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A house of prayer built with love

Carma de Jong Anderson, 79, and Richard Lloyd Anderson, 83, of Provo, Utah, stand in front of a portrait of her father, Gerrit de Jong. Both share memories of their fathers.
Carma de Jong Anderson, 79, and Richard Lloyd Anderson, 83, of Provo, Utah, stand in front of a portrait of her father, Gerrit de Jong. Both share memories of their fathers.
Brendan Sullivan, Deseret News

In 1935, Rosabelle and Gerrit de Jong's exquisite new Dutch colonial home on University Avenue stood close to the BYU Academy which, restored, now serves as our Provo Library. We gardened our own food and carefully cared for making our own clothes, with as little spending as possible.

But the Great Depression was never mentioned to me in kindergarten or later. I thought we must be the richest people in Provo!

Our parents called us all away from any activities whenever we could be together. Prayer was of utmost importance to us. Often I was a tardy child in putting down my art projects, or coming in from play outside, sometimes finding all the family kneeling around my parents' bed and impatient for me. I would sink down by Daddy, and then wiggle my freckled body under his. I felt more secure than inside a guarded tower!

I pressed my cheeks into the crocheted bedspread my Dutch grandma had elaborately made to grace our new home. The warmth of that home was all around me; the huge, kindly forces of my father were encircling me, and it seems there was a channel straight up to heaven, filled with my father's voice in prayer.

The chocolate distribution center

From the age of 5 in 1935, I attended grade school at the BYU lower campus "Training School," a practice teaching ground for our education majors. At recess, sunny or snowy, I was often tempted to dash with a friend up the flight of stairs to Daddy's office of Fine Arts, 204 in the College Building (both buildings now gone).

There stood dean Gerrit de Jong's big oak desk, with a seemingly endless array of tiny drawers under the roll top. Daddy never looked at me in his life without a smile, so immediately from one hidden corner he would reach for his stash of chocolate, either real Droste Dutch or Hershey American. He shared for our ravenous palates that sensual aroma and tranquilizing taste of what essentially contributed to my handsome Amsterdamer daddy's linguistic ability to write and lecture in six languages, or his musical inspiration to compose.

His bloodstream was pure chocolate!

Carma de Jong Anderson is both an artist and a consultant on historic clothing and textile restoration for historic sites of the LDS Church. She is a mother of four, grandmother of 10 and recent great-grandmother.