Rally Sport, its body sand blasted and gray with epoxy primer, undergoing a "full restoration. Sam has been in business on Magna Main Street for over twelve years.
     No other event (except the Independence Day parade) has been as enduring in this community as the Miss Magna Scholarship Pageant. It's an historic event with generational roots and representation.On June 30, 2012, Magna will once again celebrate our outstanding young women in a scholarship pageant held in the Cyprus High School auditorium at 7:00 PM. Tickets will be $5.00 at the door. To help support the pageant and keep this wonderful tradition alive, please visit the following website and hit the "donate" button. Every little bit helps.

     Across the valley, at the same time as the fundraiser, Alexandria Burt, the reigning Miss Magna 2011 prepared to compete in the final night of the Miss Utah competition.

Photo by Erica New
   As an update: Magna is proud of Alexandria's strong and stellar performance at the Miss Utah pageant. She is a graduate of Cyprus High and lettered as a Spinnaker through her sophomore to senior years. She is currently a Freshman at the University of Utah, studying Strategic Communications and performing with their dance team. She has done an outstanding job representing this community.

 Car Wash Fundraiser

     All suds, spray, sandals, tank tops, shorts, and sunglasses, the outstanding contestants of the Miss Magna 2012 Scholarship Pageant put on the sunscreen and went to work.
     Introducing the ladies who will compete to represent Magna 2012:

Kylie Lanktree

     Being a part of the pageant has "changed" Kylie to be a "better person. Though a motivation for becoming a contestant was the scholarship, she said, "It's really more than just the money...It's getting me ready for life."

Kelsey Hodges

     Kelsey wants to "make a difference in the world." She loves to help people and is concerned about hunger in Utah. The pageant has helped her grow. "I’m not so shy anymore. I’ve made some new friends. I’ve gotten out there and met new people, and got my face out there (to) let people know that beauty pageants aren’t just a pretty face and anybody can be a title holder."

Kyrsti Orvin

       Kyrsti views the pageant as "life-changing fun." She credits the persuasion of her friends and Cyprus High School music director, Kerry Moore for helping her gain the confidence to join. "I can do things I thought I couldn’t. It’s helped me discover my talent a little bit more...It will help me help other people."

Brenda Rodriguez

     For Brenda the pageant is, "having fun with my friends and enjoying the moment right now." She likes to "get into the history of Magna." She's concerned with "abuse against women." The pageant has taught her "to feel like I could do anything. Like no one could put me down.I think it’s gonna help me by the lessons it taught right now, work as a team. Everything’s a team. There’s no I in team. Like in work, if there’s an I in team, then you’re not going to get along with your co-workers or your bosses."

Brittany Kinder

    Brittany, a former contestant for the Miss Magna 2011 pageant, has returned to share her passion. Last year it was "kids with cancer." This year it's "drug abuse...because I lost a friend recently." She feels the pageant is "definitely going to help me get, maybe, scholarships, help me with college as well. And also it will help me be more open to charity."

Marie Lucero

     Marie has also returned to run again this year. "Every year that I’ve done it, it’s made me keep on going, and making me believe that I can do something that I never thought I could do."
     She wanted to do it "because a lot of people would always say a lot of girls can’t do this because you have to be pretty, and you have to be perfect, and I just wanted to prove to everybody that I could do something like this, and let little girls look up to me and know that they can do this, and it’s possible for anybody to do it, shape, size, anything."  She wants to "give hope to all the breast cancer survivors."
     The pageant has changed her to "become a better person and be able to look at others and care for them more than I care about myself." 
     "I’m a part of something big...that everybody will remember and look back and be like, 'oh this person did this,' and that it makes me feel great."

Mary "Marky" Johnson

     For Mary, it's made her realize "what I can do for myself, like how I raised the hundred dollars, and how I’m learning a talent, cus I’m gonna dance for my talent, and I normally would never dance...When I get down to it, I practice and I practice, and I get better. It makes me have more confidence in myself."
     The pageant has made her feel more involved in the community and achieve her goals. She feels it will help her with communication, like job interviews. It has strengthened her confidence.
     She is concerned about "funds for the arts in school." She's doing it "because there’s people in school that don’t always necessarily fit in in the athletics and anything else like that. And when they don’t have anything to do, then there’s nothing to motivate them to stay involved."

Cancace Finau

     Candace feels the pageant is going to help her be more open with people. She credits it for helping her have the confidence to gain her recent employment at Target and meeting new friends. It has helped her grow and "realize that there’s more to this world that people don’t see, and I feel like I can help make it a better place."
     To Candace, the pageant improves women, "makes us more responsible and helps us build up our standards. It will make me more confident with everything I do."

Brianna Ekker

     Brianna joined the pageant to gain more confidence in herself, "a good way to get out of my shell." She's excited to participate in "things that many great women have done." She's gained more confidence and credits the pageant for helping her "learn who I really am."
     She's concerned about "raising awareness against the signs of depression and suicide in young kids and teens."

Contestants not present at fundraiser:
Jill Cardenas
Harlie Permain
Brittney De St. Jeor

Co-director Ryan Egbert
Co-director Ryan Egbert with the contestants. Bonnie Goble Egbert, Miss Magna '94, is not present in the photo. Bottom left is eleven-year-old volunteer and Ryan's niece, Noelle Goble.

     Ryan Egbert "got involved" with the pageant because his wife, co-director, Bonnie Egbert, is Miss Magna 1994, formerly Bonnie Goble. "It really made a huge difference in her life."
     "There’s so much more to a beauty pageant," he says, "than what people think. It’s truly a scholarship pageant. We’re trying to take good girls and turn them into outstanding women. They have to learn amazing things. They have to learn how to do public speaking. They have to be a leader. They have to learn how to market. They have to market the Miss Magna pageant, to market themselves.They have to have a talent that they can share. For a lot of them that’s been a tough one to develop and work on. And then they have to learn how to hold themselves, how to walk, poise, etiquette. In the end it makes a huge difference. That’s why my wife and I are willing to sacrifice our time our energy our money and try and get this done here in Magna for these girls, just make a difference."

      Many great people have dedicated time, talents, energy, personal funds, and much more to keep this important event alive and burning in the hearts of the community, especially in recent years. So many individuals deserve a special "thank you," including former Miss Magna royalty and contestants who hold the pageant dear and continue to serve and volunteer (and this is not excluding the many unsung heroes), Millie Ellett, Stacie Kingdon Woolston, Natalee Johnston Stewart, Donnie Sweazey, Starr Campbell, Dottie Alo, and Kathys Flower Shop, all deserving more than just a quick mention on a list.
     One "unsung hero," in particular, will be remembered with gratitude to the support he gave, especially during the tough times and ups and downs in recent years. This good man understood the importance the pageant holds to this great township, a man Magna will always hold in dear memory for all his service: Norm Fitzgerald.

Robert Goble, "Magna's writer," is the author of two novels, A Winter Morning's Sun and the award-winning Across A Harvested Field. His latest novel due to appear sometime in 2012 will be a dark, fantasy-horror titled In Older Worlds.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Transit of Venus viewed from Skull Valley, Utah

Photo of the Transit of Venus taken by David Jensen June 5, 2012 just off I-80 at the junction of Skull Valley Road--Lone Rock just in sight and the Goshute reservation not far away. The image was projected through a 1985 Celestron owned by Alex Hoppus. Notice the black dot on the upper left of the sun disk. The image being inverted on the cardboard, looking directly at the sun, the black dot would be on the upper right of the disk.

     The traffic light turned red. I leaned forward and glanced up at the sky. I thought, of all the days a cold front could move into Utah, it had to be Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Throughout the work day I had occasionally glanced at the on-again-off-again sunlight as gusts of wind sometimes reached upwards of forty to fifty miles per hour. I gritted my teeth, thinking the damn storm could at least shed a drop over the dry Salt Lake valley, water my lawn, if was going to ruin my once-in-a-lifetime view of the transit of Venus over the sun.
     By 5:30 PM I was really in a state. The clouds had only gotten darker, moving fast from the northwest and hanging low over the Oquirrh Mountains. As I headed west on 4100 South, painful memories of the eclipse of July 11, 1991 came back in full force. I'll never forget the excitement as I waited for the umbra to pass directly over Atizapan de Zaragoza, Mexico, just northwest of Mexico City. In fact, I remember squinting up at the sky all that morning with butterflies knowing I would finally experience a total eclipse--the only other solar eclipse I'd witnessed was a partial view of the eclipse of '84 out on the school grounds of Kennedy Junior High in West Valley City, Utah, as a spot inside a crude pinhole camera made from a box.
     The rainy season in Mexico had calmed a little, so I had hope that the sky would be clear long enough to witness it. My hopes were quickly dashed as, through the smog, I began to discern approaching thunderheads. I was walking somewhere along the Adolfo Lopez Mateos highway, just before it turns into the Adolfo Ruiz Cortines highway (for no other apparent reason than it turns and takes you to different neighborhoods, but such are the streets of Mexico) when I looked up through the rapidly approaching clouds and the thick cover of smog and I saw the moon begin to take a bite out of the disk of the sun. I was thrilled--until the the thunderstorm wiped out my gorgeous view and extinguished all my excitement. To make things worse, I found myself caught in one of the worst hail storms the locals claimed they had ever seen. For a while the day turned to night, except for the horizon in all directions that could be seen, and I knew the great celestial dance of shadows was taking place directly over my head. Shell shocked by lightning, frozen by the curtains of rain and hail (icy at 7400 feet above sea level), I ran to the closest shelter I could find: a garishly painted doorway, and I watched as the brief, strange night, under the pounding storm, became day again. It was over long before the storm passed.
      So in the afternoon of June 5, 2012, I found myself trying not to speed along 4100 South (the slowpoke ahead of me made that far easier), reliving my Mexican disappointments, and looking for sunshine and hint of sky on the western horizon somewhere beyond the Great Salt Lake, which I eventually saw. A rabid sort of hope returned as I decided west, somewhere along I-80, was where I needed to go.
     I arrived home in time to grab my eleven-year-old daughter, Noelle (I still can't figure out why my wife didn't want to go), trade the car for the minivan, and head out like an explorer into unknown territory with no guarantee I would see what I hoped to see.

The following link is to a diagram of the transit:

     My daughter and I talked about the orbit of Venus and how, from our perspective, humanity is only able to see the planet Venus pass between the earth and the sun twice every century, the last event being June 8, 2004. Before that it was December of 1882, when Chester Arthur was the president of the United States, and Thomas Edison had strung the first electric Christmas tree lights. I think she began to understand the significance of what we hoped to see and seemed to become more excited as we passed through the small canyon created by the north end of the Oquirrh Mountain range and the Kennecott tailings pond that had taken over a century to build. I told her that in past generations, those who once traveled along the old trail (that's now highway 201) could simply look to the north and have a great view of the Great Salt Lake and its islands, the most famous being Antelope Island. Wagon trains had once passed along that route on their way to California. Goshute Indians had hunted and camped along the the abundant marshes and freshwater springs (now crushed under a mountain moved by man) for centuries.
     We crested the hill and passed the site of the town of Garfield, which had been both built and removed by Kennecott--some of those houses were moved by truck bed and still stand in Magna, West Valley City (formerly Hunter and Granger), and other areas. As we passed, we saw (under construction) Kennecott's new Molybdenum Autoclave Process Facility rising over the ghosts of the past.

Garfield, Utah, looking north from the Oquirrh Mountains. The dike that holds in the tailings pond rises in the background. Just below it would be the old Lincoln Highway. Beyond it is the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island. Photographer unknown. Photo possibly taken circa 1940.
A different view of Garfield from the north (the unknown photographer probably standing on the dike) looking south. The Oquirrh Mountains rise over the town. One interesting feature is the large rock outcropping on the hill. It's hard to see in the photo, a cave overlooking the town, but not the famous Dead Man's Cave.

     After passing Black Rock, we reached Lake Point. At that moment I was disappointed that the thick clouds continued on well over the Stansbury Mountains on the west side of the Tooele Valley. I had hoped to be able to stop at one of our favorite spots on the foothills of Lake Point. We took the turn-off to I-80 and continued west. The air had turned cold and the wind had died down. Finally, somewhere north of Grantsville, salt crusting the edge of the water filled the spaces between the highway and the railroad, the sun broke through the clouds. "Quick! Hand me the lens," I said to my daughter. She took one of my grandpa's old welding lenses out out of its envelope, handed it to me, and I briefly looked through it at the sun. I felt a knot of excitement as I immediately spied a tiny dot on the right of the disk. "Look!" I said, and handed her the lens. "Wow!" she said. "I see it!"

Photo by Kat Paulson June 5, 2012
     The moment didn't last long as another band of clouds blocked our view. My daughter, with disappointment, slipped the lens back into its envelope. I was determined to to see the event all the way to sunset, and looking west, I knew we would be able to. We continued on past Stansbury Island. Another patch of sunlight shined down in bright rays over the mountains and distant highway ahead, but it wasn't enough. I wanted the clear break in the storm that I could see over the west desert. I was willing to drive to Wendover if I had to. 
     We got our break as we reached Exit 77 along I-80, the old Skull Valley Road that led to the military facilities at Dugway, Isopea (now a ghost town), and the Goshute Reservation. I was thrilled to see the sun, unobstructed, shine over the desert, and a not to distant Lone Rock casting its shadow. We turned and arrived at the site where the old Teddy Bear's Truck Stop used to stand. I was disappointed that the old building and sign had recently been torn down. It had been a landmark as long as I could remember.
     Dave Beedon, a photographer, had taken a photo of Teddy Bear's Truck Stop in 2004, not many years before it was torn down. The photo looks east toward the Stansbury Mountains. We stood on this site, now nothing more than gravel, weeds and slabs of concrete, looking into the western sky.
Link to Dave Beedon's photography:
     A small group of people had gathered at that same spot, some of them pointing telescopes at the sun, among them were David Jensen and his son, who provided the first picture shown in the blog; Alex Hoppus, around whose 1985 Celestron everyone was gathering; Steve Dupaix and his son and their Maksatuov-Cassegraine mirror telescope, through which we could clearly see the many sun spots--several more of his family arrived later, still able to witness the event; and Kelly Jones and her nieces, who had "chased the sun" as we had.
     This group of complete strangers stood together, watching and sharing and conversing and storytelling and mingling for hours as Venus slowly passed over the sun, and as our tiny spot on the earth slowly, inexorably, turned away. But we all had time to witness it. We had time to enjoy it and soak it in and make memories and say to future generations, "We were there. We had seen it. We understood it. We marveled at it. Take time to enjoy it when it's your turn. Maybe you'll think of us as we think of you, standing where we once stood under God's marvelous celestial engine of time and place.